industry. The Chinese may well be called the Anglo-Saxons of the Orient,
in latent power and mental character.
In our modesty we think the Anglo-Saxon, the English-speaking, the
greatest of living peoples. Certainly the leadership of the world is in
Anglo-Saxon hands, and has been for centuries. And the marvellous,
unprecedented progress of the world has been under that leadership.
Well, when these Chinese wake up we are very likely to find the race
getting a new leadership, and the history of the world a new chapter
added. What sort of leadership it will be morally, and what sort of a
chapter, will depend on how much statesmanship there is in our praying and
giving and missionary service. But the need is enormously intensified by
the unawakened power of these Chinese.
West by Way of the East.
Still moving east, we come to the newly awakened and very attractive
island-nation of Japan, which, because of its geographical and territorial
situation, has been called the Great Britain of the Orient. Japan stands
at present as the exception to the common stagnation of the heathen world.
It has made a record nothing less than phenomenal as a student of Western
life. It has absorbed, and imitated, and adapted to its own use, the
Western knowledge and spirit with a wonderful power and intelligence.
Japan is both bright and ambitious to an almost abnormal degree, and as
tricky in its dealings, and morally unclean in its life, as it is bright
and ambitious. They have been called the Frenchmen of the Orient, and that
characterization fits remarkably in many respects. Great progress has been
made in giving the Gospel to Japan, but the present moral need is
immensely intensified by the very aggressiveness of the Japanese spirit.
With Japan, the island-kingdom, it is easy to group the whole island-world
lying to the east and south, though these are utterly different peoples.
This includes the great number of islands scattered throughout the Pacific
Ocean. The conditions are largely those of savagery except where affected
by Christian civilization through the missionary enterprise. The Gospel
has done some wonderful feats of transformation here. And there is plenty
of room for more. Australia, the "island continent," is a British colony,
and of course now reckoned among Christian lands; as is also the large
island of New Zealand, also a British colony, which has been a leader in
some of the most advanced steps of modern civilization.
Crossing the Pacific to the east brings up the South American Continent;
and Central America, the connecting stretch of land with our own
continent; and Mexico, which is commonly grouped with foreign-mission
lands. South America has been spoken of both as the "neglected continent"
and as the "continent of opportunity." The common characteristic
religiously of all this vast section from Mexico to the "Land of Fire," at
the southernmost toe of South America, is that it is under the sway of the
Roman Catholic Church. Some parts of it have been spoken of as "baptized
heathenism." A vast network of church forms and organization, practically
lifeless, holds these peoples in an iron grasp. The need of the Gospel of
Jesus is fully as great as in civilized China or savage Africa.
One more long easterly stride, across the Atlantic, brings black Africa,
and completes this rapid run around the globe, so far as distinctly
heathen lands are concerned. Africa is peculiarly the savage continent,
though it has the oldest civilization in its northeast corner, and the
newest British civilization rapidly developing on its southern edge. It is
the "dark continent," both in the color of its inhabitants and in its sad
destitution and degradation. About a tenth of the world's population is
here; with as many missionaries as in civilized India, but unable to reach
the people as effectually as there because of the lack of national
organization and the absence of great highways of travel.
Africa is essentially a great mass of separate tribes, larger and smaller,
most of them in deepest savagery, with sorest need not only of salvation,
but of civilization. The sore need of its very savagery has seemed to make
it a magnet to missionary enterprise. And yet all that has been done, and
is being done, seems almost swallowed up in the depth of its degradation
I have taken you with me in this very rapid run that we might try to get a
simple practical grasp of the heathen world. And if you and I might often
take just such a run, with map or globe and Bible at hand, and our knees
bent, it would greatly help us in getting close to the world our Lord died
for; and which He means to win; and to win through you and me; and which
He will win.
But I must talk with you a bit about our Christian lands, Europe and
America, with huge Russia sitting astride both Europe and Asia, with a
foot dangling on each side of the globe. For these, too, are mission
lands. Foreign-mission lands, would you call them? Well, that depends
entirely on what spot you happen to call home. They are all mission
fields. The whole world is a mission field to God. Foreign-mission
field? or home-mission? Which? It makes no practical matter which term
you choose to use.
It will be well to remember just what that common phrase, "Christian
lands," really means. It may help us in our praying. And it may help us,
too, to keep humble as we think about heathen lands. It means, of course,
the lands where Christian standards are commonly recognized as the proper
standards of morals and of life.
It does not mean that the people are all Christian. Only a minority so
class themselves; the great majority do not. Neither does it mean that
that minority called Christian is controlled in daily life and in
business by the principles of Jesus. For by pretty general consent they
are not so controlled. It is not too much to say that there is more of
that same spirit of selfishness that marks the heathen world, dominating
the personal lives of people in Christian lands, than there is of the
unselfish Christ spirit. That may sound unkind and too critical to you. It
is not said in a critical spirit, but simply in the desire to get the
facts as they are. I am fully persuaded that the more you think about it
the more you will come to see that this is simply the truth.
Nor yet does that term, "Christian lands," mean that these lands are as
distinctly Christian through and through as heathen lands are distinctly
heathen, or non-Christian, through and through. As a matter of fact,
Christian lands are not dominated as thoroughly by the Christian spirit
as heathen lands are by the heathen spirit. We really don't deserve our
distinctive phrase as much as they deserve theirs.
It does mean chiefly this, that here in these lands the Christian Church
has its stronghold; that Christian standards are commonly recognized,
though in practice they are so commonly disregarded. It means that the
enormous incidental blessings, in material and mental life, that always
follow the preaching of the Gospel are here enjoyed most fully. And it
means, too, that much of the humanizing, softening, and energizing power
of the Gospel of Christ has seeped and soaked into our common civilization
and affected all our life.
This is true; yet the mass of persons living in this atmosphere, and
enjoying its great advantages, are wholly selfish in the main drive of
their lives, and so in being selfish are un-Christian. While Christian
ideals dominate so much of our life, the term "Christian lands" really
describes our privileges more than it does our practices.
The Greatest Need.
A word now about these great Christian lands of Europe and America. The
Catholic countries of Europe have been regarded as mission fields by the
Protestant churches, and missionary operations have been conducted in them
for many years. Russia has likewise been commonly regarded as missionary
territory, and a very difficult one at that. In portions of Great Britain,
in our own Western States and frontiers, in the Southern mountain States,
and in other sections, and among special classes, missionary work has been
regularly carried on.
And the cities, those great, strange, throbbing hearts of human life, are
all peculiarly mission fields. It is remarkable how the modern city
reproduces world conditions morally. The city is a sort of miniature of
the world. All the varying moral conditions of the heathen world, atheism,
savagery almost, crude heathenish superstition, degradation of woman,
neglect of children, and untempered lust, may be found in New York and
Chicago, in London and Paris, in Vienna and Berlin, and in varying degree
in all cities of Christian lands. The grosser parts are hidden away, more
These conditions are softened in intensity by the commonly recognized
moral standards of life. But they are there. The man immersed in mission
service in any of these cities is apt to think that there can be no
greater nor sorer need than this that pushes itself insistently upon him
at every turn.
The slum ends and sides of our Christian cities and huge heathendom,
jostle elbows in the likeness of their moral conditions. The need is
everywhere, crying earnestly, wretchedly out to us. There is good mission
ground anywhere you please to strike in.
But - but, by far the greatest need, with that word "greatest"
intensified beyond all power of description, is in the heathen lands. The
vastness of the numbers there, the utter ignorance, the smallness of their
chance of getting any of the knowledge and uplift of the Gospel, all go to
spell out that word "greatest." The awful cumulative power of sin,
unchecked by the common moral standards of life, with the terrific
momentum of centuries; the common temptations known to us, but with a
fierceness and subtlety wholly unknown to us in Christian lands - and yet
how terrifically fierce and cunningly subtle some of us know them to
be! - these all make every letter in that word "greatest" stand out in
biggest capitals, and in blackest, inkiest ink.
Groping in the Dark.
That is a bare suggestion of the need of the world in bulk. But we want
to get a much closer look than that. These are men that we are talking
about; our brothers, not merely hard, unfeeling, statistical totals of
millions. Each man of them contains the whole pitiable picture of the sore
need of the world vividly portrayed in himself.
The very heathen religions themselves are the crying out, in the night, of
men's hearts, after something they haven't, and yet need so much. Strange
things these heathen superstitions and monstrous practices and beliefs
called religions! It has been rather the thing of late to speak somewhat
respectfully of them, and rather apologetically. They have even been
praised, so strangely do things get mixed up in this world of ours. It
has been supposed that God was revealing Himself in these religions; and
that in them men were reaching up to God, and could reach up to Him
They really are the twilight remnants of the clear direct light of God
that once lightened all men; but so mixed through, and covered up with
error and superstition and unnatural devilish lust, that they are wholly
inadequate to lead any man back home to God. In almost all of them there
is indeed some distinct kernel of truth. But that kernel has been
invariably shut up in a shell and bur that are hard beyond any power of
cracking, to get at the kernel of truth for practical help, even if the
people knew enough to try.
They tell pathetically of the groping of man's heart after God. But the
groping is in the pitch dark, and amid a mass of foul, filthy cobwebs that
blind the eyes with their dust, and grime all the life. I have no doubt
that untold numbers of true hearts in heathen lands are feeling after God,
and in some dim way coming into touch with Him. He is not far from any one
of them; but they find Him chiefly in spite of these religions, rather
than through any help found in them.
The story is told of a Chinese tailor who had struggled hopelessly for
light, and had finally found it in finding Jesus. He put his idea of the
heathen religions that he knew, and had tried, in this simple vivid way:
"A man had fallen into a deep, dark pit, and lay in its miry bottom,
groaning and utterly unable to move. He heard a man walking by close
enough to see his plight. But with stately tread he walked on without
volunteering to help. That is Mohammedanism.
"Confucius walking by approached the edge of the pit, and said, 'Poor
fellow! I am sorry for you. Why were you such a fool as to get in there?
Let me give you a piece of advice: If ever you get out, don't get in
again.' 'I can't get out,' said the man. That is Confucianism.
"A Buddhist priest next came by and said: 'Poor fellow! I am very much
pained to see you there. I think if you could scramble up two-thirds of
the way, or even half, I could reach you and lift you up the rest.' But
the man in the pit was entirely helpless and unable to rise. That is
"Next the Saviour came by, and, hearing his cries, went to the very brink
of the pit, stretched down and laid hold of the poor man, brought him up,
and said, 'Go, sin no more.' This is Christianity."
The awful moral or immoral conditions prevalent throughout the heathen
world are the most graphic comment on the influence of these religions. It
can be said thoughtfully that, instead of ever helping up to God and the
light, they drag down to the devil and to black darkness. There is not
only an utter lack of any moral uplift in them, but a deadly downward
pull. The very things called religions point out piteously the terrible
need of these peoples.
Living Messages of Jesus.
Now, what is it that these people need, and that we can give to them? May
I first remind you what they don't need? Well, let it be said as plainly
as it can be that they don't need the transferring to heathen soil of our
Western church systems, nor our schemes of organizations. It is not our
Western creeds and theology that they stand in need of.
Of course, there need to be both churches and organizations. Only so will
the work be done, and what is gotten held together. But these are in
themselves temporary. They are immensely important and indispensable, but
not the chief thing. The great need is of the story of Jesus. That is,
plain teaching about sin - the hardest task of all for the missionary,
whether in Asia or America - and the damnable results locked up in sin.
Then the winsome telling, the tirelessly patient and persistently gentle
telling of the story of love, God's love as revealed in Jesus. The telling
them that Jesus will put a new moral power inside a man that will make him
But they need even more than this, aye, far more. They need men - human
beings like themselves, living among them in closest touch - whose clean,
strong, sweet lives spell out the Jesus-story as no human lips can ever
To live side by side with men who like themselves are tempted sorely, but
who show plainly in their lives a power that downs the temptation - this is
their great need. The good seed, after all, is not the message of truth
merely, but the "sons of the kingdom," men living the message of Jesus,
and more, the power of Jesus, daily.
A kindergarten teacher opened a mission among the slum children of a very
poor section of Chicago. She began her work by gathering a number of
dirty, unkempt children of the street into the neat mission room. Then,
instead of preaching or praying or something of the conventional sort at
the first, she brought in and set on a table a large beautiful calla lily,
bewitching in its simple white beauty.
The effect of the flower on one child, a little girl, was striking. No
sooner had she looked at it than she looked down at her own dirty hands
and clothes, with a flush creeping into her face. Then she quickly went
out into the street. In a little while she was back again, but with her
face washed, her hair combed, her dress tidied up, and a bit of colored
ribbon added. She walked straight up to the lily again, and looked long,
with deep wondering admiration in her eyes, at the beautiful white flower.
The flower's purity was a mirror in which she saw her own dirtiness. It
was a magnet drawing her gently but strongly up to its own higher level.
It was an inspiration moving her irresistibly to respond to its own upward
A simple, pure, human life is the greatest moral magnet. Jesus Himself
down here was just such a magnet. Such a life is impossible for us without
Jesus. It tells His power as no tongue can. It spells out loudly a
standard of life and, far more, a power that can lift the life up to the
standard. It doesn't simply tell what we should be. That may only
tantalize and tease. But it tells what we actually can be.
Jesus is more than a message. He is a living power in a man's life. This
is the great need of men's hearts, - the message of Jesus' purity and of
Jesus' power embodied in live men, living side by side, in the thick of
things, with their brothers of the great world.
The Great Unknown Lack.
The greatness of men's need stands out most pathetically in this, that men
don't know their need. They have gotten so used to the night that they
don't care for the sunlight. They have been hungry so long that the sense
of hunger and the call of appetite have wholly gone.
There is a simple, striking story told of two famous Scandinavians, Ole
Bull, the great violinist, and John Ericsson, the great inventor, who
taught the world to use the screw in steam navigation. The one was a
Norwegian, the other a Swede. They had been friends in early life, but
drifted apart and did not meet again until each had become famous. The old
friendship was renewed on one of Ole Bull's tours to this country.
As Bull was leaving his friend, after a delightful visit, he gave him a
cordial invitation to attend his concert that evening. But the
matter-of-fact, prosaic Ericsson declined, pleading pressure of work, and
saying that he had no time to waste on music.
Bull renewed his invitation, time and again, finally saying, "If you won't
come, I'll bring my violin down here to your shop, and play." "If you do,"
replied the famous engineer laughingly, "I'll smash the thing to pieces."
The violinist, knowing the marvellous, almost supernatural, power of his
instrument to touch and awaken the human heart into new life, felt curious
to know what effect it would have on this scientific man steeped in his
prosaic physics. So he planned a bit of diplomacy.
Taking the violin with him, he called upon Ericsson at his workshop one
day. He removed the strings and screws and apron, and called Ericsson's
attention to certain defects, asking about the scientific and acoustic
principles involved, and discussing the differing effect of the different
grain of certain woods. From this he went on to a discussion of sound
waves. Finally, to illustrate his meaning and his questions, he replaced
the parts, and, bringing the bow softly down upon the tense strings, drew
out a few marvellously sweet, rich tones.
At once the workmen in the shop dropped their tools, and listened with
wide-eyed wonder. Ole Bull played on and on, with his simple great skill,
making the workshop a place of worship. When finally he paused, Ericsson
lifted his bowed head, and showed eyes that were wet. Then he said softly,
with the touch of reverent awe in his voice, "Play on! Don't stop. Play
on. I never knew before what it was that was lacking in my life."
That is what men everywhere say when they come to know Jesus. They fight
against knowing Him because of their ignorance of Him. At home, prejudice
against theology of this sort and that; against some preaching, or church
service, or some Christian people they have unpleasant memories of
perhaps, bar the way. Abroad, prejudice against their treatment at the
hands of Christian nations, or against anything new, shuts the door with a
slam and a sharp push of the bolt.
It takes great diplomacy, love's diplomacy, the combination of serpent and
dove, subtlety and harmlessness, to get an entrance. But when the door is
pried open, or coaxed open enough for some sound or sight of Jesus to get
in, they passionately cry out, "This is what I need. This Jesus is the
lacking thing in my life!"
The Present Opportunity
Somebody's Knocking at the Door.
They're Standing in the Dark.
The Coming Leaders.
What They're After.
Returning Our Call.
The Present Opportunity
Somebody's Knocking at the Door.
There's a soft, tender passion in the heart of God. Its flame burns
steadily. It never flags nor dims. It's a passion for His child-man. And
that very passion itself draws man to Himself with a drawing power that is
irresistible. They can't resist being drawn, even though they may refuse
to yield to it.
There is an answering passion in man's heart for God. It is often a sort
of dumb longing, not clearly defined nor well understood. It is a mute
yearning of his heart for God, though often he doesn't think of it that
way. But it is there; for these two, man and God, belong together. They
were together until sin drove its ugly wedge in between. They are a part
of each other. Neither one is complete nor happy without the other.
The heart of God can be satisfied only as man comes back home to Him. And
man's heart never rests until it finds rest in comradeship with God. These
two are always drawing toward each other. God is always drawing man by the
great master-passion of His heart. And man is always responding to that
tender, strong pull in the underneath, mute yearning of his heart.
By and by the thing that keeps them apart will be gotten rid of. Sin will
be shipped overboard, to fall by its own dead weight to the bottom of the
sea. Then there will be glad reunion of God and man, their hearts in full
glad accord again. To-night we want to talk together a bit about this
answering passion of man's heart for God.
The heathen world is knocking to-day at the door of the Christian Church.
It has found out who has the fullest and truest information about God. And
it is knocking loudly and earnestly at that door. And it keeps on
knocking, though the door seems to be barely open yet; and a good
many - most? - inside don't seem to have heard the knocking.
The most remarkable thing about the present time from the Church point of
view is that the heathen peoples are asking for what the Master has told
us to give them. The centre of Church attraction and of Christian action
to-day is on the swing toward heathen lands.
When the Church began again, a hundred years ago, to enter the great
heathen world, it had to use pick and axe, jimmy and chisel. It seemed
like using burglar's tools. Certainly it was working in the dark, with
only the burglar's dark-lantern to show the way. But now the heathen door
is wide open. Instead of our knocking at their door, the heathen world is
knocking at our door.
Our billion brothers stand in the night-time of their darkness blindly
feeling for our door, and knocking, now timidly, now earnestly and loudly,
ay, imperiously, for the light that we have. It has been a cold night for
them, and a long night, too. But the darkest hour of it is already
throbbing with the flood of coming light. They have found the door and are
using it. The whole foreign non-Christian world is knocking with
incessant, insistent clamor at our church door.
They're Standing in the Dark.
I do not mean that actually every country in the world is open to the
Gospel. For there are a few countries with comparatively scanty
populations that are not open; except, indeed, on the edges, to the man
prying earnestly around for a way to get in.
I don't mean that every man in these open countries is actually asking us
to send him some word of Jesus. For vast numbers of them have never heard
either about us or about Him. They don't know there is a Jesus to ask
about; or, judging by others, they would be asking.
Neither do I mean that these multitudes who are asking are, in every case,
asking for the Gospel itself. For many times that is not so. They ask for
that which appeals to them strongly as something that they want. They want