|CHAPTER XI. -- MY CALL TO GO OUT--AN ATTACK FROM SATAN--HIS SNARE -- BROKEN--MY PERPLEXITY IN REGARD TO THE TRINITY-- -- MANIFESTATION OF JESUS--WAS IT A DREAM?|
It was in November, 1869. God had led me clearly up to this time confirming His work through me as I went all about--sometimes to Brooklyn, then to Harlem, then to Jersey City. All this was among my own people, and our own colored churches, though I often went beside to old Second Street, Norfolk Street, Willett Street, Bedford Street, and to different white Methodist churches, to class meetings and prayer meetings; but very little with white people, comparatively. The most I did was among my own people. There were then but few of our ministers that were favorable to women's preaching or taking any part, I mean in a public way; but, thank God, there always were a few men that dared to stand by woman's liberty in this, if God called her. Among these, I remember, was Henry Davis, Rev. James Holland, Rev. Joshua Woodland, Rev. Joseph H. Smith, and Rev. Leonard Patterson, and others--but it is different now. We have women deaconesses, and leaders, and women in all departments of church work. May God in mercy save us from the formalism of the day, and bring us back to the old time spirituality and power of the fathers and mothers. I often feel as I look over the past and compare it with the present, to say: "Lord, save, or we perish."
As the Lord led, I followed, and one day as I was praying and asking Him to teach me what to do I was impressed that I was to leave New York and go out. I did not know where, so it troubled me, and I asked the Lord for light, and He gave me these words: "Go, and I will go with you." The very words he gave to Moses, so many years ago.
I said, "Lord, I am willing to go, but tell me where to go and
"O, Lord, Thou knowest I have never been to Salem, and only have heard there is such a place."
I remembered that five years before while living in Philadelphia, I was at Bethel Church one morning, and the minister gave out that their quarterly meeting was to be held at Salem the next Sunday. I could not go--I was at service--this was all that I had heard about Salem, or knew. I said: "O, Lord, don't let Satan deceive me, make it very plain to me, and if this is Thy voice, speak again to me, do Lord, make it clear, so as to make me understand it, and I will obey Thee. Now, Lord, I wait to hear Thee speak to me, and tell me where to go," and I heard the word coming, I was afraid, it seemed as though the Lord would strike me down, and I drew down as though to hide, and the word came with power, "Salem," and I said, "Lord, that is enough, I will go."
A few weeks passed. O, how I was tested to the very core in every way. My rent was five dollars a month, and I wanted to pay two months before I went. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me to do this. It was wonderful how He did. I needed a pair of shoes. I told the Lord I was willing to go with the shoes I had if He wanted me to, but they were broken in the sole, and I said: "Lord, Thou knowest if I get my feet wet I will be sick; now, if it is Thy will to get the shoes, either give me some work to do or put it in the heart of somebody to give me the money to get the shoes." And these words came from God to my heart: "If thou canst believe; all things are possible to him that believeth." And I said, "Lord, the shoes are mine," and I put them on as really as ever I put on a pair of shoes in my life! O, how real it was. I claimed them by faith. When I got up I walked about and felt I really had the very shoes I had asked for on my feet. O, how very true that blessed promise--"What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them." I know that truth. Hallelujah!
Some three days after I said to my friend, Sister Scott, "I want to go to Seventh street before I go away, for I have promised some friends ever since the Sing Sing Camp Meeting, and I have
As dear old Father Brummell passed out he said, "Good-bye, Sister Smith." He shook my hand and put something in it. I thanked him and put it in my pocket, and so went home. As I sat by the fire and was warming myself--I had read my chapter in the Bible, and I was sitting thinking about the meeting--I began to get very drowsy and sleepy. "Well, I thought, I must get ready to go to bed." Just then the thought came to me, "You had better see what that money is Father Brummell gave to you."
"Yes," I thought. "I had forgot that."
I put my hand in my pocket and took it out; there was one two dollar bill and three one dollar bills. I spread it on the table and counted it. It was the first time I ever had that much money given me in my life, just for nothing, like, and I thought I must have made a mistake in counting it, so I counted it again. Yes, it was really five dollars. Then I said, "Surely I have made a mistake; I am asleep, I guess;" so I rubbed my eyes and walked up and down the floor and went back and counted it again. Yes, it really was five dollars, and I said, "Well, how is it?" Just then a voice whispered, "You know you prayed about your shoes."
"O," I shouted, "Yes, Lord, I remember now. Praise the Lord! O, Praise the Lord!"
I was so happy I could hardly go to sleep. It was the Lord's doing, and it was marvelous. Amen.
After I had decided to obey the call and was getting ready to go, Satan fiercely attacked me as I stood ironing and praying earnestly to God. He said: "When Jesus sent out His disciples
Then I thought of several that I knew who had gone out and really did get married, after a time; but what business was that to the old Accuser, and what had he to do with it? But the thought was so foreign from me that I cried out, "Thou knowest that is a lie. Thou knowest I only want to do God's will."
The Tempter harassed me so that I set my iron down and went into the room and got on my knees and said, "Lord help me, and choose somebody to go with me, if Thou dost want me to have a companion. Lord, I would like Sister Scott to go; I know her and love her; we could get on so nicely together; but she has a family and she cannot go. Then there is Sister Bright, in Philadelphia, and others I know. If I were to choose them we might not be congenial spirits, and so would not get on together; so, Lord, if Thou wilt direct me to whom Thou wouldst, all will be well; and now, Lord, I wait before Thee earnestly to hear Thy word to me." And these words of Jesus were whispered as distinctly as a father's voice to his child, and it said: "Did I not tell you that I would go with you?" And in a moment I remembered what He had said before--"Go and I will go with you."
"O, yes, Jesus," I said; "so you did." I had forgotten it; and I arose filled with joy and peace. Praise the Lord for victory!
A few days later I was off to Salem, New Jersey. I stayed a week in Philadelphia, and came near giving up and not going; notwithstanding God had clearly answered prayer, and made all so plain to me. O, the weakness and frivolity of poor human beings. Lord, pity us for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Oh! how much one has to unlearn in order to learn God's will more perfectly. I left New York for Salem, where God first sent me, in November, 1869, and returned in June. During these months of absence my friend, Sister Scott, had passed through deep trials--greatly complicated--could not be explained; only those that have had them know about them. I knew a good deal. She and I corresponded, and I would pray and advise her to stand fast; God would help her. But things got worse, and I think Satan got her frightened. Her husband, when in a passion, would make threats that frightened her. When she wrote to me and told me, I said, "The Devil wants to scare you; I don't believe anyone is going to kill you; stand firm."
She thought I ought to come home and stand by her, but I knew the Lord did not want me to meddle in man and wife trouble, so it was all right I was away. I said, "Scott, every eye is on you to see how you stand, and if sanctifying grace is good for anything, this is your time to test it. Don't you leave your home." This was the way I wrote, and I think it was not what she expected. From that time the spirit of her letters to me seemed to be greatly changed. I felt she was not the same in spirit. Then, encouraged by her son to leave her home, she did so and moved, with the three children, around in Minnetta street. While I felt she had changed, I loved her so well that I thought, "When I get home and see her and have a talk I can explain and clear up everything; she will understand me and will soon be all right." So in June I got to be full of hope and expectation, for I did not think I could live in New York without the former friendship and love of sister S. She had moved from Minnetta street to Dominick street, and after I had got a little straightened up in my room I could hardly wait to see her. I would smile to myself and think how glad she would be to see me, and what she would say; and it was all so real; but O, imagine my disappointment and surprise. When I went she was so cool and formal. O, how my heart sank. I told her everything that I knew used to interest her. She listened, and I saw she made an effort to be herself, and that hurt me so; I knew her so well. I told her why I wrote to her as I did, and I thought as she had been through so much for so many years she might have stuck to it a little longer, and I believed God would have helped her and brought her out conqueror. I saw that the Devil had made her believe that I did not care for her, and had no sympathy for her. We talked till twelve at night; then as we always prayed when we met, I said well, let us pray. We knelt; I prayed, but she did not. I went out with a heavy heart, and under an awful temptation.
"Oh!" I thought, "if Scott has turned against me after all these years of helpful friendship, what will I do?" and it was like Peter's walk on the water. I had got my eye off of Jesus, and I began to sink, and the more I thought of it the deeper I went. I called again and begged her to come and see me. I ran in again, and said, "I have been wishing you would come, that we might have a season of prayer together," but she made some excuse, which I knew was not like my old friend. How I wept and prayed;
O, how real it all seemed, and yet somehow I knew it was not so. I was afraid to tell anyone. Satan said, "If you tell anyone they will think you have backslidden, you never heard of anyone who was sanctified having darkness like that."
"No, I never did." So I went to meetings, and talked what I knew of the bright side for fear the people would think I had backslidden sure enough. I think sanctified people ought to tell the other side, for it is no sign that you are backsliding when there comes a shadow over your Spirit, even after you are wholly sanctified; but I was ignorant and did not know that these questions were from the Devil. O, how he can transform himself into an angel of light to deceive.
My little girl had gone to live in Philadelphia with a very nice family, and I was very busy finishing a dress so as to send it to
I went into the meeting, there were a good many present, and about five minutes after I got into the room this awful avalanche of darkness came over me again, and-I began to cry. O, how bitterly I cried; I was heartbroken. The hymn was given out. I was sitting by Sister Clark. Just before the last verse was sung, the Devil said, "Now they are going to ask you to pray, and you know you can't;" and I said, "No, I can't pray."
Sure enough, when they knelt down, Sister Clark said to me, "Sister Smith, pray." I had always been able to pray before and after I had been sanctified, but I tried, and broke down. Some one said, "Amen, Lord, bless Sister Smith."
They thought I had got blest and was very happy. So I tried the second time to pray, but could not. Then the third time, failed again. O, I could not pray.
"Sister Clark," I said, "you pray, I can't," and she did pray, as she could in those days, for she used to be mighty in prayer. Then we arose. I sat and sobbed like a baby, listened to the testimonies and hoped for just a ray of light to come to my mind, so dark. After several had spoken, I arose and made a confession of all I knew. I had gone to Philadelphia to see my sister who was very sick and not expected to live. I left on Saturday night by the twelve o'clock train and got in five o'clock Sunday morning; left again on Sunday night, at twelve, got to Jersey City at five A. M., so the Devil had told me, that was one of the causes of the darkness. Then I had gone out without taking my tracts several times, so he said that was another reason. Then I used to get up and pray once or twice in the night, but I had not done that for several nights, so he accused me of that. At another time, after I had worked hard all day, I was tired, and after I had read my Bible lesson I knelt down to pray and fell asleep on my knees, and did
"No," they said; they shook their heads and looked very solemn, and I sat down, and each sister that spoke in turn, joined with my accuser and condemned me. They said that no doubt that these things were very wrong and was the cause of this darkness, and strange to say while I wanted it so, yet something seemed to say, "That is not so," and I felt like saying to each one of them as they spoke, "It is not so."
There was one lady who sat over by the window. I shall never forget her, thought I can't remember her name. She was formerly from England, and was a friend of Sister Clark's. She had very black hair; she wore it very plain, two little puffs each side; I used to know her so well at Mrs. Palmer's meeting and at Round Lake Camp Meeting. God bless her! She was the last to speak that day, they were all through but her, and all had condemned me, but when she rose to speak she looked at me and said so sweetly these words--I shall never forget it, she said: "The Lord has a controversy with Amanda Smith, and it must be settled between her and Him alone." And a flash of light went through my mind, and I said, "Thank you, I see it." God showed me that instant I was leaning on my friend, Sister S. O, how I was wrapped up in her, but the snare was broken. I went out, my captivity was turned, and I praised the Lord. When I got home I got on my knees and thanked God for the light to show me where I was, and then with tears I begged the Lord to cut me loose from Sister Scott. I said, "Lord, it almost kills me, but O, deliver me, cut me loose, if you have to kill me, cut me loose."
O, what a dying it was! It seemed my heart was bound around with cords and to let go would take my life, but I cried, "O, Lord, cut me loose," and it was as though someone snapped with a knife the cords around my heart, and I breathed freely, and said, "Thank God I have got the victory." I arose and praised the Lord, and walked up and down!
I was just going to sit down to my sewing when I thought, "I
"No," I said, "not a bit."
"You are not happy, either."
"No, it's all gone." Then in a tantalizing manner he said, "Where is all your sanctification and holiness that you have been talking about?" And then for the first time I clearly realized that it was Satan himself that was accusing me, and I said, "Ah! Ah! Mr. Satan, it is you, is it? Well, now look here, happiness or no happiness, joy or no joy, sanctification or no sanctification, I belong to Jesus!" and I began to sing this hymn:--
"The blood of Christ it cleanseth me,
It cleanseth me, it cleanseth me,
The blood of Christ it cleanseth me
Just now, while I believe."
I did not sing loud. Some gentlemen and ladies were passing me. They looked at me rather strangely. As I sang I felt that hateful Satanic influence and power break and leave me, as really as I ever took a garment and laid it aside. I seemed to see the Devil in the shape of a little black dog, with his tail between his legs. He seemed to pass me down Sixth avenue. I don't know where he came from. There was nobody with him, but just as this power broke I saw this little dog pass.
The Lord had turned my captivity. I was like one that dreamed. My mouth was filled with laughter; I could not stop. I went into the drug store, and the man in the store saw me laughing, so he fell in line and got to laughing to; he was stout, and he shook. I said, "O, sir, give me a three-cent stamp," and I laughed and he laughed, and I went out. He did not say a word to me, but, O, how he laughed. So did I. I turned to go home. I said,
"Yes, praise the Lord!"
"You don't know how your child is coming on in Philadelphia."
"She is all right; I just had a letter."
"O, the people tell you that, but you don't know if it is true!"
"O, but I know if Mazie was not all right she would tell me."
"Well, you want to go to the camp-meeting, too, and you have no money."
Then I recognized that old Accuser again, and I said, "Well, it is none of your business, I belong to Jesus," and I began to sing again,
"The blood of Christ it cleanseth me,
Just now, while I believe,"
and away he went, my adversary, and from that day to this I seem to be able to know him when he approaches, no matter in what shape he comes.
If you keep close to the blood he soon leaves, and nothing will put him on a run so quickly as a song or testimony of the power of the blood.
"Glory to the blood that bought me,
Glory to its cleansing power.
Glory to the blood that keeps me,
Glory, glory, evermore."
Some time after the Lord had sanctified my soul. I became greatly exercised about the Trinity. I could not seem to understand just how there could exist three distinct persons, and yet one. I thought every day and prayed for light, but didn't seem to get help. I read the Bible, but no help came. I wanted to ask some one, but I was afraid they would misunderstand me and think I was getting fanatical, as that spirit was being developed a good deal at that time. Brother Boole was pastor of Seventeenth Street Church. As I lived in New York I thought if I could hear him preach on the baptism of the Holy Ghost; that I would get light and help, but the Sunday he was to preach on this very subject I could not be there. I was engaged at Janes Street Church
I turned around and knelt down by an old trunk that stood in the corner of the room, and I told the Lord that I wanted to understand the Trinity, and that I was afraid of fanaticism, and I wanted Him to make it clear to me for His own sake. I don't know how long I prayed, but O, how my soul was filled with light under the great baptism that came upon me. I came near falling prostrate, but bore up when God revealed Himself so clearly to me, and I have understood it ever since. I can't just explain it to others, but God made me understand it so I have had no question since. Praise the Lord! Then He showed me three other things. O, what a revelation. The wonderful fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of Jesus, the efficacy and broadness of the atonement. It seemed to sweep hard by the gates of hell. I saw how difficult it was for a soul to be lost, and how easy it was to be deceived by believing in universal salvation without repentance. I was awestricken and wept. I durst not move. And now, as I think of it, I seem to feel the great waves of glory mingled with awe as they surged through my soul, so that my whole being seemed to throb with love and praise. All the points on these lines have been settled since that time, and like Elijah, I have been able to go on in the strength of this meat for more than forty days.
My soul was filled with His love. I seemed to be perfectly infatuated with Jesus. I said, "O, I must see Him with my own eyes;" but how? I said, "If I could die and go to Him I would, but suppose I should live twenty years and have to wait that long before I could see Him."
It seemed the thought was more than I could bear, so I began to pray this prayer: "O, Lord Jesus, reveal Thyself," and I said no other prayers day or night for a week. This one desire had eaten me up. I had three Band sisters. We used to meet once a week. I was afraid to tell them for fear they might say something to deter me, so when anyone came to see me, while they were talking I would pray in my heart this same prayer, "O, Lord Jesus, reveal Thyself." I mourned as one would mourn for his mother. I wanted to see Him who had done so much for me. I said, "I must see Him, but how long must I wait?" A week had passed, my praying heart still longing to see Him. Monday morning came. I went from place to place to gather my clothes, praying at times, then wondering and now weeping, for I longed to see my beloved Christ. Twelve o'clock, my clothes were gathered, and I was all ready to begin washing on Tuesday morning at six o'clock. Monday afternoon my Band met at my house.
As I had a baby and could not go about very well, the three sisters, Sister Scott, Sister Banks and Sister Brown, all came to my house; but this day not one of them came but Sister Scott. She was a deeply pious woman, full of faith and the Holy Ghost, and was greatly crushed in her home life, like myself. We stood by each other through many a storm. Praise the Lord! It was her turn that afternoon to open the meeting. We generally took turns about; one would open by giving out a hymn, reading a chapter and then praying. Then we would tell each other our joys or sorrows, our victories and defeats, if we had any, and if Satan had buffeted us, how we bore up or if we yielded under the pressure, etc., and then we would advise each other and pray for each other. Sister Scott seemed to know so well how to approach the Throne of Grace, so that I always felt she would get hearing quicker, so I was glad it was her turn to pray that day, and all the time while she was praying the one cry of my soul was, "O, Lord Jesus, reveal Thyself." We kneeled with our backs to each other. Sister Scott did not know what I had been praying for, and while she prayed, all at once the room seemed to be filled with a hallowed
"He saved me from my lost estate,
His loving kindness, O, how great!"
And now, like Job, I am willing to wait all the days of my appointed time till my change comes; and I shall go to be with Him and gaze on Him forever and forever.
Another time He manifested Himself in this wise: I had read somewhere in the Song of Solomon of my beloved being among the spices, and it seemed to me His presence was so consciously near that I felt as though a person was walking by my side. My heart was running over with love to Him as He talked with me of many things, and at times I would look around to see If I really could see Him; but no, I saw no one. One morning as I sat by the window thinking of Him and His great love to me, I raised my eyes, and as I looked through the venetian blind I seemed to see His lovely face peering through the blinds at me, and I cried out, "O, He looketh through the lattice at me; my heart is sick of love!"
"He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." 107th Psalm, ninth verse.
One night after much prayer I went to bed and soon fell into a doze of sleep. There seemed to be laid on my breast a beautiful white marble cross. It was cold. As the cross had pressed my forehead I felt the coldness, and the weight of it pressing me.
As I meditated and asked the Lord to teach me and give me strength to bear the cross always, no matter how heavy it might be, I fell asleep again--and yet it did not seem as though I was really asleep; but I found myself in a strange place; it seemed like a church, and yet it was not. As I sat waiting, as for people to gather, there were seated three very stylishly dressed colored ladies and several finely dressed colored gentlemen. They were sitting in this large room. I thought they looked at me with a scowl of contempt on their faces as they eyed my dress from head to foot. Then they began to make remarks. I felt that they didn't want me in there; but I bowed to them and tried to be pleasant. They hardly noticed me. How cut I felt; and I said, "I wish I was out of here." Just then I seemed to hear a noise outside the house. There was a veranda that looked eastward, so I got up and walked out on the veranda. As I looked up, the moon was shinning, and I looked just a little westward in the direction in which I had heard the seeming noise and I saw coming--it was like a great beam, though in shape, a perfect arm, as the right arm of a man! I called it a mighty arm. I wanted these persons to see it, but I did not dare ask them, so I moved and tried to get their attention by pulling my dress, thinking to attract them. They laughed, but did not come. As the arm got over my head--it was in the clouds, but I saw it distinctly. From the shoulder to the elbow was covered with down, beautiful, white. On this down seemed to lie the head of a beautiful bird, like the bill of a swan. It was buried in the down, and though the speed of the arm was so powerful, this head lay perfectly quiet and peaceful. It passed on eastward and was out of sight.
As I stood looking and wondering at the sight there seemed to spring up four great lions. Oh! how fierce they were! They came right towards me, and it seemed the next minute they would be upon me, as they leaped over the clouds on the way to destroy me. I trembled and cried out: "Help, Lord;" and in an instant it seemed two great clouds came together and swallowed them up, and I saw them no more.
Praise the Lord, that was a wonderful lesson to me; for
But to turn again to my story. As I turned to go into the room I heard the most beautiful singing; it seemed miles away, but I never heard such singing on earth so beautiful, so smooth, and the heavenly sweetness I never can describe. As it neared me I knew the tune well, and as it drew still nearer I heard these words:
"Arm of the Lord, awake, awake,
Thine own immortal strength put on,
With terror clothed Hell's Kingdom shake,
And tread thy foes with fury down."
And it passed on eastward, as the arm had gone. I could hear the singing away off, as it died away in the distance. I awoke. Oh, what peace and comfort filled my soul! I believe God permitted this to encourage my faith. How many ways He has to teach us to depend on Him, if we are only willing to learn. How sweet His own word, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls." Amen. Amen.