WHEN I came to Stambourne, one of the old men who had overlived their former Pastor, and whose grey hairs adorned the table-pew of the old Chapel, was William Richardson, a farm-laborer, and a man of clear and strong mind. He was able to read, so as to make fair use of his Bible and hymn-book, and he had a heartfelt knowledge of the Gospel. It is said that “Master Charles” was very fond of Will, and that Will used to like to talk with the boys, and that the two have been seen walking up and down the field together when Will was following the plough.
Will Richardson had a reputation for what they call “cramp ” sayings, many of which used to be retailed in the village twenty years ago. On one occasion, when a young minister, just settled in the neighborhood, had occupied the pulpit for the day, in exchange with the present Pastor, he was met at the foot of the pulpit stairs by Will, who, shaking; his hand, said, “Ah, young man, you have got a good many stiles to get over before you get into Preaching Road!” Will spoke the truth, as it turned out, but it was pretty straight hitting.
Visiting him one day, and finding him full of faith and giving glory to God, on my expressing a strong desire for fellowship with him in those experiences, he remarked that, when the sun shone and the bees were at work, if there was honey in one skep, there was enough to fill another.
Some friends had visited him, and had observed that, if they were blessed with his experiences, they should be beyond all doubt and fear; and he replied that God only gave these great things when his former gifts had been made good use of. I quoted the parable of the talents, and he said, “That is it.”
Will was wont to say, “Depend upon it, if we get one inch above the ground in our own estimation, we get just that inch too high.”
On one occasion I found him excessively weak, but quite sensible, and he said, “Don’t we read of one of old tried in the fire?” I quoted the passage, and he replied, “That is gold indeed.” He then said that he had felt the two armies of the flesh and the spirit as lively in him now as when he was well and about the world, and that he was disappointed and grieved to find it so, as it gave the enemy his chief advantage. So Satan had laid all his sins for years past before him, and insinuated that they must end in destruction. “But,” said he, “I was enabled to say to him: ‘God is a gracious and holy God, and what he has put into my heart he will not take away any more; and he has put love into my heart; and if he were to send me to hell I must love him still.’ And I told him not to say any more to me about my sins, but to ‘go to the Lord about them; for he knows whether I be pardoned, and made his child, or whether I be a hypocrite.’ He could not carry such a message. Then there seemed to come a strong voice, which said, ‘He shall die in the Lord.’ And oh, the peace and the joy I cannot describe to you nor nobody! Oh, that his dear name was known and loved by every person all over the whole world!”
My last visit, in July, 1870, or four days before his death, showed the ruling passion for “cramp ” sayings to be strong in death. He was quite sensible, and, after conversation, I took up the Bible, and, opening on the seventeenth of John, I commenced reading, when he shouted aloud, “Oh, that is my blood horse! ” I said, “What do you mean?” and he replied, “I can ride higher on that chapter than on any other.” So I read it, and prayed with him for the last time.