William Carey & Dallas Willard on Solitude

When William Carey (see my recent post on Carey—EMINENT CHRISTIANS: 1. WILLIAM CAREY) was on his way to India, the ship that he and his companions first took, the Earl of Oxford, stopped in at the Isle of Wight. A number of days were spent there in port. Carey had the opportunity to preach and spend time in spiritual reflection. As he wrote to his wife Dorothy—she had initially refused to go with him but eventually relented and sailed with her husband (to discuss this would take us too far afield): “This place much favours retirement and meditation; the fine woods and hills and sea all conspire to solemnize the mind, and to lift the soul to admire the Creator of all.” [Letter to Dorothy Carey, May 6, 1793 in S. Pearce Carey, William Carey (8th ed.; Carey Press, 1934), 124].

Here Carey refers to spiritual practices—solitude and meditation—that were not uncommon in his Calvinistic Baptist community and that that community had inherited from their Puritan forebears.

Regrettably these practices have not marked our Evangelical communities in the past century as they should have. But there are encouraging signs that these vital biblical practices are being rediscovered in our day. For example, here is a very fine thought from Dallas Willard on one of them, solitude. I certainly do not agree with all that Willard writes, but this is very good:

“Solitude is the discipline of letting go of our self-importance, letting go of our belief that we are necessary for the world to continue.” [See http://www.dwillard.org/].

This was a truth that Carey—a lifelong seeker of humility—knew very well.