Cadman -- a New Day for Missions


S. Parkes Cadman is one of the many immigrant clergymen who have attained to fame in American pulpits. He was born in Shropshire, England, December 18, 1864, and graduated from Richmond College, London University, in 1889. Coming to this country about 1895 he was appointed pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Metropolitan Tabernacle, New York. From this post he was called to Central Congregational Church, Brooklyn, with but one exception the largest Congregational Church in the United States. He has received the degree of D.D. from Wesleyan University and the University of Syracuse. The sermon here given, somewhat abridged, was delivered before the National Council of Congregational Churches, in Cleveland, Ohio, and is from Dr. Cadman's manuscript.


Born in 1864


God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. -- Gal. vi., 14.

The pivotal conception of missionary enterprise is the conception of Christ as the eternal priest of humanity. If any need of the world's heart is before us now, it is the need of the Cross. There is a deep and anxious desire in men for the saving forces of sacrificial Christianity. The ideals of the New Testament concerning Gethsemane and Calvary are being thrust upon our attention by the upward strugglings of the people. They, at any rate, have not forgotten the forsaken Man in the night of awful silence in the garden, nor His exceeding bitter agony, nor the perfect ending that made His death His victory. The wastes of eccentricity, whether orthodox or heterodox, and the over curious speculations of theologies remote from the habitations of men, have had little influence upon the multitudes we seek to serve. And if I had to choose a sphere where one could rediscover the central forces of Christian life and of Christian practise, I would lean toward the enlightened democracies which to-day are vibrant with the plea that the shepherdless multitudes shall have social ameliorations and new incentives and selfless leaders.

We are all very jealous for the honor and success of the propagandism we sustain at home and abroad, and I hold that its honor and success alike depend upon the priesthood and redemptive efficacies of Jesus. These sovereign forces are correlated with His victories for the twenty past centuries, and they constitute the distinctive genius of the faith.

We shall gain nothing for the rule or for the ethics of Jesus by derogating that peculiar office of the divine Victim which is, to me, at any rate, the most sublime reason for the Incarnation and the ineffable height and depth and mystery of all love and all strength blessedly operative in every ruined condition by means of sacrifice. The missionary fields confessedly can not be conquered by the unaided teacher; he must have more than a system of truth, more than a program, more than a reasoned discourse. Their vast inert mass demands vitalization; and the life which is given for the life of men, the divinest gift of all, is alone sufficient for this regeneration.

Moreover, can we rest the absolutism and finality of Jesus upon anything less than the last complete outpouring of His soul unto voluntary death for men's salvation? I do not think we can, and it is a requisite that we place larger emphasis upon this holy mystery of our life through Christ's death, the substantial soul and secret of all missionary progress in all ages of the Church.

Before we can see the miracle of nations entering the kingdom of God, before we can dismiss the black death of apathy which rests on so many professedly Christian communities, before we can dominate the social structure in righteousness and justice, the Church must be raised nearer to the standards of New Testament efficiency. And New Testament efficiency rested upon the perfect divinity and all-persuasive mediatorship of "Christ and him crucified." The personality of Christ involves for many of us the entire relation of God to His universe; He is "the central figure in all history," and Pie is "the central figure of our personal experience," creative in us, by His inaugural experience, of all we are in Him and for our fellows. Thus we make great claims for the Lord of the harvest, and we make them soberly, and we know them true for our spiritual consciousness, and we are prepared to defend them.

Yet I, for one, do not hesitate to admit that the theological necessities of missionary work are many, and that they must be recognized and met before it can fully accomplish its infinite design. Indeed, the rule of Jesus in all these aspects of His mission clarifies and simplifies the gospel. It is plain that such a gospel, wherein the living personality of the Christ deals with the living man to whom we minister, is not to be beset by complications and abstractions. Its spiritual topography embraces the height of good, the depth of love, the breadth of sympathy, and the width of catholicity. It was meant for the race and for the far-reaching reciprocities and inexpressible necessities of the race. It is attuned to the cry of the common heart. Its interpretations have the sanctions of an authoritative human experience which has never failed in its witness. Sometimes I have challenged these honored servants of the evangel who have come back to us from quarters where they were busy on the errands of the cross. Almost pathetically, with the painful interest of one inquiring for a long absent friend of whom no news has been received, I have solicited the missionaries. They came from the south of our own dear land, where they administered to the ; from the arctic zone, from the farther East. Their wider vision, their more imperial instinct, were plain to me, and my usual question was, "What do you teach the impulsive colored man and the stolid Eskimo and the pensive Hindu and the inscrutable Asiatic?" And they replied, "We teach them, that God is a personal spirit and Father, whose character is holiness and whose heart is love; that Jesus Christ is the designed and supreme Son of God, who lived in sinlessness and died in perfect willing sacrifice for the eternal life of all men, that by the will of God and in the power of His spirit men may have everlasting life and, better still, everlasting goodness, if they will accept and trust in Jesus Christ for all."

And this gospel obtains the day of overcoming for which we plead and pray. For tho an angel from heaven had any other, men do not respond; the charisma rests on no other message. Possest of it, and possessing it, under the covenant of heaven and led by the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, we shall go forth determined to give it place in us and in our presentations as never before. May nothing mar the solemn splendor of such a message from God unto men. Let us subordinate our undue intellectualism and place our boasted freedom under restraints, so that the evangel may be preached without reserve and with abandon. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all."

Such in one grand passage is the creed that breathes the very life and spirit of the most significant and overwhelming missionary period in the history of the Christian Church.

There is a new day due in missions because of the immense superiority in missionary methods. The personnel of our administrations has been superb, and of nearly all the honored servants of God who have labored in domestic and foreign departments it could be said, "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity." But I presume these seasoned veterans would be the first to show us how the whole conception of propagandism has been readapted, and its vehicles of communication multiplied in various directions. The onfall and sally of the earler evangelistic campaigns are now aided by the investment and siege of educational and medical work.

The trackways of a policy embedded in the wider interpretation of the gospel are laid and the new era takes shape before our comprehension. Travel, exploration, and commerce have demanded and obtained the Lusitania on the sea; the railroad from the Cape to Cairo on the land, and they have left no spot of earth untrodden, no map obscure, no mart unvisited. Keeping step with this stately and unprecedented development, and often anticipating it, the widening frontiers of our missionary kingdom have demonstrated again and again how the Church can make a bridal of the earth and sky, linking the lowliest needs to the loftiest truths. And best of all in respect of methods is the dispersal of our native egotism. We have come to see that the types of Christianity in Europe and America are perhaps aboriginal for us, but can not be transplanted to other shores. "Manifest destiny" is a phrase that sits down when Japan and China wake up. Not thus can Jesus be robbed of the fruits of His passion in any branch of the human family. We are to plant and water, labor in faith, and die in hope, scattering the seed of the gospel in the hearts of these brothers of regions outside. But God will ordain their harvests as it pleaseth Him. What will be the joy of that harvest? Throw your imagination across this new century, and as it dies and gives place to its successor, review the race whose devotion has then fastened on the divine ruler and the federal Man, Christ Jesus. For nearly a hundred years the barriers that segregated us will have been a memory. The Church will have discovered not only fields of labor, but forces for her replenishing. Then will our posterity rejoice in the larger Christ who is to be. The virtuous elements of all other faiths will be placed under the purification and control of the priesthood and authority of Jesus. And tho in these ancient religions that await the Bridegroom, the mortal stains the immortal and the human mars the beauty of the divine, in the light of His appearing they will assume new attitudes and receive His quickening and thrill with His pulse. When I conceive of this reward for our Daysman I protest that all other triumphs seem as tinsel and sham. The Desire of all nations shall then see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. The subtle patience of China, the fierce resistance of Japan, the brooding soul that haunts the Ganges valley, the tumult of emotion of the Ethiopian breast, all are for His appearing; they must be saved unto noble ends by His sanctification. For that time there will be a Church whose canonization of the infinite is beyond our dreams, enriched on every side, with common allegiance and diversity of gifts, and every gift the boon of all, and Christ's dower in His bride increased beyond compare.

This is the ideal of the new day; may it become our personal ideal. Then shall we fight with new courage for the right, and abhor the imperfect, the unjust, and the mean. Our leaders will care nothing for flattery and praise or odium and abuse. Enthusiasm can not be soured, nor courage diminished. The Almighty has placed our hand on the greatest of His plows, in whose furrow the nations I have named are germinating religiously. And to drive forward the blade if but a little, and to plant any seed of justice and of joy, any sense of manliness or moral worth, to aid in any way the gospel which is the friend of liberty, the companion of the conscience and the parent of the intellectual enlightenment -- is not that enough? Is it not a complete justification of our plea?

We shall do well to remember that no evangel can prosper without the evangelical temper. The parsing of grammarians is of little avail here, and to have all critical knowledge of the prophets and apostles of the faith without their fervor and consecration is profitable merely for study, and useless mainly for the larger life. Our culture must be the passion-flower of Christ Jesus. To be more anxious about intellectual pre-eminence or ecclesiastical origins than about "the trial of the immigrant" and the condition of the colored races is not helpful. "There is a sort of orthodoxy that revels in the visions of apocalypses and refuses to fight the beast," says Dr. Nurgan. Such barren indulgence is excluded from any glory to follow. Technicalities, niceties, knowledge remote and knowledge general must be appropriated and made dynamic in this life-and-death conflict; any that can not be thus used can be sent to the rear for a further debate.

Diplomacies in church government and adjustments in church creeds can wait on this consecration, this baptism of unction. I never heard that the statesman who formulated the peace at Paris in 1815 got in the way of the Household Brigades and the Highlanders at Waterloo and Hougomont. They played their commendable game, but they could not have swept that awful slope of flame in which Ney and the Old Guard staggered on at Mont St. Jean.

Let us redeem our creeds at the front, and prove the welding of our weapons and their tempered blades upon every evil way and darkness and superstition that afflict humankind.

And have you not seen with moistened eyes and beating hearts the pathetic surgings of harassed and broken sons and daughters of God toward His son Jesus Christ? I have watched them until I felt constrained to cry aloud and spare not; and while viewing them here and yonder, and refusing to be localized in our love toward them, have not our spirits been rebuked, have they not known fear for ourselves, have they not pensively echoed the charge of some that we have no real roots in democracy, but are as plants in pots, and not as oaks in the soil of earth? If independency is a barrier to the essence of which it is supposedly a form, if superiority shuts us off from assimilation with popular movements and delivers us over to cliques, then these churches of ours[1] will end in a record of shame and confusion. While we are busy in trivial things, our energy and our might will be deflected, and the living God will hand over the crusade to those who have proven worthier and who knew the day when it did come, even the day of their visitation.

[Footnote 1: The special reference is to the Congregational churches.]

We must arise with courage undismayed, and join in the cry of the ages:

When wilt thou save the people,
O God of mercy, when?
The people! Lord, the people!
Not crowns, nor thrones, but men.

Flower of thy heart, O Lord, are they,
Their heritage a sunless day.
Let them like weeds not fade away;
Lord, save the people.

If our hearts are thus enlarged, we shall run in the way of His commandments; fatherhood and brotherhood and sonship will not be symbols, shibboleths of pious intercourse, but ways of God's reaching out through us for the total brotherhood. We shall silence the caviler against missions; we shall raise the in the face of those who say he can not be raised; we shall see the latter-day miracles, and the lame man healed and rejoicing at the Temple gate. Thus may the breath of God sweep across our pastorates and dismiss timidity, provincialism, ease, and narrowness of outlook. And thus may the power be demonstrated as of heaven because it is the power unto salvation. Let us fear not men who shall die, nor be content to fill our peaceful lot and occupy a respectable grave. The new world needs the renewed baptism, and the "modernism" of which medievalists complain is the robe of honor for the Christ of this epoch. So that there shall come unto the Church the flame of sacred love, and, kindling on every heart and altar, there shall it burn for the glory of Christ, the High Priest, with inextinguishable blaze. We can rest content, for, behold! the day cometh and in its light. Let us go hence.

morgan the perfect ideal
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