|CHAPTER XVI. -- HOW I GOT TO KNOXVILLE, TENN., TO THE NATIONAL CAMP MEETING AND WHAT FOLLOWED.|
It was in September, 1872, just after the camp meeting at Williamsville. When I went to Williamsville I had not thought anything about going to Knoxville. But while there a number of the friends thought I ought to go to Knoxville. Well, I hadn't prayed anything about it, so didn't know. I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Little, who had charge of the book store. There was a Rev. Mr. Ford, who was Presiding Elder, or Pastor, of the Methodist Church at Knoxville. He was making the arrangements about the camp meeting, and about Brother Inskip's coming to Knoxville.
One day I came in and they were talking, and Mrs. Little said to me, a little while after, that she was not feeling at all pleased at some things she had heard them say, and that she did not care to go. "But," she said, "Henry is going, and I suppose I will have to go."
"What is it?" I said.
"Why," she said, "they don't want you to go, and say it will not do if you go, at all."
"Why," I said, "I was not thinking about going. I have not asked the Lord anything about going, and I do not know as He wants me to go."
"Well," she said, "I would like to have you go, but then it is down South, and they are afraid it will hurt their meeting if you go."
"I would not go for anything," I said. "I am so anxious for everybody to get the blessing of sanctification, I don't want to go and hinder anybody, not for the world."
At dinner time I went up to the tent of the lady who had invited me to dinner. When I got there I found dear Sister Inskip
Then I began to think there was more in what Mrs. Little said than I had at first thought. So I said, "I want everybody to get blessed, and I don't want to go unless the Lord wants me to go."
So there was not any more said directly about it. But somehow after that I got a very deep conviction that I was to go. I was sorry, for I thought, "Now, if I go after what Sister Inskip has said, I am afraid they will think I have done it impertinently."
That night dear Brother Wells preached. It was on Saturday night. I heard a little of the sermon. Up to that time it had been pretty uphill work. There was a great deal of opposition on the subject of holiness all through that part of Illinois, that had grown out of some very grave inconsistencies on the part of some who had been prominent in the profession and exposition of this great and blessed truth.
There was a great deal of earnest praying to be done. The Lord helped Brother Wells to preach, but I got under such dreadful conviction about the way they were feeling about my going to Knoxville, that I left and went down in the woods. It was dark, very dark, and I got down by a big log and asked the Lord if He would make it clear to me whether I was to go to Knoxville. If He said "Go," all right.
"But, Lord, I want to know. I don't want to hinder anybody from getting the blessing; and if my going will hinder anybody, or hinder this blessed work, I don't want to go. Now make it so clear what Thy will is in the matter that I will not be mistaken. And now, Lord, I ask thee for this evidence. If it is thy will for me to go, put it into somebody's heart to get me fifty dollars."
The rest of the people, who were invited to go to help in the work, had their expenses provided; but they didn't provide any for me, for the reason I have already said. So I thought I would ask the Lord for this great sum, for I thought fifty dollars was a great deal to ask for, and if I would ask for that much I would
Just as I went to get up from my knees, a suggestion like this came:
"You know the Kuklux are down there, and they might kill you."
Then I knelt down again, and thought it all over; and I said, "Lord, if being a martyr for Thee would glorify Thee, all right; but then, just to go down there and be butchered by wicked men for their own gratification, without any reference to Thy glory, I'm not willing. And now, Lord, help me. If Thou dost want me to do this, even then, give me the grace and enable me to do it."
Then these words came: "My grace is sufficient for thee." And I said, "All right," and got up.
I came up to the tent where I was staying, at Mrs. Little's, with perfect triumph. I never said a word to her, or to anyone.
On Sunday morning at the eight o'clock meeting, which was always a very grand meeting, I arose, and the Lord led me to relate my experience; how the Lord sanctified my soul; and the Holy Spirit seemed to fall on the people in a very powerful manner as I related my experience. And the Spirit said to one lady, "Get Amanda Smith fifty dollars to go to Knoxville."
This lady was the wife of a minister, Rev. Mr. Gardner. She had had a wonderful struggle for the blessing of a clean heart, and she told the Lord when she was consecrating herself to Him, that she would do anything He told her. So when the Spirit suggested this to her, she said, "I'll do it."
This she told me afterward. I did not know anything about it at the time.
There was a Mrs. Reeves, of Girard, O., there, and her friend, a Mrs. Smith, who had come with her; I had met Mrs. Reeves before, at Urbana, O., and so knew her, and had been at her home. She said to me on Sunday afternoon, just after the afternoon preaching was over:
"Mrs. Smith and I are going down to Springfield to see Lincoln's monument tomorrow morning; we want to start away about eight o'clock; wouldn't you like to go?"
"Oh, I was delighted. I didn't know this was anywhere in the region where Lincoln's monument was. Of course I was glad of the opportunity, and went with them. We were gone all day. I went up into the top of the monument and wrote on the wall, "Rock of Ages."
I shall never forget that wonderful scene to me. I had never seen anything like it before in my life.
After we had visited round and seen what we could, we came back, and got back to the camp ground about half-past five o'clock. Brother and Sister Inskip, with a number of the other brethren and friends, had been invited to Mrs. Blank's tent to tea. Mrs. Little and I had been invited also. When I got there they were just through tea, and they said, "Oh, Mrs. Smith, we have been waiting for you, but we could not wait any longer."
"Oh, I'm so glad; I just this minute got here."
Mrs. Inskip was just going off to take charge of the Young People's Meeting; she said, "As soon as you are through, Mrs. Smith, I want you to come down and help me in the Young People's Meeting."
I noticed that a number of these young people kept smiling and laughing, and I could not tell what was up.
So Mrs. Inskip went on, and I sat down to have my tea. Then I noticed several of the gentlemen and ladies, and they talked and smiled, and I said, "What is up? You all seem to be so happy."
"Oh, well, Mrs. Smith," they said, "never mind; when you are through, come into the tent; we want to see you before you go to Mrs. Inskip's meeting."
They had a long table spread in the rear of the tent, in the old-fashioned camp meeting style, loaded with good things.
Now I had not breathed to a soul what I had prayed about. No one knew but God the prayer I prayed in the woods on Saturday night before. When I got through my supper I went into the tent; and after a little pleasant passing of words, a gentleman arose and said, "Well, Sister Smith, Sister Gardner, and some other ladies, have got a little purse for you, and they want me to present it to you, for you to go to Knoxville;" then handing it over to me, he presented me with fifty dollars and fifty-five cents.
Well, there was my money for Knoxville. Mrs. Gardner told me she could have got a hundred dollars just as easy as she got the fifty; but the word of the Lord to her was, "Get Amanda Smith fifty dollars to go to Knoxville."
I didn't go till the meeting had been in session about three days. I thought I would give them a chance to see what the results were before I got there, and what the bad effects might be after I got there. But the Lord was on my side, now may Israel say, to give me a clear assurance, and to make it plain to others, that I had not gone myself, but that He had sent me.
It was terribly uphill during those three days. Prejudice against the doctrine was strong. There had been some blessing, but not what they called a break. And yet there were some that were a little afraid that any little indication that had been seen, would be retarded by my appearance. So some of the good folks said, when they heard that I was on the ground, they were very sorry, for I must not expect to be treated as I was treated at home; meaning the North; poor things!.
I went straight to Sister Little's, for she told me if I did come, to come right to them; they would have room in their tent. They generally had a large tent, for it was the book store, and a kind of general office. And I had my bed-tick, and would generally get it filled, and then my sheet and quilt and pillows, I took along myself; so at night, when the office was closed, we put up the partition, and I made my bed down on the floor, and it was beautiful. Then, I was up always early in the morning so as to be out of the way before the time to open the office and book store.
It was Saturday, about two o'clock, I think, when I got there. When the afternoon service was over, I saw dear Brother Grey, of Philadelphia, standing talking very earnestly to a brother. I did not know who the minister was; but they were very close to Brother Little's tent, and I saw that Brother Grey made several attempts to get away, and every way he would start this brother would get in ahead of him and hinder him. I knew Brother Grey, and knew he was a good man, and I felt sorry for him. At last, I said to Sister Little, "Who is that man talking to Brother Grey?"
"Oh," she said, "that is Rev. Mr. So and So," calling him by name. "He is arguing on the subject of holiness. He is terribly bitter against the doctrine."
"What," I said, "and a preacher, too?"
"Yes," she said, "and he has had Brother Grey pinned up against that tree for more than an hour. I believe he is in some real estate business now, down South here. He is not in the regular ministry."
"Well," I said, "the Lord bless him. We will have to pray him loose."
I don't know when he let poor Brother Grey off, but I know it was very late; almost time for the evening service to commence.
I do not know who preached Saturday night, but my heart was burdened in prayer. On Sunday morning at eight o'clock, Brother Little was lead the Love Feast service. I was very glad Brother Little had charge of that meeting, as I knew he would not hinder me from speaking as the Lord might lead. Brother Inskip preached at eleven. So the Lord laid it on my heart very heavily that I was to relate my personal experience of how the Lord led me into the blessing of entire sanctification.
The brother that had been talking and arguing so with Brother Grey sat way back in the congregation. It was in the big tent; I shall never forget it. There was a side where the colored people all sat, specially. So I sat on that side, quite near the front, and I kept looking to the Lord to indicate to me when he wanted me to talk. The testimonies and songs went on. There was a beautiful spirit in the meeting. Finally the time came when the Spirit bade me speak. I arose; a good brother from Philadelphia, I forget his name, sat very near me, and he was watching this brother that had been such an opponent; so, as I related how the Lord had led me, and my struggles and difficulties, the Lord blessed me and gave me great liberty in speaking. My! how my soul triumphed. The Spirit of God seemed to fall on the people; it took hold of this brother; I suppose I talked about fifteen minutes, and when I got through I had not more than taken my seat when this brother sprang to his feet, and holding up his hand he said:
"Hold on, brethren, hold on, hold on!" and walked to the front, weeping like a child. Oh! how he wept! "I want to say one word."
The shouts and amens and hallelujahs were full and free. The brother turned round and faced the congregation, straightened himself up, and braced himself, so as to control his feelings till he could get a start. Finally he said, "Brethren, I have been a Methodist preacher for so many years; I was converted at such a time; I entered the ministry," etc. "I have had a great deal of prejudice against these brethren coming here, and I have fought this subject of holiness." And he went on with his confession. But such a confession! And he ended by saying, "This colored sister, who has given us her experience, God bless her." Then he
"When I heard this colored sister tell how God had led her and brought her into this blessed experience, the darkness swept away and God has saved me, and I see the truth as I never did before. Glory to God."
Oh! what a shout! From that time the tide rose and swept on. The last night of the meeting came, and I was in Sister Little's tent. It was eleven o'clock at night. Sister Little had not been very well, and I was getting ready for bed; but the curtain was down, and I was sitting by Sister Little's bed talking with her and rubbing her arm. Brother Inskip did not know I was in the tent, and he came in; and I heard him say to Brother Little. "We have had a grand day; the Lord has been with us; and, after all, I was mistaken in not wanting Sister Smith to come. I tell you, Brother Little, God sent her."
And Sister Little wanted to say, "Amanda Smith is here now;" but I said, "No, no, don't say it: don't let him know it." This I heard with my own ears; and I would not let Sister Little call Brother Inskip. God bless him, for I know he only wished me well, and his only reason for thinking I should not go, was for my own good, and that of the meeting as well. But how far God's ways are above our ways, and His thoughts above our thoughts. It is safe to obey always, even though you may not always be able to explain. Amen. Amen.
I remained a few days in town, and held some meetings with my own people, which the Lord greatly blessed. Quite a revival broke out, and a number were converted. On Saturday afternoon, after the close of the camp meeting, I was down street doing a little shopping. On my way home I heard singing in the Presbyterian Church, though I didn't know it was a Presbyterian Church, then. The singing was beautiful; it sounded so much like home. They were singing that dear old hymn! "Jesus, Lover of my Soul," to the old tune. I listened, and wanted to go in, but did not dare to. The church was on the same block with the Methodist Church. I said to myself, "If I didn't have this parcel I would go in."
Just opposite, on the other side of the street, a colored nurse girl was out in the yard with a little child. I said to her, "What kind of a church is that where they are singing so?"
"I don't know," she said, "but I think it is a Presbyterian.'
"I would go in if I didn't have these parcels."
"I will keep them for you," she said; "I will be out here with the child for some time."
So I handed her my parcels, and I went into the church. When I went to go in, there lay right across the door a large Newfoundland dog. I stood for a minute, and I thought, "Well, he must be a pretty good sort of a dog to be at church on Saturday morning." I touched him with my foot. He quietly lifted his head, looked at me, and lay down again, and I stepped over him and went in and sat down on a seat just behind the door. The first thing that struck me was the face of the minister; it was as radiant as a sunbeam. How beautiful! His name was Mc Ewen. After he had given out some notices he announced his text, Isa. 35:8: "A highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness," etc. And he preached a straight, clear, orthodox holiness sermon; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and upon all the people. He was not demonstrative; calm, but, Oh, deep and powerful! The people went and sobbed. I wanted to shout "Glory to Jesus;" but I said, "Oh, Lord, help me, and hold me still;" for I knew they were not used to any such thing, and it would have embarrassed the minister and confused, if not frightened, the people; and the only good it would have done, if any, at that time, would have been to me only.
So the Lord turned the big gush of praise into oil, and a wave of blessing passed so sweetly over my soul. Oh! it was like honey and oil mingled. It was indescribably beautiful, and sweet and heavenly. I shall never forget it. Praise the Lord!
When the meeting closed the people passed out. I heard some ladies say, "What in the world was the matter with Mr. Mc Ewen? I never heard him preach so before."
"Oh, wasn't that a wonderful sermon?" said one. And another said:
"I think he has been to that holiness camp meeting."
And so he had, and had found the pearl of greatest price, even the blessing of a clean heart.
A lady came up to me and said so kindly (for they did not seem to be surprised to see me), "You are Amanda Smith?"
"I saw you at the camp meeting the other day. Our minister has got the blessing."
"Yes," I said, "I know the ring."
"We have been praying for him for five years. He's such a beautiful spirit, you would enjoy meeting him."
So she appointed an afternoon, and I went to her house, and what a blessed afternoon I spent in her parlor, and that at Knoxville, Tenn. I sang for them, and prayed, and told them how the Lord led me into the blessed soul rest after years of wandering. And I believe the Lord made it a farther blessing to this dear minister.
So Mrs. McEwen, the lady who had invited me to her house, (for that was her name, though she and the minister were no relation to each other), and who was a beautiful Christian lady, told me that she had got the blessed experience of full salvation some years before, reading Mrs. Phebe Palmer's book, "The Way of Faith;" and for years she had taken "The Guide to Holiness." She said there was not one in their church, when she sought and found the blessing; but that there were two other ladies, friends of hers, and members of the same church, who, like herself, longed for a deeper experience, and their custom was to meet once a week, and pray for the minister, and pray for themselves.
One day she went alone into her garret, so as to be away from every one, and there, as she knelt and prayed, the Lord seemed to open the windows of Heaven to her soul, and she was flooded with light and peace. She said: "I was so filled, I praised the Lord at the top of my voice. I came down and put on my things and went to see my dear Mrs. Blank. She was delighted; and we had a good time rejoicing together. A few days later she came out clear. Then the other. Now, we must still pray more earnestly for our minister, that he may see the truth and get the blessing." She said he was such a good man, and everyone liked him; but still there was a lack of real unction in his preaching. But she said all these years they never breathed it to him that they were praying for him. She had told him about the "Guide," and given him a copy several, times when he made his pastoral call, but every week for five long years these ladies met and prayed for their minister, and kept quiet, and now the answer had come. Oh, how full of delight and joy they were!
I think there might be similar results if there were more praying in the closet for the preacher. Don't talk much, but united, pray.
"Pray, if thou canst or canst not speak,
But pray with faith in Jesus' name."
She said about a year or two after she had got the experience her husband failed in business, and they lost nearly everything they had. But she said "The Lord kept me so quiet in my soul; and I believe but for this grace I never could have gone through what I did." She said her husband could not understand it, and sometimes he would feel vexed with her because she did not worry. "He said I seemed as though I did not care. But Oh, how I had to hold on to God for him. It seemed he would lose his mind at times. Praise the Lord, He kept me. Oh, Sister Smith, what deep waters God brought me through. How true His Word."
"Many shall be purified,
And made white and tried;
But the hand that purifies,
So we are quite safe. Only hold still. Amen.