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William Carey And The Missionary Vision

Category Articles
Date August 31, 2006

William Carey and the Missionary Vision, is the title of a book written by Daniel Webber, and published by the Banner of Truth Trust, paperback, 128 pages. Few missionaries are better known than Carey, who sailed for a lifetime of devoted labour in India in 1793. One modern writer is quoted as saying: “More than any other individual in modern history, he stirred the imagination of the Christian world and showed by his own humble example what could and should be done to bring a lost world to Christ”.

The first half of the book gives a brief account of Carey’s life. Carey was born in 1761 near Northampton and, as a young preacher, was earnestly concerned for the spiritual state of the heathen. He became active in publicising the need for missionary activity. Perhaps his greatest contribution in India was the translation of the Bible into several languages.

The second section of the book is a reprint of Carey’s little work entitled, An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. In this sinful world, Carey believed, “God repeatedly made known His intention to prevail finally over all the work of the devil and to destroy all his works, and set up His own kingdom and interest among men and extend it as universally as Satan had extended his. It was for this purpose the Messiah came and died.” This was the foundation on which Carey’s own missionary work was built – a confidence in God’s purposes, as revealed in Scripture, to save multitudes of sinners from all parts of the world.

After reviewing the New Testament evidence of missionary endeavour, particularly Paul’s, Carey briefly surveys previous efforts – such as John Elliott’s among the Indians of New England – to spread the gospel among peoples who had never before been evangelised. Included here is a remarkable series of tables in which Carey listed the various parts of the world and the number of their inhabitants, along with their religions. If there were errors in this compilation, as no doubt there were, that is irrelevant; his efforts impressively demonstrated the vast number of people still living “in darkness and in the shadow of death” because they had never heard the gospel; that was Carey’s main purpose in his research. But his labours also showed his persistence and commitment in carrying out every task he undertook.

Carey then goes on to demonstrate “the practicability of something being done . . . for the conversion of the heathen”. He concludes his argument with the words: “Surely it is worthwhile to lay ourselves out with all our might, in promoting the cause and kingdom of Christ”. He believed that God “can as easily remove the present seemingly-formidable obstacles as we can move the smallest particles of dust”.

The final part of the book is a sermon by Andrew Fuller on Haggai 1:2, entitled: “The Instances, the Evil Nature, and the Dangerous Tendency of Delay in the Concerns of Religion”. Fuller was prominent among those who formed the Particular Baptist Missionary Society, which sent Carey to India. He addresses the danger of delay in attending to the concerns of one’s soul as well as in undertaking work for the cause of Christ or the good of mankind.

Altogether, this is a worthwhile and useful book.

This review is found in the August Free Presbyterian Magazine and quoted here by permission.

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