|CHAPTER IX. -- VARIOUS EXPERIENCES--HIS PRESENCE--OBEDIENCE--MY TEMPTATION TO LEAVE THE CHURCH--WHAT PEOPLE THINK--SATISFIED.|
One day I was busy with my work and thinking and communing with Jesus, for I found out that it was not necessary to be a nun or be isolated away off in some deep retirement to have communion with Jesus; but, though your hands are employed in doing your daily business, it is no bar to the soul's communion with Jesus. Many times over my wash-tub and ironing table, and while making my bed and sweeping my house and washing my dishes I have had some of the richest blessings. Oh, how glad I am to know this, and how many mothers' hearts I have cheered when I told them that the blessing of sanctification did not mean isolation from all the natural and legitimate duties of life, as some seem to think. Not at all. It means God in you, supplying all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus; our need of grace and patience and long suffering and forbearance, for we have to learn how not only to bear, but also to forbear with infirmities of ourselves and others as well.
I return to my story. Thus as I thought, I asked again, "I wonder why the Lord did not sanctify me fully when he justified me? He was God, and He could have done it; He could have done it all at once if He had had a mind to." Then the question. "Well, why didn't He do it?" and I was blocked. I believe that question was from Satan; he intended to make me think unkindly of God. "Here you have been struggling all these years; God could have done it all at once; but why didn't He do it?" "Yes," I said, "that is so."
"Well, why didn't he do it?" And I was so sad I began to cry and said, "Lord, I don't know why you did not sanctify me
Then He touched him again and he said he saw every man clearly.
He was Christ with the same power in His first touch as He had with the second. He could have made the blind man see clearly the first time, but He did not.
"Why," I said, "Lord, I see it, and it is none of my business why you didn't sanctify me fully when you converted me; it is enough for me to know that you have done it." I came into light and liberty praising the Trinity. I quit asking God questions about His own work. I think it is impertinence, and yet how many do this very thing, and when they don't get an answer to satisfy themselves they become perplexed and then land in skepticism with regard to the whole doctrine and truth of this great salvation.
One of the first things I discovered after I came into the blessed light and experience of full salvation was a steady and appropriating faith that I never realized before. I always believed the Bible and all the promises, but I did not seem to have power to appropriate the promises to my soul's need; but after the light broke in and my darkness had fled, power was given me not only to believe the promises, but to appropriate them.
"My!" I said, as I would read the promises, "that is mine, and that is mine;' and it was like when the sailors reef their sails; I took hold of them and wrapped them round me and walked up and down in possession of the land. All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's. I sang:
"All things are mine,
Since I am His--
How can I keep from singing?"
One day as I was busy about my room I seemed to feel the conscious presence of Jesus. I saw nothing with my eyes, but I seemed to be conscious of the presence of a Holy Being by me and around me, and I talked with Him, and I was saying, "Now, if anyone should ask me to tell the difference between justification
"The midsummer sun shines but dim;
The fields strive in vain to look gay,
But when I am happy in Him,
December's as pleasant as May."
That means two distinct states as real as the moonlight and sunlight. I knew it was true, but, O, why should there be a December in my heart when I'may have the beaming sun? When the Holy Ghost came to my soul in sanctifying power it was the inaugural of a perpetual May-day that shall go on increasing in faith, and light, and strength, and power, and thanksgiving, and praise, and rest, and peace, and triumph forever and ever and ever. Amen. Amen.
How true this old hymn of Charles Wesley's:
"I find Him in signing;
I find Him in prayer;
In sweet meditation,
He always is there,
My constant companion,
Oh, may we ne'er part,
All glory to Jesus,
He dwells in my heart.
One day I was mediating and thinking upon His goodness. My heart was full of praise as I thought of all the Lord had done, and I said, "Oh, I will not need to pray now, as I used to do." Just then these words came: "The children of Israel gathered manna fresh every morning." I said, "Yes, Jesus." I knew He meant to teach me that it must be daily bread my soul would need, and as my natural need was met each day, so my spiritual need must be met by prayer and the reading of His Holy Word and the appropriating of His promises. Without this all else would avail nothing.
How I marvel at God's patience with me when I think how He led me about to teach me how to be obedient, in spite of all Satan's devices.
I was working up town one day, as the lady wanted some blankets washed. The morning I was to go. I had slept rather late. I was to have been there at seven o'clock. A long walk from Fourth street to Twenty-third street. I felt led to take some tracts. I always kept a lot on hand and would take them when I went out, generally looking over them so as to see and know just what I was giving away. This morning Satan seemed to hurry me. "You will be too late if you stop to sort the tracts."
"Yes," I said, "I am afraid so." Then the Spirit would seem to say, "Take the tracts." Then I picked up a handful and began to look over them. Then I got so nervous. Satan said, "You know that lady will not pay you if you are not there at seven."
"Yes," I said, "she is hard about money anyhow." So I laid the tracts down and started off, and it seemed to me I never saw so many opportunities where I could have given a tract as I did that morning. When I got to the house the lady said she would not have the blankets washed that day; I should come the next week. And I saw how Satan had hindered me. How sorry I was I did not listen to the good Spirit and take the tracts. God knew the washing was not to be done that day, and that is why He whispered so gently to my heart, "Take the tracts." I don't know who lost the blessing by my not giving them, but I know I lost a blessing by not obeying. O, it is so safe to obey even though it may be dark. A few days later on, I went, and as I had sorted my tracts, I prayed that the Lord would show me to whom to give them; and what a good time I had. I met a very fine looking
But when he came near I said, "Pardon me, sir; will you have a tract?"
He seemed thoroughly astonished, but very pleasant and courteous. He took the tract and thanked me. A couple of weeks after, a friend said to me, "Did you give a tract to a young man on Sixth avenue last week?"
"Well," she said, "It was you, then. I was working for Mrs. A., and she told me that her son came home so happy and told her that a colored woman had given him a tract, and that he had never read anything that had done him so much good as that tract."
O, how the mother and son rejoiced together. Her dear boy that she had prayed for so long had found peace and joy in the Lord. How strange it should come about in the way it did, but God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. On a little further, I passed two men; they were musicians. They stood talking, and as I came near them a deep feeling came over me to give those men a tract. My heart beat quickly, but just as I got near them they seemed to think what I was going to do, so they started and walked across on the side. I said, "Lord, if you want me to give that man a tract, if there is a word that Thou dost want him to have, make him cross the next corner back again." O, how I did pray! Sure enough he did cross over the next corner and met me face to face and took a tract, and thanked me and seemed deeply impressed. Praise God.
At another time. One night I was crossing to Williamsburg on the ferry boat. I had a good religious paper in my hand, which had a good sermon in it and some experiences. I said I will take this and give it to some one, men are more willing to take a paper than a tract. On the boat a nice looking lad sat just opposite me, and as I looked at him the Spirit said, "Give him that paper." Again I looked and thought I will give it to him before we get out. Then something seemed to say, "Give it to this other man that looks more thoughtful."
"No," it came to me, "Give it to that lad."
I got up and handed it to him. He took it and threw it underneath
But I lifted my heart in prayer and said, "Now, Lord, if there is anything in that paper that Thou dost want that young man to know, make him pick it up. Lord, don't let him go out, make him pick up that paper." I continued to pray, and we were nearing the shore. I saw the fellow was very restless. O, how I did beg the Lord to make him pick it up, I felt it had a word for him. Just as the boat struck the dock, he stooped down and picked up the paper and put it in his pocket and ran away. Just then the grand old text came: "If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:14).
I think it was November, 1869. On my way home one evening from work, I met a friend on Sixth avenue. She said to me, "Smith, are you going to the Fair to-night?"
"No," I said, "I am tired and shall not go."
"I have two tickets, if you like to go I will give them to you."
"All right, "I said, "If I feel better after I get home I will go. You know I never go to such places unless the Lord wants me to do something for Him."
"Well, she said, "I wish you would go."
I went to my home at thirty-five Amity street, and as I prayed and asked the Lord, it was very clear to me I was to go. It was a damp, rainy evening, and I would think, "Well, it is too damp and I will not go." Then it would come to me, "Go, take some tracts."
I knew I would be criticised, for I had become a speckled bird among my own people on account of the profession of the blessing of holiness. Remarks would be made, "There is Amanda Smith, with her sanctification again." So I knew all that would be said, but I said, "Lord help me, and I will go for Thee. Tell me what Thou dost want me to do."
I went in, and there were quite a number; all seemed to look at me, remarks passed, and then all went on as they would there. I walked about and spoke to several, then I sat down and lifted my heart in prayer, and said, "Lord, I have no business here, and why should I stay, make it clear what you want me to do;" and these words were spoken to my heart distinctly, "Go stand in the way." I got up and went and stood at the top of the stairs where the people were coming up. Several persons passed up, then came
I handed some tracts to several others, then the Lord seemed to say, "You may go home." I went out, and felt that I had done as I was told, but how strange that I should not do anything but that. I went home and bore this young man up to God. This, I think, was on Wednesday evening. On Saturday, as I was carrying some clothes home, I met some one on Sixth avenue and they said, "Did you hear that Charlie S. is dead?"
"Well, he is, he was found dead in his bed this morning; he was at the Fair the other night, well and hearty." I went and looked at him. There he was, dead, no sign of sickness, and the very young man that God had sent me to speak to. He looked as though he were asleep. O, how sad it was, and yet how glad I was that I had strength given me that night to obey the Lord, and do as I thought He led me, whether the young man would hear, or whether he would forbear.
I seemed to see the inconsistencies of the brethren and sisters so much more than I ever had before. I had seen some before, as I suppose most people do. I saw my own, and what the Lord had saved me from, and I wanted everybody to get saved right away. Brother Patterson was pastor of the Sullivan Street A. M. E. Church at the time I got the blessing. He enjoyed the experience and preached the doctrine. But colored people are like some white people; although the church prospered under his administration, and we had a wonderful revival during the two years, and the church was built up and edified, yet many of them did not like him. After he left, Rev. Nelson Turpin was sent to us. He was fierce. He openly opposed and denounced the doctrine and experience of the blessing of full salvation, although there were a number in the church, some among the leading members, who claimed to have the experience. He was very popular with the great mass. The church was crowded. Then we poor souls who dared to testify definitely in a Love Feast, or in a General Class, might expect a raking; and especially on Sunday nights, when the church would be crowded, he would take especial pains to tell some ridiculous inconsistency about some sanctified sister or
"Well, but Mother Jones," I said, "the Lord has blessed me so, and I can't help it." Then she laughed and took hold of me so kindly, and said, "I would not say anything about it if I were you."
So I went home and thought how Mother Jones sympathized with me. So I began to be very indefinite in my testimony. I chose words that the people would like. I would say, "I am all the Lord's." They would say, "Amen!" Or, if I said, "Jesus saves me fully," or "The blood cleanseth," they would say, "Amen!" to that. But if I used the word "sanctify," then there was a rustling among the dry bones. Then look out for the next testimony, especially if in a General Class or Love Feast. Thank God, He led my class leader, Henry De Shields, into the experience in answer to prayer, just three weeks after I got the blessing. So while "Pop" Scott, who, was assistant class leader, never came out clear, Brother De Shields was a power and a great help to myself, and to many. He still lives in New York, and at this writing is walking in the light of full salvation. Still, I was afraid of Brother Turpin. Then darkness came over me, and the joy
"Yes, Lord, if Thou wilt help me, and give me Thy strength, and go with me, I will go." So there was a calm and peace in my heart. Union Church, uptown, was a colored church. There was not a member in it that believed in the doctrine of holiness; and from that church there had been great criticism in regard to my professing such a blessing Sunday morning came. The Love Feast was at 6 o'clock A. M. I had been but once before. I got ready and went. My heart trembled, and my knees trembled. But I went on, and I said, "Now, Lord, help me, and I will go." I got in and sat down. The church was well filled. A number of strange ministers sat in the altar. Every eye was turned on me. After the meeting opened the testimony began. The ministers urged everybody to be short, and in many of the testimonies there were remarks and insinuations thrown out to me. I sat still and prayed. Oh! how I did pray. Then they began to get very noisy. They shouted and praised. I said to the Lord; "Now, Lord, I will speak for Thee if Thou wilt make these people be quiet. Lord, make them be quiet. I can't talk when there is a great noise, and Thou hast sent me here to speak for Thee, and I want the
One day Sister Scott called and was so happy. She told me some white sisters had been at her house, and had prayed and sung, and that they were full of the Holy Ghost. They were dressed so plain and neat. They belonged to the Free Methodist Church, uptown somewhere in New York. And they asked her to come to some of their meetings. "Oh!" I said, "why didn't you bring them to see me?" She said, "I told them I would bring you up to their church sometime." So on Sunday I went with her. It was about two miles from where I lived. We started early, and, of course, we walked all the way. We thought it was a dreadful thing to ride on the street cars on Sunday. And I think still we should not do it whenever we can avoid it. But I am not in bondage even in this as I once was. Praise the Lord! he got to the church. Mr. Mackey, who was so well known all over New York, was then very popular and prominent in that church, and was a good friend to the colored people. For years he led meetings at the Colored Home in New York. When we went into the church he was there, and was so glad to see us. He shook hands, and seated us, and was so kind.
"My!" I thought, "how nice these people are." For such treatment as that in a white church was not common for colored persons. Then the church was so very pretty and plain. No stained glass, or cushions, no pipe organ and quartette choir. Then the sisters were all so plain. So was I. For before I got the blessing I dressed Quaker style, because I liked it, and it was a matter of economy. Then the preacher that Sunday morning was a Mr. James, and he had no gold studs in his shirt, no rings on his fingers. His face was placid and bright. And what a sermon he preached on Holiness. My soul was fed, and I prayed to the Lord to put it in the heart of the minister to ask persons to join the church. I felt I must join this church. It was a true church. And that kind of preaching I had heard my father talk about that they used to hear forty years ago. Well, I prayed. Always before when I had prayed, from the time I had received the blessing, somehow the Lord had answered me so quick. But this morning He didn't seem to answer; and yet, now, I see it was an answer. For sometimes when the Lord denies a request, it's as much an answer as when He grants it. Though I had been a member of the African Methodist Church for years, I was willing that morning to join without a letter, on probation. I said, "I can get my letter from my church, I know, but they will want to know all the reason why, and I don't want to tell. I just want to come into this church. These people seem so good! Just the right kind of people." So I prayed on. The sermon was finished. Then they had a prayer meeting, and Brother Irvin prayed. Oh! what a prayer. I shall ever remember it. He was well known, and a man of wonderful power. And I thought, "Will they close without asking if any one wants to join! I will get up and go and ask them to take me in. But then they will wonder why I have not brought my letter, and what will I say? The Lord help me!" And He did, but not as I wanted then, but as it is written, "Ye shall know if ye follow on to know the Lord." The meeting did close, and no one was asked to join. But the friends gathered around Sister Scott and me, shook hands, and said they were glad to see us. The minister shook hands and asked us to come again. They were all so nice. They shouted, and were so free, as the Free Methodists are. Brother Irvin came up to me, and gave me several tracts on the origin and doctrine of the Free Methodist Church. How that it separated itself on account of slavery and
But I had made up my mind to join this church. So the next week I went again and they were having a prayer meeting. They had a great big carman on his knees by a chair in the middle of the floor. A brother was on each side of him, one behind him, and another in front, and they were shouting and pounding and trying to make the man say he believed. "You believe! Say Hallelujah." "Praise the Lord." Then they would say, "Amen!" Then they got up, took hold of the man, stood him on his feet and said, "Praise the Lord." But he was heavy, and would not say it.
"Well," I said, "that's just what I find fault with my own people for. And these people are good people, but they have their failings, just like other people. So I might as well stay where I am." Then they told me there were no prejudices among them. That colored people were always treated well. And I was glad of that. So the next week I went again. Brother James led the class that night. He had thrown across his shoulders a very stylish shawl, such as gentlemen wore in those days, and in it was a very pretty steel pin and chain, which shone bright.
"Well," I said, "I did not think Brother James would wear that."
So a sister came in. When she saw Sister Thompson, whom I had got to go with me that night, and myself, she frowned and turned her back on us. "Well," I thought, "they say they have no prejudice. But she acts just like she had, anyhow. After all, perhaps I had better not join."
Then a dear lady got up and gave such a beautiful testimony,
"Yes," Brother E. says.
"Well, will it be right for me to speak just what I think?"
"Yes, certainly," said he. "We are Free Methodists, so you can speak your mind."
"Well," I said, "I think you have the spirit of prejudice among you just like other people. I do not think I am mistaken, for the spirit of this meeting seems very clear to me."
They had on the mantel three or four little stuffed birds. So I said, "I do not think it is right to have those stuffed birds there. The Bible says we are not to have pictures of anything in heaven, or on earth, or in the water." Well, I knew the quotation correctly then. So after I had said this, Brother E. said, "Well, Sister Smith, God bless you. About there being prejudice, you are mistaken; but about the images, you are right."
So then Brother E. led his wife, and he said to her, "You don't pray as much as you used to, I know. Often when I used to be down town in my office I could tell when you were praying." Then he talked to her so before all the people.
When he got through she got up and went upstairs and slammed the door after her. And I said, "Well, that means what I used to mean when I slammed the door after me." But still he did say a lot of things to her that I thought he ought to have said to her alone. So I said, "Well, these people are just like my own. So I guess I will not join."
When we came out, one of the sisters came out with us. She
"Oh! no, she does not say it to them; but she has said it to me, and I know her."
So I never went back again.
Then Rev. Joshua Woodland was pastor of the A. M. E. Church in Brooklyn. He was a man of God, and preached the Gospel. So I said, "As I cannot get real food for my soul in my own church, I will go to Brooklyn and join Brother Woodland's. Of course it will cost me something to go and come, but I will walk on this side and cross on the boat, and walk on the other side to church; and then a sermon once a week will help me, and I will still go to my class here in New York." So I prayed for light and guidance for three weeks. At last I said, one day, "Lord, show me by Thy Spirit through Thy Word, what I must do. Thou knowest I want to do Thy will only." And I opened my Bible, and as I looked, my eyes lighted on these words: "Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of God." And there came a flood of light and peace to my heart. And I arose and praised the Lord. I never left the church, but I have seen sad results of many who have left and gone away. Some have done well, probably, but others have made sad failures. What a pity. I can call up a number of white people, young men and women, that I used to know in New York, and Oh! how they have failed in their lives, leaving one church and joining another. Thank the Lord he has kept me steady. Amen.
It is often said to me, "How nicely you get on, Mrs. Smith; everybody seems to treat you so kindly, and you always seem to get on so well."
"Yes; that is what you think," I said; "but I have much more to contend with than you may think." Then they said; "Oh, well, but no one would treat you unkindly." Then I said: "But if you want to know and understand properly what Amanda Smith has to contend with, just turn black and go about as I do, and you will come to a different conclusion." And I think some
One day a lady asked me if I did not think all colored people wanted to be white. I told her that I did not think so--I did not. I never wished I was white but once, that I could remember, and that was years ago. I was at a white Methodist Church in Lancaster; I sat in the gallery. The new minister had come. This was his first Sunday. I lived at Colonel Henry McGraw's, on Lime street, and the church was about two squares from where I lived. The colored church where I belonged and attended was quite a ways from our house. I always had a big dinner to cook on Sunday when Mr. McGraw was at home. He had a very dear friend, Mr. James Reynolds, whom he always liked to have dine with him. I generally liked to go to church on Sunday morning, but it was too far for me to go and get back so as to have my dinner in time. I was always very proud of being prompt with my dinner, so that often on Sunday I would only get out at night. This Sunday I thought I would go and hear the new minister. All the young people generally sat upstairs, and a colored person was to them an object of game and criticism. I was careful to do nothing to provoke this spirit, but I generally got enough of it.
I don't remember what the text was; but O, how well I remember the power with which the preacher spoke, and the sweetness of his countenance. As he preached the Lord blessed me wonderfully, and I did want to shout "Praise the Lord;" and I remember saying "I wish I was white, and I would shout 'Glory to Jesus.'" They did not look at white people, nor remark about their shouting; for they did use to shout! I did not shout, but thought, "The willing mind is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not." And that was the only time in my life I ever wanted to be white. But, praise the Lord! I shout now whenever His spirit prompts. No, we who are the royal black are very well satisfied with His gift to us in this substantial color. I, for one, praise Him for what He has given me, although at times it is very inconvenient. For example: When on my way to California last January, a year ago, if I had been white I could have stopped at a hotel, but
At Ocean Grove a lady took me aside and said, "Now, Amanda Smith, I want to ask you honestly; I know you cannot be--."
"What now?" thought I.
"I know you cannot be white, but if you could be, would you not rather be white than black?"
"No, no," I said, "as the Lord lives, I would rather be black and fully saved than to be white and not saved; I was bad enough, black as I am, and I would have been ten times worse if I had been white." How she roared laughing. She was all right, but I think she just wanted to test me a little bit. Yes, thank God, I am satisfied with my color. I am glad I had no choice in it, for if I had, I am sure I would not have been satisfied; for when I was a young girl I was passionately fond of pea-green, and if choice had been left to me I would have chosen to be green, and I am sure God's color is the best and most substantial. It's the blood that makes whiteness. Hallelujah!
"The blood applied,
I'm saved without, within,
The blood of Jesus cleanseth me
From every trace of sin."
Chorus --"There is power in Jesus' blood,
There is power in Jesus' blood,
There is power in Jesus' blood
To wash me white as snow."
"Many years my longing heart
Had sighed, had longed to know
The virtue of the Saviour's blood,
That washes white as snow."
One day in New York I went into the Tuesday Palmer's meeting. A lady came in, and there was a very comfortable seat by me, and after looking about for some other place she finally decided to take the one by me; but I saw she was uncomfortable. She fanned and fidgeted and fussed and aired herself till I wished in my heart she had gone somewhere else. Before the meeting closed I arose and spoke; the Lord helped me and blessed the people. At the close of the meeting this lady turned to me so full of pleasant smiles, and said, "Oh, I did not know I was sitting by Amanda Smith; I feel myself highly honored." I looked at her and pitied her, but felt sick! I said in my heart, "From all hollowness and sham, Good Lord deliver us!"
One day at Oakington Camp Meeting there was a lady I heard giving her testimony. She said, "I have come over five hundred miles to this meeting to get the blessing of entire sanctification. I believe it is my privilege to enjoy this experience, but I have not got it. I have read all the works on the subject and sought earnestly day and night, and yet I have not got the light."
O, how I wanted to tell her it was not in the books. I arose to speak and tell her, as I thought the Lord wanted me to, but I was told to sit down, there were others who wanted to speak. I was a little sorry, for I was quite sure my desire to speak was the Lord's prompting; but I must needs learn obedience of the powers that be. Praise the Lord for the grace that enabled me to do so. Hallelujah! I also saw some things that were not what I called consistent with the profession of the sanctified life. It was unexpected, and I was young in the experience and was struck a little; but God saved me from backsliding from this principle, as many do when they meet with things in life that do not harmonize with the profession of holiness. There is much of the human nature for us to battle with, even after we are wholly