what they have felt is as nothing compared with what might have come.
Danger and Victory Eying each other.
An emergency means a great danger threatening, perhaps the very life. But
it means, too, that if the danger can be gripped and overcome there will
be great victory. Two possibilities come up close and stare each other
angrily in the face; the possibility of great disaster impending, and of
great victory over it within grasp, if there be a reaching hand to grasp
it. The deciding thing is the human element, the strong, quick hand
stretched out. If strength can be concentrated, the situation gripped,
then great victory is assured. But it takes the utmost concentration of
strength, with rare wisdom and quick steady action, to turn the tide
toward flood. If this is not done, either because of lack of leadership or
of enough strength or enough interest, disaster comes.
Just such emergencies come to us constantly. A severe illness lays its
hand upon a loved one in the home. The crisis comes. Death and life stand
in the sick-room eying each other. Either one may be victor. No one can
tell surely which it will be. And every effort is strained, the habit of
life broken, other matters forgotten and neglected, that death may be
staved off, and life wooed to stay. And when the crisis passes safely the
joy over the new lease of life makes one forget all the cost of strain and
Who of us cannot recall some time back there, when some emergency came in
personal business matters, and personal and home expenses and plans were
cut down to the lowest notch, to the bleeding-point, that the emergency
might be safely met.
Teachers and parents know that moral emergencies come at intervals in a
child's life, until young manhood and womanhood are reached. One of the
greatest tasks in child-training is to note the emergency, and meet it
successfully. And what keenness and patience and subtlety it does take
only he knows who has been through the experience.
Emergencies come in spiritual matters, too. They are the hardest kind to
meet. It is hardest to make people see them and grip them. In the life of
many a church a spiritual emergency has come, but has not been met. The
church goes on holding services, raising money and paying it out, going
through all the proper forms, but with the life itself quite gone out of
it. The thing is being kept in motion by a humanly manipulated electric
current; there is no free life-movement.
Evangelistic leaders say that such emergencies come in their campaigning.
There has to be a struggle of spirit forces. And the victory that comes,
comes only as a result of close hand-to-hand conflict of soul by the
We all know that such crises come in our personal experience. And those
who know about changing things by prayer do not need to be told of the
emergency that comes at times; nor of how it requires a tightening of all
the buckles, a new reviewing of the promises on which prayer rests, a new
steadying of one's faith, a quietly persistent hanging on, an intenser
insistence of spirit in prayer and more arrow-praying in the daily round
of work - sending out the softly breathed heart-pleadings while busy with
common duties, until the assurance comes that the danger is past and the
It is remarkable to what an extent the great events of history have been
emergency events. With the greatest reverence, it can be said that
history's central event, the dying of Jesus, was an emergency action. Even
though we understand clearly that it was known and counselled from before
the foundation of the world, that He was to shed His precious blood for
our salvation, His dying can never be fully understood save as a great
emergency measure, the great emergency measure, because of the crisis
made by sin.
Now that is the sort of thing - an emergency - that is now on in this great
task of world-wide evangelization which Jesus has committed to our hands.
Some of you may be strongly inclined to lift your eyebrows and ask - Is
there really any such emergency? I know that people don't like those words
"crisis" and "emergency." It is much more comfortable to think that things
are going on very smoothly and well. Even though all is not just as we
might choose to have it, yet we like to think that it will turn out well.
There is a sort of optimism that is very popular. Things will all come out
right somehow, we like to think. But the fact is that things don't turn
out right of themselves. They have to be turned by somebody who gives
heart and life to the turning.
It can be said with sane, sober sense that without doubt there is an
emergency, and a great one, in this foreign-mission enterprise. It is, of
course, true that in a sense there is a continual emergency here. There
are thousands of these foreign brothers of ours slipping the tether of
life daily. The light might easily have been taken to them, and have
changed their choices. But then it hasn't been, and the dark shadow of the
possibility of their separating themselves forever from God, through wrong
choice persisted in, hangs down over each one of them. There can be no
darker shadow except the actual knowledge that they have so separated
themselves from life in Him.
A Crisis of Neglect and Success.
But quite distinct from that, and in addition to it, it is quite safe to
say that there is an emergency now on in the heathen world such as it
has never known before. Such is the mature judgment of our missionary
And we do well to remind ourselves that we have some remarkable men among
these leaders. There are men on the foreign fields and at the missionary
helm at home of most remarkable ability and genius. There are to-day men
of statesmanlike grasp and power, who could easily have taken front rank
in public life, in diplomacy, and professional life, men fully able to
fill the Presidential chair and do it masterfully, who are giving their
life-blood to this great missionary task.
The sober judgment of these men, taken from every angle of vision, is that
the present is a time of unparalleled emergency. It exists peculiarly in
Asia, the greatest of all foreign-mission lands. It has been caused by a
number of things that now come together with such force as to make a
crisis, the crisis of missions, the gravest that has yet come, and that,
it is probably safe to say, will ever come. For the future will be largely
settled, one way or the other, within a few years.
At the basis of all is the great need, of course. That looms big and
gaunt and spectral in any survey of the matter.
Then the neglect by the Church for many generations has greatly
intensified the present situation. The Master's plan plainly is that every
generation of the Church shall give the Gospel to its generation; that is,
to all the people living in the world at that time. Every generation of
men must have the Gospel afresh. No land is beyond the need of a fresh
gospelizing. If Christian America were to lose its churches and the
Gospel, it would surely revert to the heathen type from which we sprung.
But many generations went by with practically nothing of this sort being
done. These generations of inactivity have piled up on the present
generation. The undone work of the past adds greatly to the task of the
present. The present situation is abnormal because of what hasn't been
Then the success of the present has played a big part. Modern missionary
activity has had a big share in making this emergency. A century of
missions is reaching a tremendous climax. The splendid aggressiveness of
church leaders and missionaries is now an embarrassment to a Church, or
any one in the Church, who doesn't want to keep up the pace. It is an
emergency of success, the logical result of what has been accomplished. So
much has been done, and been done so well by a comparatively few, that now
more must be done by the rest of us.
It's because the heathen world is awake that there is an emergency. Their
awakeness is the thing that crowds in on us. And we waked them up. We must
now do more and better, because we have done so well. We have indeed waked
them up, but - to what? A business man would stamp it as rank foolishness
to fail to take advantage of the splendid opening that we have made in the
A Westernized Heathenism.
Now, let us look just a bit at this present pressing emergency. There are
grave perils threatening, and a great victory possible.
Well, first of all there is real danger of a new aggressive heathenism;
a new, energetic, but distinctly un-Christian civilization, in the heathen
world. Many thoughtful men who are keenly watching the world movement
believe that without doubt there is to be a new leadership of the human
race in the Orient. It may be a heathen leadership. That danger is a
distinct possibility. The new world-leadership may have all the enormous
energy and mental keenness of Christian peoples, but without the Christian
That means practically a new heathenism, no longer asleep but wide-awake;
no longer being manipulated by the Western nations, but maybe manipulating
and managing them. An aroused, organized, energized heathen world, with
all the science and inventiveness and restless aggressiveness of the
western nations and, mark you - and all the spirit of the old, Godless,
Christless heathenism dominating its new life - that is the danger.
The heathen world is awake at last after a sleep of centuries. It is
sitting up, rubbing its eyes, and taking notice. It is entering upon a new
life. That's as clear as a sunbeam on a cloudless morning. What that life
shall be depends entirely on the Church waking up. That means, to be more
practical, that it depends on you and me waking up, just now, and doing
what we easily can. It may be a new Christian life, shot through and
through with the blessed principles and spirit of Jesus. It may be a new
life of energized, Westernized heathenism! They may get merely our energy
and mental awakeness without the Christian spirit that gave these to us.
These two opposite things are standing by the bedside eying each other.
Which will get the patient? Who knows? If the Church fail - !
This is a real peril seriously threatening. It is probably far more grave
and far more likely than the best-informed and keenest observer is aware
A Powerless Christianity.
Then there is a second danger climbing in fast on the heels of this, that
is already being plainly felt. These peoples may turn away from a
Christianity that seems powerless to them. As they come to know better
the simple principles of our faith they may see that we are not true to
it. Our Master bade us go everywhere and tell all men of Him, and tell
them most and best by the way we live. But we haven't done it. The Church
of the past nineteen centuries, taken as a whole, hasn't done it. The
Church to-day, taken as a whole, isn't doing it.
How many times have the missionaries been obliged to listen to the
question, which is a reproach rather than a question, "Why didn't you come
before? My father lived and died in distress, seeking for this light you
bring us now. Why didn't your father come and tell my father?" If they
find that our faith hasn't gripped us enough to master our lives they
will naturally doubt if, after all, there is any more real practical
power in it than in their own heathen beliefs.
It seems better in theory, but it seems to lose its ideals in the stiff
test of practice. They would be wrong in thinking that, of course. But
what conclusion more natural to the crowd that never thinks deep. When all
the difficulties and hardships come in the way of their acceptance of
Christ, and the easiest way is not to, how easy to throw the whole thing
The story is told of a Chinaman in this country who applied for a position
as house-servant in a family which belonged to a fashionable church. He
"Do you drink whiskey?"
"No, I Clistian man."
"Do you play cards?"
"No, I Clistian man."
He was engaged, and proved to be a capable servant. By and by the lady
gave a bridge-party, with wine accompaniments. The Chinaman did his part
acceptably, but the next morning he appeared before his mistress.
"I want quit," he said.
"Why? What is the matter?"
"I Clistian man. I told you so before; no heathen; no workee for 'Melican
These heathen brothers of ours are not fools. They are a keen lot. They
judge our religion by us who profess it, as we do with them and theirs.
There may come a wide-spread practical disbelief, or lack of belief, that
there is any practical power in Christ to change a man's life, and really
control his actions. And it will be a perfectly logical conclusion from
what they find in us Christian nations as a whole.
Death or Deep Water.
And then there are some mighty bad dangers on the other side - our side.
If it be true that every generation needs the Gospel, it is just as true
that every generation of Christians needs to give the Gospel. It is the
very life of a Christian to give himself out in earnest service for
others. The man who is failing there has started on the down grade in his
Christian life. If we lose the spirit of "go" we have lost the very
Christian spirit itself. A disobedient church will become a dead church.
It will die of heart failure.
It was John's Man with eyes of searching flame, and tongue of keen-edged
sword, and feet that had been through the fire, who said to a Christian
church, "I will move thy candlestick out of its place except thou change
thy ways." The candlestick isn't the light. It holds the light. The
Church's great mission is to be the world's light-holder.
But unsnuffed candles and cobwebby window-panes seem to have been in
evidence sometimes. The Christian Church in some lands has plainly lost
its privilege of service, and lost its life, too. The old organizations
are kept up, but all life has gone. There's a grave danger threatening
the American Church and the British Church just at this present time.
Long years ago, in the days before steam navigation, an ocean vessel came
from a long sea voyage, up St. George's Channel, headed for Liverpool.
When the pilot was taken on board, he cried abruptly to the captain, "What
do you mean? You've let her drift off toward the Welsh coast, toward the
shallows. Muster the crew." The crew was quickly mustered, and the pilot
told the danger in a few short words, and then said sharply, "Boys, it's
death or deep water, hoist the mains'l!" And only by dint of hardest work
was the ship saved.
If I could get the ear of the Church to-day, I would, as a great kindness
to it, cry out with all the earnestness of soul I could command, "It's
death or deep water; deep water in this holy service of world-winning, or
death from foundering."
Saved by Saving.
And then there's a yet graver peril threatening. It's quite the common
thing to appeal to selfish motives. It is striking that the great strides
that prohibition has made of recent years, have been due to a sort of
legislation and to business regulation that appeal to selfish motives. The
economic motive, and the disagreeable and injurious likelihood of a saloon
being close to one's own home, have had greater influence than higher
moral motives. And we are glad of any motive that will put the damnable
traffic down and out.
Well, I'm going to come down a step here, and remind you of a yet graver
peril that threatens. There is serious danger of a heathenized
Christianity dominating our boasted Christian civilization and Christian
lands. And in time that would be a serious menace to our pocket-books.
That is to say, there may be the energy and keen mental life without the
mellowing and sweetening influence of the Christian spirit. The restless
aggressiveness may come without the poise; the ceaseless activity without
the deeper steadying quality; the keenness without the softening touch of
the true life. In other words, if we don't Christianize heathendom, they
will exert an influence on us that will practically amount to their
Already such influences are seeping in at more than one crack.
Mohammedanism has an active propaganda in Great Britain. Heathen wedges
are slipping their thin edges in, in our land. More and more it will
extend, in time influencing our whole moral fabric, and affecting our
whole national life.
During some recent researches among the ruins of Pompeii the explorers
turned up a find that told its own story. It was the body of a crippled
boy. He was lame in his foot. And around the body there was a woman's arm,
a finely shaped, beautiful, bejewelled arm. The mute find told its simple
story. The great stream of fire suddenly coming from the volcano, the
crowd fleeing for life, the little cripple unable to get along fast
enough, the woman's heart touched, her arm thrown about the boy to aid
his escape; then the overtaking fire-flood, and both lost. The arm that
was stretched out to save another was preserved, and only that. All the
rest of the brave rescuer's body had gone. The saving part was saved. Only
that mercifully outstretched to save another was itself saved.
The Church or the man that selfishly saveth his life shall lose it. He
that forgetteth about his own life in eagerly saving others shall find
that he has saved his own life, and that it has grown into a new fulness
and richness of life.
These are some of the dark ugly faces peering into ours. But there's
another face among them. It is a very bright face, with eyes all aglow,
and features all shining with light. It is the face of victory over every
danger and difficulty that threatens. Many believe that the emergency will
be met. The victory will surely be achieved. But the fact to mark keenly,
just now, is that it will be achieved only by a vigorous, masterful
gripping of the present pressing emergency.
Ah! God, may Thy Church - we men who make Thy Church, who are Thy
Church - may we see the emergency, and be gripped by it; for Jesus' sake;
aye, for men's sake; for the Church's sake; for our own sake; in Jesus'
The Past Failure
Some of God's Failures.
Where the Reproach of Failure Lies.
The Church Mission.
"Christ also Waits."
The Past Failure
Some of God's Failures.
God fails, sometimes. That is to say, the plan He has made and set His
heart upon fails.
Eden was God's plan for man. A weedless, thornless, world-garden of great
beauty and fruitfulness; a man and woman living together in sweet purity
and strong self-mastery; their children growing up in such an atmosphere,
trained for the highest and best; the earth with all its wondrous forces
developed and mastered by man; full comradeship and partnership between
man and all the living creation, beast and bird; and in the midst of all
God Himself walking and working in closest touch with man in all his
enterprises - that was God's Eden plan for man. But it failed.
The Israel plan was a failure, too. The main purpose of Israel being made
God's peculiar people has failed up to the present hour. That plan
originally was a simple shepherd people, living on the soil close to
nature. They were to be, not a democracy ruled by the direct vote of the
people in all things; nor a republic ruled by the vote of selected
representatives; nor yet a kingdom ruled over by the will of an autocrat;
but something quite distinct from all of these, what men have been pleased
to call a theocracy.
That is to say, God Himself was to be their ruler in a very real,
practical sense, directing and working with them in the working out of all
their national life. They were to combine all the best in each of these
forms of government, with a something added, not in any of them as men
They were to be wholly unlike the other nations, utterly unambitious
politically, neither exciting war upon themselves by others nor ever
making war upon others. Their great mission was to be a teacher-nation to
all the earth, teaching the great spiritual truths; and, better yet,
embodying these truths in their personal and national life.
But the plan failed. The glitter of the other nations turned them aside
from God's plan. They set up a kingdom, "like all the nations," very much
Then God worked with them where they would work with Him. He planned a
great kingdom to overspread the earth in its rule and blessed influence,
but not by the aggression of war and oppression. Their later literature is
all a-flood with the glory light of the coming king and kingdom. Yet when
the King came they rejected Him and then killed Him. They failed at the
very point that was to have been their great achievement. God's plan
failed. The Hebrew people from the point of view of the direct object of
their creation as a nation have been a failure up to the present hour.
God's choice for their first king, Saul, was a failure, too. No man ever
began life, nor king his rule, with better preparation and prospects. And
no career ever ended in such dismal failure. God's plan for the man had
Jesus' plan for Judas failed. The sharpest contrasts of possible good and
actual bad came together in his career in the most startling way. He
failed at the very point where he should have been strongest - his personal
loyalty to his Chief.
There can be no doubt that Jesus picked him out for one of His inner
circle because of his strong attractive traits. He had in him the making
of a John, the intimate, the writer of the great fourth Gospel. He might
have been a Peter, rugged in his bold leadership of the early Church.
But, though coached and companioned with, loved and wooed, up to the very
hour of the cowardly contemptible betrayal, he failed to respond even to
such influence as a Jesus could exert. Jesus planned Judas the apostle. He
became Judas the apostate, the traitor. He was to be a leader and teacher
of the Gospel. He became a miserable reproach and by-word of execration to
all men. Jesus' plan failed.
Where the Reproach of Failure Lies.
Will you please mark very keenly that the failure always comes because of
man's unwillingness to work with God? It always takes two for God's
plan - Himself and a man. All His working is through human partnership. In
all His working among men He needs to work with men.
Some good earnest people don't like, and won't like, that blunt statement
that God fails sometimes. It seems to them to cast a reproach upon God.
They may likely think it lacking in due reverence. But if these kind
friends will sink the shaft of their thinking just a little deeper down
into the mine of truth, they will find that the reproach is somewhere
There is reproach. Every failure that could have been prevented by
honest work and earnest faithfulness spells reproach. And there is
reproach here. But it isn't upon God; it is upon man. God's plan depends
upon man. It is always man's failure to do his simple part faithfully that
causes God's plan to fail.
There is a false reverence that fears to speak plainly of God. It seeks by
holding back some things, and speaking of others with very carefully
thought-out phrase, to bolster up God's side. True love has two marked
traits: it is always plain-spoken in telling all the truth when it should
be known; and it is always reverential. It can't be otherwise. The
bluntest words on the lips combine with the deepest reverence of spirit.
God doesn't need to be defended. The plain truth need never be apologized
It's a false reverence that holds back some of the truth, lest stating it
may seem to reflect on God's character. Such false reverence is a
distinct hindrance. It holds back from us some of the truth, and the
strong emphasis that the truth needs to arouse our attention and get into
our some-time thick heads. We men need the stirring up of plain truth,
told in plainest speech. The Church has suffered for lack of plain telling
of the truth. The deepest, tenderest reverence insists upon plain talk,
and reveals itself in such talk.
It is irreverent to hold back some of God's truth. For so men get wrong
impressions of God. It is unfair as well as irreverent. Theology has