In 1790 William Carey, agitated by the church’s lack of concern for global evangelisation, proposed the formation of a society for world mission.
Merely praying for the success of the gospel wasn’t enough – something further must be done: ‘means’ as they called them, must be used to bring the gospel to the world.
In 1792 Carey published his ‘Enquiry’ in pamphlet form, the full title being, ‘An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.’
‘If the prophecies concerning the increase of Christ’s kingdom be true, and if what has been advanced, concerning the commission given by him to his disciples being obligatory on us, be just, it must be inferred that all Christians ought heartily to concur with God in promoting his glorious designs, for he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.’ (Carey in his ‘Enquiry’)
One biographer suggests it is ‘the first and still greatest missionary treatise in the English language.’ (George Smith, ‘The Life of William Carey, Shoemaker and Missionary’ writing in 1887)
You can read Carey’s Enquiry in full here
Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God
The publication was followed by an historic sermon at a gathering of Baptist ministers in Nottingham in 1792.
Carey preached from Isaiah 54, ‘Enlarge the place of thy tent…Spare not, lenthen thy cords…for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and they seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not.’
The sermon was not written or published, but we are told that Carey predicted the restoration of the church and the dawn of a new era of missions. The church is, therefore, urged to go to the work of mission full of faith.
‘Expect great things! Attempt great things!’ cried Carey
The impact of a good sermon!
Earlier attempts by Carey to influence his Baptist colleagues had been unsuccessful ‘Sit down young man!’ he was told, ‘You are an enthusiast!’
But this message, and the publication of the Enquiry, which outlined the need for missions and the responsibility of the churches, marked a new beginning.
It was agreed that a meeting would take place in Kettering to discuss the formation of a Missionary Society for the evangelisation of the world.
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© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides