The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

FOR THE LOVE OF INDIA: The Story of Henry Martyn

Henry Martyn’s name must surely rank alongside those of David Brainerd and Robert Murray M’Cheyne. All three died very young, Martyn living the longest and dying aged just 31. All three had an undying passion to reach the lost with the Gospel, and all three exhibited unusual depths of holiness and devotion to God. However, it has to be said, that Martyn is, for some strange reason, not as well remembered and honoured as Brianerd and M’Cheyne.

Cromarty has written a very informative and readable biography of this remarkable young English man who devoted his life to reaching the people of India and Persia for Christ. He was physically frail and emotionally sensitive but demonstrated amazing courage and endurance in seeking to be faithful to his calling. Driven by his love for the Saviour and those for whom he died, Martyn endured the pain of unrequited human love, since his deep love for Lydia Grenfell was never fully returned and he left England never to see her again.

Perhaps what Cromarty brings out strongest and best is Martyn’s jealousy for God’s honour, recounting his reaction to the appalling sites he witnessed among the teeming, pagan masses of Asia. For example, seeing the statue of the Hindu god Bulhub, Martyn described the devotion of the worshippers: “At intervals they prostrated themselves with their foreheads to the earth. I shivered at being in the neighbourhood of hell; my heart was ready to burst at the dreadful state to which the Devil had brought my poor fellow-creatures.” On another occasion, hearing a slur against the Saviour, Martyn responded to his Muslim friend, “I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified – it would be hell for me, if he were to be thus dishonoured…It is because I am one with Christ that I am thus dreadfully wounded.”

Henry Martyn lived with a constant awareness of the brevity and frailty of life and wanted to spend what time he had, not in trivia and frivolity but in the business of the King. His own reputation, safety and physical health was of little concern to him, if only Christ might be made known, honoured and exalted. His single-minded passion for God remains a humbling example to us all.

EVANGELICAL PRESS (1 Oct. 2005) Review written in 2011


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