And that’s the abridged title.
This 80+ page “pamphlet” (we call them books today) was used by God to launch the Modern Missionary Movement in the Western world.
When humble shoemaker turned pastor William Carey read his Bible, studied Church History, and looked at the world around him he asked the simple question “Why aren’t we as English followers of Christ doing anything to reach those around the world who have yet to hear of the good news of Christ?” The answers he got from the ecclesiastical elite basically was, “if God really wanted them to get saved, He doesn’t need us to do it. Besides there is plenty of Gospel work still to be done here in England.” This answer did not satisfy and sent Carey back to the Book. The result was this treatise and plea to take the Great Commission seriously.
His basic premise is that although God is totally sovereign and not dependent on His children to accomplish His plan of redemption, that plan includes using His faithful followers as the means of bringing His Life Giving Gospel to the ends of the earth. To conviently hide behind God’s sovereignty would be to disobediently ignore His clear commands and foolishly forfeit the joy of participating in God’s design for His glory.
Carey organizes his manuscript into five major sections. Section I. examines whether the Great Commission is still binding on believers in the Modern Era (the answer is YES). Section II. is a whirlwind tour of the history of missions starting in the book of acts and ending in Carey’s day. Section III. is a survey of the spiritual state of the world in Carey’s day and reads like a 18th century Operation World. In Section IV. Carey examines the obstacles between the church and the unreached world, and in Section V., proposes practical steps to overcome and/or endure them.
I thank God for this book, the man who wrote it, and the fire that was ignited through it. Its message is just as importantly urgent today as it was when it was written.
“…have not English traders, for the sake of gain, surmounted all those things which have generally been counted insurmountable obstacles in the way of preaching the Gospel?”
“If a temple is raised for God in the heathen world, it will not be by might, nor power, nor by the authority of the magistrate, or the eloquence of the orator; but by the Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. We must therefore be in real earnest in supplicating his blessing upon our labours.”
“What a heaven will it be to see the many myriads of poor heathens, of Britons amongst the rest, who by their labours have been brought to the knowledge of God. Surely a crown of rejoicing like this is worth aspiring to. Surely it is worth while to lay ourselves out with all our might, in promoting the cause, and the kingdom of Christ”