Next to David Brainerd’s Life and Letters, Henry Martyn’s missionary zeal and legacy as a pioneer missionary and translator as captured in The Life and Letters of Henry Martyn (John Sargent) has become a classic in the modern missions movement. Martyn served in India until his death in 1812 at the age of 31. In these excerpts, Martyn discusses the essential nature of Christ’s divinity in reaching Muslims.

“Persia is, in many respects, a field ripe for the harvest. Vast numbers secretly hate and despise the superstition imposed on them, and as many of them as have heard the Gospel, approve it ; but they dare not hazard their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus. I am sometimes asked whether the external appearance of Mohammedanism might not be retained with Christianity; and whether I could not baptize them without their believing in the divinity of Christ? I tell them, No.” 1

Again, Martyn finds that it is the divinity of Christ that is the most challenged in his apologetics against Islam:

“He has nothing to find fault with in Christianity, except the Divinity of Christ. It is this doctrine that exposes me to the contempt of the learned Mohammedans, in whom it is difficult to say whether pride or ignorance predominates. Their sneers are more difficult to bear than the brickbats which the boys sometimes throw at me: both, however, are an honour of which I am not worthy. How many times in the day have I occasion to repeat the words,

If on my face, for Thy dear name,
Shame and reproaches be;
All hail, reproach, and welcome, shame,
If Thou remember me.

“The more they wish me to give up this one point, — the Divinity of Christ, the more I seem to feel the necessity of it, and rejoice and glory in it. Indeed, I trust I would sooner give up my life than surrender it.” 2

Notes:

  1. John Sargent, The Life and Letters of the Rev. Henry Martyn, B.D. (London: 1862), 458-459.
  2. Ibid., 321

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