|CHAPTER VIII. -- MY FIRST TEMPTATION, AND OTHER EXPERIENCES--I GO TO NEW UTRECHT TO SEE MY HUSBAND--A LITTLE EXPERIENCE AT BEDFORD STREET CHURCH, NEW YORK--FAITH HEALING.|
For about three weeks after God had sanctified my soul, he seemed to let me walk above the world.
"I then rode on the sky,
Freely justified I,
Nor did envy Elijah his seat.
My glad soul mounted higher,
In a chariot of fire,
And the moon it was under my feet.
I could not believe
That I ever should grieve,
That I ever should suffer again."
But the Lord knew I must be disciplined for service. He began by degrees to let me down, and the tempter seemed to be let loose upon me. I have said the Devil turned his hose on me, for it was as though a man was washing a sidewalk or carriage, Satan seemed to come at me in various ways, in such power. I settled down in God, I got where I could not make a single effort to pray or do anything. I was helpless--I could not get out of the way. Oh, what temptations! So I said, "Well, fire away, but I will trust in God, though he slay me." It was dark, but it was not long till light broke in and drove the darkness all away.
Why does God permit these fierce temptations? It is, I believe, first, to develop the strength and muscle of your own soul and so prepare you for greater service, and second, to bring you into sympathy with others, that are often sorely tempted after they are sanctified, so that you can help them. For example:
"Oh," I thought, over and over, "why don't she tell her to shout."
No one ever had intimated that it was a temptation from Satan. When they went to kneel down this young woman knelt right in front of me so that I did not have to move from the seat I had taker and, while Mrs. Inskip was speaking and helping others, I leaned forward and said to this lady, "That is a temptation of the Devil; you praise the Lord and he will bring you out."
She looked up, and through her blinding tears, said, "Oh, Amanda Smith, were you ever so since you were sanctified?"
"Yes, my child, I was. I was shut up in prison for three weeks and only just got out the other day."
"Oh," she said, "I see it. Now Satan has been telling me that sanctified people never had a cloud."
"Don't you mind him," I said, "Praise the Lord."
"Glory to Jesus!" She sprang to her feet and cried, "I have got the victory, I am saved, I can go home, Jesus has set me free, O, Praise the Lord."
"Whom the Son makes free is free indeed." Hallelujah!
Then I saw that my experience in the weeks before, had been made a blessing to her, just as Job's experience was intended to be a blessing to men and women through all coming time.
I went to New Utrecht, to Mr. Roberts' to see my husband, James Smith. His son-in-law, John Bentley, was there when I went. Whatever had gone before, I do not know. I knew this young man. He had been at my house in New York. I had treated him well, and had done my very best for him, and his wife also. But that day he cursed me, and told me I had no business
He went on talking and abusing me terribly. There seemed to come an indescribable power over me, and I turned and lifted my hand toward him, and I said to him: "Mind, John Bentley, the God that I serve will make you pay for this before the year is out."
He said: "Well, I don't care if He does. Let Him do it."
He had not more than said the words when he seemed to tremble and stagger. There was a chair behind him, and he dropped down into the chair. I never saw him from that day. This was about two weeks before Christmas, and before the New Year came, John Bentley was dead and buried!
I always feel sad when I think of it, but I believe that God was displeased with that man for cursing me that day.
My husband, James Smith, was formerly of Baltimore, Md. He was for many years a leader of the choir of Bethel A. M. E. Church, in that city. Afterward he moved to Philadelphia, and was ordained deacon in the A. M. E. Church. He died in November, 1869, at New Utrecht, N. Y. Since then I have been a widow, and have traveled half way round the world, and God has ever been faithful. He has never left me a moment; but in all these years I have proved the word true, "Lo! I am with you always, even to the end."
"Sometimes 'mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, or troubled sea,
Still, 'tis my God that leadeth me."
I had told the Lord I would be obedient and would do all he bade me, so one day while I was busy at work it was whispered to my heart, "You go to Bedford Street on Sunday."
"Yes," I said, "I will." I always liked to go and hear Rev. John Cookman, who was then pastor. Sunday morning came; it was Easter Sunday. My friend, Sister Scott, and I went. Strange to say, but the usher took us up front, in what is or used to be called "The Amen Corner." I shall never forget John Cookman's text and sermon. The words were: "See that ye make all things after the pattern shown you in the Mount."
O, what a congregation, and what power the young man seemed to have in those days. He brought out holiness so clear and definite. I had got wonderfully blest as they sang the old Easter Anthem, as only Bedford Street could sing it in those days. O, how it thrills me now as I think it all over! As Brother Cookman went on with his sermon, increasing in fervor and power, the Spirit whispered to me distinctly, "Raise up your right hand," and I was just going to do so, when the Devil said, just as distinctly, "Yes, you look nice lifting up your black hand before all the people"--and I drew back and did not do it.
Then the Spirit said: "The other day you told the Lord you would do anything He would tell you to do."
"O, yes," I said, "I did. O, Lord, forgive me and give me another chance and I will lift my hand for Thee!"
By-and-by the Spirit said again, "Lift up your right hand,"
Here I desire to record some things the Lord taught me about what is now called faith, or divine healing.
I think it was in October, 1868, not very long after I had got the blessing of sanctification. It seemed that my faith had increased and strengthened in this short time, so that I did not seem to find it difficult to believe God for anything I really needed. I had never heard of Dr. Cullis, Dr. Bordman, or Dr. Mahan, of Oberlin, Ohio. I had never read a book or paper of any kind. I believed what I read in the Bible about the miracles performed by the Lord Jesus, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and healing the sick, but thought it belonged to the days of miracles especially, and it was to prove to the unbelieving Jews the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. I had often prayed for sick people, and asked the Lord to bless means that were used, and so many times He did it, as I believe in answer to prayer; but I never made any time about it, as though it were some especial state of grace, so much higher than entire sanctification or holiness. So I went on claiming promises, quenching the violence of fire, escaping the edge of the sword, out of weakness was made
It was Saturday. I was very busy, as that is a busy day, especially with a washwoman. After I had swept my room I gave the dustpan to Mazie to carry out to the ash box that stood on the sidewalk. It was when I lived in the rear at 135 Amity street, New York. When she came in, she said, "O, ma, some one has thrown a lot of nice books into the ash box; some of them are almost new." She was very fond of reading, so she said, "May I bring some in?"
"Oh, no," I said, "Mazie; I have little enough room now, and I do not want any old books or trash brought in." But contrary to my orders, the child slipped three of these books into the house, and hid them in the little closet on the shelf behind the smoothing irons. In the bottom of this closet, on the floor, I kept my coal. I could put in about two pailfuls, which was about a half bushel, at a time. So on Monday morning after prayers, Mazie had gone to school, I went to put some coal in the stove and then was going to gather my clothes. But I noticed that my irons were not back on the shelf in their place properly. So I went to arrange them, and found these books.
"There," I said, "I told Mazie not to bring any of these books in; she has not obeyed me." But as I looked at them I said, "Perhaps I should not have told her 'no' until I saw them; for they really are almost new." I don't remember what the two were, but the third was a small-sized book, entitled, "Child's Book on Physiology." So I began to read it. I looked through it. As I read on, its explanations, simple and so beautiful, of the human body in all its parts, in a way that any child could understand it, I got so interested that I sat down, though I was in such a hurry. After reading and thinking, I turned to the first page.
So I waited a few minutes; I don't know how long; then it seemed as though the Lord Jesus in person stood by me; such a peaceful hush came all over me, and He seemed to say, so tenderly, Oh! so tenderly, "Now, if you knew the Lord wanted you to take medicine would you be willing?"
"No, Lord, you always have healed me without medicine, and why not now? What have I done?"
Then it seemed just as though a person spoke and said, "No, no, but if you knew it was God's will, would you be willing?" I said, "No, Lord; you can heal me without medicine, and I don't want to take it." Then the patient, gentle voice said the third time, "No, no," and putting the question a little differently, said, "If you knew it was God's will for you to take medicine would you be willing to do God's will? "
Oh! how I cried. I saw it, but I said, "No, Lord, I don't like medicine; but Thou canst conquer my will. I do not want to live with my will in opposition to Thy will. Thou must conquer."
Oh! what a battle. It took me one whole hour before my will went down. I held on to the chair, for I felt I must get up, but I said, "No, I will die right here." But I held right on to the chair. I said, "I will never rise from here until my will dies." And I knew when the death was given and when the victory came. I remained quiet, and thought it all over. And I said, "Lord, I thank Thee. Now tell me what I must do." For I felt if the Lord had said, "Now, you go over there on Sixth avenue to
Sometimes when I have told this strange experience to some of the good people in these days, they throw up their hands in holy horror and say, "Oh! I don't see how you could dare to say so." But I see the same spirit of will-worship in many of those who profess what they prefer to call "Divine healing;" the same spirit of will-worship that I had. But I do not think they know it. I am at no controversy with anybody on these lines. But, Oh! how I do thank and praise God for opening my eyes to see, and I think, understand His will concerning Amanda Smith. I do not believe in calling the doctor for every little thing, or making a drug store of one's self; but I believe it right when you need medicine or doctor, to use both, prayerfully, and with common-sense, with an eye single. But to say the use of means in sickness is contrary to the will of God, and that all Christians should have faith and trust the Lord to heal them without the use of means at all, even though their common-sense, which is as much God's gift to us as any other blessing, tells them to use the means, but must close their eyes, ignore all symptoms, and by the force of will, which they must call "faith," ride over everything;--now this is where the tug of war comes in, with Amanda Smith. My neighbor prays, and is wonderfully healed; she is a Christian; so am I; we have both been blessed of God; I pray, and am not healed; someone tells me it is a lack of faith on my part, or there is something wrong in my consecration, or there is something wrong in me somewhere, and that is the reason I am not healed. Now comes the question: "How do you know that? Who told you so?" So that I must either stand judged, or else I must judge, and where do I get my authority for so doing? The Lord help me. Amen.
The days of miracles are not past. God has healed without the use of means of any kind, as well as with; and why He does not now heal every case as He used to do, I do not think I have any
The good man looked at his wife, then he turned to me and said, smilingly, "Sister Smith, my wife is generally pretty clear when she decides upon a thing."
"Yes, Sister Smith," she said, "it would do no harm to go and see about it, anyhow."
"Sister M.," I said, "you are quite right; just what I say."
So off he went. He was gone about two hours. When he returned, I said, "Well, Brother M., what did the doctor say?"
"Oh! praise the Lord," he said, "I am all right; clear as a bell." So he told the story, and laughed heartily. I said, "What did the doctor do?"
"Oh," he said, "he told me to sit down and he would examine my ear; he said there was nothing serious the matter; the wax was very dry. So he took his instruments and took out about a thimbleful of wax, and put a little sweet oil or something in it, and it is all right."
"Yes," I said, "praise the Lord. Some people would have teased the Lord to have Him clean out their ears, when they might do it themselves, or get someone to do it to whom God had given the sense and ability."