Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. VII.

Mr. Fuller's unwearied Exertions in behalf of the Baptist Missionary SocietyThe Rise of that Society-Sending out of Messrs. Thomas and Carey-Specimens of Mr. Fuller's Correspondence with the MissionariesHis Journies into Scotland; connected with Observations on the state of Religion there, and the Sandemanian Controversy; Conversation with a Jew and other Travellers, fc.

With regard to Mr. Fuller's active concern for the welfare of the Baptist Mission, from his appointment as Secretary at it's first formation, till his death, it is impossible to do full justice to his indefatigable zeal, his assiduous attention to whatever could promote it's welfare, and the uncommon prudence with which he conducted all measures that related to it at home, and gave counsel to those that needed it most abroad. The excellent Pearce, while he was living, selected the Periodical Accounts, inspected the printing, aided much in the collections ; but this advantage was not long enjoyed. His brother Sutcliff was almost, all the time near at hand, and Mr. Fuller was greatly assisted by his prudence and judgment, on every emergency; and he repeatedly accompanied him in his journeys to the northern parts of this island. But Mr. Fuller's own counsels and labours in a great variety of ways were, under God, of the most essential service froin first to last. As to the immediate origin of a Baptist Mission, I believe God himself infused into the mind of Carey that solicitude for the salvation of the heathen, which cannot fairly be traced to any other source. When he went to Birmingham to collect for the meeting-house he had built at Moulton, he had mentioned the proposal there. A friend urged him to write and print upon it, and offered to give ten pounds towards paying the printer. On bis return he met Brother Fuller and Brother Sutcliff in my study at Northampton, and then pressed one of us to publish on the subject. We approved much of what he urged, yet made some objections, on the ground of so much needing to be done at home, &c. However, when he could not prevail on either of us to promise to undertake the work, be said he must tell the whole truth; that in the warmth of conversation at Birmingham, he had said, that he was resolved to do all in bis power to set on foot a Baptist Mission. **Well, (said his friend,) print upon the subject, I will help bear the expense.' That he replied

he could not do. “If you cannot do it as you wish, yet do it as well as you can; (said his friend,) you have just now bound yourself to do all you can for this purpose, and I must keep you to your word.” Being thus caught through his own zeal, he could get off no other way, than by promising that he would write, if he could not prevail on any one more competent to undertake it. We then all united in saying, “ Do by all means write your thoughts down as soon as you can; but be not in a hurry to print them; let us look over them, and see if any thing need be omitted, altered, or added.' Thus encouraged, he soon applied himself to the work, and showed us the substance of the pamphlet afterwards printed, which we found needed very little correction. So much had this young man attained of the knowledge of geography and history, and several languages, in the midst of the pressures of poverty, and while obliged to support himself and his family at first as a journeyman shoemaker, and afterwards as a village schoolmaster ; since his people could raise him but ten or eleven pounds a year, besides five pounds from the London fund.*

• I never formally examined the proficiency he had then made in learning Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, &c. but one anecdote will illustrate what, indeed, his subsequent attainments render unnecessary to be proved.

Between Carey and Fuller there never was a moment's rivalship, and I have no bias on my mind to take a grain of praise from one to give to the other: but wishing to regard both with impartial esteem, and truth beyond both; I must consider the Mission as originating absolutely with Carey; and Mr. Fuller's acknowledgment that be had at first some feelings like the desponding nobleman, in 2 Kings vii. 2. is a confirmation of my opinion. This, however, is of small consequence: Sometime after the conversation in my study, occurred the minister's meeting at Clipstone, in April, 1791. An uncommon degree of attention seemed to me to be excited by both sermons: I know not under which I felt the most, whether Brother Sutcliff's, on being very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, or Brother Fuller's, on the pernicious influence of delay. Both were very impressive; and the mind of every one with whom I conversed, seemed to feel a solemn conviction of our need of greater zeal, and of the evil of negligence and procrastination. I suppose that scarcely an idle word was spoken while I stayed, and immediately after dinner, Carey introduced the subject of beginning a Mission. . I had to preach at home that night, fourteen miles off, and was obliged to leave the company before the conversation ended. At the ensuing Association, held at Oakham, it was announced that these sermons would be inmediately sent to the press. The next Association was at Nottingham, May 30, 1792, when Brother Carey delivered a most impressive discourse, from Isa. liv. 2, 3. chiefly endeavouring to enforce our obligations to expect great things

I one day had occasion thus to address him: “Well, Mr. Carey, you remember I laughed at you when I heard of your learning Dutch, for I thought you would never have any use for that language; but now I have the first opportunity of profiting by it. I have received a parcel from Dr. Erskine of Edinburgh, who has long been used to send me any interesting publications which he receives from America, or which have been printed in Scotland; and this parcel contains several of those sorts : but he

says

I shall wonder that he has inclosed a Dutch book. This, he informs me, is a volume of Sermons written by a Divine now living in Holland; at the end of which is a Dissertation on the Call of the Gospel, which, if any friend of mine or Mr. Fuller's understands the language sufficiently to translate it for us, we should be glad to see. “Now (said I to Mr. Carey,) if you will translate this Dissertation for me, I will give you the whole book.” He soon brought me a good Dissertation on the subject, and afterwards an extraordinary Sermon, on Hosea, Chap. iii. which I doubt not were translated from this book. I once also, in an accidental way, made a trial of his skill in French ; and hence, at that early period, I inferred, that, as his motives to learn Latin, Greek, and Hebrew must have been stronger than those that excited him to acquire French and Dutch, bis proficiency in them could not be less. His present eminence in Oriental literature every one acknowledgesBut it is pleasant to trace the rise of the oak from an acorn.

}

« PreviousContinue »