At the age of seventeen years I was converted. All who were acquainted with me had no reason to doubt the genuine, inwrought grace of pardon and the new life which at once began to bring forth fruit unto God. But the one to whom this mighty change seemed the most marvelous was myself. My poor soul, which for several years had been held under the terrible bondage and darkness of sin, was now turned from darkness unto light and from the power of Satan unto God, and there was no room either internally or externally to question that I had received forgiveness of sins. The glory and blessedness of that sacred hour and that hallowed spot "when love divine first found me" can never be erased from my memory. I will not say, as I have often heard others testify of their own, that my experience was more wonderful than that of anyone else, but I do not see how it could have been any more wonderful to me than it was, and it is but useless to make an effort to tell it. All who have come into this precious life, and have the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, understand what it means to be justified by faith and have this sweet peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But this peace with God meant war with the enemy of my soul, and I soon learned that the battle was a serious one. The artful schemes of the enemy were deeply planned for my overthrow, and while attending school the spirit of the world succeeded in leading me into defeat, and I decided to yield myself again unto the world, and gave up the struggle against sin. But oh, what darkness! God only knows what horrors I suffered. I had been saved but a few months and had had the taste of true happiness which so spoiled me for the empty pleasures of sin that I was often so wretched and miserable that life was a burden. But thank God, this condition of life was only of about two month's duration. Through the burning tears of my precious mother, which fairly bathed my face and neck one day as she suddenly came into my room and clasped her arms around me, I was enabled again to decide for God and heaven. This decision was so thoroughly burned in upon my soul by those scalding tears that, by the grace of God, I believe it will last from that day to my latest breath. The sweet joy and peace of heaven was restored and I believe I enjoyed salvation as much as anyone could in my circumstances. I knew I was a child of God, but it was not long until I became fully conscious that there was a deeper work of grace needed within me. My parents both professed entire sanctification at the time of the conversion of the four oldest children, which included myself, but my life was much occupied in securing an education, and having but limited opportunities I was absorbed mostly with my studies, then afterward became engaged in educational work for a number of years. It needed no arguments to prove that my parents possessed a deeper spiritual life than I did, and although the doctrine of sanctification was not so clearly taught and understood then as now, yet I was fully aware this was what I needed. Sometimes I thought I had obtained the experience, but soon it was proved by unmistakable evidence that I was not sanctified. I had not come to the point of a definite and absolute consecration, and really did not understand how to make this consecration. My great ambition in life was to make a mark in the world. This was so deeply implanted within me that I caused every energy to bend in that direction. I dearly loved God and fully realized my utter dependence upon him, but my love was not perfected. Then unfortunately I had a quick temper, which I found justification had not destroyed. It was materially repressed and generally held under control, but it was there and needed only the provocation to assert its presence; and sometimes, I am sorry to say, it brought me under condemnation and I had cause to repent and regain the sweet peace of God.
But the manner of my life, I believe, as a whole, was such that none of my most intimate acquaintances had any reason to question the sincerity of my heart or my profession as a Christian. The one who was most dissatisfied with my inward condition was myself, and for more than eight years I knew that a deeper work must be wrought before I could be satisfied. Oh, how truly I could understand the prayer of David when he so longed for a clean heart; and had I been brought to the knowledge of the complete consecration, I might have been living in this blessed Canaan rest of soul soon after my conversion. But God was good and full of tender mercy. He carried me along and forgave my defeats and so lovingly bore with me, even though my heart was divided between him and some things of this world. I had forsaken all that I had to follow Jesus, but unconsciously these objects would come between Jesus, the object of my love, and myself, and thus hinder the perfect communion of the Holy Spirit. About one year prior to my entering into this perfect rest, the doctrine of sanctification was quite thoroughly agitated. Some advocates of the Zinzendorf doctrine produced some strong efforts to overthrow the doctrine of the second work of grace. I had studied the scriptures carefully and honestly, and while I did not have the experience of the second grace myself, I was certain that the one-work teaching was not correct; for I knew I had received all that my heart could receive in the grace of pardon, and knew also that I soon found that I needed just exactly what the term sanctification implies, and what the dear ones who believed in and were advocating the second work of grace were testifying to by word and deed.
In the winter of 1883-4, while dear companion and myself were engaged with some sanctified ones in a protracted meeting, to rescue the perishing, we were brought as never before face to face with the stern necessity of more spiritual power and life. We were shown by the Holy Spirit that there is but one route to the promised land and that is by crossing the Jordan. Death was inevitable if we would come into this abundant life. We paused and reflected, looked backward and forward, but there was no alternative -- death was our doom. One day while I was absent from home, and dear companion was left alone, the Lord spoke to her so plainly that she had one cherished idol that must necessarily be sacrificed. It was a God-given blessing, but must be yielded freely to him. She obeyed and entered into the glory of sanctification. When I returned home I soon found that the work in her was done. Something marvelous had been accomplished. It was wonderful what a change. She told me of the death she had to pass through and I fully realized it. The divine glory which had come into her heart was unspeakable. She tried to show me how to die the same death. I was desirous to yield and cross over with her, but I found a resistance in my will which held me back. I came to my cherished treasures, some of which were God-given blessings, but unquestionably the Holy Spirit said they must be yielded up a burnt offering unto the Lord. My will must become swallowed up into the will of God completely, even to this death. I said, "Yes, Lord, I will"; but the yes found a hesitancy. It did not reach the depths of my heart. I kept saying it over and over -- "Yes, Lord" -- and tried to get it deeper every time I said it; but the Lord knew it did not reach the inmost depths. That was a wonderful day to me, but it was not the day of my death, as it was of my companion. She told in meeting that evening what the Lord had wrought. I told what I was trying to say to the Lord -- "Thy will be done."
Time passed by and I still hesitated. I wanted the Lord's perfect will, but also wanted just a little of my will. I wanted both, but the Lord showed that I could have but one; and I plainly knew which one, if I was ever to obtain the grace of sanctification. The life of my companion was a daily testimony which only added to my trouble. I knew she had what she never had before. Her life before was all that I ever expected to find in a true, devoted, Christian woman, but now in some marvelous manner there was vastly more heaven in her life than before, and the marked absence of everything unlike heaven. I knew she was sanctified, and I knew I was not. She had just what I must have, and what my soul was longing for these years. Oh, why could I not just now say "Yes!" with my whole heart and die the death and gain the abundant life? Sometimes I was under such conviction that I felt miserable. I asked God to forgive me for not yielding up my whole heart as I knew he would have me do.
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Weeks and months passed and my attention became absorbed in business and the cares of life, but these months were more unsatisfactory than all my previous Christian life, and some of this time I certainly lived on a very low plane of spirituality, and it is evident that I at last came to the point where my justification would have been forfeited had I not gone over and possessed the land. I struggled and suffered sometimes unutterably. After the struggle was over and I was sanctified I could look back and see where I had come up to a deep chasm so deep and dark that I could not see the bottom. It was too wide for me to step across. On the other side was everything my soul longed for. I could see the beautiful plane and way of sanctification. My loved ones were walking on it and rejoicing in its glory. Above the chasm there seemed suspended a rope securely fastened and strong enough to hold my weight, and it seemed that I could easily take hold of this rope and by a desperate effort swing myself across the chasm. I had taken hold of the rope and was for a long time hesitating about making the leap. The chasm was the depth I must drop into in order to reach sanctification, but it seemed awful -- so deep and dark, and no assurance that I would ever see life again. The rope was my will. I had presumed to swing across without going into the death, but God knew that would not be his way, and there I stood, gazing with fear and trembling into the immensity of this dark chasm into which to leap meant certain death. Later I had taken hold of the rope and swung myself away from where I had been standing, with the hope of reaching the other side. I could not reach it and now was worse off than before, for I was now suspended above the chasm and could neither go back nor go forward. There I was hanging and swinging, holding on for life, and yet the Holy Spirit kept saying, "Let go."
My sufferings increased until I began to feel that death would be a relief. At that time God sent a brother to us who preached a sermon from the text, 1 Peter 4:1, 2, with emphasis upon the clause, "For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." The Holy Spirit applied this to me and revealed to my soul the utter necessity of death to gain sanctification. The end came, I let go my death grip of the rope and said as I never said before, "Yes, Lord, thy will be done!" I knew that it reached the uttermost depth of my soul. God knew it, and I am certain that Satan knew it. At the close of that meeting I said, "I am now offered up." There was no conscious change only I knew my will was yielded, and I am certain that not an atom of earth existed between God and me. We went home late in the evening, and as I was retiring I knelt once more before God and simply told him that now after these months of struggle it was all ended and I was so thankful to him that I could say so sweetly, "Thy will be done." My hold upon the rope had become so weary. How sweet and blessed now to rest so securely in that infinite will. The great chasm was deep and dark, but I was so glad that I had let go and dropped into it; for I was so conscious now that even in the darkness and depths I was in his will. As I dropped, loving arms of Jesus had caught me and I was glad to be in death with him. I felt within me that something wonderful was about to take place. I arose from my knees and scarcely had time to lie down when truly I experienced a taste of death. Wholly unconscious of my earthly surroundings, but knowing I was in the presence of Jesus, I believe a death was wrought within me, after which the baptism of pentecostal fire and the Holy Ghost came upon me. The refining fire went through my very body and the effect seemed terrible. The sublime consciousness of the presence of heaven and the majesty of God was such as mortal tongue can never describe. Then following the distinct baptism of fire the floodgates of heaven's glory were opened upon me, and, oh, the heavenly deluge that followed can be realized only by those who have experienced the same.
More than sixteen years have passed since this wonderful event, and while the emotions of feeling have been varied through the labors and toils of a busy life (both in business life, and twelve years in the gospel ministry), I can testify to the glory of God that the power and victory in this blessed second grace has been all-sufficient. The word of God, now I found, was full of sanctification, and my new experience spoiled me for any arguments against the doctrine as a second work of grace, and in due time I could plainly see that according to the word of God and the plan of redemption it must be an experience subsequent to justification. The conscious presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the knowledge of a pure heart in this precious grace is what we need continually in this battle against the powers of the enemy.
Brother and sister, have you had your Pentecost? If not, tarry at Jerusalem. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." -- 1 Thess.5:23, 24.
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Minor punctuation errors have been corrected without notice. A few obvious typographical errors have been corrected and are listed below.
Page 3: "The Holy Spirit of Promise" page number changed from "23" to "25".
Page 8: "It is indispensible" changed to "It is indispensable".
Page 17: "the words "having" signifying" changed to "the word "having" signifying".
Page 36: "than should no place" changed to "then should no place".
Page 45: "so deeply inbedded" changed to "so deeply embedded".
Page 62: "of ecclestiastical bondage" changed to "of ecclesiastical bondage".
Page 62: "will in every individaul" changed to "will in every individual".
Page 63: "throughly furnished unto all" changed to "thoroughly furnished unto all".
Pages 77-78: "made "perfect his death" changed to "made "perfect" by his death".
Page 85: "sanctificed condition" changed to "sanctified condition".
Page 90: "Chapter XIV" changed to "Chapter XIII".
Page 95: "no consicous change only" changed to "no conscious change only".