But quite distinct from that, and in addition to it, it is quite safe to say that there is an emergency now on
in the heathen world such as it has never known before. Such is the mature judgment of our missionary leaders.
And we do well to remind ourselves that we have some remarkable men among these leaders. There are men on the foreign fields and at the missionary helm at home of most remarkable ability and genius. There are to-day men of statesmanlike grasp and power, who could easily have taken front rank in public life, in diplomacy, and professional life, men fully able to fill the Presidential chair and do it masterfully, who are giving their life-blood to this great missionary task.
The sober judgment of these men, taken from every angle of vision, is that the present is a time of unparalleled emergency. It exists peculiarly in Asia, the greatest of all foreign-mission lands. It has been caused by a number of things that now come together with such force as to make a crisis, the crisis of missions, the gravest that has yet come, and that, it is probably safe to say, will ever come. For the future will be largely settled, one way or the other, within a few years.
At the basis of all is the great need, of course. That looms big and gaunt and spectral in any survey of the matter.
Then the neglect by the Church for many generations has greatly intensified the present situation. The Master's plan plainly is that every generation of the Church shall give the Gospel to its generation; that is, to all the people living in the world at that time. Every generation of men must have the Gospel afresh. No land is beyond the need of a fresh gospelizing. If Christian America were to lose its churches and the Gospel, it would surely revert to the heathen type from which we sprung.
But many generations went by with practically nothing of this sort being done. These generations of inactivity have piled up on the present generation. The undone work of the past adds greatly to the task of the present. The present situation is abnormal because of what hasn't been done.
Then the success of the present has played a big part. Modern missionary activity has had a big share in making this emergency. A century of missions is reaching a tremendous climax. The splendid aggressiveness of church leaders and missionaries is now an embarrassment to a Church, or any one in the Church, who doesn't want to keep up the pace. It is an emergency of success, the logical result of what has been accomplished. So much has been done, and been done so well by a comparatively few, that now more must be done by the rest of us.
It's because the heathen world is awake that there is an emergency. Their awakeness is the thing that crowds in on us. And we waked them up. We must now do more and better, because we have done so well. We have indeed waked them up, but -- to what? A business man would stamp it as rank foolishness to fail to take advantage of the splendid opening that we have made in the foreign-mission world.