"THY WILL BE DONE," AND HOW THE SPIRIT TAUGHT ME ITS
MEANING, ALSO THAT OF SOME OTHER PASSAGES OF SCRIP' TURE--MY DAUGHTER MAZIE'S CONVERSION.
It all came to me so clearly after I had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I saw that I had prayed from my earliest childhood this prayer, but had never understood it; but, Oh! when the Spirit revealed it to me I was so astonished that I had not seen it before. "Our Father," I said, "God is my Father. He has made me, and I am His child." How that word "Father" filled me with awe.
"Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name." At these words a holy reverence passed through my whole being.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Like the angels do it in Heaven. Then I thought, "How do the angels do God's will. Do they hesitate? Do they question? Do they shrink?" And I said "No." Swift, prompt, loyal obedience by angels, and I asked God that I may do His will on earth like angels do it in heaven. When I saw this, I covered my face and wept, and laughed; so simple, and so great!
"Thy will be done." Oh! that word, and to say it from the heart. When you stand by your dear ones dying, with not two dollars for funeral expenses, with a husband and father away, and when he might have come, yet did not, with no one to go to, when the very heavens seemed brass, and the earth iron, and you and your own body exhausted from hard work and watching day and night, and with but little food to sustain the body, then to say, "Thy will be done," from the heart, is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifice; and this prayer prayed from the heart, is what is meant by being entirely and wholly sanctified. I did not understand this when I first learned it, but the time came a few months after.
The Lord took from me my dear little Will. He was the brightest and most promising of all the five children I had had, and when he was but three days old, I got on my knees by my bedside and consecrated him to God. I had not done so with the others, and I thought it was why the Lord took them away, but I did not know about consecrating children to God, only in baptism. Now I saw afterward there was selfishness in it, though I was really sincere. I did this, thinking the Lord would not take him. Then I promised I would train him prayerfully, and he should be a preacher of the Gospel. I said: "Lord, I give him to Thee, and I hold myself just as Thy servant, to raise him for Thee; he is not mine, I give him wholly to Thee, and now help me to raise him. When he is five years old I will have him reading, and I will work day and night to give him an education."
When I got through with my prayer I arose and lay down again. He grew and thrived beautifully till he was five months old. Oh, how bright he was. He had had several little sick turns, but I never once thought he would die, because I had given him to the Lord so fully, and now the Lord will let me have him. One morning I had cleaned up my room, and had my tubs all ready to go to washing, for this I always did, so that my house was in order if any one should come in. The next was to give my baby his bath and make him comfortable. Just after I had done this and laid him down on the sofa, and emptied his bath, he seemed perfectly well and was crowing and so bright. His sister, Mazie, was getting ready for school, and was calling, saying: "Be good, Will, till I come back." All at once she called out to me: "Oh Ma, look at Will," and he was stiff in a fit, and there was froth on his mouth and he was black in the face. My kettle of wash water was on, and in a moment I had him another bath ready. I stripped him. There was no one to call. I never lost my presence of mind a moment. I put him in his bath. I did not forget to put in the water a handful of salt and a little mustard. I don't know how I did it, God kept me so still in my soul. He soon came out of his spasm when I put him in the warm water. The dear little fellow, the first thing he did was to look up and say, "Mama," and pat me on the cheek with his little hand. He seemed all right and I dressed him and laid him down and went to my washing. He slept and took his food as usual till several days had passed, then he seemed poorly and fretful, and I took him to a doctor; he prescribed
I had heard of a wonderful doctor for children, a lady. I thought I would try this new doctor. I took him in my arms, and when I got to the doctor's I could not speak a word. She looked at him and said to me, "You must not feel so bad, his eyes are bright, and I think he will be better in a few days;" but I knew the sign of his feet was no mistake. I paid her one dollar, and a dollar and a half for the prescription, and had but fifty cents left; all I had in the world. I went home and did as I was told, but I could not say "Thy will be done." Oh! the agony of my soul. The Lord sent a dear friend in Minte Corsey. Oh, how glad I was she came. She lived at service and could only stay a day or two, but this was a great help to me. Friday morning came, still I could not say, "Thy will be done." I wanted to say it, and then I resolved that I would neither eat nor drink until I could, from my heart, say, "The will of the Lord be done." It took me from Thursday till Friday afternoon about three P. M. I got the victory. While I was alone pleading with God for power to say, "Thy will be done," all at once my heart seemed to sink into a deep quiet, and I said, "Lord, Thou hast helped me, and I can say, 'Thy will be done.'" Oh, how sweet it was; it seemed to me I could
This was Friday afternoon about four o'clock. About two o'clock the next morning little Will fell asleep in Jesus, in my arms. I washed the little body and laid it out myself; laid him on the little stand. No tears; God seemed to dry them up with joy! O, the greatness of His peace that passeth understanding!
Saturday morning I don't know how I got my clothes home, but I did. I got a young man to go for my husband, who was at New Utrecht, not far from Brooklyn, N.Y. I had but two dollars, that had come in from my washing, and I wondered what I would do, but my husband would be home, and I thought I could leave that. Just then a flood of sadness seemed to fill my heart. I could not understand it. I was sick and weak, and I said it is because I have lost so much rest. I sent my little girl to tell some friends to come in, and they sent word it was Saturday and they were all busy, so no one came. I lay down a few moments, then I broke into a flood of tears. "Lord, help me!" I said.
About ten o'clock the young man came back, whom I sent to see my husband. He sent word he was sick himself, and could not come, and had no money. I felt I must sink. I said, "O, Lord, help me!" I was so weak I had to lie down three times before I could get properly dressed, as I must go out in the street. I thought I would go and see a lady with whom I used to live, away uptown, Fortieth street and Madison avenue. I thought if they could help me get my baby buried, I would clean house to pay them again. While I was getting ready to go, my dear friend, Sister Nancy Thompson, who lived in Clinton court, near Eighth Street, sent a messenger to say I must come to her house at once.
"O," I said, "I can't, I must go uptown," but the child would not go without me.
She said. "Auntie Thompson says I must not come without you," and I went with the child. I thought after I had seen her,
She said, "If twenty dollars will help you, I can let you have it." And I saw God, and wept!
"Sometimes, 'mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, o'er troubled sea,
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me." Amen.
Dear Sister Nancy Thompson has gone to Heaven out of great tribulation, last January. God was so good to bring me back from Africa to see her and pray and praise with her on earth before he took her to himself.
"There the wicked cease from trouble;
There the weary are at rest." Amen.
I went home and sent off to make arrangements for the funeral on Sunday. The undertaker was kind. I told him just my situation. I said if you will take fifteen dollars I will pay you the other fifteen in a week. He said he had a bill to pay next Thursday and if I would let him have it by then, he would do what he could. I told him I thought I could do it. O, how the Lord did help me. He was so reasonable. God, I know, was in it all. On Sunday, at one o'clock, the funeral. I waited for my husband till after three, then they said if we did not go the gates would be closed and I would have to come back with the body. O, I was so alarmed. I did not know this. So the undertaker himself said, "I think I had better go myself." So he got on beside the driver, and they drove very fast and we got there just as they were closing the gates, and but for the undertaker's being with us we would have had to bring back the lifeless little body. I thought my husband would meet me at the cemetery, as it was but a short distance from where he lived. I hoped he would be able to come that far; but no, he was not there. O, I could not describe the feelings of that hour. God held me Himself. I thanked the kind undertaker, and we got home about half past six o'clock.
It was the Quarterly Meeting Sunday at the A. M. E. Church on Sullivan street. I knew I had many friends there. Brother George Smith was always a good friend. He was the Chairman
All that fall and winter was deep trial, and O, what lessons He taught me of Himself. Praise His name. The summer came and I went to Long Branch to work. I thought it would do me good, as I was very much run down. Still deeper trials came, and various. I was at Congress Hall, Mr. Laird's. He and his wife were very nice. The housekeeper that had charge of the hiring of most of the women help was from Philadelphia. She was a Miss Jordan. She had power to discharge any that did not suit her. She would give them an order to the office and they were paid off and discharged--chambermaids, scrubbers and laundry women. I went as private laundress for the family of four, and if I chose to assist when there was a rush, all right. The wages were fair, and I could take my little girl, and I went in the laundry. There were many professing Christians, but one, a quiet and elderly person, who was living on good works of her own, and looking and stumbling at the inconsistency of others who professed to be Christians. The head laundress, whom I had known in Philadelphia for years, was a good church member, and I thought a good Christian, but I found things were different. I would do all my work and would always help with the sheets and pillow-cases or towels or table cloths, whatever was the need, but always got through so as to go to church on Sunday. I found, after the first two Sundays, it was giving offense, and there was much criticism and talk about some people who had so much religion they could go to church and couldn't work on Sunday. They would say, "I came down here to work; I go to church at home."
I said nothing, but felt sad. Every day at twelve o'clock I would run up in my room just over the laundry and pray. I never was over five minutes, so as not to be missed. Remarks began to
I came down but said nothing, not a word. So Miss J., the housekeeper, was informed. She was always very nice to me, but this time she came storming in the laundry and said, "Mrs. Smith, you will have to help with the sheets and table-cloths."
"All right," I said, and when I got through I would. I would get up at four o'clock in the morning; by seven I would have twenty or thirty sheets out on the line. I did not talk. By and by some one would call out, "Miss J. says no one out of the laundry will go to church on Sunday; she is not going to have it. What will you do, Mrs. Smith?"
I said, "Well, Sunday is not here, yet; we will see when it comes.'
Then I saw several of them took in washing to make extra money--white pants, coats and vests. I would do all my work, then they would ask me to help. I did help to iron several times, till eleven o'clock one Saturday night, then I quit. I felt it was not right, and saw why they really had to work on Sunday--not that Mr. Laird required it--and when I saw this I resolved by the grace of God I would not be a party to their maneuvers. Sunday came. Every eye was on me to see what I was going to do. I didn't say anything; I went on as usual getting ready, and went upstairs. I watched my chance and found Miss J. in another part of the house, out from the laundry, and I went to her. I had prayed that the Lord would help me to speak to her and make her willing to hear, for as a general thing she didn't stop to hear what you said when she had made up her mind you must do something. So I met her in the hall of the big house and I went up to her and said, "Miss Jordan, I want to go to church this morning. The work is all done excepting what the women want to do for themselves, and I will have nothing to do with it," and she said, "Quite right, Mrs. Smith, you go on; don't say anything about it."
I went down, got ready, dressed my little girl, said nothing to anybody at all,--didn't say what I had said to Miss Jordan, didn't say what Miss Jordan said to me,--and went to church; but O, the storm of remarks and criticisms.
As I sat in church I thought to myself, "I don't like these surroundings, I don't like these spirits; I don't mean to get into a controversy or quarrel, and I think I will just go on Monday morning to Mrs. Laird and tell her that I will go home," and I sat looking to the Lord about it. This was before the service began. By and by the services began. The Rev. Dr. Stratton was the pastor, and announced the first hymn, which was,
"Give to the winds thy fears--"
I shall never forget it--
"Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope and be undismayed;
God knows thy sorrows, counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head."
I praised him, and said, "Lord, if you will help me, I will stick."
One day I was very much tried again, and was really depressed in spirit. I tried to be kind to everybody, and as accommodating as I could. I had not had a word with anybody, didn't want to, and didn't mean to, though they had tried in various ways to draw me into little spats, but the Lord saved me and gave me grace. One day I was feeling a good deal depressed and cast down, because I could not understand why there should be so much unpleasantness; there was no necessity for it, as I could see. I went up and knelt down to pray, feeling that I must leave, yet I needed the means; I needed the money. While I was praying and asking the Lord to help me and show me what to do, it seemed as though an angel stood by me. His wings were plumed, and the ends seemed to be tipped with fire. It was a beautiful sight, a beautiful vision, and seemed very clear to my mind; and I said, "Lord, what does this mean?" and these words came to me: "The wings of Hope and arms of Faith shall bear you conqueror through." I thanked the Lord and rose from my knees and went down to my work. I said nothing to anyone. I went to Mrs. Laird and said to her, "Mrs. Laird, I think I will go home; I don't like the unpleasantness; I think a good deal of it unnecessary; I have not been accustomed to having words or quarreling, and it makes me feel very bad; I think I had better go home."
She said, "You do the clothes very nicely, and Mr. Laird and
I thanked her and went back to my work. I said nothing to anyone. I stayed until the whole house was closed for the season.
So the Lord brought me off more than conquerer. That's just like Him. Blessed be His name!
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification." As I thought it over, I reasoned like this: "If my father, when he died, had left me heir to a certain amount, or estate, why, I should have claimed it. And if there were other heirs, and they had tried to get it from me, I would have contended for my rights out of the will. And as it was in my father's will, the law would have justified me in so doing." As I thought it all over, I remembered reading in the papers a suit in the Orphans' Court at Brooklyn just at that time. So it all seemed plain to me. When Satan would suggest, "You cannot expect such a blessing," I stood on these words, "But it is the will of God. He is my Father. And He said in His inspired word, through His Apostle Paul, it is the will of God. And I am one of His legitimate children and a rightful heir, and I propose to have my rights out of the will, if all the rest of the heirs get offended." When I anchored there, somehow I seemed to get help. No matter how the Tempter would come, I struck to the word, and would say, "But it is the will of God." And it seemed every time I would say it, it was like a girdle to my faith. Oh! how Satan hates to have you believe God. How he tries to wrest His word from your grasp. But when we hold on by faith, even though we tremble, how we honor God, and how we triumph at last. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen! Fear not, my trembling friend, whoever you are. Believe only, and thou shalt see the glory of God, and not only see, but feel His power."
It was in the winter of 1869, in New York. We were holding revival services at Bethel Church, Sullivan street, Rev. Henry Davis, pastor. There were several young people in the Sabbath School who were converted. Mazie was, I believe, soundly converted. She gave evidences in her spirit and life for a time, thought they were hard days for us them. She went to school, and had to work hard at home as well, which did not hurt her. She
"Well," she said, "Ma, I do say my prayers; but I don't know how to pray."
"Well," I said, "if you ask the Lord He will teach you how to pray; so the sooner you begin the sooner you will get over the embarrassment, and the Lord will bless you. Now, there are only two of us, and always when we kneel to pray I will expect you to pray first, and I will follow. Then on Saturday night, when we have our little prayer meeting, no matter who is here, as soon as we kneel to pray, you pray first." She gave a little sigh; and then we knelt down, and she sighed again. I knew it was hard for her to begin, but I waited, and then another sigh; then in her childish way she begun to thank the Lord for what He had done for her, and ask Him to teach her to pray; a very simple little prayer, but, Oh, so earnest. How happy she was. I knew she would be, if she would be prayerful and obedient. The heavy cross was taken up. When Saturday night came, a number of people, perhaps six or seven, came in to have a little prayer meeting. The Lord had made this clear to me, that I was to have a prayer meeting at my room for those who wished to draw nearer to the Lord. I never expected to do anything more than this. But after He had sanctified my heart it was beginning at Jerusalem; so at Jerusalem I did begin. And though the little prayer meeting was of short duration, yet God put His seal on it, and souls were blessed and saved. To God be the glory. Amen! Amen!
My object in having Mazie pray first at this meeting, was, I thought after she had carried clothes all day, and done other work as well, that the child was very tired and sleepy, and she would likely fall asleep on her knees while others would be praying; and