W. (William) Haslam.

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

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Israelites were on the defensive in the wilderness, and on
the aggressive on the other side of Jordan ; that they were
led by the cloud on the one, and by ^a living Person on the


other; that they were daily sustained with manna, as chiU
dren, on the one side, and ate the old corn of the land, as
men of Israel, on the other, besides sowing and reaping for
themselves. These striking marks of contrast excited much
inquiry, and not obtaining, with sufficient definiteness, the
satisfaction I sought, I went to the Lord about this, as
before. I confessed my shortcomings, and the defective-
ness of my teaching, and pleaded earnestly, " Lord, what
wouldst Thou have me to do ? What I know not, teach
Thou me ! "

Then I was brought into the deepest distress and per-
plexity of soul, to think that after my experience of conver-
sion, and all I had done for the conversion of others, I was
still such a vile, self-condemned sinner. I even began to
think that I had never been converted ; it appeared to me
that my whole life was nothing but intense selfishness ; that
I availed myself of the blood of Christ for my salvation and
happiness, and led others to do the same, rejoicing with
them in thus making use of God for the purpose of getting
quit of hell and gaining heaven. It was a clear case of
making God serve me, instead of my serving Him. Many
other things came to my mind, by which I knew there was
an immense gap between my experience and the Word of
God. I can see it all now ; but at the time it was very dark
and grievous.

When I had been under conviction before, at the time
of my conversion, it was, as it were, with my eyes shut ; but
now they were open : then I saw my sins, and the penalty
which was due to them ; now I saw my unrighteousness,
and the corruption of my nature. I felt as if I were two
persons, and that there was a law in my members warring
against the law of my mind, the flesh contending against the
Spirit. " O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me
from the body of this death ? " For a whole week I was in


great distress of mind, especially during the last three

On Sunday morning, as I was going to the early Com-
munion, my soul was set at liberty. I felt as if a great cloud
was lifted up ; the light shone into my soul ; and I had
deliverance. I was exceedingly happy in the knowledge
that the risen Christ Himself was my help — that He, who
had hidden His presence in a pillar of cloud and fire, now
was Himself present in Person, my omnipotent Friend and
Leader !

This was quite a new experience, and one I had not
known before. I thought that I had not even heard or read
of it, and therefore began to suspect whether it was a temp-
tation. I determined to be wise, and not commit myself
too soon, so made up my mind that I would not refer to
it in the pulpit. But at the close of the service a stranger
came into the vestry to thank me for my sermon ; and
when we were alone he put the question to me, " How long
have you known Sanctification ? "

I replied, " Do I know it now ? "

" Yes," he said, " you preached it experimentally this
morning ; and I shall be very much surprised if you have
not some inquiries on the subject before the day is out."

I felt reproved before this stranger's steady gaze, and
confessed that I had received the blessing that very morn-
ing ; but thinking that it might be a temptation, I had
determined to say nothing about it.

He said, "That was a temptation from the devil, sure
enough, to hinder you ; for the Lord spoke on this subject
through your sermon as clearly as ever I have heard. Do
not be afraid, but go on and tell others."

So in the evening I preached on Sanctification, and
we had an after-meeting in the schoolroom. Many
believers stayed behind to ask questions upon the


subject of my sermon. I do not remember how I replied to
them ; but imperfect as my statements must have been, it
nevertheless led others to desire to enter into the experience
of this same blessing.

TJie following morning, I happened to take up a tract
by John Fletcher, of Madeley, in which I read, that at a
breakfast party on the occasion of a wedding, to which he
was invited, just in the middle of idle and frivolous conver-
sation which was going on, he was constrained to rise up
and say, " I have three times had an experience of joy and
liberty, which I believe to be Sanctification, and it has
passed away; now that it has returned again, I take this
opportunity to testify." The company were all struck with
amazement ; the power of God was present ; and the festive
gathering was turned into a meeting for prayer and praise.
I took warning from this tract never to withhold my testi-
mony on this subject.

Soon after this, I was holding an afternoon Bible class
in another part of the parish ; we were going through St.
Luke's gospel, and had come to the fifth chapter; I said
with reference to the miraculous draught of fishes, that the
fish had been swimming about in their native element in
all quietness and freedom, till they came in contact with a
net, and it came in contact with them. Observe, I said,
three things : i. They are caught in the net. 2. They are
drawn out of their native element. 3. They are laid in the
boat, at the feet of Christ. So it is, where people are
caught in the Gospel net — this is conviction ; they are drawn
out of the state in which they were — this is conversion ; but
they are not yet in the state in which they should be, this is
why it is so hard to hold them : they ought to be drawn to
Christ Himself, for this is the ultimate object of catching
souls ; the one thing needful is to be brought to the feet of


I intentionally abstained from using the word
" Sanctification," though I was endeavouring to typify the
experience of it, and to contrast it with conversion. As I
went on speaking, a woman in the small assembly put up
her hands and began to shout and praise God, " That is
Sanctification ! " she cried ; " I have it ! I know it ! Praise
the Lord ! " There was a great stir in the class ; some cried,
and some asked questions. One woman, who was more
advanced in general knowledge and experience than most
of the others, declared, that she did not believe in Sanctifi-
cation, for she had known so many who professed to have
it, and had lost it. " Lost what ? " I said, " you cannot lose
an experience ; the joy of it may depart, and certainly does
where people rest on their feelings instead of the fact, on
the effect, instead of the cause." She confused the sancti-
fication of the believer, with the effect it produced on him.
The Spirit which works sanctification in our souls, can keep
us in it, if we continue to look to Him, instead of looking
at His work I said to her, what I have said ever since to
all who are inclined to argue on the subject : Believers too
often dispute about Sanctification, in the same manner as
the unconverted do on the subject of Justification. It is
not worth while for those who hiow, to contend with those
who only think. I told her to go home and pray about it,
and ask the Lord if He had anything more to give, to let
her have it.

She was sullen, and hard to persuade ; but after a little
rriore conversation and prayer, she consented to lay aside
her prejudice and do as I had told her. She did so, and
came again the next morning to see me. Fortunately, I
was not in my house, but shut up, as my custom was, in the
church for meditation and prayer. She followed me thither,
but being engaged with my Master, I answered no knocks
or taps, whether at the doors or windows; even on this


occasion I did not respond, although I heard some one walk
ing round and round the church, and knocking impatiently

for admittance. "When I came out, I heard that Hannah •

had called, and wished very much to see me ; for she
wanted (to use her own expression) '' to hug the dear head
of him, if she could catch him." She was happy beyond
expression, for she had had a dream ; and what is more,
she said that she had entered into the " second blessing."

In her dream she saw a well of water as clear as crystal ;
it w^as beautiful, and the clean pebbles at the bottom quite
glistened with brightness, so that she could count them.
*' There, there," she said, "What does any one want clearer
and cleaner than that ? " As she looked into this clear well,
my voice said to her, "Throw a pebble into it," when she did
so ; in an instant the water became thick and dirty. " Ah,"
said my voice again, " The water of grace is always clear as
crystal, but the well in which it is — that is your heart — is
most unclean. The Lord can give you a clean heart, and
renew a right spirit within you " (Ps. li. lo). She woke up
from her sleep, and immediately began to pray, asking the
Lord for a clean heart, until she obtained it.

Some may say, " But what did she obtain ? " This
question is seldom if ever asked by persons who know the
experience of this blessing ; but to those who do not, it is
very difficult to convey an idea of what it is by definitions.
Let it be enough to understand that there is something
desirable to be had, which may be obtained by doing as
this woman did. " As in water face answereth to face, so
the heart of man to man" (Prov. xxvii. 19). Those w^ho
know it, understand one another and rejoice together.
There is no such mutual sympathy and joy as that which
brethren have who are partakers of this higher blessing.

After this, Hannah became a restful, peaceful soul ; and
many others, with her, found that quiet confidence which

A NEW ERA. 217

can only belong to those who can and do trust a risen and
living Christ.

It was quite a new era in the work, and called out fresh
energies ; but like every new thing, it absorbed too much
attention, to the exclusion of the simple Gospel for the
unsaved. " Christ died for our sins," is only part of the
Gospel, though a very important part. " Christ rose again
the third day according to the Scriptures" (i Cor. xv. 3, 4),
is also a part, which should not be omitted in its due time
and place. These two important truths, I am sure, are
needful for scriptural work, and they should both be
systematically preached.



T was indeed a great mistake to supersede the
preaching of the truth as it is in Jesus for the
forgiveness of sins, with the higher subject of the
risen Christ. In the freshness of this new-found
truth, and thinking that the want of it was the secret of our
depression, I was urged on to press it upon the people, and
took in connection with it the hfe and walk of the believer.
I exhorted my hearers to pray with me, that God would
cleanse our hearts, and even our very thoughts, " by the
inspiration of His Holy Spirit, that v/e might perfectly love
Him, and worthily magnify His name." This suited some
of the earnest and devoted people; but the majority did not
think Sanctification essential to salvation — salvation was all
they wanted and all they cared for ; nothing else, they said,
was necessary.

It was a time of bright light and dull darkness. I was
very happy — also disappointed. It was as if the influence
God had given me in the parish, and on the people as a
whole, was being taken away, and that I was not to be the
leader any more. I did not see this at the time, nor indeed
did I wish to do so, for I thought I had found in this


place my life-work and my sphere of labour. I had even
selected a piece of ground in the churchyard for the final
resting-place of the weary body.

One day a Christian friend came on a visit, and we had
much sympathy and communion together, and discussed
all these subjects. He begged me to be patient with the
people, as God had been with me, and exhorted me not to
scold or discourage them, but rather to lead them out of
the low standard of truth in which they lived to a higher
and deeper one. His visit was a great comfort at this
juncture, and encouraged me very much ; but before leav-
ing he plunged me into another gulf of difficulty. At the
railway station, as he was going away, he said to me,
** Brother, do you believe the Lord is coming again ? "

"Certainly," I replied.

" What will He come for, do you think ? "

"Why," I said, "to judge the quick and the dead, of
course." Seeing he was not satisfied, I added, " What else
would you have me say ? "

He replied quietly, " I thought you would say that ; but
there is not time to speak about it now. Good-bye ! good-
bye ! " And so saying, he stepped into the train, and was
soon out of sight. I was left behind, wondering what he
could mean.

One morning the postman brought me a packet of
tracts on the Second Coming; but somehow I did not
connect this with my friend's question. I merely thought
that they were some " Plymouth" effusions, and put them
aside. Then a stranger came to church, and, in conversa-
tion after the service, asked me if I would read a little
book, and give him my opinion of it. It was called "Jesus
Comes Quickly." But even this did not enlighten me.
I told him that I thought the writer considered the end of
the world very near, but that I did not care to dwell on


such gloomy subjects while we had the brightness of a
present Saviour before us. Thus I went on a little longer,
till one morning I awoke with a strong impression on my
mind that I ought to read those tracts which had been
sent me. I therefore rose earlier than usual, and taking up
the packet, went into the church to consider them. The
first one I read was on Prophecies concerning the Lord
Jesus, in which the writer modestly stated that it was rea-
sonable to suppose that those predictions which had not
yet been accompUshed would certainly be so ; and that, as
literally and distinctly as those which had been fulfilled.
If the prophecies concerning the Lord's humiliation were
fully accomplished — and they did literally pierce His hands
and feet, stood staring and looking at Him, parted His
garments among them, and cast lots for His vesture ; if He
actually had His death with the wicked and His grave with
the rich — (what impenetrable enigmas these must have
been in the old time ! The very angels desired to look
into these things, and could not see them) — if, then, these
were so absolutely fulfilled, we may expect other distinct
prophecies to be so, at least as fully and clearly. He who
came in "weakness" shall come in "power;" He who came
" lowly, and riding upon an ass," shall come " in the clouds
of heaven ; " and " His feet shall stand upon the Mount of
Olives." These are the words of Scripture.

The tracts spoke of the Lord's coming for His saints,
and then with them, to deliver His people the Jews, and
eventually to convert the Gentiles.

I. He said in John xiv., "I go to prepare a place for you,"
and " I will come again and receive you unto Myself" This
departure of the Lord referred, not to His death, but to His
ascension into heaven, where He is now engaged making
intercession, and whence He will come to change our vile
bodies, and take us to Himself, that we may be ever with


the Lord. I was as one awaking from a dream when my
eyes were open to see these things. I had had an idea that
the Jews were all done with, and that there was nothing
more to come but the last Judgment. But now I saw that
the Jews were to return to their own land ; that Jerusalem
was to be rebuilt, and even to be besieged by a great army !
(I had thought that this was all over long ago) ; that in the
midst of the terrible siege the Lord would come, and by His
appearing convert the people, a whole nation in a day, and
deliver them by the destruction of their enemies; that
there was to be a restitution of all things, and a Millennial
reign (Zech. xiv. ; Rev. xx.).

Altogether I had come into a new region of thought, and
wondered where I had been all my life, that I had never
seen these things. How could I have misunderstood or
overlooked such clear and plain Scripture words ? It was
surprising. I gave up all engagements that day, and
applied myself to investigating texts, and read over again
the tracts which had been sent me; they were well
selected, and referred all statements to the Bible itself for

Before I saw the Christian hope, I had, instead of it,
some idea about dying and going to heaven, "where the
wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."
As to my body, I expected that it would rise at the last day
— that great day of doom, when the trumpet would sound,
and there would be a simultaneous resurrection of all, good
and bad. I expected that, as a saved one, I should then
enter into a higher glory than that of the intermediate state.
I had no idea of expecting Christ as a Bridegroom, or of look-
ing forward with hope and joyful anticipation to His coming,
as an event which might be expected at any moment. I
thought the coming of the Lord, the Judgment, and " the
end of things created," were one and the same thing; and as


I was sure they were not likely to happen in my time, I did
not bestow much consideration on them. Such a "coming"
was not an object of hope, but of dread and wonder, accord-
ing to the common tradition which I had received. Like too
many others, I confused together the judgment of beUevers
for their works (2 Cor. v. 10), the judgment of the quick or
living nations (Matt. xxv. 31 — 46), and the judgment of the
wicked dead at the solemn "great white throne" (Rev.
XX. 12). I had not the remotest idea that these three judg-
ments referred to three classes of persons, and were distinctly
separate from one another. I was profoundly in the dark
about the believer's hope, and therefore confused in my igno-
rance — the Parousia, the Apocalypse, and the Epiphaneia.
In short, the coming of the Lord at any time, to take up His
saints, and to reward them according to their works, was not
the object of my hope. I was looking rather for a Judge than
a Bridegroom.

I felt now that I had possession of a secret which very
few would believe, and I could not help seeing the startled
or suspicious look with which people regarded me, when I
ventured to utter it. I saw and felt another thing, that when-
ever I referred to prophetic subjects in preaching, I lost hold
of the people, and their attention was gone. I was perplexed;
for I wondered that God did not help me in this, as He did
in the Gospel truth which I proclaimed. I could not doubt
these truths ; for the more I read the Word of God, and par-
ticularly the prophetic parts, the more firmly convinced I
was about them. For some passages could have no other
signification than that, which they Hterally declared. The
Christian hope, that Christ was coming, in person, to take us
to Himself to live with Him for ever, was a most cheering
prospect, and brought the Saviour Himself more vividly
before the mind.

To think that soon (and no one knows how soon) I shall


see Him, and be like Him, stirred me up to consider what
manner gf person I ought to be, who had such a hope as
this. Instead of death and hell, heaven and judgment, it
was Christ in His coming glory which filled my mind. I
began to lose faith and interest in hymns which referred to
Christ as the Judge of all ; for, as a Christian, I was looking
for a Bridegroom, and not a Judge. Nor could I follow the
prayers of people who spoke of a judgment to come ; for I
beheved that Christ had been judged and punished for us,
that we might not come into the Judgment (John v. 24).

Perhaps the time was not then come for the people to
receive this truth. The midnight cry, " Behold the Bride-
groom Cometh !" was not yet gone forth to them, and there-
fore they slumbered on in their indifference to this teaching.
I felt I was separated from the people, and that they were
drifting away from me. I had a truth which-they would not
receive. There was unrest, and the work did not go on
smoothly or happily as before.

A vessel which is constructed to stand upon three feet
cannot stand upon one, or even upon two, without being
propped up. When propped and stayed up, it will stand, to
be sure, in some way ; but there is effort and agency super-
added, which would be needless if the vessel were allowed
to rest by itself, upon its own feet. So it is with the Chris-
tian. He is intended to rest in Christ, in a threefold way :
as the object of Faith, and Love, and Hope. No man can
really and truly rest upon one, or even two, of these without
taking from God's word, Or adding to it. In ordinary life he
cannot be happy if he does not trust, and love, and hope.
Imagine a man who can trust no one ; how harassed and dis-
tressed he is with suspicions ! Or suppose he is trustful ; yet
if he does not love anybody or anything, his present life is
marred by an insipid and dull selfishness. Or take one who


is trustful even to credulity ; but suppose he has no hope, his
future is black, and dark with forebodings, in trying to look
into the terrible clouds of darkness which stand before him.

So much for man in his finite life. But when we remem-
ber that he is created for infinity and eternity, and has life
which is to endure for ever, how much more needful is it for
him to have these three Christian graces combined — faith,
charity, and hope ! By this I mean, Christ the object of Faith,
for salvation ; Christ Himself the object of Love, for devotion
and service ; and Christ in His coming glory, the object of
Hope, for separation from the world.

A man must have the first, or he is not saved at all ; for
there is no Saviour and no salvation but in Christ, whether
it be from the penalty, or from the power of sin. " This is a
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ
Jesus came into the world," and is here still, "to save
sinners" (i Tim. i. 15). He is the only one who can, and
does save ; and, moreover, this honour He never gives to

Next, to a person who has Christ's work before him,
surely nothing less than a personal Christ can be a suffi-
cient incentive for the devotion of his life and energies.

Then again, if Christ is the object of faith and love, a
believer cannot be satisfied with anything less for the object
of hope ; and therefore Christ, in His coming glory, is set
before him for this purpose.

I can see all this plainly enough now, but there was a
time when I could not do so.


HEN I was on the eve of leaving Perranzabuloe,
and before I knew that I was to go, I felt there
was a gulf between the people and myself What-
ever else they held, they were quite ignorant
of ecclesiastical antiquities, Church history, and Catholic
truth ; what is more, they were unwilling to learn about
such matters.

Now I began to feel that another gulf was opening
between my present people and myself It was not as before,
about ecclesiastical things ; but on another score altogether.
I wanted them to believe in a living Saviour : they were
trying to content themselves with salvation instead. I
wanted them to trust the Giver : they preferred to rejoice
in the gift. I longed to lead them on to trust Christ as the
object of faith, and from this to go on to devote themselves
to His service, for very love of Him — to be loosed from the
present world, by the hope of the Lord's coming. I could
not get the people to receive this teaching, though it was
God's truth, and could be verified by the Word.

I confess that this threefold truth was not so satisfying


to my own soul as I expected it would be. I remembered
that I had not learned it from men or books, but experi-
mentally, by God's teaching, in answer to prayer. I could
not imagine what was wanting, and did not discover, for
several years after, that the mere knowledge of a truth by
itself, even though it is about Christ, cannot deliver. It is
not the truth of Christ that delivers, but the Christ of the
truth. In itself, it is but an instrument in the hand of the
Spirit ; and our expectation should be not from it, but from
the Divine Person, whose it is.

I have found out that the power is Christ Himself; that
where He is really the object of faith. He keeps the believer
in peace ; and that if there is no peace, it is only because
there is a deficiency of trust : that He, as the object of

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Online LibraryW. (William) HaslamFrom death into life: or, Twenty years of my ministry → online text (page 16 of 23)