The Heathen Lost without the Gospel
By W. W. Gardner, D.D., 1892"For as many as have sinned without (a written) law shall also perish without law." Romans 2:12. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:20. "Having no hope, and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12.
The following Tract is the substance of a sermon preached by request at Bardstown, Ky., in 1886, and repeated at Elk Creek Church in 1888. The author was then urged to publish the sermon in Tract form, but could not command the means. Recently, at the urgency of Rev. J. W. Warder, D. D., Corresponding Secretary of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, and other judicious brethren, the writer has thrown the sermon into a cheap Tract, as a contribution to the Centenary of Modern Missions, with the hope that, by God's blessing, it may be promotive of the great cause of Missions both at home and abroad. If it shall impress our people more deeply with the fact, that without the Gospel the Heathen will be lost forever, and assist pastors in enforcing the claims of Missions, the author's object will be attained.
W. W. GARDNER,
Vice-President of Foreign Missions for Ky.
ELK CREEK, KY., Dec. 4th, 1891.
THE HEATHEN LOST WITHOUT THE GOSPEL.
There is great diversity of opinion even among evangelical ministers as to "the fate of the Heathen after death." The question perplexes the minds of many earnest Christians, and seriously affects their contributions to Missions and their prayers for the salvation of the Heathen. Of course, the difficulty pertains exclusively to accountable Heathen; for all agree that Infants dying in heathen lands without personal sin, are as certainly saved through the merits of Christ, as those dying in Ohristian lands. The question before us, then, is: Can accountable Heathen be saved without the Gospel? In answering this momentous question, the Bible must be our sole authority. What saith the Scriptures on this important subject - The Bible clearly teaches,
I. - THAT THE HEATHEN ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD.
1. They enjoy the light of nature and of tradition.
In Psalm 19:1-3, David says: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the
firmament showeth his handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard." And in Psalm 97:6, the Psalmist adds: - "The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory."
Paul, in speaking of the accountability of the Heathen, says: - "That which may be known of God is manifest in them (Marg. to them); for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Romans 1:19-21.
They also have the light of tradition, handed down from generation to generation. Hence it is that their sacred books, in vague language, speak of the fall of man, of a deluge, and of the division of time into weeks, etc., and incorporate many Bible customs and rites into their
idolatrous worship, without knowing whence they came. Hence they are accountable.
2. The Heathen are endowed with conscience and reason.
They possess a moral sense by which they can discern right and wrong in their conduct, and therefore "are a law unto themselves." As it is written: "For when the Gentiles (or Heathen) do by nature the things contained in the (moral) law, these, having no (written) law, are a law uuto themselves; in that they show the work of t,he law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them." Romans 2:14, 15. (Revised V.)
Now conscience is that faculty of the mind by which we discern right and wrong in actions, and approve the one and condemn the other, according to the decisions of the judgment. The Heathen possess conscience and reason; and when they violate the recognized standard of right, their conscience condemns them, and when they obey this standard it approves their conduct, according to the decisions of their judgment. That they all violate this recognized standard of right is not only
attested by their conscience, but expressly declared in God's word: - "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" and "as many as have sinned without (a written) law shall. also perish withoutlaw:" - "For the wages of sin is death (eternal); but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 2:12; 3:23; 6:23.
3. The Heathen are moral and religious beings.
Like the Athenians of old (Acts 17:22), modern Heathen are exceedingly religious in their way. They have "gods many and lords many" (1 Corinthians 8:5); and their numberless deities and costly idol worship attest their devotion, and rebuke the indifference and sloth of many professed Christians. They annually spend more money and make greater sacrifices to support their idolatrous worship, than Christians do to support the worship of God at home and to send the Gospel to Pagan nations. The late Dr. Howard Malcom, in his Travels in South-eastern Asia, states that the annual allowance from the public treasury for the support of the temple of Jugernaut at Orissa was $26,000; and that the sum of $2,500,000 was
contributed to one idol temple in Calcutta every year.
And yet Paul tells us, "that the things which the Gentiles (or Heathen) sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God." (1 Corinthians 10:20.) "Professing themselves to be wise," says He, "they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourIooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave th'3m up to uncleanness, through the lusts of tbeir own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worsbipped and served the creature ihstead of the Creator, who is blessed for ever. And even as they did not like to retainGod in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those" things which are not convenient." Romans 1:22-28.
4. The Heathen the the subjects of God's Providence.
Divine Providence is universal, and extends to all creatures and things. God directs and controls every creature and thing in accordance with the nature he bas given them; he governs inorganic matter
by force, brutes by instinct, and man by arguments and motives. The Heathen are conscious of God's presence; they see his foot-prints, hear his voice, and, like Belshazzar, often tremble in view of merited punishment, but they are ignorant of the way of reconciliation to God.
Providence is both afilictive and joyous. God chastises the Heathen in various ways; by painful disease, sore bereavement, and impending death; by famine, pestilence, and war. He thus awakens their· fears, humbles their plide, and :restrains their wickedness; as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 4::28-37. By the bounties of his Providence he daily loads them with his benefits, and crowns their lives with numberless blessings. Says David: "The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works." Psalm 14:5:9. Though he suffers all nations to walk in their own ways, still he leaves not himself without witness, in that he does good, and gives them rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with gladness. Acts 14::16, 17.
5. The Holy Spirit convinces the Heathen of sin.
The official work of the Holy Spirit is
co-extensive with the provisions of the atonement. He convicts all men everywhere according to the light they enjoy. As the Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to redeem it, and as the Son offered himself a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2): so the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father thrcugh the intercession of the Son, convinces the same world of sin. John 16:8. Thus He strove with the antedeluvians (Genesis 6:3), and with the Jews (Acts 7:51); and thus He strives with all men, according to the light they enjoy. It is the duty of the Heathen thus convinced of sin, to repent; for God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; (Acts 17:30,31); but they cannot repent unto life without the Gospel, which is an indispensable means of repentance.
Hence we see that the Heathen are accountable to God: they enjoy the light of nature and of tradition; they are endowed with conscience and reason; they are moral and religious beings; they are the subjects of God's Providence; and the Holy Spirit convinces them of sin, according to the light they enjoy.
II. - THE HEATHEN ARE DEPRAVED, GUILTY, AND CONDEMNED.
1. They are depraved; that is, totally destitute of love to God, and under the influence of its opposite, which is enmity. Romans 8:7. Speaking of man as man, God says: "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperatelY wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart and try the reins, even to give unto every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." Jeremiah 17:9, 10. Our LOl·d traces this depravity to its source, and says: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man." (Matthew 15:19,20.) And Paul, in addressing converted Heathen, says: "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all (Jews and Gentiles) had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of
mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Ephesians 2:1-3.
2. The Heathen are guilty; guilty of sins of omission and commission. Paul, in speaking of the Gentiles or Heathen, represents them as - "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without natural" affection, covenant breakers, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Romans 1:29-32.
And the same Apostle, in speaking of Jews and Gentiles together, says: - "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God: they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth
good, no, not one: their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3:9-18.
Such is the condition of all mankind both by nature and practice; and the condition of the Heathen to-day is even worse than it was in the days of Paul; for wicked men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. The concurrent testimony of all modern missionaries shows the condition of the Heathen now to be worse, if possible, than Paul describes it in his day; and, while many are "feeling after God" and anxiously desiring something better than Heathen idolatry, not one real Christian has ever been found where the Gospel has not gone. They feel the disease of sin, but know not the remedy.
For instance, DR. R. H. GRAVES, a Baptist missionary in China for more than thirty years, says: "The Heathen themselves have no hope of avoiding future
torment. Some of them, it is true, hope for a cessation of suffering after years of purgatory, and others hope that through the incantations and ceremonies of the priests, they may escape from suffering after it has been end ured for a time. But the more intelligent regard these priests as mere deceivers, who take advantage of men's fears to extort money from them. A life of over thirty years spent in a Pagan land has taught me that the great mass of the Heathen admit that they are sinners, deserving of future punishment and all who are not atheists, expect future punishment.
"When we consider the character of the Heathen I do not see how we can escape the sad conclusion that they will be lost. We are saved by grace, but grace forms character. If the Heathen do not go to hell they must go to heaven; but what is "heaven? I cannot conceive of a heaven filled with idolaters, and liars, and adulterers, and cheats, and thieves!
"What is the condition of the Heathen? Where will you find the men who do the best they know how?' If we cannot find them in Christian lands, can we expect to find them in Pagan lands? Heathen
sages deny that there are any such men. Confucius says: 'I have never seen a good man.' The Heathen admit that their sins far out-weigh their morality. If men are saved on account of their morality the whole Gospel system is a - mistake, and we are saved by works and not by grace * * * During a residence of over thirty years among the Heathen, I have never seen one who seemed fit to go to heaven." (Doom of the Heathen.)
3. The Heathen are condemned; justly condemned as transgressors. As we have shown, "they have all sinned and come short of the glory of God; there is none righteous, no, not one; they have all gone out of the way," &c. They "are a law unto themselves," and have transgressed that law; and therefore they are condemned already, "without excuse." True, they are not guilty of the great sin of rejecting Christ, for they have never heard of him, and consequently their future punishment will be less than that of Gospel-slighting sinners; but the condition of the least guilty in Hell will be awful beyond description. There will no doubt be degrees in the puuishment of the Lost, as in the happiness of the saved;
this is both reasonable and Scriptural. The Bible evidently teaches that the Heathen will be lost. While it is said that "as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law," we are told that "as many as have sinned without (the written) law shall also perish without law." (Romans 2:12.)
That is, all men are held accountable in proportion to the light they enjoy, and will be punished according to their abuse of that light. It is on this principle that Jesus says: - "That servant who knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes: but he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." (Luke 12:47-48.) Our Lord proceeds on the same principle in the woes he pronounced upon the cities in which most of his mighty works were done. See Matthew 11:20-24. This evinces God's perfect justice: he will punish deliberate and known sin with greater severity than he will sins of ignorance,
yet sins committed in ignorance are "worthy of stripes," and will be punished in hell, without repentance.