Some Missionary Lessons for Today
The aim of this address is to draw out some lessons from what happened at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries when in England the Baptist Missionary Society was formed and in America the American Baptist Missionary Society. In seeking to do so I am going to concentrate first of all on those three extraordinary men in India who formed that unique fellowship at Serampore, William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward; that almost equally remarkable trio who held control of the home front, Andrew Fuller of Kettering, John Ryland of Northampton and John Sutcliff of Olney; and lastly that young American, Adoniram Judson, who with his wife went out to Serampore in 1812 and with the support of the fellowship there went on to Burma and continued the mission that had already been started by Carey's son, Felix.
We are so used to stories of missionary achievement from this period that it is worth noticing at the outset that not all who went out as missionaries were successful in their work. Far from it. Indeed, after Carey had gone to India with John Thomas in 1793 the BMS sent out another mission to the west coast of Africa, to Sierra Leone, which ended in humiliating failure; also, after Marshman and Ward had joined Carey at Serampore others came out from the BMS and the London Missionary Society, many of whom in effect disappeared without trace, and there is nothing to be seen as a result of their labours. It is therefore a useful question, what was it that made these men so successful under God in the ministry? What were the characteristics that led them and enabled them to do such a mighty work under the Lord's hand?
1. The First great Characteristic that marked them all was this: They possessed a firm Calvinist Theology which imbued them with a passionate desire for the Salvation of Lost Men and Women.
At Serampore, Carey and his two great colleagues had formed what they called the Brotherhood and they drew up what they entitled 'The Bond of the Missionary Brotherhood of Serampore'. In this Bond they set out the principles on which they worked and they had it read at each of the three formal gatherings of the Brotherhood they held every year. And this is what they say at the very beginning, setting out their basic fundamental principles:
We are fully persuaded that Paul might plant and Apollos water, in vain, in any part of the world, did not God give the increase. We are sure that only those who are ordained to eternal life will believe, and that God alone can add to the church such as shall be saved. Nevertheless we cannot but observe with admiration that Paul, the great champion for the glorious doctrines of free and sovereign grace, was the most conspicuous for his personal zeal in the work of persuading men to be reconciled to God. In this respect he is a noble example for our imitation. Our Lord intimated to those of His Apostles who were fishermen, that He would make them fishers of men, intimating that in all weathers, and amidst every disappointment, they were to aim at drawing men to the shores of eternal life.1
The point I make is a simple one. It was the doctrine they held that led them to desire to see men and women saved. They were brought up at a time when the Baptists in England were either Hypercalvinists ('false Calvinists', as Ryland and Fuller called them) or Arminians. Fuller himself was a Hypercalvinist, raised in Hypercalvinism. One of the first events in his life to turn him away from those beliefs was the death of his father. Towards the end of January 1781 his father was terminally ill. He had been a regular attender at a Baptist church under a Hypercalvinist ministry. Three days before his father died, Fuller wrote in his journal: 'Much affected today for my dear father. Oh, his immortal soul! How can I bear to bury him unconverted?' Fuller seems to have thought that his father, though for long a member of a Baptist church, was unconverted. He had never made a profession of faith. Indeed, as a Hypercalvinist he could not, feeling that he had to wait until God made it clear that he was one of the elect. Fuller continues, 'I have had many earnest outgoings of soul for him, and some little conversation with him'. And then he goes on in the form of a dialogue between himself and his father:
Son: Have you any outgoings of soul, father, to the Lord?
Father: Yes, my dear, I have.
Son: Well, father, 'The Lord is rich in mercy to all that call upon him'. This is great encouragement.
Father: Yes, my child, so it is; and I know if I be saved, it must be by him alone. I have nothing to recommend me to his favour: but my hopes are very small. 2
This incident gives some idea of the background against which Fuller and his fellow ministers began their early years in the ministry. But once Calvinism displaced false Calvinism in their minds an immense change took place. They and their friends in the ministry met for prayer for revival, Fuller wrote his famous book, The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation, and Carey wrote his Enquiry. 3 The Baptist Missionary Society was formed and the first stirrings of a great missionary movement began. And it was precisely because they were Calvinists that all this happened. In turn what they did had a tremendous effect upon godly men in other denominations, and it was as a result of the effect on them of what Carey and Fuller did, that first the London Missionary Society and later the Church Missionary Society were formed. It is a fact that the great surge of missionary activity in the nineteenth century owed its spring and source to the reformed faith in a way that Hypercalvinism of course never could and Arminianism never did. So it was when they embraced these great spiritual truths which we here today all love, it was then that their hearts were set on fire for the grand work of carrying the gospel to the heathen.
2. I now turn to my Second Point: What was it that Led to this Transformation in their Beliefs and Outlook?
There are of course many threads to what can affect a group of people, but if I have to pick out one thing above all which directly influenced all these men and their wives, it was without any doubt the writings of Jonathan Edwards. It is impossible to read their journals and their letters without finding reference after reference to the works of Edwards, and in particular to two books: The Life and Diary of David Brainerd and that famous An Humble Attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ's kingdom on earth. Both are in print today, in the Banner's two-volume edition of Edwards. His writings are, I admit, not the easiest to read. They need to be studied with pencil and paper in the hand and are not for casual, bedside reading. Nevertheless, here is one example from a girl of sixteen, Ann Hasseltine who was to marry Adoniram Judson. She had just been converted and a friend writes of her:
Redeeming love was now her theme ... Besides the daily study of scripture ... she perused with deep interest the works of Edwards, Hopkins, Bellamy, Doddridge etc. With Edwards on Redemption she was instructed, quickened, strengthened. Well do I remember the elevated smile which beamed on her countenance, when she first spoke to me of its precious contents. She had transcribed, with her own hand, Edwards' leading and most striking remarks on this great subject.4
And a little later when she was nineteen she says this: Have had some enjoyment in reading the life of David Brainerd. It had a tendency to humble me, and excite desires to live as near to God, as that holy man did ... Felt a willingness to give myself away to Christ, to be disposed of as he pleases.5
Such was the effect on that girl. And by reading these books they were all stirred up; first of all, by reading Brainerd, to personal prayer and a desire for holiness of life; and then, by reading among themselves Edwards' An Humble Attempt, to organising fixed times for prayer for the spread of Christ's kingdom. Then the various Baptist Associations in the Midlands began one after the other to arrange meetings of prayer, for the revival of religion and the success of the gospel. Sutcliff reissued Edwards' book in 1789. Carey followed with his Enquiry in 1792 and it is redolent with Edwards' ideas. Indeed, it is hardly possible to exaggerate the influence which Edwards exercised over them.
He, of course, never had any idea of the effect he was having on these men. Here is an extract from Marshman's journal when he was on a preaching tour through the villages in India towards the end of 1803:
On the whole, I felt exceedingly pleasant throughout this journey; to which Jonathan Edwards contributed not a little: for having with me his Dissertation on God's last end in creation, I had an opportunity, while rambling over the field of Jessore, to enter more fully into his ideas, than I had done at any former time, and I think with very great profit to my mind.
How little is an author aware of the extent of usefulness, or even of country, to which his labours may be blessed. Probably Jonathan Edwards had little idea when writing, that he should be the means of cheering and enlightening the mind of a poor missionary, on the plains of (India). Yet I have found it so more than once.6
I want to spend a moment or two on this point, the effect that a minister may have quite unaware(s) and quite unwittingly, either for good or for ill. Here is an example of the latter, again from Marshman, when he was on another of his tours and we find this in his diary. He had gone on a preaching tour with Krishna, the first convert, and they reached a village where there was an old man whom Marshman had particularly on his mind. He writes:
Krishna and I laboured to show him how God was the judge of men as well as their Father; and hence to demonstrate the need of a Saviour. While we were thus closely employed on this, he asked, 'What would become of the beasts, how would they be saved?'
Marshman was more than a little annoyed by this question interrupting his preaching out of the blue. In his journal he goes on:
This grieved me exceedingly, and I could not help telling him that it was like a man dying in a desperate disease, asking the physician while pressing him to take a sovereign medicine, If this mosquito should fall sick, what will he do?7
Obviously he said this in a testy and irritable manner. After the meeting was over the old man came up to him and said that he 'doubted of the efficacy of the gospel; for he saw that I had sin in me yet, for I was angry with him when he mentioned the salvation of beasts'.8 That really took Marshman aback. It had never occurred to him while he was preaching that his words might have had such an effect.
When Carey was a young man one of the profoundest influences on him in his early days in the ministry was Thomas Scott the commentator and John Newton's successor at Olney. Much later in his life Carey wrote to Ryland, 'If there be anything of the work of God in my soul, I owe much of it to Mr. Scott's preaching when I first set out in the ways of the Lord'. When Ryland told Scott this just before Scott died he was amazed. He had no idea that he had had any great influence on such a man as Carey. 9
Carey naturally had an influence on many people without knowing it himself. He had an enormous effect, for instance, on Judson before he so much as saw him or spoke to him. Judson and his wife had left Salem in Massachusetts and were sailing to Calcutta. While they were on the high seas the thought occurred to him that he a Congregationalist and a Paedobaptist was shortly to meet the famous Dr Carey who was a Baptist and that he had better be ready with a defence of his beliefs. As a matter of fact he need not have worried for Carey, Marshman and Ward made it a strict rule never to engage in discussion on the subjects and modes of baptism.10 Judson was unaware of this and, in the words of his wife writing to a friend in America after she had landed in India, this is what happened:
Can you, my dear Nancy, still love me, still desire to hear from me, when I tell you I have become a Baptist? (While my husband was working on translation on the ship) he had many doubts respecting the meaning of the word baptize. This with the idea of meeting the Baptists in Serampore ... induced a more thorough examination of the foundation of the paedobaptist system. The more he examined it, the more his doubts increased ... he was afraid the Baptists were right ... I felt afraid he would become a Baptist, and frequently urged the unhappy consequences if he should ... (but we) were finally compelled, from a conviction of truth, to embrace (Baptist views). Thus, my dear Nancy, we are confirmed Baptists, not because we wish to be, but because truth compelled us to be. 11
Here is one more example of the unwitting influence a minister may have on others. In about 1827 a Burmese woman by the name of Guapang was living in a shanty on the river Salwen. She went down to see a ship that moored briefly by the riverside. As she drew near to the ship a tall, handsome white foreigner stepped on shore and came up to her, extended his hand and asked her in Burmese if she was well. 'Well, my Lord', she replied. He had time only to ask her business and to say, 'Go in peace'; when he returned to the ship and was gone.
This is what she said some years later: 'This white man spoke to me kindly and gave me his hand. His God must be the God. Hereafter I will worship him'. For five years she prayed to the unknown God:
Great Angel, Mighty Judge, Father God, Uncle or honourable God, the righteous One! In the heavens, in the earth, in the mountains, in the seas, in the west, pity me I pray! Show me thy glory, that I may know thee who thou art!
That white stranger was Judson. Later the missionaries came up the river to that village. That woman heard the gospel and was converted. Others were converted and a flourishing church arose there which in turn became the parent of two others. It was the first church in Burma to build its own chapel, the first to support its own pastor and the first to send out a missionary. And all because one man showed a little sympathy to one lonely woman.12 Andrew Bonar says, 'A believer is not very holy if he is not very kind'.13
Brethren, all unknown to you, men and women and boys and girls have in their minds words and things that you have said and done, of which you have no recollection, but which they will never forget as long as they live. Study to see that what you say and what you do can do nothing but good to those who hear and see it.
3. The Third Characteristic that Marked these People was a Lifelong and Wholehearted Commitment to the Cause of Christ.
First of all, a lifelong commitment. All these men and women without exception committed themselves to the work as something that was to be lifelong. Not one of them had any thought of ever retiring from the work, and as a matter of fact every single one of them died at his post. Carey left England when he was thirty-one and never returned, dying in India more than forty years later when he was seventy-three. Joshua Marshman was thirty-one, too, when he went out. He came home only once before he died in India after close on forty years as a missionary. His widow, Hannah, stayed on after his death until she was eighty and died there. It was a complete severing of all their ties with home as they went out. They gave up family and friends in a way which is impossible today. No photographs, no telephone, no airmail post. A letter never took less than a year to get a reply. That would have been quick. When Judson wrote to America and said that he had become a Baptist and in effect had to resign from the Congregational Association it took three years before he got a reply from the Baptists saying they would take him on. Carey wrote to his sisters soon after he reached India:
I shall never more see either of you on earth and, considering the work before me here, and the loud calls on my powers, had I a thousand bodies, strong as this, I dare not entertain a thought of seeing England.14
The young Sarah Boardman, who became Judson's second wife, on arriving in Burma at the age of twenty-three, wrote to a friend:
We are in excellent health, and as happy as it is possible for human beings to be upon earth. It is our earnest desire to live, and labour, and die, among this people.15
Her husband did die there. She stayed on and did not go home. She married the widowed Judson and shortly before she died at the age of forty-one she wrote:
It is nineteen years, last month, since I parted with you, and bade adieu to my native land; and I can say, with unfeigned gratitude to God, that amid all the vicissitudes through which I have been called to pass, I have never, for one moment, regretted that I had entered the missionary field. We are not weary of our work — it is in our hearts to live and die among these people.16
The idea of a temporary commitment to the ministry simply did not occur to these people as a reasonable possibility. The young Judson with his student friends wrote to the Congregational Association in 1810 saying they had made up their minds that they should become missionaries to the heathen and that 'they consider themselves as devoted to this work for life'.17
Judson never wavered in this conviction and after twenty years in Burma he wrote to the corresponding secretary of the ABMS:
Rev. and dear Sir, — It is with regret and consternation that we have just learned that a new missionary has come out for a limited term of years. I much fear that this will occasion a breach in our mission. How can we, who are devoted for life, cordially take to our hearts and councils one who is a mere hireling? ... I have seen the beginning, middle and end, of several 'limited term' missionaries. They are all good for nothing. Though brilliant in an English pulpit, they are incompetent to any real missionary work. They come out for a few years with the view of acquiring a stock of credit on which they may vegetate the rest of their days in the congenial climate of their native land … The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer or schoolmaster, ought to be 'Devoted for Life'. A few days ago brother Kincaid was asked by a Burmese officer of government how long he intended to stay. 'Until all Burma worships the eternal God' was the prompt reply. If the limited term system, which begins to be fashionable in some quarters, gain the ascendency, it will be the death blow of missions, and retard the conversion of the world a hundred years.
Excuse my freedom of speech, and believe me to be, with all faithfulness and respect, your devoted for life, A. Judson.18
Their commitment was not just for life; it was wholehearted as well. I want to give you some idea of the way these men spent their time. In 1806 Carey was pressed by Ryland to send a specimen of his diary. Rather unwillingly he did and as a result we have a typical day for Carey in India. This is how he spent Thursday, 12th June. At a quarter to six he rose and dressed, read a chapter of the Hebrew Bible and engaged in his private devotions. That took him up to seven o'clock. He then had worship with the family and servants in Bengali. After that he read Persian with a local scholar and revised a Scripture proof in Urdu. By now it was about nine o'clock and he had a quick, light breakfast. Next he translated a portion of the Ramayana19into English with the help of a Sanskrit scholar. From ten until half past one he conducted his classes in the Government College after which he had dinner which took him half an hour. At two o'clock he revised the proof of a chapter of Jeremiah in Bengali and then translated most of Matthew 8 into Sanskrit. That occupied him until six o'clock when he had tea, read Telegu with an Indian scholar and then engaged in some conversation with a visitor, the son of the Rev. Timothy Thomas of London. At seven o'clock he settled down to prepare a sermon to deliver about an hour later after which he appealed for contributions to the Calcutta Chapel Building Fund. At nine o'clock, far from finished for the day, he translated Ezekiel 11 into Bengali because he was dissatisfied with the first translation he had made. He then wrote a letter to Ryland, read a chapter from the Greek New Testament and commended himself to God, to go to bed ready for another day like that at 5.45 the next morning. He closes his note to Ryland with the comment, 'I have never more time in a day than this'.20
His nephew Eustace who came out to India as a missionary wrote, 'My admiration for my uncle increases every day. He has not half an hour in a month in which he relaxes from the hardest labour'. 21
It was said of Carey that his relaxation consisted in turning from one pursuit to another; in other words if he tired of putting Hebrew into Bengali he would relax by putting Greek into Sanskrit.
Here is an example from Ward. It is 17th June and the hottest time of the year:
In the morning he received two soldiers into the Church on confession of faith and then preached to a large English congregation in the Bow Bazar Chapel, and subsequently held a meeting in the vestry, to catechise as many children as could be accommodated there. He then went to the house of an enquirer, and proceeded from thence to the great jail, a distance of three miles, and preached to the prisoners, first in English and then in Bengali and held a religious service with three soldiers in the hospital. After dusk he went into the fort and addressed a congregation of soldiers in a close and suffocating room. In the evening he met a number of friends at the house of one of the members of the church, and passed an hour in social and religious conversation, closing the labours of the day at ten, with devotional exercises. The only remark he makes on exertions which appear too severe for any European constitution in a tropical climate, is, 'Preaching in black cloth in this climate is a sad burden. My clothes have been saturated with perspiration three times today and the very papers in my pocket are dyed black. Thus you see the heat of the climate does not prevent a hard day's work. 22
He preached five times in that one day and you can almost hear the tone of this letter to Fuller:
In our work, half the Dissenting ministers in England, who merely preach twice or thrice a week when people come to hear the word (he means as compared with us who have to go out and find them) would be of little use: A man who shall do good here must be on his legs, or in the saddle, or in his boat. In the hands of a mere domesticated man, who prays at home, but never goes out into the highways and ditches, things die a natural death. Men must go out a-fishing; the fish will never leave their natural element and walk into their nets, and they must be patient too, though they toil all night and catch nothing.23
At home Fuller was literally wearing himself to death. His labours were equally prodigious. He was the pastor of a church. He was active in the Association. He wrote a shelf-full of books and composed articles for periodicals. He performed all the duties of secretary of the BMS. Travelling for the Society took up a quarter of his time — to London, to the ports to see missionaries off, to Scotland on five long tours to make the Mission known and to raise funds. He wrote to all the missionaries personally and on behalf of the Society. On 11th January 1815 only four months before he died he wrote, 'I am at the desk twelve hours a day, or nearly so'. He records how the previous August he sat down for two whole days writing letters to missionaries.
After his death his widow wrote to Ryland who was to prepare Fuller's memoirs:
To so great a degree was he absorbed in his work, as scarcely to allow himself any leisure, or relaxation from the severest application: especially since of late years, his work so accumulated on his hands. I was sometimes used to remark, how much we were occupied; (for indeed I had no small share of care devolved upon me in consequence), his reply usually was, 'Ah, my dear, the way for us to have any joy, is to rejoice in all our labour, and then we shall have plenty of joy.' If I complained that he allowed himself no time for recreation, he would answer, 'O no; all my recreation is a change of work.' If I expressed an apprehension that he would soon wear himself out, he would reply, 'I cannot be worn out in a better cause. We must work while it is day;' or, 'Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might'.24
4. The Fourth Characteristic which Marked them was the Leading Subject of their Sermons.
They preached, of course, the whole counsel of God, but though they preached all the great truths of the gospel to the unconverted they concentrated on one theme — Jesus Christ and him crucified. This is what the Serampore Brotherhood said in their Bond:
In preaching to the heathen, we must keep to the example of Paul, and make the great subject of our preaching, Christ the Crucified ...The doctrine of Christ's expiatory death and all-sufficient merits has been, and must ever remain, the grand means of conversion ... It is a well-known fact that the most successful missionaries in the world at the present day make the atonement of Christ their continued theme. We mean the Moravians.
They attribute all their success to the preaching of the death of our Saviour. So far as our experience goes in this work, we must freely acknowledge, that every Hindu among us who has been gained to Christ, has been won by the astonishing and all-constraining love exhibited in our Redeemer's propitiatory death.25
The reference to the Moravians is interesting. Carey had spent much time studying their missions and was deeply influenced by them. One of their early historians says of the mission to Greenland that in 1740:
For five years our missionaries had laboured ... and could scarce obtain a patient hearing from the savages. Now, therefore, they determined in the literal sense of the word to preach Christ and him crucified ... No sooner did they declare unto the Greenlanders 'the word of reconciliation' in its native simplicity than they beheld its converting and saving power. This reached the hearts of the audience and produced the most astonishing effects.26
Carey and his colleagues determined to follow their example and it was when Carey in his preaching concentrated on the death of Christ that the conversions came. It broke down the hard hearts that up till then had been unmoved, and Ward says that frequently he saw Carey and the Indians in tears as he preached. Soon after he arrived in India, Ward was out with Carey as the latter preached in the open air. Ward writes:
Our congregation was noisy; but whilst he was relating the sufferings and death of Christ, they were-all attention. He is more and more persuaded that this is the one net for the catching of converts. Redeeming love is more and more his theme.27 28
5. Fifthly, what marked these men was a Conviction of a Constant need for a Cultivation in themselves of a True Personal Religion.
At a ministers' meeting in Northampton in September 1785 the ministers discussed the reason for lack of success in the ministry. Fuller wrote in his journal:
The answer turned chiefly upon the want of personal religion; particularly the neglect of close dealing with God in closet prayer ... Another reason ... was the want of reading and studying the scriptures more as Christians, for the edification of our own souls. We are too apt to study them merely to find out something to say to others, without living upon the truth ourselves. If we eat not the book before we deliver its contents to others, we may expect the Holy Spirit will not much accompany us. If we study the scriptures as Christians, the more familiar we are with them, the more we shall feel their importance.29
These men exhibited a personal holiness in their lives which was apparent to all. After Carey had delivered an address before the Governor General at the first annual assembly of the Government College, this is what Lord Wellesley, the brother of the Duke of Wellington, said: 'I am much pleased with Mr. Carey's truly original and excellent speech. I esteem such a testimony from such a man a greater honour than the applause of courts and Parliaments'.30 When Ryland wrote Fuller's life, he was able to speak about 'the spotless integrity of his private life'.31 And as Carey drew near to his end this was recorded of him by Mack, one of the Serampore missionaries:
Respecting the great change before him a single shade of anxiety has not crossed his mind since the beginning of his decay ... His christian experience partakes of that guileless integrity which has been the great characteristic of his whole life ... He is ripe for glory and already dead to all that belongs to life.32
6. Sixthly, these Men were Marked by a Profound Humility and Low View of Self.
Despite their remarkable successes we never find them self satisfied, congratulating themselves or feeling pleased with their achievements. They dreaded almost to excess being the subject of praise or adulation. We know not a great deal about Judson's life. He destroyed all his journals. He wrote home and insisted on the destruction of as much of his correspondence as could be got hold of. When some property was left to him and his sister and which he did not want he refused to sign the conveyance until she assured him that all his letters and journals in her possession had been destroyed. He wanted nothing to remain which might cause anyone to admire him.
As a young man Carey became the minister of the small village church at Hackleton. The congregation was ignorant and uneducated and thought he was wonderful and they told him so. Carey says, 'Their praise did me much harm'. Later he came to Harvey Lane, Leicester. A few miles away at Arnsby was the redoubtable Robert Hall who far from praising Carey told him that his sermons needed improving. They were, he said, too matter of fact. They lacked windows, they were not clear.
There were not enough 'likes' in them, whereas the Master was always saying, the kingdom is like seed or treasure or leaven.33 One of the hardest things for any preacher to accept is criticism of his sermons, yet this is what Carey has to say about Robert Hall's strictures: 'It was one of my chief privileges to be favoured with the kind advice and kinder criticism of men of the greatest eminence and their friendship was a jewel I could not too highly prize'.34One of the greatest blessings that a young man coming into the ministry can have is someone who will criticise him faithfully and lovingly, not allowing him to go on with mistakes which he would be glad to put right if they were only pointed out to him, but in which he will become set if all he hears is indiscriminate acclaim for all he says.
Here are two further examples of the lowliness of mind which distinguished these men. The first is from Joshua Marshman towards the end of his missionary labours:
Thirty one years ago this day did I set foot on the soil of India. What a series of mercies have I experienced in this period, and what a life of unprofitable sloth do I appear to myself to have led. I have more mercies to bless God for than any of his children, and yet I am among the most useless and worthless of them.35
Carey, by his will, asked that he should be buried beside the grave of his second wife and this man, at the end of a missionary life of extraordinary achievements and lasting in its effects, nevertheless directed that the only memorial to himself was to be an inscription on his tombstone showing his name, date of birth and date of death, and then these lines from Isaac Watts whose hymns he loved so well:
A wretched, poor and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall. 36
7. The Last and Perhaps the Most Important Point is their Love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Adoniram Judson proposed to Ann Hasseltine he wrote her a letter setting out the difficulties of missionary life and 'simply asked whether for the love of Christ ... she were willing to share it with him'.37 When his second wife, Sarah, was dying after spending eighteen of her forty-one years as a missionary in Burma he asked her, 'Do you still love the Saviour?' 'Oh yes' she replied, 'I ever love the Lord Jesus Christ'.38
Judson himself died in Burma at the age of sixty-one, nearly forty years after leaving America and having been home but once. His third wife writes of his final days in this way:
It seemed to me that more than ever before, 'Christ was all his theme' ... He ... remained calm and serene, speaking of himself as a great sinner who had been overwhelmed with benefits and declaring that he had never in all his life before had such delightful views of the unfathomable love and infinite condescension of the Saviour as were now daily opening before him. 'O the love of Christ! — the love of Christ!' he would suddenly exclaim, while his eye kindled, and the tears chased each other down his cheeks; 'we cannot understand it now; but what a beautiful study for eternity!'39
We see it in their converts, too. Krishna was the first convert of the mission. He first heard the gospel when he dislocated his arm and Thomas, the missionary doctor with whom Carey had first gone out to India, put his arm right and preached Christ to him. That was at the end of November 1800. By January he had made a profession of faith and Ward in his journal writes:
At our experience meeting tonight, Krishna said, 'Christ is my joy, my hope, my all'. If ever worldly things draw his mind from Christ, he says to it, 'Mind, why dost thou leave Christ? There is no other Saviour — If thou leavest him, thou fallest into hell — I charge thee, mind, that thou keep close to Christ'.40
A week later, on the 22nd of January 1801, Ward writes of this Hindu who had heard the gospel for the first time only a few weeks earlier:
Krishna at our evening meeting said, 'His chief thoughts now were about the salvation of others'; that he said to Christ, 'Come and I will give thee a throne in my heart; there will I worship thee; and I will invite others to admire thine excellencies'.41
At the same meeting Krishna's sister-in-law who had heard the gospel for an even briefer period said 'she had found a treasure in Christ greater than everything else in the world'.42
When Krishna was dying of cholera after twenty steadfast years in the ministry he was asked, 'Do you still love the Lord Jesus?' 'Yes; he replied, 'but not as much as He loves me'.43
Towards the end of 1837 Joshua Marshman began to fail. He suffered from dropsy; he had little sleep and much pain. Nevertheless, his son writes, in the morning his face showed that he had experienced the greatest delight in communion with God. He repeatedly exclaimed, 'The precious Saviour! The precious Saviour! He never leaves or forsakes'.44
My last quotation is of William Carey himself. Alexander Duff, one of Scotland's foremost missionaries, came to India shortly before Carey died.
On one of the last occasions on which Duff saw him — if not the very last — he spent some time talking, chiefly about Carey's missionary life, till at length the dying man whispered 'Pray'. Duff knelt and prayed and said goodbye. As he passed from the room he thought he heard a feeble voice pronouncing his name, and turning, he found himself recalled. He stepped back accordingly, and this is what he heard, spoken with a gracious solemnity: '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'. Duff went away rebuked and awed, with a lesson in his heart that he never forgot. 45
Brethren, few things will impress the hearts of your people more than the conviction that you love the Saviour, that to you he is the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether lovely one. Alas! our love for such a Saviour is all too feeble, but we can all join in words that each of these men and women would have known:
Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint.
Yet I love thee and adore;
O for grace to love thee more!