The Liverpool Merchant
William Lockhart was a well-known evangelist in the 19th Century, so much so that he was included in the book "Twelve Famous Evangelists" by James Stephen (recently published by Ambassador Publications) along with Wesley, Whitfield, Moody, Torrey, Spurgeon, and William Booth. He was referred to as "The Young Menís Evangelist" because as we will see later on he was greatly used in reaching such for Christ. As with Reginald Radcliffe he was a layman being employed as a Liverpool Merchant until the end of his life. This is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that he was also to become the pastor of a 1200 member church, this being the second largest church of its day in Liverpool.
Coupled with this astonishing feat is the fact that he was a very keen sportsman in his earlier years and captained Birkenhead Park Cricket Club as well as being Captain of the Liverpool Eleven and he became quite famous throughout England as being the best wicket keeper in the country.
Alexander Maclaren in the preface to the book described Lockhart as being an unconventional Christian, in the days when it had not yet become conventional to be unconventional! As he said "a man who was captain of a Liverpool Eleven and vaulted over a five-barred gate, outside the church where he was about to hold a Revival service, was certainly not cast in the ordinary revivalist mode.
Samuel Smith MP described him as a unique man, unlike any he ever knew. He had something of Knox, something of Bunyan and something of Cromwell. He feared nothing but the face of God, and like a strong man, he ran his race. He said that those who were accustomed to hear him testified that few men equalled him in expounding the Word of God and that his knowledge of the Scripture was almost unrivalled. It was an inspiration to listen to him: he spoke with such directness and assurance of faith that his words went home to every heart. He had astonishing powers of speaking and an admirable voice, capable of reaching the largest audience with a command of the language, hardly excelled by John Bright himself. His lucidity of thought and expression was such that no one doubted what he meant. He always went straight to the point, was a hard hitter, and almost always carried his audience enthusiastically with him. His prayers were even more remarkable than his sermons: his intense pleading with God, the holy boldness with which he claimed fulfilment of Godís promises, wrought a solemn awe in the congregation. For no man, he said, did he have a deeper respect.
The affection with which William Lockhart was held in Liverpool and Merseyside will become evident as we look at this remarkable manís life and the grief that was felt at his early death at the age of 57 years in 1893.
The content of this section has been drawn mainly from the book entitled "W P Lockhart, Merchant and Preacher. A life Story" by his wife Mary Jane Lockhart together with Rev Alexander Maclaren in 1895.