William Carey - a short biography
"Shoemaker by trade, but scholar, linguist and missionary by God's training," William Carey was one of God's giants in the history of evangelism!
Carey was born in a small thatched cottage in Paulerspury,
a typical Northamptonshire village in
It was in Moulton that Carey heard the missionary call. In his own words he cried, "My attention to missions was first awakened after I was at Moulton, by reading the Last Voyage of Captain Cook." To many, Cook's Journal was a thrilling story of adventure, but to Carey it was a revelation of human need! He then began to read every book that had any bearing on the subject. (This, along with his language study — for at twenty-one years of age Carey had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Italian, and was turning to Dutch and French. One well called his shoemaker's cottage "Carey's College," for as he cobbled shoes along with his preaching he never sat at his bench without some kind of a book before him.)
The more he read and studied, the more convinced he was "the peoples of the world need Christ." He read, he made notes, he made a great leather globe of the world and, one day, in the quietness of his cobbler's shop — not in some enthusiastic missionary conference — Carey heard the call: "If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel ... then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among all nations." And Carey sobbed out, "Here am I; send me!"
To surrender was one thing — to get to the field was quite another
problem. There were no missionary societies and there was no real missionary
interest. When Carey propounded this subject for discussion at a ministers'
meeting, "Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations
was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing
that the accompanying promise was of equal extent," Dr. Ryland shouted, "Young man, sit down: when God pleases
to covert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine." Andrew
Fuller added his feelings as resembling the unbelieving captain of
But Carey persisted. he later said of his ministry, "I can plod!" And he was a man who "always resolutely determined never to give up on any point or particle of anything on which his mind was set until he had arrived at a clear knowledge of his subject."
Thus Carey wrote his famed Enquiry Into the Obligations of the Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. In this masterpiece on missions Carey answered arguments, surveyed the history of missions from apostolic times, surveyed the entire known world as to countries, size, population and religions, and dealt with the practical application of how to reach the world for Christ!
And he prayed. And he pled. And he plodded. And he persisted. And he
preached — especially his epoch-producing message, "EXPECT GREAT THINGS
FROM GOD. ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD." The
result of that message preached at Nottingham, May 30, 1792 — and all the other
missionary ministries of Carey — produced the particular Baptist Missionary
Society, formed that Fall at
It was in 1793 that Carey went to
When he died at 73 (1834), he had seen the Scriptures translated and
printed into forty languages, he had been a college professor, and had founded
a college at Serampore. He had seen
On his deathbed Carey called out to a missionary friend, "Dr. Duff! You have been speaking about Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey — speak about Dr. Carey's God." That charge was symbolic of Carey, considered by many to be a "unique figure, towering above both contemporaries and successors" in the ministry of missions.