W. (William) Haslam.

From death into life: or, Twenty years of my ministry online

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DEATH INTO LIFE



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BY

REV. W. &ASLAM

{Late Incumbent of Curzon Chapel^ May/air),

AUTHOR OF " BUILDING FROM THE TOP — TWENTY-FOUR TRUE TALES OF CONVER-
SION," "the THREEFOLD GIFT OF GOD," ETC.



NEW YORK:

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,

I, 3, AND 5 BOND STREET.

i886.



THE.KEV;
PUBLIC LIB'RAF::

821482

ASTOn, LENOX AMO
TlLD£N FOU.-iD'. ._■. .

19!7 L



TO THE
RIGHT HONORABLE

FRANCIS ALEXANDER,

THE EARL OF KINTORE,

MY STEADY AND UNCHANGING FRIEND,

THIS VOLUME

AS A
TOKEN OF REGARD.



INTRODUCTION.




HIS volume is not so much a history of my own
life, as of the Lord's dealings with me ; setting
forth how He wrought in and by me during the
space of twenty years. It will be observed that
this is not, as biographies generally are, an account of life
on to death; but rather the other way — a narrative of
transition from death into life, and that in more senses
than one.

I had been given over by three physicians to die, but it
pleased the Lord, in answer to prayer, to raise me up again.
My restored health and strength I thankfully devoted to a
religious and earnest life. In the height and seeming pros-
perity of this, the Lord awakened me to see that I was dead
in trespasses and sins ; still far from Him ; resting on my
own works ; and going about to establish my own righteous-
ness, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God.
Then He quickened me by the Holy Ghost, and raised me
up into a new and spiritual life.

In this volume the reader will meet with the respective
results of (what I have called) the Religious, as distin-
guished from the Spiritual, life. The former produced



viii INTRODUCTION.

only outward and ecclesiastical effects, while the latter
brought forth fruit in the salvation of souls, to the praise
and glory of God.

One object in writing this book is to warn and instruct
earnest-minded souls, who are, as I was once, strangers to
the experience of salvation, seeking rest where I am sure
they can never find it, and labouring to do good to others
when they have not yet received that good themselves.
They are vainly " building from the top ;" trying to live
before they are born; to become holy before they have
been justified ; and to lead others to conversion before they
have been converted themselves.

A second object is — to draw the attention of every
earnest, seeking, or anxious soul, to consider the Lord's
marvellous goodness in first bearing with me in my religious
wanderings, and then using me for His glory in the sal-
vation of hundreds.

Another desire I have is — to cheer the hearts of
believers who are working for God, by relating to them
what He has done through me, and can do again, by the
simple preaching of the Gospel. Here the reader will meet
with narratives of the Lord's work in individual cases, in
congregations, and in parishes — wonderful things which are
worthy of record.

I have not shunned to tell of the mistakes I fell into
after my conversion, hoping that others may take heed and
profit by them ; and then I shall not have written in vain.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I. PAGE

The Broken Nest — Illness — Recovery — Devotion . . • I

CHAPTER II.

Religious Life — '* Tracts for the Times "—Outward Profession . 8

CHAPTER III.
Ordination — First Parish— Country Choir— Church Restoration . l6

CHAPTER IV.
Perranzabuloe — The Lost Church Found— Cornish Crosses —

Ministry Rejected . . . . . .24

CHAPTER V.
New Parish— Temporary Church— Rev. R. S. Hawker — Baldhu

Church Built ....... 34

CHAPTER VL
Building from the Top — A Picture — Extempore Preaching— Rev.

J. Berridge's Experience — Awakening — The Happy Gardener 42

CHAPTER VII.
Visit to Rev. R. Aitken at Pendeen— " Are You Satisfied?"—
♦'The Parson's Converted I "—** God stop the Man that's
Wrong 1" • • • . • • .53



X CONTENTS,

CHAPTER VIII. PAGE

The Revival — Wonderful Scenes — Noisy Demonstrations . . 65

CHAPTER IX.
A Cornish Funeral — The Necessity of Conversion — A Visitor —

Solemn Conversation . . , . . •72

CHAPTER X.
The First Christmas— Schoolmaster's Conversion — The Clerk —

The Ringer ....... 80

CHAPTER XI.
Remarkable Dreams and Visions — Their Fulfilment . .87

CHAPTER XII.
Billy Bray — His Visit to the Parsonage — His Story — Unusual

Demonstration of Joy . . . , . -99

CHAPTER XIII.
Frank — His Wonderful Conversion — Cottage Meetings — The

*' Wise Woman " — Her Warnings . . . . IIO

CHAPTER XIV.
Open Air Ser^/ices — Preaching on Perran Beach — Letting Down
the Net— Fish Caught— The Young Lady— The Pet Kid—
Rose-in- Vale — Preaching in the Garden — The Coastguards-
men — Mount Hawke — Preaching on a Common — Remarkable
Manifestation of the Spirit's Work — A Continuous Meeting
for Eight Days. . . . . . .118

CHAPTER XV.
Two Professors of Religion — Their Conversion — Drawing-room
Meeting — The Mayor Saved — Meeting in Town Hall — The
Vicar's Disapproval . . . . . .128

CHAPTER XVI.
Offence of the Cross — Opposition — Clerical Meetings — Sermons —
Newspapers — Pamphlets — "Little Doggie Barking at an
Elephant " . . . . . . .134



CONTENTS, 3d

CHAPTER XVII. PAGE

Midnight Conversion — Popular Preacher — Not a Common Sinner
— The Broken Leg — Sins Forgiven — The Uncommon Sinner
— Revival ....... 14S

CHAPTER XVIII.
The Mill Pond and the Sea — Visit to Veryan — A Memorable Sun-
day—Service in a Fish Cellar — The Devil's Baits and Plooks 152

CHAPTER XIX.

Mission in the "Shires" — Devonshire — Dox-setshire — A Jesuit —
Preaching in a Minster — "Bring him Back 1 " — **Veiy
Remarkable I " . . . • • , l6l

CHAPTER XX.
A Lady from I^ondon to see a Revival — Reformation not Conver-
sion — The Child of God — A Relative — An Invitation . 173

CHAPTER XXL
Golant Mission — The Lord's Preparation — Water Party — Burning

an Effigy — Lecture on Pilgrim's Progress — Visit to a Neighbour 182

CHAPTER XXIL
The High Church Rector and his Curate — Dr. Pusey's Sermon —

Sam's Testimony — Dangerous Drive — Great Joy , « 193

CHAPTER XXIIL
Rev. R. Aitken in Staffordshire — Bishop of Lichfield — Invitation

— Preaching — Its Results ..... 201

CHAPTER XXIV.

Dissatisfaction with the Work — New Discoveries in the Bible —

Sanctification — The Dream ..... 208

CHAPTER XXV.
Believers' Hope opened to View— Popish Legend — Three Judg-
ments — The Tripod . , . . . .218



jdi CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXVI. PAGE

Invited to Plymouth — Three Mountains Removed — Resignation of

Baldhu — The Bishop's Refusal to Institute — Disappointment. 225

CHAPTER XXVII.

High-Church Services— The "Monk that Paints Apostles "—The

Dream of Fire — Christ, not the Crucifix , • . 234

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Devonport — Conversion of Two Clergymen — Rejection by their

Father Confessor — The Dying Lady — Removal to the Country 243

CHAPTER XXIX.
A Mission to the North of England — The Miner in Church —
Edward's Grave — Visit to C. — The Churchwarden — "Paul
Pry" — "Now or Never ! " — The Conversion of Mr. F. . 250

CHAPTER XXX.

Tregoney— Opposition— The Mud Patch — The Revival — The Vicar

and the M.P. — The Testimonial .... 264

CHAPTER XXXI.
Secessions to Rome — Their Mistake — False Interpretations of

Scripture — Instituted to a Living — Unsettled . , . 271

CHAPTER XXXn.
Removal to Hayle — Infidels — Determined to Preach Christ Cruci-
fied — Success of the Work — Remarkable Dream — All Night
Services ....... 278

CHAPTER XXXIH.
The Church — Dissolvir.g Views — Bible Classes — Grave Clothes . 290

CHAPTER XXXIV.
The Bethel Flag— Infidels' Club Broken Up— Raking the Cinders

— Convei'sion of an Infidel ..... 299

CHAPTER XXXV.
Rev. R. Aitken's Visit to Hayle — Its Great Result — Dismissal —
The Last Christmas— The Farewell . , " 310



FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.




rich.



CHAPTER I.

I84I.

T the time in which this history begins, I had, in
the providence of God, a very happy nest ; and
as far as temporal prospects were concerned, I
was provided for to my liking, and, though not
was content. I had taken my degree ; was about to



be ordained ; and, what is more, was engaged to be married :
in order, as I thought, to settle down as an efficient country
parson.

With this bright future before me, I went on very
happily; when, one evening, after a hard and tiring day,
just as I was sitting down to rest, a letter was put into my
hand which had been following me for several days. " Most
urgent " was written on the outside. It told me of the
alarming illness of the lady to whom I was engaged, and
went on to say that if I wished to see her alive I must set
off with all haste. It took me a very short time to pack
my bag and get my travelling coats and rugs together, so



2 FROM DEA TH INTO LIFE.

that I was all ready to start by the night mail. At eight
o'clock punctually I left London for the journey of two
hundred and eighty miles. All that night I sat outside the
coach ; all the next day ; and part of the following night. I
shall never forget the misery of mind and body that I ex-
perienced, for I was tired before starting; and the fatigue
of sitting up all night, together with the intense cold of the
small hours of the morning, were almost beyond endurance.
With the morning, however, came a warm and bright sun-
shine, which in some degree helped to cheer me ; but my
bodily suffering was so great that I could never have held
up, had it not been for the mental eagerness with which I
longed to get forward. It was quite consonant with my
feelings when the horses were put into full gallop, especially
when they were tearing down one hill to get an impetus to
mount another.

At length, the long, long journey was over ; and about
thirty hours after starting, I found myself staggering along
to the well-known house. As I approached, the door was
softly opened by a relative who for several days had been
anxiously watching my arrival. She at once conducted me
upstairs, to what I expected was a sick chamber, when, to
my horror, the first thing I saw was the lid of a coffin stand-
ing up against the wall, and in the middle of the room was
the coffin, with candles burnmg on either side.

I nearly fell to the ground with this tremendous shock
and surprise. There was the dear face, but it seemed
absorbed in itself, and to have lost all regard for me. It no
longer turned to welcome me, nor was the hand stretched
out, as heretofore, to meet mine. All was still ; there was
no smile — no voice — no welcome — nothing but the silence
of death to greet me.

The sight of that coffin, with its quiet inmate, did not
awaken sorrow so much as surprise ; and with that, some-



« THY WILL BE DONE P' 3

thing like anger and rebellion. I was weak and exhausted
in body, but strong in wilful insubordination. Murmuring
and complaining, I spoke unadvisedly with my lips.

A gentle voice upbraided me, adding, that I had far
better kneel down in submission to God, and say, " Thy
will be done ! " This, however, was not so easy, for the
demon of rebellion had seized me, and kept me for three
hours in a tempest of anger, filling my mind with hard
thoughts against God. I walked about the room in the
most perturbed state of mind, so much so, that I grieved
my friends, who came repeatedly to ask me to kneel down
and say, " Thy will be done ! " " Kneel down — just kneel
down ! " At length I did so, and while some one was
praying, my tears began to flow, and I said the words, " Thy
will be done ! " Immediately the spell was broken, and I
was enabled to say from my heart, again and again, " Thy
will be done ! " After this, I was conscious of a marvellous
change in my mind ; rebellion was gone, and resignation
had come in its place. More than that, the dear face in
the coffin seemed to lie smiUng in peace, so calm and so
lovely, that I felt I would not recall the spirit that was fled,
even if it had been possible. There was wrought in me
something more than submission, even a lifting-up of my
will to the will of God; and withal, such a love towards
Him that I wondered at myself God had been, as it were,
a stranger to me before. Now I felt as though I knew and
loved Him, and could kiss His hand, though my tears
flowed freely.

The funeral took place the same morning: it was a
time of great emotion ; sorrow and joy met, and flowed
together. I thought of the dear one I had lost, but yet
more of the God of love I had found ; and to remember
that she was with Him was an additional comfort to me.
The funeral service was soothing and elevating beyond



4 FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.

expression ; and yet, when it was all over, such a sense of
desolation came upon me, that I felt utterly forlorn and
truly sad.

My nest was now completely stirred up ; but instead of
bemoaning its broken state, I could see the eagle fluttering
over her young ones (Deut. xxxii. it). I was conscious
that God was looking on, and that He had not forsaken me
in this great wreck.

The strain and excitement I had undergone naturally
brought on an illness. I was seized with inflammation of
the lungs, and was dangerously ill. From this, and other
complications which supervened, the doctor pronounced that
I could not recover, and bade me prepare for eternity.

Judges and doctors, when they pass sentence of death,
seem to regard religion as a necessary preparation for it.
Too common, also, is this idea, even among those who do
not belong to these respected professions. My own opinion
was much the same at that time.

Having received this solemn warning, I took down the
Prayer-book, and religiously read over the office for the
Visitation of the Sick. I became so interested in this
exercise, that I determined to read it three times a day.
The prayer for a sick child especially commended itself to
my mind, so that, by changing a few words, I made it
applicable to my own case, and used it not only three, but
even seven, times a day. In substance, it petitioned that I
might be taken to heaven if I died ; or that, if it should
please God to restore my health. He would let me live to
His glory. I did not at that time expect my days would be
prolonged, nor had I any wish to live, for the world was
now perfectly blank and desolate to me. I felt as if I could
never be happy again; to be with God would be far better !

I little dreamed that if I had died in that unpardoned



HOPE OF RECOVERY, 5

and Chrlstless state, I should have been lost for ever ; for I
was profoundly ignorant of the necessity of change of heart
— perfectly unconscious that I must be born again of the
Spirit. This vital truth had never come to my mind ; I
felt a love for God, and in my ignorance I wished to die.

One morning the thought came to me, as I was sitting
all alone by the fire, " What have I been praying for ? —
that the Lord would take me to heaven if I died ; or, if I
lived, that He would let me live to His glory?" Why, this
is heaven both ways! — heaven in heaven, or heaven on
earth— whichever way it pleases God to answer my prayer.
Somehow I felt certain that He would answer it. I was
exceedingly happy, and could not help thanking Him.
From that day I began to feel better, and became impressed
with the idea that I was to live, and not die. The doctor
smiled at me when I told him so, for he did not believe it.
He, and two other physicians, had told me that my lungs
were diseased; indeed, six months afterwards, all three
sounded me, and declared that one lung was inoperative,
and the other much affected.

Yet, notwithstanding the doctor's discouraging announce-
ment — for he told me, also, that " it was one of the fatal
signs of consumption for the patient to feel or think he was
getting better "—I had a certain conviction that I was to
recover. As soon as the medical man had gone, I put on
my coat and hat, and went out for a walk. I trembled
much from weakness, and found it necessary to move very
slowly and stop often ; but under the shelter of a wall,
courting the warmth of the bright shining sun, I managed
to make my way to the churchyard.

While I was sitting there alone, the great bell struck out
unexpectedly, and caused me to shake all over ; for I was
in a very weak condition. It was the sexton tolling to
announce the departure of the soul of some villager from



6 FROM DEA TH INTO LIFE.

the world. Having done this, he came out with his boards
and tools to dig the grave. He did not observe me sitting
by ; so he at once commenced, and went on diligently with
his work. The ground had so often been broken before,
that it did not take him long to accomplish his task : he
gradually got deeper and deeper into the ground, till he
disappeared altogether from my sight. I crept to the
edge of the narrow pit in which he was, and looking into it, I
could not help thinking of those words of Kirke White —

*' Cold grave, methinks, 'twere sweet to rest
Within thy calm and hallowed breast ! "

I had no fear of death, but rather felt that I should wel-
come it even more than restoration to health.

I have even now a most vivid remembrance of this, and
place it on record to show how delusive are our feelings :
because I did not feel any danger, I took it for granted that
there really was none. That day, however, was an eventful
one in my life ; for, in the gladness of my heart, I gave
myself to God, to live for Him. I had given my will before,
and now I gave my life, and was happy in the deed. I did
not know at that time that faith does not consist in believ-
ing that I have given myself, even if I meant it ever so
sincerely ; but in believing that God has taken or accepted
me.

At the outset, I began with the former — a merely human
faith — and its result was consequently imperfect. I was
spiritually dead, and did not know it. Alas ! what multi-
tudes there are who are utterly unconscious of the fact of
this spiritual death, though there are few things more plainly
declared and revealed in the Word of God.

The full meaning of the word death is too often mis-
understood and overlooked. There are three khids referred
to in the Word of God— spiritual, natural, and everlasting.
The first is a separation of the soul from God ; the second,



DEA TH A ND LIFE 7

that of the body from the soul \ and the last, that of the
unbelieving man, body and soul, from God for ever.

It Vv^ill be seen that there is one characteristic which is
common to all three kinds — that is, separation; and that there
is no idea of finality — death is not the end. When the Lord
God created man, we suppose that He made him not merely
in the form of a body, but a man with body and soul com-
plete ; and afterwards that He breathed into this living man
the Spirit, and he became a living soul. As such, he com-
muned with the eternal God, v/ho is a Spirit. In this
spiritual state he could walk and converse with God in the
garden of Eden. When, however, he disobeyed the com-
mand which had been given to him, he incurred the tremen-
dous penalty. The Lord God had said, " In the day that
thou eatest of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil, thou shalt surely die." He did eat and he died there
and then ; that is, he forfeited that spirit which had quick-
ened his soul, and thus became a dead soul ; though, as we
know, he remained a living man for nine hundred years
before his body returned to its dust.

By his one act of disobedience, Adam opened in an
instant (as an earthquake opens a deep chasm) the great
gulf, the impassable gulf of separation which is fixed
between us and God. By nature, as the children of Adam,
we are all on the side which is away from God ; and we are
become subject also to the sentence pronounced against the
life of the body. We know and understand that wt? are
mortal, and that it is appointed unto men once to die ; but
we do not seem to be aware of the more important fact of
the death of our souls. Satan, who said to our first parents,
" Ye shall not surely die," employs himself now in deceiving
men by saying, " Ye are not dead ;" and multitudes believe
him, and take it for granted that it is actually true. Thus thev
go on unconcerned about this awful and stupendous reality.




CHAPTER II.

Erftgi0US life-

ITH returning health and strength, I did not think
of going back into the world, but rather gave
myself more fully to the purpose for which I sup-
posed that my life had been restored. I felt a
thankfulness and joy in my repovery, which confirmed me
more and more in my determination to live to the glory of
God.

When I was able to return to the South, I did so by
easy stages till I got back to the neighbourhood of London;
and there it was ordered that I should be shut up for the
remainder of the winter.

During this season of retirement, I spent my time most
happily in reading and prayer, and found great delight in
this occupation. I was able to say, with the Psalmist, " I
love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my
supplication;" and, like him, I could say, "I will call upon
Him as long as I live ; I will walk before Him in the land of
the living ; and I will take the cup of salvation and call
upon the name of the Lord." That is, in secret or private
life ; in social intercourse w4th my fellow-men ; and in the
worship of the sanctuary, I will seek the glory of God.



TURNING A NEW LEAF, 9

I used to have much pleasure every day in asking God
to give me a deeper sense of His love, that I might un-
feignedly thank Him, and show forth His praise with my
life as well as my lips.

All this, be it observed, was because God had saved not
my soul, but my life ; for as yet I had not, like the Psalmist,
felt any trouble about my soul. I knew nothing of what he
describes as the " sorrows of death and the pains of hell."
I had not been awakened by the Spirit to know the danger
and sorrow of being separated from God (which is spiritual
death). I was perfectly unconscious that between God and
myself there was the " impassable gulf" I have already
referred to, and consequently I had not experienced such
overwhelming anxiety as made the Psalmist cry out, "O
Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul." I knew nothing
of the necessity of passing from death to life, and therefore
I could not say, "The Lord has deHvered my soul from
death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling."

The only thing I knew was that God was good to me,
and therefore I loved Him, and was thankful, not for the
sake of getting His favour, but because I thought I had it.
I turned over a new leaf, and therewith covered up the
blotted page of my past life. On this new path I endea-
voured to walk as earnestly in a religious way, as I had
before lived in a worldly one.

This mistake into which I fell was natural enough, and
common as it is natural ; but for all this it was very serious,
and might have been fatal to me, as it has proved to multi-
tudes. I did not see then, as I have since, that turning over
a new leaf to cover the past, is not by any means the same
thing as turning back the old leaves, and getting them
washed in the blood of the Lamb.

I have said before that I did not know any better ; nor
was I likely to see matters in a clearer light from the line of



lo FROM DBA TH INTO LIFE.

study in which I was chiefly occupied. I was absorbed for
the time, not so much in the Bible as in the " Tracts for the
Times " — a publication which was engaging much attention.
These Oxford tracts suited me exactly, and fitted my tone of
mind to a nicety. Their object was the restoration of the
Church of England from a cold, formal condition, into
something like reality — from a secular to a religious state ;
this also was my own present object for myself I read
these writings with avidity, and formed from them certain
ecclesiastical proclivities which carried me on with renewed
zeal.

I suppose I learned from the perusal of them to inter-
pret the Bible by the Prayer-book, and to regard the former
as a book which no one could understand without the inter-
pretation of the Fathers. Certain it is, that I did not look
to the Bible, but to the Church, for teaching, for I was led


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Online LibraryW. (William) HaslamFrom death into life: or, Twenty years of my ministry → online text (page 1 of 23)