Given at Welland, Woodstock, Guelph and Port Hope.W8432 ON THE NECESSITY OF FOREIGN MISSIONS
Oct 1 1906
To: [estimated date November 1906]
Last week we in Hamilton had the great pleasure and privilege of listening to an address by Miss Frances Willard, the noble champion of poor degraded womanhood, who has shown how much can be done to lift-up the fallen by a kind, encouraging word and a loving helping hand. In the course of her remarks she referred to that old adage "Speech is silver but silence is golden," saying "it seemed to her, that for a Christian women, speech is golden and silence criminal."
And it is this thought that has impelled me to attempt to say a few words to you to-day.1 Why, indeed, should we be silent, when we owe all we have and we are, as women in a Christian land, to that blessed Redeemer, whose Gospel has given all the liberties and privileges which we possess![?] Why, indeed, should we keep our lips tightly sealed, and not lift our voices in earnest protest and pleading, on the behalf of those poor down-trodden sisters in heathen lands, who are living lives of most indescribable misery, with no hope either for this world or the next? As the Rev. John McNeill, the noted preacher and pastor of Regent Square Presbyterian Church London, said the other day "When I see how dumb people are when it comes to speaking about Jesus, I am wild with suspicion, that after all they have never found Him" Therefore I trust you will forgive me, if I speak somewhat plainly on this subject, but it is a very serious vital question, and I want particularly to speak to those who have not yet taken an interest in the mission work of our Church. Why is it? I want to ask this question still more particularly of those whose names are on the church roll. For as I view it, when we join the church, we should join the missionary society the one natural consequence upon the other: and the thought has come to me with fresh force since the past Sabbath was our season of communion, and when I looked around upon that large gathering of professedly Christian Women, and compared it with the tiny gathering of the faithful few at the missionary auxiliary meeting, I could not but say to myself, what does this profession mean? What is it all worth?
Let us deal plainly with ourselves. When we came forward and signified your desire to become members of the church, what did we mean by it? Was it simply that we might have the right to partake of the bread and wine and sit with the communicants on communion Sabbath? Surely it was not this, surely we had some higher conception of its meaning. But how are we to be judged? The Saviour said "By there fruits ye shall know them". " Faith without works is dead". If it does not, it ought to mean to every one of us, our entire consecration of ourselves to God, our means, our time, our talents, every thing that we possess. "For we are not our own, we were bought with a price." Does it not mean, that we have taken the oath of allegiance to the King of Heaven, and having entered His service, we are bound to obey His orders implicitly instantly, conscientiously? Does a soldier when the word of command is given, ever think of saying "I feel rather tired" or "I am not very well" or "It is not quite convenient for me to go just now"? Does it ever enter his head to say anything of the sort? Well, what are we doing, when we are found absent from our posts of duty? What do we mean, by making all sorts of excuses for not obliging the commands of our divine Sovereign in labouring to extend his Kingdom over the whole earth? Dear Christian friends, is there not too little realization of what God expects of us, too much indifference, too much of this putting our work before the Lords work?
Now, think of it, Christian women, who know the truth of the Gospel, who believe in Jesus Christ, and the awful fate awaiting those who [do not; think][how do I not] of us, giving our time & thought entirely to what concerns ourselves. Do not think I [Now I do not] wish to make little of home duties, for a true Christian never neglects her home or her family, (this is most important part of our mission,) but I do say that we may make too much of it, we may make an continuous idol of our house or our housekeeping. As an illustration of exactly what I mean, suppose the Missionary Meetings comes on Tuesday and the ironing day also, let the ironing be put off till Wednesday, it is not of vital importance, nobody will die if it is left for a few hours, so with many other every day duties, altogether necessary & right in themselves, but not so binding, that we can never postpone them for a little, while we attend to God's work. There is a great deal in planning [and] "where there's a will there's a way," and you will certainly find, (I speak from personal experience) that time spent at a missionary meeting is not wasted . You will come back to that monotonous routine of everyday tasks with fresher minds, better tempers, brighter faces, with something to talk of to your children, & something to live for besides yourselves. And here comes in the question of parental example, "Example is better than precept" saith the proverb. There is not time for me to enlarge upon this proverb namely the mighty force which we mother's [Christian's] have in our possession, for influencing our children by a consistent beautiful Christian life, but let me ask, how can we expect our sons ad daughters to be interested in the work of the church, if we are not. If we give only the leavings, the mere scraps of our time and money to [the] cause of God, what importance can they attach to our Christian teachings? We must practice what we preach.
Now my dear friends, let me entreat of you, to think of this matter very earnestly for a little while. Let us bring that scene before our minds, when Christ Jesus, the Son of God, looked out upon the world lying under the terrible curse of His Almighty Father, must He not have foreseen, that an awful future awaited the human race, if He did not do something to save us? It is neither the time nor the place, to enter into the discussion of the doctrine of future punishment, but Oh! it seems to me that the Son of God would not have left His beautiful home in glory, that seat beside his father for nothing; surely there must have been some awful woe in store for us, to induce Him to make such a sacrifice; and would God the Father have given up his only son, "the brightness of his glory, the express image of His person," to such a death, if his heart had not been stirred to its very depths in pity for us.
O dear Christian friends, sometimes it seems as if we must have forgotten the truths in our Bible, that we have too many papers, too many magazines, and we read too much the sayings of man, that we have forgotten the sayings of God, or have become too familiar with the plain teaching of the scripture that we fail to take it in, and live it out in our daily lives. Then too if the Saviour had only to die to save us, why did he endure thirty years of privation and suffering on our Earth? Was it not because He also foresaw that He must live upon earth long enough to show us what a Christian life ought to be; to teach us that in order to be acceptable in God's sight, we must take up a course of life such as the Saviour did. What kind of a life was His? Was it not one of entire self-renunciation, self-sacrifice for others? The great Teacher was not self-absorbed, He could spare time to be kind and gentle even to little children, He went about continually doing good, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, sought not to be ministered unto, but to minister, "Even Christ pleased not himself." His death was but the last & steepest step of the altar of self sacrifice. He had been so long ascending. On this pivot of self-denial hangs the whole secret of a life pleasing in the sight of God. [Now there possessing the knowledge of what God demands of us if we will have everlasting life, and the only way of salvation.] Nor can we rest in peace for one moment, so long as there is a single soul on the face of the Globe who knows not the way of life. And what are the facts of the case? Dr. Pierson tells us, that of the 1500 millions who people the world, not more than 30 millions could be considered as evangelized. What has the church been doing all these years; that the Church in whose keeping the Saviour left the knowledge of his Salvation with the command "Go tell all nations." As Canon Farrar has said "Had Christ and His apostles acted with the excuse of modern selfishness, Christianity would have died away as the religion of some obscure sect on the Dead Sea shore. Were there no unbelievers in Judea, when Christ told His disciples to go tell all nations? Were there none in Nazareth, when He went to Capernaum? We must still leave the dead to bury their dead." Do not misunderstand me, I do not wish to detach from the importance of Home Mission work, but that of the Foreign is equally binding upon us.
And now let me try to enlist your sympathy, on the behalf of the women & children, in those heathen lands. I want each one of you to-day to picture herself as born in a heathen country, and not in our own Christian Canada. Remember, it was only the kind Providence of God, that made us Canadian women & not heathen. First of all let the aged think and contrast their lot with that of the old in those dark lands. When Mrs. Annand, the wife of one of our missionaries to the New Hebrides returned a few years ago from the Island of Aneutyum [sp?], she gave us an account of life amongst the natives, and amongst other things told us how the old women were treated when they had become helpless & infirm; instead of being loved & tenderly cherished, as we love our dear mothers and grandmothers, a hole was dug, and into this was out the poor old creature alive, and never shall I forget how Mrs. Annand described those piteous cries growing fainter and fainter, as the earth closed in upon them. Then as to the young girls, when they were married, it was not with a ring put on tenderly & lovingly, but with a rope put round the poor girl's neck, which she was henceforth to wear, so that at any time, if she chanced to displease her husband he might use this, to strangle her. And do you (as many here) know those brave missionaries Mr. & Mrs. Annand worked on till, by the blessing of God, these frightful practices were abolished and that island became a Christian Island, and sends in contributions to our Mission fund.
Now, they have begun work in another island. Espiritu Santo. Would I be detaining you too long, if I read you an extract from [one of] Mrs. Annand's (last) letters [at that time] just to show you what [the] refined delicate lady we all [or] some of us may remember her, is enduring for the sake of saving immortal souls. After describing some of their customs, and the style of their huts, she says: "They sleep cook and eat in this hut, lie there when sick, & when they die are buried within them This is one of their most abominable customs, namely burying their dead in their dwelling houses, sometimes not covered more than one foot in depth. For fifty or more days, the husband at least must remain indoors the greater part of the time in the house where his wife is buried. A fire is kept burning most of the time over the grave to consume the gas rising from it. . . .They seldom or never wash during the mourning, so you can imagine what they are like." What self sacrifice do we make in comparison with these devoted missionaries, spending their lives with these disgusting savages? Then you all know the lives of the women in India, and far worse than that the lives of the children, many of them wives or widows. Does it not make our blood run cold, when we think of giving our little girls over to married life at eight and nine years of age? No child life in India. (Fancy). Just try and realize what bondage they are under, from a notice in the newspaper, a short time ago, that the barbers of Bombay had revolted against the cruel practice of shaving the heads of the widows once a week, as had been the custom in that city. Now dear friends, forgive me if I have wearied you, and detained you too long, but life is very short and very uncertain, and I have been very anxious to awaken your attention to your own duty & responsibility, and the needs of your dying fellow creatures, remembering the solemn injunction, "to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is a sin. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest."
1 For examples of Mary Baker McQuesten’s Presbyterian Missionary Society and Public Addresses, see W7172, W7181, W7193, W7203, W8422, W8432, W8447, W0127a, several others are illegible.