William Carey: Chapter 4: The Voyage to India

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“Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak." (Jer. 1:6, 76Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. (Jeremiah 1:6‑7).)JER 1:6, 76Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. (Jeremiah 1:6‑7))
SOON after his conversion William Carey began to preach in the villages for miles around. A great love to Christ and to souls filled his heart, and it is not surprising that many came to hear him. He had often to walk long distances, sometimes sixteen miles to and from the place where he was expected to preach. The people to whom he ministered were very poor, and he was frequently left without money enough to replace the clothes he had worn out in their service.
A little later he became a regular preacher, but was still very poor.
He had married early, and an attack of fever caused the death of his first child, and left him so low and weak that his friends had little hope of his recovery.
For a time after his illness he taught a small day-school, and to add a little to his income made or mended shoes in the evenings.
If he did not teach so many subjects as the boys and girls for whom I am writing are expected to learn, those who remained with him for any length of time were sure to get a good knowledge not only of scripture history, but hear words "whereby they might be saved," which were day after day read and explained in their hearing. Christ was very precious to his own soul, and from a full heart he spoke of Him, his own trusted Savior.
Geography lessons, too, could hardly fail to be interesting when they were given by a teacher who knew so much about the people of other lands, people of strange languages, and still stranger customs.
One of Carey's early friends remembered having seen in his room a map which the future missionary had made by pasting several sheets of paper together, outline maps being drawn of the different countries, and in the space allotted to each, he had written in a small, neat hand, interesting facts about the country, its people, their customs, language and religion.
As he thought of the Savior's words, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:55And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. (Mark 16:5)), "Why," he asked himself, "are Christians so slow and half-hearted in obeying the parting command of their Lord and Master? Why has so little been done to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the millions who have never heard the name of Jesus, but blindly worship gods of wood and stone? Surely there are some who could go, and many who, if they could not go, might at least help to send missionaries to heathen lands.”
“Here am I; send me"! was the language of his heart. If others could not or would not go, he was willing, longing to be sent forth. There were many difficulties in the way. "Is William mad?" his father had said, on hearing that his son had offered himself as a missionary. His wife, whose health was not very good, had at first objected strongly to leaving England, but in the end yielded, and with her children, the youngest an infant of only a few weeks old, joined her husband.
Mr. Thomas, a medical missionary, who had twice been in Calcutta, was anxious to return to India, and gladly agreed to be Mr. Carey's companion on the voyage. The school was given up, and the people to whom he had preached felt that in giving one whom they had learned to love and value greatly to the mission-field, they were making a costly, though freewill offering, and bade him an affectionate good-bye. To secure a passage to India was in those days by no means easy, and it was not till after many delays and disappointments that the captain of a Danish ship, The Princess Maria, bound from Copenhagen to Serampur, agreed to take them.
After waiting for some days at Dover they were roused from sleep very early one summer's morning by the news that the ship was entering the harbor, and by sunrise a party of eight, Mr. and Mrs. Carey, their three children, with a sister of Mrs. Carey's, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas were on board.
The voyage began on the 13th of June, 1793; but as those were not the days of fast-sailing steamers, it proved long and trying. On the 9th of November Mr. Carey wrote, "For nearly a month we have been within two hundred miles of Bengal, but the violence of the current sent us back, even when we seemed at the very door.”
On the 11th of November, after a five months' voyage, they landed at Calcutta, and Mr. Carey wrote, "I think I understand a little of what Paul felt when he beheld Athens, and `his spirit was stirred within him.' I see one of the finest countries in the world, with a simple and industrious people, yet large portions of it are nothing but jungle, left to wild beasts and serpents. If the gospel but takes root here, the wilderness will yet blossom as the rose.”
Very real and simple faith in God was needed to go on, surrounded as the two missionaries were by at least one hundred million of heathen; these poor people had never heard of the "one living and true God," but worshipped stones, logs of wood and monkeys. To bathe in the river Ganges, or to die upon its banks was, they thought, to wash away their sins, and make their souls pure and holy.
The kind heart of the missionary was deeply touched by the misery and ignorance of Hindu women. No one ever thought of teaching a girl to read, write, or do plain sewing or fancy-work. The sewing was done by men belonging to a certain caste, and the washing by those of another. There was not a single girls' school in India. Little girls were often betrothed in marriage, and the child widows numbered thousands; the lives of these were very sad, as Hindu laws and customs alike allowed them to be treated with neglect and cruelty.