W. (William) Haslam.

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

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and moved out of the way, while she stood with her hands
together, adoring.

She afterwards told us that she saw the Lord stoop
down to the low chair where my young friend was kneeling,
and putting His hand on his head, He said something, and
then stood up. Immediately upon this she saw the verandah
crowded with ugly-looking devils, all with their eyes fixed
on the young man as he knelt. The Lord then waved His
hand, and the ugly company vanished. At that instant the
young man lifted up his head, and turning towards the
side on which she had discerned the Lord as standing, said,
" Lord, I thank Thee," and then fainted away.

AVhen the vision was over, the servant came, with tears
in her eyes, to ask pardon for so rudely pushing me aside,
but said that while the Lord was there she could not help
herself : " Oh, He is so beautiful, so grand ! " The young
man was soon restored to animation, and began to speak in
a voice and tone very different to his former utterance.
He was altogether a remarkable instance of a change of
heart and life.

One more case I will relate, with its solemn end, and
then proceed with my narrative.


A careless, worldly man in my parish dreamt one night
that he was in the market hall of a certain town. He was
surprised to see, in a wall, a doorway, which he had never
noticed before — so much so, that he went forward to
examine it, and found that it really was a door, and that it
opened to his touch. He went inside, and there he saw an
impressive and strange scene. There were a number of
men and women walking about, who appeared to be very
woeful, and in great agony of pain. They were too dis
tressed to speak, but he recognized most of them as persons
who had been dead some time. They looked mournfully
at him, as if sorry that he had come there, but did not
speak. He was much alarmed, and made his way back to
the door to escape, but was stopped by a stern, sullen-
looking porter, who said, in a sepulchral voice, " You cannot
pass." He said, " I came in this way, and I want to go
out." " You cannot," said the solemn voice. " Look, the
door only opens one way ; you may come in by it, but you
cannot go out." It was so, and his heart sank within
him as he looked at that mysterious portal. At last the
porter relented, and as a special favour let him go forth
for eight days. He was so glad at his release that he

When he told me the dream I warned him, and begged
him to give his heart to God. " You may die," I said,
" before the eighth day." He laughed at the idea, and said
he was " not going to be frightened by a dream." " When
I am converted," he continued, " I hope I shall be able to
say that I was drawn by love, and not driven by fear."
*' But what," I said, " if you have been neglecting and
slighting God's love for a long time, and He is now moving
you with fear to return to Him ? " Nothing would do ; he
turned a deaf ear to every entreaty. When the eighth day
arrived, being market day, he went to the hall as usual,


and looked at the wall of which he had dreamed with par-
ticular interest, but seeing no door there, he exclaimed,
" It's all right ; now I will go and have a good dinner over
it, with a botde of wine ! "

Whether he stopped at one bottle or not, I cannot tell ;
but late on Saturday night, as he was going home, he was
thrown from his horse and killed. That was at the end of
the eighth day.

Whether these dreams and visions were the cause or
effect of the people's sensitive state, I do not know ; but
certainly they were very impressible, and even the cold and
hardened amongst them were ready to hear about the
mysteries of the unseen world. I attributed this to the
spiritual atmosphere in which they were then living.




FTER the events narrated in Chapter X., and when
all the people who dwelt on the hill on which the
church was built were converted, there came upon
the scene a very remarkable person, who had
evidently been kept back for a purpose. This was none
other than the veritable and well-known " Billy Bray." *
One morning, while we were sitting at breakfast, I heard
some one walking about in the hall with a heavy step,
saying, " Praise the Lord ! praise the Lord ! " On opening
the door, I beheld a happy-looking little man, in a black
Quaker-cut coat, which it was very evident had not been
made for him, but for some much larger body. *' Well, my
friend," I said, " who are you ? "

" I am Billy Bray," he replied, looking steadily at me
with his twinkling eyes ; " and be you the passon ? "
"Yes, I am."

" Thank the Lord ! Converted, are ye ? "
"Yes, thank God."

* See "The King's Son ; or, Life of Billy Bray," by F. W. Bourne.



"And the missus inside " (pointing to the dining-room),
** be she converted ? "

"Yes, she is."

" Thank the dear Lord," he said, moving forward.

I made way for him, and he came stepping into the
room ; then making a profound bow to the said " missus,"
he asked, " Be there any maidens (servants) ? "

"Yes, there are three in the kitchen."

" Be they converted too ? "

I was able to answer in the affirmative ; and as I pointed
towards the kitchen door when I mentioned it, he made off
in that direction, and soon we heard them all shouting and
praising God together. When we went in, there was Billy
Bray, very joyful, singing,

" Canaan is a happy place ;
I am bound for the land of Canaan."

We then returned to the dining-room with our strange
guest, when he suddenly caught me up in his arms and
carried me round the room. I was so taken by surprise,
that it was as much as I could do to keep myself in an
upright position, till he had accomplished the circuit. Then
he set me in my chair, and rolling on the ground for joy,
said that he "was as happy as he could live." When this per-
formance was at an end, he rose up with a face that denoted
the fact, for it was beaming all over. I invited him to take
some breakfast with us, to which he assented with thanks.
He chose bread and milk, for he said, "I am only a child."

I asked him to be seated, and gave him a chair ; but he
preferred walking about, and went on talking all the time.
He told us that twenty years ago, as he was walking over
this very hill on which my church and house were built (it
was a barren old place then), the Lord said to him, " I will
give thee all that dwell in this mountain." Immediately he
fell down on his knees and thanked the Lord, and then ran


to the nearest cottage. There he talked and prayed with
the people, and was enabled to bring them to Christ ; then
he went to the next cottage, and got the same blessing ; and
then to a third, where he was equally successful. • Then he
told " Father " that there were only three " housen " in this
mountain, and prayed that more might be built. That
prayer remained with him, and he never ceased to make it
for years. The neighbours, who heard his prayer from time
to time, wondered why he should ask for " housen " to be
built in such an " ungain " place.

At last, after sixteen years, he received a letter from his
brother James, to say that they were hacking up the " croft "
to plant trees, and that they were going to build a church
on the hill. He was "fine and glad," and praised the
Lord. Again he did so, when his brother wrote to say
there was a vicarage to be built on the same hill, and a
schoolroom also. He was almost beside himself with joy
and thankfulness for all this.

In the year 1848, when the church was completed and
opened, he came on a visit to Baldhu, and was greatly
surprised to see what a change had taken place. There
was a beautiful church, a parsonage, with a flourishing
garden, and also a schoolroom, with a large plantation and
fields round them. He was quite " 'mazed," for he never
thought that the old hill could be made so grand as that !
However, when he went to the service in the church, his
joy was over; he came out " checkfallen," and quite disap-
pointed. He told " Father " that there was nothing but an
" old Pusey " He had got there, and that he was no good.*
While he was praying that afternoon, " Father " gave him to
understand that he had no business there yet, and that he
had come too lioon, and without permission. So he went
back to his place at once, near Bodmin, and continued to
pray for the hill.


After three years his brother James wrote again ; and
this time it was to tell him that the parson and all his family
were converted, and that there was a great revival at the
church. Now poor Billy was most eager to come and
see this for himself, but h^ obtained no permission, though
he asked and looked for it every day for more than three

At last, one wintry and frosty night in January, about
half-past eleven o'clock, just as he was getting into bed,
" Father " told him that he might go to Baldhu. He was
so overjoyed, that he did not wait till the morning, but
immediately " put up " his clothes again, " hitched in " the
donkey, and set out in his slow-going little cart. He came
along singing all the way, nearly thirty miles, and arrived
early in the morning. Having put up his donkey in my
stable, he came into the house, and presented himself, as I
have already stated, in the hall, praising God.

We were a long time over breakfast that morning, for
the happy man went on from one thing to another, " telling
of the Lord," as he called it, assuring us again and again
that he was " fine and glad, and very happy " — indeed, he
looked so. He said there was one thing more he must tell
us ; it was this — that he had a " preaching-house " (what we
should now call a mission-room), which he had built years
ago. He had often prayed there for " this old mountain,"
and now he should dearly love to see me in the pulpit of
that place, and said that he would let me have it for my
work. He went on to say that he had built it by prayer and
faith, as " Father " sent him help, and that he and another
man had built it with their own hands. One day he was
short of money to buy timber to finish the roof; his mate
said it would take two pounds' w^orth ; so he asked the Lord
for this sum, and wondered why the money did not come,
for he felt sure that he w^as to have it. A farmer happened


to look in the next morning, and Billy thought he had
come with the money, but he merely asked them what they
were doing, and then took his departure, without giving
them help. All that day they waited in expectation, and
went home in the evening without having done any work.
The next morning the same farmer appeared again, and
said, " What do you want two pounds for ? " *' Oh," said
Billy, "you are come, are you? We want that money
for the roof yonder." The farmer then went on to say,
" Two days ago it came to my mind to give two pounds for
the preaching house, but as I was coming down the hill
on yesterday morning, something said to me, * If you give
one pound it will be handsome ; ' then I thought I would
give only half-a-sovereign ; and then that I would give
nothing. Why should I? But the Lord laid it on my
mind again last night that I must give you two pounds.
There it is !"

" Thank the Lord ! " said Billy, and proceeded imme-
diately to get the required timber. In answer to prayer
he also obtained " reed " for thatching the roof, and by the
same means timber for the forms and seats.

It was all done in a humble manner, so that he did not
dream of buying any pulpit ; but one day, as he was passing
along the road, he saw that they were going to have a sale
at the "count-house" of an old mine. He went in, and the
first thing which met his eye was a strong oak cupboard,
wnth a cornice round the top. It struck him that it would
make a grand pulpit, if only it was strong enough : on
examination, he found it all he could desire in this respect.
He thought if he could take off the top and make a "plat'
to stand upon, it would do " first-rate." He told " Father "
so, and wondered how he could get it. He asked a stranger
who was there, walking about, what he thought that old
cupboard would go for ? " Oh, for about five or six


shillings," was the reply. And while Billy was pondering
how to " rise " six shillings, the same man came up and
said, " What do you want that cupboard for, Billy ? " He
did not care to tell him, for he was thinking and praying
about it. The man said, " There are six shillings for you ;
buy it, if you will." Billy took the money, thanking the
Lord, and impatiently waited for the sale. No sooner was
the cupboard put up, than he called out, " Here, maister,
here's six shillin's for un," and he put the money down on
the table. " Six shillings bid," said the auctioneer — " six
shillings — thank you ; seven shillings ; any more for that
good old cupboard ? Seven shillings. Going — going —
gone ! " And it was knocked down to another man.

Poor Billy was much disappointed and perplexed at
this, and could not understand it at all. He looked about
for the man who had given him the six shillings, but in vain
— he was not there. The auctioneer told him to take up
his money out of the way. He complied, but did not know
what to do with it. He went over a hedge into a field by
himself, and told " Father" about it ; but it was all clear —
" Father " was not angry about anything. He remained
there an hour, and then went homewards.

As he was going along, much troubled in his mind as to
this experience (for he still felt so sure he was to have that
cupboard for a pulpit), he came upon a cart standing outside
a public-house, with the very cupboard upon it, and some
men were measuring it with a foot rule. As he came up, he
heard them say, " It is too large to go in at the door, or the
window either." The publican who had bought it said, '' I
wish 1 had not bid for the old thing at all ; it is too good to
' scat ' up for firewood." At that instant it came to
Billy's mind to say, " Here, I'll give you six shillings for
un." " Very well," said the man, taking the money ; " you
can have him." Then Billy began to praise the Lord,


and went on to say, " ' Father ' as good as told me that I
was to have that cupboard, and He knew I could not carry
him home on my back, so He has found a horse and cart
for me. Bless the Lord ! " Promising to bring it back
very soon, he led the horse down the hill, and put the old
cupboard into the preaching house. " There it is ! " he
exclaimed, *'and a fine pulpit he does make, sure enough !
Now," said Billy, "I want to see thee in it. When will
you come?" I could not fix for that day, or the next,
but made arrangements to conduct a series of services
the next week, and promised to have them in that

Before he left us, he made a particular inquiry about the
two other houses which had been built, who lived in them,
and especially if all the " dwellers were converted." Then
he declared his intention to go and see the parties, and
rejoice with them, and testify how fully the Lord had accom-
plished the promise He gave him upon that very hill, twenty
years before.

According to promise, I went to Billy Bray's preaching-
house, or mission-hall. It was the first time that I had
preached anywhere outside my church and schoolroom
since my conversion. There it pleased the Lord to give
me much help, and a great work followed, such as Billy
had never seen in that place before. Several times we were
detained there all night through, with penitents crying aloud
for mercy, and believers rejoicing.

As a rule, the Cornish man would remain at a meeting
for hours, and come again the next day, and the day after,
if needful, till h^felt that he could cry for mercy, and then
he would begin and continue crying until htfelt he could

At the conclusion of these services we returned to the
schoolroom, where our meetings were continued.


Our friend Billy remained with us at Baldhu, and was
very useful. He spoke in the schoolroom with much
acceptance and power in the simplicity of his faith, and
souls were added to the Lord continually.

At this time he was very anxious for a cousin of his, a
man somewhat older than himself, of the same name. This
Billy was as famous for his drunkenness and dissolute
habits, as the other Billy was for his faith and joy. The
former used to go by the name of the " lost soul." The
very children in the lanes called after him, "Ah, Billy,
you are a lost soul," and laughed at him. I was then in the
freshness and power of my first love, and could not help
regarding this pitiable object, and considering his case ; for
I could not imagine why any man should remain unsaved
and without Christ.

Accordingly, one wet morning, when I felt pretty sure
that old Billy would not be out working in the field, I
made my way down to his house. As I expected, he was
at home in his chimney corner; so setting down my dripping
umbrella, I told him how glad I was to find him there, for I
wanted to have a talk with him.

" Ah, it's all very well for you gentlemen, who have none
else to do but to go about and talk ; but we poor men must
work." So saying, he rose up from his " settle " and went
to the door.

" But, Billy, it is raining quite hard ; you cannot work
in rain like that."

" Can't help it ; we must do our work," and so he
slammed the door after him and departed.

His wife made all kinds of apologies for him, because
" he was a very singular kind of man ; he did not mean
bad — he was * that curious,' that he said and did curious
things, and that I must not mind him."

I confess I was much disappointed at his abrupt depar-


ture from the house, but I remained a little longer, till the
worst of the storm was over.

After the lapse of nearly a quarter of an hour, Billy
crept back to the door, and lifting the latch quietly, whis-
pered to his wife, " Is the passon gone ? "

" No, Billy," I said, " here I am. Come in out of the
wet. I am so glad you have come back ? "

" What d'yer want with me ? " he inquired.

" I want to talk to you about your soul. I have been
thinking much about you lately, Billy. They call you a
Most soul.'"

" What's that to you ? "

" Ah, a great deal," I said, " because I have a message
for lost people. I am not a doctor for the body ; my busi-
ness is about the soul."

" I ain't so bad as all that yet," he replied.

" But you are bad enough, Billy — bad enough.*'

*' Yes, indeed," interposed his wife.

" You hold yer tongue ; you're no better."

I beckoned to her to be still, and went on to say, " You
are bad enough, Billy, for an old man. How old are
you ? "

" Up seventy years."

" Seventy years ! " I repeated. " Well, now, that's a
great age — that's the age of man. Threescore years and
ten ! It is like giving you notice to give up the keys of the
old tabernacle. I wonder why God spares your life ? I am
afraid you have been a cumberer of the ground all this
time, Billy. Do you know why the good Lord has spared
you for so long ? "

" I can't tell," he said, getting more and more

" Well, do you know, I think I can tell you. He is such
a loving and merciful God, He wants to have mercy on you !


you could not have greater proof of it, could you ? You
set a horribly bad example ; you do nothing but drink,
and smoke, and swear. You have asked God to damn your
soul over and over again, and yet here you are still. Why
is this ? "

He did not answer, but seemed interested ; so I went on
to speak of the forbearance of God towards him. I said,
** Billy, do you know that I think the Lord wants to have
mercy on you ? He wants to save you ! " As he listened,
I went on to tell him that God loved him, and gave His
Son to die for him. Then I proceeded to speak of the
wonderful patience and long-suffering of God — a kind of
crown upon His love ; and what a shame it was to sin
against such love as this.

Poor Billy looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said,
" You are a dear man ! "

*' Dear man ! " I answered. " What, then, is God, if
I am 'dear' only for telling you of His love? Ah, Billy,
take and give your heart to God at once. He is waiting for
you. It is a shame to refuse such a God."

I knelt down and began to pray for him. He soon fell
on his knees too, and sobbed aloud ; then he commenced to
pray in his own way. He needed much teaching, so when
he rose from his knees I said to him, " Now, Billy, I have
been to see you ; it is your turn to come and see me next.
When will you come ? "

" This afternoon," he said.

''Very good; come this afternoon." And he did.
More than that, this poor "lost soul" found peace in
my study, to his great joy ; and he was not ashamed to
acknowledge it openly, nor afraid to praise God for His
great goodness.

The same evening he stood up in the schoolroom
meeting, and told the people what the Lord had done for


his soul. There was great excitement that night, and well
there might be, for every one knew what a daring and
wicked man he had been. One man said that "if a
corpse had come out of the churchyard and spoken, he
could not have been more frightened " (more surprised,
he meant).

Old Billy's conversion gave a new and fresh impetus to
the work, and many more souls were added to the Lord.

This dear man Hved for three months after this, verifying
the words I was led to say to him at the beginning of our
intercourse — that the Lord was keeping him alive in order
to have mercy upon him. At the end of this time, his
daughter came to me one morning in great haste, and said,
" Father is dying, and does so want to see you. Will you
come ? " I went immediately. On reaching his house and
entering his bedroom, his wife said, " You are too late ; he
is dead ! " Softly I moved forward to the bed, and looking
on that face once more, I thought that I could still see
signs of life. Pressing his cold hand, I spoke a few words
about the loving-kindness of the Lord. He knew me, and
a smile brightened his face at the precious name of Jesus.
While we stood silently round his dying bed, he said
(evidently in reference to what he had heard), " Not dead :
just beginning to live." Thus, with a sweet, triumphant
smile, he departed.



UR steps were now directed to another part of the
parish, where we commenced a series of cottage
meetings in alternation with services in the
church. These meetings were inaugurated in a
very remarkable manner, in the house of a man named
*' Frank," who was well-known as an exceedingly wicked
and careless fellow. His wife was among the fruits of the
revival, and prayed much for him ; but the more she did so,
the worse he became. I used to try and comfort her with
the thought that if he did not give himself to God to be
made better, it was well that he got worse, for it was a proof
that her prayers were telling ; total indifference would have
been a far more discouraging sign.

This was poor comfort to her, however, for he came
home night after night drunk; or if not so, swearing about
the revival in the church, and her praying. He often
declared that if he ever caught me in his house, he would
"give me something for myself." He was at all times a
very irascible man, and being troubled with a wooden leg,
it made him worse. As he was unable to work in the mine.


he was dependent for his support on the parish authorities,
who employed him to break stones on the road.

Notwithstanding his bad temper and ill-feeling towards
me, I always stopped at his heap of stones when passing,
and talked to him either about the weather or some other
trivial subject, being quite satisfied that he knew the plan of
salvation, as I had spoken to him about his soul at the time
of his wife's conversion.

One day, when coming along, I observed Frank before
me in the road, busy, as usual, breaking stones, and began
to think what I would speak to him about, having no par-
ticular news to communicate. While I was thus pondering,
I came to his place, when, to my great astonishment, he
was not there. I looked around on all sides, and called,
"Frank — Frank!" but in vain — no one answered. There
was no hedge or tree within sight for him to hide behind ;
where could he be ? All at once, I remembered that there
was a small gravel-pit about twenty-five or thirty yards from

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