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THE BISHOP'S ADVICE.
them, I was surprised by receiving a letter pressing me very much to come at once and preach in a parish in Staffordshire, near Birmingham. Mr. Aitken had been on a mission in the north, and on his return had stopped a night at this place, and preached one of his alarming and awakening sermons. The effect was so great that the people, together with their clergyman (a curate in sole charge) were in much trouble and anxiety about their souls; there was agloom hanging over them, as if they had been sentenced to some dreadful doom, and did not know what to do, or how to avert it.
It is a good thing to wound, but it should be with the object of making whole; it is a blessed thing to show sinners their lost condition, but only for the purpose of getting them to lay hold of the great salvation which is provided for such.
In his perplexity the curate went to see the Bishop (Lonsdale) of Lichfield. When his lordship had ascertained the cause of the trouble, he took up a pamphlet which was lying on the table, and said, "If you cannot get Mr. Aitken back, send for this gentleman, and pay his expenses." "This gentleman," meant the author of the pamphlet, which his lordship held in his hand, namely, myself; "his name and address are here,” said the Bishop; "take the book and read it carefully; he seems to have both knowledge and experience in such matters."
I was written to forthwith, and the letter urged me to 66 come at once." In compliance, I started off that night, and reaching the place on Saturday afternoon, opened a mission the same evening without further notice. On Sunday I preached three times, and went to the schoolroom for the after-meeting. There we had a scene which, for noise and confusion, was quite Cornish. Men and women cried aloud for mercy, while some believers who
were there shouted for joy. The curate in charge was completely bewildered, but felt he could do nothing; and seeing, as he remarked, that I appeared to understand it all, and know what I was about, he thought he had better remain still, till the noisy meeting was over. That same night, before he retired, he gave his heart to God.
The work went on in this place with the force as of an explosion; just as if hungry desires had been pent up a long time, and now they had vent and opportunity to be satisfied. The church was crowded every day, even in the week; and we were kept in the schoolroom night after night till twelve and one o'clock.
The town was a dark, smoky, sulphury place, and the air filled with exhalations and iron filings from the various works. It was a dreadful atmosphere, and everything was black and dirty; the red fires from the furnaces around glared all night long, and presented an awful appearance. To come from the pure air and beautiful scenery of Cornwall into such a place as this, was most trying and uncomfortable; but the reward was great. The work was deeply interesting, and scores of men and women of all classes, besides five clergymen, professed to be converted that week.
The devil did not leave us alone; he was very angry, and raised up a great opposition. The rector of the old church, who used to be most benevolent and smiling, suddenly changed, and made it his business to call on the curate in charge of the church, to tell him that he was quite sure that his friend the vicar (who was away at the time in ill health) would never have sanctioned this excitement. The curate said that the Bishop had bid him invite Mr. Haslam, and that he had done so, not knowing anything further about me or my work. The rector went off to write to the Bishop forthwith, and in the meantime ordered
THE CLERGYMAN'S REPORT.
bills to be posted all over the town, warning people against "the Cornish fanaticism at St. James's," which, of course, had the effect of drawing out a greater concourse of people.
What with excessive work and bad air, by Friday evening I was quite exhausted. I came out of the pulpit to the vestry, and remembering that Cornish miners, in order to recover themselves after climbing ladders, often found it necessary to lie down flat on the ground, I thought I would try the same plan for a few moments while the people were going out to the schoolroom. I did so; and while I was in this position a clergyman came in and asked me if I was ill. "No," I said; "I am only resting for a short time."
"Very well," he said, "rest on; but listen to me. The Bishop has sent me here to see and hear you, and this is my report to his lordship." Opening out a paper he held in his hand, he read: "St. James's crammed to excess with a most orderly and devotional congregation; their attention to the sermon marked and rivetted; sermon from St. Luke xv., verse 2, 'This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.' The exposition of chapter most vivid and instructive; never heard better, or so good; the application fervent and pointed; altogether, most edifying service." There, that is my report, so you need not be afraid of anything you hear. I will tell the Bishop all about it. Thank you very much for what I have heard. God bless you. Good-night!"
Oh," I said, springing up from the ground, "do not go yet! the best part is to come. You have only seen me let down the nets; come now and see them pulled up." "What is that?" he said. "Where am I to come?"
"To the schoolroom," I replied, divesting myself of my gown and bands, and putting on my coat with all haste. "Come with me!"
He seemed a little afraid, and asked many questions.. When we reached the place we could scarcely get in, and the noise certainly was tremendous.
"What is all this confusion about?" he asked. think I had better not go in to-night."
"Oh, come in! come in!" I said; "do not fear." But somehow he slipped off in the dark, and I did not see him again. When I entered, almost the first thing I noticed was the two curates of the parish church, taking notes. However, I did not heed them, or ask to see what they had written; for I would always rather have real work, though with a noise, than orderly, respectable stillness, and spiritual death.
On Saturday I rested, but was very unwell all day, and did not know how I should be able to work on Sunday. When the morning arrived, my strength and voice were gone; it was impossible to preach. The people met together and had a prayer-meeting before the service, asking the Lord to restore me. The curate was so much cheered, that he came to me and said, "If you only get up and try, we feel sure you will be able to preach." I got up, but had to go to bed again, for I was very ill.
Just before eleven o'clock a visitor arrivedqueer-looking little man, in a black suit of Quaker cut, and a college cap without a tassel, with the corners of the square board rounded off. Standing by my bed-side in this costume, he said that he was a convert of Mr. Aitken's, and had come all the way from Birmingham to hear me. 66 Moreover," he said, "I am a herbal doctor. Please let
me feel your pulse."
He did so, and looking grave, sounded my lungs, put his ear to my chest, and then asked, "What is the matter with your left lung?"
I replied, "I don't know. 'Three doctors told me, more than fourteen years ago, that it was all gone."
THE HERB DOCTOR.
“Well,” he said, "you stay quietly in bed till I come again at half-past eleven."
When he returned, he bade me get up and dress, and then gave me a cupful of something very hot with cayenne, at the same time telling me that I should be quite strong enough to preach by twelve o'clock.
So I was. I preached that morning, and again in the afternoon; after that I went to bed till six o'clock, when I took another dose, and in the strength of it preached a long, loud sermon to a crowded congregation; after which I attended the after-meeting, and was there till twelve o'clock at night. I then set off to the station, accompanied by at least two hundred people, and left by the one o'clock train for Birmingham, to the house of my new friend the herbal doctor. He nursed me like a mother, and let me go on my way home to Cornwall the next day.
I never heard any more of the rector of the parish, or of the Bishop, but was frequently cheered by letters saying that the work thus begun was going on week after week in the same place. Some years after, when I was passing, I stopped there for a few days, and gave them "a lift," as they called it; and I then saw with half a glance that they had become practised workers-that both clergymen and people were fitted to missionize the whole country side.
One's great object in this mission work is not only to save souls, but to encourage believers to do their part; that so the effect of a mission may be continued and extended. God has a twofold blessing for us. He says "I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing;" and it is well to remember that the benefits we receive are not so much to be kept for self, as to be imparted and transmitted to others, even as they were transmitted to us.