THE NEW CRUSADE–SERAMPORE AND THE BROTHERHOOD
Effects of the news in England on the Baptists–On the home churches–In the foundation of the London and other Missionary Societies–In Scotland–In Holland and America–The missionary home–Joshua Marshman, William Ward, and two others sent out–Landing at the Iona of Southern Asia–Meeting of Ward and Carey–First attempt to evangelise the non-Aryan hill tribes–Carey driven by providences to Serampore–Dense population of Hoogli district–Adapts his communistic plan to the new conditions–Purchase of the property–Constitution of the Brotherhood–His relations to Marshman and Ward–Hannah Marshman, the first woman missionary–Daily life of the Brethren–Form of Agreement–Carey’s ideal system of missionary administration realised for fifteen years–Spiritual heroism of the Brotherhood.
THE first two English missionaries to India seemed to those who sent them forth to have disappeared for ever. For fourteen months, in those days of slow Indiamen and French privateers, no tidings of their welfare reached the poor praying people of the midlands, who had been emboldened to begin the heroic enterprise. The convoy, which had seen the Danish vessel fairly beyond the French coast, had been unable to bring back letters on account of the weather. At last, on the 29th July 1794, Fuller, the secretary; Pearce, the beloved personal friend of Carey; Ryland in Bristol; and the congregation at Leicester, received the journals of the voyage and letters which told of the first six weeks’ experience at Balasore, in Calcutta, Bandel, and Nuddea, just before Carey knew the worst of their pecuniary position. The committee at once met. They sang “with sacred joy” what has ever since been the jubilee hymn of missions, that by William Williams–
“O’er those gloomy hills of darkness.
They “returned solemn thanks to the everlasting God whose mercy endureth for ever, for having preserved you from the perils of the sea, and hitherto made your ways prosperous. In reading the short account of your labours we feel something of that spirit spoken of in the prophet, ‘Thine heart shall fear and be enlarged.’ We cordially thank you for your assiduity in learning the languages, in translating, and in every labour of love in which you have engaged. Under God we cheerfully confide in your wisdom, fidelity, and prudence, with relation to the seat of your labours or the means to carry them into effect. If there be one place, however, which strikes us as of more importance than the rest, it is Nuddea. But you must follow where the Lord opens a door for you.” The same spirit of generous confidence marked the relations of Carey and the committee so long as Fuller was secretary. When the news came that the missionaries had become indigo planters, some of the weaker brethren, estimating Carey by themselves, sent out a mild warning against secular temptations, to which he returned a half-amused and kindly reply. John Newton, then the aged rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, on being consulted, reassured them: “If the heart be fired with a zeal for God and love to souls,” he said, “such attention to business as circumstances require will not hurt it.” Since Carey, like the Moravians, meant that the missionaries should live upon a common stock, and never lay up money, the weakest might have recognised the Paul-like nobleness, which had marked all his life, in relinquishing the scanty salary that it might be used for other missions to Africa and Asia.
The spiritual law which Duff’s success afterwards led Chalmers to formulate, that the relation of foreign to home missions acts not by exhaustion but by fermentation, now came to be illustrated on a great scale, and to result in the foundation of the catholic missionary enterprise of the evangelicals of England, Scotland, Ireland, America, Germany, and France, which has marked the whole nineteenth century. We find it first in Fuller himself. In comforting Thomas during his extremest dejection he quoted to him from his own journal of 1789 the record of a long period of spiritual inactivity, which continued till Carey compelled him to join in the mission. “Before this I did little but pine over my misery, but since I have betaken myself to greater activity for God, my strength has been recovered and my soul replenished.” “Your work is a great work, and the eyes of the religious world are upon you. Your undertaking, with that of your dear colleague, has provoked many. The spirit of missions is gone forth. I wish it may never stop till the Gospel is sent unto all the world.”
Following the pietist Francke, who in 1710 published the first missionary reports, and also the Moravians, Fuller and his coadjutors issued from the press of J. W. Morris at Clipstone, towards the end of 1794, No. I. of their Periodical Accounts relative to a Society formed among the Particular Baptists for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen. That contained a narrative of the foundation of the Society and the letters of Carey up to 15th February 1794 from the Soondarbans. Six of these Accounts appeared up to the year 1800, when they were published as one volume with an index and illustrations. The volume closes with a doggerel translation of one of several Gospel ballads which Carey had written in Bengali in 1798. He had thus early brought into the service of Christ the Hindoo love of musical recitative, which was recently re-discovered–as it were–and now forms an important mode of evangelistic work when accompanied by native musical instruments. The original has a curious interest and value in the history of the Bengali language, as formed by Carey. As to the music he wrote:–“We sometimes have a melody that cheers my heart, though it would be discordant upon the ears of an Englishman.”
Such was the immediate action of the infant Baptist Society. The moment Dr. Ryland read his letter from Carey he sent for Dr. Bogue and Mr. Stephen, who happened to be in Bristol, to rejoice with him. The three returned thanks to God, and then Bogue and Stephen, calling on Mr. Hey, a leading minister, took the first step towards the foundation of a similar organisation of non-Baptists, since known as the London Missionary Society. Immediately Bogue, the able Presbyterian, who had presided over a theological school at Gosport from which missionaries went forth, and who refused the best living in Edinburgh when offered to him by Dundas, wrote his address, which appeared in the Evangelical Magazine for September, calling on the churches to send out at least twenty or thirty missionaries. In the sermon of lofty eloquence which he preached the year after, he declared that the missionary movement of that time would form an epoch in the history of man,–“the time will be ever remembered by us, and may it be celebrated by future ages as the Æra of Christian Benevolence.”
On the same day the Rev. T. Haweis, rector of All Saints, Aldwinkle, referring to the hundreds of ministers collected to decide where the first mission should be sent, thus burst forth: “Methinks I see the great Angel of the Covenant in the midst of us, pluming his wings, and ready to fly through the midst of heaven with his own everlasting Gospel, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” In Hindostan “our brethren the Baptists have at present prevented our wishes…there is room for a thousand missionaries, and I wish we may be ready with a numerous host for that or any other part of the earth.”
“Scotland10 was the next to take up the challenge sent by Carey. Greville Ewing, then a young minister of the kirk in Edinburgh, published in March 1796 the appeal of the Edinburgh or Scottish Missionary Society, which afterwards sent John Wilson to Bombay, and that was followed by the Glasgow Society, to which we owe the most successful of the Kafir missions in South Africa. Robert Haldane sold all that he had when he read the first number of the Periodical Accounts, and gave £35,000 to send a Presbyterian mission of six ministers and laymen, besides himself, to do from Benares what Carey had planned from Mudnabati; but Pitt as well as Dundas, though his personal friends, threatened him with the Company’s intolerant Act of Parliament. Evangelical ministers of the Church of England took their proper place in the new crusade, and a year before the eighteenth century closed they formed the agency, which has ever since been in the forefront of the host of the Lord as the Church Missionary Society, with Carey’s friend, Thomas Scott, as its first secretary. The sacred enthusiasm was caught by the Netherlands on the one side under the influence of Dr. Van der Kemp, who had studied at Edinburgh University, and by the divinity students of New England, of whom Adoniram Judson was even then in training to receive from Carey the apostolate of Burma. Soon too the Bengali Bible translations were to unite with the needs of the Welsh at home to establish the British and Foreign Bible Society.
As news of all this reached Carey amid his troubles and yet triumphs of faith in the swamps of Dinajpoor, and when he learned that he was soon to be joined by four colleagues, one of whom was Ward whom he himself had trysted to print the Bengali Bible for him, he might well write, in July 1799:–“The success of the Gospel and, among other things, the hitherto unextinguishable missionary flame in England and all the western world, give us no little encouragement and animate our hearts.” To Sutcliff he had written eighteen months before that:–“I rejoice much at the missionary spirit which has lately gone forth: surely it is a prelude to the universal spread of the Gospel! Your account of the German Moravian Brethren’s affectionate regard towards me is very pleasing. I am not much moved by what men in general say of me; yet I cannot be insensible to the regards of men eminent for godliness…Staying at home is now become sinful in many cases, and will become so more and more. All gifts should be encouraged, and spread abroad.”
The day was breaking now. Men as well as money were offered for Carey’s work. In Scotland especially Fuller found that he had but to ask, but to appear in any evangelical pulpit, and he would receive sums which, in that day of small things, rebuked his little faith. Till the last Scotland was loyal to Carey and his colleagues, and with almost a prevision of this he wrote so early as 1797:–“It rejoices my heart much to hear of our brethren in Scotland having so liberally set themselves to encourage the mission.” They approved of his plans, and prayed for him and his work. When Fuller called on Cecil for help, the “churchy” evangelical told him he had a poor opinion of all Baptists except one, the man who wrote The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. When he learned that its author was before him, the hasty offender apologised and offered a subscription. “Not a farthing, sir!” was the reply, “you do not give in faith;” but the persistent Cecil prevailed. Men, however, were a greater want than money at that early stage of the modern crusade. Thomas and Fountain had each been a mistake. So were the early African missionaries, with the exception of the first Scotsman, Peter Greig. Of the thirty sent out by the London Missionary Society in the Duff only four were fit for ordination, and not one has left a name of mark. The Church Mission continued to send out only Germans till 1815. In quick succession four young men offered themselves to the Baptist Society to go out as assistants to Carey, in the hope that the Company would give them a covenant to reside–Brunsdon and Grant, two of Ryland’s Bristol flock; Joshua Marshman with his wife Hannah Marshman, and William Ward called by Carey himself.
In nine months Fuller had them and their families shipped in an American vessel, the Criterion, commanded by Captain Wickes, a Presbyterian elder of Philadelphia, who ever after promoted the cause in the United States. Charles Grant helped them as he would have aided Carey alone. Though the most influential of the Company’s directors, he could not obtain a passport for them, but he gave them the very counsel which was to provide for the young mission its ark of defence: “Do not land at Calcutta but at Serampore, and there, under the protection of the Danish flag, arrange to join Mr. Carey.” After five months’ prosperous voyage the party reached the Hoogli. Before arriving within the limits of the port of Calcutta Captain Wickes sent them off in two boats under the guidance of a Bengali clerk to Serampore, fifteen miles higher up on the right bank of the river. They had agreed that he should boldly enter them, not as assistant planters, but as Christian missionaries, rightly trusting to Danish protection. Charles Grant had advised them well, but it is not easy now, as in the case of their predecessors in 1795 and of their successors up to 1813, to refrain from indignation that the British Parliament, and the party led by William Pitt, should have so long lent all the weight of their power to the East India Company in the vain attempt to keep Christianity from the Hindoos. Ward’s journal thus simply tells the story of the landing of the missionaries at this Iona, this Canterbury of Southern Asia:–
“Lord’s-day, Oct. 13, 1799.–Brother Brunsdon and I slept in the open air on our chests. We arrived at Serampore this morning by daylight, in health and pretty good spirits. We put up at Myerr’s, a Danish tavern to which we had been recommended. No worship to-day. Nothing but a Portuguese church here.
“Oct. 14.–Mr. Forsyth from Calcutta, missionary belonging to the London Missionary Society, astonished us by his presence this afternoon. He was wholly unknown, but soon became well known. He gave us a deal of interesting information. He had seen brother Carey, who invited him to his house, offered him the assistance of his Moonshi, etc.
“Oct. 16–The Captain having been at Calcutta came and informed us that his ship could not be entered unless we made our appearance. Brother Brunsdon and I went to Calcutta, and the next day we were informed that the ship had obtained an entrance, on condition that we appeared at the Police Office, or would continue at Serampore. All things considered we preferred the latter, till the arrival of our friends from Kidderpore to whom we had addressed letters. Captain Wickes called on Rev. Mr. Brown, who very kindly offered to do anything for us in his power. Our Instructions with respect to our conduct towards Civil Government were read to him. He promised to call at the Police Office afterwards, and to inform the Master that we intended to stay at Serampore, till we had leave to go up the country. Captain Wickes called at the office afterwards, and they seemed quite satisfied with our declaration by him. In the afternoon we went to Serampore.
“Oct. 19.–I addressed a letter to the Governor to-day begging his acceptance of the last number of our Periodical Accounts, and informing him that we proposed having worship to-morrow in our own house, from which we did not wish to exclude any person.
“Lord’s-day, Oct. 20.–This morning the Governor sent to inquire the hours of our worship. About half-past ten he came to our house with a number of gentlemen and their retinue. I preached from Acts xx. 24. We had a very attentive congregation of Europeans: several appeared affected, among whom was the Governor.”
The text was well chosen from Paul’s words to the elders of Ephesus, as he turned his face towards the bonds and afflictions that awaited him–“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” It proved to be a history of the three men thenceforth best known as the Serampore Missionaries. Ward, too, the literary member of the mission, composed the hymn which thus concluded:–
“Yes, we are safe beneath Thy shade,
And shall be so ‘midst India’s heat:
What should a missionary dread,
For devils crouch at Jesus’ feet.
“There, sweetest Saviour! let Thy cross
Win many Hindoo hearts to Thee;
This shall make up for every loss,
While Thou art ours eternally.”
In his first letter to a friend in Hull Ward used language which unconsciously predicted the future of the mission:–“With a Bible and a press posterity will see that a missionary will not labour in vain, even in India.” But one of their number, Grant, was meanwhile removed by death, and, while they waited for a month, Carey failed to obtain leave for them to settle as his assistants in British territory. He had appealed to Mr. Brown, and to Dr. Roxburgh, his friend in charge of the Botanic Garden, to use his influence with the Government through Colebrooke, the Oriental scholar, then high in the service. But it was in vain. The police had seen with annoyance the missionaries slip from their grasp because of the liberality of the Governor-General of whom Carey had written to Ryland a year before: “At Calcutta, I saw much dissipation; but yet I think less than formerly. Lord Mornington has set his face against sports, gaming, horse-racing, and working on the Lord’s-day; in consequence of which these infamous practices are less common than formerly.” The missionaries, too, had at first been reported not as Baptist but as “Papist,” and the emissaries of France, believed to be everywhere, must be watched against. The brave little Governor let it be understood that he would protect to the last the men who had been committed to his care by the Danish consul in London. So Ward obtained a Danish passport to enable him to visit Dinapoor and consult with Carey.
It was Sunday morning when he approached the Mudnabati factory, “feeling very unusual sensations,” greatly excited. “At length I saw Carey! He is less altered than I expected: has rather more flesh than when in England, and, blessed be God! he is a young man still.” It was a wrench to sacrifice his own pioneer mission, property worth £500, the school, the church, the inquirers, but he did not hesitate. He thus stated the case on the other side:–“At Serampore we may settle as missionaries, which is not allow here; and the great ends of the mission, particularly the printing of the Scriptures, seem much more likely to be answered in that situation than in this. There also brother Ward can have the inspection of the press; whereas here we should be deprived of his important assistance. In that part of the country the inhabitants are far more numerous than in this; and other missionaries may there be permitted to join us, which here it seems they will not.” On the way down, during a visit to the Rajmahal Hills, round which the great Ganges sweeps, Carey and Ward made the first attempt to evangelise the Santal and other simple aboriginal tribes, whom the officials Brown and Cleveland had partly tamed. The Paharis are described, at that time, as without caste, priests, or public religion, as living on Indian corn and by hunting, for which they carry bows and arrows. “Brother Carey was able to converse with them.” Again, Ward’s comment on the Bengali services on the next Sunday, from the boats, is “the common sort wonder how brother Carey can know so much of the Shasters.” “I long,” wrote Carey from the spot to his new colleagues, “to stay here and tell these social and untutored heathen the good news from heaven. I have a strong persuasion that the doctrine of a dying Saviour would, under the Holy Spirit’s influence, melt their hearts.” From Taljheri and Pokhuria, near that place, to Parisnath, Ranchi, and Orissa, thousands of Santals and Kols have since been gathered into the kingdom.
On the 10th January 1800 Carey took up his residence at Serampore, on the 11th he was presented to the Governor, and “he went out and preached to the natives.” His apprenticeship was over; so began his full apostolate, instant in season and out of season, to end only with his life thirty-four years after.
Thus step by step, by a way that he knew not, the shoemaker lad–who had educated himself to carry the Gospel to Tahiti, had been sent to Bengal in spite of the Company which cast him out of their ship, had starved in Calcutta, had built him a wooden hut in the jungles of the Delta, had become indigo planter in the swamps of Dinapoor that he might preach Christ without interference, had been forced to think of seeking the protection of a Buddhist in the Himalaya morass–was driven to begin anew in the very heart of the most densely peopled part of the British Empire, under the jealous care of the foreign European power which had a century before sent missionaries to Tranquebar and taught Zinzendorf and the Moravians the divine law of the kingdom; encouraged by a Governor, Colonel Bie, who was himself a disciple of Schwartz. To complete this catalogue of special providences we may add that, if Fuller had delayed only a little longer, even Serampore would have been found shut against the missionaries. For the year after, when Napoleon’s acts had driven us to war with Denmark, a detachment of British troops, under Lord Minto’s son, took possession of Fredericksnagore, as Serampore was officially called, and of the Danish East India Company’s ship there, without opposition.
The district or county of Hoogli and Howrah, opposite Calcutta and Barrackpore, of which Serampore is the central port, swarms with a population, chiefly Hindoo but partly Mussulman, unmatched for density in any other part of the world. If, after years of a decimating fever, each of its 1701 square miles still supports nearly a thousand human beings or double the proportion of Belgium, we cannot believe that it was much less dense at the beginning of the century. From Howrah, the Surrey side of Calcutta, up to Hoogli the county town, the high ridge of mud between the river and the old channel of the Ganges to the west, has attracted the wealthiest and most intellectually active of all the Bengalees. Hence it was here that Portuguese and Dutch, French and English, and Danish planted their early factories. The last to obtain a site of twenty acres from the moribund Mussulman Government at Moorshedabad was Denmark, two years before Plassey. In the half century the hut of the first Governor sent from Tranquebar had grown into the “beautiful little town” which delighted the first Baptist missionaries. Its inhabitants, under only British administration since 1845, now number 45,000. Then they were much fewer, but then even more than now the town was a centre of the Vishnoo-worship of Jagganath, second only to that of Pooree in all India. Not far off, and now connected with the port by railway, is the foul shrine of Tarakeswar, which attracts thousands of pilgrims, many of them widows, who measure the road with their prostrate bodies dripping from the bath. Commercially Serampore sometimes distanced Calcutta itself, for all the foreign European trade was centred in it during the American and French wars, and the English civilians used its investments as the best means of remitting their savings home. When the missionaries landed there was nothing but a Portuguese Catholic church in the settlement, and the Governor was raising subscriptions for that pretty building in which Carey preached till he died, and the spire of which the Governor-General is said to have erected to improve the view of the town from the windows of his summer palace at Barrackpore opposite.
Removed from the rural obscurity of a Bengali village, where the cost of housing, clothing, and living was small, to a town in the neighbourhood of the capital much frequented by Europeans, Carey at once adapted the practical details of his communistic brotherhood to the new circumstances. With such wisdom was he aided in this by the business experience of Marshman and Ward, that a settlement was formed which admitted of easy development in correspondence with the rapid growth of the mission. At first the community consisted of ten adults and nine children. Grant had been carried off in a fever caused by the dampness of their first quarters. The promising Brunsdon was soon after removed by liver complaint caught from standing on an unmatted floor in the printing-office. Fountain, who at first continued the mission at Dinapoor, soon died there a happy death. Thomas had settled at Beerbhoom, but joined the Serampore brethren in time to do good though brief service before he too was cut off. But, fortunately as it proved for the future, Carey had to arrange for five families at the first, and this is how it was done as described by Ward:–
“The renting of a house, or houses, would ruin us. We hoped therefore to have been able to purchase land, and build mat houses upon it; but we can get none properly situated. We have in consequence purchased of the Governor’s nephew a large house in the middle of the town for Rs.6000, or about £800; the rent in four years would have amounted to the purchase. It consists of a spacious verandah (portico) and hall, with two rooms on each side. Rather more to the front are two other rooms separate, and on one side is a storehouse, separate also, which will make a printing-office. It stands by the river-side upon a pretty large piece of ground, walled round, with a garden at the bottom, and in the middle a fine tank or pool of water. The price alarmed us, but we had no alternative; and we hope this will form a comfortable missionary settlement. Being near to Calcutta, it is of the utmost importance to our school, our press, and our connection with England.”
“From hence may the Gospel issue and pervade all India,” they wrote to Fuller. “We intend to teach a school, and make what we can of our press. The paper is all arrived, and the press, with the types, etc., complete. The Bible is wholly translated, except a few chapters, so that we intend to begin printing immediately, first the New and then the Old Testament. We love our work, and will do all we can to lighten your expenses.”
This house-chapel, with two acres of garden land and separate rooms on either side, continued till 1875 to be the nucleus of the settlement afterwards celebrated all over South Asia and Christendom. The chapel is still sacred to the worship of God. The separate rooms to the left, fronting the Hoogli, became enlarged into the stately residence of Mr. John Marshman, C.S.I., and his two successors in the Friend of India, while beyond were the girl’s school, now removed, the residence of Dr. Joshua Marshman before his death, and the boys’ school presented to the mission by the King of Denmark. The separate rooms to the right grew into the press; farther down the river was the house of the Lady Rumohr who became Carey’s second wife, with the great paper-mill behind; and, still farther, the second park in which the Serampore College was built, with the principal’s house in which Carey died, and a hostel for the Native Christian students behind. The whole settlement finally formed a block of at least five acres, with almost palatial buildings, on the right bank of the Hoogli, which, with a breadth of half a mile when in flood, rolls between it and the Governor-General’s summer house and English-like park of Barrackpore. The original two acres became Carey’s Botanic Garden; the houses he surrounded and connected by mahogany trees, which grew to be of umbrageous beauty. His favourite promenade between the chapel and the mill, and ultimately the college, was under an avenue of his own planting, long known as “Carey’s Walk.”
The new colleagues who were to live with him in loving brotherhood till death removed the last in 1837 were not long in attracting him. The two were worthy to be associated with him, and so admirably supplemented his own deficiencies that the brotherhood became the most potent and permanent force in India. He thus wrote to Fuller his first impressions of them, with a loving self-depreciation:–“Brother Ward is the very man we wanted: he enters into the work with his whole soul. I have much pleasure in him, and expect much from him. Brother Marshman is a prodigy of diligence and prudence, as is also his wife in the latter: learning the language is mere play to him; he has already acquired as much as I did in double the time.” After eight months of study and evangelising work they are thus described:–“Our brother Marshman, who is a true missionary, is able to talk a little; he goes out frequently, nay almost every day, and assaults the fortress of Satan. Brother Brunsdon can talk a little, though not like Marshman. Brother Ward is a great prize; he does not learn the language so quickly, but he is so holy, so spiritual a man, and so useful among the children.”
Thus early did Carey note the value of Hannah Marshman, the first woman missionary to India. Granddaughter of the Baptist minister of Crockerton in Wiltshire, she proved to be for forty-six years at once a loving wife, and the equal of the three missionaries of Christ and of civilisation whom she aided in the common home, in the schools, in the congregation, in the Native Christian families, and even, at that early time, in purely Hindoo circles. Without her the mission must have been one-sided indeed. It gives us a pathetic interest to turn to her household books, where we find entered with loving care and thoughtful thrift all the daily details which at once form a valuable contribution to the history of prices, and show how her “prudence” combined with the heroic self-denial of all to make the Serampore mission the light of India. Ward’s journal supplies this first sketch of the brotherhood, who realised, more than probably any in Protestant, Romanist, or Greek hagiology, the life of the apostolic community in Jerusalem:–
“January 18, 1800.–This week we have adopted a set of rules for the government of the family. All preach and pray in turn; one superintends the affairs of the family for a month, and then another; brother Carey is treasurer, and has the regulation of the medicine chest; brother Fountain is librarian. Saturday evening is devoted to adjusting differences, and pledging ourselves to love one another. One of our resolutions is, that no one of us do engage in private trade; but that all be done for the benefit of the mission…
“August 1.–Our labours for every day are now regularly arranged. About six o’clock we rise; brother Carey to his garden; brother Marshman to his school at seven; brother Brunsdon, Felix, and I, to the printing-office. At eight the bell rings for family worship: we assemble in the hall; sing, read, and pray. Breakfast. Afterwards, brother Carey goes to the translation, or reading proofs: brother Marshman to school, and the rest to the printing-office. Our compositor having left us, we do without: we print three half-sheets of 2000 each in a week; have five pressmen, one folder, and one binder. At twelve o’clock we take a luncheon; then most of us shave and bathe, read and sleep before dinner, which we have at three. After dinner we deliver our thoughts on a text or question: this we find to be very profitable. Brother and sister Marshman keep their schools till after two. In the afternoon, if business be done in the office, I read and try to talk Bengali with the bràmmhàn. We drink tea about seven, and have little or no supper. We have Bengali preaching once or twice in the week, and on Thursday evening we have an experience meeting. On Saturday evening we meet to compose differences and transact business, after prayer, which is always immediately after tea. Felix is very useful in the office; William goes to school, and part of the day learns to bind. We meet two hours before breakfast on the first Monday in the month, and each one prays for the salvation of the Bengal heathen. At night we unite our prayers for the universal spread of the Gospel.”
The “Form of Agreement” which regulated the social economy and spiritual enterprise of the brotherhood, and also its legal relations to the Baptist Society in England, deserves study, in its divine disinterestedness, its lofty aims, and its kindly common sense. Fuller had pledged the Society in 1798 to send out £360 a year for the joint family of six missionaries, their wives, and children. The house and land at Serampore cost the Society Rs.6000. On Grant’s death, leaving a widow and two children, the five missionaries made the first voluntary agreement, which “provided that no one should trade on his own private account, and that the product of their labour should form a common fund to be applied at the will of the majority, to the support of their respective families, of the cause of God around them, and of the widow and family of such as might be removed by death.” The first year the schools and the press enabled the brotherhood to be more than self-supporting. In the second year Carey’s salary from the College of Fort-William, and the growth of the schools and press, gave them a surplus for mission extension. They not only paid for the additional two houses and ground required by such extension, but they paid back to the Society all that it had advanced for the first purchase in the course of the next six years. They acquired all the property for the Serampore Mission, duly informing the home Committee from time to time, and they vested the whole right, up to Fuller’s death in 1815, in the Society, “to prevent the premises being sold or becoming private property in the families.” But “to secure their own quiet occupation of them, and enable them to leave them in the hands of such as they might associate with themselves in their work, they declared themselves trustees instead of proprietors.”
The agreement of 1800 was expanded into the “Form of Agreement” of 1805 when the spiritual side of the mission had grown. Their own authoritative statement, as given above, was lovingly recognised by Fuller. In 1817, and again in 1820, the claims of aged and destitute relatives, and the duty of each brother making provision for his own widow and orphans, and, occasionally, the calls of pity and humanity, led the brotherhood to agree that “each shall regularly deduct a tenth of the net product of his labour to form a fund in his own hands for these purposes.” We know nothing in the history of missions, monastic or evangelical, which at all approaches this in administrative perfectness as well is in Christlike self-sacrifice. It prevents secularisation of spirit, stimulates activity of all kinds, gives full scope to local ability and experience, calls forth the maximum of local support and propagation, sets the church at home free to enter incessantly on new fields, provides permanence as well as variety of action and adaptation to new circumstances, and binds the whole in a holy bond of prayerful co-operation and loving brotherhood. This Agreement worked for seventeen years, with a success in England and India which we shall trace, or as long as Fuller, Ryland, and Sutcliff lived “to hold the ropes,” while Carey, Marshman, and Ward excavated the mine of Hindooism.
The spiritual side of the Agreement we find in the form which the three drew up in 1805, to be read publicly at all their stations thrice every year, on the Lord’s Day. It is the ripe fruit of the first eleven years of Carey’s daily toil and consecrated genius, as written out by the fervent pen of Ward. In the light of it the whole of Carey’s life must be read. In these concluding sentences the writer sketches Carey himself:–“Let us often look at Brainerd in the woods of America, pouring out his very soul before God for the perishing heathen, without whose salvation nothing could make you happy. Prayer, secret, fervent, believing prayer, lies at the root of all personal godliness. A competent knowledge of the languages current where a missionary lives, a mild and winning temper, and a heart given up to God in closet religion; these, these are the attainments which more than all knowledge or all other gifts, will fit us to become the instruments of God in the great work of human redemption. Finally, let us give ourselves unreservedly to this glorious cause. Let us never think that our time, our gifts, our strength, our families, or even the clothes we wear are our own. Let us sanctify them all to God and His cause. Oh! that He may sanctify us for His work. Let us for ever shut out the idea of laying up a cowrie (mite) for ourselves or our children. If we give up the resolution which was formed on the subject of private trade, when we first united at Serampore, the mission is from that hour a lost cause. Let us continually watch against a worldly spirit, and cultivate a Christian indifference towards every indulgence. Rather let us bear hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. No private family ever enjoyed a greater portion of happiness, even in the most prosperous gale of worldly prosperity, than we have done since we resolved to have all things in common. If we are enabled to persevere in the same principles, we may hope that multitudes of converted souls will have reason to bless God to all eternity for sending His Gospel into this country.”
Such was the moral heroism, such the spiritual aim of the Serampore brotherhood; how did it set to work?