Horatius Bonar writing on Sturdy Doctrine and Strong Zeal in Missions–
What we need as the true stimulus to missionary action, and the true power of missionary endurance and bravery, is not the Arminian dogma of aimless benevolence, but the Calvinistic recognition of an irresistible divine purpose.
It is this that must form the basis of our working plans, our missionary directory, our incentive to missionary enterprise, our consolation under failure and resistance and reproach. If, indeed, the work of missions be merely one of the many schemes of human benevolence, like that of a society for clothing the naked or feeding the hungry, there might be felt to be a necessity for a belief in universal and immediate success. If Jewish or Gentile unbelief and alienation from God were things that could be reached by moral suasion and human warmth; if men’s souls were within our reach as completely as their bodies; then God’s definite purpose as to salvation would be of little moment.
But if the estrangement of humanity from God be a thing quite beyond man and man’s argument or eloquence; if the resistance of the human will be a thing of almost inconceivable potency, and if the subjugation of that will require the direct putting forth of Omnipotence, such as that which created heaven and earth, then God’s purpose is the first and last thing to be considered when going forth to deal with either Jew or Gentile. Other considerations may light up a false fire and produce a fair-seeming zeal, but only the knowledge of a divine purpose can bring a man into a right missionary position, fill him with missionary devotedness, and nerve him in the hour of disappointment or discomfiture. “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight,” was the truth on which the Son of God rested in the day of Israel’s first rejection of His word; and it is just on such a truth as this,—a truth that lifts the divine purpose into its true place,—that each of us, whether minister or missionary, must rest in a day of apparent failure.
The Pauline, or if you like, the Calvinistic scheme, which connects all work for God with a definite purpose, and not with an indefinite wish, is that which alone can make us either comfortable or successful. Armed with this divine purpose, we feel ourselves invincible.; nay, we are assured of being victorious. Having ascertained God’s purpose, and adopted it as the basis of our operations, we feel that we are in sympathy with God while working for Him. And it is this sympathy, this oneness of mind with God, that cheers us and sustains. He ever wins who sides with God. We shall thus be better fitted for enduring hardness, for ‘spending and being spent’; that is, for expending ourselves, till all that is in us is expended.