- The world looked and felt very
different 250 years ago (MAP).
- The earth’s population was about 10% of what it
- Christianity was virtually unknown in South
America, Asia, Africa, or the islands of the world.
- There were not yet any steam engines, electric
lights, telegraph, or USA.
- Then it was that God raised up a man to open the
door to the nations.
- A short, bald, poor man without even a high
school education personally translated or directly oversaw the translation of
the entire Bible from Greek and Hebrew into 6 Indian languages and portions
into 29 more.
- In a cold and indifferent time, amidst
opposition from friends and family, with a slim salary, through heart stopping
difficulty, William Carey conceived ideas to stretch out Christianity through
the haunts of paganism and then labored on earth as it is in heaven for the
coming of Christ’s Kingdom.
August 17 born to Edmund and Elizabeth.
Carey begins work as a shoemaker along with John Warr.
- Warr evangelized him as they worked together.
Carey later wrote, “[John Warr] became importunate with me, lending me books
which gradually wrought a change in my thinking, and my inward uneasiness
- While a teenaged apprentice he began teaching
After three years of talk with Warr, Carey is converted.
- A young man’s faithful evangelism of his friend
brought the firstfruits of India to Christ.
Work and Ministry
- Carey was helped greatly in Christian growth and preparation for ministry by three Baptist pastors named Thomas.
- At this time, British Baptists were being trained at the newly opened “Baptist Academy” which emphasized:
- Hebrew and Greek
- Logic (using Isaac Watts’ Logic)
- Rhetoric (“teach them to express themselves with propriety upon whatever subject they discourse of…”)
- Classic literature (“…those several branches of literature in general, which may be serviceable to them…”)
- Many men were trained personally through extended visits with godly pastors.
- 1781 June 10, 20-year old William took the 25-year old Dorothy.
- Dorothy appears to be an example of the average woman in gifting and temperament, neither Jezebel nor Mary Slessor.
- William taught his wife how to read and write.
- Though William worked and pastored, they were very poor. They “lived for a great while without tasting animal food and with but a scanty pittance of other provision.”
- 1782 In June, Carey is added as a “lay preacher” for the Reformed Baptists.
- Over the next 10 years, he often walked twelve miles to serve one church in Earls Barton and 22 miles to preach at Arnesby.
- When visiting his parents’ home, he asked to lead family worship and burned his playing cards.
- 1783 Their first daughter Ann died as well as Dorothy’s sister’s husband.
- The Carey’s then took in Dorothy’s sister and her four children.
- 1787 After five years of informal preaching, Carey is ordained.
- The Great Baptist, Bejamin Beddome, had preached at the same church for nearly 50 years when he sought Carey as his successor.
- As a faithful pastor, Carey baptized his wife in October.
- He disciplined a lady in the church twice for “tattling;” a man in the church for asking for handouts; and a deacon for unkindness to the poor.
- As a pastor, he often studied his books while working. Thus, he taught himself Hebrew having already begun on Latin and Greek earlier.
- 1788 Around this time, at a pastor’s meeting, Carey was asked by an elder pastor to present a topic for discussion.
- Carey: “Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations was not binding on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent.”
- John Ryland, “Young man, sit down, sit down! You’re an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, He’ll do it without consulting you or me.”
- Carey made a globe and a map drawing countries and any information he could find about particular countries.
- John Eliot (1604-1690) and David Brainerd (1718-1747) along with the Apostle Paul were his heroes.
- Though the pastors at the association showed little interest, he went to them individually and tried to build support.
- All Carey’s life he was a “tentmaker.”
- 1792 Death strikes for the second time in 10 years as his second daughter Lucy dies.
- When he was not desperately working for his
living, he was compiling information for a book.
- 87 pages of information about the world and the
- An Enquiry
into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the
- Section 1: Do our Lord’s final words apply to us
all still today? He answers objections as well.
- Section 2: A history of missionary efforts for
- Section 3: A survey of the whole world with 23
pages of statistics and tables before the internet or even easy access to
- Section 4: Five difficulties to reach the
heathen. “(1) Their distance from us, (2) their barbarous and savage manner of
living, (3) the danger of being killed by them, (4) the difficulties of
procuring the necessaries of life, and (5) the unintelligibleness of their
- Section 5: Practical ways to do this work.
- Those with more should give a large percentage
of their money; those with average income should give 10% to missions; those
who were poor should give “one penny or more per week according to their
we Christians loved men as merchants love money, no fierceness of peoples would
keep us from their midst.”
read this to the Baptists who were teachable to his cause.
Founding the Society
May 31 “The Deathless Sermon” Isaiah 54:2-3
- Who can remember any lines from the sermons of
Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, or Spurgeon?
- But an uneducated, impoverished pastor spoke
words that remain with us all, “Expect great things from God; Attempt great
things for God.”
- In this single stroke, he blends faith in God
and manly ambition.
- After the sermon, he gripped Andrew Fuller’s arm
and asked, “Is there nothing to be done?”
- 1792 October
2, A few months later, the Baptist Society for foreign missions was formed with
13 pastors and a promised amount of money at less than R14,000 per year.
- Carey had no money to donate to the Society, so
he gave all the proceeds of his book.
- Andrew Fuller served Carey for 22 years until
his death. He tirelessly raised funds and visited on behalf of missions.
- 1793 Carey
in a letter to his father “I hope, dear father, you may be enabled to surrender
me up to the Lord for the most arduous, honourable, and important work that
ever any of the sons of men were called to engage in. I have many sacrifices to
make, I must part with a beloved family and a number of most affectionate
friends. … But I have set my hand to the plough.”
planned to move to India for two years with Felix (aged 8) and then return for
Dolly and the other children.
- 1793 They needed about £550 (About R550,000
in 2019) in order to move the Careys and the John Thomas family to India.
Bath, the churches gave 1 penny. After it was announced that this would be
recorded in the book, the people gave £22 (R22,000).
- 1793 In January Carey told his wife that they were to move to India by April.
- At nearly 8 months pregnant, with 3 young boys, having already buried her first two daughters, with war between France and Britain affecting the ocean, and with a very small salary, she refused to go.
- William and Dorothy loved each other deeply, but Carey was torn by his great sense of duty to missions.
- After Carey, Felix, and Thomas were delayed about 7 weeks, they returned and convinced Dorothy to go with them if her sister Katherine came as well.
- Katherine made up her mind in a few minutes to move with them to India.
- The two women packed the entire family in 24 hours.
- Now three adults and five children needed passage for £700!
- They sailed five months from 13 June to 7 November in 1793.
- While on ship, the 5’4” (1.6 m) Carey flung his wig into the sea.
- As they neared the Indian shore for the first time, Carey wrote back to the Home Three:
“I hope you will go on and increase, and that multitudes may
hear the glorious words of Truth. Africa is but a little way from England;
Madagascar but a little further; South America and all the many and large
islands in the Indian and Chinese seas will, I hope, not be forgotten. A large
field opens on every side, and millions tormented by ignorance, superstition,
and idolatry, plead with every heart that loves God.”
- They arrived with no passports, no friends, and no house.
Tentmaking at Mudnabatty
- Sir William Hunter writes about India, “The country was practically untouched by any regenerative influence whatever. He had to encounter in its worst forms all the strength of the Hindu system.”
- 330 million gods (Ward), hook swinging, suttee, and castes…
- They rented rooms while they were looking for the best permanent place to start a business.
- All the while Carey knew that the British government threatened to imprison anyone in India without the proper papers.
- Then Dorothy and her two eldest children fell sick with dysentery lasting for 8 months.
- Worst of all, when Carey found a place to live in the interior, he found that Thomas wasted their entire annual salary in 10 weeks.
- Journal Jan. 16, 1794: “I am much dejected… I am in a strange land, alone, no Christian friends, a large family, and nothing to supply their wants. I blame Mr. Thomas for leading me into such expense at first, and I blame myself for being led.”
- From February until June they travel twice by boat looking for a place to live and work.
- The river journeys blazed with heat over 40˚ with crocodiles near them and tigers, rhinoceros, pythons, and cobras hidden on shore.
- Carey wrote in his journal: “Traveling with a family is a great hindrance to holy, spiritual meditation.”
- 1794 For two years he worked as the manager of an indigo factory.
- Since his new position offered a salary, he immediately wrote home asking them to designate his support for the next missionary.
- 1794 Five year old Peter dies from dysentery. He is buried the same day with only his parents in attendance.
- On the Lord’s Day, he commonly walked 20 miles and preached three times usually in the open air.
- Though short and bald and still learning Bengali, he sang to attract attention and then preached socratically.
- 1795 “Never was a people more willing to hear yet more slow to understand.”
- 1795 Dorothy at 38 had another bout with dysentery which, added to all she had endured, overcame her mind with a permanent fear and darkness.
- He waited 17 months before hearing from his friends at home.
- 1796 A man Carey thought was near to Christ having been with them from the beginning, revealed a life of ongoing sin.
- 1797 Carey completes the NT into Bengali.
- 1799 After completing five years as the manager of an indigo factory, five more missionaries arrived!
- They still have no converts.
- The British government made constant difficulties and refused the missionaries permission.
- The Danish government urged them to live on their tiny settlement at Serampore about 25 k’s from Calcutta.
- 1800 January 10, six years and two months after arrival, Carey and the new missionaries landed at the Danish settlement of Serampore.
- One of the new missionaries, William Grant, had died 20 days after landing in India leaving a wife and two children.
- At 39 Carey’s real work begins now with the addition of William Ward (30) and Joshua Marshman (31).
- Neither Carey nor Marshman had a formal education, but both borrowed and read books.
- About these two men Carey wrote, “Brother Ward is a the very man we wanted, he enters into the work with his whole soul. I have much pleasure in him, and expect much from him. Brother Marshman is prodigy of diligence and prudence, as is also his wife: learning the language is mere play to him…”
- They purchased a large house on the river where all 10 adults and 9 children could stay together.
- Each Saturday night they had a meeting to resolve differences and maintain Christian unity.
- Everything in the house was decided by majority vote since Carey would take no preeminence (Luke 22:26; 1 Pet. 5:5).
- Carey took to the task of translation; Ward was a printer by trade; Marshman and his wife began English and Bengali schools.
- Carey was “thankful beyond words” for Hannah Marshman who was both spiritually mature and gifted.
- Carey regularly preached 5 times per week both inside and out on Friday and the Lord’s Day.
- At 15, Felix began street preaching as well.
- Once upon seeing an idol he asked, “Did that make men, or did men make that?” He commonly used wit and satire in evangelism.
- Within the first year at Serampore, two new missionaries died.
- 1800 Carey had been in India for 7 years, when he met a carpenter who dislocated his shoulder, Krishna Pal.
- Carey, and Marshman tied him to a tree and held him while Thomas forced the bone back in place.
- In pain, Thomas gave him a paraphrase of Pro. 28:13 that the mission used.
“Sin confessing, sin forsaking;
Christ’s righteousness embracing;
The soul is free.”
- Thomas had waited 15 years to see a convert.
- 1800 December 22 Krishna broke caste and the idolatry that invented that system by eating with the missionaries.
- The streets filled with 2,000 people who rioted at even a crack in their false religion.
- A soldier was placed in front of Krishna’s house, and six days later he was baptized along with sixteen-year old Felix Carey.
- The same day of the baptism the Lord’s Table was held for the first time ever in Bengali.
- And yet the reality of demons cannot be doubted for that same week, Dr. Thomas, Carey’s first companion fell into a fit of madness.
- As Carey baptized Krishna and Felix both Thomas and Dorothy were in the house nearby locked in their rooms.
- Over the next 2 years a dozen others came to Christ so that within 10 years of arriving in India, the first Bengali church had 13 members.
- All of Krishna’s family was converted including his 13 year old daughter, Golok.
- She was however, legally betrothed to an older Hindu man who came to take her.
- Against her will and her father’s she was taken, and he was beaten.
- Though a man of fiery temper, Krishna evidenced a new heart as well as his daughter who eventually was baptized
- That church cost thousands of pounds (millions of Rands), the deaths of Peter Carey and three missionaries as well as the sanity of two more.
- Some of the new converts even began preaching in the streets undeterred even by an angry mob that once beat them.
- One new Christian had dung thrown at him.
- The seed was planted in Krishna Pal about 10 years earlier by the Moravian missionaries who never personally saw a convert.
Full missionary years
- 1801 The last page of the Bengali NT came off the presses.
- 1801 Carey was hired to teach Bengali and Sanskrit at a British college.
- The government post paid so well that he did not take a salary again from the mission in London, but gave all his income back to the mission.
- Teaching at the school allowed him to master the languages so well that he could edit his first Bengali translation.
- The Bengali church continued to grow even though nearly all of its members experienced persecution, backsliding, church discipline, and restoration through the years.
- 1805 Felix joined the missionary staff.
- Marshman earned R1 million per year through the school, but only kept R34,000 for his family.
- Carey earned R150,000 per year, but he only kept R40,000.
- Ward gave away everything over R24,000.
- The rest of their money was given back to the mission as were all the buildings including a large house, printing rooms, and schools.
- The salaries these men earned were also used to support other missionaries.
- 1806 The requirements for new missionaries:
- A competent knowledge of the languages
- A mild and winning temper
- A heart given up to God
- 1806 At 45 years old, an average day for Carey looked like this.
- 5:45 am Read a chapter from the Hebrew Bible and pray
- 7:00 am Family worship in Bengali with all missionaries and workers
- 7:30 Review Persian, then Hindustani with language helpers
- 8:00 breakfast
- 8:30 Translate the Ramayana from Sanskrit to English.
- 10:00 Teach at the college
- 2:00 Proofread Bengali translation of Jeremiah
- 5:00 dinner
- 5:30 Translate Matthew 8 into Sanskrit
- 6:00 Study Telugu with a language helper
- 7:30 preach in English to the British government officials and merchants.
- 9:00 Translate Ezekiel 11 into Bengali
- 10:30 Wrote a letter to a friend
- 11:00 Read a chapter from the Greek NT before sleep.
- He wrote to John Ryland back in England, “I can scarcely call an hour my own in a week. I, however, rejoice in my work and delight in it.”
- After 15 years in India, Carey reported that some part of the Scripture was now in 12 new languages.
- Doubters in England attacked the missionaries.
- Carey replied: “Few people know what may be done till they try, and persevere in what they undertake.”
- Bengali being the most common language, Carey finished the NT in 1796, and then revised it eight more times before his death.
- 1809 A magazine defended the Serampore Trio in England:
“These [men] have translated the whole Bible into Bengali
[and in 12 other languages]
. Extraordinary as this is it will appear more so
when it is remembered that of these men one was originally a shoe-maker,
another a printer in Hull, and a third the master of a charity school in
- 1807 Dorothy dies after 12 years of growing madness.
- 1808 Carey remarried the Dutch Charlotte Rumohr after teaching her English.
- 1812 The year opened with a missionary wife dying and then two missionary children laid in graves.
- March 11 William Ward was finishing the day in his office at the printing rooms when he smelled smoke.
- Rushing into the paper room, he ordered all doors and windows closed so that no fresh oxygen would feed the fire.
- By cutting away a section of the roof, a great crowd of missionaries, friends, workers, and neighbors brought vessels from the river to extinguish the fire.
- After four hours of work they had nearly contained the fire, when someone opened a window at the bottom floor.
- The fire instantly leaped back into action and spread to the “composing room” where all the manuscripts and font types were housed.
- Though they struggled throughout the night, eventually the entire building collapsed.
- £10,000 or R10,000,000 was lost and years of translation work.
- Carey wrote to Fuller, “The loss is heavy, but as the traveling a road the second time, however painful it may be, is usually done with greater ease and certainty than when we traveled it for the first time, so I trust the work will lose nothing in real value.”
- Many manuscripts were lost including Carey’s Sanskrit dictionary, the Kanarese NT, and grammars in Telugu and Punjabi.
- A decade’s work lost in a night.
- Ward, the printer, was optimistic however, when he found the metal types and fonts saved for nearly a score of different languages.
- Carey took the opportunity to examine his own pride, “I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection I could, and contemplated the mission with, perhaps, too much self-congratulation.”
- The newspapers wrote about the missionaries that they only grew stronger through hardships.
- News of the fire spread like fire itself through Britain until Fuller was afraid of pride.
- “If we inhale this incense, will not God withhold His blessing, and then where are we? Ought we not to tremble? Surely, all need more grace to go through good report than through evil.” A. Fuller
- In light of the fire, they looked at their blessings:
- In their 19th years, they now had 11 churches with 30 members on average.
- They had an English church that was zealous for evangelism.
- Three of Carey’s sons gave themselves to missionary service and the fourth supported the mission.
- Jabez was outside of Christ until God answered prayers from the believers in England.
- Here are some excerpts of Carey writing to Jabez, the boy born 20 years earlier just weeks before they left for India.
My dear Jabez,
You are engaging in a most important undertaking, in which
you will have not only my prayers for your success, but those of all who love
our Lord Jesus, and who know of your engagement. …
Trust always in Christ. Be pure of heart. Live a life of
prayer and of devotedness to God. Be gentle and unassuming, yet firm and manly.
Esteem [your new wife of 20 years old] highly that she may
highly esteem you.
Seek not the society of worldly men…
Shun all indolence and love of ease…
Labour incessantly to become a perfect master of Malay. …
You must never expect them to pay much attention to what you
say, unless you win their love. The more attention you pay them, the more will
they pay you. …
[God] has conferred on you a great favour in committing to
you this ministry. …
Should I never see you on earth, I trust we shall meet with
joy before His throne.
Your very, very affectionate father, W. Carey
- Carey once wrote, “I would rather hear of Felix losing his life in the cause of the Gospel than see him quit his station.”
- 1814 Felix with his wife and two babies were traveling from Rangoon in Burma when the ship overturned.
- He held up his wife and baby until he sank and was saved by sailors.
- His wife, both babies, the printing press, the first Scriptures in Burmese, and the dictionary in the manuscript of the Burmese dictionary were lost.
- After 20 years of service in India with hundreds of baptized Indians and mission stations slowly growing, the Trio endured 16 years of attacks from fellow Christians.
- Carey had earlier allowed every missionary to have an equal voice, but now men who just arrived expected the same authority as the men who had great experience.
- The younger men wrote unhappy letters back to the home committee.
- They especially complained about Marshman.
- Carey wrote: “His labors are excessive, his body scarcely susceptible of fatigue, his religious feelings strong, his jealousy for God great, his regard for the feelings of others very little, when the cause of God is in question. … in short, his diligence reproaches the indolence of some; his acquirements reproach their ignorance, and his unaccommodating mind not infrequently excites sentiments of resentment and dislike.”
- But Carey loved him deeply, “For my own part I consider him as a man whose value to the mission can scarcely be sufficiently appreciated, and whose death would be a most severe loss.”
- Some in England even complained that they were becoming rich. Carey wrote to them:
“Were I to die today, I should not leave property enough for
the purchase of a coffin, and my wife would be entirely unprovided for. We are
coarsely clad, and certainly not overfed, and, I believe, he who possesses the
most among us has not so much as he contributes to the public stock in four
- The Trio gave £100,000 to the mission.
- They did the lion’s share of the preaching, teaching, evangelism, and translation.
- They had lived the longest in India and spoke most fluently.
- They had lost loved ones.
- Nevertheless, the committee sided with the younger men and sent letters demanding information as if Carey and his friends were untrustworthy.
- 1827 Eventually Joshua Marshman returned to England, but the Mission demanded a separation.
- 1830 So it was that William Carey was removed from the Mission board he founded after 35 years.
- If he could revisit that time, he said he would “scrupulously abstain from offering any reply… and would inform his opponents that they had his full permission to say whatever it would afford them pleasure… concerning him, provided that they did not encroach on his invaluable time.”
- “The greatest trial of a missionary is often another missionary.” Forbes Jackson
- These tensions came over a decade interspersed with deaths.
- 1821 His second wife Charlotte died and he wrote, “My loss is irreparable. … I am exceedingly lonely.”
- 1822 Krishna Pal (56) and his first son Felix (37), baptized on the same day, were buried in the same year.
- 1823 Cholera caused Serampore to stagger as it claimed William Ward’s life (54).
- 1823 John Ryland the last of the Home Trio died and Carey was practically friendless in England during the last seven years of the fight with the mission.
- 1830 Before the schism with the mission was complete, the first of three major banks failed.
- 1833 At 72, Carey and the other missionaries lose all their retirement savings as two more banks fail.
children, and friends
Suttee is abolished in part because of Carey’s labors.
- 1833 About
six months before he died, news reached Serampore that slavery had been
abolished in England and the colonies.
- “For many years in his every prayer, he has been
pleading for the destruction of slavery. … He proposed that for one month we
should give special thanksgiving to God in all our meetings.”
June 9 Carey passed away at sunrise.
- 35 different languages had some portion of the
Bible and 6 of those languages now possessed the entire Bible.
- Over 600 converts had been baptized and 13
mission stations had been started.
- On his tombstone he requested the lines by Isaac
A wretched poor and
On Thy kind arms I
- The world cannot be evangelized without ambition.
- In the face of opposition, without any funding, education, or family support, Carey started a society for missions.
- “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.”
2. Humility marks a godly man.
- After six years in India he wrote, “Such another dead soul scarcely exists. My crime is spiritual stupidity. I have no love. O God, make me a true Christian.”
- “[Carey] is most remarkable for his humility; he is a very superior man, and appears to know nothing about it.” E. Pritchett 248
- On his death bed to Alexander Duff, “Mr. Duff, you have been speaking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey—speak about Dr. Carey’s Saviour.”
- During the years of opposition, he wrote very little in defense of himself.
3. When a culture is built on a religion that has no Christian light, depravity will display itself in the ways of the people.
- Traditional institutions: Infanticide, hook swinging, suttee, caste system.
- Habits of life: Lying, laziness
- After seven years he wrote that Indians are not fierce, “but this is abundantly made up for by cunning and deceit. Moral rectitude makes up no part of their religious system.”
- Deut. 18:9 When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
3. Christianity begins with evangelism, but ends with an entirely Christian culture.
- They preached and evangelized as their primary tasks.
- But they also gave some time to correcting the greatest social evils.
- Marshman ran a school, and the Trio opened a free College.
- Carey first opposed suttee.
- The Trio required every Indian to reject caste before baptism.
- “…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”
4. Evangelism requires patience.
- He waited seven years before the first convert, Krishna Pal.
- But the Moravians had already evangelized for over a decade in that same area and preached to Krishna without seeing single convert.
- They did see over 600 converts, but this was the combined work of more than 20 missionaries over 40 years.
5. Suffering, tears, and exhaustion are the natural price set on the task of missions.
- Carey lost two wives, two sons, and numerous co-workers.
- Carey and his wife waited a year and a half without even a letter.
- Grant died before he even started.
- Fountain died before he saw a convert.
- Three banks failed taking all their savings.
- Their new converts were constantly falling into sin.
- John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
- “Suffer hardness as a good soldier.”
6. Missions is a work of the whole church of God.
- The senders in London did vital work for those who went to India—the Home Trio and the Serampore Trio.
- The missionaries expected the new Indian believers to be involved immediately with the work of evangelism.
- Christians in Britain raised money and the missionaries took jobs.
7. Hard work over a long period of time moves mountains.
- “I can plod and persevere. That is my only genius.”
- Some new missionaries did not like Marshman because of his work ethic.
- Lam. 3:27 It is good for a man that he should bear The yoke in his youth.
8. Sin still remains in every Christian’s heart.
- Carey did not treat Dorothy in a loving and gracious way when he first left England in 1793.
- The new missionaries did not humble themselves and follow the wisdom of the Trio. 298, 341
- The home board doubted and discouraged the missionaries from 1918 onward.
- The Bible Society removed support from Serampore over the translation rather than the transliteration of “baptizo.”
- Matt. 18:7 For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come;
- James 3:2 If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
- From such a diamond, you may choose which facet
to admire most.
- From such a man, you may need a month or more to
think of all the diverse ways that his life challenges you to love and serve
the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- “Though he is dead, he still speaks.”
- “Expect great things from God; Attempt great
things for God.”