TESTIMONY OF THE WORK.
As I have already stated in the former chapter, one of the pledges I made to the Lord in connection with my own healing was that I would use this truth and my experience of it for the good of others, as He should require and lead me.
This meant a good deal for me, for I had a great deal of conservative respectability and regard for my ecclesiastical reputation to die to. I knew intuitively what it might cost to be wholly true in this matter, and at the same time I shrank unutterably from the thought of having to pray with any one else for healing. I feared so much that I should involve God's name in dishonor by claiming what might not come to pass, and I almost hoped that I might not have to minister personally in this matter, and was intensely glad that there were other brethren whom God had already raised up for this work and I should gladly strengthen their hands.
My first public testimony to the truth in this city, made in the course of a sermon to my own people, then a Presbyterian Church in New York, awakened little or no opposition. A few weeks later I was asked to speak at the Anniversary of the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting, the day of President Garfield's funeral. The Lord led me to speak frankly, and refer to the true scriptural method of prayer for the healing of the sick directly in the name of the Lord Jesus. At the close of my address there was but one to give me a word of response, and that was a good old Presiding Elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who has since gone to his rest. He thanked me very cordially and said he believed every word I had said.
Soon after the test came in my own family. My little girl became suddenly very ill with diphtheria. Her mother, not then believing at all as I did insisted upon having a physician, and was much distressed when I simply took the little one to God and claimed her healing in the name of the Lord Jesus. That night, with a throat as white as snow and a raging fever the little sufferer lay beside me alone. I knew that if the sickness lasted to the following day there would be crisis in my family, and I should be held responsible. The dear Lord knew it, too. With trembling hand I anointed the brow, it was the first or second person I ever anointed and claimed the power of Jesus' name. About midnight my heart was deeply burdened. I cried to God for speedy deliverance. In the morning her throat was well, and the mother, as she came to see the sick one, gave me one look, when she saw the ulcers gone and the child ready to get up and go about her play, which I shall never forget. From that hour I was never again asked to get a physician in my home. And God has wondrously cared for the little ones. They have hardly known sickness, and as often as it has come, the Lord has Himself removed it, except where some lesson was to be learned, and then the place of the true penitence has always brought restoration and deliverance.
About this time, the Lord led me to commence the special work of faith which has since engaged my life. This was not by any means to teach Divine healing, but to preach the Gospel to the neglected masses by public evangelistic and free services. For several years no single word about bodily healing was spoken in these meetings, our supreme object being to lead men to Christ, and not prejudice them by any side issues. But the facts about my own healing and the healing of my child got abroad quietly about my little flock, and one and another came to me to ask about it, and whether they could not be healed also. I told they could if they would believe, as I had done, and I sent them to their homes to read God's Word for themselves and ponder and pray. The first of them was a dear sister, then widely known in Christian work, who afterwards became a deaconess in our home. She had been for twenty years a sufferer from heart disease. She took about a month to weigh the matter, and then in her calm, decided way came to have her case presented to God. She was instantly healed, and for several years worked untiringly, and hardly knew what weariness even meant. At length she finished her work and fell asleep, amid great peace and blessing. One and another now began to come and ask about it, and, at length, the Friday meeting grew up as a place and time where all who were interested in this special theme could come together and be instructed and strengthen each other by mutual testimony. This meeting has since grown to be a gathering of several hundred people from all the evangelical churches and many different homes.
The cases of healing that have come under my notice in these years would fill many volumes. They have represented all social extremes, all religious opinions, all professions and callings, and all classes of disease. I have had spiritualists come, broken down at length by the service of Satan and seeking deliverance from their sufferings-but I have never felt free even to pray with such cases without a complete renunciation of this terrific snare. I have had some sad and shameful disclosures of its evils. I have had Roman Catholics also come as if they were consulting some superstitious rite. And sometimes when they have been patiently instructed and led to the true Saviour, I have seen them healed. I have had men come and offer large sums if they or their dear ones could be prayed well, but I have never dared to touch such cases except to send them directly to Christ, and tell them that at His feet only, in true penitence and trust could they expect deliverance. I have had poor sinners come seeking healing, and go having found salvation. Many persons have been led to Christ through their desire to escape disease. I have never felt that I could claim the healing of any one until they first accepted Jesus as a Saviour. But I have several times seen the soul saved and the body healed in the same hour. I have never allowed any one to look to me as a healer, and have had no liberty to pray for any one while they placed the least trust in either me or my prayers, or aught but the merits, promises and intercessions of Christ alone.
My most important work has usually been to get myself and my shadow out of people's way, and set Jesus fully in their view. I have seen very humble and illiterate Christians suddenly and gloriously healed and baptized with the most wonderful faith, and I have seen brilliant intellects and Christians who had great reputations unable to touch even the border of His garment. Usually they could not get low down enough to do this. I saw a brilliant physician once rise in the meeting and make a learned speech about it, and I saw a humble girl who when I first met her did not seem to have capacity enough to grasp the idea, healed by his side of the worst stage of consumption, and her shortened limb lengthened two inches in a moment. I have seen this blessed gift of Christ bring relief and unspeakable blessing to the homes of many of the poor, and take from worn and weary working women a bondage like Egypt's iron furnace. And I have also seen it enter the homes of many of the refined, the cultivated, and the wealthy who have not been ashamed to witness a good confession and bear a noble testimony to Christ as a complete Saviour. I have seen the theologian often answered after his most logical assaults upon it, by the healing of some of his own people in a way he could not answer or explain. Sometimes I have taken one of these simple cases to a boasting infidel and asked her to tell him her simple story, and he has been overwhelmed, silenced and sometimes departed deeply impressed. One of the most brilliant lawyers in this city told me that he was fully convinced of the truth of Christianity quite recently by the healing of our good friend John Elsey, and the consecrated life that has followed it. Often have I had women of the world broken down under deep conviction of sin, and brought to seek a deep and true religious life by the real and simple testimonies of the Friday meeting. I have seen many beloved ministers accept the Lord Jesus in His fullness for soul and body, and some of the most devoted and distinguished servants of Christ in this city are proud to own Him as their Healer. But I have also noticed that the ecclesiastical strait-jacket is the hardest fetter of all, and the fear of conservative and ecclesiastical opinion the most inexorable of all bondages. Not a few beloved physicians of the highest standing have taken Jesus as their Healer and when their patients are prepared for it, love to lead them to His care. Several of these can be seen at our Friday meeting, and many of them are to be met within other cities. Many of the most consecrated Christian workers and-city missionaries have found this precious truth, and some have had a bitter ordeal of prejudice and opposition to face in their churches and societies, but where they have been wise, true and faithful God has vindicated them in the end. I have found that the most spiritually minded men and women in the various churches are usually led to see and receive this truth. When Christ becomes an indwelling and Personal Reality in the soul, it is hard to keep Him out of the body. I have not found any serious practical difficulty in dealing with the question of remedies. Where one sets any value upon them or is not himself clearly led of the Lord to abandon them, I never have advised him to do so. There is no use in giving up remedies without a real faith in Christ. And where one really commits his case to Christ and believes that he has undertaken it, he does not want, as a rule, to have any other hand touch it, or indeed see that anything else is necessary. Where persons have real faith in Christ's supernatural help they will not want remedies. And where they have not this faith, I have never dared to hinder them from having the best help they can obtain. I have never felt called to urge any one to accept Divine Healing. I have found it better to present the truth and let God lead them. Often when urging them most strongly not to attempt it unless they were fully persuaded, the effect has been to impel them to it more strongly and to show that they had real faith. I have never felt that Divine Healing should be regarded as the Gospel. It is part of it, but we labor much more assiduously for the salvation and sanctification of the souls of men The secular press, with its love of the sensational, has tried to present this doctrine as a special hobby on the part of some of us, but in reality we have but one public service in the week for this, and seven for spiritual instruction and blessing.
The cases of healing have been very various. One of the most remarkable in the early days was a woman who had not bent her joints for eight years, and used to stand in our meetings on her crutches, unable to sit down during the whole service. She had not sat for eight years. She was healed in a moment, as if by the touch of a feather, and all in the house were filled with wonder. Another was cured of spinal curvature. A great many have been delivered from fibroid tumors; and a few cases from malignant and incurable cancers. We have had two cases of broken bones restored without surgical aid. Many cases of the worst forms of heart disease, several of consumption, and some desperate cases of hernia, when it would have been death to walk forth as they did if Christ had not sustained. Paralysis and softening of the brain, epilepsy and St. Vitus' dance, have all been markedly cured, and a few cases of dangerous insanity have also been restored through believing prayer. The numbers of such cases will reach to thousands. To give even a few in detail would be impossible. That which has been our chief joy is that the fruits are so blessed and glorious in the consecrated lives that have thus been redeemed from destruction and given to the work of God and the needs of men. One of the dear ones is in charge of a mission where hundreds are led to Christ. Another, refused by her Board on account of illness, was healed by the Lord and is now again in India with her husband, preaching Christ to the heathen. Some are in Japan, some in Africa, some in South America, some in England, and many in the streets and lanes of the city, and in the most earnest work of the land. God be thanked for the blessings they have received, and the blessings they have become.
During these years God has opened our home and allowed us to meet hundreds of His dear children within its walls, and see them go forth in strength and blessing. Other homes are scattered over this and other lands, and already a great multitude in this and other lands are joining hands and singing together as they journey home.
"Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy name, 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 eagles."