Events of Early Christian Life
One day soon after I was saved, I felt God stirring within me, and gave vent to my happy soul by praising his precious name aloud. This seemed to disturb Father, and he commanded me to be quiet. But God stirred me up more and more, until my soul seemed to roar like a lion, and I quoted the following scripture to Father: "If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." This looked like disobedience to my father; but the outcome seemed to show that God was leading me, for Father calmed down and did not again interfere with my praising the Lord.

Not long after I was sanctified, I received my first light on the subject of dress. One Sunday morning while at the Methodist meeting listening to a sermon, a voice began to talk to my soul: "You profess to be sanctified, living a holy life, and yet your head-dress shows conformity to the world." These words did not come from the pulpit either: nothing was being preached against dress or worldly conformity. Sunday after Sunday the same still, small voice talked to me in this way, until I hardly knew what to do.

Finally I said to myself, "I shall not allow my conscience to be tortured in this way any more." Early Monday morning, therefore, as soon as I had an opportunity, I took the flowers off my hat, as they were what the Holy Spirit had been pointing out to me. My Mother, who was sitting by, said, "Mary, what are you doing?" I said, "I am taking these flowers off." "What are you doing that for?" she inquired. "Because," I answered, "I do not want them on." I did not explain matters to her just then. She replied, "That is just a foolish notion of yours. You will soon want the flowers on again." "No, Mother," I answered, "I never will."

So I took the flowers off and put them into the vase where we kept our winter bouquet. As I did so, the voice of God said, "If you do not want to be tempted in this matter again, put those flowers into the fire." I immediately obeyed, and from that day to this I have never been tempted to restore the flowers to my hat.

About ten years later while I was holding my first meeting at Salisbury, Missouri, I saw a number of young ladies who were dressed so saintlike, and in a manner so becoming to holy lives, that I was convicted immediately for plainness of dress. Some of the sisters who were gospel teachers, came to me at the close of the service, saying that they would like to have a talk with me. I thought I knew what they wanted to say, because God had already been talking to me on the same subject. I was not mistaken. "As you profess to be a holiness teacher," said they, "you ought to be an example in plainness of dress." I told them that I had no plain dresses. All I had were virtually a display of ruffles, flounces, "pin-backs" and "tuck-ups." They then inquired if I would be pleased to have them help me make my clothes over. I told them, "Certainly I would, but some of my dresses are so cut up that they couldn't be made over." I was very thankful when an opportunity was offered to make my clothes plain. God had already given me an understanding of his will in regard to dress; and it was not only easy for me to obey, but a pleasure also.

It was not so very long after this -- while I was in my second meeting at Sturgeon, Mo. -- that a minister handed me some money for my personal use. Soon afterwards his wife came and said that the Lord had shown her that she must give me something too. As this was the first money that had been handed me, I hardly knew what to do; but I accepted it. Then the sister said, "Now, Sister Cole, I will take the money my husband has given you and what I have given, and will buy the goods for a plain dress for you. I will see that it is made plain and neat, and so that it will fit you." How glad I was when I got that dress! Only once after that was I tempted to build again what I had destroyed. Then I got a dress and trimmed it with lace, but I could not wear it that way at all. That was my last temptation to try to dress in style.

About nine o'clock one evening in the month of December, of the year I was saved, Mother and I were in the kitchen. I was down on my knees mixing some sausage-meat in a vessel, when all at once I looked up and saw a very bright light, which seemed to be moving very rapidly. "Mother," said I, "what makes that light?" My first thought was that some of my younger brothers were carrying a light and trying to scare us; but when I saw that the light was so strong and moving so fast, I felt sure that I was mistaken. By this time mother was standing in the door and calling, "Mary, come quick and you can see what is causing the light." What I saw, was a large ball of fire. Starting from the west, or a little north of west, it moved southeast at a high rate of speed.

When we first saw the ball, about two-thirds of it was hidden behind the horizon, and we gazed at it until it went out of sight. Perhaps our imaginations worked upon our senses; but it seemed that sparks of fire flew back from the ball. In two or three minutes after the ball disappeared, there was a terrible trembling of the earth as if there had been a small earthquake. Probably the ball struck with such force that it shook the earth. This sight was witnessed by people in different states.

My feelings at the time of this incident made me think how poor sinners will feel in the day of judgment when they will be standing awaiting their doom, knowing that the wrath of God rests upon them, and that they are without hope. Far more terrifying things than the passing of a comet will be happening then; and many will be crying for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from the presence of him that liveth and reigneth forever. I confess, that though I was saved, I trembled at seeing that ball of fire in its weird passage. I thought that if this little incident had such an effect upon one who was saved and ready to meet God, what a far more terrible spectacle would the day of judgment be to those who were not ready.

One fall, not long after I was saved, the grasshoppers came to our part of the country, and laid their eggs, and in the spring the young grasshoppers hatched out by the million. There were so many grasshoppers and they destroyed the vegetation so rapidly that people began to fear a famine. The governor of the State proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer, and many people gathered at the different houses of worship to plead with the Lord to stay the plague. Even hardhearted sinners left their work and came to these meetings. God heard our petitions, and in three days the grasshoppers were gone. Then some of the unsaved people said, "Oh, well, the grasshoppers would have gone anyway. They just stayed until their wings were grown: they would have gone without prayer." Thus they dishonored God. We had an excellent crop that year -- much better than usual; but when Thanksgiving time came, many of those who were at the fast-day meeting had no time to come and thank the Lord for his mercies.

Just when the grasshoppers were at their worst, my mother was making garden. Some one said, "You would better not make garden because the grasshoppers will eat it up." "Oh, well," she replied, "I am going to plant it anyway and trust it with the Lord. 'They that sow in hope shall be partaker of their hope.'" Mother did not fight the grasshoppers at all; she just trusted the Lord.

A number of people had great battles with the grasshoppers. I remember a doctor's wife who came to her death because of overheating herself in her exertions to keep the grasshoppers from getting her garden. Near one side of Mother's garden there was a patch of fennel. Mother saw the grasshoppers in the garden but they did not seem to take anything but the weeds. Then they moved out into the patch of fennel, stripped it of all its leaves, and left only the stems standing. I do not think Mother ever had a better garden; some of her vegetables were especially fine. "They that trust the Lord shall not be confounded."

"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain."

chapter v conversion and sanctification
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