Return to Liverpool
Lockhart had been away in Scotland for a period of six months and his time of blessing there no doubt had a powerful effect on him when he returned to Merseyside.
Hope Hall, Liverpool
Hope Hall (now The Everyman Theatre)
At the time of his return he found that Reginald Radcliffe was holding special meetings in Hope Hall, and he joined in with him. God was really moving with many people anxiously enquiring how they could be saved. Strong men lay helpless on the forms, overwhelmed by spiritual concern. A committee was subsequently formed in order to promote the work that God was doing through Reginald Radcliffe, William Lockhart and others, and they took Hope Hall and entrusted the services to Lockhartís management. Under the auspices of the committee, meetings were arranged in large and central places and many notable speakers were invited to take part. These all came together throwing all their energies into the revival movement. He did, however, also seek to draw everybodyís attention to the danger of people getting hold of a Ďone-sided truthí which he considered the next thing to error. He feared that in the anxiety to proclaim a free and present salvation, there was the danger of omitting to declare the whole counsel of God i.e. that with the sonship there must be the service, and that the believer must also lead a life of conflict and self-sacrifice until the Lord appears. Unless this was so, he said, there was the danger that many who had received the good news gladly, became, after a while, cold and worldly.
His future career
About this time the question of his future career was under consideration. He had to decide whether he should go full-time as an evangelist, because he had been greatly used to win souls, or whether to stay in business. He was in fact invited to be a paid evangelist with "The Carrubers Close Mission. This was something that he struggled with for some time because he had an inner longing to go through the country to preach, especially to young men. However, in it all he felt strongly that his call was to settle in Liverpool. His influence amongst the merchants of Liverpool was considerable and in fact many were Christians with numbers of them carrying a pocket Bible around with them. Most of his preaching engagements were henceforth in Liverpool and Merseyside and he availed himself of holiday seasons to undertake more distant engagements.
Preaching around the North
Over the coming years many invitations came in from all around the North of England, often speaking in the open air, public halls and theatres, as well as places of worship. One notable time of blessing was in Cleckheaton in Yorkshire in April 1862 where he preached one Sunday in a chapel which held about 1500 people, and it was well filled, morning and afternoon and in the evening crowded even to the pulpit stairs. A great many young people, about 600/700 remained after the service in the body of the chapel for a an address to the anxious. Some of his favourite places were Birkenhead Park, and Lime Street Lamp. He was a very strong advocate of open-air meetings as being a great means of reaching the masses of the population. Very many, he said, received their first impressions through preaching in the open air.
His marriage to Mary Jane Freeman
Lockhart met his wife to be in 1864 in Norfolk by the name of Mary Jane Freeman, who was the youngest sister of a friend of his in that place and they became engaged in June 1865. It was an engagement formed after prayer and followed by prayer, so he could say, "I never sought a wife, except from the Lord and I never saw anyone I could think as my wife until I saw MJF. From the commencement of his engagement he enlisted his intended wife as a helper by prayer, commending to her special cases for intercession, and telling her beforehand of every meeting he expected to address, that she might do her part of the work. They were married on 27th June 1866 in Norfolk and spent their honeymoon in Scotland. They received many invitations from his many friends there, which enabled him to introduce his wife to some of the loveliest parts of the country without much recourse to hotels. He also received a number of invitations to preach whilst there which they felt it was right to accept. Even in this time of holiday the spiritual need of Liverpool did not cease to engage his concern. Whilst there he received a letter proposing a series of meetings in Waterloo, a suburb of Liverpool. This he accepted and he preached there for nearly two years to a congregation in which all denominations were represented.
Their first home
When they returned from their honeymoon they settled in Liverpool and lived in 137 Upper Parliament Street (not far from where the infamous Toxteth riots took place in the 1980ís). They were not concerned about the best house in the best locality, but as to where they could live where they could best serve the Lord. This was always held in readiness for the Lordís service. Among other gatherings there, it occurred to Lockhart to invite many lay preachers of his acquaintance to spend an evening in united prayer at the commencement of the winterís work, to which about 70 persons attended. This was remembered as a time of great power in pleading with God on behalf of the work. Lockhart continued to convene similar meetings every year or six months. On one such occasion the presence of God was so felt in the house that the cook came to ask Mrs Lockhart to go and speak to her fellow-servant, who, whilst the preachers were praying in the Dining Room, became concerned about her soul whilst hearing them in the kitchen. Later on in their life they moved to 34 Devonshire Road.
Outreach in Wavertree Park, Liverpool
At this time he occupied each Sunday in June and early July either in Wavertree Park or on the playground at the top of Upper Parliament Street where he conduced a series of services organised by a group of regular workers. Wavertree Park was an easy walk from his house and he sought there an opportunity of getting at the many idlers sauntering there. His efforts to win souls there, however, was not to pass unchallenged and rumours were afloat of a determined effort to stop it. A number of working men and others had, gladly, gathered around the preacher and so great was their resentment at any interference that some of the cotton porters expressed their willingness to duck anyone in the adjourning pond who should venture to break up the meeting. This suggestion, however, needles to say didnít receive Lockhartís approval.
While Lockhart was preaching on the afternoon of 7th July a police officer pressed through the crowd, and, with a hand which shook with agitation, produced a written order from the Town Council, requiring Mr William P Lockhart "forthwith to cease from preaching or lecturing, and to quit the said park." When the man had done his duty in delivering the notice, Lockhart, who did not recognise the right of the Town Council to prohibit preaching in the parks, when so conducted as to disturb no one, put the paper in his pocket and proceeded with the service. Though threatening "an action or such other proceedings as the law directed" that document proved utterly harmless, and no more was heard of it; and Lockhart preached in the same spot on three Sundays of that summer. Meanwhile he called upon the Town Clerk, and explained that there was perfect order at this meeting, and that any impending disturbance had, in his belief, been instigated by certain people, concluding by telling him that he meant to go on preaching at any risk. He was received in the most friendly manner, and dismissed with the advice, "Well, Mr Lockhart, do nothing rashly!" "Ah!" was the rejoinder, "that was what the Town Clerk of Ephesus said many years ago."