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"IT IS TRUE!"
must be dreaming; you had better lie down again, and be quiet.' But it was of no use, I could not sleep; and so soon as the light began to break, I dressed myself, and have come out to see whether it is true."
"Yes," I said, "it is true; the Lord has saved my soul; I am happy!" I thanked him then and there for all the help he had been, and for the patience he had so long exercised towards me. We spent a happy time together, thanking and praising God, and then he returned home to tell his friends and neighbours the news.
After breakfast a visitor arrived, who was on an errand of quite another kind. The report had by this time spread far and wide, that I was converted in my own pulpit, and by means of my own sermon; also, that I had said, "If I had died last week, I should have been lost for ever!" My friend having heard this, immediately mounted his horse and rode over to see me about it. He at once put the question, "Did you say, last night, in your pulpit, that you were saved; and that if you had died last week you would have been lost for ever?"
I answered, "Yes, indeed, I did; and I meant it.”
He looked quite bewildered, and stood for a long time arguing with me; then taking a chair he sat down, and began to sympathize and pity me, saying how grieved he was, for he could see madness in my eyes. He tried to divert my thoughts, and begged that I would go out for a ride with him. Seeing that he made no impression by his various arguments, and that he could not prevail upon me to recall my words, he ordered his horse; but before mounting, he said, "I cannot agree with you, and will oppose you as hard as I can."
"Very well," I replied; "but let us shake hands over it: there is no need that we should be angry with one another."
Then mounting, he started off, and had not gone more than a few yards, when, suddenly pulling up, he turned, and placing his hand on the back of his horse, called out, "Haslam, God stop the man who is wrong!"
I answered, "Amen," and off he trotted.
On the Friday following he broke a blood-vessel in his throat or chest, and has never preached since. His life was in danger for several weeks, though in course of time he recovered, but I have heard that he has never been able to speak above a whisper. God has most undoubtedly stopped him; while He has permitted me to preach for the last nineand-twenty years, on the average more than six hundred times a year.
From that time I began to preach the Gospel, and was not ashamed to declare everywhere what the Lord had done for my soul. Thus from personal experience I have been enabled to proclaim the Word, both as a "witness" and a "minister."
I, who before that time used to be so weak, that I could not preach for more than fifteen or twenty minutes for three consecutive Sundays without breaking down, was now able to do so each day, often more than once, and three times every Sunday.
N the providence of God, my conversion was the beginning of a great revival work in my parish, which continued without much interruption for
nearly three years. At some periods during that time there was a greater power of the divine presence, and consequently more manifest results, than at others; but all along there were conversions of sinners or restoration of backsliders every week—indeed, almost every day.
I was carried along with the torrent of the work, far over and beyond several barriers of prejudice which had been in my mind. For instance, I made a resolution that if I ever had a work of God in my parish, it should be according to rule, and that people should not be excited into making a noise, as if God were deaf or afar off; also, that I would prevent their throwing themselves into extraordinary states of mind and body, as though it were necessary that they should do so in order to obtain a blessing. I intended to have everything in most beautiful and exemplary order, and that all should be done as quietly and with as much precision as the working of a machine.
shouting of praises, no loud praying, no hearty responding; and, above all, no extravagant crying for mercy, such as I had witnessed in Mr. Aitken's parish.
But notwithstanding my prudence and judicious resolutions, the wind blew as it listed; we heard the sound thereof, but could not tell whence it came, or whither it went" (John iii. 8). In spite of all my prejudices, souls were quickened and born of the Spirit. I was filled with rejoicing, and my heart overflowed with joy to see something doing for the Lord.
Anything is better than the stillness of death, however æsthetic and beautiful, however reverential and devout a mere outward ceremonial may appear. Imposing pageants and religious displays may excite enthusiastic religiosity or devotionism; but they do not, and never can, promote spiritual vitality. Far from this, they draw the heart and mind into a channel of human religion, where it can sometimes overflow to its own satisfaction; but they never bring a sinner to see himself lost, or unworthy by nature to be a worshipper, and consequently, as such, utterly unfit to take any part in religious ceremonies.
On the Monday after my conversion we had our first week-day revival service in the church, which was filled to excess. In the sermon, I told them once more that God had "brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon the Rock, and . put a new song in my mouth" (Ps. xl. 2-3). I had not spoken long, when some one in the congregation gave a shriek, and then began to cry aloud for mercy. This was quickly followed by cries from another and another, until preaching was altogether hopeless. We then commenced praying for those who were in distress, and some experienced men who were present dealt with the anxious.
I cannot tell how many people cried for mercy, or how
THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD.
many found peace that night; but there was great rejoicing. I, who was still in my grave-clothes, though out of the grave, was sorely offended at people praying and praising God so heartily and so loudly in the church. I thought that if this was to become a regular thing, it would be akin to "brawling," and quite out of order. Practising singing and rehearsing anthems in the church, I did not think much about; but somehow, for people to cry out in distress of soul, and to praise God out of the abundance of their hearts, was too much for me. I was sadly perplexed!
At the close of the service, I told the people I would have a short one again the next evening, in the church, and that after that we would go into the schoolroom for the prayer-meeting. Thus ended the second day of my spiritual
On Tuesday evening we assembled in the church, and then went to the schoolroom for the after-meeting. There the people had full liberty to sing, praise, and shout too, if they desired, to their hearts' content, and truly many availed themselves of the opportunity. In Cornwall, at the time I speak of (now twenty-nine years ago), Cornish folk did not think much of a meeting unless it was an exciting and noisy one.
In this schoolroom, evening by evening, the Lord wrought a great work, and showed forth His power in saving many souls. I have seldom read of any remarkable manifestations in revivals the counterpart of which I did. not witness in that room; and I saw some things there which I have never heard of as taking place anywhere else. I was by this time not afraid of a little, or even much noise, so long as the power of the Lord's presence was evident. The shouts of the people did not hinder me, nor did their loud praying, nor their hearty responses.
There were some subjects on which it was impossible