Over the past week, I have been reading over William Carey’s Enquiry as provided in Daniel Webber’s Wiliam Carey and the Missionary Vision. Carey’s short but very significant piece in church history is once again landing on me with conviction, especially as it relates to the mission of the church. Toward the close of his argument for the duty of all Christians to promote the advance of Christ’s kingdom, he adds this illustration:
When a trading company have obtained their charter they usually go to its utmost limits; and their stocks, their ships, their officers, and men are so chosen, and regulated, as to be likely to answer their purpose; but they do not stop here, for encouraged by the prospect of success, they use every effort, cast their bread upon the waters, cultivate friendship with every one from whose information they expect the least advantage. They cross the widest and most tempestuous seas, and encounter the most unfavourable climates; they introduce themselves into the most barbarous nations, and sometimes undergo the most affecting hardships; their minds continue in a state of anxiety, and suspense, and a longer delay than usual in the arrival of their vessels agitates them with a thousand changeful thoughts, and foreboding apprehensions, which continue till the rich returns are safe arrived in port. But why these fears? Whence all these disquietudes, and this labour? Is it not because their souls enter into the spirit of the project, and their happiness in a manner depends on its success? Christians are a body whose truest interest lies in the exaltation of the Messiah’s kingdom. Their charter is very extensive, their encouragements exceeding great, and the returns promised infinitely superior to all the gains of the most lucrative fellowship. Let then every one in his station consider himself as bound to act with all his might, and in every possible way for God (emphasis mine).
It is tragic, is it not, that we have to use illustrations of secular organizations with exceedingly trivial enterprises as a standard that ought to be of those identified with the church of Jesus Christ. We have a far greater mission–one that is guaranteed to be accomplished–that should cause us to risk all, go hard, and employ every lawful means in the spirit of being sent and spent for the advancement of the Church Jesus promised to build.
May the spirit of Carey that provoked such an Enquiry then be alive in the hearts of those who are entrusted with the same mission and message he was so faithful to live and proclaim.