CHAPTER XIII -- CAREY'S IMMEDIATE INFLUENCE IN GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA, 1813-1830
Set free from the impossible task of administering North America on the absolutist system which the Georges would fain have continued, Great Britain found herself committed to the duty of doing for India what Rome had done for Europe. England was compelled to surrender the free West to her own children only that she might raise the servile and idolatrous East to such a Christian level as the genius of its peoples could in time enable them to work out. But it took the thirty years from 1783 to 1813 to convince British statesmen, from Pitt to Castlereagh, that India is to be civilised not according to its own false systems, but by truth in all forms, spiritual and moral, scientific and historical. It took other twenty years, to the Charter of 1833, to complete the conversion of the British Parliament to the belief that the principles of truth and freedom are in their measure as good for the East as for the West.
At the beginning of this new period William Pitt based his motion for Parliamentary reform on this fact, that "our senators are no longer the representatives of British virtue but of the vices and pollutions of the East." At the close of it Lord William Bentinck, Macaulay, and Duff, co-operated in the decree which made truth, as most completely revealed through the English language and literature, the medium of India's enlightenment. William Carey's career of fifty years, from his baptism in 1783 and the composition of his Enquiry to his death in 1834, covered and influenced more than any other one man's the whole time; and he represented in it an element of permanent healthy nationalisation which these successors overlooked,-- the use of the languages of the peoples of India as the only literary channels for allowing the truth revealed through English to reach the millions of the people.
It was by this means that Carey educated Great Britain and America to rise equal to the terrible trust of jointly creating a Christian Empire of India, and ultimately a series of self-governing Christian nations in Southern and Eastern Asia. He consciously and directly roused the Churches of all names to carry out the commission of their Master, and to seek the promised impulse of His Spirit or Divine Representative on earth, that they might do greater things than even those which He did. And he, less directly but not less consciously, brought the influence of public opinion, which every year purified and quickened, to bear upon Parliament and upon individual statesmen, aided in this up till 1815 by Andrew Fuller. He never set foot in England again, and the influence of his brethren Ward and Marshman during their visits was largely neutralised by some leaders of their own church. But Carey's character and career, his letters and writings, his work and whole personality, stood out in England, Scotland, and America as the motive power which stimulated every church and society, and won the triumph of toleration in the charter of 1813, of humanity, education, and administrative reform in the legislation of Lord William Bentinck.
We have already seen how the immediate result of Carey's early letters was the foundation on a catholic basis of the London Missionary Society, which now represents the great Nonconformist half of England; of the Edinburgh or Scottish and Glasgow Societies, through which the Presbyterians sent forth missionaries to West and South Africa and to Western India, until their churches acted as such; of the Church Missionary Society which the evangelical members of the Church of England have put in the front of all the societies; and of Robert Haldane's splendid self-sacrifice in selling all that he had to lead a large Presbyterian mission to Hindostan.
Soon (1797) the London Society became the parent of that of the Netherlands, and of that which is one of the most extensive in Christendom, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The latter, really founded (1810) by Judson and some of his fellow-students, gave birth (1814) to the almost equally great American Baptist Union when Judson and his colleague became Baptists, and the former was sent by Carey to Burma. The Religious Tract Society (1799), and the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804)--each a handmaid of the missionary agencies--sprang as really though less directly from Carey's action. Such organised efforts to bring in heathen and Mohammedan peoples led in 1809 to the at first catholic work begun by the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews. The older Wesleyan Methodist and Gospel Propagation Societies, catching the enthusiasm as Carey succeeded in opening India and the East, entered on a new development under which the former in 1813, and the latter in 1821, no longer confined their operations to the slaves of America and the English of the dispersion in the colonies and dependencies of Great Britain. In 1815 Lutheran Germany also, which had cast out the Pietists and the Moravian brethren as the Church of England had rejected the Wesleyans, founded the principal representative of its evangelicalism at Basel. The succeeding years up to Carey's death saw similar missionary centres formed, or reorganised, in Leipzig (1819), Berlin (1823), and Bremen (1836)./1/
The Periodical Accounts sent home from Mudnabati and Serampore, beginning at the close of 1794, and the Monthly Circular Letters after 1807, gave birth not only to these great missionary movements but to the new and now familiar class of foreign missionary periodicals. The few magazines then existing, like the Evangelical, became filled with a new spirit of earnest aggressiveness. In 1796 there appeared in Edinburgh The Missionary Magazine, "a periodical publication intended as a repository of discussion and intelligence respecting the progress of the Gospel throughout the world." The editors close their preface in January 1797 with this statement:--"With much pleasure they have learned that there was never a greater number of religious periodical publications carried on than at present, and never were any of them more generally read. The aggregate impression of those alone which are printed in Britain every month considerably exceeds thirty thousand." The first article utilises the facts sent home by Dr. Carey as the fruit of his first two years' experience, to show "The Peculiar Advantages of Bengal as a Field for Missions from Great Britain." After describing, in the style of an English statesman, the immense population, the highly civilised state of society, the eagerness of the natives in the acquisition of knowledge, and the principles which the Hindoos and Mohammedans hold in common with Christians, the writer thus continues:--
"The attachment of both the Mohammedans and Hindoos to their ancient systems is lessening every day. We have this information from the late Sir William Jones, one of the Judges of that country, a name dear to literature, and a lover of the religion of Jesus. The Mussulmans in Hindostan are in general but little acquainted with their system, and by no means so zealous for it as their brethren in the Turkish and Persian empires. Besides, they have not the strong arm of civil authority to crush those who would convert them. Mr. Carey's letters seem to intimate the same relaxation among the Hindoos. This decay of prejudice and bigotry will at least incline them to listen with more patience, and a milder temper, to the doctrines and evidences of the Christian religion. The degree of adhesion to their castes, which still remains, is certainly unfavourable, and must be considered as one of Satan's arts to render men unhappy; but it is not insuperable.That is remarkable writing for an Edinburgh magazine in the year 1797, and it was Carey who made it possible. Its author followed up the appeal by offering himself and his all, for life and death, in a "Plan of the Mission to Bengal," which appeared in the April number. Robert Haldane, whose journal at this time was full of Carey's doings, and his ordained associates, Bogue, Innes, and Greville Ewing, accompanied by John Ritchie as printer, John Campbell as catechist, and other lay workers, determined to turn the very centre of Hindooism, Benares, into a second Serampore. Defeated by one set of Directors of the East India Company, he waited for the election of their successors, only to find the East India Company as hostile to the Scottish gentleman as they had been to the English shoemaker four years before.
The formation of the great Missionary and Bible Societies did not, as in the case of the Moravian Brethren and the Wesleyans, take their members out of the Churches of England and Scotland, of the Baptists and Independents. It supplied in each case an executive through which they worked aggressively not only on the non-christian world, but still more directly on their own home congregations and parishes. The foreign mission spirit directly gave birth to the home mission on an extensive scale. Not merely did the Haldanes and their agents, following Whitefield and the Scottish Secession of 1733, become the evangelists of the north when they were not suffered to preach the Gospel in South Asia; every member of the churches of Great Britain and America, as he caught the enthusiasm of humanity, in the Master's sense, from the periodical accounts sent home from Serampore, and soon from Africa and the South Seas, as well as from the Red Indians and Slaves of the West, began to work as earnestly among the neglected classes around him, as to pray and give for the conversion of the peoples abroad.
From first to last, from the early days of the Moravian influence on Wesley and Whitefield, and the letters of Carey, to the successive visits to the home churches of missionaries like Duff and Judson, Ellis and Williams, Moffat and Livingstone, it is the enterprise of foreign missions which has been the leaven of Christendom no less really than of the rest of the world. Does the fact that at the close of the year 1796 there were more than thirty thousand men and women in Great Britain who every month read and prayed about the then little known world of heathenism, and spared not their best to bring that world to the Christ whom they had found, seem a small thing? How much smaller, even to contemptible insignificance, must those who think so consider the arrival of William Carey in Calcutta to be three years before! Yet the thirty thousand sprang from the one, and to-day the thirty thousand have a vast body of Christians really obedient to the Master, in so far as, banded together in five hundred churches and societies, they have sent out eighteen thousand missionaries instead of one or two; they see eighty thousand Asiatics, Africans, and Polynesians proclaiming the Christ to their countrymen, and their praying is tested by their giving annually a sum of £5,000,000, to which every year is adding.
The influence of Carey and his work on individual men and women in his generation was even more marked, inasmuch as his humility kept him so often from magnifying his office and glorifying God as the example of Paul should have encouraged him to do. Most important of all for the cause, he personally called Ward to be his associate, and his writings drew Dr. and Mrs. Marshman to his side, while his apostolic charity so developed and used all that was good in Thomas and Fountain, that not even in the churches of John and James, Peter and Paul, Barnabas and Luke, was there such a brotherhood. When troubles came from outside he won to himself the younger brethren, Yates and Pearce, and healed half the schism which Andrew Fuller's successors made.
His Enquiry, followed "by actually embarking on a mission to India," led to the publication of the Letters on Missions addressed to the Protestant Ministers of the British Churches by Melville Horne, who, after a brief experience as Church of England chaplain in Zachary Macaulay's settlement of Sierra Leone, published that little book to excite in all Christians a passion for missions like the Master's. Referring to the English churches, Established and Nonconformist, he wrote:--"Except the Reverend Mr. Carey and a friend who accompanies him, I am not informed of any... ministers who are engaged in missions." Such was the impression made by Carey on John Newton that, in 1802, he rebuked his old curate, Claudius Buchanan, for depreciating the Serampore missionaries, adding, "I do not look for miracles, but if God were to work one in our day, I should not wonder if it were in favour of Dr. Carey."
The Serampore Mission, at an early period, called forth the admiration of the Scottish philanthropist and essayist, James Douglas of Cavers, whose Hints on Missions (1822), a book still full of suggestiveness, contains this passage:--"Education and the press have only been employed to purpose of very late years, especially by the missionaries of Serampore; every year they have been making some improvements upon their former efforts, and... it only requires to increase the number of printing presses, schools, teachers, translators, and professors, to accelerate to any pitch the rate of improvement... To attempt to convert the world without educating it, is grasping at the end and neglecting the means." Referring to what Carey had begun and the Serampore College had helped to develop in Asia, as in Africa and America, Douglas of Cavers well described the missionary era, the new crusade:--"The Reformation itself needed anew a reform in the spirit if not in the letter. That second Reformation has begun; it makes less noise than that of Luther, but it spreads wider and deeper; as it is more intimate it will be more enduring. Like the Temple of Solomon, it is rising silently, without the din of pressure or the note of previous preparation, but notwithstanding it will be not less complete in all its parts nor less able to resist the injuries of time!"
Henry Martyn died, perhaps the loftiest and most loving spirit of the men whom Carey drew to India. Son of a Cornish miner-captain, after passing through the Truro Grammar School, he was sixteen--the age at which Carey became a shoemaker's apprentice--when he was entered at St. John's, and made that ever since the most missionary of all the colleges of Cambridge. When not yet twenty he came out Senior Wrangler. His father's death drove him to the Bible, to the Acts of the Apostles, which he began to study, and the first whisper of the call of Christ came to him in the joy of the Magnificat as its strains pealed through the chapel. Charles Simeon's preaching drew him to Trinity Church. In the vicarage, when he had come to be tutor of his college, and was preparing for the law, he heard much talk of William Carey, of his self-sacrifice and his success in India. It was the opening year of the nineteenth century, the Church Missionary Society had just been born as the fruit partly of a paper written by Simeon four years previously, and he offered himself as its first English missionary. He was not twenty-one, he could not be ordained for two years. Meanwhile a calamity made him and his unmarried sister penniless; he loved Lydia Grenfell with a pure passion which enriched while it saddened his short life, and a chaplaincy became the best mode in every way of his living and dying for India. What a meeting must that have been between him and Carey when, already stricken by fever, he found a sanctuary in Aldeen, and learned at Serampore the sweetness of telling to the natives of India in one of their own tongues the love of God. William Carey and Henry Martyn were one in origin, from the people; in industry, as scholars; in genius, as God-devoted; in the love of a great heart not always returned. The older man left the church of his fathers because there was no Simeon and no missionary society, and he made his own university; he laid the foundation of English missions deep and broad in no sect but in Christ, to whom he and Martyn alike gave themselves.
The names of Carey and Simeon, thus linked to each other by Martyn, find another pleasant and fruitful tie in the Rev. Alexander Stewart, D.D., Gaelic scholar and Scottish preacher. It was soon after Carey went out to India that Simeon, travelling in the Highlands, spent a Sunday in the manse of Moulin, where his personal intercourse and his evening sermon after a season of Communion were blessed to the evangelical enlightenment of Stewart. Moulin was the birthplace ten years after of Alexander Duff, whose parents previously came under the power of the minister's new-found light./2/ Like Simeon, Dr. Stewart thenceforth became a warm supporter of foreign missions. Finding in the Periodical Accounts a letter in which Carey asked Fuller to send him a copy of Van der Hooght's edition of the Hebrew Bible because of the weakness of his eyesight, Dr. Stewart at once wrote offering his own copy. Fuller gladly accepted the kindness. "I with great pleasure," writes Dr. Stewart, "followed the direction, wrote a letter of some length to Carey, and sent off my parcel to London. I daresay you remember my favourite Hebrew Bible in two volumes. I parted with it with something of the same feelings that a pious parent might do with a favourite son going on a mission to the heathen--with a little regret but with much goodwill." This was the beginning of an interesting correspondence with Carey and Fuller.
Next to Andrew Fuller, and in the region of literature, general culture and eloquence before him, the strongest men among the Baptists were the younger Robert Hall and John Foster. Both were devoted to Carey, and were the most powerful of the English advocates of his mission. The former, for a time, was led to side with the Society in some of the details of its dispute with Dr. Marshman, but his loyalty to Carey and the principles of the mission fired some of the most eloquent orations in English literature. John Foster's shrewder common sense never wavered, but inspired his pen alike in the heat of controversy and in his powerful essays and criticisms. Writing in 1828, he declared that the Serampore missionaries "have laboured with the most earnest assiduity for a quarter of a century (Dr. Carey much longer) in all manner of undertakings for promoting Christianity, with such a renunciation of self-interest as will never be surpassed; that they have conveyed the oracles of divine truth into so many languages; that they have watched over diversified missionary operations with unremitting care; that they have conducted themselves through many trying and some perilous circumstances with prudence and fortitude; and that they retain to this hour an undiminished zeal to do all that providence shall enable them in the same good cause." The expenditure of the Serampore Brotherhood up to that time, leaving out of account the miscellaneous missionary services, he showed to have been upwards of £75,000. Dr. Chalmers in Scotland was as stoutly with Carey and his brethren as Foster was in England, so that Marshman wrote:--"Thus two of the greatest and wisest men of England are on our side, and, what is more, I trust the Lord God is with us." What Heber thought, alike as man and bishop, his own loving letter and proposal for "reunion of our churches" in the next chapter will show.
Of all the publicists in the United Kingdom during Carey's long career the foremost was William Wilberforce; he was not second even to Charles Grant and his sons. Defeated in carrying into law the "pious clauses" of the charter which would have opened India to the Christian missionary and schoolmaster in 1793, he nevertheless succeeded by his persuasive eloquence and the weight of his character in having them entered as Resolutions of the House of Commons. He then gave himself successfully to the abolition of the slave-trade. But he always declared the toleration of Christianity in British India to be "that greatest of all causes, for I really place it before the abolition, in which, blessed be God, we gained the victory." His defeat in 1793, when Dundas and the Government were with him, was due to the apathy of public opinion, and especially of the dumb churches. But in the next twenty years Carey changed all that. Not merely was Andrew Fuller ever on the watch with pen and voice, but all the churches were roused, the Established to send out bishops and chaplains, the Nonconformist and Established Evangelicals together to secure freedom for missionaries and schoolmasters.
In 1793 an English missionary was an unknown and therefore a much-dreaded monster, for Carey was then on the sea. In 1813 Carey and the Serampore Brotherhood were still the only English missionaries continuously at work in India, and not the churches only, but governor-generals like Teignmouth and Wellesley, and scholars like Colebrooke and H. H. Wilson, were familiar with the grandeur and political innocency of their labours. Hence this outburst of Wilberforce in the House of Commons on the 16th July 1813, when he used the name of Carey to defeat an attempt of the Company to prevent toleration by omitting the declaratory clauses of the Resolution, which would have made it imply that the privilege should never be exerted though the power of licensing missionaries was nominally conceded.
"One great argument of his opponents was grounded on the enthusiastic character which they imputed to the missionary body. India hitherto has seen no missionary who was a member of the English Church, and imputations could be cast more readily on 'Anabaptists and fanatics.' These attacks Mr. Wilberforce indignantly refuted, and well had the noble conduct of the band at Serampore deserved this vindication. 'I do not know,' he often said, 'a finer instance of the moral sublime, than that a poor cobbler working in his stall should conceive the idea of converting the Hindoos to Christianity; yet such was Dr. Carey. Why Milton's planning his Paradise Lost in his old age and blindness was nothing to it. And then when he had gone to India, and was appointed by Lord Wellesley to a lucrative and honourable station in the college of Fort William, with equal nobleness of mind he made over all his salary (between £1000 and £1500 per annum) to the general objects of the mission. By the way, nothing ever gave me a more lively sense of the low and mercenary standard of your men of honour, than the manifest effect produced upon the House of Commons by my stating this last circumstance. It seemed to be the only thing which moved them.' Dr. Carey had been especially attacked, and 'a few days afterwards the member who had made this charge came to me, and asked me in a manner which in a noted duellist could not be mistaken, "Pray, Mr. Wilberforce, do you know a Mr. Andrew Fuller, who has written to desire me to retract the statement which I made with reference to Dr. Carey?" "Yes," I answered with a smile, "I know him perfectly, but depend upon it you will make nothing of him in your way; he is a respectable Baptist minister at Kettering." In due time there came from India an authoritative contradiction of the slander. It was sent to me, and for two whole years did I take it in my pocket to the House of Commons to read it to the House whenever the author of the accusation should be present; but during that whole time he never once dared show himself in the House.'"
The slanderer was a Mr. Prendergast, who affirmed that Dr. Carey's conduct had changed so much for the worse since the departure of Lord Wellesley, that he himself had seen the missionary on a tub in the streets of Calcutta haranguing the mob and abusing the religion of the people in such a way that the police alone saved him from being killed. So, and for the same object of defeating the Resolutions on Toleration, Mr. Montgomerie Campbell had asserted that when Schwartz was in the heat of his discourse in a certain village and had taken off his stock, "that and his gold buckle were stolen by one of his virtuous and enlightened congregation; in such a description of natives did the doctrine of the missionaries operate." Before Dr. Carey's exposure could reach England this "tub" story became the stock argument of the anti-christian orators. The Madras barrister, Marsh, who was put up to answer Wilberforce, was driven to such language as this:--
"Your struggles are only begun when you have converted one caste; never will the scheme of Hindoo conversion be realised till you persuade an immense population to suffer by whole tribes the severest martyrdom that has yet been sustained for the sake of religion--and are the missionaries whom this bill will let loose on India fit engines for the accomplishment of this great revolution? Will these people, crawling from the holes and caverns of their original destinations, apostates from the loom and the anvil--he should have said the awl--and renegades from the lowest handicraft employments, be a match for the cool and sedate controversies they will have to encounter should the Brahmans condescend to enter into the arena against the maimed and crippled gladiators that presume to grapple with their faith? What can be apprehended but the disgrace and discomfiture of whole hosts of tub preachers in the conflict?"Lord Wellesley's eulogy of the Serampore mission in the House of Lords was much more pronounced than appears from the imperfect report. But even in that he answered the Brahmanised member of the House of Commons thus:--
"With regard to the missionaries, he must say that while he was in India he never knew of any danger arising from their proceedings, neither had he heard of any impression produced by them in the way of conversion. The greater number of them were in the Danish settlement of Serampore; but he never heard of any convulsions or any alarm produced by them. Some of them, particularly Mr. Carey, were very learned men, and had been employed in the College of Fort William. He had always considered the missionaries who were in India in his time a quiet, orderly, discreet, and learned body; and he had employed them in the education of youth and the translation of the Scriptures into the eastern languages. He had thought it his duty to have the Sacred Scriptures translated into the languages of the East, and to give the learned natives employed in the translation the advantage of access to the sacred fountain of divine truth. He thought a Christian governor could not have done less; and he knew that a British governor ought not to do more."Carey's letters to Fuller in 1810-12 are filled with importunate appeals to agitate, so that the new charter might legalise Christian mission work in India. Fuller worked outside of the House as hard as Wilberforce. In eight weeks of the session no fewer than nine hundred petitions were presented, in twenties and thirties, night after night, till Lord Castlereagh exclaimed, "This is enough, Mr. Fuller." There was more reason for Carey's urgency than he knew at the time he was pressing Fuller. The persecution of the missionaries in Bengal, excused by the Vellore mutiny, which had driven Judson to Burma and several other missionaries elsewhere, was renewed by the Indian Government's secretaries and police. The Ministry had informed the Court of Directors that they had resolved to permit Europeans to settle in India, yet after five weeks' vacillation the Governor-General yielded to his subordinates so far as to issue an order on 5th March 1812, for the expulsion of three missionaries, an order which was so executed that one of them was conducted like a felon through the streets and lodged in the native jail for two hours. Carey thus wrote to Ryland on the persecution:--
"Calcutta, 14th April 1813.--Before this reaches you it is probable that you will have heard of the resolution of Government respecting our brethren Johns, Lawson, and Robinson, and will perhaps have even seen Brother Johns, who was by that cruel order sent home on the Castlereagh. Government have agreed that Brother Lawson shall stay till the pleasure of the Court of Directors is known, to whom a reference will be made. Brother Robinson was gone down the river, and was on board a ship bound to Java when the order was issued; he therefore got out without hearing of it, but I understand it will be sent thither after him. Jehovah reigneth!Carey had previously written thus to Fuller:--"The fault lies in the clause which gives the Company power thus to send home interlopers, and is just as reasonable as one which should forbid all the people in England--a select few excepted--to look at the moon I hope this clause will be modified or expunged in the new charter. The prohibition is wrong, and nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right."
It was left to the charter of 1853 fully to liberalise the Company, but each step was taken too late to save it from the nemesis of 1857 and extinction in 1858. "Let no man think," Wilberforce had said to the House of Commons in 1813, "that the petitions which have loaded our table have been produced by a burst of momentary enthusiasm. While the sun and moon continue to shine in the firmament so long will this object be pursued with unabated ardour until the great work be accomplished."
The opposition of Anglo-Indian officials and lawyers, which vainly used no better weapons than such as Mr. Prendergast and his "tub" fabrication, had been anticipated and encouraged by the Edinburgh Review. That periodical was at the height of its influence in 1808, the year before John Murray's Quarterly was first published. The Rev. Sydney Smith, as the literary and professional representative of what he delighted to call "the cause of rational religion," was the foe of every form of earnest Christianity, which he joined the mob in stigmatising as "Methodism." He was not unacquainted with Indian politics, for his equally clever brother, known as Bobus Smith, was long Advocate-General in Calcutta, and left a very considerable fortune made there to enrich the last six years of the Canon's life. Casting about for a subject on which to exercise at once his animosity and his fun, he found it in the Periodical Accounts, wherein Fuller had undoubtedly too often published letters and passages of journals written only for the eye of the private friend. Carey frequently remonstrated against the publicity given to some of his communications, and the fear of this checked his correspondence.
In truth, the new-born enthusiasm was such that at first, the Committee kept nothing back. It was easy for a litterateur like Sydney Smith in those days to extract passages and to give them such headings as "Brother Carey's Piety at Sea," "Hatred of the Natives to the Gospel." Smith produced an article which, as republished in his collected essays, has a historical value as a test of the bitterness of the hate which the missionary enterprise had to meet in secular literature till the death of Livingstone, Wilson, and Duff opened the eyes of journalism to the facts. In itself it must be read in the light of its author's own criticism of his articles, thus expressed in a letter to Francis Jeffrey, and of the regret that he had written it which, Jeffrey told Dr. Marshman, he lived to utter:--"Never mind; let them" (his articles) "go away with their absurdity unadulterated and pure. If I please, the object for which I write is attained; if I do not, the laughter which follows my error is the only thing which can make me cautious and tremble." But for that picture by himself we should have pronounced Carlyle's drawing of him to be almost as malicious as his own of the Serampore missonaries--"A mass of fat and muscularity, with massive Roman nose, piercing hazel eyes, shrewdness and fun--not humour or even wit--seemingly without soul altogether."
The attack called forth a reply by Mr. Styles so severe that Sydney Smith wrote a rejoinder which began by claiming credit for "rooting out a nest of consecrated cobblers." Sir James Mackintosh, then in Bombay, wrote of a similar assault by Mr. Thomas Twining on the Bible Societies, that it "must excite general indignation. The only measure which he could consistently propose would be the infliction of capital punishment on the crime of preaching or embracing Christianity in India, for almost every inferior degree of persecution is already practised by European or native anti-christians.
But it fell to Southey, in the very first number of the Quarterly Review, in April 1809, to deal with the Rev. Sydney Smith, and to defend Carey and the Brotherhood as both deserved. The layman's defence was the more effective for its immediate purpose that he started from the same prejudice as that of the reverend Whig rationalist--"the Wesleyans, the Orthodox dissenters of every description, and the Evangelical churchmen may all be comprehended under the generic name of Methodists. The religion which they preach is not the religion of our fathers, and what they have altered they have made worse." But Southey had himself faith as well as a literary canon higher than that of his opponent who wrote only to "please" his patrons. He saw in these Methodists alone that which he appreciated as the essence of true faith--"that spirit of enthusiasm by which Europe was converted to Christianity they have in some measure revived, and they have removed from Protestantism a part of its reproach." He proceeded to tell how "this Mission, which is represented by its enemies as so dangerous to the British Empire in India, and thereby, according to a logic learnt from Buonaparte, to England also, originated in a man by name William Carey, who till the twenty-fourth year of his age was a working shoemaker. Sectarianism has this main advantage over the Established Church, that its men of ability certainly find their station, and none of its talents are neglected or lost. Carey was a studious and pious man, his faith wrong, his feelings right. He made himself competently versed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He is now probably a far more learned orientalist than any European has ever been before him, and has been appointed Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali at the College of Fort William." Then follow a history of the Mission written in a style worthy of the author of the Life of Nelson, and these statements of the political and the purely missionary questions, which read now almost as predictions:--
"The first step towards winning the natives to our religion is to show them that we have one. This will hardly be done without a visible church. There would be no difficulty in filling up the establishment, however ample; but would the archbishop, bishops, deans, and chapters of Mr. Buchanan's plan do the work of missionaries? Could the Church of England supply missionaries? --where are they to be found among them? In what school for the promulgation of sound and orthodox learning are they trained up? There is ability and there is learning in the Church of England, but its age of fermentation has long been over; and that zeal which for this work is the most needful is, we fear, possessed only by the Methodists...Soon after the Charter victory had been gained "that fierce and fiery Calvinist," whose dictum Southey adopted, that the question in dispute is not whether the natives shall enjoy toleration, but whether that toleration shall be extended to the teachers of Christianity, Andrew Fuller, entered into rest on the 7th May 1815, at the age of sixty-two. Sutcliff of Olney had been the first of the three to be taken away/3/ a year before, at the same age. The scholarly Dr. Ryland of Bristol was left alone, and the home management of the Mission passed into the hands of another generation. Up to Fuller's death that management had been almost ideally perfect.
In 1812 the Committee had been increased by the addition of nineteen members, to represent the growing interest of the churches in Serampore, and to meet the demand of the "respectable" class who had held aloof at the first, who were eager that the headquarters of so renowned an enterprise should be removed to London. But Fuller prevailed to keep the Society a little longer at Kettering, although he failed to secure as his assistant and successor the one man whose ability, experience, and prudence would have been equal to his own, and have prevented the troubles that followed--Christopher Anderson. As Fuller lay dying, he dictated a letter to Ryland wherein he thus referred to the evangelical doctrine of grace which he had been the one English theologian of his day to defend from the hyper-calvinists, and to use as the foundation of the modern missionary enterprise:--
"I have preached and written much against the abuse of the doctrine of grace, but that doctrine is all my salvation and all my desire. I have no other hope than from salvation by mere sovereign, efficacious grace through the atonement of my Lord and Saviour: with this hope I can go into eternity with composure. We have some who have been giving it out of late that if Sutcliff and some others had preached more of Christ and less of Jonathan Edwards they would have been more useful. If those who talk thus had preached Christ half as much as Jonathan Edwards did, and were half as useful as he was, their usefulness would be double what it is. It is very singular that the Mission to the East originated with one of these principles, and without pretending to be a prophet, I may say if it ever falls into the hands of men who talk in this strain (of hyper-calvinism) it will soon come to nothing."Andrew Fuller was not only the first of Foreign Mission Secretaries; he was a model for all. To him his work was spiritual life, and hence, though the most active preacher and writer of his day, he was like Carey in this, that his working day was twice as long as that of most men, and he could spend half of his time in the frequent journeys all over the kingdom to raise funds, in repeated campaigns in London to secure toleration, and in abundant letters to the missionaries. His relation to the Committee, up to the last, was equally exemplary. In the very earliest missionary organisation in England it is due to him that the line was clearly drawn between the deliberative and judicial function which is that of the members, and the executive which is that of the secretary. Wisdom and efficiency, clearness of perception and promptitude of action, were thus combined.
Fuller's, too, was the special merit of realising that, while a missionary committee or church are fellow-workers only with the men and women abroad, the Serampore Brotherhood was a self-supporting, and to that extent a self-governing body in a sense true of no foreign mission ever since. The two triumvirates, moreover, consisted of giants--Carey, Marshman, and Ward abroad; Fuller, Sutcliff, and Ryland at home. To Carey personally the death of Fuller was more than to any other. For almost the quarter of a century he had kept his vow that he would hold the rope. When Pearce died all too soon there was none whom Carey loved like Fuller, while Fuller's devotion to Carey was all the greater that it was tempered by a wise jealousy for his perfectness.
So early as 1797, Fuller wrote thus to the troublesome Fountain:--"It affords us good hope of your being a useful missionary that you seem to love and revere the counsels of Brother Carey. A humble, peaceful, circumspect, disinterested, faithful, peaceable, and zealous conduct like his will render you a blessing to society. Brother Carey is greatly respected and beloved by all denominations here. I will tell you what I have foreborne to tell him lest it should hurt his modesty. Good old Mr. Newton says: 'Mr. Carey has favoured me with a letter, which, indeed, I accept as a favour, and I mean to thank him for it. I trust my heart as cordially unites with him as though I were a brother Baptist myself. I look to such a man with reverence. He is more to me than bishop or archbishop; he is an apostle. May the Lord make all who undertake missions like-minded with Brother Carey!'" As the home administrator, no less than as the theological controversialist, Andrew Fuller stands only second to William Carey, the founder of Modern English Missions.
Fuller's last letter to Carey forms the best introduction to the little which it is here necessary to record of the action of the Baptist Missionary Society when under the secretaryship of the Rev. John Dyer. Mr. John Marshman, C.S.I., has written the detailed history of that controversy not only with filial duty, but with a forgiving charity which excites our admiration for one who suffered more from it than all his predecessors in the Brotherhood, of which he was the last representative. The Society has long since ceased to approve of that period. Its opinion has become that of Mr. Marshman, to which a careful perusal of all the documents both in Serampore and England has led us--"Had it been possible to create a dozen establishments like that of Serampore, each raising and managing its own funds, and connected with the Society as the centre of unity in a common cause, it ought to have been a subject of congratulation and not of regret." The whole policy of every missionary church and society is now and has long been directed to creating self-supporting and self-propagating missions, like Serampore, that the regions beyond may be evangelised--whether these be colleges of catechumens and inquirers, like those of Duff and Wilson, Hislop and Dr. Miller in India, and of Govan and Dr. Stewart in Lovedale, Kafraria; or the indigenous churches of the West Indies, West Africa, the Pacific Ocean, and Burma. To us the long and bitter dispute is now of value only in so far as it brings out in Christ-like relief the personality of William Carey.
At the close of 1814 Dr. Carey had asked Fuller to pay £50 a year to his father, then in his eightieth year, and £20 to his (step) mother if she survived the old man. Protesting that an engraving of his portrait had been published in violation of the agreement which he had made with the artist, he agreed to the wish of each of his relatives for a copy. To these requests Fuller had replied:--"You should not insist on these things being charged to you, nor yet your father's £50, nor the books, nor anything necessary to make you comfortable, unless it be to be paid out of what you would otherwise give to the mission. To insist on their being paid out of your private property seems to be dictated by resentment. It is thus we express our indignation when we have an avaricious man to deal with."
The first act of the Committee, after Fuller's funeral, led Dr. Ryland to express to Carey his unbounded fears for the future. There were two difficulties. The new men raised the first question, in what sense the Serampore property belonged to the Society? They then proceeded to show how they would answer it, by appointing the son of Samuel Pearce to Serampore as Mr. Ward's assistant. On both sides of their independence, as trustees of the property which they had created and gifted to the Society on this condition, and as a self-supporting, self-elective brotherhood, it became necessary, for the unbroken peace of the mission and the success of their work, that they should vindicate their moral and legal position. The correspondence fell chiefly to Dr. Marshman. Ward and he successively visited England, to which the controversy was transferred, with occasional references to Dr. Carey in Serampore. All Scotland, led by Christopher Anderson, Chalmers, and the Haldanes--all England, except the Dyer faction and Robert Hall for a time, among the Baptists, and nearly all America, held with the Serampore men; but their ever-extending operations were checked by the uncertainty, and their hearts were nearly broken. The junior missionaries in India formed a separate union and congregation by themselves in Calcutta, paid by the Society, though professing to carry out the organisation of the Serampore Brotherhood in other respects.
The Committee's controversy lasted sixteen years, and was closed in 1830, after Ward's death, by Carey and Marshman drawing up a new trust-deed, in which, having vindicated their position, the old men made over properties which had cost them £7800 to eleven trustees in England, stipulating only that they should occupy them rent free till death, and that their colleagues--who were John Marshman and John Mack, of Edinburgh University--might continue in them for three years thereafter, paying rent to the Society. Such self-sacrifice would be pronounced heroic, but it was only the outcome of a life of self-devotion, marked by the spirit of Him who spake the Sermon on the Mount, and said to the first missionaries He sent forth:--"Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves." The story is completed by the fact that John Marshman, on his father's death, again paid the price of as much of the property as the Hoogli had not swallowed up when the Committee were about to put it in the market.
Such was Dr. Carey's position in the Christian world that the Dyer party considered it important for their interest to separate him from his colleagues, and if not to claim his influence for their side, at least to neutralise it. By trying to hold up Dr. Marshman to odium, they roused the righteous indignation of Carey, while outraging his sense of justice by their blows at the independence of the Brotherhood. Dr. Marshman, when in England, met this course by frankly printing the whole private correspondence of Carey on the subject of the property, or thirty-two letters ranging from the year 1815 to 1828. One of the earliest of these is to Mr. Dyer, who had so far forgotten himself as to ask Dr. Carey to write home, alone, his opinion of his "elder brethren," and particularly of Dr. Marshman. The answer, covering eleven octavo pages of small type, is a model for all controversialists, and especially for any whom duty compels to rebuke the minister who has failed to learn the charity which envieth not. We reproduce the principal passages, and the later letters to Christopher Anderson and his son Jabez, revealing the nobleness of Carey and the inner life of the Brotherhood:--
"Serampore, 15th July 1819.Throughout the controversy thus forced upon him, we find Dr. Carey's references, in his unpublished letters to the brethren in Calcutta, all in the strain of the following to his son Jabez:--
"15th August 1820.--This week we received letters from Mr. Marshman, who had safely arrived at St. Helena. I am sure it will give you pleasure to learn that our long-continued dispute with the younger brethren in Calcutta is now settled. We met together for that purpose about three weeks ago, and after each side giving up some trifling ideas and expressions, came to a reconciliation, which, I pray God, may be lasting. Nothing I ever met with in my life--and I have met with many distressing things--ever preyed so much upon my spirits as this difference has. I am sure that in all disputes very many wrong things must take place on both sides for which both parties ought to be humbled before God and one another.Eight years after, on the 17th April 1828, he thus censured Jabez in the matter of the Society's action at home:--
"From a letter of yours to Jonathan, in which you express a very indecent pleasure at the opposition which Brother Marshman has received, not by the Society but by some anonymous writer in a magazine, I perceive you are informed of the separation which has taken place between them and us. What in that anonymous piece you call a 'set-down' I call a 'falsehood.' You ought to know that I was a party in all public acts and writings, and that I never intend to withdraw from all the responsibility connected therewith. I utterly despise all the creeping, mean assertions of that party when they say they do not include me in their censures, nor do I work for their praise.On the 12th July 1828 the father again writes to his son Jabez thus:--
"Your apologies about Brother Marshman are undoubtedly the best you can offer. I should be sorry to harbour hostile sentiments against any man on the earth upon grounds so slight. Indeed, were all you say matter of fact you ought to forgive it as God for Christ's sake forgives us. We are required to lay aside all envy and strife and animosities, to forgive each other mutually and to love one another with a pure heart fervently. 'Thine own friend and thy father's friend forsake not.'"
/1/ Nor was his influence confined to the Protestant division of Christendom. When, on the Restoration of 1815, France became once more aggressively Romanist for a time, the Association for the Propagation of the Faith was founded at Lyons and Paris, avowedly on the model of the Baptist Missionary Society, and it now raises a quarter of a million sterling a year for its missions. The expression in an early number of its Annales is:--"C'est l'Angleterre qui a fourni l'idée modèle," etc. "La Société des Anabaptistes a formé pour ses Missions des Societés," etc.
/2/Life of Alexander Duff, D.D., LL.D., Chapter i.
/3/ Fuller more than once referred to the dying words of Sutcliff--"I wish I had prayer more." "I do not suppose he wished he had prayed more frequently, but more spiritually. I wish I had prayed more for the influences of the Holy Spirit; I might have enjoyed more of the power of vital godliness. I wish I had prayed more for the assistance of the Holy Spirit in studying and preaching my sermons; I might have seen more of the blessing of God attending my ministry. I wish I had prayed more for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to attend the labours of our friends in India; I might have witnessed more of the effects of their efforts in the conversion of the heathen."
/4/ The Baptist missionary, who became an Arian, and was afterwards employed by Lord William Bentinck to report on the actual state of education in Bengal.
/5/ The first Indian chaplain of the Church of Scotland, superintendent of stationery and editor of the John Bull. --See Life of Alexander Duff, D.D.
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