William Carey: Chapter 3: Old Things Passed Away

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“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word." (Psa. 119:99BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9).)SA 119:9{
UP to the age of eighteen William Carey had been on very good terms with himself. Friends and neighbors looked upon him as a model youth, and even held him up as an example to their sons. His outward life was blameless and respectable; was he not a regular church-goer, a dutiful son, and a kind brother? But partly through the incident recorded in the last chapter he had found out that he was not all he had thought himself to be. The Holy Spirit had begun a work in his soul; the word, "Let there be light," had gone forth, and in that light he saw himself to be what he really was, a lost and helpless sinner.
In the ministry of the church he attended there was very little spiritual help to be found. The darkness in many villages of so-called Christian England was at that time almost as great as in after years Carey found among the heathen, to whom he was sent as a messenger of glad tidings. But God, who never leaves Himself without a witness, in His mercy guided the steps of the youth to some Christians who lived in a neighboring village. They had themselves received the gospel from the Moravian brethren. He was longing for peace and rest of soul, and they showed him that "salvation is of the Lord," that he could not obtain the forgiveness of his sins by any efforts of his own, but must receive it as the free gift of God; that what he needed was to know Christ as a living Person.
Resting his weary, sin-burdened soul simply on the finished work of Christ, he found peace, but longed for more light and a better knowledge of the will and ways of God. Well was it for him that his Bible was his daily companion and teacher. From its pages he became truly "wise unto salvation.”
Soon after his conversion he had a great desire to confess his Lord and Savior by baptism. Years later, the story of his baptism was told at a missionary meeting by Mr. Ryland, who said: "On October 5th, 1783, I baptized in the river Nen, a little below Dr. Dodderidge's meeting-house at Northampton, a poor journeyman shoemaker, little thinking that before nine years had elapsed he would be used by God to arouse the Christians of England to the duty of sending missionaries to the heathen, and he himself among the very first to go.”
Except his dearly-loved Bible Carey had but few books, but he made good use of the few he had. One curious old book, called "Help to Zion's Travelers," appears to have been a great help and comfort to him; he read it over and over again, made notes in a very neat hand along its somewhat wide margins, and often spoke of it as having proved a real friend to him in seasons of discouragement. The copy he used, worn and worm-eaten, and almost falling to pieces with age, is still preserved in the library of one of the colleges at Oxford.
From the time of his conversion a deep love to Christ filled his soul. For some years he stood alone in his father's house, though when he asked permission to have family prayer whenever he visited the home of his boyhood, his request was not refused. He was not understood by those to whom he was so nearly related. His sister remembered one occasion of which she said, "Only my love for my brother kept me from being very angry with him, and showing it too. He had quoted in prayer the words from Isaiah, `our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.' I did not think he thought his so, but looked upon me and the family as filthy, not himself and his friends. Oh, what pride is in the human heart!”
The death of Carey's first master, before the close of his apprenticeship, made a change necessary, and he was transferred to a Mr. T. Old, who carried on his business as a shoemaker in a small shop on the high road, between Olney and Northampton. The shop was a little way from the dwelling-house; and years after, one who knew him well during the closing years of his apprenticeship would point to it and say, "That was William Carey's college." His remarkable talent for learning languages had begun to show itself, for while still working as a journeyman shoemaker, he had acquired a knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and Latin.