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Patrick: Missionary to Ireland

by on March 16, 2012

Inspiring William Carey and his Friends

When, in 1805, William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward summarized the principles upon which they would base their mission at Serampore in India, they drew a comparison between what they were assured would happen in India and what God had done in the British Isles nearly fifteen hundred years earlier.

He who raised the sottish and brutalised Britons to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, can raise these slaves of superstition, purify their hearts by faith, and make them worshippers of the one God in spirit and in truth. The promises are fully sufficient to remove our doubts, and to make us anticipate that not very distant period when He will famish all the gods of India, and cause these very idolaters to cast their idols to the moles and to the bats, and renounce for ever the work of their own hands (The Serampore Form of Agreement).

Despite the immense task facing them in India, they had confidence in the God who had brought their distant ancestors, also “slaves of superstition,” to a genuine faith in Christ. Thirteen years earlier, in 1792, Carey had made a number of references to this evangelization of the British Isles in his epochal work, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. He did so by distinguishing between those missions that sought to expand the dominion of “popery,” usually “by force of arms,” and those that genuinely extended the kingdom of Christ. Among the former he lists the Roman mission of Augustine of Canterbury and Paulinus; among the latter it is the name of Patrick that receives the most attention.

The next year [435] Patrick was sent from Scotland to preach to the Irish, who before his time were totally uncivilized, and, some say, cannibals; he however, was useful, and laid the foundations of several churches in Ireland.

This statement, along with that from the Serampore Form of Agreement, would appear to indicate that the evangelistic success of Patrick, and his spiritual heirs in the Celtic Church was a source of encouragement to Carey. How much more Carey knew about the historical Patrick is not clear; but he would certainly have been thrilled and inspired by Patrick’s evangelistic zeal and God-centered spirituality.

Finish reading about Patrick’s World and Mission.

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