The 1838 PCUSA (Old School) General Assembly's Pastoral Letter to Foreign Missionaries

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Samuel John Baird, in his famous Digest of the Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (officially titled A Collection of the Acts, Deliverances, and Testimonies of the Supreme Judicatory of the Presbyterian Church From its Origin in America to the Present Time) includes a beautiful pastoral letter from the General Assembly to its foreign missionaries in 1838. It is signed by William Swan Plumer, the Moderator of that Assembly, and John M. Krebs, the Assembly’s Permanent Clerk. Plumer, presumably the author of the letter, calls the attention of the missionaries to eight points of importance (I encourage the reader to read the entirety of each point, found on pages 358-362 of Baird’s Digest):

1. He earnestly exhorts them to aim continually at a high standard of personal piety.
2. He calls them, in imparting a knowledge of the gospel to the heathen, to be careful to communicate its pure and simple doctrines, without any of those additions or modifications which human philosophy, falsely so called, is apt to suggest.
3. He urges them to be careful to let their example at all times manifest the power and purity of the religion you teach.
4. He entreats them to bear in mind that all their labors will be in vain, unless they are accompanied and made effectual by the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. He encourages the foreign missionaries to let the heathen among whom they labor see that they [the missionaries] love them, and that they are intent on promoting their best interest.
6. He recommends to their attention, and to their unceasing prayers, the children of the heathen.
7. He exhorts them to be careful to maintain in all their missions, the worship and order, as well as the doctrine of the Presbyterian Church.
8. He asks them to be diligent in collecting all the information of every kind, which can be considered as bearing on the missionary cause.

Plumer concludes with this word of encouragement:

"Finally, dear brethren, you are engaged in the noblest cause that can employ the attention and efforts of mortals. Be faithful unto death, and you shall receive a crown of life. And unite with us in prayer that the whole Church may, with one heart and one soul, come up to the performance of this great work. We pledge ourselves, in the fear of God, to you and to the heathen world, that, by the favour of the Almighty King of Zion, we will go forward in this cause, and employ all the means which He may put at our disposal, in prosecuting the enterprise before us. May the Lord inspire you with wisdom, and gird you with strength ! And may the Spirit of Missions be poured out in large measures upon all the Churches, that they may all feel their obligation, and all, with one consent, and with united Strength, come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty!”

Do you know a foreign missionary? Forward this post to them, and let them know that you are praying for them with all your heart.