By Evan D. Burns
The first American missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), wrote a number of different kinds of tracts, some of which have never been translated before into English. For my Ph.D. dissertation research, I have managed the translation project of a few of his untranslated Burmese tracts. It is fascinating to read them for the first time in English. For instance, in one of his practical tracts for church order and discipleship, The Septenary, Judson suggested this prayer as part of the closing liturgy for the baptism service:
Prayer to be said before baptism…. O almighty and everlasting God, who has great compassion; previously I/we had worshiped and followed the wrong god and have transgressed against our Saviour and have sinned. By your grace I/we repent and confess my/our sins. Referring to the fact that those who believe in Jesus Christ and took baptism will be saved, with faith I/we ask to be baptized. As body filth is washed off by water may my/our conscience be washed off by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like the dead body of flesh is buried in the ground through baptism, die as son of the world and in coming out of the water help me/us to resurrect as new person of heaven. The person who takes baptism must discard wrong religion and worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit till the end of days. Rejecting own preference, bear the cross and follow Jesus Christ. I/we promise to try and put into effect all the principles a believer should follow. Grant upon me/us the Holy Spirit so that I/we do not break my/our promise and abide with the principles all the days of my/our life/lives. I/we reverently pray that when I/we pass away from this world let me/us be at thy foot together with the saints enjoying the never-ending heavenly riches, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Adoniram Judson, The Septenary, or Seven Manuals, 2nd ed. (Maulmain: American Baptist Mission Press, 1836), 66-67.
Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons. They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.