Mary Carey: Speechless, But Not Spirit-less

I was touched by a portion of William Carey’s biography (author S Pearce Carey) on his sisters, specifically Mary, who he evangelized; and so have typed it out for others to dream about how the Lord can use them even in affliction.


Notwithstanding their quiverful of seven, the Hobsons made room for invalid Mary; and even after her own widowhood in 1816, Ann (sister) still mothered her to the end of her long helplessness, with Carey’s faithful monetary aid.

By twenty-five she was paralysed. Then for fifty years she was confined to her sick-room, a grievous imprisonment for one who, like her brother, so loved the fields and woods. For eleven years she could not speak, nor even whisper: then strangely enough, after smallpox, she whispered a sentence or two with much pain; then was again soundless for twenty years. Her right arm was her only unparalysed limb. Yet her face shone, radiant from within, a wonder and blessing to all who knew her.

They used to say that “patience had in her its perfect work.” Loved by her sister’s many children, she drew them to Christ. With a slate as her only tongue, she led for years a Boxmoor Bible Class in the pretty “moor End” cottage by the stream. Although to write a letter caused her great physical distress, she loved to write propped up in bed in one position, to her whole scattered family circle.

Her pen was her soul’s one outlet. She called it “conversing,” and so it was.

“I forget my weakness, whilst I am conversing with you. It seems to remove the distance and to bring you near. What a mercy I can write!”

“I think you will never have patience to read all this through, but you’ll excuse me. I can’t leave off. I want to converse by any means with those so dear, though it costs me much pain.

Many of her close-written folio sheets to Carey have survived. She tells him every scrap of the family news, and she pours out her Christian heart to him. She was one of the Mission’s “chief priests”—the incense of whose ceaseless intercession was fragrant to God. Eustace Carey learned his best missionary passion in her sanctuary.

“Aunt’s sufferings,” wrote her niece in 1828, “were a few weeks ago distressing; yet we could not give her up. We do all love her so dearly: to part with her would tear us asunder. Her late affliction was enough to kill a person in good health. She is merely skin and bone, and not much of that, and so weak as to be hardly able to sit pillowed up in her chair, while her bed is made. Yet she continues the same sweet-tempered, humble Christian she ever was, feeling for others more than for herself, and always fearful lest mother should debar herself anything for her comfort.”

She lived to be 74. Dr. Gotch, her later pastor, used to say: “Her work in her affliction, in its way, was as great as that which her great brother wrought.”


Three observations—

  1. Can you imagine children today sitting and learning from a mute teacher?
  2. Can you imagine attempting to teach in a mute condition?
  3. We greatly underestimate the beauty of personal consecration to God and the importance of “ceaseless intercession” for missions.


About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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3 Responses to Mary Carey: Speechless, But Not Spirit-less

  1. zebranay says:

    Rather humbling when you think of what we consider hardships.

  2. This was a rebuke to me when I consider how I take for granted my good health and complain about so many little things. The Lord can any willing servant who will allow them to be used.

  3. Pingback: Thoughtful Thursdays, Passion Week Thoughts #linky - Creative K Kids

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