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THE TRANSLATORS OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. DR. CAREY.
DR. CAREY has left a name among men, as one of the most honoured of Christian Missionaries, and as “Prince of Translators of the Holy Scriptures." He was born August 17, 1761, at Paulerspury, Northamptonshire. He feared God in his youth, and was received as a member of the Baptist Church, on a profession of his faith, in 1783.
William Carey supported himself by labour as a shoemaker ; but he loved his Bible, and gave his mind to study, while he felt constrained to preach the Gospel in the villages; and his services were acceptable to a small Baptist Church at Moultan, where he went to reside in 1786. There he built a chapel, and was ordained to the pastoral office in 1787, supporting himself by a school. Being a hard student, he acquired the knowledge of several languages, and rose from obscurity, esteemed by his brethren. In 1788, he became pastor of the Baptist Church, in Harvey Lane, Leicester.
Carey was called of God, however, to still greater things. A missionary spirit was rising up in the churches of Christ. Dr. Watts, and after him, Dr. Doddridge in England, Professor Franke in Saxony, and President Edwards in America, had called their brethren to special prayer for a revival of religion, and the coming of the kingdom of Christ. Concerts for prayer, weekly or monthly, had been formed for several periods; and the Ministers of the Baptist Association agreed, at Nottingham, in 1784, to set apart an hour on the first Monday evening in every month," for extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion, and for the extending of Christ's kingdom in the world.”
Mr. Carey entered into this spirit: for “his heart appears to have been set upon the conversion of the heathen.” Dr. Cox remarks :-“At the different ministers' meetings, between the years 1787 and 1790, Mr. Carey was incessantly introducing and descanting upon the subject of the importance and practicability of a mission to the heathen, and of his own willingness to engage in it. On one occasion, Mr. Ryland requested one of the younger ministers to propose a subject for discussion ; when, after some silence, Mr. Carey suggested the duty of Christians to attempt the spread of the Gospel among heathen nations; for which, Mr. Ryland called him an enthusiast. But it became a habitual and irrepressible passion of the soul.” He published “ An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use means for the conversion of the heathen.”
In 1791, therefore, he urged the discussion; and in May, 1792, he preached at the Anniversary of the Association, on Isaiah liv. 2, 3, when he urged: “1. Expect great things from God; 2. Attempt great things for God.” By this, a profound impression fell on all present; and they resolved, that against the next meeting, a plan should be prepared of “A Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen.” This was held at Kettering, October 2, and £13 2s. 6d. was subscribed. A second meeting was held on the 31st, at Northampton, and on the 13th of November, a third meeting, when Mr. Carey reported the fact of Mr. Thomas seeking a companion in a mission to the heathen in Bengal. He was a surgeon in one of the East India Company's ships in 1783; he returned in 1785, joined the Baptist Church of Dr. Stennet, in London, and became a preacher. In 1786, he went again to Bengal, learned the language, and preached to the Hindoos. Carey found him in London, and agreed to go with Thomas to India. A farewell service was held at Leicester, March 20, 1793, commending them to the care of the Almighty Saviour: they embarked for India, June 13th, and, on the 11th of November, reached Calcutta.
Thomas proposed to support himself by medicine, and Carey by some occupation, while he learned the language. They succeeded under great difficulties ; and Carey laboured in translating the Scriptures into Bengalee, preaching the gospel in many places. He so advanced in acquiring the languages of India, that in 1801, he was appointed to the office of Professor of Bengalee and Sanscrit, in the College of Fort William, Calcutta, then founded by the Marquis of Wellesley.
Dr. Buchanan bears the most honourable testimony to the acquirements of Dr. Carey, but his progress cannot here be detailed. Dr. Marshman states:—“Certain circumstances, trivial in their nature, seem to discover the care of Providence in preparing the way for the translation of the Scriptures into the principal dialects of India. Without a knowledge of Sanscrit, from which all the dialects of India are derived, the translation of the Scriptures into these could not have been effected. A few years before Dr. Carey's arrival in India, however, this language was scarcely accessible to Europeans. It is reported, that Sir William Jones gave his first instructer in this language, the sum of five hundred rupees monthly. A fifth part of that sum, would have been beyond the power of my elder colleague. But before he had occasion to study it, the barriers placed to guard this language had been removed by Sir W. Jones, and others of our countrymen, so that able teachers of Sanscrit could be obtained for a twentieth part of that sum. The care of Providence in providing means of printing the Scriptures, is still more remarkable. Nothing printed had appeared in the Sanscrit or Bengalee character until a few years before the translation of the Scriptures in these languages had commenced, when Dr. Wilkins, by skill and perseverance, succeeded in originating founts of type in the Indian characters. A skilful native, formerly employed by Dr. Wilkins, offered his services to Dr. Carey, within three months after he had, in 1800, removed to Serampore for the sake of printing the Scriptures in no less than twelve of the alphabets, used in various parts of India.
“Dr. Carey's being placed in the College of Fort William, facilitated the work of translating the Scriptures. This placed under his direction the ablest Pundits in India, who, to a knowledge of Sanscrit, added an extensive acquaintance with their vernacular dialects. His life being prolonged for so great a number of years after possessing these advantages, is another instance of the Divine goodness. In November last (1826), he had completed his thirty-third year in India, without having left it a single day. In Dr. Carey's being continued in the work so long after his taste in Indian philosophy had been thus matured, therefore, we see much of the care of Divine Providence."
Dr. Carey was assisted by Dr. Marshman, and he states, in the " Memoir of Translations,” in 1813:“We are at this time engaged in translating the Bible into twenty-one languages, including the Bengalee, which is finished.” From the “Tenth Memoir respecting the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Oriental Languages, by the Serampore brethren,” July, 1832, two years before the decease of Dr. Carey, we learn that, “the entire Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments had, at this time, been printed and circulated in six Oriental languages besides the Chinese; the New Testament had been printed in twenty-three languages more; the Pentatench aud other parts of the Old Testament in several of these languages; and portions of the Scriptures had been printed in ten others, or in all forty languages.'