W. (William) Haslam.

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

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dressed them collectively, giving the ordinary instruction
to seeking souls. In the afternoon we had a still larger
number, and in the evening a crowded congregation ; in
this way the work continued, with three services a day
throughout the week, accompanied with remarkable conver-
sions every day.


Among the number of those who attended were a surgeon,
his wife and brother, and the wife of a respectable yeoman.
These, together with several more from the village on the
other side of the river, were converted to God. Their rector
was amazed to see them so changed, and wondered by what
process this was accomplished. He attended an afternoon
service, and was astonished to see so many people present
on a week-day. Afterwards introducing himself, he asked
me very politely, "What is the secret of all this?" He said,
*' I have heard you preach, and certainly do not agree with
most part of what you said, nor do I see anything either in
your manner or matter which can account for this effect and
work amongst the people. I must say, I cannot ask you to
my pulpit, but I should much like a talk with you. Will you
come over to luncheon with me ? "

I liked the candour and gentlemanly bearing of the man,
and wished to go, but could not fix a time while I was so
much occupied; so I promised I would write, and offer
him a visit when I had more leisure.

In addition to the three services in church, we had
another in the morning at seven o'clock, in the town where
I slept. There we gathered the anxious ones who had been
at the church the night before, and had come away early on
account of the distance. The little town was all in a com-
motion, and the vicar in this place was beginning to get
furious about my holding this meeting in his parish ; his
daughter, in particular, went about warning the people
against attending it. Some young men hired a four-oared
boat to come to the evening service, intending to disturb
the congregation. They arrived in good time, but, for all
that, they were too late to get a seat. One young man, the
ringleader of the party, instead of causing a disturbance,
stood still and listened most attentively. I preached that
evening from the words, "And the door was shut," referring


to the ark, and the awful desolation and doom of those who
were shut out. All the time I was preaching, I could see
this same man standing before the pulpit, with his elbow
leaning on the end of a high pew. He maintained this
position throughout the service, and at the end of the
sermon was still there, rigid and stiff, looking at the pulpit
as if in a trance. He would not move or speak ; there he
stood, till we feared he had gone out of his mind. His
companions were awed, and took him away as well as they
could, but did not embark on their return journey till after
midnight, and then the tide was against them.

Soon after they had started, the wind rose, and there
came on a great storm ; the thunder was loud, and the
flashes of lightning awful. The wind became so strong and
violent, that, in spite of all their efforts, the boat was
stranded ; they managed, however, to get out and pull it out
of the water, and took refuge for a time under overhanging
rocks on the shore. The young man continued as one
stunned, and said nothing. There they remained till
between four and five o'clock in the morning, when the
storm abated, and they were able to set out again. At last
they succeeded in reaching home.

While these unfortunate young men were battling with
the elements, we went home by land and had a night's rest,
though it was but a short one. I rose and went to my meet-
ing at seven o'clock, and on arriving found the room quite
full, there being only one chair unoccupied. As I stood to
speak, this seat remained vacant, so I beckoned a young
man who was standing at the door to come and take it. He
looked worn and sad, and I thought I recognized in him
the same young man I had noticed the previous night, and
who, I was told, was the ringleader of the party who came
in the boat with the purpose of disturbing the meeting. He
sat down, sighing heavily several times.


Almost directly a man came forward and whispered to
me, '' You have a wolf near you — take care ! "

" All right," I said : *' he is tame enough now ; there is
no more bite in him."

*' Yes, yes," said the young man, overhearing us, " no
more wolf O God, change me to a lamb ! "

Poor fellow ! he was in great trouble all day, and fainted
away several times before he found peace, which he did
very clearly. He came to the evening meeting, shouting
** Hallelujah ! " and stirred us all greatly. Several others
of the same party \vere also converted.

The news of this made some of the town's people
furious ; and, being the fifth of November, they consoled
themselves by making a straw effigy to represent me. They
put on it a sheet in place of a surplice, with a paper mitre
on its head, and, setting it on a donkey, carried it through
the town, accompanied by a crowd of men and boys, who
shouted at the top of their voices, " Here goes the Puseyite
revivalist ! Here goes the Puseyite revivalist ! Hurrah !
Hurrah !" In this complimentary sport the curate and one
of the churchwardens took part.

That same night this churchwarden (who, I should say,
had been one of the boating party two nights before) had a
dream. He dreamt that his house was full of people, just
like the church he had been in ; all the rooms, the staircase,
and even his own bedroom, were filled with people standing.
There was a tremendous storm of wind and rain ; the
thunder rolled, and the lightning flashed. In the midst of
this a voice said to him, " This is all about you, you sinner!"
He awoke up out of his sleep in a terrible fright, and began
to cry to the Lord to have mercy on his soul.

I was sent for before five o'clock in the morning to come
and see him, for his friends said that they thought he would
go out of his mind. Instead of this, he came to his right


mind, for the Lord heard and answered his prayer, and
brought him from darkness into light, and from the power of
sin and Satan unto God. He went with me to the early
morning meeting ; there we had the two chief leaders of the
riotous party in a changed condition, for which we heartily
thanked God.

Their friend, the curate, was very excited and angry
about this, and did not quite know who to blame. He said
that he would write to the Bishop and tell him what was
going on ; and I believe he did not fail to carry out this
intention. As there were many who, from various causes,
were unable to go four miles to an evening service, I
managed to secure the Town Hall for a course of lectures
on the " Pilgrim's Progress." The curate came to the first,
and, after hearing the lecture, stood up to speak, and gave
vent to his feelings by saying a great many very angry
things. The people were so indignant, that I could scarcely
restrain them from laying hands on him to turn him out.

Some of the old forms and seats in the Town Hall
(which was not accustomed to be so crowded) broke down
with the weight of people. The vicar's daughter suggested
that most likely they should hear next that " the forms and
seats were converted, for she had been told already that they
were broken down.''^ This little straw will show which way
the wind blew in that quarter, and what was the drift of this
lady's mind.

My friend with whom I was staying was evidently much
perplexed, and found himself let in for far more than he
had calculated when he invited me. Pie certainly would
never have asked me had he foreseen such an upset as
there was everywhere, especially in the town in which he
lived, and the country parish of which he was vicar.

At last he made up his mind to take me with him to
consult a clerical neighbour, upon whose judgment he


greatly relied. On our way a sudden thought of misgiving
came over him ; he all at once turned to me and said, " I
say, my friend, I'll be done with you altogether if you say
Mr. is not converted ! "

" Then," I replied, " you may be sure I will not say it."

" But suppose you think so ? "

"Well, I must confess I think so already, and not
without good reason (at least, to my mind), for he has taken
no interest whatever in this remarkable work of God, nor
has he shown the least sympathy in the spiritual welfare of
many of his parishioners, who have received blessing at the
meetings. His High Church neighbour, who does not pro-
fess to be converted, could not help coming over to ask
about it, while your friend has never been near, nor even
sent to make inquiry. Besides this, one of his own people
told me that he was much put out, and very angry with you
for asking me."

" Ah," said my friend, " we are not all revivalists like
you, remember."

" Well," I said, " let me hope you are a deal better than
I am."

He seemed very uneasy at taking me on after this con-
versation ; but as he had written to say we were coming, he
thought we must go forward. In order to ease his mind, I
made an agreement with him that during luncheon I would

tell about the conversion of one of Mr. 's parishioners,

and said, " While I do so, you watch his face. If he is at
all interested, I will conclude that I am wrong, and that he
is converted ; but if he is not, I will leave you to judge for
yourself I must say, I cannot understand a converted man
not interested in the conversion of others, even if it d3cs
nothing more than remind him of his own."

My friend agreed to this, and seemed somewhat relieved
in his mind.


On our arrival, Mr. received us courteously, and

asked after the family — indeed, about everything he could
think of but the work.

My friend, after a little pause, said, " Have you not
heard of the revival ? "

" Revival ! " he said, calmly. " What is that ? "

" The special services in my church."

" What services ? "

This evidently was enough. He went out of the room
to try and hurry the luncheon. My friend looked very
thoughtful, and said nothing, but was clearly beginning to
suspect that the judgment I had formed was not far wrong.

In course of the luncheon I told my story, but not
without being interrupted over and over again by the host's
attentions, and importunities to "take more vegetables."
" Have you any salt ? " " Will you take some bread ? "
"Will you not take a glass of wine ? " It was quite evident
he wished the story at an end.

My friend said, " That is one of your parishioners he is
talking about."

" I suspected so," he replied. " All I can say is, that if
Mr. Haslam had only known that man as long as I have, he
would never speak of him as he does. This is not the first
profession he has made. He has been reformed and changed
several times before this, and has always become worse

"That is just the very thing Haslam says," said my
friend — " that some reformations are all flesh, and not the
work of God ; and, as such, can never stand. I believe the
man to be converted by God this time."

" We will see— we will see," said our host, quietly helping
himself to a glass of wine. " For my own part, I don't
believe in these things."

My friend and I exchanged looks. I was silent, but he


continued, " I am bound to say that / was never converted
before, nor yet my wife, my daughter, or my sister."

" What ! " said the vicar, starting, " you mean your sister
Mary? Well, that is enough! I don't wish to hear
another word about your conversions after that ! I can

only say that if I were half as good as Mrs. S , I should

be well satisfied."

" Well, now," replied my friend, " do come over and see
her, and hear what she has to say about it herself."

" No, thank you," he replied ; " I have no desire to
interfere in such matters."

There the conversation stopped, leaving a wall of sepa
ration between the two clerical brothers, who had together
professed to be Evangelical, and cordially hated sacra-
mental religion. They had also professed to believe in
salvation hy faith only; but for all this they never urged upon
their people to perform any acts of faith — they only expected
them to receive the doctrine. I found that such people
opposed me and my work a great deal more than even High
Church men.

My friend and I returned home, and he told his wife and
sister the result of our visit. They said that they were not
surprised, for they had made up their minds on the subject,
and were quite sure that Mr. had no personal expe-
rience, though he was so intelligent about the doctrine of
salvation by faith.

The work, in the meantime, went on and spread. Some

of the people came over from Mr. 's parish to ask me

to come and preach to them in a large sail-loft, which they
had prepared for the purpose. My friend would not consent
to my going, and I was obliged to give them a refusal. The
next day they sent again, not to ask me to preach, but if I
would just come over to visit a sick man who was anxious
about his soul. My friend hesitated at this also. I said,


"Why do you object to my going to see the poor fellow?
You took me to the vicarage to talk to the vicar himself;
surely you can let me go and do the same thing to one of
his parishioners."

" No," he said, " I cannot ; that is quite a different

Seeing that he was unwilling, and that it would displease
him, I gave it up, and went to the messengers and said,
"I cannot go."

They were not satisfied, and asked " if the ladies would
please to go ; " meaning my late dear wife and Mrs. S. (Mary),
whom they had seen working in the after-meetings.

My friend did not see any objection to the ladies going,
and the men seemed better pleased than if I had gone.
They visited the sick man the next day, and after that were
asked " just to come and speak to a few people up here " —
that was, in the adjoining sail-loft. On entering this place,
to their astonishment they saw about three hundred people
sitting quietly waiting.

" What is this ? " asked my wife.

The man said, " I only asked a i^^, but all those people
are come. Do give them just a word." She had never yet
ventured on addressing a large company like that, and Mary
was shocked at the idea; but still, they were afraid to
refuse ; so they mounted the carpenter's bench, which was
placed there with two chairs on it ; and after a hymn and
prayer, Mrs. H. gave an address, which Mary told me after-
wards " was far better than anything I ever preached."
They had an after-meeting, and some conversions, and
promised to come over again. Thus the work spread to
another part, and I had to go there also.

Poor Mr. was very excited about this, and said

that he *' thought it most ungentlemanly." I daresay it
was, and that I was somewhat uncouth ; but I never stop


to consider prejudices and fancies when the Lord's work is
in the way.

It was a widespread and remarkable awakening, and one
not without much opposition and jealousy. I happened to
say from the pulpit, that at one time before I knew the truth
I used to be quite a popular man : people liked me, and
clergymen let me preach in their pulpits ; but now that I
had something to tell for the good of souls, they seemed to
agree to keep me out. Very few were so bold as the vicar
of this parish, who had not only invited me, but stood by
me also.

A neighbouring clergyman, who was an important man — •
a prebendary, and what not — wrote to the vicar to ask if it
was true that I had said in the pulpit that my clerical
brethren scouted me, and would not let me preach for

The vicar very wisely handed the indignant prebendary's
letter over to me to answer, which I did. In my reply, I
took the opportunity to put in some Gospel teaching, which
was supposed to be very irrelevant matter, and counted
evasive. I did not deny that I had said something to the
effect of which he complained, but I pleaded in extenuation
that I was justified in doing so. He was more enraged by
my letter than by the report he had heard, and threatened
to publish the correspondence. This he did, with a letter
to his parishioners, in which he warned them against revivals
in general, and me in particular. He told them that I
was " infatuated ;" that I had " usurped the judgment seat
of Christ;" that I was " the accuser of the brethren ;" that I
** acted the devil's part now, and was to be his companion
hereafter." I thought of giving more choice extracts from
this publication, but on second thoughts I consider it better
to pass it over.



ET bygones be bygones. I am thankful to say
times are changed, but the letter referred to in
the last chapter, though expressing the sentiments
of one man, yet showed the feeling of many
others. I do not complain of it, for I must say I rather like
the outspoken opposition of the natural heart ; it is far
better, and much less trying, than smiling indifference or
hollow assent.

The work which began in this part went on and spread.
The refusal of the clergy to take it up sent it to the chapels,
where it was continued for miles round. For this reason I
was charged then, and have been since, with encouraging
Dissent, but the accusation sits very lightly on me, for I
know what I would rather have. Nothing would please me
so well as to have the clergy converted, and taking up the
work; but if they will not, then I would rather that the
Dissenters had the benefit, than that it should die out and be
lost. Dissent makes division, but it is necessary for vitality,
under present circumstances, and counteracts the great evil
of spiritual death. The light of God ought to be in the


Church of England, for it is the Lord's candlestick in this
land ; but when the truth is not represented, and the Church
is dark, it is a mercy that God has been pleased to raise up
witnesses for Himself in other bodies.

The Calvinist, with a needless bitterness, holds up God's
sovereignty, as if man's will were not free ; the Arminian
is equally energetic for man's responsibility, as if God were
not sovereign ; and the Quaker is a witness for the work of
the Spirit. These, and several others, each maintain their
particular doctrine. They are raised up to show respectively
their own portion of the light, because the Church, which
has in her formularies all these great truths, is remiss in her
duty. The full blaze of light which ought to be emitted
from her to all sides, is shed upon her in detail from others ;
and her members are too often lighted from without, and
not from within.

In many parishes there was no light, and no life or testi-
mony in the Church ; and had it not been for the chapels,
men and women might have perished in ignorance and

Imperfect and erroneous as was some of the Gospel which
was preached in chapels and rooms, there was more vitality
in it, and also more saving power, than in the refined and
critical teaching which emanated from many of the accre-
dited and accepted preachers of the land. Where the
Church was rising up into energetic action, in too many
cases it had a sectarian, and not a catholic object — that is
to say, it was aiming to make Churchmen and communi-
cants, or members of guilds, instead of proclaiming the
Gospel for the salvation of souls.

The sovereignty of God, the resoonsibility of man, and
the work of the Holy Ghost, were frequently altogether
overlooked, although this is the true catholic teaching. In
this I comprehend not only the bringing of souls from the


power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgive-
ness of sins, but also that behevers might go on to have
"an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith
in Christ Jesus." Churchism, with its sacramentahsm, is as
sectarian as any form of Dissent, Romanism included ;
for it falls short of God's object, as declared in the

When the work at Golant church abated, I had more
time for looking about ; so I proffered a visit to the High
Church rector, who had asked me to come over and tell
him the secret of my success. He readily fixed upon a
day, so I went over to luncheon ; after which we began to
talk. The curate, who was present, and who had heard
some ranters shouting and screaming in the "shires," kept
on every now and then putting in a word of caution to
restrain the rector from admitting too much; for little by
Httle he was yielding to me. I spoke of letting down the
nets for a draught, and catching men, not to smother and
kill them in some Church system, or by some erroneous
teaching, but to keep them alive. " This," I said, " is the
meaning of the word in the original ;" and we looked it out
in the Greek. It was very interesting. We then talked over
the difference between the Church system and that of the
Bible. The one, I said, makes apostoUc succession and
the sacraments the channel of salvation; the other the
Word of God, as applied by the Holy Ghost.

We had a great battle on this point, two against one ;
but having the Word of God on my side, I stood by my
experience. I had myself been on the other side, and was
then ten times more zealous and earnest than these two
were. I said, " I used to preach salvation by Church and
sacraments once, but I was not saved that way. I used
also to teach that the new birth was by Baptism ; but I was
not born again when I was baptized. Were you i Are you


quite sure that, with all your faith in B iptismal Regeneration,
you are born again of the Spirit ? Are you satisfied that
you are now saved because you are in the Church?"

They were dumb. So I went on to say, '' I have no
party or sectarian object in my work ; my only desire is to
bring souls to Christ Himself for salvation. I used, as a
priest, to think I was mediator between Christ and the
sinner, and that I had received by delegation some power
for this purpose; but now that I have been over the
ground experimentally, I would as soon blaspheme God in
your presence, as dare to absolve a sinner, or come between
Christ and him. My orders are to bring them from the
power of Satan to God, and to Christ crucified, for forgive-
ness of sins."

At this point, the rector brought out a printed sermon
by Dr. Pusey, on Justification by Faith, which he had been
carefully reading. I asked him to read it to me. The
first few pages contained statements of the doctrine in New
Testament words, with a fair exposition of them ; but when
the author came to his own thoughts about the subject,
he said that Baptism was the cause of justification. Here
I challenged the statenient, and said, "Have you any
references there — any ' stars ' or ' daggers ' to that ? "

''Yes," he answered, "references to the Fathers."

I replied, that "the Fathers were not inspired. There is no
such thing as ' Justification by Baptism ' in the Scriptures ;
it is by faiih only, as you will see in the fifth chapter of the
Epistle to the Romans."

"Yes," he said, "that is just what Dr. Pusey means —
Faith, as shown in Baptism."

" Then," I said, " according to that, in your Baptism
you were justified by Faith ; and as a consequence you have
peace with God, and have access into grace, and rejoice in
the hope of the glory of God. You will see that St. Paul


connects this experience with what he calls Justification
by Faith. Evidently he did not expect so much from
Baptism as you do, or for a certainty he would have bap-
tized every one he could reach ; but, instead of this, he
thanked God that he had Only baptized a few persons
whom he named (i Cor. i. 14 — 17). He had gone about
for three years, teaching the Ephesian Christians, even with
tears, and he called them to witness, not that he had ad-
ministered the sacraments, and done priestly work among
them, but that he had ceased not to teach, and to preach,
* repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus
Christ'" (Acts xx. 21).

My two High Church friends were not convinced,
though they could not answer me. It was a question in
their minds who was right, Dr. Pusey, or this " Fanatical

" Come," I said, " there is your man-servant outside in
the garden ; he was converted two weeks ago ; and though
he cannot read, I feel sure he knows more about this
experience than the author of that learned sermon. Let us
call him in, and read a few pages."

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Online LibraryW. (William) HaslamFrom death into life: or, Twenty years of my ministry → online text (page 14 of 23)