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Eustace Carey (1791 – 1855)

by James Culross, from Founders and Pioneers of Modern Missions, 1899

EUSTACE CAREY was born 22nd March, 1791, at Paulerspury, about three miles from the market-town of Towcester, in the county of Northampton. The village consists of two parts, Pury and Pury End, separated by a depression, in the bottom of which flows a small brook. The hamlet is a full mile from end to end. He was the son of Thomas Carey, brother of William Carey, a non-commissioned officer in the army, who had served under the Duke of York in Holland, where he was wounded, and was rewarded with a small pension. The early ambition of young Eustace was to wear a red coat and be a soldier like his father. His mother appeared in after years a radiant figure to him. The grace and music of her step, the love of her soul beaming through tender yet piercing eyes, her pleasant looks which in the child’s esteem would know as well as be able to remove all his sorrows, and above all the melody of her voice com bined to make an indelible impression on him. In the close of life, after sixty years’ pilgrimage he records “My mother’s footsteps, and my mother’s voice as she sang her Wesleyan hymns, I shall never forget, they are as fresh in my mind as if I had heard them but yesterday.” The mother planted in his youthful mind the immortal seed of the heavenly kingdom which grew up in after years under the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. While he was a child his mother removed to Northampton, where the freedom of a hamlet was exchanged for the confinement of what seemed a big town. But town life was relieved by frequent visits to Cottesbrook, where his two aunts, sisters of William Carey, Ann (Mrs. Hobson) and Mary, familiarly Polly Carey, resided on a small farm. Mr. Hobson had been brought up a churchman, but when the great change took place in his experience he left the church with great sadness, and, as they held their farm on the belief that they were church people, they felt that they could not conscientiously retain it and hold a private conventicle in their own. house to which their neighbours were invited. When their landlord heard that his farm was tenanted by such unreasonable people as were not satisfied with things as they were, he determined to expel them, and expel them he did, without resistance on their part, though they held a lease of the farm. Dr. Carey writes respecting Cottesbrook, “I greatly commend my dear sister Ann for not surrendering-up her conscience for a petty lot of land. I think she will be better without it.” Writing to her brother in India, Polly says, “This place is walled up to heaven against the Gospel.” These visits to Cottesbrook, with country fare and country employment and amusements, were the means of establishing the boy’s health in a measure that he had never before enjoyed. Kindly allowance was made by his aunts for accidents, such as late return at mid-day meals, and all such boyish irregularities. The only faults ever sharply rebuked were moral ones. The sleeping apartment of Eustace and the Hobson boys adjoined that of Aunt Polly, who regularly paid an evening visit and told the boys a “Scripture Story.” These stories made a deep impression on the boy’s mind, and formed an important part of his religious education, in devotion and reverence for God and complacency in the Divine character.

From early boyhood, Eustace had been in the habit of attending the ministry of Dr. Ryland, at College Lane Chapel, Northampton. Under the affectionate care and nurture of his mother and of his aunt Polly, the boy advanced in Christian knowledge, and gave promise of gracious character. At length he resolved to make a public profession of his faith in Christ, and accordingly he was baptized by Dr. Ryland the former minister of College Lane, and an intimate friend of the Carey family, on July 7th, 1809. The passage of Scripture quoted at the ordinance was Matthew iii., 15, the words of Jesus to John, “Suffer it to be so now ; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” To the boy, baptism was no mere ceremony, but was an open surrender of himself and all his faculties to the Lord who had loved him. On the following Sunday Dr. Ryland preached in the morning from Ephesians iv., 22-24. “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind ; and put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” In the evening he chose the text II. Corinthians ix., 13, “Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.”

For long the thought of offering himself for service in the mission-field had been ripening . in his mind and now it found utterance. At a special church meeting, August 15th, afternoon, it was agreed “That Eustace Carey should be requested to speak before the church from some passage of Scripture on Tuesday evening, August 22nd, in order that an opinion may be formed of his gifts with a design, if he be approved by the church, of sending him as a missionary student to Mr. Sutcliff, of Olney. Accordingly he spoke before the church from John iii., 16, ‘ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ He was requested to speak before the Church again from some passage of Scripture of his own choosing on the evening of Tuesday, 29th August, 1809. He did so from Luke xiii., 3, ‘ Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’ He was desired to speak again on Tuesday evening, September 5th, on Romans v., 1, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we liave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ At the close of this service on Sept. 5, a vote was taken, when it was unanimously . agreed to recommend him to the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society as a proper person for a missionary student and they agreed to recommend him.”

At Olney, under Mr. Sutcliff, his studies were pursued with diligence and success. His habits, owing to his weak health, which were those of a recluse, were favourable to his progress in classical and other knowledge. But his favourite employment was preaching, he knew that his general theological studies were necessary to fit him rightly to exercise his gifts of ready address and winning persuasiveness that he might go forth to the churches, not cold and theoretic, but with an ardent soul, preaching not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord. What he owed to his aunt Polly, to her gracious influence and her example of patience under prolonged and accumulated sufferings, and her love equal to that of a mother, he never forgot to the last day of his life.

In 1812 Mr. Carey proceeded from Olney to Bristol College to be under the care of Dr. Ryland. He entered as a missionary student. His personal appearance was frail, almost etherial, but he gave the impression that there was more of vital energy in the fragile form than a casual observer might at first imagine. In Bristol his missionary ardour suffered no abatement, while his attention to his studies was an example to all his fellow students His preaching had a special charm in it, the diction was original and striking, and the earnestness and pathos of his manner marked him out as one of the most gifted young men of the time.

On January 19th, 1814, he was solemnly designated and set apart by the church in College Lane to the work of a missionary in India. After uniting in a song of praise, Mr. Blundell, the pastor of the church, read a portion of Scripture and prayed. He was followed in prayer by Mr. William Johns, lately returned from Bengal. Mr. Fuller then briefly stated the object of the meeting as being not so much for preaching as to commend our brother to God in prayer and to express our cordial approbation of him and union with him in the undertaking, and to direct his attention to the authority of Christ who enjoined His disciples to go and teach all nations with the promise of being with them always to the end of the world. Mr. Carey then gave a brief statement of his motives for engaging in the ministry and particularly of the mission, which he did much to the satisfaction of the audience. Mr. Sutcliff then prayed and laid his hands upon him, in which the brethren present united. After this, Robert Hall gave him the charge, describing the nature and importance of his undertaking, and the encouragements held out to him in the Word of God. This was felt to be a wonderful address, it came to be known as “Robert Hall’s address to Eustace Carey.” Four editions were published. It is worthy of the careful study of every Christian minister and missionary. In the evening Fuller preached from Deut. xxxiii., 13-16, the blessing pronounced on Joseph.

On the 18th of February, Eustace Carey left London for Portsmouth on his way for India. A prayer meeting was held in Eagle Street on the Wednesday preceding, and Eustace Carey delivered a memorable farewell address. In those days Missionaries were only allowed in India on sufferance. The efforts of the Rev. A. Fuller, the Rev. R. Hall, and other friends of liberty were after a long period of agitation successful so far as to obtain, in the Act of 1813 “For continuing the East India Company, for a farther term, the possession of the British territories in India,” the insertion of four clauses relating to “Persons desirous of going to India, for the purpose of promoting the religious and moral improvement of the natives,” beneficial in their results, though not such as to preclude absolutely the oppression to which missionaries had been subject.

The voyage was without any incident of note, except that Mr. Carey won the good will and regard of the captain and the other passengers. It was his privilege frequently to preach on board. In the course of the voyage a suspicious looking ship was sighted which was believed to be a French privateer, and the captain deemed it necessary to prepare for action. He accordingly ordered all ladies to the cabin. Eustace, though he was unfitted for any service, declined to avoid danger and remained on deck. The strange ship however tacked about and disappeared.

On August the 1st, 1814, Mr. and Mrs. Carey arrived in India in good health. They received a hearty and affectionate welcome and it was hoped would share the missionary work carried on at Serampore. As it turned out, however, his sphere of labour was Calcutta, where, in conjunction with Mr. Lawson, he at once began his mission-work. His first business was to acquire the language, and to take in land Christian work among the soldiers in the fort. In 1816, Eustace Carey in conjunction with Mr. Lawson was set apart to the co-pastorate of the church. On 31 st January, 1816, Dr. Carey writes to his sisters, “Eustace lives at Calcutta, he and brother Lawson were on the second Sabbath of this year set apart to the office of co-pastor with us over the Church in Calcutta where they both reside, Eustace is a very good preacher, and much esteemed.” The missionaries residing in Calcutta, and known as the Junior Brethren, united in forming an auxiliary missionary society known as the Calcutta Union, with the hope of enlarging the sphere of usefulness by itinerancies throughout the province of Bengal. In February, 1819, the Junior Brethren sent home a long account of the state of the work and the means taken to extend it. This letter is signed by John Lawson, Eustace Carey, William Yates, James Penney, W. H. Pearse, and William Adam. The same brethren sent home another long letter dated April, 1819, describing both their encouragements and disappointments. On the whole there is distinct progress, and un-flagging perseverance.

But in course of time misunderstandings and alienations grew up between the younger and the elder missionaries, and years of increasing tension issued in 1827 in the separation of Serampore from the Baptist Missionary Society a separation which was not healed till after Dr. Carey’s death. During the prolonged troubles which unhappily took place, it is worthy of grateful remembrance that Dr. Carey’s personal uprightness and godly sincerity were not questioned even by those who entertained diametrically opposite views, while he on the other hand could say of the junior brethren, “I believe we sincerely love one another.”

Ten years of earnest labour in India so told on the health of Eustace Carey that he was under the necessity of leaving India, to which he was never able to return and resume his loved work. But for thirty years he continued an earnest and devoted advocate at home of the missionary enterprise. The following reminiscences will be read with great pleasure from the pen of a man of like mind, the Rev. J. T. Brown, for so long the beloved and honoured pastor of College Lane Church, Northampton, who is himself so identified with the missionary enterprise:

“It is true I knew him well and was often with him at public meetings during his long period of deputation work. He was a devout man, and finding, as he did, that such constant deputation work, with suppers after meeting and mingling with company was injurious to that close communion and contact with the Unseen which he desired, he made it a rule in later years to retire at ten o’clock to his chamber, and also, where arrangements admitted, to keep his mornings sacred to himself. When I saw him soon after his return he was in appearance, in manner, in style of speech and mode of address, severely and takingly chaste. I know no more fitting word to use. But in process of time, and specially towards the close of his work, he underwent one of the most striking transformations I have ever known. Such gesticulations, such Oriental salaaming on the platform, such heaping up of adjective upon adjective of all sorts and sizes, such a way with him altogether that people laughed at his half grotesque manifestations.”

Incessant speaking, after he was engaged to travel regularly for the Missionary Society, produced its natural effect in lessening the freshness of his manner and the novelty of his illustrations; but to the last he was a most acceptable occasional speaker on behalf of foreign missions. The last few years of his life were years of much weakness, and he died suddenly in his house in London on July 19th, 1855, losing consciousness when looking over the notes of a sermon he was preparing to deliver at Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire. He was 63 years of age. He was twice married, his second wife survived him. Three children Carey was born in India in 1840. His daughter grew up, William Fosbrook Carey (born in India) and Annie Carey, children of the first wife; and Eustace Carey, now of Garston, Liverpool, son of the second wife. William Fosbrook Carey had nine children. One of daughters, Emily, is the wife of the Rev. Robert E. Chettleborough, of Leighton Buzzard, the owner of the miniature of Eustace Carey reproduced in these pages. William Fosbrook Carey was for many years deacon of Cottage Green Baptist Church, Camberwell, London.

The following resolution was passed by the committee of the Baptist Missionary Society at the time of his decease : “In the death of Mr. Carey the committee has not only lost a brother beloved, who from his first early connection with the Society won his way to all hearts, but also a devoted and eloquent advocate, who both in the pulpit and on the platform was the unwearied and earnest expounder and defender of the principles of the Mission and the successful assertor of its claims. In him, too, the missionaries abroad, and the numerous native agents, in whose tongue he himself had been one of the most gifted preachers of his day, and pastor of one of their churches — have lost a friend who in his innumerable appeals was wont to bear them on his heart and commend them to the affection and prayers of the Church of the Lord Jesus.”

Eustace Carey wrote the well known memoir of his Uncle William. The first edition was published in 1836, the second in 1837. An American edition was published at Hartford in this latter year. “Letters Official and Private from the Rev. Dr. Carey, Relative to certain Statements given in these Pamphlets, late published by the Rev. J. Dyer, secretary to the Baptist Missionary Society,” was issued in 1828 by “W. Jones, M.D., Rev. E. Carey,’ and W. Yates.” A “Vindication” by Eustace Carey and William Yates was issued the same year ; and “A Supplement to the Vindication” by Eustace Carey in 1831. A valuable memoir of Eustace Carey was published by his widow in 1857. Eustace Carey was buried in Highgate Cemetery, where a stone bears the simple inscription:

In Memory of
A missionary in India,
who died July 19th, 1855, in the 64th Year of his age.
“Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”

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