W. (William) Haslam.

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

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hood, but I never heard that he declared himself

By this time, while I was still in Tregoney, Mr. Aitken
had found his way to the village where my family were
lodging, and he was preaching at the church with his usual
power and effect. Night after night souls were awakened
and saved. The vicar's wife was in a towering rage of
opposition. Poor woman ! she declared that she " would
rather go to Rome than be converted ; " and to Rome she
went, but remained as worldly as ever.

It matters very little whether unconverted people join
the Church of Rome or not ; they are sure to be lost for
ever if they die in their unconverted state : for nothing
avails for eternal salvation but faith in the Lord Jesus




FTER the mission which Mr. Aitken had held,
people came out so decidedly, that the vicar and
curate, who had all along kept aloof, doubting,
fell back into a kind of revulsion, and began to
read and lend Romish books. Eventually, they themselves
decided to join the Church of Rome. Whether they were
ever really converted or not, I cannot tell. I thought and
hoped they were, but they seldom stood out on the Lord's
side. They certainly had light, and may have had some
experience. At any rate, they chose such a harlot as the
Church of Rome for the object of their love, instead of Christ

I loved the curate. He was the man who had the
unopened letter in his desk,* of which he harboured such a
dread. Sad to say, he ended by falling away at last. Poor
man ! he went over to Rome, and never held up his head
any more. Evidently disappointed, and ashamed to come
back, he lingered on for some months, and then died.

* See page 264.


Not long after his secession, we accidentally met in a
quiet lane, in another part of the county, where I was
walking for meditation. Perhaps he was led there for the
same purpose. Meeting so unexpectedly, there was no
opportunity to evade one another. I felt a trembling come
over me at seeing him, and he was none the less moved.
We held each other's hands in silence, till at last I said,
"How are you? I love you still."

" I cannot stand it ! " he said ; and snatching his hand
out of mine, he ran away.

I never saw him again, but mourned for him till he died.
I cannot help thinking that he is safe, and that he died in a
faith more scriptural than that of the Church of Rome.

Why do men secede, and break their own hearts, and
the hearts of those who love them ? Rome seems to cast a
kind of spell upon the conscience, fascinating its victims
much as the gaze of the serpent is said to hold a bird, till it
falls into its power ; or as a light attracts a moth, till it flies
into it, to its own destruction. Such seceders mourn and
dread the step ; pray about it, think and think, till they are
bewildered and harassed ; and then, in a fit of desperation,
go off to some Romish priest to be received. A man who
had an honourable position, a work and responsibility, sud-
denly becomes a nonentity, barely welcomed, and certainly

Romish people compass sea and land to make prose-
lytes ; and after they have gained them, they are afraid of
them, for their respective antecedents are so different, that
it is impossible for them to think together. They get the
submission of a poor deluded pervert, but he gets nothing
in return from them but a fictitious salvation. They gain
him : but he has lost the kind regard and sympathy of
friends he had before, and with it all that once was dear to
him ; and he voluntarily forfeits all this upon the bare self-


assertion of a system which claims his implicit obedience.
The poor pervert is required to give over his will, his con-
science, and his deepest feelings to the keeping of his so-
called " priest " or to the Church, and is expected to go
away unburdened and at peace. Some there are, it is true,
who actually declare that they have peace by this means ;
but what peace it is, and of what kind, I know not.

Supposing that I was in debt and anxiety, and a man
who had no money, but plenty of assurance and brass,
came to me and sympathized in my trouble, saying, " Do
not fear — trust me ; I will bear your burden, and pay off
your debt" — if the manner of the man was sufficiently
assuring, it would lift up the cloud of anxiety and distress ;
but, for all that, the penniless man would not, and could
not, pay my debt. I might fancy he had done or would do
so ; and then, when it was too late, the debt, with accumu-
lated interest, would fall on me, to my overwhelming ruin,
even though I had been ever so free from anxiety before.
So it is with these deluded ones, who go to the priest
instead of to Christ, and take his absolution instead of
Christ's forgiveness.

Any one who carefully reads the Word of God may see
that the Church of Rome has no such priesthood as she
claims, nor power to forgive sins, as she professes to do. The
whole supposition is based on a misunderstanding of the
text, " Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto
them ; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained "
(John XX. 23).

The disciples (some of them not apostles) who received
this commission or privilege, never understood that they
were by these words (men and women together) empowered
to be absolving priests. Even the very apostles never knew
that they had any such power ; and it is certain they never
exercised it They were perfectly innocent of being priests


after the Romish type, and never dreamed of offering a
propitiatory sacrifice. They simply beUeved that Christ
had completed the work of propitiation once for all ; and
that there is now no more sacrifice for sin — that Christ only
can forgive sins. Therefore in the words of St. John we
are told, that " if any man sin (apostles and people alike),
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins" (i John
ii. I, 2).

The apostles and- early Christians never understood
that the power of the keys meant the exercise of mere
priestly authority, neither was the doctrine known for several
centuries after their time ; therefore we may be sure that
the peace which perverts have, if it professes to come from
that source, is a delusion. No true remission or peace is,
or can be given, but by direct and personal transaction with
Christ Himself

I am perfectly convinced that the Epistles to the Romans
and the Galatians are the answer to all the pretences of the
Church of Rome, and that a man who will not read and
follow them deserves to be misled. God is perfectly justified
and clear on this point.

During that winter six of my friends joined the Church
of Rome. One I have already told about, who died, I am
sure, from grief and disappointment* Another became
bigoted, and with a sullen, dogged pertinacity, set himself
to work for Rome, looking very miserable all the time,
although he used once to be happy in the Lord's work.
The others, without exception, went back into the world,
and made no secret of their conformity with it, its ways,
and fashions.

• See page 271.


This was a time of trouble in more respects than one.
These secessions to Rome brought great discredit upon the
work, and especially on the effort to promote Catholic
truth, and higher Church life. I found my own refuge and
comfort was in working for God, and therefore went out on
mission work whenever and wherever I could.

Early in the spring of this year I went on a mission to
Worcestershire, and there the Lord vouchsafed a great
blessing, which has more or less continued to this day;
though I grieve to say the present vicar has no sympathy
with it. The work is still carried on in an Iron Room,
out of church hours, by people who continue to go to

The vicar of that time asked me to go and visit a
farmer's wife, who was under deep conviction, and wished
to see me. I did so, and as we approached the door
(which was open) the first thing we heard was this in-
dividual saying, in a very high-pitched voice, " Con-
found "

Seeing us, she suddenly stopped. " Go on with your
text," said the vicar, quietly, " ' Confounded be all they
that serve graven images ; ' is that what you mean ? "

" No," she replied ; " come in, I am so wretched that I
don't know what to do with myself; it has made me cross.
Do come in and pray with me."

We at once consented ; and on pointing her to Jesus,
she found peace. Not content with praising God alone,
she opened her house for a meeting for the people in the
neighbourhood. This being situated on the confines of the
parish, brought us into collision with the rector of the next
parish. He was most indignant at our coming (as he
said), "to entice his people away."

I tried my best to conciliate this gentleman, but nothing


would do, particularly when he heard that I was thinking
of settling down in the district. This plan was however
frustrated in an unexpected manner, and I was not permitted
to remain there.

One day, when I was praying about the matter, a letter
was put into my hand from a lady who had been asking
the Lord for nearly six months that I might be appointed
to her late husband's church. She had applied to Lord
Palmerston, who was the patron, and though she had re-
ceived no answer, yet she had continued to pray.

At last there came a courteous letter from his lordship,
apologizing for having delayed his reply, adding that he
*' had mislaid the application of her nominee ; if she would
oblige him with the name and address of this person, the
appointment should be made out immediately." She gave my
name and address, and sent his letter on to me. I imme-
diately wrote to his lordship, saying that I had not applied
for the living, nor did I want it ; but, for all that, I received
by return of post the nomination ; and actually, it was to
go back to the diocese of Exeter ! I did not think the
Bishop would institute me, as I had committed a great
many irregularities since his lordship had taken off my
harness. But he did.

Somehow I was unwilling to go to this living, but was
put into it in spite of myself Here I had a good house,
garden, and church, provided for me, with so much a year.
I wondered whether God was tired of me ! He had pro-
vided for me and my family during the past year wondrously,
and I began to like "living by faith," and trusting in Him
only. I have great doubts whether this appointment was
altogether in accordance with God's will. Anyway, I had
very little liberty or success in preaching, and could not
settle down to work with any energy.

In the beginning of the summer, as usual, I had my


attack of hay fever, which completely incapacitated me,
in this place of much grass. If I went to a town or the
sea-side, it was well ; but the moment I returned to the
country I was ill again. Altogether, it was a dull and dis-
tressing time; but God was preparing me for a special



HILE meditating upon my present position, and
wondering what I was to do next, I received an
invitation to take charge of a district in another
part of the county, near the sea, which suited
my health. Here there was a large population, which gave
scope for energetic action; and, moreover, the people
were careless and Godless, and, as such, were not pre-,
occupied with other systems. So I thought it was the very
place in which I could begin to preach, and go on to prove
the power of the Gospel.

With the invitation, I received an exaggerated account
of the wickedness of the people, and was told that the
thinking part of them leant towards infidelity, and that
some of them were actually banded together in an infidel
club. All this, however, did not deter me from going, but
rather stirred me up so much the more to try my lance
against this gigantic foe. I had learned before now to
regard all difficulties in my work as the Lord's, and not
mine ; and that, though they might be greater than I could
surmount, they were not too great for Him.


There were two large iron factories here, besides
shipping. Many of the people employed were drawn from
other parts of England, and were what the Cornish call
" foreigners." They had no love for chapel services, or
revivals, and no sympathy with Cornish views and customs ;
so not having a church to go to, they were left pretty much
to themselves.

With this attractive sphere before me, I gave up my
living and work in the country, and accepted the curacy at
;£"i2o a year, with a house rent free. My rector was a dry
Churchman, who had no sympathy with me; but he seemed
glad to get any one to come and work amongst such a rough,
and in some respects unmanageable, set. He had bought a
chapel from the Primitive Methodists for Divine service,
and had erected schools for upwards of three hundred
children. These he offered me as my ground of operation,
promising, with a written guarantee, that if I succeeded, he
would build me a church, and endow it with all the tithes
of that portion of the parish.

Here was a jfield of labour which required much prayer
and tact, as well as energetic action. In accordance with
Scriptural teaching, "I determined to know nothing but
Jesus Christ and Him crucified." I made up my mind
that I would not begin by having temperance addresses for
drunkards, or lectures on the Evidences of Christianity for
the infidel, but simply with preaching the Gospel.

One thing that simplified my work very much was the
fact, that the people were spiritually dead. I used to tell
them, that in this free country every man is accounted
innocent till he is proved to be guilty, but that in the Bible
every man is guilty before God till he is pardoned, and
dead till he is brought to life. In one sense it does not
matter very much whether a man is an infidel, a drunkard,
or anything else, if he is dead in trespasses and sins. It is


of very little consequence in what coloured raiment a corpse
is shrouded ; it remains a corpse still.

Taking this position positively, I avoided much religious
controversy, to the disappointment of many eager dis-
putants, who longed to ventilate their views. I told them
plainly, that whether they were right or wrong, my business
was with the salvation of souls, and my one desire was tc
rescue the lost by bringing them to Christ.

Hitherto I had been to places where the Lord had
previously prepared the hearts of the people, and therefore
it had been my joy to see a revival spring up, as if sponta-
neously ; that is, without the ordinary preparation by the
people of the place. These were extraordinary manifesta-
tions of God's power and love ; and they showed me what
He could and would do. Now that I was somewhat more
intelligent on the subject, He sent me forth to prepare and
work for similar results.

Hayle was to all appearance a very barren soil, and the
people I had to labour amongst Were greater and mightier
than myself They already had possession of the ground,
and were perfectly content with their own way. Moreover,
they did not desire any change, and were ready even to
resist and oppose every effort which was designed to
ameliorate their condition, or to change their lives. In
this undertaking I knew and understood that without prayer
and dependence upon God to work in me and by me, my
mission would be altogether unavailing. I therefore looked
about, and found some Christians who consented to unite
in pleading for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We
agreed to pray in private, and also met together frequently
during the week for united prayer. Finding that many of
the petitions offered were vague and diffuse, I endeavoured
to set before those assembled a definiteobject of prayer. I
told them that the work was not ours but the Lord's, and that


He was willing and ready to accomplish it, but that He must
be inquired of concerning the work of His hands. Also,
in order that our prayers should be intelligent and united,
I put before them the fact, that the people we had to work
amongst were lost ; not that they would be lost by-and-by if
they died in their sins; but that they were actually lost
now. It is true that many were quite ignorant of the way
of salvation, and were also unconscious of the power of the
enemy who held them captive; and besides, they loved
their captivity too well ; but all this would be overcome in
a moment, when they were once enlightened by the Spirit
(in answer to prayer) to see and feel themselves lost. No
one could be more ignorant than the jailor at Philippi, but
as soon as he was awakened he cried out, " What must I do
to be saved ? " (Acts xvi. 30).

I showed them that the work we had to do was clearly
set forth in Scripture (Acts xxvi. 18), and that the order in
which it was to be done was also made manifest. We must
not begin with giving instruction as if the people were
merely ignorant ; but rather by awakening or opening their
eyes to see that they were in a lost and ruined condition.
Then they would appreciate being turned " from darkness
to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they
may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts xxvi. 18). I strove
earnestly to show them that until people had received for-
giveness of sins, our work w^as not complete. We made
this our definite aim, and prayed about it with clear ex-
pectation. Under the shadow and influence of this prayer,
I began to preach to the people ; not to beHeve, but to
awake and see their lost condition ; that is, to repent, that
they might believe the Gospel.

At first there were very few people in my congregation,
but by degrees more came, and listened attentively to the
Word. After preaching for four or five Sundays, I asked


the people during my sermon, what in the world they were
made of; for I was surprised at them ! They came and
listened to God's truth, and yet did not yield themselves
to Him. " Are you wood, or leather, or stone ? What are
your hearts made of, that God's love cannot touch or His
Word break them ? " I then invited the anxious to remain
for an after-meeting, when I said that I would converse with
them more familiarly ; but they every one went away.

I returned to the vestry, feeling somewhat dejected, but
still hoping for better days. As I opened the door to go
home, two men ran away like frightened boys, but it was
too dark for me to distinguish who they wxre.

The next morning it came to my mind that I must go
round to the people and ask them what they were thinking
about ? I had done so from the pulpit ; now I would go
from house to house and do the same. I went first to the
school, and finding that several children w^ere absent, I
took their names and determined to go after them, in the
hope of reaching their parents.

The first house I called at was a mistake, and yet it was

not. I knocked at the door, and said, " Does Mrs W

live here ? "

The woman who opened it said, " No, she lives next

I apologized for disturbing her, and was going away,
when she said, "Will you not come in for a few
minutes ? "

I assented, and going in, took a seat. Then I asked
her name, and whether she went to church.

She replied, " To be sure I do. Don't you see me
there every Sunday ? "

" Then," I said, " did you hear my question last
evening ? "

"Yes," she said, "but I was afraid, and ashamed to


stay behind. But I do wish to be saved; I have been
wretched for more than a week."

It was very easy to lead to the Saviour of sinners one
whose heart was so prepared. She soon found peace, and
• became one of my most useful and steadiest helpers.

Her neighbour, next door, was by no means so ready to
receive the truth, and I had to supply another argument
altogether. Eventually, she also found peace in believing ;
though not for some weeks.

From this house, I visited several others, and in all
of them had serious dealing with individuals about their
souls' salvation. Then I set off to see a man I had often
observed in church ; having noticed the anxious look with
which he always regarded me during the sermon. I found
him at home, and, on entering his house, he said, at once,
*' I know what you are come for. Wait a little, sir, please
to sit down;" and, before I had time to say a word, he went
upstairs. In a few minutes he returned, with a shilling in
his hand. "There," he said, "there it is ; that is my con-
tribution for the Indian Mutiny Fund."

I thanked him for his offering, and promised that it
should be given to the treasurer. " But," I added, "to tell
the truth, I have not come about that, but to see you. I
want to speak to you about your soul."

He sat down, looking, as I thought, most unhappy.
Then he said, — " Last night my mate and I made up our
minds to speak to you in the vestry ; but, just as we were
coming to the door, you opened it, and we ran away."

*^ Yes," I said, " I heard you."

" Well, after that, we came home, and prayed the Lord
to send you to us : and here you are ! "

"Thank God for the answer to pjayer. Now then,
what can I do for you ? "

He told me that he was born of respectable parents in


Germany ; but that, for his bad ways and habits, they had
sent him to this country to work for his bread ; that he had
taken the pledge several times, and broken it again and
again, though he had prayed and done all he could think
of; but it was to no purpose.

" If you had stayed last night," I said, " I might have
helped you. How did you come to break your pledge ? "

" Oh," he said, " it came to my mind that when I signed, I
was only thinking of beer and spirits, not wine ; so I took
some, and it flew to my head; and soon I was as bad as ever."

" Now," I said, '' you have renounced wine and all ;
have you ? "

"Yes, I have."

*' Well then, will you give your heart to God also?*'

In course of conversation it came out, that this man's
first impressions were effected some years before, by a
dream, or vision of Christ on the cross. He was passing
by, but, somehow, turned to look at it ; when, to his surprise,
he saw that the eyes of the figure were looking at him. As
he approached, the figure appeared to be standing on the
ground, and beckoning, when a sudden fear came over
him ; he stopped, and the vision faded away. Ever since
that time, he had felt that Jesus was the Friend he needed ;
and that nothing less would satisfy him.

Unfortunately, too many, like this man, stop at a
critical point of their history; and, often, the crisis is not
prolonged for them, as it was for him.

A long time ago there was a sinner arrested by a similar
vision. He says, in a hymn which he wrote, giving a
description of it —

** I saw One hanging on a tree,
-In agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me
As near the cross I stood. "


He continues,

*' My conscience felt and owned its guilt : "

and when he did so, he received a second look, which
spoke forgiveness to him, as distinctly as the first look
brought him under conviction.

I charged this man to make his surrender, and to own
or acknowledge himself the sinner for whom Jesus died. On
doing so, he obtained forgiveness and peace, and has since,
by grace, been enabled to live a happy, consistent, and
devoted hfe, and has been a blessing to many souls. No
sooner had he found the Saviour, than immediately he
began to plead for and with his friend James. I know not
what passed between them; but that same evening he
brought him to me with a heart prepared to receive Christ.
We had only to point him to Jesus, and encourage him to
thank God, when he realized the truth in his own expe-

So that Monday I rejoiced over five people brought to
the Lord ; and then the work began in real earnest. Every
week after that, remarkable conversions took place, besides
many ordinary ones. Some of these, including the one just
mentioned, are described at length in tracts, and are also
published in a volume entitled " Building from the Top,
and other Stories ; " but, notwithstanding this, a brief allu-
sion to them in this narrative may not be out of place, being
so particularly connected with the work here.

A woman called me into her cottage one morning as I
was passing by, and told me of her' son, a steady young
man, though still unconverted, for whom she had prayed

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