One of the most heart-warming books that could possibly adorn any Christian’s bookshelf is surely the life of that old Cornish miner, “Billy Bray – The King’s Son.” Some books have a particular kind of ministry to the reading Christian – exhortation, comfort, instruction, and so on. The pages of Billy Bray’s biography minister nothing short of downright pleasure and satisfaction in the God of our salvation whom Billy so “matter-of-factly” proved on so many occasions.
One such occasion was the provision of a “pulpit” for a new chapel that Billy had recently built in order to preach the gospel to those who stood in need of its saving power. The chapel had been substantially built and completely furnished except for one very special piece of equipment — A PULPIT.
Completely undaunted, Billy set out to find the pulpit that he believed the Lord had laid up for him somewhere in that town in which he lived, but no pulpit was apparently forthcoming. He happened into the local auction rooms, and as he strolled among the rows of discarded furniture his eyes fell on two large corner cabinets, beautifully carved and greatly resembling the pulpits in many of the Methodist chapels in Billy’s day. “If I could just lay my hands on one of those cabinets,” he thought to himself, “I could cut a space in the side, hang a door over the space, put a Bible board on the top, and I would have my pulpit.”
Billy ran to the auctioneer. “How much do you reckon these cabinets will fetch?” he asked the man. On being told the likely price, Billy fumbled in his pocket and discovered that he had just enough cash to secure one of them for his chapel. “Mercy me,” he thought himself, “the Lord has given it into my hand.”
Next day was auction day and Billy hurried along to the sale. Soon it came the turn of the corner cabinets to go under the hammer. Billy was so convinced that he would have the piece that he held his money at the ready, but, his heart sank as the bidding rose higher and higher, and far and above, out of his reach. “Oh well,” he thought again, “the Lord must intend me to have the other one.” But, again, he was doomed to disappointment, for, the second cabinet, too, fetched far more than Billy could offer. Somewhat at a loss for an explanation as to what the Lord was performing at this particular time, Billy absent-mindedly followed the purchaser of the second corner cabinet out of the auction rooms where the “valuable” piece was loaded on to a small barrow and trundled up a hill to its new owner’s home.
On reaching the front door of the house, the man turned the cabinet, first this way, and then, that, in an effort to get it through the space, but to no avail. The back door was no more accommodating and the man bad-temperedly announced to his wife that he was going to “chop the thing up for firewood.” “Please sir,” said Billy, stepping forward from viewing the proceedings, “If it would be more profitable for you to sell the cabinet again, I’ll gladly offer you what I’ve got in my pocket for it.” “It’s a bargain,” said the man, “and on top of it, I’ll take it on my barrow to wherever you want to have it.” How Billy danced with joy as the barrow was trundled back down the hill again towards the chapel with him dancing by its side. “Mercy me, Lord,” he sang, “Mercy me; you knowed that I could never have carried that old cabinet from the auction rooms to the chapel by myself and so, Ye arranged to have it delivered for me. Mercy me!”
Any wonder Billy Bray once said that if they locked him in a beer barrel, he would shout Hallelujah through the hole in the cask!
From The Wicket Gate Magazine, published in the UK, used with permission.