Having no hope of help from the doctor and having been taught that the days of divine healing were past, I concluded that there was no hope for me, and that the Lord intended me to be made perfect through suffering. In the spring of 1880, my oldest brother, who had been greatly afflicted with chronic dyspepsia, was healed in answer to prayer. Not until that time did I know that any one had been healed by divine power since the days of the apostles. I did not consider the healing which I have already related a healing, but a special miracle performed in answer to prayer. As he and I were the invalids of the family, we naturally sympathized a great deal with each other, opened our hearts to each other, shared all our troubles and sorrows.
During the summer of the year I have just mentioned, my brother came home and began to tell how well he was. "Jeremiah, what patent medicine have you been taking?" He looked at me, smiled and said, "Mary, if you will take the kind of medicine I have, you will be well too." "What kind is that?" "It is faith and prayer -- the Lord's word received by faith." This was all new to me -- just like a strange language. I asked no more questions, for I did not know what to say.
Finally, Mother, who had been listening to the conversation, said to him, "Can you eat a raw egg if I get it for you?" His health had been so poor that at times he could eat nothing but a raw egg, and frequently he would refuse even that. "Mother," he replied, "I can eat two eggs if you can spare that many, and you may cook them for me." When Mother cooked the eggs, he looked at her and said, "Mother, have you any meat?" She looked at him doubtfully, and not comprehending what God had done for his body, said, "I don't believe I will give you any meat this time." He made no reply, knowing that she did not understand.
It was October before I saw my brother again. Another swelling had appeared on my jaw, stopping my mouth so that I could take my food only in a liquid form, sucking it through my teeth. My brother again encouraged me to trust the Lord, quoting God's promises to heal the body and relating a number of instances that he had witnessed where persons were healed of fits and other serious afflictions. I told my brother that I did not doubt that the Lord had healed others, but said that I did not know whether or not he wanted to heal me. "Perhaps," said I, "he is leaving me afflicted to keep me humble. If I were healed, I might not keep saved." My brother showed me that God was just as willing to heal me as he was to heal anybody else, and that it was both my duty and privilege to trust God for my healing. "Look over your consecration," said he "and see if you are willing to be healed for God's glory alone."
I thought the matter over for some days. One day I prayed for my healing until I thought I could claim it by faith; but I soon found that the work was not done. Upon waking a few mornings later, I said to myself, "I am going to let the Lord heal me today if he will." Then the enemy whispered, "You have not enough faith yet to be healed; put it off a week or two, and by that time your faith will be stronger." Then came the voice of Jesus, "Oh thou of little faith; wherefore didst thou doubt." Dropping on my knees, I cried "Lord if it is unbelief, take it out root and branch"; and I knew he did. Then I said, "Lord, what next?" He then showed me I should pour out my medicine. God revealed to me that I was to be severely tempted, and that if I had any medicine about, that I would be sure to take it and so lose faith for healing.
God was now bringing me to a place where I must choose between trusting God and disbelieving his promises. As a first act of faith on my part, I poured out my medicine. God showed me that if I were to doubt the Scriptures: "Who healeth all thy diseases"; "The prayer of faith shall save the sick," etc, I would not stop until I should reject all his Word, die an infidel, be lost in hell, and perhaps be the means of the loss of scores of other souls.
I said to Mother, "If you ever prayed earnestly for me, pray now." So we bowed together. After she prayed, I began praying, claimed the promise in Matthew 18:19: "Lord, thou hast said, that if two shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of the Father which is in heaven. Now, Lord, we are agreed that thou shalt heal me -- soul, mind, body, and spirit as completely as is most to thy glory." As I said this, I laid hold on the healing power by faith, the witness came from heaven, and the work was done. I arose from my knees saying, "Mother, it is done! I am healed! I am healed!" I felt the virtue go through my body; and, oh, the showers of heavenly grace that filled my soul! I began to praise the Lord. Oh, it was heavenly! "My soul was joyful in glory," for God filled my soul. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah saying, "Then shall the lame man leap as an hart and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out and streams in the desert" (Isaiah 35:6).
This was the beginning of a new epoch in my life, the beginning of months to me. It was the first time in my recollection that I could say I was well: the first bright hope of health that I had ever had in this world. That same day I could eat and drink without the slightest distress, anything that was fit for a sound stomach. I had never been able to do this before.
But that night the trial came. It seemed that all hell was let loose to try to rob me of my healing faith and to bring back all my diseases. Had I not poured out my medicine, I surely would have yielded. Having no other refuge, I clung to the promises of God, and rebuked the devil until 2 o'clock in the morning. Then I saw fulfilled God's promise: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you"; and there was a great calm. It seemed that the angels came and ministered unto me. My joy was full; my cup ran over. When morning came I began praising the Lord; and for several days, I walked the floor offering almost ceaseless praises to God. The story was circulated throughout the neighborhood, "Mary Cole is having a whole camp-meeting by herself. She claims that God has healed her; but as soon as the excitement wears off, she will be as bad as ever."
My appetite was now good, and my strength increased daily. Soon I was able to attend a protracted meeting held by the Methodists, of which denomination I was still a member. When opportunity was given for testimonies, I arose and told of God's wonderful dealings with me -- how he had pardoned all my sins, made me his child, afterwards sanctified me wholly, and how he had recently healed my poor afflicted body. I exhorted them to get rid of unbelief and to move out for God on the Bible promises. After meeting, the preacher came to talk to me about my experience. He said he did not doubt that I had been healed, but I must not testify to it, "for" said he, "the people can not stand so much light."
I very foolishly concluded to follow the preacher's advice; and immediately the flood-gates of hell seemed to open. The powers of darkness seemed to gather to destroy both soul and body -- my mind was almost reeling; intense suffering began in my body. God showed me that I had broken my contract with him in order to please a blinded preacher. My feelings were indescribable. I did not know what to do; but God showed me that if I would renew my covenant with him, resist the devil, and obey God in all things, all would be well. I obeyed God, and my faith again became unwavering; my strength began to increase; and a large scrofulous ulcer that had appeared on my face, soon went away. My blood became pure; and warmth, such as I had never felt before, came into my body. I could now sleep comfortably with half as much covering on my bed as I formerly required.
Since my first healing, I have had a few attacks of sickness but God has healed me every time. In the thirty-four years that have elapsed since I began to trust the Lord for the healing of my body, I have never resorted to doctors, nor have I taken any medicine. I have been as well as the average person, and have been able to do work as hard as God has required of me. I recommend God as a physician. At the time I was healed of my other bodily afflictions, I was also relieved of stammering. It is true I stammer some yet, at times, but not nearly so much as I did formerly; and not enough to prevent my preaching the Word.
At the time of my healing, Marion, one of my unsaved brothers, was batching near the old home place. He frequently spent his evenings at home, sometimes lying on chairs drawn up in front of the old-fashioned fireplace. On the Wednesday after I was healed, I found him lying before the fire and said to him, "Oh, Marion, have you heard the good news? The Lord has healed me." And he said, "Do you mean that he has healed you or that he has healed that sore on your face?" "I mean that he has healed me, sore and all." Then I went out of the room praising the Lord. Near the close of that same week, Marion attended the revival meeting then going on at the M. E. Church, came to the altar, and got gloriously saved. Mother went to speak to him and to rejoice with him. "The Lord has been good to you, my son, to save you." "Yes," he answered, "I thought if the Lord could heal Mary when the doctors gave her up, he could save a poor sinner like me."
In the years that have passed since the Lord so graciously healed me, I have witnessed many cases of healing. One that especially appealed to me occurred in December, 1880, at the Jacksonville, Illinois, Holiness Convention, where my brother Jeremiah first met D. S. Warner. I was not a witness to this incident, but I relate it as my brother, who was present, told the story.
A lady by the name of Sarah Gillillen, who was afflicted with a very bad internal cancer, came to that meeting. Several months before the doctors had told her that her case was beyond their skill. She felt impressed that she would be healed at this meeting, and Jeremiah, Brother Warner, and others were very much interested in her case. They sought to encourage her and to strengthen her faith as they had opportunity. Her faith in God seemed to increase rapidly.
One Sunday morning she said that the Lord had shown her that if she would get up that morning and testify to her healing he would finish the work. She got up before the large audience and began to give her testimony. A rule had been adopted that if any one testified too long, the congregation should sing him down. As Sister Gillillen testified for some time, they started to sing her down; but one of the ministers said, "Brethren, let her alone. This thing is of God." She continued her testimony; but before she got through, the power of God came down, her face shone with glory, and right then and there God finished her healing. She was made perfectly well.