Imatges de pÓgina




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 preoccupied 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.

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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 £120 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 field 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 disputants, 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 to 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 spontaneously; that is, without the ordinary preparation by the people of the place. These were extraordinary manifestations 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 definite object 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 forgiveness of sins, our work was not complete. We made this our definite aim, and prayed about it with clear expectation. Under the shadow and influence of this prayer, I began to preach to the people; not to believe, 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 were.

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 were 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 Wlive here?"

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

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

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