William Carey is one of the great heroes of the Christian Faith.
He was born into a family who considered the Church of England to be the authorised church of the English people. But when he heard the gospel and started to read the Bible, he realised he needed to find out more. He began to be drawn to those called ‘Dissenters’.
His biographer, Timothy George writes, ‘The Dissenters of Hanoverian England had inherited a legacy of persecution and harassment. When the Act of Uniformity was passed in 1662 over 2000 ministers were expelled from their posts because they refused to declare ‘unfeigned assent’ to everything in the Book of Common Prayer and seek re-ordination from an Anglican bishop…
‘In those days the Clarendon Code imposed severe penalties on those who could not conform to the established religion; John Bunyan languishing for 12 years in the Bedford jail; George Fox locked up at Scarborough Castle in a cell which was open to the wind and rain of the North Sea, so that “the water came over my bed and ran about the room”…
‘the Welsh Evangelist Vavasor Powell dying in the Fleet Prison in the 11th year of his incarceration there; sergeants disrupting services…;meeting houses burned to the ground; properties confiscated; ruinous fines exacted. Such memories lingered long in the Nonconformist conscience…
‘In 1719 Parliament passed a bill forbidding anyone who attended a Dissenting meeting from teaching, with three months in jail as the penalty’! (Timothy George, Faithful Witness, IVP, p.9)
Nevertheless, the young Carey began preaching amongst them. First, in a house-church in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire and then later as an ordained Dissenting Pastor in Moulton.
They were tough years for Carey and his new bride, but they were years of preparation.
To read the first part of the William Carey story click here
To read the next part of the William Carey Story click here
© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides