The Supreme and Determining Aim of Missions

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It is the aim of foreign missions that is to be defined, and not the aim of the Christian Church in the world, or of the Christian nations of the world. There are many good and Christian things which it is not the duty of the foreign missionary enterprise to do. Some things are to be laid, from the beginning, upon the shoulders of the new Christians; some are to be left to be discharged in due time by the native Christian churches that shall arise; and there are many blessings, political, commercial, and philanthropic, which the Christian nations owe to the heathen world, which are not to be paid through the enterprise of foreign missions. It is the aim of a distinctive, specific movement that we are to consider.

It will help us in defining it to remind ourselves, for one thing, that we must not confuse the aim of foreign missions with the results of foreign missions. There is no force in the world so powerful to accomplish accessory results as the work of missions. Wherever it goes it plants in the hearts of men forces that produce new lives; it plants among communities of men forces that create new social combinations. It is impossible that any human tyranny should live where Jesus Christ is King. All these things the foreign mission movement accomplishes; it does not aim to accomplish them.

I read in a missionary paper a little while ago that the foreign mission that was to accomplish results of permanent value must aim at the total reorganization of the whole social fabric. This is a mischievous doctrine. We learn nothing from human history, from the experience of the Christian Church, from the example of our Lord and his apostles to justify it. They did not aim directly at such an end. They were content to aim at implanting ...

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