Charles Spurgeon once wrote a little book entitled Eccentric Preachers. He described 11 peculiar ministers, his concluding example being Billy Bray of Cornwall, England. Billy, an alcoholic miner, found the Lord at age 29. “In an instant the Lord made me so happy I cannot express what I felt,” said Billy. “I shouted for joy. Everything looked new to me; the people, the fields, the cattle, the trees. I was like a man in a new world. … ” Billy joined the Methodists and set out immediately to win others. His bursting, driving energy made some people call him a madman.
“But they meant ‘glad man’!” said Billy.
He took Cornwall by storm. On meeting strangers, Billy would inquire about their souls; and he would shout “Glory!” whenever hearing of anyone being saved. Sometimes he would pick people up and spin them around the room. “I can’t help praising God,” he said. “As I go along the street I lift one foot and it seems to say ‘Glory!’ and I lift the other, and it seems to say, ‘Amen!’ And they keep on like that all the time I’m walking.”
From age 29 to his death at 73, he danced and leaped and shouted his way through each day. He preached and built chapels and took orphans into his home. He fasted Saturday afternoon till Sunday night each week. When pressed to eat, he would say, “On Sunday I get my breakfast and dinner from the King’s table, two good meals too.”
When his wife died, Billy jumped around the room in excitement, shouting, “Bless the Lord! My dear Joey is gone up with the bright ones! Glory! Glory! Glory!” And when his doctor told him he, too, was dying, he shouted, “Glory! Glory to God! I shall soon be in heaven.” Then lowering his voice, he added, “When I get up there, shall I give them your compliments doctor, and tell them you will be coming, too?”
His dying word as he fell asleep on May 25, 1868 was “Glory!”
“It does not seem so very horrible after all,” commented Spurgeon, “that a man should be eccentric.”
Shout praises to the Lord!
With all that I am, I will shout his praises.
I will sing
And praise the Lord God for as long as I live. (Psalm 146:1,2)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). May 25.