O Thou everlasting and almighty God, Ruler of the universe, Thou who madest this world and me, Thy creature upon it, Thou who art in every place beholding the evil and the good, Thou seest me at this time and knowest my thoughts. I know and feel that my innermost thoughts are all familiar to Thee, and Thou knowest what motives have induced me to come to Thee at this time. I appeal to Thee, O Thou Searcher of hearts, so far as I know my heart, it is not a worldly motive that has brought me before Thee now. But my "heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," and I do not pretend to trust it; but Thou knowest that I have a desire to dedicate myself to Thee for time and eternity. I would come before Thee as a sinner, lost and ruined by the fall, and by my actual transgressions, yea, as the vilest of all Thy creatures. When I look back on my past life, I am filled with shame and confusion. I am rude and ignorant, and in Thy sight a beast. Thou, O Lord, didst make Adam holy and happy, and gavest him ability to maintain his state. The penalty of his disobedience was death, but he disobeyed Thy holy law and incurred that penalty and I, as a descendant from him, incurred that penalty. I acknowledge the justness of Thy sentence, O Lord, and would bow in submission before Thee.
How canst Thou, O Lord, condescend to look on me, a vile creature? For it is infinite condescension to notice me. But truly, Thy loving kindness is infinite and from everlasting. Thou, O Lord, didst send Thy Son in our image, with a body such as mine and a reasonable soul. In Him were united all the perfections of the Godhead with the humility of our sinful nature. He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, and through Him we all have access unto Thee, by the same Spirit. Through Jesus, the only Mediator I would come to Thee, O Lord, and trusting in His merits and mediation, I would boldly approach Thy throne of grace. I feel my own insignificance, O Lord, but do Thou strengthen me by Thy Spirit. I would now approach Thee in order to covenant with thee for life everlasting. Thou in Thy Word hast told us that it is Thy Will that all who believe in Thy Son might have everlasting life and Thou wilt raise him up at the last day. Thou hast given us a New Covenant and hast sealed that covenant in Thy blood, O Jesus, on the cross.
I now declare before Thee and before my conscience, and bear witness, O ye heavens, and all the inhabitants thereof, and thou earth, which God has made, that I accept the conditions of this convenant and close with its terms. These are that I believe on Jesus and accept of salvation through Him, my Prophet, Priest, and King, as made unto me of God wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption and complete salvation. Thou, O Lord, hast made me willing to come to Thee. Thou hast subdued my rebellious heart by Thy love. So now take it and use it for Thy glory. Whatever rebellious thoughts may arise therein, do Thou overcome them and bring into subjection everything that opposeth itself to Thy authority. I yield myself unto Thee as one alive from the dead, for time and eternity. Take me and use me entirely for Thy glory.
Ratify now in Heaven, O my Father, this Covenant. Remember it, O Lord, when Thou bringest me to the Jordan. Remember it, O Lord, in that day when Thou comest with all the angels and saints to judge the world, and may I be at Thy right hand then and in heaven with Thee forever. Write down in heaven that I have become Thine, Thine only, and Thine forever. Remember me, O Lord, in the hour of temptation, and let me never depart from this covenant. I feel, O Lord, my own weakness and do not make this in my own strength, else I must fail. But in Thy strength, O Captain of my salvation, I shall be strong and more than conqueror through Him who loved me.
I have now, O Lord, as Thou hast said in Thy Word, covenanted with Thee, not for worldly honors or fame but for everlasting life, and I know that Thou art true and shalt never break Thy holy Word. Give to me now all the blessings of the New Covenant and especially the Holy Spirit in great abundance, which is the earnest of my inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. May a double portion of Thy Spirit rest upon me, and then I shall go and proclaim to transgressors Thy ways and Thy laws to the people. Sanctify me wholly and make me fit for heaven. Give me all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Place me in what circumstances Thou mayest desire; but if it be Thy holy will, I desire that Thou "give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with food convenient, lest I be poor and steal, or lest I be rich and say, "Who is the Lord?'" But Thy will be done. Now give me Thy Spirit and Thy protection in my heart at all times, and then I shall drink of the rivers of salvation, lie down by still waters, infinitely happy in the favour of my God.
-Saturday, January 19, 1861.
September 1, 1863. Backslidden. Restored. Yet too cold, Lord. I still wish to continue this. Pardon the past and strengthen me for the future for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Louisville, KY., April 18, 1878. Renew this convenant and dedication
amid much temptation and believe that my Father accepts me anew and gives
me more than I have dared to ask or think, for Jesus' sake. He has kept His
part. My one desire now is power, light, love, souls, Christ's indwelling,
and my church's salvation.
The following testimony was given in substance by Rev A.B. Simpson on Sunday night September 12th , in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination.
An occasion so unique as this may justify a personal testimony, and the opening up of the holiest and most sacred confidences of one's Christian life. Fifty years ago the one who addresses you this evening was ordained in this sacred place. He was a young, ambitious minister of twenty-one, and had not yet learned the humbling lessons which God in His faithful love is pleased to teach us as fast as we are willing to learn. God was pleased to give him a loyal and united congregation and what would ordinarily be called a successful ministry. He was sincere and earnest up to the light he had received and had not learned any other gospel than the old story of the cross. God had graciously given to him a very true conversion, and, notwithstanding the temptations of college life and the ambitions of his intense nature, he was according to the ordinary standards an earnest, sincere, and successful minister, and the measure of blessing that God was pleased to bestow upon him in this dear old church was far in excess of anything he had a right to expect.
But even after nine years of his active ministry in Hamilton he had not yet learned the deeper lessons of spiritual life and power which God was pleased to open to him after taking him from this place. There is a remarkable passage in Isaiah telling us that when the Spirit is poured out from on high, the wilderness shall become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be counted for a forest. When that experience came to him, the field of his former ministry, which had seemed so fruitful, suddenly appeared barren and withered, and he felt as if his true ministry had scarcely yet begun. It may not be out of good taste to testify to the things which God has been pleased to show to him in the more than forty years that have passed since his last official relations with this Church.
In the first place, He took care to show him very thoroughly, very patiently, very inexorably his own nothingness. In a crisis hour of his spiritual experience, while asking counsel from an old, experienced friend, he was shocked to receive this answer, "All you need in order to bring you into the blessing you are seeking, and to make your life a power for God, is to be annihilated." The fact is, the shock of that message almost annihilated him for the time, and before God's faithful discipline was through, he had learned in some adequate measure, as he has been learning ever since, the great truth which our text expresses, "I am not sufficient to think anything of myself."
Second, the next great lesson the patient Master was pleased to begin to teach him was the all-sufficiency of Christ. Never shall he forget the morning that he spent in his church study reading an old musty book he had discovered in his library on the subject "The Higher Christian Life." He had struggled long and vainly with his own intense nature, his strong self-will, his peculiar temptations, and his spiritual life had been a constant humiliation. He had talked to his people about the deeper things of the Spirit, but there was a hollow ring, and his heart was breaking to know the Lord Jesus as a living bright reality. As he pored over this little volume, he saw new light. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as a living all-sufficient presence, and he learned for the first time that Christ had not saved us from future peril and left us to fight the battle of life as best we could, but He who had justified us was waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit and substitute His strength, His holiness, His joy, His love, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, helplessness, and nothingness, and make it an actual and living fact, "I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me." This was indeed a new revelation. Throwing himself at the feet of that glorious Master he claimed the mighty promise, "I will dwell in you and you in me." Across the threshold of his spirit there passed a Being as real as the Christ who came to John on Patmos, and from that moment a new secret has been the charm, and glory, and strength of his life and testimony. And he shall never forget how he longed to come back to the land of his birth and the friends of former years, and tell them that magic, marvelous secret, hid from ages and generations, but now made manifest in the saints, which is Christ in you, the Hope of glory. Henceforth it was not his struggles, his character, his ethical culture, his moral goodness, but his constant dependence upon the living One who has said, "Because I live, ye shall live also." And whatever has been accomplished these forty years in personal victory or public service, he counts it a great privilege to stand here today and say, "Not I but Christ." "I have learned the secret, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
This is not only the secret of spirit victory, but of mental efficiency and physical strength. It is such an identification with the incarnate Christ that His intellectual force passes into our limited capacity, and we can say, "We have the mind of Christ"; and His physical vitality quickens our failing strength, lifts us above disease and infirmity, and enables us to say, "The life of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh."
Yes, "we are not sufficient even to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." And although we are daily delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, yet the life also of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh."
Furthermore, this divine sufficiency extends to all our service for Christ and makes us efficient in the Master's work. It is a great thing to learn that we do not have to go on our resources or fight on our charges. Our good works are prepared for us that we should walk in them, and "God is able to make all grace abound toward us, so that we, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work." Christian usefulness is not the exploiting of Christian talent, but witnessing in the power of the Holy Ghost and doing the works of Jesus because He works in us. The Holy Spirit is our power for service. He quickens the mind in the apprehension of the truth. He stirs the heart with love for souls. He inspires the preacher with faith, authority, and divine efficiency. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, and not only works in the preacher but in the hearer, giving efficacy for the word of His grace and using often the humblest instruments to accomplish the greatest good. The following lines sum up the testimony of the speaker and many others who have learned the secret of a living and indwelling Christ.
Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be
Perhaps the most wonderful experience of this deeper revelation of Christ is in the realm of answered prayer. This great secret opens heaven and puts in our hand a checkbook which only needs the endorsement of faith to give us fellowship with all the wealth of God's providence and grace. How wonderful the answers to prayer which gild the memories of difficulty with celestial and eternal light.
Third, the third great light which God has permitted to fall upon these forty years is the glorious light of prophetic truth and millennial hope. Once the vision stretched away into a human horizon, the golden age to which one was looking forward was to be brought about by evolution, human progress, modern civilization, the spread of Christianity, man's best endeavors. But a generation ago there came a new revelation and a new hope, not of a slow and uncertain evolution of human progress, but a glorious revelation of prophetic fulfillment, a kingdom coming not from the earth but from the skies, the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, the promise of the Coming One, who some glad day will supersede the poor counterfeit kings of earth and will fulfill His glorious promise, "This same Jesus shall so come again." It is glorious indeed to be working for a cause that cannot fail, not struggling to convert the world, but gathering out of it a little flock to meet the King and welcome Him back to end the tragedy of human failure,
And make this blighted world of ours
His own fair world again
Oh, how it dries our parting tears when our loved ones cross the threshold, etc. Oh, how real it makes our redemption, not some far-off mysterious heaven, but this old green earth restored, and these mortal frames clothed in immortality and glory.
And finally, has come the vision of the world and its evangelization, the sacred trust which widens our horizon, makes every man our neighbor, and gives us a bishopric as wide as the human race. That is the glorious renaissance of modern church history, the new missionary movement, the splendid watchword, the evangelization of the world in the present generation.
Let us thank God together, dear friends, for the wonderful new revelation
which God has given us in the opening years of the twentieth century. He
is short-sighted indeed who allows himself to miss this holy calling and
fails to have a part in these stupendous days upon which the end of the age
has come and which look out already into the eternal morning.
I look back with unutterable gratitude to the lonely and sorrowful night when, mistaken in many things and imperfect in all, and not knowing but that it would be death in the most literal sense before the morning light, my heart's first full consecration was made, and with unreserved surrender I first could say,
'Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my All shall be,'
Never, perhaps, has my heart known quite such a thrill of joy as when the
following Sabbath morning I gave out those lines and sang them with all my
heart. And if God has been pleased to make my life in any measure a little
temple for His indwelling and for His glory, and if He ever shall be pleased
to use me in any fuller measure, it has been because of that hour, and it
will be still in the measure in which that hour is made the key-note of a
consecrated, crucified, and Christ-devoted life.
All that I know of Divine Healing and all that I have written in the preceding pages, the Lord had to teach me Himself in my own life, and I was not permitted to read anything but His own Word on this subject until long after I had learned to trust Him for myself and, indeed, had written much that is in this little book.
For more than twenty years I was a sufferer from many physical infirmities and disabilities. Beginning a life of hard intellectual labor at the age of fourteen, I broke hopelessly down with nervous prostration while preparing for college, and for many months was not permitted by my physician even to look at a book. During this time I came very near death, and on the verge of eternity gave myself at last to God. After my college studies were completed I became the ambitious pastor of a large city church at twenty-one, and plunging headlong into my work, I again broke down with heart trouble and had to go away for months of rest, returning at length, as it seemed to me at the time, to die. Rallying, however, and slowly recovering in part, I labored on for years with the aid of constant remedies and preventives. I carried a bottle of ammonia in my pocket for years, and would have taken a nervous spasm if I had ventured without it. Again and again, while climbing a slight elevation or going up a stair did the awful and suffocating agony come over me, and the thought of that bottle as a last resort quieted me. Well do I remember the day in Europe when I ventured to the top of the Righi in Switzerland, by rail, and again when I tried to climb the high Campanile stairs in Florence, and as the paroxysm of imminent suffocation swept over me, I resolved that I should never venture into such peril again. God knows how many hundred times in my earlier ministry when preaching in my pulpit or ministering by a grave it seemed that I must fall in the midst of the service or drop into that open grave.
Several years later two other collapses came in my health, of long duration, and again and again during these terrible seasons did it seem that the last drops of life were ebbing out.
I struggled through my work most of the time and often was considered a hard and successful worker, but my good people always thought me so "delicate," and I grew weary of being sympathized with every time they met me. Many a neglected visit was apologized for by these good people because I was "not strong." When at last I took the Lord for my Healer, I just asked the Lord to make me so well that my people would never sympathize with me again, but that I should be to them a continual wonder through the strength and support of God.
I think He has fulfilled this prayer, for they have often wondered these recent years at the work I have been permitted to do in His name.
It usually took me till Wednesday to get over the effects of the Sabbath sermon, and about Thursday I was ready to begin to get ready for the next Sabbath. Thanks be to God, the first three years after I was healed I preached more than a thousand sermons and held sometimes more that twenty meetings in one week, and do not remember feeling exhausted.
A few months before I took Christ as my Healer, a prominent physician in New York insisted on speaking to me on the subject of my health, and told me that I had not constitutional strength enough left to last more than a few months. He required my taking immediate measures for the preservation of my life and usefulness. During the summer that followed I went for a time to Saratoga Springs, and while there, one Sabbath afternoon, I wandered out to the Indian campground, where the jubilee singers were leading the music in an evangelistic service. I was deeply depressed, and all things in life looked dark and withered. Suddenly, I heard the chorus:
My Jesus is the Lord of lords:
no man can work like Him.
Again and again, in the deep bass notes, and the higher tones that seemed to soar to heaven, they sang it over and over again:
No man can work like Him.
No man can work like Him.
It fell upon me like a spell. It fascinated me. It seemed like a voice from heaven. It possessed my whole being. I took Him to be my Lord of lords, and to work for me. I knew not how much it all meant; but I took Him in the dark, and went forth from that rude, old-fashioned service, remembering nothing else, but strangely lifted up forevermore.
A few weeks later I went with my family to Old Orchard Beach, Me. I went chiefly to enjoy the delightful air of that loveliest of all ocean beaches, and went occasionally to the meetings on the campground but only once or twice took part in them, and had not, up to that time, committed myself in any full sense to the truth or experience of Divine Healing.
At the same time I had been much interested in it for years. Several years before this I had given myself to the Lord in full consecration, and taken Him for my indwelling righteousness. At that time I had been very much impressed by a remarkable case of healing in my own congregation. I had been called to see a dying man given up by all the physicians. I was told that he had not spoken or eaten for days. It was a most aggravated case of paralysis and softening of the brain, and so remarkable was his recovery afterwards considered, that it was published in the medical journals as one of the marvels of medical science.
His mother was a devoted Christian; he had been converted in his childhood, but now for many years had been an actor, and, she feared, a stranger to the Lord. She begged me to pray for him, and as I prayed I was led to ask, not for his healing but that he might recover long enough to let her know that he was saved. I rose from my knees, and was about to leave, and leave my prayer where we too often do, in oblivion, when some of my people called, and I was detained a few minutes introducing them to the mother.
Just then I stepped up to the bed mechanically, and suddenly the young man opened his eyes and began to talk to me. I was astonished and still more so was the dear old mother. And when, as I asked him further, he gave satisfactory evidence of his simple trust in Jesus, we were all overwhelmed with astonishment and joy. From that hour he rapidly recovered, and lived for years. He afterwards called to see me, and told me that he regarded his healing as a miracle of Divine power. The impression produced by this incident never left my heart. Soon afterwards I attempted to take the Lord as my Healer, and for a while, as long as I trusted Him, He sustained me wonderfully, but afterwards, being entirely without instruction and advised by a devout Christian physician that it was presumption, I abandoned my position of simple dependence upon God alone, and so floundered and stumbled for years. But as I heard of isolated cases I never dared to doubt them, or question that God did sometimes so heal. For myself, however, the truth had no really practical or effectual power, for I never could feel that I had any clear authority in a given case of need to trust myself to Him.
But that summer I speak of I heard a great number of people testify that
they had been healed by simply trusting the Word of Christ, just as they
would for their salvation. It drove me to my Bible. I determined that I must
settle this matter one way or the other. I am so glad I did not go to man.
At His feet, alone, with my Bible open, and with no one to help or guide
me, I became convinced that this was part of Christ's glorious gospel for
a sinful and suffering world, and the purchase of His blessed Cross, for
all who would believe and receive His Word. That was enough. I could not
believe this and then refuse to take it for myself, for I dare not hold any
truth in God's Word as a mere theory or teach to others what I had not personally
proved. And so one Friday afternoon at the hour of three o'clock, I went
into the silent pine woods, and there I raised my right hand to Heaven and
in view of the Judgment Day, I made to God, as if I had seen Him there before
me face to face, these three great and eternal pledges:
I arose. It had only been a few moments, but I knew that something was done. Every fibre of my soul was tingling with a sense of God's presence. I do not know whether my body felt better of not -- I did not care to feel it -- it was so glorious to believe it simply, and to know that henceforth He had it in hand.
Then came the test of faith. The first struck me before I had left the spot. A subtle voice whispered: "Now you have decided to take God as your Healer, it would help if you should just go down to Dr. Cullis' cottage and get him to pray with you." I listened to it for a moment without really thinking. The next, a blow seemed to strike my brain, which made me reel as a man stunned. I staggered and cried: "Lord, what have I done?" I felt I was in some great peril. In a moment the thought came very quickly, "That would have been all right before this, but you have just settled this matter forever, and told God you will never doubt that it is done." In that moment I understood what faith meant, and what a solemn and awful thing it was, inexorably and exactly to keep faith with God. I have often thanked God for that blow. I saw that when a thing was settled with God, it was never to be unsettled. When it was done, it was never to be undone or done over again in any sense that could involve a doubt of the finality of the committal already made. I think in the early days of the work of faith to which God afterwards called me, I was as much helped by a holy fear of doubting God as by any of the joys and raptures of His presence or promises. This little word often shone like a living fire in my Bible: "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." What the enemy desired was to get some element of doubt about the certainty and completeness of the transaction just closed, and God mercifully held me back from it.
The next day I started to the mountains of New Hampshire. The next test came on the following Sabbath, just two days after I had claimed my healing. I was invited to preach in the Congregational Church. I felt the Holy Spirit pressing me to give a special testimony. But I tried to preach a good sermon of my own choosing, but it was not His word for that hour, I am sure. He wanted me to tell the people what He had been showing me, but I tried to be conventional and respectable, and I had an awful time. My jaws seemed like lumps of lead, and my lips would scarcely move. I got through as soon as I could, and fled into an adjoining field, where I lay before the Lord and asked Him to show me what He meant and to forgive me. He did most graciously, and let me have one more chance to testify for Him and glorify Him. That night we had a service in our hotel, and I was permitted to speak again. This time I did tell what God had been doing. Not very much did I say, but I tried to be faithful, and told the people how I had lately seen the Lord Jesus and His blessed gospel in a new way, as the Healer of the body, and had taken Him for myself, and knew that He would be faithful and sufficient. God did not ask me to testify of my feelings or experiences, but of Jesus and His faithfulness. And I am sure He calls all who trust in Him to testify before they experience His full blessing. I believe I should have lost my healing if I had waited until I felt it.
I have since known hundreds to have failed at just this point. God made me commit myself to Him and His healing covenant, before He would fully bless me. I know a dear brother in the ministry, now much used in the gospel and in the gospel of Healing, who received a wonderful manifestation of God's power in his body and then went home to his church but said nothing about it, and waited to see how it would hold out. In a few weeks he was worse than ever; and when I met him next time, he wore the most dejected face you could imagine. I told him his error, and it all flashed upon him immediately. He went home and gave God the glory for what He had done, and in a little while his church was the centre of a blessed work of grace and healing that reached far and wide, and he himself was rejoicing in the fullness of Jesus.
I am very sure that Sabbath evening testimony did me more good than anybody else, and I believe that if I had withheld it I should not now be writing pages of the Gospel of Healing. Well, the next day the third, the test came.
Near by was a mountain 3,000 feet high; I was asked to join a little party that were to ascend it. I shrank back at once. Did I not remember the dread of heights that had always overshadowed me, and the terror with which I had resolved in Switzerland and Florence never to attempt it again? Did I not know how an ordinary stair exhausted me and distressed my poor heart?
Then came the solemn searching thought, "If you fear or refuse to go, it is because you do not believe that God has healed you. If you have taken Him for your strength, need you fear to do anything to which He calls you?"
I felt it was God's thought. I felt my fear would be, in this case, pure unbelief, and I told God that in His strength I would go.
Just here I would say that I do not wish to imply that we should ever do things just to show how strong we are, or without any real necessity for them. I do not believe that God wants His children needlessly to climb mountains or walk miles just because they are asked to. But in this case, and there are such cases in every experience, I needed to step out and claim my victory sometime, and this was God's time and way. He will call and show each one for themselves. And whenever we are shrinking through fear He will be very likely to call us to the very thing that is necessary for us to do to overcome the fear.
And so I ascended that mountain. At first it seemed as if it would almost take my last breath. I felt all the old weakness and physical dread; I found I had in myself no more strength than ever. But over against my weakness and suffering I became conscious that there was another Presence. There was a Divine strength reached out to me if I would have it, take it, claim it, hold it, and persevere in it. On one side there seemed to press upon me a weight of Death, on the other an Infinite Life. And I became overwhelmed with the one, or uplifted with the other, just as I shrank or pressed forward, just as I feared or trusted; I seemed to walk between them and the one that I touched possessed me. The wolf and the Shepherd walked on either side, but the Blessed Shepherd did not let me turn away. I pressed closer, closer, closer, to His bosom, and every step seemed stronger until, when I reached that mountain top, I seemed to be at the gate of heaven, and the world of weakness and fear was lying at my feet. Thank God, from that time I have had a new heart in this breast, literally as well as spiritually, and Christ has been its glorious life.
A few weeks later I returned to my work in this city, and with deep gratitude to God I can truly say, hundreds being my witnesses, that for many years I have been permitted to labor for the dear Lord in summer's heat or winter's cold without interruption, without a single season of protracted rest, and with increasing comfort, strength and delight. Life has had for me a zest, and labor and exhilaration that I never knew in the freshest days of my childhood. The Lord has permitted the test to be a very severe one. A few months after my healing He called me into the special pastoral, evangelistic and literary work which has since engaged my time and energy, and which I may truthfully say has involved fourfold more labor than any previous period of my life. And yet I desire to record my testimony to the honor and glory of Christ, that it has been a continual delight and seldom any burden or fatigue, and much, very much easier in every way than the far lighter tasks of former years. I have been conscious, however, all the time that I was not using my own natural strength. I would not dare to attempt for a single week what I am now doing on my own constitutional resources. I am intensely conscious with every breath that I am drawing my vitality from a directly supernatural source, and that it keeps pace with the calls and necessities of my work. Hence, on a day of double labor I will often be conscious, at the close, of double vigor, and feel just like beginning over again, and, indeed, almost reluctant to have even sleep place its gentle arrest on the delightful privilege of service. Nor is this a paroxysm of excitement to be followed by a reaction, for the next day comes with equal freshness. I have noticed that my work is easier and seems to draw less upon my vital energy than before. I do not seem to be using up my own life in the work now, but working on a surplusage of vitality supplied from another source. I believe and am sure that is nothing else than "the life of Christ manifested in my mortal flesh." Once or twice since I took the Lord for my strength I have felt so wondrously well that I think I began to rejoice and trust in the God-given strength. In a moment I felt it was about to fail me, and the Lord instantly compelled me to look to Him as my continual strength, and not even depend upon the strength He had already given. I have found many other dear friends compelled to learn this lesson and suffering until they fully learned it. It is a life of constant dependence on Christ physically as well as spiritually.
I know not how to account for this, unless it be the imparted life of the
dear Lord Jesus in my body. I am surely most unworthy of such an honor and
privilege, but I believe He is pleased in His great condescension to unite
Himself with our bodies, and I am persuaded that His body, which is perfectly
human and real, can somehow share its vital elements with our organic life,
and quicken us from His Living Heart and indwelling Spirit. I have learned
much from the fact that Samson's physical strength was through "the Spirit
of the Lord," and that Paul declares that although daily delivered to death
for Jesus' sake, yet the very life of Christ is made manifest in his body.
I find that "the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body," that "our
bodies are members of Christ," and that "we are members of his body, his
flesh, and his bones." I do not desire to provoke argument, but I give my
simple, humble testimony, and to me it is very real and very wonderful. I
know "it is the Lord." I know many of my brethren who have entered into the
same blessed experience. I only want to consecrate and use it more and more
for Him. I feel what a sacred and holy trust it is. And I so wish that my
weary, broken-down and overladen brethren could but taste its exquisite joy
and its all sufficient strength. I would like to add, for my brethren in
the ministry, that I have found the same Divine help for my mind and brain
as for my body. Having much writing and speaking to do, I have given my pen
and my tongue to Christ to possess and use, and He has so helped me that
my literary work has never been a labor. He has enabled me to think much
more rapidly and to accomplish much more work, and with greater facility
than ever before. It is very simple and humble work, but such as it is it
is all through Him, and I trust for Him only. And I believe,
with all its simplicity it has been more used to help His children and glorify
His name than all the elaborate preparation and toil of the weary years that
went before. To Him be all the praise.
One's opinions are often strangely contradicted by his convictions. We inherit our opinions and we are very apt to contend sturdily for the doctrines we have received by this inheritance; but we receive our convictions from the Holy Ghost, and they often revolutionize our long-cherished opinions. It sounds like the irony of fate to confess that the first prize the writer of this paper ever received as a theological student was the sum of $40.00, won by him in a contest during his first year at the seminary, on the subject of baptism, in which he wrote a prize paper proving to his own satisfaction and that of his examiners that the Baptists were all wrong.
Later in life it pleased the Holy Ghost to show him in his own deepest spirit that he might have waited to get the Master's voice before so boldly exploiting his theological ideas. It was in the autumn of 1881, while cherishing no thought of any change in his theological views, but very earnestly looking out upon the fields, and asking, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" He was giving a course of lectures to his congregation in the City of New York, and he had come to that passage describing the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites under Moses. Earnestly inquiring of the Spirit of God what the deeper meaning of the Red Sea was in our spiritual life, he saw with great plainness that it represented our death to the old life of Egypt and the world. Along with this there was suddenly flashed into his mind that striking passage in First Corinthians 10:2: "And they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea," and like a vision there rose before him the picture of Israel's host passing through the flood, while at the same time the cloud, representing the Holy Spirit, fell upon them and covered them with its heavenly baptism. Thus there was a double baptism. They were baptized in the flood; they were baptized in the cloud. The water and the Spirit were both present. Somehow there came with it such a vision of Christian baptism in its deeper and spiritual import, leading us down into the flood of death and burial, and at the same moment bringing to us the open heavens and the descending Holy Ghost, that it fairly startled him.
Then simultaneously arose another vision that seemed to unfold as a panorama. It was that of Christ entering the valley of Jordan in baptism, and as He passed through that sacred rite and came forth like Israel crossing the Sea, in like manner the Spirit descended also upon Him and abode, and He received the double baptism of the water and the Spirit at the same moment, and from that hour went forth, no longer the Man of Nazareth, but the Son of God, clothed with the power of the Holy Ghost. Then a third vision seemed to arise. It was the multitude of Pentecost, heart-stricken and convicted by the power of God, and crying out under Peter's sermon, "Men and brethren, what must we do?" And then came the answer of our text: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." There again the water and the Spirit were inseparably linked. The outward baptism was but a stepping stone to the higher baptism of the Holy Ghost, and they were all expected to enter into both, as though neither was complete without the other. As these visions flashed across his mind there came to him such a restful and unalterable conviction that baptism was much more than he had dreamed, much more than the rite of initiation into the Christian Church, much more than the sign and seal of a hereditary conviction on the part of parents to their children; that it was the symbol of personal, intelligent, voluntary and profoundly earnest surrender of our life to God in self-crucifixion, and the act of dying with Christ, that we really pass out of our old life as truly as Israel crossed the Sea, and have such entering into a new world of life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ as came to them when they found themselves on the other side, and that this was to be sealed by the actual descent and infilling of the Holy Ghost coming to us as really as the cloud fell upon them, or as the Holy Ghost descended on the banks of the Jordan and abode upon the Person of Jesus Christ. The baptism of the Holy Spirit from that time had a new significance. And indeed there was but one baptism, for the water and the spirit were each but part of a greater whole and both were linked with divine appointment, the one as the sign and the other as the divine reality of a great crisis act by which we passed through death into resurrection life and became united through the Holy Ghost henceforth to the living God as the Source and Power of our new and heavenly life.
This passage led on to other and deeper teachings in the New Testament Epistles, where the spiritual significance of baptism as the type of our death and resurrection with Christ is so vividly unfolded. It is needless to say that the convictions thus supernaturally revealed through the Word of God became henceforth settled principles of faith and conduct, and that at the earliest possible moment the writer followed in obedience the steps of the Master and entered by baptism into a deeper death and life with the Lord. Some years before he had received the Holy Spirit, but God was pleased to use the symbol to deepen that experience and most profoundly reveal Himself in connection with it. All the circumstances attending it were strangely fitted to impress upon his mind and heart the new significance which baptism had assumed. It was, indeed, a death to all his past religious history and work. The very circumstances of his baptism were singularly humbling and trying. Not in some distinguished public temple did he follow his Lord through the gates of death, but in a humble little frame schoolhouse in the poorest district of New York, where a baptistry had been erected by a little company of believers who held occasional services there and loaned it for this occasion. It was a bitter autumn day when even the water was as cold as ice and the little schoolroom was as cheerless as winter, with no audience present but the wife of the humble evangelist that baptized him, no sympathy from a single human friend with his obedience to the dictates of his conscience, but a consciousness of being utterly alone, misunderstood, and condemned even by his dearest friends for an act of eccentric fanaticism that must surely separate him from all the associations of his Christian life and work. All this seemed to make only more real the fact that it was, indeed, a death to all the past, and that God did not want to spare him a single pang of its bitterness, that he might be even nearer to his Master in every stage of that journey to the cross. But after it was over, as he stood alone in that cheerless dressing room, shivering from that cold plunge in the icy fountain, the very evangelist that baptized him having hurried on and left him, and as hastily robing himself he threw himself upon his knees and thanked his Lord for the unspeakable privilege of following Him in full obedience into death, no language can ever express, and no subsequent experience can ever obliterate the unutterable joy that came sweeping into every sense of his soul and spirit, making even his body thrill with strange warmth and ecstatic delight as the Master seemed to say, "You have gone with Me into the death, now you shall come with Me into the resurrection." These are experiences into whose sacredness others cannot enter, except in so far as they have been repeated in their lives, and which we only dare to refer to in explaining the fact that this precious ordinance became spiritually so real that it has ever since seemed a pain to make it a mere matter of religious form or doctrinal controversy.
After this step of personal obedience it might be supposed that the next step would be uniting with the Baptist congregation, but this did not follow, and probably never will. The conviction came with great clearness that this was a matter of personal obedience to God, but not sufficient ground to justify one in separating himself in the communion of the Church of God from brethren who did not see it in the same light. To take the position of a close [sic] communion church, which made the ordinance of baptism by immersion a term of membership, and excluded from that communion table godly brethren who did not see it in this light, was a step the writer could not take. And while it has been his privilege to belong to the beloved Baptist body in a very sweet and spiritual sense, it has been his equal privilege to feel that he belongs likewise in every other evangelical denomination of Christians that hold the living Head, and love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, and that he can sit down with any of them at the communion table with the blessed sense of equal fellowship and Christian brotherhood.