W. (William) Haslam.

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

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the spot, but scarcely thought it possible he could be there.
I went towards it, however, still calling, " Frank — Frank ! "
and yet received no answer. On looking in, sure enough,
there was my man, lying down in the pit, close up to the
side, with his face to the ground. I said, " Frank, is that
you ? What are you doing there ? Are you ill ? "

"No," he replied, "I'm not. What d'yer want with

" Nothing in particular," I said ; " but, to tell the truth,
I was so surprised at your disappearance, that I could not
pass on without looking for you. I was so sure that I saw
you in the distance, sitting in your place ; and then, when I
came up, you were not there. I wondered whether I had
seen your ghost instead of you, and whether you were dead,
or what. Are you hiding away from me ? "

Rising up, he said, " I had a terrible dream last night,


which frightened me very much. A voice said, * Go and
see Mr. Haslam about your soul.' I said, ' I will, I will,
the first thing in the morning.' When the morning came, I
thought the evening would do ; and when I saw you
coming, it made me tremble so, that I got up and hid
myself here."

I said, " Frank, it is no use for you to fight against God,
or stand out against your wife's prayers. You had far
better give in."

He then told me that his dream referred to something
in his past life, and sitting down on the bank or side of the
gravel-pit, he said, " When I was ill with my leg (which was
taken off ), the doctor told me that I should die. I then
cried to the Lord to have mercy on me, and said that if He
would raise me up, I would give my heart to Him. I began
to recover from that day, and kept on intending and intend-
ing to give my heart to God ; but I never did it. I got
quite well in health, but ever since that time I have been
getting worse and worse in mind. AVhen my wife was con-
verted, it seemed as if the devil took possession of me alto-
gether, and the Lord warned me again last night."

" Come now," I said, " you had better kneel down here
and give up." It was a lonely road on a bare common.
*' Kneel down," I repeated, " and let us pray." He did so,
and after prayer he said, " By God's help, I will give up."

*' No," I replied, " that will not do. Say, ' Lord, take
my heart. / do ' — not ' / will ' — ' give up,' "

After a short pause, he solemnly said, ''I do; Lord,
take my heart ! " and then began to cry.

I gave him the text, " God so loved the world, that He
gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish, but have everlasting life " (John
iii. 1 6). "Think over that," I said, "and come to the
schoolroom to-night." He did so, and was saved, to the

« STRIKE MY LIMBS ! » 1 13

great joy of his soul. After the meeting was over, he
remained behind a long time, and gave vent to his feelings
with tears, when he remembered the goodness of God to

"This wooden leg of mine," he said, "is a moniment
of God's mercy ! "

" How is that ? " I inquired.

" Several years ago," he said, " I was playing cards for
money in a public-house, and was cheating in order to
win, when the man I was playing with said, ' You would
not have won that money if you had not cheated.* I swore
at him, and said, * God strike my limbs if I did so 1" I
knew I had ; and the man would not believe that I had
not. So we parted.

" The next morning, I was working in the mine, close to
a very large piece of rock, which had been loosened whh
the blasting, when it slipped from its place, and carried me
along with it into the shaft. As the heavy end was upper-
most, it turned with its own weight, and fell across the
shaft, pinning me against the side. This rock was not less
than two or three tons weight. Notwithstanding the fearful
shock, I retained my senses ; but one leg was smashed, and
the other severely wounded. ' God struck my limbs ! ' I
cried for help ; and when the men who were attracted by
my screams found me, they saw at once that it was im-
possible to extricate me without moving the rock. There I
remained for more than two hours, till they had put a sling
round my body. Having done that, they adjusted a strong
chain to the rock, and lifted the end. As soon as they
succeeded in raising it, down it went, carrying plats, ladders,
and all before it, to the bottom of the shaft, which was
many fathoms deep, whilst I was left hanging in the sling.
They then drew me up, and took me to the hospital, where
one leg was taken off and the other set ; but I was very ill


for a long time. Oh, just think, if that rock had not pinned
my legs to the wall of the shaft, I should have been in hell
now ! The Lord saved my life then — and has saved my
soul now ! "

Dear Frank became a very zealous Christian, and for
many years preached the Gospel with much power and
acceptance. After his conversion, he came one morning
to beg my pardon for having forbidden me his house, and
to ask if I would come and hold a meeting there for his

I did ; and there was such a crowd inside, and also
outside the house, and so much blessing, that I was not
satisfied with one visit, but went again and again.

The place was most inconveniently full -, they turned
out the chairs and tables to make standing-room inside, and
opened the windows and doors for the people to hear out-
side ; and sometimes, before the address was over, men
and women cried aloud for mercy. We could not kneel
down to pray — praying, singing, and hearing was done
standing, and that very close together. The house was so
uncomfortably thronged, that a miller in the neighbour-
hood, who had a large room in the mill, begged me to
come and preach there instead. I accepted his invitation,
and we went ; but, alas ! there was no power there ; it was
hard to pray or preach; and the people were not even
attentive. Thus it was clearly seen that it is not by might
or by power of men, but by the Spirit of the Lord; and that
if the Lord was not present to work, no work was done.
We went back to Frank's cottage, and there again the
manifest presence of God was discernible ; and every tiiae
we did so souls were saved.

Next door to Frank lived a tall, gaunt, gipsy kind of
woman, whom they called " the wise woman." She had a

THE " WISE woman:' 115

marvellous gift of healing, and other knowledge, which
made people quite afraid of her. This woman took a great
interest in me and my work, and often came to church,
besides attending the meetings at Frank's house.

One day, during these services, she paid a visit to the
Parsonage, and said, " My dear, have you a lemon in the
house ? "

I went to inquire, and found that we had not.

"Well, then," she said, "get one, and some honey and
vinegar, and mix them all together. You will want it.
Mind you do, now," she said, drawing herself up to her
full height ; " mind you do, you will want it ! " Then she
put the bowl of her pipe into the kitchen fire, and having
ignited the tobacco, went away smoking.

The servants were much frightened by her manner and
her warning, and begged of me to get the lemon, saying, " It
was about you, master ; it was about you that she came."

I did not know where to get a lemon within three miles ;
but it so happened that a man came to the door with a
net full, for sale, that same afternoon. We bought two,
just to pacify the servants, and let them make the mixture,
thinking nothing more about it.

In the course of the afternoon a very heavy thunder-
storm fell upon us, deluging the roads and lanes ; and
before it ceased I had to go to the meeting. I took the
precaution to put on thick shoes, and then set off and
walked through the rain. When I arrived at the cottage, I
thought my feet felt wet ; but they were not cold, so that
I soon forgot all about them, and went on with the meeting,
which lasted till ten o'clock ; then I returned home. On
taking off my shoes, I was surprised to see how wet and
muddy my socks were. I had been standing with wet feet
all the evening. To guard against any ill effects, I put my
feet in hot water before going to bed. However, at three


o'clock in the morning I awoke, nearly choked with a severe
fit of bronchitis : the thick, hard phlegm in my throat
almost suffocated me ; I had to struggle for breath and life.
After an hour or more of the most acute suffering, my dear
wife remembered the lemon mixture, and called the servant
to get up and bring it. It was just in time. I was black in
the face with suffocation ; but this compound relieved, and,
in fact, restored me. I was greatly exhausted with the effort
and struggle for life, and after two hours I fell asleep. I
was able to rise in the morning, and breathe freely, though
my chest was very sore.

After breakfast, the " wise woman " appeared, standing
outside the window of the drawing-room, where I was lying
on the sofa.

"Ah, my dear," she said, "you were nearly gone at
three o'clock this morning. I had a hard wrestle for you,
sure enough. If you had not had that lemon, you know,
you would have been a dead man by this time !"

That mysterious creature, what with her healing art,
together with the prayer of faith and the marvellous foresight
she had, was quite a terror to the people. One day she
came, and bade me go to a man who was very worldly and
careless, and tell him that he would die before Sunday.

I said, " You go, if you have received the message."

She looked sternly at me, and said, " You go ! that's
the message — you go ! "

I went. The man laughed at me, and said, " That old
hag ought to be hanged." I urged him to give his heart to
God, and prayed with him, but to no effect. He was
thrown from his cart, and killed the following Saturday,
coming home from market.

Her sayings and doings would fill a book ; but wl.o
would believe the things ?

She was not always a bird of evil omen, for sometimes


she brought me good news as well as bad. One day she
said, *' There is a clergyman coming to see you, who used
to be a great friend of yours, but since your conversion he
has been afraid of you. He is coming ; you must allow him
to preach; he will be converted before long !" Sure enough,

my old friend, W. B , came as she predicted. He

preached, and in due time was converted, and his wife also ;
but his story shall come in its own place.

The work at Frank's cottage stopped as suddenly as it
began. I cannot theorize about the subject ; I merely state
that so it was. It began, it continued, and continued only
in that house, and then it stopped.

Another remarkable thing may here be observed — that
on visiting the cottages within a limited distance round
Frank's house, people were softened, and it was easy to
persuade them to yield themselves to Christ. They appeared
to be quite ripe and ready. Just beyond this limit the
people were as hard and careless as ever. It seemed as if
the power of God overshadowed only a certain spot, and
that all within that were under Divine influence for the
time, though all were not converted. They acknowledged,
however, that they felt the Spirit's power striving with them,
and they knew afterwards that it was withdrawn. "The
wind bloweth where it listeth."



I. Perranzabuloe.

S the summer advanced, it was laid on my heait to
go and preach in the parish of Perranzabuloe,
where I had ministered in my unconverted days.
The vicar, however, would not consent to my
having the church; but he told me, in writing, that he
could not prevent my preaching on the common or the
beach. I thanked him for his suggestion as to the latter.
As soon as I was able I made arrangements, and giving
due notice, went down to the old familiar place ; but this
time on a new errand, and it was to me a fresh start in my
work. I took my gown for this first open-air service ; and
on arriving, found many hundreds of people already as-
sembled at the appointed place, on Perran beach.

After giving out a hymn, which was most heartily sung,
I prayed, thanking God for the change He had wrought in
my soul, and begging Him to show that He had forgiven
the past, by bestowing a manifest blessing upon the present
service. All this was loudly responded to, in Cornish


fashion, with hearty "Amens," and various other ejacula-
tions to which I was well accustomed. Then I read the
beginning of the fifth chapter of St. Luke, taking for my
text the words, " Launch out into the deep, and let down
your nets for a draught."

Having reminded the people how hard I had worked
amongst them for four years without seeing any conversions,
I went on to show them, by way of parallel, that Simon
Peter had toiled all night and taken nothing, but that when
he went forth at the Lord's command, he enclosed a great
multitude of fishes. " Here," I said, " is encouragement for
us to expect a blessing now. Why did Simon Peter fail at
first ? and why did he subsequently succeed ? Why did he
fail ? — I, Because he went out in the night. 2, At his own
desire. 3, In the wisdom of men. Why did I fail? — i,
Because I preached and laboured in the night of my uncon-
verted state. 2, I laboured at the bidding of the Church.
And, 3, According to the wisdom and tradition of the fathers.
Why did Peter succeed ? — Because, i, He went out in the
morning. 2, At the Lord's bidding. 3, With the Lord's

" I am come (I was thankful to be able to say) in the
bright sunshine of my first love. Jesus, the Saviour, is the
*Sun oi my soul, my Saviour dear.'" The people cheered
me so much with their responding, that I felt as happy as
they. The opening heaven seemed to shine around us,
indeed, "with beams of sacred bliss." They shouted again
and again, " Glory to God ! Glory to God ! Hallelujah ! "
*' I am come now," I continued, " to tell you, from my own
personal experience, about salvation and the forgiveness of
sins." " Yes, yes ! " " Thank the Lord ! " " Bless Him ! "
" I am come, dear friends, at the Lord's bidding. I feel
sure that He put it into my heart to do so. Oh, how much
I longed to do you good when I was your minister; but I


could not, for I knew nothing about the Way myself. Now,
that I do, I am constrained to tell you. The love of God
within, and the Word of God without, compel me.

" I feel I have the Lord's presence, for He not only
promised it where two or three are gathered together in His
name ; but also to those who preach the Gospel, He said,
*Lo, I am with you alway ! ' His presence is power. It is
His word I bring you, not mine ; I merely deliver it. He
is here. And be sure He loves you, and, what is more,
takes a deeper interest in this preaching than we can. He
died for you, and shed His blood for your forgiveness ; how,
then, can He do otherwise than take an interest in the
delivery of His message, and, more, in the result which is
to follow ?

" When Simon Peter let down his net, he was astonished ;
mark, it was a net he let down into the deep, something
which enclosed the fish, in order that he might bring them
out of their native element, the water. So I preach the
Gospel, not merely for the sake of preaching, but to bring
you from the power of Satan, in which we all are by nature,
to God, that you may receive the forgiveness of your sins.

" We read that he enclosed a great multitude of fishes :
I have faith to believe that the Lord will bring many to
Himself to night."

With shouting and praise the address was concluded,
and prayer was offered. At the close, w^e found at least
fifty people in that great throng on their knees, crying for
mercy. It was a most triumphant and joyful time, and the
people were loth to separate. We slept that night at Forth,
as that part of the village is called.

The next morning two fishermen came to my lodging,
bringing a large basket of fish as a present. Their hearts
had been cheered the preceding night, and taking my word


in a natural as well as a spiritual sense, they went out once
again and let down their nets. They had gone out many
nights before and taken nothing ; but this time their venture
was crowned with success, and they came back rejoicing in
the Lord, who had shown them that temporal as well as
spiritual blessings come from Him. The basket of fish
they brought me was an acknowledgment of their heartfelt

After breakfast, as we were walking on the sea-shore,
under the majestic cliffs which have stood as a wall against
the Atlantic waves for centuries, we heard our good-natured
Newfoundland dog barking at something on the rocks ; we
looked up, and behold ! there was an exquisitely graceful
fawn-coloured kid, with a scarlet collar and bells, bounding
about playfully on the narrow ledges of the rocks. It
seemed to us to be leaping about on the face of the cliff,
for we could not see the little ledges on which it picked its
way. It was quite out of the dog's reach, and appeared to
know it, judging from the coquettish and defiant manner in
which it was jumping about, in high glee at its indepen-
dence. While we were standing watching the pretty and
graceful creature, a young lady came out from behind other
rocks, and called to her pet, which arched its little neck,
and looked at her, then at the dog, as if it would say,
" How can I come down ? " I walked towards her, and on
speaking, found that she knew me, and that I had seen her
when she was a child. After a little talk about the playful
kid, I asked if she had been to the meeting; she said **she
had, and she had not ! " I waited silently for an explanation.
Presently, she said that her mamma had forbidden her to
go to " such wild meetings," but that her father had asked
her to walk with him under a wall in the garden, where
they could and did hear every word ; and she added, " I
think papa has found peace — he is so very happy ! "


** And have not you also ? " I asked.

" Ah," she repHed, " I wish I could."

The more I talked with her, the more convinced I felt
she was in earnest, but that something stood in the way.
She said she did not know what it was — that she really
wished for salvation, and was willing to give up everything.
I said, " Do you think your mother would let you return with
us on a short visit? We are just going back to Baldhu."

She said, " Mamma is not at home : she has gone away
for three days ; but I think papa would let me go. Shall I
ask him ? "

She did ; and soon returned saying that she might do so
if we could promise to bring her back in two days. This
being settled, she hastened to get her things ready, and sent
her maid to fetch home her pet kid, which she bade her
take great care of during her absence : then we set off.

On arriving at our house she went straight to her bed-
room, and there on her knees implored God's mercy, and
remained pleading and praying for five hours, before she
found peace. Then she came down among us, rejoicing
in the Lord. That evening she spent at the meeting, and
the next day in visiting among the cottages. On the third
day, after a happy visit, we took her home to her father,
rejoicing in the liberty of the children of God.

Her mother returned the day after, and when she was
told of the change in her husband and her daughter Lucy,
she became exceedingly angry, and wrote, not to thank,
but to forbid us the house ; also prohibiting further inter-
course. At the same time, she declared her intention to
get all that nonsense out of her daughter's head as soon as
possible. She dragged this poor girl out to parties and
amusements of every kind, against her will, which had the
effect of making her dislike them the more, and caused her
to cleave steadfastly to the Lord in prayer.


Six months later, she was taken ill, and after a few
weeks' suffering she died, rejoicing that her sins were par-
doned, and that she was going home. It was evident that
God would not trust that mother with a daughter whose
soul she was determined to injure. He took His child
away to Himself


The open-ah preaching at Perran led to many similar
services there, and at other places. I will tell of two only,
to prevent sameness, and for fear of tiring the reader.

The former of these, was at a place called Rose-in-vale,
in the same parish, on the lawn of the chief parishioner.
He was an uneducated man, who had risen from the rank
of a common miner to that of a mine captain. Being very
shrewd and clever, he had succeeded in accumulating a
considerable sum of money; and though he and his wife
had a very large house, they chiefly occupied two of the
smallest rooms. " Them fine things up in the parlours," he
said, he "made no 'count of;" indeed he was anything but
comfortable or easy in his state apartments. Being the
wealthy man of the parish, he sat on Sunday in the large
square pew ; but beyond giving personal attendance, and
that very regularly, I do not know what other heed he gave,
either to the service or the sermon.

During this summer he invited me to give " a preaching"
in his garden. Accordingly, on a fixed day, I went, and
tried to speak, but found it most difdcult to do so. I know
not why ; but again and again I felt as though I had lost the
thread of my discourse, and was rambling — that I was at a
loss for words, and could not hold the attention cf the
people. Perplexed, and greatly discouraged, I was not
sorry when the time came to conclude; therefore I did
not invite the people to remain for an after-meeting for


prayer. Several persons came up and asked me why I had
dismissed the assembly. " Ah ! " I replied, *' because there
is no power. I could not get on at all ! " They were sur-
prised, and said they thought that I had been helped more
than usual, and were quite sure that the Lord was working
among the people. However, the congregation had gone
now, and could not be recalled. This only made me feel
more distressed than before.

The feeling was very strong with which I had been so
burdened while speaking ; and, to add to my perplexity,
I observed three coast-guard men, who had come some
five or six miles, behaving badly, and laughing all the
time (as I thought) at my discourse, to the great discom-
fiture of my preaching. Open-air addresses were not com-
mon in those days, and for a man to set up (as some said)
and pretend to be a second Whitefield or Wesley, was bad
enough, but to fail was most humiliating !

Three years after this, I was travelling outside a coach,
when a rough sailor-looking man came climbing up to the
top, although he was told that there was no room. " Never
mind," he said ; ** I will sit on the boxes. I want to talk to
this here gentleman." So saying, he perched himself on the
luggage, and offered to shake hands with me.

" Do you know me?" I asked.

" Oh yes, bless you, of course I do ! Don't you remem-
ber three coast-guard men at Captain O 's garden ?"

"Yes," I said, "indeed I do, and am not likely to
forget them easily; they behaved so badly, and disturbed
me so much."

"Well," he continued, "I'm one o' them. I don't
know why we laughed and made fun, for we all on us felt
your words deeply, and went home to pray ; and a few days
afterwards we were all three converted — that we were.


Praise the Lord ! After that, we volunteered for the navy,
to go to the Crimee war. I've been in some hot scenes,
sure enough. One day we got a Uttle too near the Russian
battery, and they peppered us brave — no mistake, I assure
you ; they cut our masts and rigging to pieces, and ploughed
up our deck with their shots. Men were being killed on
every side of me. I thought, now I shall see the King
in His glory. My soul was so happy, I expected every
moment to be cut down and sent into His presence ; but
not a shot touched me ! I had not even a scratch ; and
here I be, safe and sound, all through mercy ! "

Thus, these three men, who made me at the time so
unhappy, and disturbed me to such a degree, turned out
well, after all.

Since then, on several occasions, I have felt as dis-
couraged in preaching as I was that day; and though
again and again I have said that I will not heed it, I have
nevertheless found it difficult to be unmoved under this
mysterious influence. I write this, for the comfort and con-
solation of others who are afflicted under similar circum-
stances, that they may not be cast down by their feelings.

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Online LibraryW. (William) HaslamFrom death into life: or, Twenty years of my ministry → online text (page 9 of 23)