I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations.
Who will do this? Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King.
Shall we let them perish? Can we go to our beds and sleep while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim upon us? We ought to put it on this footing—not “Can I prove that I ought to go?” but “Can I prove that I ought not to go?”
When a man can prove honestly that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man. I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt that if some of our leading ministers would go forth it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go.
After balancing the whole thing I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would be the same; but I hope I would cheerfully go if it were my duty to do so. Brethren, put yourselves through the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of his elect among them, we must go and search for them till we find them. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is annihilated.
True we have not the Pentecostal gift of tongues, but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift. The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go? The men who ought to go are young brethren of good abilities who have not yet taken upon themselves family cares.
Each student entering the college should consider this matter, and surrender himself to the work, unless there are conclusive reasons for his not doing so. It is a fact that even for the colonies it is very difficult to find men, for I have had openings in Australia which I have been obliged to decline. It ought not to be so. Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us are willing to be exiled for Jesus. The Mission languishes for want of men.
If the men were forthcoming the liberality of the church would supply their needs, and, in fact, the liberality of the church has made the supply, and yet there are not the men to go. I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of conflict.
I believe that if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great feature of your work, and that is God’s sure way of power, I wish that our churches would imitate that of Pastor Harms, in Germany, where every member was consecrated to God indeed and of a truth.
The farmers gave the produce of their lands, the workingmen their labor; one gave a large house to be used as a missionary college, and Pastor Harms obtained money for a ship which he fitted out, to make voyages to Africa, and then he sent missionaries, and little companies of his people with them, to form Christian communities among the Bushmen. When will our churches be equally self-denying and energetic?
Look at the Moravians! how every man and woman becomes a missionary, and how much they do in consequence. Let us catch their spirit. Is it a right spirit? Then it is right for us to have it. It is not enough for us to say, “Those Moravians are very wonderful people!” We ought to be wonderful people too. Christ did not purchase the Moravians any more then he purchased us; they are under no more obligation to make sacrifices then we are.
Why then this backwardness! When we read of heroic men who gave up all for Jesus, we are not merely to admire, but to imitate them. Who will imitate them now? Come to the point.
Are there not some among you willing to consecrate yourselves to the Lord? “Forward” is the watchword to-day! Are there no bold spirits to lead the van? Pray all of you that during this Pentecost the Spirit may say, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work.”
Forward! In God’s name, Forward!!
C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle. Second Series