by Alexander Robb
Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot 1863
Alexander Robb, a missionary in Nigeria, presents his church of the time with a forceful and passionate argument for mobilizing missionaries and supporting the work. He The The Rev. Alexander Robb deals with the normal questions that missionaries today still face: why support mission work when there are few converts? (God is sovereign, we don’t see fruit sometimes because we’ll get proud, etc.) What is the relation between commerce and mission in the (then) age of empire? (Let them each go their own way.) Is there possibility for salvation for the heathen without the Gospel? (Even if there is, we should act as if there is not.)
It is a short little volume, and on the whole he does a good job of providing answers that even today seem, well, let’s say less stale than other missionary texts of the mid-19th C. On the negative side, he starts the book with a catalogue of the inhumane vices of the heathen. It all seems a little overblown, but later on he strikes a balance by insisting that these are indeed human beings made in the image of God. One wishes for a little more sympathy and willingness to find positive aspects of the heathens’ cultures, but Robb doesn’t see much there.