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STORRS

THE PERMANENT MOTIVE IN

MISSIONARY WORK

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RICHARD S. STORRS was born at Braintree, Mass., in 1821. In his book “Preaching Without Notes," he tells of his early practise and experience in pulpit delivery. After fifteen years patient effort he became one of the most accomplished extemporaneous speakers in America. He wrote much at first, developing a fine rhetorical style and a rich vocabulary that subsequently served him well as an impromptu speaker. His advice to divinity students was: "Always be careful to keep up the habit of writing, with whatever of skill, elegance, and force, you can command.” Because of this early training in writing he was able later in life to adopt the method of thoroughly preparing his thought for his sermons, and of leaving the choice of words and the framing of sentences to the moment of delivery. His greatest success was achieved after he became a purely extemporaneous preacher. He was for fifty-four years pastor of the Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn. During this time he produced a number of books, of which the most important is “The Divine Origin of Christianity, Indicated by its Historical Effects." He died in 1900.

STORRS

1821–1900

THE PERMANENT MOTIVE IN

MISSIONARY WORK

Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.—Mark xvi., 15.

T

HE Permanent Motive in Missionary

Work: it is a catholic and comprehen

sive, even a cosmopolitan theme. It does not concern itself simply with the interest of foreign missions, technically so called. But, if you think of it, it concerns those in every Christian communion who are trying to further the cause and kingdom of our Lord on the earth. It concerns not the missionary fields alone, as they are popularly called, in other lands, but every field in which Christian service is sought to be rendered, from the obscurest slum in this town of Boston to the ragged edges of the circumference, the outmost circumference, of the world of mankind.

We are familiar, of course, with the temporary, local, changing motives to missionary enterprise, which meet us at times, impress us forcibly for the moment, and pass away; the influence of great and signal occasions, when sympathies are almost tumultuously excited;

the impulse which comes with a sweeping eloquence, which lifts us from the common levels of earth, and bears us as on wings toward issues and actions which we had not anticipated; perhaps the impulse which comes with personal interest in missionaries whom we have known, or mission fields which we have traversed. Great successes on certain fields move our enthusiasm; or tragic and terrible

1 experiences in others, as recently among the Armenians, stir the deep fountains of our feeling. No one of these impulses is to be disregarded. Each one in its place has a power of its own, and all are to be valued and welcomed for their effect. But what we are to look for is the motive more deep, permanent, governing, which will be beneath and behind all these; as the tide-motive is beneath and behind the advancing and retreating waves which rise and flash, and break upon the beach; and this will be a motive not simple and single, but no doubt combined of several, distinguishable from each other, as a powerful current is made up of different uniting affluents. We must separate them in thought, that we may afterward combine them.

I think first, then, we shall all recognize this as essential to the missionary motive: a clear and profound recognition of the evilness and misery of the actual condition of mankind, certainly as compared with the powers which are instinctive in every human soul. It makes no difference really, or very little, at this point, whether we accept the Scriptural declaration that man has fallen from a higher estate to his present level, or conceive, with some modern theorizers, that man is just now partially emerging from the conditions of his brute ancestry, stumbling up, through sin and error and manifold tremendous mistakes, toward wisdom and virtue, and the blessedness which they bring. In either case, the present condition of mankind is one of imperfection, weakness, unsatisfied desire, unrealized promise, and manifold peril. It is not the missionary who tells us this, principally or alone. Every observant foreign traveler repeats the same. Everyone who has resided abroad, and then he comes back to testify with an unprej. udiced mind to that which he has observed, relates the same. The supreme difficulty here is in the want of the recognition of God, and of the great immortality.

It used to be a reproach against Christian scholars, made by skeptics, that they investigated the ethnic religions in the spirit of suspicious hostility, by which their processes were diverted from true lines, by which their conclusions were colored. I am not concerned to argue the case of the Christian scholars of fifty years ago, or more, but I can certainly affirm that the Christian scholars of our own time investigate these religions carefully, patiently, sympathetically, with an eager de

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