Robert Needham Cust.

Linguistic and oriental essays. Written from the year 1840 to 1903 (Volume ser 3) online

. (page 40 of 72)
Online LibraryRobert Needham CustLinguistic and oriental essays. Written from the year 1840 to 1903 (Volume ser 3) → online text (page 40 of 72)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

submission to His Will. The Lord has not failed in His promises :
He is with us : but His servants have failed by rendering only half
service, and lukewarm love. I do not ask you to go back to the
Roman Calendar of Saints for examples; do not go beyond the
limits of these little Islands. Let each Missionary read the lives
of Columba of lona, of Aidan of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne,
of Columbauus of Bangor, of Boniface of Exeter. He will know
what Britons did more than one thousand years ago to spread the
Gospel, in poverty, in labour, in persecution, in celibacy, in self-



denial, without complaint, and without boasting, and always re-
joicing, up to the last hours of their lives. We have the same
blood in our veins : it is the same Gospel : let us do likewise.
Speech at Missionary Congress in Exeter Hall, June, 1888.


"With the reception-ceremony of Saturday begins one of the most
remarkable gatherings in the recent history of Protestant missions.
For more than a week Exeter Hall will be given up to the ex-
haustive treatment, in private conference, and public meeting,
of nearly every main problem, and field of labour, associated with
foreign missionary enterprise as conducted by Protestant agencies.
There is, perhaps, some ground for fear, that the extraordinary
fulness of the programme may in a sense distract the public atten-
tion ; nor are we quite certain, that the Conference has made its
coming known quite as fully as could be wished. But the oppor-
tunity is so remarkable, and so full of promise, that I sincerely
hope it will be widely accepted amongst Churchmen and Non-
conformists alike. Little, perhaps, is known in many quarters as
to the Protestant organizations already at work. I have done
my best to make the extent of the field and its divisions more
apparent. During the last year I have given from week to week,
under the title of the "Mission Field and its Workers," a brief
account of foreign missionary agencies, compiled upon one principle
by the same hand, with a careful abstinence from all denomi-
national bias, but with a free distribution of praise or blame on
particular methods. I present to-day a conspectus of all the
Missionary enterprises of the Christian world, excluding those
of the Church of Kome, which may be separately considered upon
some future occasion. Those only have found a place, which are
directed, entirely or in part, against non-Christian populations,
Jews, Mahometans, idolaters, or nature-worshippers. Every asso-
ciation formed solely for the purpose of proselytism, or the benefit
of Christians, is rigidly excluded. The material collected is grouped
according to nationality and denomination, and in a special column
the character of the enterprise is described, according as it is
formed for evangelizing or for medical, woman's work, educational,
publishing, or training, or whether it is a substantive Society, or
an auxiliary Home or Foreign Aid Society. An attempt, subject
to correction, has been made to indicate the fields occupied by each
Society ; but all allusion to income, number of agents, converts, or
adherents, is omitted, as this must be the subject of a careful
sepaiate study after it has been ascertained whether each Society
prepares its statistics upon the same principles. Until this is
known, all comparison is profitless.


Missionary operations are conducted either by " lay associations,"
specially formed for this particular purpose, or by the collective
body of a particular denomination, which is conventionally styled
a " Church." A good many fallacies surround this distinction. In
the case of a small denomination, such as the Seventh Day Baptists,
the Primitive Methodists, the original Secession Presbyterians, the
Church is the association, and the association is the Church. In the
case of a National Church, such as that of England, ■with some
millions of members, the conduct of missionary operations by the
collective Church would be impossible, and the dream of its realiza-
tion is only a mischievous delusion. The wily Church of Rome
has avoided falling into such a snare, and distributes her missionary
operations among independent congregations with their assigned
fields of labour. "Where a moderately-sized denomination, such as
the Church of Sweden, or the Free Church of Scotland, conduct
missionary operations, it is a matter of internal convenience only,
whether the control should rest with an independent Lay Board,
or a Committee of the General Assembly. The shoe pinches when,
within one Church there are two shades of theological thought, in
which case there will certainly come into existence an association
outside the Church as in Sweden, Holland, Norway, and Germany.

There is, however, a distinct danger in too much subdivision.
If the battle of the Lord is to be won, it must be fought in bat-
talions, not in corporals' detachments. It is a cruel thing to settle
down amidst a heathen people, open schools, make converts, and
then, owing to sickness or death, to abandon the poor sheep to any
chance wolf, possibly to the mercies of a Roman Catholic mission
party. Again, it is sheer folly to talk of "self-supporting"
Missions in a non -Christian country. And yet the work ought to
be conducted with much greater economy than is practised now.
Men and women with private means should be invited to come
forward in much larger numbers. The native Church from the
very first must be compelled to support also its own pastors and
teachers, but not the alien missionaries. Home-contributions must
supply their needs. To ask spiritually-minded men to support
themselves by agriculture, keeping mercantile stores, maintaining
secular schools, or any trade, is to degrade the missionary, and to
withdraw him from his proper duty. Funds must be supplied by
Christian churches ; men and women should not be exposed to the
peiils of starvation, and unsuitable accommodation, which will
only end in sickness, or the loss of valuable lives.

Of none of the enterprises now reported can it be said, that they
are sui:»ported by the State for political purposes, or in any way
privileged, or protected, or encouraged, for State-purposes. In-
dividual missionaries may, perhaps, in a moment of weakness,
bluster about their rights, as subjects of some or oilier great Power,
but practically nothing comes of it, and the idea of avenging the




death of a missionary would be entertained neither by a Society,
nor a Government. It would be a fatal policy for Missions, if this
were not the case. Their independence would be jeopardized, and
independence of the State is essential to the life of a missionary
enterprise. Xor can Missionary Societies be mixed up in com-
mercial, industrial, or agricultural speculations without a sure
destruction of their spiritual life. On the other hand, a well-
conducted Mission in a barbarous country is the certain advance
guard of a prosperous commerce from the cessation of inter-tribal
strife, and the advance of the populations in morals and civilization.
The Record, London, June, 1888.


With the Valedictory Meeting on Tuesday evening the programme
of the Congress was worked out ; all subseqiient Meetings were
accretions to meet the idiosyncrasies of particular persons. On the
whole it was a great success, at least as far as the numbers of
persons present, and of Meetings, indicate success. It cannot be
said that any new suggestions, methods, or ideas, are the result, at
least to the experienced members. No doubt a large number of
persons have received their first ideas of a missionary gathering,
and we must trust that the impressions will be permanent. We
can recollect the particular period, when the tongue of fire sat
upon each of us, and our hearts spake within us, marking a new

One thing has been made evident without doubt, the solidarity
of the Evangelical Churches. Between us and our Continental
friends the barrier of language is no longer an impediment ; be-
tween us and our friends from America the Atlantic no longer
exists. That ocean can no longer appear in the Missionary Atlas.
We are one army of the living God, differentiated in separate regi-
ments, but under the same Captain of our Salvation, the same
banner of the Cross, marching on, marching on to the conflict, and
to victory. This is no mere flight of rhetoric; it is the deliberate
outcome of our judgment. Talk no longer of the unity of the
Church of Rome under one Pope. The Protestant Churches have
a more enduring unity, though not imiformity, uuder the Headship
of Christ. Over and over again in the diifercut Meetings this great
fact was proved by the incidental remarks, and the bearings of the

A second feature was the entire disappearance of the offensive
manifestation of denominational differences. It, indeed, was ditfi-
cult to find out whether the sweet and intelligent Christian in our
company was a Congregationalist, or a Baptist, or a Methodist, or
an Episcopalian, or a good Plymouth-Brother ; not that any one


was lax in his convictiotis, or unsettled in his church-views ; but
that each and all looked over the barriers of human and historical
dilference, and saw nothing but the face of Christ, and heard
nothing but His parting words on Mount Olivet. And surely there
is more real Christianity in this than in the Papal or Mediaeval
High Church, arrogance of a monopoly of preaching the Gospel of
Salvation based on a doubtful Apostolical succession.

A third feature, and a remarkable one, though confessedly on a
lower platform than the preceding, was the wondrous fact, that
within the walls of Exeter Hall were collected men and women,
who spoke a greater variety of languages than had ever been
collected under one roof in ancient or modern times. And the
object of acquiring those forms of speech, and the use of those
forms of speech, was solely and entirely to spread the Gospel of
Salvation. The philologist might well bow his head in reverence ;
the ethnologist might well reflect on the passage in Holy Writ,
" Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these
things shall be added tmto you ; " the statesman may well ponder
upon the appearance of a new factor in politics, a Republic of
enthusiasts, who will not be diverted from their object; a Parlia-
ment of men of diverse nationalities, but recognizing one Law, one
King, and one hope of everlasting life ; a federation of the greatest
benefactors of mankind.

A fourth feature was the sweet forming, and the still sweeter
renewal, of friendships. Thei'e is something in the personality, the
expression of countenance, the utterance of words of an American,
that attracts and conciliates friendships. They are not as we are
in Great Britain, but there rests in their choice of words, and
formation of sentences, something of the archaic peculiarities of our
common ancestors, and a nobility of presence, and an independence
of bearing, which in good, holy men (and we had in this Congress
no others) is peculiarly fascinating ; their eloquence is all their
own, and, in spite of the obvious peculiarities of expressions and
tones, goes to the heart. Some of their speeches, such as those of
Dr. Pierson of I^ew York, Dr. F. W. Taylor of the same city,
and Dr. Ellinwood, were simply magnificent, and can never be
forgotten by those who heard them.

• There is no doubt, therefore, in the opinion of those, who took
part in the management of the Congress of 1878 at Mildmay, and
in Exeter Hall in 1888, that there has been an advance along the
line ; indeed, the Conspectus of existing missionary enterprises,
which the Record most opportunely published on June 8, and which
was much appreciated, marks the advance and the high-water
line of 1888. On the whole, great praise is due to the Executive
Committee, and to the indefatigable Secretary, the Eev. James
Johnston, for the conception and the arrangements. Many men,
who were mere dummies, were put forward to make speeches and


held a prominent position, wlio liad really done notliinf? ; but it is
■well known, that to a small body of determined men who worked
well and continuously for more than a year, the success must be
attributed, and they have in that success their full reward.

In all human affairs there is a certain amount of failure, and
this Congress was essentially human ; there were many weary, ill-
chosen, ill-conceived, papers read, and good men were totally for-
gotten ; that miserable period of five minutes, which Egotism
desires, but which Common Sense rejects, wasted half the time of
each of the Meetings in the Lower Hall and Annexe. Men, who
came long distances, desired to have their voices heard in the
assembly ; any one can speak for twenty minutes ; it requires a wise
and collected man to utter anything worth hearing in five minutes.
The inexorable bell paralyzed the intellect. A great deal of inept
nonsense was spoken in those miserable periods, quite irrelevant to
the subject of discussion, garnished with Scripture-quotations, as
vague and unprofitable as a summer shower of rain-drops. "What
was desired was totally absent : when a serious question was dis-
cussed, such as the baptism of polygamists, we desire to hear sound
and solid reasons for or against by selected speakers, who had ex-
perience ; as it was, no one single subject was thrashed out. As a
Congress of Experts, collected to arrive at approximate agreement
on certain moot subjects, this Congress was an entire failure.

Missionary Societies have entirely failed in obtaining the con-
fidence, or even the toleration, of the ruling classes, the nobles, the
scientists, the aristocrats, the demagogues, the men of undemon-
strative piety, the ordinary good citizens, and the general public.
Whole families, of whom the writer of this paper is a member, both
wealthy and powerful, give not one shilling. Those, who heart and
soul have given themselves up to this service, this best of services
for more than forty years, feel this neglect keenly, but do not
wonder at it. Por why is it so ? The foolishness of a section, only
of a section, of the missionary party causes this disfavour. In the
great gatherings, with the exception of those members of the Hoiise
of Lords and Commons, who have avowedly thrown in their lot
with us, all were absent. Yet it is a subject of the deepest regret,
and is caused by the folly of a minority, who neglect the noble
work of preaching the Gospel to the heathen, and alleviating the
burden of the suffering, to take up fads, miserable crazes, about
subjects totally out of the orbit of pure missionary work. They
might as well call for a blue moon as suppose that their miserable
penny trumpets will influence the counsels of the Parliament of
Great Britain, or the Government of British India.

It was distressing to hear the crudity of some remarks, yet all
spake with the air of Prophets just descended from the mountain
Avith a new revelation. It seemed as if each man had a peculiar
subject on his brain, and the whole world was to be altered to meet



his wishes. There was often a want of sobriety, a want of humility,
a want of self-distrust and self-abnegation. What can a man,
who has been for years in Japan and China, understand of the
wonderful mechanism, which controls the revolution of European
feelings, and the policy of European Governments ? And yet an
American born in the State of Ohio, or a German from "Westphalia,
and twelve years residing in China, undertook to tell an assembly
of miscellaneous men and women what the British Parliament
ought to do, and the foolish assembly clapped and stamped in token
of approbation of what it is obvious they could not understand.

As regards the missionary, many things came out which sad-
dened the heart ; the want of entire consecration to the cause of
the convei'sion of the heathen, the forgetting of their first love ; the
early marriages, perhaps at the age of twenty-three (when no young
lawyer, doctor, or professional man, would think of such things), the
heavy charges to the Society for passage-money and maintenance,
the crowding of the Home for Missionary Children, the diverting of
the sacred funds contributed to evangelize the heathen to the lower
objects of maintaining schools for missionary children and pensions
for widows, when neither widow nor child ought to have come
into existence, as the missionary ought in his youth, in his
strength, to have had no thought but the necessity laid upon
him to convert the heathen. He cannot have read the Epistle of
St. Paul rightly, if he could think of earthly love with the cry
of the heathen ringing in his ears. As a reaction against such
things come the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the High Church
party, the hap-hazard system of Mr. Hudson Taylor sending out
men to take their chance of a sufficiency, and the extraordinary
system of Bishop William Taylor sending out men, women and
children to live on nothing. All these things make a thoughtful
student of the missionary problem very very anxious for the future.
The only course is to bring it to the Lord. Lord Radstock rightly
remarked, that in these matters we too often forget the Lord.

The Eeport of the great Congress will be published, and mark
an epoch in our missionary annals. Some may live to be present
at the next great gathering at the end of the nineteenth century.
Some words of this Congress are not to be forgotten. Dr.
Ellinwood, of the United States, in his great valedictory address
spoke of gratitude, fellowship, kinship, and love to the British
people ; he said that he had almost forgotten his country, and that
to-night we were all Englishmen, because we were all Christians.
These precious woi'ds should live in our memory. Dr. Sutherland,
of the Dominion of Canada, spoke of the essential oneness of Pro-
testant Christianity. Oh, let us cherish this ! all the world over
Christ is all ! The Church is prepared to enter on a new work
with new enthusiasm, for the love of Christ constraineth us.
M. llappart, of St. Chrischona, remarked, that the Holy Spirit still


cling:s to its work. Canon rieming remarked that all the members
of the Congress would go back to their home, distinct indeed as the
billows, but one as the sea. These are but samples of the noble
expressions uttered by noble men, in the presence of vast assemblies
of men and women, who desired holiness, even if they did not
attain to it. It was well for each one of us to hear such senti-
ments, and better still to feel the heart beat high, and to appro-
priate such sentiments as our own. Many of those present will
never meet again, but they have looked into each other's faces,
they have heai'd each other's words, they have recognized each
other's graces, and the contact has not been in vain. Such Con-
gresses are the direct replies to the Ecumenical Councils of Rome.
The Protestant Churches are in evidence, one in Christ, differing in
Church-government ; one in essentials, divided in matters of less
moment. If the increase of volume, and weight, and influence is
as great in the next decade as it has been in the last, the ill-judging
High Church section of the English Church will feel, that they
have made a mistake in abstaining from taking a part in a great
movement, which has united the holiest aspirations of the British,
American, and Continental nations to advance the kingdom of
Christ. If they have stood aside, they will not share the blessings.
The Record, June 20, 1888.





A DiSTiNGrrsHED African traveller, now a British Consul, has lately
written a jaunty, patronizing essay of nine pages in the Fortnightly
Review (April, 1889), in which he says a good word for missionaries
in Africa, of whom he may know something, and of missionaries in
North America, Oceania, and Asia, of whom he knows absolutely
nothing. He clearly knows little of saving Christian Truth himself,
and thinks that the non-Christian races can do very well without
it. He hazards the idea, that, had Charles Martel not conquered
at Tours, and had Great Britain accepted the Mahometan religion,
the result in the nineteenth century as to the social condition and
development of society amidst the British people would have been
very much the same. It is sad to read such opinions from the pen
of a young and accomplished servant of the State, for the privilege
of having been born a Christian is generally considered the very



Online LibraryRobert Needham CustLinguistic and oriental essays. Written from the year 1840 to 1903 (Volume ser 3) → online text (page 40 of 72)