Samuel Pearce on how to conduct oneself as a missionary

When Samuel Pearce was dying in 1799, momentous things were afoot with the Baptist Missionary Society, to which he had given so much energy. They were preparing to send a number of missionaries, among them William Ward and Joshua Marshman, to India. Once Ward and Marshman arrived they would link up with Carey and form the Serampore Trio, that fruitful band of brothers in the Church of that era. Pearce wrote a deeply-moving letter to Andrew Fuller, the Secretary of the Society, from Tamerton, Devon, on May 2, 1799.[1] The following are his three recommendations regarding missionary policy. They are still wise advice today.

First, as this Society is dependent for its support on the pious public, whose least compensation should be an acquaintance with the success of those for whom their benevolence is exerted, it is highly proper that each missionary under the patronage of this Society should communicate direct and personal information concerning his own efforts, and their various fruits, at least twice in every year; to which end the Society do request that each of their missionaries would keep a regular journal of his proceedings and send it, or a copy of it, to the secretary by the spring and fall ships.

Secondly, since that kingdom which we as the disciples of Jesus wish to establish is not of this world, we affectionately and seriously enjoin on each missionary under our patronage that he do cautiously and constantly abstain from every interference with the political concerns of the country were he may be called to labour, whether by words or deeds; that he be obedient to the laws in all civil affairs; that he respect magistrates, supreme and subordinates; and teach the same things to others. In fine, that he apply himself wholly to the all-important concerns of that evangelical service to which he has so solemnly dedicated himself.

Thirdly, however gross may be the idolatries and heathenish superstitions that may fall beneath a missionary’s notice, the Society are nevertheless persuaded that both the mutual respect due from man to man, together with the interests of the true religion, demand that every missionary should sedulously avoid all rudeness, insult, or interruption during the observance of the said superstitions; recommending no methods but those adopted by Christ and his apostles, namely, the persevering use of Scripture, reason, prayer, meekness, and love.

[1] From Periodical Accounts relative to the Baptist Missionary Society I (Clipstone: J.W. Morris, 1800), 516-519.