Does the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ cover the healing of these mortal bodies? Let us see.
1. If sickness has come into the world through sin, which is conceded, it must be got out of the world through God's great remedy for sin, the cross of Jesus Christ. If sickness is only a natural condition it may be met by natural means, but if it be abnormal, and but a stage of death, which has passed upon all because all have sinned, then its divinely appointed remedy is the atonement of Jesus Christ, which God has set over against all the effects of the fall. It is probably included in the comprehensive language of the apostle in his superb antithesis in Rom. v: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, For if by one man's sin, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." This "abundance of life" is no doubt the life of the body as well as the soul.
2. The types of the Old Testament contain very remarkable foreshadowings of the healing of our bodies through the atonement of Jesus. Look at the cleansing of the leper for example, in Lev. xiv. It was through the sacrifice of two birds, one of which represented the death, the other the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Look again at the deliverance of the people from the fearful plague that had fallen upon them because of their murmuring and lusting. How was it accomplished? By Aaron the high priest taking his censer full of burning coals off the altar of sacrifice and then filling it with sweet incense and standing between the living and the dead and making atonement (Num. xvi: 46-50). Look again at the story of the brazen serpent. It was a clear case of physical suffering through the sting of the serpent, representing the power of Satan in our bodies as well as our souls. The healing was accomplished by the uplifting of the brazen serpent, a direct type of Jesus in His Atonement. It is idle to spiritualize this. True Christ applies it to the salvation of the soul, the receiving of eternal life, but eternal life is life in all its fullness, and Christ constantly uses the term "life" in reference to the body as well as the soul. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God," has exclusive reference to the body. "That the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh has also exclusive reference to the body. What right has any man to take a narrative, whose primary reference is to a case of physical healing through a look of faith to that which symbolized a crucified Redeemer, apply it exclusively to the spiritual aspect of salvation, and, although it belongs to the broader dispensation of the Gospel, actually narrow it down and make it mean less than in the days of Moses? Undoubtedly it includes the greater salvation of the soul, but certainly it does not exclude the salvation of the body and its deliverance from the venomed stroke of Satan through a look of faith at the crucified Redeemer.
3. Other Old Testament references to Divine Healing through the Atonement. The thirty-third chapter of Job is the most profound discussion of God's government and God's chastenings, of any part of the Old Testament Scriptures. There Elihu, speaking as the voice of God, expounds the gracious and paternal purposes for which He sends us our afflictions. The philosophy of disease and healing is perfectly given. It is very simple. Sickness is God's second voice to the man who will not hear His first. It is His loud and solemn call to the soul to draw back from some forbidden path or to step forth in some line of neglected duty. Its remedy is therefore, first, instruction. "If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man His unrightness." Its next prescription is the atonement of Christ and confidence in the merciful deliverance of God on account of the great ransom. "Then He is gracious unto him, and saith, 'Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom,'" or rather, as it is in the margin, "an atonement." Surely this is all plain enough to a candid mind.
But we find it all still further emphasized by the strong language of David in the one-hundred-and-third psalm. "Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." Why does he use the word "redeem?" Simply because he is thinking the same thought that Elihu expressed. The healing of his diseases is through the redemption which his prophetical faith had already anticipated through the coming of the Messiah. True, he may not have taken it in all the depths of its meaning, but the Holy Spirit knew the meaning of the word which He was afterwards to explain, and doubtless he used it in its full significance through the mouth of the Psalmist.
4. Allusions to the atonement in the later prophetic Scriptures. Of course the highest and boldest of these is Isaiah, and the central chapter of his sublime book and the entire Old Testament, is the fifty-third chapter. There we behold the atonement for sin and wickedness in the most vivid light, prefixed by God's great "Amen," "Surely," or "Amen, He hath borne our sicknesses and carried our pains." We need not now stop to prove, as no one can deny, that the word, "borne" means, as a substitute, to bear in the sense of atoning. It is simply enough to say it is the very same word used in the book of Leviticus to describe the atonement which the scape-goat made for the sins of the people, when he bore them away to a forgotten land, and it is the same word in this chapter when it is said that He bore the sins of men. But if anything more is needed it is supplied in the next verse where the great catalogue of the blessings of the redemption of Christ is crowned by the last clause, "By His stripes we are healed." The only retreat left for those who question this simple teaching is to apply the healing here mentioned in a spiritual sense. This would make the verse a weak and unworthy tautology. The spiritual healing has already been described in three clauses, covering the whole field in detail. Our transgressions are first specified, that is, our acts of sin; our iniquities, that is our more inward sin; our peace, that is, our positive spiritual blessings. What more is left except our bodies, and what more natural than to add another literal reference to them, "by His stripes we are healed." If it mean anything else it is simply a weak repetition of the same idea already expressed in the previous clauses without any necessity or reason. To strain a passage from its literal or natural meaning simply to prove a passage or a doctrine is unworthy of true exegesis, and will soon smother the possibility of faith in anything on the part of the man or woman who does it. The Lord give us all a simple-hearted readiness to take Him at His word and to take His word to mean what it says.
5. New Testament references. It is an easy step from Isaiah to Matthew viii: 17, for this is but a translation of the Old Testament verse. Happily it is a translation by the mouth of the Holy Ghost, and leaves no doubt of the meaning of Isaiah. The meaning of sickness and infirmities, especially when taken in connection with the context and the healing of human bodies in which He was at the time engaged, which this verse was quoted to explain, is beyond the possibility of a question; and the verbs employed--"took" and "carried"--are even stronger than those used in the Old Testament. But, some may say, this passage may refer, not to Christ's death, but rather to His earthly ministry and benevolent works of healing, that thus He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses by healing, with His touch and power, and that it has no reference whatever to His cross, which had not yet been erected and endured. We are glad, therefore, to have another passage with which to sum up this series of biblical foundations, and which admits of no shadow of a question. It is the clear, strong statement of Paul in Galatians iii: 13: "Christ had redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.'" Here it is absolutely certain that it is the death of Christ on the accursed tree that is the ground and price of redemption. Whatever the curse is, it is removed by the death of the cross, the atonement of Jesus, direct substitution of His life for ours.
Now what is the curse that is removed? It is the curse of the law. All that is necessary, therefore, is to find from the Old Testament what the curse of the law was. Of course we know that it was a far-reaching and eternal curse, but it was also a temporal curse, a physical curse, a curse involving sickness, suffering, infirmity, disease, pain. If this can be explicitly shown, it is as certain as the truth of inspiration that the death of Christ has removed all cause for such sickness, disease, infirmity, pain, in so far as it comes on account of sin. Now "to the law and to the testimony." How was the curse of the Old Testament actually specified? It is simply wonderful how exact the correspondence is to the very terms we have been using. Read Deut. xxviii: 15-22. Therefore it is perfectly scriptural to say Christ has redeemed us from consumption, fever, inflammation, having been made curse for us.
Beloved, what solid ground we are getting beneath our feet. It is in this connection that Isaiah uses the literal words respecting Christ's suffering on the cross, "Thou hast made Him sick in smiting Him." Our dear Lord actually bore, in His dying agonies, our sicknesses, and physicians tell us that He, who was never sick in His life-time, really died of a ruptured heart through the awful pressure of His woe.
Have we not then in these Scripture passages a sure foundation for the simple, glorious statement on which faith may stand, nay, may lie down in everlasting rest, that the atonement of Jesus Christ covers our sicknesses, and furnishes solid ground for claiming, in His name, divine healing through simple faith, and when we are walking in holy obedience, which, of course, is the indispensable element within which we can continue to receive any of the blessings of the Gospel?
Let us remember in conclusion a few simple inferences that will necessarily
follow this great truth.
* Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly, (August 1890): 122-124.
Dear friends: I never feel so near the Lord, not even at the Communion Table or on the borders of eternity, standing beside the departing spirit, as when I stand with the living Christ, to manifest His personal touch of supernatural and resurrection power in the anointing of the sick. Be quite sure, beloved, that you are doing something that is dearer to God than it can be to you; that you are not going to be wring from Christ, by force or persuasion, a blessing that He is not willing to give, but you are coming into the very line of His own will. It is not that your will is overcoming His, but your will to be healed because He wills it, and you have His Holy Word under you and at the back of you, as your authority for what you do. For seven years, I believed that Christ healed a great many people. I saw Him heal some I prayed for, but I could not take it for myself, because I was not quite sure that it was included in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as purchased and finished for all who accepted Jesus fully. I did not feel that it was my redemption right. I thought it was something I might have, or might not. It was a reality when it came, but it was an uncertainty in each particular case; and, never, till I saw it in His Word, in the redemption of Jesus, as my redemption right, could I stand upon it and take it, without hesitation or doubt. You cannot have it, if there is a grain of doubt, consciously or wilfully, mingling with your faith; you must come, believing; God does not require much faith, but what you have must be entire. There must be no "perhaps," or "if" in it; there must be no questioning whether it is His word and will that you should realize it, for He has invited and bidden you. He has provided it for you, and will be grieved if you do not take it.
It may be simpler to many hearts to look at it this way. The personal ministry of Jesus when on earth is our first ground for claiming healing. He was anointed to heal all who had need of healing, and did heal all who really touched Him. The poor leper came and said, "Lord, if Thou wilt," and He said, "I will." He never said anything but this to anybody, for He is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever." Christ's own work on earth was uniform - He healed all who came to Him for healing, all who touched Him and really believed on Him; and He is still the same.
The second ground is His death on the cross. On Calvary, in His own body, He bare all our bodily liabilities for sin. Everything that was ever against you, every claim against your body was met by His body. And there is now no reason why that body of yours should be punished a second time for anything which His body has borne already, and once for all. The atonement of Christ takes away sin and the consequences of sin for every believer who accepts Him.
The third ground is His marvellous resurrection. His death would not have done it if He had not risen. His death took away your liability to disease, but it did not give you the life that would sustain you. You wanted a positive fountain of real vital energy, therefore Jesus rose in the body, and that form which the disciples saw, was His bodily form. He stood among them with hands, and feet, and brain, and heart, exactly like your own, and to-day, in the heavens, if you could see Him, He is a man just like ourselves. He has such a heart as man, only glorified; such a brain, such a set of nerves and vital organs. His body is not for Himself, nothing that He has is for Himself, all the fullness of Christ is for His Church, His spiritual fullness has sanctified your soul, His bodily energy vitalizes your body, and you can take it, you have a right to take it, today. I take it afresh today from the living Christ - His nerves, and heart, and brain and bodily strength for my own life. I think whole people need it as much as sick people. It is like the water which Christ turned into wine. It is a better kind of health. I have been trying it in all ways, and working on it for four years. We who are well can take it; and live on it, day by day, and I do take it every morning, and it has given me many times the strength of my natural energy.
Now, you have seen Christ on earth healing; you have Christ crucified putting away the causes of disease; then you have Christ, the living One, a Fountain giving out - always His own life; so that He does not put into you today a little bit of health that only heals the old disease and staunches the old wound; but He, the living One, comes into you, and henceforth lives in you Himself in your body, so that your bodies are members of Christ, and you are "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." Oh, is it not wonderful? "Handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have." The bones of Christ are for your weak bones. Have you weak knees and limbs? Well, if you cannot stand upon your own bones, you can stand upon the bones of Christ, which he lends to you, and gives to you, and with which He holds you up. Have you a weak heart? Never mind that. Don't wait to see if that heart is better, but take His great throbbing Heart, and let His life be the impulse of your physical life. It is not something you receive, or something you thought you had secured, but it is Somebody, it is Christ you get. It is Jesus Himself, your Life, manifested in your mortal flesh. Now that is the foundation of it. There is a great deal that could be added, but this is enough for today.
How are you to take it? First, be sure to be definite. Don't indulge in any generalities about this thing, any haziness, any sponginess, softness, or half and half believing; come right out to a definite point, and cross it, and put a stake down, and mark it forever; and date from this afternoon till the great day of His coming, as an epoch in your life when something was settled, and passed out of your hands forever, so that you have no more to do with it. Be definite. In what respect? First, definitely settle it forever, so that you will never discuss it any more, that this is God's Word, that this way of healing is His way; and don't come here to be anointed, and then go away and talk to your pastor and Christian friends, to see whether this is true or not, for this would be mocking God, deceiving your own soul, and wearing out and corroding your capacity for faith. This is a dreadful thing to do. I have known a great many do this, and then, after going back, seem to become like an old rusty nail, without any grip, and with nothing left to take hold of. Come now, and commit yourself to God's truth first. Say "This is God's truth, and I stand upon it."
Secondly, commit yourself and your disease, your life and your strength to Him, and say, Lord, not only is this true, but this is true for me, and this is mine. Thou dost offer it to me in Thy Word, as my redemption right, purchased for me and paid for, that if I do not take it, nobody is the richer, and I let it go by default. Now, Lord, I come today, and unworthy in myself, I simply claim it because it is given me for Jesus' sake, and I solemnly and definitely take it now. I just step up here and put down my name for it, and henceforth, Lord, remember - remember in every trial of life, and remember in the great day - that today I take Thee as my physical life, just as I have taken Thee as my spiritual life. And now, from this moment, I believe it is mine, and, God helping me, I will never doubt again that from this moment it is given to me according to Thy Word.
I remember saying that to God with an awful sense of its solemnity, and I do not think He has permitted me to doubt once since. Just for a second there came a doubt, and it seemed to me, that if I cherished it, I and lose with God, that I just staggered for a moment. Then I recovered, and felt I dared not raise the question again. God could not lie: it was His Word, I took it and, whether I felt it or had any sense of it or not, I just went out and acted as if it were true, and I found it true.
Then, one thing more - be sure you use it for Him. It is an awfully sacred thing to have the very blood of Christ flowing in your veins; it is a solemn thing to have the life of Jesus quickening your heart, and lungs, and nerves, and it would be a dreadful thing to defile it by contact with sin and the world. I could no more go now and spend an evening for my own selfish entertainment, that I could go and deliberately walk in to sin. I feel this life belongs to Jesus; I feel it is Jesus Himself; and He expects me to walk through the world as He walked, and to use every breath, thought and power constantly for Him.
Now, there is another question which I must not overlook. I feel I should be speaking only to part of this company, if I did not say a word about it. The question will come up in your mind, "Am I myself right with God; am I in a position where I have a right to claim this?" Well, dear friends, it is a very important, a vital question; and you must settle it before God, because any doubt about your own position or standing would hinder the rest of faith. You must be right with Him yourself. But it need not take you a month in order to get right, you can get right here where you are, if you are really willing to be led by the blessed Holy Spirit. If there is any sin you are conscious of, lay it at His feet, thoroughly - and utterly, claiming the atoning blood, and now believe that it is forever cleansed and washed away, and then take Him as the rectification of it, as the righteousness over against it. Are you conscious of being wrong with anybody, or wrong with Him? Instantly let the will and the whole being yield and surrender in the purpose of obedience at any cost, and then go forth from this place to lose no time in living this thing right out practically. I believe, before coming here, you have done this, but if it should be that you are conscious of anything that the Lord would frown upon, before you go any further, put your will in His hands, choose His will in the matter, and then, remember He will accept that will, and will enable you to carry it out promptly.
Are you conscious of a lack of faith, or a lack of holiness or spiritual power? Take the Lord Jesus Christ Himself for that as well as for the healing. One of my greatest stumbling blocks was this - I found healing was promised to the obedient ones, to those who are righteous with God, and I could not feel conscious of being so myself. But then the Lord showed me that He was my righteousness as well as my healing, and that He was my faith as well as my healing, that I was not anything but a babe, and that He did not expect anything from me in myself, that He knew when He took me, that I was helpless and useless; and so I threw myself upon Him and covenanted with Him that He should be to me righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and so, to this hour, if I need faith for anything, I don't try to work up faith, I don't agonize in prayer until I get a certain degree of faith; I just say, "It is Thy faith, not mine; Thou hast it for me, just as Thou hast the blood, and the power, and the cleansing; it is all Thine, and I just borrow it for the time. Lend me Thy faith for this hour;" and I take His faith, and depend upon it to be mine, I go forward and act as if I had it, and I find that He meets me and gives me the blessing of confidence in His healing and His power. I trust this will help you. Are you conscious of being weak or wrong? I wish you were more conscious of it. God expects nothing from your own natural life. Let the whole thing be done with, and just identify yourself with Jesus, and say, "Jesus is within; not I, but Christ; He is my righteousness, and my faith, and He is my bodily life too." He does not promise you that you will never be sick, He does not promise you that you will never die; but He does promise you that, until your work is done, until His purpose is fulfilled concerning you, He is the strength of your life, your victory for bodily as well as spiritual infirmity and oppression. Just go forth now, and walk in His strength, moment by moment, step by step, with sweet and thankful rest.
Be sure that you do not depend upon the anointing, be sure that you do not depend upon the touch - these are like Gehazi's staff. Be sure that you do not depend on any feeling. Be sure that you are not looking for any thrill or any consciousness or any physical sensation. Keep your mind off all these, and just reckon that a definite transaction is being finished between you and a definite, honest Christ today - that He means it, you mean it, and that it is settled forever. That is what trust is. It is an insult to God to have anything less. It is as much as to say that He does not mean what He promises, and that it is a farce. It is truly awful for us to act so. It is intensely real with Him, and it must be so to you.
Now, dear friends, will you do this, not in your emotional nature, but just with your will? Do you choose and purpose and determine - feeling or no feeling - that you will take His Word, and that you will put in your personal claim to Him to be your righteousness, your faith, and the power to keep you right; and for the grace to consecrate your life in the future? If so, you may say, Lord, this is all that I can do, but this is what Thou dost expect of me, as far as I know, with the very best light I have, and with a true and honest heart, I take Thee thus. Now, Lord, I believe Thou hast taken me, and here, before these witnesses, and before the great judgment, do I settle this question forever. I commit my whole being to Thee, and henceforth it is Thy care, and it is Thy responsibility; and now, Lord, Thou art mine - Thy body is mine, all Thy strength is mine, and day by day I shall draw upon it to my utmost need, for all the services Thou hast given me to do.
Then, begin to go forth, walking and stepping out, quite like one who is healed, quite like one who has a Christ walking by your side and giving you all his physical strength to lean upon; and don't be too careful of yourself; don't be rash and silly, trying to show how strong you are, but when He calls you to any service, just calmly go forward, and rationally do it, expecting Him to give you the necessary strength to carry you through. And when you have got through, don't expect to have a spell of weariness and reaction, but just take Him for the reaction too, and don't first lie down when you are tired, but get to your knees and pray it off, and then lie down. I cannot sleep mightily things for the heathen world. He is waiting for us to count Him faithful to do mighty things for the Christian church. He is waiting for us to trust Him to do mighty things in the way of healing. We spend too much time in imitating the men of Nazareth, where He could not do "many mighty works...because of their unbelief." I have now and then seen such glimpses, during this Conference, of what our God could do, and what our God would do, if only a little band of us understood His heart, if only a little band of us would get from the human to the divine side of prayer. If we could abandon our own energy, and that strange, almost blasphemous idea of working upon God until we compel Him to do a thing, and see the glorious reality, that God only waits for our united trust to move.
**The Word, Work and World, (July-August, 1885): pp. 204-205.
Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17).
There is a place for natural and scientific healing. In the economy of nature in almost every form of life and organism there is a certain recuperative power. The abrasion of a branch heals itself and frequently is stronger in the place affected than before. The severed bones of a dislocation knit by a natural process, and it is said they seldom break again in the same place, which has been not only healed but reinforced by nature's recuperative power. The chief reliance of the intelligent physician is upon this innate force in the human frame which the doctors call vis medicatrix naturae.
This natural principle has been turned to account by the skill and experience of centuries in connection with the medical art. While there have been in every age quacks, pretenders, and charlatans, yet, upon the whole, the science of medicine and surgery has made much progress and accomplished undoubted results for the relief of suffering and the benefit of humanity, especially in the past century. While its skill is limited and its work marked by much human imperfection, yet he would be a very narrow-minded critic who should refuse to class it among the good gifts of God's creation and providence. It is not a perfect gift by any means, but there is much in it that is unquestionably good.
And there are multitudes of people who know no better way. They do not know the Lord either as a Saviour or Healer, and to deny them the only help they are able to avail themselves of would be short-sighted, cruel, and fanatical.
But God has a better way for His children. Divine Healing is the heritage and privilege of the family of God, while like Joseph's boughs that ran over the wall, its blessings reach beyond the people of God and often bring help and deliverance to those who are strangers to His love, yet it is primarily intended for Christians. "Is any among you sick, let him call for the elders of the church, and the prayer of faith shall heal the sick and the Lord shall raise him up." This is the "perfect gift" which recognizes no limitation of functional or organic disease as human remedies do, but claims the boundless promise of the infinite God for all our needs.
And Divine Healing is wholly different in its principle and processes from natural healing. It is distinctly supernatural although not always miraculous. It means the direct touch of God, a divine addition to the innate forces of human nature. It is not the mere improvement of old organs, functions, and conditions, but it is the beginning of a new kind of life, even the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Himself imparted to us through our union with His person. It is the beginning, the germ, the earnest of our own future resurrection.
Therefore, it is as impossible to combine it with natural healing as it would be to combine a journey to Albany by a stage coach and an express train, or the ascension of the latest skyscraper with one foot on the elevator and the other on the winding stair. The truth is medical methods are mechanical while Divine Healing is not by external applications but by an internal and subtle vital force which medicine cannot supply or imitate. If a combination is attempted, it will probably result in a conflict instead of a union of forces and do more harm than good. It is all right to ask God to bless the use of means, but this is wholly different from the direct operation of Divine Healing which needs no help from man and where the attempt to help may only hinder.
Divine Healing, being part of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to us on the principle of free grace and by simple faith without works. We cannot work it out any more than we can work out the salvation of our soul. We can only receive it by simple trust as the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Indeed, the double action of the mind in "looking this way and that way" as between the doctor and the Lord is very apt to weaken faith. We know that the faintest prop is often sufficient to tempt us to lean our weight upon it and lessen our supreme confidence in God alone. We all remember the story of the man who in his dream heard a voice calling to him, "Let go that twig;" and as he let go, he fell into the arms of mercy which were waiting to receive him. A very little twig is often sufficient to keep us swinging with part of our weight at least withheld from the entire committal which is essential to effectual faith.
In order, therefore, to receive divine life for our body, it is necessary that we should turn from all other hopes and reliances, realize our entire dependence upon the Lord, and commit our case definitely to Him, believing that He undertakes it and refusing to doubt or question even though there may be some testing and delay. It is the prayer of faith that heals the sick, and Christ has defined faith in this explicit way, "When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things ye ask for and ye shall have them."
As Divine Healing is the direct imparted life of the Lord Jesus Christ to our body, it is essential that we shall know Him and know how to touch Him to appropriate His strength and live by His life. It is as true today as it ever was, that as many as touch Him are "made perfectly whole." But to touch Him is much more than to mingle in the jostling crowd and to run after other people who appear to us to have some gift of healing or power of faith that we do not possess. Therefore in this work we teach people first to come to the Lord for salvation and to become personally acquainted with Him, and then as they learn to live upon Him for other things, it will be perfectly natural for them to take Him also for their bodily needs and find experimentally true such precious words as these, "In Him we live and move and have our being." "The life, also, of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh." "Because I live ye shall live also." "The Lord is for the body and the body is for the Lord." "He that eateth me even he shall live by me."
After we have known the Lord as our Healer it is a very serious thing to go back to the "beggarly elements of this world." Faith can go forward forever, but there is no divine provision for retreat without great peril and loss. The pathway of life is strewn with mournful examples of the children of God who have turned aside and fallen by the way. Medical treatment does not appear to have the same effect upon those who have learned the better way and given up the good for the perfect gift. Even drugs have a doubly deleterious influence upon a body that has been cleansed and purified by the life of the Lord Jesus. Let us be very careful about even looking back after we have taken advance ground. "If they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they might have had opportunity to have returned, but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God." Let us not make our God ashamed of us.
As law abiding citizens, however, let us be very careful about ignoring or violating the laws of the State. While you may not think, and I do not think, that vaccination makes a material difference for one who is really trusting God, yet it would be a very arrogant and discourteous attitude to refuse to conform to the requirements of the public schools and the medical authorities with regard to this matter, as well as the whole system of sanitary legislation, which is a matter affecting the interests of the community quite as much as your own.
Finally, let us be very careful about assuming the responsibility for the healing of others, and thus making ourselves liable as criminals in many cases through the death of persons who were in no condition to trust the Lord for themselves. We have no right to assume the responsibility for others beyond their own faith in God. It is well to remember that far-reaching direction which the apostle has given us respecting our social attitudes, "He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved unto men."
+A.B. Simpson, Earnests of the Coming Age, New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Co., 1921, pp. 98-103.
Words are always feeble to express truth, and especially spiritual verities. None that I can command would ever express what I now desire to say, and nothing but a sense of duty would tempt me to put into print statements of facts which have to do with the very springs of my being, and with the most momentous crisis of my life. But, for the glory of God, and in the hope that this may meet the eye and possibly bring a ray of comfort to the heart of some of the great host of suffering children of God, among whom I was so long numbered; out of the fullness of a heart overflowing with thanksgiving for the great things He has done for me, I venture to tell, in as few words as possible, how the Lord Jehovah became to me Jehovah Rophi, the Lord my Healer.
At the age of twenty-five I left college, very much broken down through overwork, and entered the ministry in a parish where for seventeen years and a half I laboured with a weak body, twice seriously injured by accidents almost fatal; for years a prey to dyspepsia of the worst kind; to liver disease and all its attendant miseries; with nervous depression and fainting fits after the slightest unusual exertion. A burden to myself, a source of constant anxiety to my family and friends, a nuisance to the doctors, and a kind of walking apothecary shop, I dragged through my work with what sickly weariness and painfulness they only know who have suffered like things. After passing through the great spiritual crisis of my life, and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, I came to New York in the fall of 1883, with a heaven of joy in my soul, but in great weakness of body, and physically unfit for much ministerial work. After a rest of a month or two, during which I followed the usual course of invalids, a dear friend invited me to attend one of Mr. Simpson's meetings in the Tabernacle on 23d Street.
Of Divine Healing at that time I knew nothing, except by hearsay and the evidence of one or two friends who had been wonderfully healed in answer to prayer.
But as the greatest spiritual blessing of my life had come to me a short time before by God's mercy in giving me the spirit of a little child and the willingness to be counted a fool for Christ's sake - so now I prayed Him to give me the same spirit, to take away from my mind all pride and prejudice, and that if this doctrine of Divine Healing were indeed His truth, and His truth for me, I might receive it and act upon it at once. The prayer was not long unanswered. The light soon shone, and the glorious Truth that Christ Jesus came not simply to save my soul from sin by His death, but to save my soul and body by His life - by the outpoured blood to redeem me, and by the in poured blood to sanctify and invigorate my whole being - this blessed truth came to me with all the freshness of a new revelation, and Jesus, through it, came and stood in the midst of my being as the source of all its energies, bodily and spiritual. Having once thus seen Jesus as never before, and accepted Him as my life for soul and body, the rest was easy. Thankfully acknowledging his "unspeakable gift," I was anointed for healing, consecration, and fuller service. From that hour of blessing - never to be forgotten - peace has reigned in my soul, and health in my body. More than two years have passed, the richest and best of my life. The body, instilled with the life of God, and the soul joyful in His salvation, have gone on from strength to strength, "one new man in Jesus Christ;" both working for Him today with a vigour and freshness never before known. I am a younger man, in every faculty of my being, than I was twenty years ago. More than twice the work, parochial and other, ever attempted by me, is now done with an ease and pleasure never mine before. The body that for years hardly knew what one day's freedom from pain was, now rejoices in robust health. Throat and lungs used nearly every day and night in the week in public speaking on the street and in the Church and Mission Hall, grow stronger instead of weaker through their continual exercise. The mind is clearer - thinks and studies with ease and comfort - while the soul seems to enlarge daily in its capacity for God and His truth. In a word, the old, dry pump of my former being, trying with laboured effort to produce the little pail of water once or twice a week for my thirsty people, has been turned into a springing well, perpetually flowing and overflowing in the service of perfect freedom, whice leaves me stronger at the close of each duty than at the beginning. Not, as I once thought, does God give me strength only for service, but strength in service, for every new or further call upon me.
I need hardly add that the body once filled with every new or old remedy for disease, has not touched or tasted medicine for nearly three years. A physician has never once been consulted, and yet my oldest friends have expressed their astonishment to me at the marvellous change.
To God be all the glory for all the wondrous things He has done for me; and on His altar, for fuller service to the souls of man, I hereby re-consecrate this saved, healed, and fulfilled life, to be His and His only, my Lord and my God, my Saviour of soul and body!
"And so the years flow on, and only cast Light and more light upon the shining way. That more and more shines to the perfect day; Always intenser, clearer than the past. Because they only bear me on glad wing Nearer the Light of Light - the presence of the King!"
About fifteen years ago the dear Lord saved my soul and won my heart to Himself, and from that moment I have been conscious that I was redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Soon after this the truth of divine healing was presented to me, and at that time I was ill with serious chronic disease, including my eyes, affected with granulated lids and farsightedness, and had been very frail in my body all my life.
I believed it at once and attempted to trust for healing, but I was very ignorant of the teaching of the Word of God. I had simple faith, believing Jesus could do all things, but did not know of the definite promises in His Word, and that I could claim and have them made real to me in the day of suffering and trial, or that healing is in the atonement of Christ, and free to all as they meet the conditions.
The Lord was very patient with me and so faithful. I trusted in a way, but wavered and questioned when all around me protested and insisted upon medical skill, and argued that remedies are provided by the Lord.
I was not strong enough to meet all this opposition, not having the Scriptures for my foundation and a "thus saith the Lord" to fall back upon, so I yielded and went back to the old way of remedies.
I can never forget the tender love of God in not reproving me, but so patiently helping me on even in the path that was not the most pleasing to Him, with the intention of bringing me out into the freedom of the full Gospel in later years.
He seemed to say to me, "My child, I want you to understand for yourself every step you take, and see this truth in the Word of God, and not depend upon the testimony of others, and I will teach you from My Word and by my Spirit, and lead you into light and liberty, and enable you, by My grace, to walk in the path I have chosen for you!" I trusted Him to do so, having learned my helplessness to even have any faith, and also the precious lesson to sympathize with others who are slow in understanding His will for them, and that we must be established in the Word and rest on this sure foundation, if we are to stand in the severe testings that come to us all.
I had no religious influences around me when a child, and was brought up in a life of luxury and ease, having almost every wish gratified; so when the Lord took me in hand He saw it necessary to discipline and teach me many lessons not pleasing to the flesh, but important in preparation for my future work.
I stumbled on for years, serving Him as best I could and receiving much blessing in my spiritual life and the opening up of His precious Word to me, with an earnest desire, implanted by the Holy Spirit, to fully follow Him.
It is about six years since He sent me to England and permitted me to meet with His dear children in London and Switzerland, and learn more fully of the teaching of Divine healing and a life of union with Christ.
At this time He called me to lay aside my glasses, which I had worn for several years when reading, writing or sewing, and trust my eyes to Him alone for healing. They were very weak and in such a condition that it caused great suffering and inflammation to use them for any length of time without the glasses, and they had been so all my life.
I gave up the glasses, wishing to obey God, and having the assurance that He would make my eyes strong. I commenced using them just the same as if I was wearing the glasses, without being conscious of any change in any way, only the clear conviction in my soul that God was working.
From this time the Lord met with me in healing, and my expectations were more than realized and the "exceeding abundantly" given to me, and I have had for the last few years literally new eyes, and am able to use them constantly - and often by lamp light for hours late into the night - without the least trouble, and in fact no thought about them, only that it is a delight to use them and be so free from any trouble in this way.
This encouraged me to trust fully for healing for my body and strength for my work, and laying aside all means, I was entirely healed and made to praise the Lord for His marvellous goodness to me.
Since I entered Berachah Home nearly five years since I have learned to know and trust the Lord in a deeper sense than ever before, and prove Him to be a complete Saviour, as I could not have done in an easy place. Day by day I have taken my strength from the living Christ, and it has been a wonderful lesson to learn how to feed upon Him daily for physical strength, and to find in actual experience that He giveth "power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength."
I have again and again seen my natural strength fail and my body wither under the pressure of work and testing in many ways, but at the same time I have been conscious of a Divine life, flowing in and sustaining me, a life which was not my own, but from God, and I understood a little of the meaning of II Corinthians 4:10,11,16 and John 6:57.
It has taught me to walk very softly before Him, and whenever I let care and the many petty trials of life touch my spirit, my body will wither under it very quickly, but as I spring into my position in Christ and hide under His protecting wing, letting Him fight the battles for me and walking in obedience, all is well and a glorious springing life sufficient for my work is given to me, and I am enabled to run and not be weary, and walk and not faint. I do believe that it is not overwork which breaks down so many of God's dear children, but the failure to mount up with wings as eagles, and to sit in the heavenly places in Christ.
In the summer the victory Christ has given me over the heat and sun has made me sing songs of praise. I have suffered for several years with my head when in the sun, and His Word has been now fulfilled to me, "The sun shall not smite thee by day," and entire victory given, and I rejoice to know, but actual experience, that Jesus is the Saviour of soul and body, our Keeper every moment, and a present help in every time of need. In our work in Berachah Home God is with us. Hundreds have found Christ to be their Saviour, Sanctifier and Healer, and continually notes of praise come from all parts of the country from those who have been with us, telling of what the Lord has done for them and how markedly He is using them in service for others.
I am the son of Rev. R.S. Pardington, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1876 my father was pastor of the Fort Street Church, Detroit, Michigan. I was then ten years old, in very good health, and attending one of the public schools. In May, while in school, I received a severe injury through the carelessness of my teacher, a lady, who, seizing me by the coat-collar and jerking my right arm up and back till I felt something snap, gave me a severe shaking. I was greatly frightened. The injury extended to the right arm, shoulder, neck, and back, giving a terrible shock to my nervous system.
When I reached home I was in a very excited condition, and denounced the conduct of my teacher in wild and incoherent terms. My parents, alarmed by my confused, unnatural language, sent for our family physician. I became delirious; and, by the time he arrived, my pulse had risen to 140, with a very high fever. Nausea and diarrhea set in, and for twenty-four hours my condition was critical.
I soon recovered from this intense nervous excitement. My pulse fell from 140 to 120; but at this latter height it remained, with slight change, during my entire illness. I complained of a severe aching throughout my right arm and shoulder, as if the muscles and ligaments had been strained. The closest examination by the most skilful physicians revealed no injury. Soon the two middle fingers of my right hand began to twitch, then the hand moved spasmodically, and, finally, the whole arm became utterly uncontrollable. My parents insisted that I should control the movements of my arm, but I could not do so. The muscles of the right arm gradually contracted, drawing the hand toward the shoulder. This increased, till the palm of the hand settled between the shoulder-blades, where the hand remained day and night for three and a-half years. The muscles of my neck also contracted, drawing my chin to my breast. The muscles assumed great rigidity. I was under the special care of the best surgeon in Detroit, who administered electricity to me, and ordered a brace, which I could not wear. My spine was curving laterally, and was also thrown forward, so that my chest and abdomen projected abnormally. The only comfortable attitude which I could assume was to lie on the floor, flat upon my stomach, my chest and head being supported by my elbows. In this position my spine curved still more. I was twisted entirely out of shape, and when lying upon the floor, on my back, my body formed a complete arch, my head and heels only touching the floor. I was, indeed, a helpless cripple.
I continued to grow worse. A change of physicians would occasionally prove beneficial to me; but the disease, every feature of which baffled medical science, was every day more deeply seating itself in my system. Every physician who investigated my case was puzzled. My general health was excellent and there seemed to be so much to encourage us. The unanimous judgment of the members of a medical society, who met to consider my case, was that the nerves of sensation were in a normal condition, but that the nerves of motion were thoroughly disorganized.
In 1877 my father was appointed to the pastorate of another church in Detroit. Although our new home was less than three miles distant, it was with the greatest difficulty that I was removed there. During that and the next year, I was taken to various mineral springs and summer resorts to try the effect of a change of climate and scenery, but I grew steadily worse. Steel corsets and plaster-of-paris jackets were in turn tried. It often took a whole afternoon to put a plaster cast on me, so crooked and helpless was I. After the case was put on me, I was placed upon my back on a board, one or two persons sitting on my body to keep me, by main strength, in as straight a position as possible while the jacket dried. So great was the tension of the muscles up and down my back, that upon regaining my feet the case would often break over at the back.
My right arm still retained its position over my head. Nothing that was used affected it the least. Ointments, liniments of all descriptions, every expedient that medical science could suggest was tried, but all failed. I was rubbed night and morning for an hour, in the hope of softening the muscles. As a last resort, my dear mother, unknown to any member of our family, took the matter to the Lord. It seemed to her that, if the arm did not soon come down to its proper position, she would die. Despairing of earthly help, she committed the arm to Him, desiring that His will should be done in the matter. One evening soon after, while conversing with a friend, I took my arm from over my head and it fell at my side naturally. The movement was one of ease and rest. My arm was instantly healed, and has caused me no trouble since then. As I think of that hour I wonder that we did not then claim perfect healing of the Lord; but our hearts were blinded; we did not know the way of faith.
In the fall of 1880 we moved again; this time to a beautiful little village in southern Michigan. It was almost impossible for me to be taken to our new home. I was placed under the kind and tender care of a Christian physician in the village, and at first success seemed to attend his efforts to relieve me. My head, through a change in my case, having been straightened from my breast, now began to be drawn backward. I lost all control of it. When not supported by my hands, clasped together at the back of my head, it fell on my shoulders. The muscles of the neck enlarged, I became as helpless as a babe, and the days of my life appeared to be numbered. The hour was a dark one.
Having been converted at the age of seven, I enjoyed the love of God in my heart, during my illness. From the first I was resigned to my lot, willing to suffer or do anything for Jesus' sake. Soon after my injury, I received the assurance that I should get well. While others gave me up, I was hopeful and happy. I knew that God would heal me, though how I did not know. And, now, in the spring of 1881, while my death would not have been a surprise at any time, I was confident that in some way I should yet be cured.
In the summer "The Prayer of Faith," by Carrie F. Judd, was placed in the hands of my mother by a friend. It came like a revelation to her. Before I had read the book, I was so impressed that the dear Lord had sent it to me, that I was ready to accept healing. After reading the first few pages I dropped on my knees and thanked God for revealing Himself to me as my healer. Without the knowledge or advice of any one I stopped the use of my medicine, and committed myself to the Lord for healing. I wrote to Miss Judd to pray for me. My parents were in sympathy with me, but I did all the acting. I dismissed my physician immediately. Yielding to the persuasion of my parents, I did not take off my plaster jackets. Friends in Michigan united with those in Buffalo for my complete recovery. I expected that the Lord would heal me instantly. As I felt no better, and my friends saw no change in me, I was perplexed and disappointed. And here was my great struggle. I did not know, as I do now, that faith is not sight, and that we must believe before we see. The Lord taught me a lesson then which has since enabled me always to conquer in His strength. First, He renewed the assurance that I had always had that I should be healed; but He taught me to look to Him and not to what He would do. Secondly, He impressed me with the conviction that I have always had since, and which has proved so true, that, as my disease had come upon me slowly, so would my recovery be gradual. This to many may seem strange and not in harmony with the experience of others; but time has shown me that the glory of God has been advanced in my gradual recovery. Many, very many, have found in my case ground for their own faith, and I thank God that, although my health has been regained slowly, it has been no less the power of the Lord in my body. The lessons He has taught me in my time of waiting have been so precious to me that I would not exchange my experience if I could. After all He knows best.
In a few days my head was healed instantly. I regained the complete use of it in a moment of time. The water on the brain, signs of which were appearing, all passed away, and the muscles of my neck relaxed so that I could move my head at pleasure. But my form was still out of shape. My spine was as crooked as a letter S. My abdomen projected so far that my shoulders and hips nearly touched. I still wore my brace, as without it I could not walk.
From the time I accepted Christ as my Healer the following question had confronted me, "Can I trust the Lord to heal my crooked and diseased spine!" I was quickly forced to a decision. My former physicians and friends were watching me to see if my faith would reach to my deformed condition. I had a fearful struggle. In Buffalo Miss Judd was praying for me. On Thanksgiving Day I gained the victory! I decided that I could and would trust God to make me "every whit whole." I took off my plaster case and walked out in the strength of Jesus. Oh, how weak my spine was! I was sorely tempted to put my case on again, but His power proved sufficient for my need. I was permitted at this time to realize Christ's death as an atonement for sickness as well as for sin. With this light, notwithstanding my deformed condition, I boldly claimed that I was "every whit whole on the finished work of Christ." This ground, once taken, I steadfastly maintained. I confessed my belief to every one. In order that I might fulfill the command of James v., 14,15, in the summer of 1882 I visited Miss Judd in Buffalo. There I was anointed and was taught the secret of faith in a most precious manner. My trip was a source of great blessing to me. My life was quickened spiritually and physically, and I returned home greatly improved and strengthened. I improved steadily, to the joy of my friends. I reasoned that if I was healed I should act as if I was well. This I did in acting my faith. I gained in a marked manner only as I acted my faith.
In 1883 my father was transferred to an Eastern conference and appointed pastor of the First church, Hartford, Conn. Here I was able at once to have a private teacher and to resume my long neglected studies. In 1884 I entered school again. My spine had become straight and I was well. My health improved steadily in every manner, and my parents and friends rejoiced in the fact that the dear Lord had restored me entirely to health. In 1885 we moved to Brooklyn, and since then I am no more the helpless boy, but the strong, firm, vigorous young man. Can anyone wonder that I have dedicated myself to God, to do whatsoever He shall bid me? With a sound body, a consecrated life, and a willingness to be used in any way for Him, I am waiting His summons to my life work, which, I feel assured, He will point out to me in His own time and way.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. - Isa. 11:31.
++A.B. Simpson, ed. A Cloud of Witnesses Concerning Divine Healing. New York: The Word, Work and World Publishing Co., 1887, pp.10-14, 109-114, 118-128.