A word now about these great Christian lands of Europe and America. The Catholic countries of Europe have been regarded as mission fields by the Protestant churches, and missionary operations have been conducted in them for many years. Russia has likewise been commonly regarded as missionary territory, and a very difficult one at that. In portions of Great Britain, in our own Western States and frontiers, in the Southern mountain States, and in other sections, and among special classes, missionary work has been regularly carried on.
And the cities, those great, strange, throbbing hearts of human life, are all peculiarly mission fields. It is remarkable how the modern city reproduces world conditions morally. The city is a sort of miniature of the world. All the varying moral conditions of the heathen world, atheism, savagery almost, crude heathenish superstition, degradation of woman, neglect of children, and untempered lust, may be found in New York and Chicago, in London and Paris, in Vienna and Berlin, and in varying degree in all cities of Christian lands. The grosser parts are hidden away, more or less.
These conditions are softened in intensity by the commonly recognized moral standards of life. But they are there. The man immersed in mission service in any of these cities is apt to think that there can be no greater nor sorer need than this that pushes itself insistently upon him at every turn.
The slum ends and sides of our Christian cities and huge heathendom, jostle elbows in the likeness of their moral conditions. The need is everywhere, crying earnestly, wretchedly out to us. There is good mission ground anywhere you please to strike in.
But—but, by far the greatest need, with that word "greatest" intensified beyond all power of description, is in the heathen lands. The vastness of the numbers there, the utter ignorance, the smallness of their chance of getting any of the knowledge and uplift of the Gospel, all go to spell out that word "greatest." The awful cumulative power of sin, unchecked by the common moral standards of life, with the terrific momentum of centuries; the common temptations known to us, but with a fierceness and subtlety wholly unknown to us in Christian lands—and yet how terrifically fierce and cunningly subtle some of us know them to be!—these all make every letter in that word "greatest" stand out in biggest capitals, and in blackest, inkiest ink.