Mr. Ward was born at Derby, October 20, 1769. His mother was a pious woman, having been brought to the knowledge of the truth by hearing a female Quaker in the town-hall of Derby: our late brother therefore was blessed by maternal example and counsel, and it is supposed, while in youth, was himself the subject of converting grace, cordially embracing the righteousness of that divine Saviour, the unsearchable riches of whose grace he was appointed to make known among heathen nations.
He was baptized, and united to the Baptist church in George-street, Hull; and it being discovered that he possessed promising gifts for the ministry, he was encouraged to devote himself to that employment. Mr. Fishwick, then of Newcastle, now of Islington, generously undertook to place him under the care of the late venerable Dr. Fawcett of Halifax, that he might obtain literary instruction.
The writer of the Memoirs of the Rev. John Fawcett, D. D. speaks thus respectfully of him while he resided under the care of that venerable minister. “A residence of about a year and a half at Ewood Hall, endeared Mr. Ward as much to the family, as his exertions in behalf of the heathen have raised him in the esteem of the public. They witnessed the first appearance of that missionary spirit which induced him, as soon as an opportunity offered, to relinquish every other engagement and endearing connexion for this sacred cause. His most delightful employment was to preach in hamlets where-ever he could collect a congregation; and by hints of admonition, and the dispersion of short tracts, to lead the most careless, as well as inquiring souls, to a serious attention to the best things. Though accustomed to situations above the lower walks of life, he most cheerfully, after the example of his Divine Master, associated with ‘publicans and sinners,’ that he might gain the more. The conflict of nature, when he left the family and his numerous friends without the prospect of ever seeing them again, must have been great to his feeling mind; but he wisely avoided the pang of separation, by finally absenting himself before any one was aware of his immediate intention. To such separations as these, what could reconcile the mind but the hope of extended usefulness, (which in him has been realized,) and
the prospect of meeting in a better country, that is a heavenly, where those who have suffered all things for Christ, and have been willing to give up every thing for his sake, shall hear those welcome accents from the Saviour's lips, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!" - p. 306.
“At the commencement of the year 1799,” says Mr.[Andrew] Fuller, in his excellent Memoirs of Mr. Pearce, “the congregation at Cannon-street was supplied for several months by Mr. Ward, who has since gone as a Missionary to India. Here that amiable young man became intimately acquainted with Mr. Pearce, and conceived a most affectionate esteem for him.”
Mr. Pearce had also formed a strong attachment to Mr. Ward. This will appear from the following letter addressed to him just before his departure for India: -
“Most affectionately do I thank you for your letter, so full of information, and of friendship. To our common Friend, who is gone into heaven, where he ever sitteth at the right hand of God for us, I commend you. Whether I die or live, God will take care of you till he has ripened you for the common salvation. Then shall I meet my dear brother Ward again; and who can tell how much more interesting our intercourse in heaven will be made by the scenes that most distress our poor spirits here! Oh, had I none to live for, I had rather die than live, that I may be at once like Him whom I love! But while he ensures me grace, why should I regret the delay of glory? No, I will wait his will, who performeth all things for me.
“My dear brother, had I strength, I should rejoice to acquaint you with the wrestlings and the victories, the hopes and the fears, the pleasures and the pangs, which I have lately experienced. But I must forbear. All I can now say is, that God hath done me much good by all, and made me very thankful for all he has done.
“Alas! I shall see you no more. I cannot be at Olney on the 7th of May. The journey would be my death. But the Lord whom you serve will be with you then, and for ever. My love to all the dear assembled saints, who will give you their benedictions at that solemn season.
“Ever yours, &c.
The following account of his being accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society, will be read with interest by those who have not previously been acquainted with it.
“The first person whose qualifications appeared to be unexceptionable was Mr. WILLIAM WARD, a member of the Baptist Church in George-street, Hull. Mr. Carey before his departure had some small acquaintance with him, and being at that time a printer, he addressed him to this effect - “If the Lord bless us, we shall want a person of your business to enable us to print the scriptures: I hope you will come after us.” This hint seems to have remained on Mr. Ward's mind. After this he was called to the ministry by the church of which he was a member; and went to Ewood Hall for improvement, under the tuition of Mr. Fawcett. His amiable deportment and acceptable talents procured him the esteem of that respectable family. He had invitations to settle in England; but
his mind appears to have leaned towards India. The Committee, hearing of his inclination, applied to his tutor for a particular account of his character and qualifications. The answer was perfectly satisfactory. They then invited him to a ministers' meeting at Kettering, to be held in Oct. 1798, where he engaged as one of the preachers. After conversation on the subject, it was agreed that he should go out in the following spring.
“On his return to Ewood Hall, he addressed a letter to the Secretary, in which he says, “My mind is calm. My sweetest hours are those of retired prayer. The life of Brainerd has done me good. I would wish to make no reserve in favour of ease, or of the flesh, in dedicating my whole self to God. The Lord keep me humble, gazing on his own lovely image; and make it my meat and drink to do his will.’”
He was solemnly designated with Mr. Brunsdon to the work of a Missionary in India, at Olney, May 7, 1799. “The work of the day was accompanied with fasting and prayer, and the opportunity was very interesting and affecting. Brother Hogg* began by reading some suitable portions of scripture, and then prayed. Brother Fuller proposed some questions to the Missionaries respecting the motives of their undertaking, and the religious sentiments they meant to propagate. The answer of brother Ward was in substance the answer of both, and was to this effect.
“‘I have received no new revelation on the subject: I did not expect any. Our Redeemer hath said, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: and lo, I am with you always to the end of the world. This command I consider as still binding, since the promise of Christ's presence reaches to the utmost corner of the earth, and to the utmost boundaries of time. - While I was at Ewood Hall I received an invitation to carry the gospel and a printing-press to India, where brother Carey and others have erected the standard of the cross. I prayed to God, and advised with my friends. In complying with this invitation I gave up all other prospects, and devoted myself to that of attempting to bless a nation of heathens. Since that time my peace and joy in God have more and more abounded. Duty and pleasure have in my employment gone hand in hand. Sometimes I have been enabled to say,
“No joy can be compar'd to this,
To serve and please the Lord.”
In his strength therefore I would go forth, borne up by your prayers, hoping that two or three stones at least may be laid of the foundation of Christ's kingdom in India, nothing doubting but that the fair fabric will rise from age to age, till time shall be no more. - The being and attributes of God, the total depravity of man, free and full salvation by the grace of God through a mediator, the Deity of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, and the final salvation of believers, are doctrines which I believe, and consider as inclusive of all others. It is to the doctrine of the cross that I look for success in the conversion of the heathen.’
“After the Missionaries had
* The Rev. Mr. Hogg, who now resides at Kimbolton, is the author of two excellent works, viz. “Personal Religion briefly explained, and earnestly recommended;” and “Scriptural Supports for the timorous Christian in the Prospect of Death.”
each given their answer, they were solemnly set apart to the work by prayer and imposition of hands, in the former of which brother Fuller engaged, and in the latter most of the brethren in the ministry who were present.
“After this, brother Sutcliff delivered an exhortation to the Missionaries, founded on Ephesians iii. 8. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
A passage having been previously provided in the Criterion, an American ship, Capt. Wickes, about to sail from London, they left the river May 24, 1799.
They landed safely at Calcutta, October 11, but were under the necessity of proceeding to Serampore, a Danish settlement. His journal thus describes it: - “October 14. - Yesterday we arrived at Serampore, a Danish town fifteen miles above Calcutta. Thus have we finished this memorable voyage; memorable not for the storms we have weathered, or the hardships we have borne, for we have seen nothing worthy of the name; but because goodness and mercy have continually followed us. Surely the Lord is never wanting to those who commit their way to him!"
From Serampore they wrote to Mr. Carey, and in a few days after, February 14, 1800, Mr. Ward and Mr. Fountain went to visit him at Mudnabatty, and found that all the interest he could make was not sufficient to induce the Supreme Government at Bengal to suffer the newly-arrived Missionaries to settle in the British territories. Mr. Carey at length resolved, notwithstanding it would prove a loss to the Society of L500, to listen to Mr. Ward's entreaties to join them; and thus the seat of the Mission was removed to Serampore. Here the Missionaries knew they would receive protection and accommodation from the Danish government, whilst the great ends of the Mission, particularly the printing of the scriptures, were likely to be answered more at Serampore than they would have been at Mudnabarty.
In August, 1801, Mr. Ward, accompanied by Khristna-Pal, the first converted Hindoo, who had begun to converse with his idolatrous neighbours respecting the gospel, made a Missionary tour to certain parts of the country from whence persons had come for religious instruction, preaching and distributing papers as they proceeded; and some of the women went to visit their female relations up the country, where they also conversed about the gospel. Mr. Ward, in his excursion, was detained by a police-officer, on much the same grounds as have been since alleged, that the Company had given no order for the natives to lose cast. Mr. Ward assured him that the papers were entirely religious; and on his offering to sign them with his own name, the officer released him. The papers, thus signed, were sent to Calcutta, and examined. Some alleged, that it was improper to attack the religion of the natives; but others answered, that there was nothing more in the papers than had been always tolerated in the Roman Catholics in the Company's territories. Nothing, therefore, came of it; and during the administration of Marquis Wellesley, nothing more was heard on the subject.
Mr. Ward entered upon his useful labours at Serampore with
great ardour, and during the year 1800 had the pleasure of printing the New Testament in Bengallee, consisting of 800 pages.
On May 10, 1802, Mr. Ward entered into the marriage relation with Mrs. Fountain, widow of Mr. John Fountain, a Missionary, and now the afflicted widow of Mr. Ward. An interesting account of the marriage ceremony, performed by Mr. Carey, was published in No. XI. of the Periodical Accounts, p. 277.
In June, the next year, we find him preaching at Calcutta, and exclaiming, “Oh it is hard labour to preach to eight or ten persons only, and that continually.” So deplorable was the state of religion in the capital of India at that period. On the 1st of July he was appointed a deacon of the small church at Serampore; and on October 6, 1805, he and Mr. Marshman were called to be joint pastors with Mr. Carey.
In 1806, he preached a funeral sermon for his friend Mr. Sedgwick of Hull, which was printed in England. On this occasion he remarks, “O that God may prepare me to follow him. To me the world gets poorer every day. My friends gone - my work done - all the rest is dung and dross!”
He had been now for some time engaged in compiling a work of considerable magnitude. The first account of it was given in a letter to Mr. Fuller, January 12, 1809. “I have been for the last five or six years employed on a work on the Religion and Manners of the Hindoos. It has been my desire to make it the most authentic and complete account that has been given on the subject. I have had the assistance of brother Carey in every proof-sheet; and his opinion and mine are in almost every particular the same. He and brother Marshman think the work would be read in England. The contents are as follows: - Chapter I. Introductory. - II. Shastras. - III. Ceremonies. - IV. Gods.- V. Temples, images, worship. - VI. Learned men, priests, drooties. - VII. Sacred places. - VIII. Casts. - IX. Manners and customs. - X. Concluding remarks. I shall in the Preface give a complete sketch of the hindoo system, and add an Index and Glossary.
“You are not aware that very pernicious impressions have been made on the public mind, by the manner in which many writers on the Hindoo system have treated it. My desire is to counteract these impressions, and to represent things as they are.”
This work was printed at Serampore, by permission of the Indian Government, in 1811, in four quarto volumes, of from 400 to 500 pages each. A second edition of this work, “carefully abridged and greatly improved,” was printed in one large quarto volume at Serampore in 1815; and a third edition, in two octavo volumes, was published in England in 1816.
In the year 1811, March 10, a calamitous fire happened at Serampore, by which the printing office, types, &c. &c. were wholly consumed and destroyed. In attempting to extinguish this, Mr. Ward was in imminent danger of losing his life, but was mercifully preserved from personal harm.
The Periodical Accounts furnish many interesting facts in relation to Mr. Ward's missionary labours, to which the reader is referred for further information. In June, 1819, Mr. Ward arrived in England, and made his
first public appearance at Great Queen-street Chapel, on the anniversary of the Baptist Missionary Society. His address after the sermon produced a powerful impression. He preached in the evening at Zion Chapel to a crowded auditory, from Ephesians ii. 11, “Without God in the world.” The awful description which he gave in this sermon of the “abominable idolatries” of the pagans in India excited deep commiseration. He afterwards visited many parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, preaching and collecting for the College at Serampore. He also visited Holland and America, collecting for the Missionary branch of the College for educating pious Hindoo youth, members of churches, for the ministry.
Mr. Ward sailed from the River Thames on the 28th of May, 1821, in company with Mrs. Marshman and her daughter, and several Missionaries belonging to different societies in England. Just after they sailed, Mr. Burls received the following note from Mr. Ward, dated from the Abberton, 20 miles below Gravesend, May 31, 1821.
“We have worship, singing, reading, and prayer, morning and evening, in Miss Cook's cabin.** Last night, I preached my first sermon to my brethren and sisters from Acts xx. 24. All seem very happy, and I trust God will be in the midst of us, and bless us. Don't forget us in your family, but especially in your closet remember me.
“Ever most truly, most affectionately yours,
The Missionary Herald for March, 1822, announced that the Abberton, with Mr. Ward and his companions, arrived in safety at Madras, after an expeditious passage, on the 24th of September, 1821: and a letter, dated Calcutta, Oct. 25, (inserted in the Missionary Herald for May,) communicated the gratifying intelligence of their safe arrival at that place.
Mr. Ward, in a letter addressed to the Rev. John Dyer, dated February 27, 1823, says, “We are in merciful circumstances as it respects health.” This letter he put into the post-office with his own hand, the next day. Little did he imagine that the vessel appointed to carry it to England would be a “swift messenger" to convey also the sad news of his premature and sudden death; but so it was. He died March 7, in his fifty-fourth year. So true is it, that “we know not what shall be on the morrow; for what is your life? it is even as a vapour, which appeareth for a short time, and then vanisheth away.”
Mr. Ward has left a widow and two daughters. May HE who is the Father of the fatherless, and the God of the widow, in his holy habitation, support, protect, and bless them, under this heavy and unexpected deprivation of an affectionate husband and parent.
The last publication of Mr. Ward was printed at Serampore a short time before his death. It is entitled, “Brief Memoir of Khrisna-Pal, the first Hindoo in Bengal, who broke the Chain of the Cast by embracing the Gospel.” A few copies only of this most interesting account were sent to England, and those directed
* This lady went out in the service of the British and Foreign School Society, to superintend the education of native females in Calcutta.
** It is expected that this will soon be reprinted.
by Mr. Ward's own hand to some of his particular friends, in January last, seem silently to say, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.”
In reflecting upon this solemn providence, we may feel satisfaction that our late worthy brother was (as he expressed himself in his Farewell Letters respecting the death of Mr. Fuller, p. 233,) “ permitted and assisted in so happy a degree, in promoting the extension and final triumph of the glorious kingdom of the Redeemer.”
This short sketch cannot be better concluded than in his own animated description of the opening prospects of the Redeemer's kingdom:
“In all this progress, what difficulties have been removed - what ground prepared - what an army in array - what resources provided - what auxiliaries in the prayers of the saints All, in fact, rapidly tends to the grand consummation. ‘The Lord whom we seek will suddenly come to his temple,’ and amidst the hallelujahs of a saved world, he will be crowned Lord of all –
“One song employs all nations; and all cry,
'Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us.'
The dwellers in the vales, and on the rocks,
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy;
Till, nation after nation taught the strain,
Earth rolls the rapturous hosannah round.”
[From The Baptist Magazine, October, 1823, pp. 405-411. Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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