"Expect Great Things; Attempt Great Things"


--William Carey, 1792



"Expect great things; attempt great things," the quotation attributed to William Carey, has a mixed literary history.  Originally spoken in his sermon to the Baptist Association meeting in Nottingham, England, May 30, 1792, at the Friar Lane Baptist Chapel, Carey used the citation to urge his Baptist colleagues to enter the missionary enterprise.  Among others, William Finnemore (The Story of a Hundred Years: 1823-1923, Oxford: At the University Press, 1923, p. 14), suggested that the saying formed the twofold division of Carey's sermon.


The significance and contemporary use of Carey's proverbial saying continues.  For example, on February 20, 2001, The Rev. Dr. George L. Carey (no relation to William Carey), former Archbishop Canterbury, Church of England, urged Nigerian Anglicans to trust in God and to expect great things from God.  In addition, numerous educational institutions and churches use Carey's saying as a motto.


Various forms of the saying appear in the sources, but the most probable form was "Expect great things; attempt great things."  Among others, William Staughton, one of the founding members of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792, cites Carey's saying in the short form.


Below are listed the various forms of the saying and the sources:



Expect great things--attempt great things. 

Attempt great things; expect great things.

Expect great things from God;[,] attempt great things for God. 


Expect great things from God.  Attempt great things for God. 

Expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God. 

Attempt Great Things for God and Expect Great Things from God 





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Created:    February 28, 2002        Updated:    April 7, 2014