Missionary Address By President McKinley
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE Ecumenical Missionary Conference began its important sessions in the Carnegie Music Hall, New York City, April 21, 1900. The meeting at night was one of unusual interest. William McKinley, the President; Theodore Roosevelt, Governor of the State, and Benjamin Harrison, ex-President, were announced to make addresses. As many people were on the outside of the building, striving in vain for entrance, as there were those who crowded within the house. President McKinley, leaning upon the arm of Morris K. Jessup, the chairman of the meeting, was the signal for the most tumultuous applause. There were the clapping of hands and the enthusiastic waving of hats and hand-kerchiefs. On being introduced by the chairman, it was some moments before the cheers of the audience would allow the President to proceed. He then made the following address :
" I am glad of the opportunity to offer without stint my tribute of praise and respect to the missionary effort which has wrought such wonderful triumphs for civilization. The story of the Christian missions is one of thrilling interest and marvelous results. The services and sacrifices of the missionaries for their fellow men constitute one of the most glorious pages of the world's history. The missionary, of whatever church or ecclesiastical body, who devotes his life to the service of the Master and of men, carrying the torch of truth and enlightenment, deserves the gratitude, the support and the homage of mankind. The noble, self-sacrificing, willing ministers of peace and good-will should be classed with the world's heroes. Wielding the sword of the Spirit, they have conquered ignorance and prejudice. They have been among the pioneers of civilization. They have illumined the darkness of idolatry and superstition with the light of intelligence and truth. They have been messengers of righteousness and love. They have braved disease and danger and death, and in their exile have suffered unspeakable hardships ; but their noble spirits have never wavered. They count their labor no sacrifice ; `Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought,' says David Livingstone; it is emphatically no sacrifice; say, rather, it is a privilege.' They furnish us examples of forbearance, fortitude, of patience and unyielding purpose, and of spirit which triumphs not by the force of might, but by the persuasive majesty of right. They are placing in the hands of their brothers less fortunate than themselves the keys which unlock the treasuries of knowledge and open the mind to noble aspirations for better conditions. Education is one of the indispensable steps of mission enterprise, and in some form must precede all successful work. Who can estimate their value to the progress of nations ? Their contribution to the onward and upward march of humanity is beyond all calculation. They have inculcated industry and taught the various trades. They have promoted concord and amity and have brought nations and races closer together. They have made men better. They have increased the regard for home; have strengthened the sacred ties of family; have made the community well-ordered, and their work has been a potent influence in the development of law and the establishment of government. May this great meeting rekindle the spirit of missionary ardor and enthusiasm to ` go teach all nations,' and may the field never lack a succession of heralds who shall carry on the task—the continuous proclamation of his Gospel to the end of time." Then followed the addresses of Governor Roosevelt and ex-President Harrison.
It should be a matter of congratulation to the Christian people of the world that the President of the Republic, the ex-President whom he succeeded, and the Governor of the Empire State, should have thus recorded themselves in favor of our holy religion and manifested their co-operation in its universal propagation.