William Carey: Chapter 12: Forty Years a Translator and Missionary

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OTHER and perhaps greater trials followed the fire of 1812, by which so many books and much valuable property had been destroyed; these were money troubles. Money was nowhere to be had; one large firm after another failed, and merchants in Bengal, Calcutta and other Indian towns and cities who only a short time before had been rich men, hardly knew how to get bread for their families. A large sum of money needed for the support of the schools and college, which had been placed, it was thought, for safe keeping in the hands of a merchant, was lost, and for a time it seemed as though both schools and college would have to be closed.
All this was a great trial to Dr. Carey, but his faith in the love and wisdom of his heavenly Father was not allowed to fail. Like Job, he was enabled to say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Those who knew him best often wondered how it was possible for one man to get through all the work that made the life of Dr. Carey such a busy one, for in addition to his regular work of preaching, teaching and translating the scriptures, he held for eight years the appointment of Translator to the Government. Perhaps the secret was that he knew the value of time, knew that
“The little moments,
Tiny though they be,
Form the mighty ages
Of eternity.”
Busy as Dr. Carey always was, still he found or made time for the one recreation he allowed himself, gardening. We remember how, when a boy of fourteen, he had taken charge of his father's garden at the village school-house, and in old age his love of flowers and plants was as fresh as it had been in his youth. Only once during his last illness was he observed to be less cheerful than usual, and when asked by his friend and brother missionary, Mr. Marshman, the cause of his depression, he replied, "When I am gone, they will turn the cows into my garden." And his garden was indeed a lovely one. Cucumbers and melons did not need as in England to be grown under frames or in greenhouses, but did well in the open air.
From the time of his first going to India, Dr. Carey had asked his friends in the homeland to send him not only flower seeds, but as many as they could get of such fruit trees as, like the apple and pear, grew from pippins; plum and peach stones were also wanted, and would be welcome. When packed in small boxes among dry sand, he found they arrived in good condition, and generally did well. In this way many fruits and flowers unknown before in India were introduced into the country, and now seem to have made themselves quite at home in Indian soil.
Forty years of work in the trying climate of India had told upon the once vigorous man. Time had whitened his hair and slightly bent his frame, but his spirit was as cheerful as it had ever been, and his heart often seemed to overflow with praise, though little by little the weakness of age crept on; he had more than one severe illness, and when he neared the close of his seventieth year, he himself seemed to feel that his work was almost done. Still, when able to sit up, several hours each day were spent at his desk, translating or correcting proof sheets.
When the first copy of the eighth edition of the Bengali New Testament came from the hands of the binder, he was just going to preach; taking the precious volume with him, he held it up and with deep feeling repeated, and afterward spoke from the words of the aged Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace... for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
Among those who visited Dr. Carey during the last few weeks of his life, one who always received a specially warm welcome was Alexander Duff, a young Scotch missionary, at that time only twenty-four years of age. On one, perhaps his last, visit, he found the doctor too weak to talk much, so for some time he sat by him speaking of the work God had enabled him to do during his forty years in India. Presently the dying man said, "Pray." His visitor knelt, and after prayer said good-bye. As he reached the door he was recalled, and the lesson then learned was a never-to-be-forgotten one, as the veteran missionary said in a feeble voice, "Mr. Duff, you have been speaking about Dr. Carey; when I am gone say nothing about Dr. Carey, speak about Dr. Carey's Savior.”
The last days of his illness were described by a fellow-missionary who wrote to friends in England under date January 31st, 1834: "Our loved father, Dr. Carey, is still spared to us, and does not seem much weaker than he has been for the last three months. He can only walk a few yards at a time, suffers very little if any pain, and reads and sleeps a great deal. To him it is everything that the gospel is true, and that he believes it; and as he says, if he knows anything, he knows that he believes it.”
About half-past five in the morning of June 9th, 1834, the Lord gently put him to sleep. His funeral took place the following day, and was attended by large numbers, every possible mark of respect being shown to the memory of one whose labors as a scholar and a missionary had been so widely known. All the ships in the harbor had, by order of the governor, their flags half-mast high (ship's mourning). At the grave a Bengali hymn beginning: "Salvation by the death of Christ,” was sung, and several native converts and English brethren took part in the simple service. One lesson we may all, I think, learn from the story Of WILLIAM CAREY is how much may be done by one unselfish life. Few, perhaps, have the talent for learning languages he possessed, but all can do something towards making the glad tidings of the gospel known to others. But do not forget, dear boy or girl, that the first step to a really useful life is to have to do with Christ as a personal Savior; then ask, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and sooner or later, though perhaps not quite in the way expected, His answer is sure to come.