“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.”
Matthew 25:21 (ESV)
On September 10th of this year, the Notla River Association will celebrate its Sesquicentennial annual meeting. The Baptists have a very rich history here in the mountains and God’s faithfulness has been clearly evident. At last year’s annual meeting, I was approved by the delegates to bring the Missions sermon for this monumental year. What an honor for me! So, for the last several months, I have been reading and praying about what message to bring to the delegates in 2012. In my reading and praying, I have come across a most wonderful book entitled, A Heart For Missions: The Classic Memoir of Samuel Pearce, by Andrew Fuller.
Contrary to what many know or care to believe, the Calvinistic Baptists were among the main promoters of global missions. Behind the mission of William Carey was a theologian and pastor by the name of Andrew Fuller. (By the way, all pastors should be theologians and give themselves to the diligent study of Biblical truth.) Andrew Fuller’s biblical Calvinism was the driving force behind William Carey’s desire to reach the Hindus in India for Christ. William Carey most certainly wrote his influential work, An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. In Which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of the Former Undertakings, and the Practicality of Further Undertakings, are Considered, with an ear to Andrew Fuller’s teaching on the Doctrines of Grace. They were very close friends and God would use them to found the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen.
But there was another man that God used to promote the Gospel amongst the heathen of Hindustan (as he called India), and his name is Samuel Pearce. Most have heard of the Serampore Trio: William Carey the translator, William Ward the Printer, and Joshua Marshman the preacher. But few have heard of the man that God used in England to raise support and to communicate to British Baptist associations what God was doing in India.
Samuel Pearce was called to pastor the Cannon Street Baptist Church in 1789 and he was ordained for the Gospel ministry on August 18, 1790, at the age of 24. He was part of a group that met on October 2, 1792 at Martha Wallace’s home and created an association to carry on the work of missions. William Carey would depart for England on June 13, 1793, and the rest would remain to “hold the ropes” for him as Carey went into Hindustan.
God gave Pearce a deep zeal for global missions. O did he want to go! After the meeting in October of 1792, he writes, “I returned home resolved to lay myself out in the cause. The public steps I have taken are too well known to need repeating, but my mind now became inclined to go among the heathen myself.” Even Carey had told him, “Well, you will come after us.” His heart said, “Amen!” and his eagerness of the work increased. He wrote: “I made it a constant matter of prayer, often begging of God, either that He would take away the desire, or open a door for its fulfillment.”
Pearce made known his desire to go to all the leaders of the Particular Baptist Society and he submitted to their leadership. He asked them all to pray if he should go and join Carey. But in God’s providence, they told him no! They all felt that he would do more good promoting the cause at home than he would do in India. A friend and father in the ministry wrote to him thus: “I really think you must not leave England. The heathen will get more by you here then they will abroad; and surely your post (Cannon Street Baptist) should not be given up. Who is there in your neighborhood to make a stand against false religion, my dear brother?” He wrote to his wife Sarah on November 13, 1794, “I am disappointed but not dismayed. I ever wish to make my Savior’s will my own.”
No one in all of England promoted the cause of missions like Samuel Pearce. He was so interested in the work. He raised funds and went around the English countryside telling of God’s works in India. He was a faithful preacher to a local congregation. He would write in his diary on October 17, 1794, “My business is only to be where you would have me.”
By the spring of 1799, Pearce was desperately sick with pulmonary tuberculosis. He traveled to South England to try to recover, leaving his wife and five children. Sarah could not endure being away from him, so she went to meet him in July. Sarah would try to bring him home later that month. By this time Pearce’s voice was so far gone that he could not even whisper without pain in his lungs. He died at the age of 33 on October 10, 1799. William Carey said of him, “I have seen more of God in him than in any other person I ever met.”
The lessons we can learn from Samuel Pearce are many, but I do want to highlight a few for us at Redeemer. First of all, when God truly saves his people, He puts into their heart a love for Himself, which will manifest itself in their love for the lost. Pearce used every opportunity of family worship, private worship and public worship to pray for missions. May the Lord help us to pray for missions and missionaries every time we join for worship. Secondly, we must work together to accomplish the task. We have covenanted together to promote Christ’s Kingdom here and abroad. May we not forget this! Thirdly, we must pray and give. This goes without saying. Lastly, God has called us all to be involved, some to go and some to send. Some of us might have strong desires to go serve the Lord in a certain place or capacity. But God is sovereign and he will put us right where he wants us. Let us see His sovereign hand in all our daily events and circumstances. None of them are insignificant. I believe Pearce heard those words, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master!”
I want to remind you of two things before I close. First of all, the Studebakers will be at our church tonight to share about their mission work in Ecuador. Secondly, the informational meeting for the New York City mission trip is this Saturday, at 9 AM, at RBC. Please pray for these things.