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A Quaint Cornish Miner

BILLY BRAY, the King's Son, was born in the little
       Cornish village of Twelveheads, near Truro, in 1794.
His father was a godly man, but died in early manhood,
leaving Billy to the care of a devout grandfather--one of
the early Methodists who gladly suffered persecution with
Wesley during his visits to Cornwall.   Under the sheltering
roof of this pious man Billy spent the first seventeen years
of his life.
   Arriving at the age of seventeen, the passes from the
sheltering and gracious influences of a godly home to the
perilous conditions of a life shorn of all restraint, and
among companions wholly given to vice.
   To quote his own words: "I became the companion of
drunkards, and during that time I was very near Hell.
I remember once getting drunk in Tavistock; when going
home we met a large horse in the way; it was late at night,
and two of us got on the horse's back; we had not gone
far before the horse stumbled against a stone, and, turn-
ing right over, both of us were nearly killed.   At another
time I got drunk, and while fighting with a man my hat
fell into the fire and was burnt.   I stole another to wear
home, and narrowly escaped being sent to jail for it."

   As if to indulge the more freely in wild rioting, he took
lodgings in a public-house.   "There," he says, "with
other drunkards, I drank all night long.   But I had a sore
head and a sick stomach, and worse than all, horrors of
mind that no tongue can tell.   I used to dread to go to
sleep for fear of waking up in Hell; and though I made
many promises to the Lord to be better, I was soon as bad
or worse than ever.   After being absent from any native

county seven years, I returned a drunkard."   Marriage
made no difference, and his poor wife had frequently to
fetch him from the village drink-shop.
   At this time his wife, who was a backslider, spoke to
him of the joy she onced possessed, and thus intensified
his longing for peace.   "Why don't you begin again?"
he asked, "and then I might start, too!"   At three o'clock
in the morning he got out of bed and began to pray at his
bedside.   He says: "The more I prayed the more I felt
to pray,"
and the whole of that forenoon he spent in
agonising prayer.
   For long days and nights he continued wrestling in
prayer.   He tells us that even "while working in the mine
I was crying to the Lord for mercy."
  Returning from the
mine one evening he went straight to his bedroom, regard-
less of the meal that was ready for him, and dropping
on his knees, he poured out his soul in earnest, believing
prayer.   To quote his own words: "I said to the Lord,
'Thou hast said, They that ask shall receive, they that seek
shall find, and to them that knock the door shall be
opened, and I have faith to believe it.'   In an instant the
Lord made me so happy that I cannot express what I felt.
I shouted for joy.   I praised God with my whole heart for
what He had done for a poor sinner like me; for I could say,
'The Lord hath pardoned all my sins.'   I think this was
in November, 1823, but what day of the month I do not
know.   I remember this, that everything looked new to
me, the people, the fields, the cattle, the trees.   I was
like a man in a new world.   I spent the greater part of my
time in praising the Lord.   I could say with Isaiah, 'O
LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry
with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou com-
fortedst me
[;]' or like David, 'He [The Lord] brought me
up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet
upon a rock, and established my goings.'

   Thus triumphantly he passed from darkness into light;
from the bondage of sin into the glorious liberty of the
children of God; and the thrill of Emancipation filled
his soul with joy and his lips with song!   He was now
twenty-nine years of age, having spent twelve years in
the "far country" seven of them in Devonshire and five
in his native village.

[Twice-Born Men] [Christian Home Bible Course]