|CHAPTER IV. -- MOVING FROM LOWE'S FARM.--MARRIAGE.--CONVERSION.|
After twelve years on John Lowe's farm, my father had an offer from a man named John Bear; it was between five and six miles from where we were. It was a small farm and my father had a better chance to help himself. He used to work a good deal in Strausburg then. Dr. Bull and his brother, Rev. Wesley Bull, lived in Strausburg. My oldest brother lived with the doctor a long time and took care of his horses. The doctor married a Miss Jane Berry, daughter of old Colonel Berry, of Baltimore. They first settled in Strausburg. I lived with them some time. How well I remember the old Colonel; he used to come to visit them, and was very kind to me. Would often speak to me about my soul's interest, but I was young and did not pay much attention at the time, but I never forgot it. After a time Dr. Bull moved to Baltimore, and Dr. Turner, who married Miss Julia Berry, Mrs. Bull's sister, lived in Strausburg, then I lived with Dr. Turner. How well I remember Dr. and Mrs. Turner. They were very found of Maryland biscuit, and though I was young, I had the reputation of making the best Maryland biscuit and frying the nicest chicken of anyone around there, and the doctor used to say "Amanda can beat them all making Maryland biscuit and frying chicken." My! how it did please me! Somehow it is very encouraging to servants to tell them once in a while that they do things nicely; it did me good. I would almost kill myself to please them, and Doctor Turner's mother, dear Mrs. Flynn, what a good woman she was! She gave me the first Testament I ever had and used to come into the kitchen and read to me sometimes. She came several times on a visit to see Dr. and Mrs. Turner. After a time Dr. Turner moved back to Baltimore again, I went with them. It was my first time in Baltimore. We got in at night and I remember how I had never seen fine lights glittering in drug stores before, and as
"Would you like me to do so?"
I don't suppose this was an everyday occurrence; it is not necessary that it should be so, but when occasions do come, all that is really needed is simple, real, manly, broad, Christian common sense. Mr. Wilson sat at the head of the table, I at the right, and the dear little girl next, and her little brother next and the others in order. We had an elegant lunch, and a very pleasant and profitable time together. We talked about India, Africa, Paris, Rome, Egypt, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isles of the Sea, and ended, I believe, with the Hero of the Congo, Bishop Taylor. We went upstairs, and after a little further chat Mr. Wilson asked me to sing and pray with them. I sang several songs. One was:--"The very same Jesus."
"The very same Jesus,
The very same Jesus,
O praise His name;
He is just the same,
The very same Jesus."
The other one was:--
"God is able to deliver thee
Though by sin oppressed;
Go to Him for rest,
Our God is able to deliver thee."
The Lord blest the singing to them, and our hearts were melted, then we knelt to pray. O, how the Lord helped me to pray. My own heart was overflowing with gratitude for the kindness shown me, for I recognized the hand of God in it all, and so praised Him. Amen.
In September, 1854, I was married to my first husband, C. Devine, by the Rev. Nicholas Pleasant, a Baptist minister in Columbia. My father did not object to my marrying, only on the ground that I was rather young, and I thought so, too, but still, like so many young people, I said, "But well, I know I can get on." Then there was the fellow saying all the nice things he would do for me, and I believed it all, of course. But it was not long before I wished I had not believed half he said, though in many things he was good. He believed in religion for his mother's sake. She was a good woman, he said, though I never saw her. He had two sisters who lived in Columbia. He could talk on the subject of religion very sensibly at times; but when strong drink would get the better of him, which I am very sorry to say was quite often, then he was very profane and unreasonable. We had two children. The first died; the other, my daughter Maze, is now married and living in Baltimore.
In 1855 I was very ill. Everything was done for me that could be done. My father lived in Wrightsville, Pa., and was very anxious about my soul. But I did not feel a bit concerned.
I wanted to be let alone. How I wished that no one would speak to me. One day my father said to me, "Amanda, my child, you know the doctors say you must die; they can do no more for you, and now my child you must pray."
O, I did not want to pray, I was so tired I wanted to sleep. The doctors said they must keep me aroused. In the afternoon of the next day after the doctor had given me up, I fell asleep about two o'clock, or I seemed to go into a kind of trance or vision, and I saw on the foot of my bed a most beautiful angel. It stood on one foot, with wings spread, looking me in the face and motioning me with the hand; it said "Go back," three times, "Go back, Go back, Go back."
Then, it seemed, I went to a great Camp Meeting and there seemed to be thousands of people, and I was to preach and the platform I had to stand on was up high above the people. It seemed it was erected between two trees, but near the tops. How
I cannot remember the time from my earliest childhood that I did not want to be a Christian, and would often pray alone. Sometimes I would kneel in the fence corner when I went for the cows to bring them home. Sometimes upstairs, or wherever I could be alone. I had planned just about how I was going to be converted. I had a strong will and was full of pride. When I said I would not do anything, I was proud of my word, and people would say, "Well, you know if Amanda says she won't do anything, you might as well try to move the everlasting hills." And that inflated me and I thought, "O, how nice to have a reputation like that." I would stick to it; I would not give in; my pride held me. I went on in this course till 1856.
In a watch meeting one night at the Baptist Church in Columbia, Pennsylvania, a revival started. I lived with Mrs. Morris, not far away, and I could hear the singing, but I did not mean to go forward to the altar to pray: I didn't believe in making a great noise. I said, "If you are sincere the Lord will bless you anywhere, and I don't mean to ever go forward to the altar; that I will never do." So I prayed and struggled day after day, week after week, trying to find light and peace, but I constantly came up against my will. God showed me I was a dreadful sinner, but still I wanted to have my own way about it. I said, "I am not so bad as Bob Loney, Meil Snievely, and a lot of others. I am not like them, I have always lived in first-class families and have always kept company with first-class servant girls, and I don't need to go there and pray like those people do." All this went on in my mind.
At last one night they were singing so beautifully in this
I thought I would turn around and go back, but as I went to turn facing all the congregation, it was so far to go back, so I rushed forward to the altar, threw myself down and began to pray with all my might: "O, Lord, have mercy on me! O, Lord, have mercy on me! O, Lord, save me," I shouted at the top of my voice, till I was hoarse. Finally I quieted down. Then came a stillness over me so quiet. I didn't understand it. The meeting closed. I went home.
If I had known how to exercise faith, I would have found peace that night, but they did not instruct us intelligencly, so I was left in the dark. A few days after this I took a service place about a mile and a half from Columbia, with a Quaker family named Robert Mifflins. This was in January. I prayer incessantly, night and day, for light and peace.
After I had got out to Mr. Mifflins', I began to plan for my spring suit; I meant to be converted, though I had not given up at all, but I began to save my money up now. There were some pretty styles, and I liked them. A white straw bonnet, with very pretty, broad pink tie-strings; pink or white muslin dress tucked to the waist; black silk mantilla; and light gaiter boos, with black tips; I had it all picked out in my mind, my nice spirng and summer suit. I can see the little box now where I had put my money, saving up for this special purpose. Then I would pray; O, how I prayed, fasted and prayed, read my Bible and prayed, prayed to the moon, prayed to the sun, prayed to the stars. I was so ignorant. O, I wonder how God ever did save me, say how. The Devil told me I was such a sinner God would not convert me. When I would kneel down to pray at night, he would say, "You had better give it up: God won't hear you, you are such a sinner."
Then I thought if I could only think of somebody that had not sinned, and my idea of great sin was disobedience, and I
All at once it came to me, "Why, the sun has always obeyed God, and kept its place in the heavens, and the moon and stars have always obeyed God, and kept their place in the heavens, the wind has always obeyed God, they all have obeyed."
So I began, "O, Sun, you never sinned like me, you have always obeyed God and kept your place in the heavens; tell Jesus I am a poor sinner." Then when I would see the trees move by the wind, I would say, "O, Wind, you never sinned like me, you have always obeyed God, and blown at His command; tell Jesus I am a poor sinner."
When I set my people down to tea in the house I would slip out and get under the trees in the yard and look up to the moon and stars and pray, "O, Moon and Stars, you never sinned like me, you have always obeyed God, and kept your place in the heavens; tell Jesus I am a poor sinner." One day while I was praying I got desperate, and here came my spring suit up constantly before me, so I told the Lord if he would take away the burden that was on my heart that I would never get one of those things. I wouldn't get the bonnet, I wouldn't get the dress, I wouldn't get the mantilla, I wouldn't get the shoes. O, I wanted relief from the burden and then all at once there came a quiet peace in my heart, and that suit never came before me again; but still there was darkness in my soul. On Tuesday, the 17th day of March, 1856, I was sitting in the kitchen by my ironing table, thinking it all over. The Devil seemed to say to me (I know now it was he), "You have prayed to be converted."
I said, "Yes."
"You have been sincere."
"You have been in earnest."
"You have read your Bible, and you have fasted, and you really want to be converted."
"Yes, Lord, Thou knowest it; Thou knowest my heart, I really want to be converted."
Then Satan said, "Well, if God were going to convert you He would have done it long ago; He does His work quick, and with all your sincerity God has not converted you."
"Yes, that is so."
"You might as well give it up, then," said he, "it is no use, He won't hear you."
"Well, I guess I will just give it up. I suppose I will be damned and I might as well submit to my fate." Just then a voice whispered to me clearly, and said, "Pray once more." And in an instant I said, "I will." Then another voice seemed like a person speaking to me, and it said, "Don't you do it."
"Yes, I will."
And when I said, "Yes, I will," it seemed to me the emphasis was on the "will," and I felt it from the crown of my head clear through me, "I WILL," and I got on my feet and said, "I will pray once more, and if there is any such thing as salvation, I am determined to have it this afternoon or die."
I got up, put the kettle on, set the table and went into the cellar and got on my knees to pray and die, for I thought I had made a vow to God and that He would certainly kill me, and I didn't care, I was so miserable, and I was just at the verge of desperation. I had put everything on the table but the bread and butter, and I said, "If any one calls me I won't get up, and if the bread and butter is all that is to go on the table, Miss Sue (the daughter) can finish the supper, and that will save them calling for me, and when they come down cellar after it they will find me dead!"
I set the tea pot on the table, put the tea cady down by it, so that everything would be ready, and I was going to die; and O, Hallelujah, what a dying that was! I went down into the cellar and got on my knees, as I had done so many times before, and I began my prayer. "O Lord, have mercy on my soul, I don't know how else to pray." A voice said to me, "That is just what you said before."
"O, Lord, if Thou wilt only please to have mercy on my soul I will serve Thee the longest day I live."
The Devil said, "You might just as well stop, you said that before."
"O, Lord, if Thou wilt only convert my soul and make me truly sensible of it, for I want to know surely that I am converted, I will serve Thee the longest day I live."
"Yes," the Devil says, "you said that before and God has not done it, and you might as well stop."
O, what a conflict. How the darkness seemed to gather around me, and in my desperation I looked up and said, "O, Lord, I have come down here to die, and I must have salvation this afternoon or death. If you send me to hell I will go, but convert my soul." Then I looked up and said, "O, Lord, if thou wilt only please to help me if ever I backslide don't ever let me see thy face in peace." And I waited, and I did not hear the old suggestion that had been following me, "That is just what you said before," so I said it again, "O, Lord, if Thou wilt only please to convert my soul and make me truly sensible of it, if I backslide don't ever let me see Thy face in peace."
I prayed the third time, using these same words. Then somehow I seemed to get to the end of everything. I did not know what else to say or do. Then in my desperation I looked up and said, "O, Lord, if Thou wilt help me I will believe Thee," and in the act of telling God I would, I did. O, the peace and joy that flooded my soul! The burden rolled away; I felt it when it left me, and a flood of light and joy swept through my soul such as I had never known before. I said, "Why, Lord, I do believe this is just what I have been asking for," and down came another flood of light and peace. And I said again, "Why, Lord, I do believe this is what I have asked Thee for." Then I sprang to my feet, all around was light, I was new. I looked at my hands, they looked new; I took hold of myself and said, "Why, I am new, I am new all over." I clapped my hands; I ran up out of the cellar, I walked up and down the kitchen floor. Praise the Lord! There seemed to be a halo of light all over me; the change was so real and so thorough that I have often said that if I had been as black as ink or as green as grass or as white as snow, I would not have been frightened. I went into the dining room; we had a large mirror that went from the floor to the ceiling, and I went and looked in it to see if anything had transpired in my color, because there was something wonderful had taken place inside of me, and it really seemed to me it was outside too, and as I looked in the glass I cried out, "Hallelujah, I have got religion; glory to God, I have got religion! " I was wild with delight and joy; it seemed to me as if I would split! I went out into the kitchen and I thought what will I do, I have got to wait till Sunday before I can tell anybody. This was on Tuesday; Sunday was my day in town, so I began to count the days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
"O how happy are they, who their Saviour obey,
And have laid up their treasures above:
Tongue can never express the sweet comfort and peace,
Of a soul in its earliest love."
When I got to the verse:--
"When my heart, it believed, what a joy I received,
What a heaven in Jesus' name;
'Twas a heaven below, my Redeemer to know,
And the angels could do nothing more
Than to fall at His feet, and the story repeat,
And the Lover of sinners adore."
O, how my soul was filled. Just then the enemy whispered to me, "There, you are singing just as if you had religion."
"Well, I have. I asked the Lord to convert me and He has done it."
"How do you know?"
"Well I know He did it, because it was just what I asked the Lord to do, and He did, and I know He did, for I never felt as I do now, and I know I am converted."
"You have a great blessing," the Devil said, "But how do you know that is conversion?"
"Well," I said, "That is what I asked the Lord to do and I believe He did it."
"You know, you don't want to be a hypocrite?"
"No, and I will not be, either."
"But you have no evidence."
"Evidence, evidence, what is that?" Then I thought, I wonder if that is not what the old people used to call the witness of the Spirit. "Well," I said, "I won't sing, I won't pray until I get the witness." So I began and I held this point; God helped me to hold this point. I said, "Lord I believe Thou hast converted my soul, but the Devil says I have no evidence. Now Lord give me the evidence," and I prayed a whole week. Every now and then the joy would spring up in my heart, the burden was all gone, I had no sadness, I could not cry as I had before, and I did not understand it and so I kept on pleading, "Lord, I believe Thou hast converted me, but give me the evidence, so clear and definite that the Devil will never trouble me on that line again."
Praise the Lord, He did, and though I have passed through many sorrows, many trials, Satan has buffeted me, but never from that day have I had a question in regard to my conversion. God helped me and He settled it once for all.
This witness of God's spirit to my conversion has been what has held me amid all the storms of temptation and trial that I have passed through. O what an anchor it has been at time of storm. Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Ye shall know if he follow on to know the Lord. Amen. Amen.