|CHAPTER XVIII. -- PITTMAN CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA--HOW I BECAME THE OWNER OF A HOUSE, AND WHAT BECAME OF IT--THE MAYFLOWER MISSION, BROOKLYN--AT DR. CUYLER'S.|
It was in '78. I was holding meeting, first at Manayunk, Brother Rakestraw's; then at Holmesburg, Brother Gillingham's; then at Camden, then at Norristown, Brother Day's. We had a good work at all these places. Many souls were saved and believers built up.
Then I was called to Horton Street. Brother Robinson was pastor. There the Lord blessed us mightily. There was a sweeping revival. Every night for more than two weeks the church was packed, altar and pulpit. Some of the good folks really got tried because the people crowded so. I remember one Sunday night the aisles and pulpit steps were crowded. Poor old Brother Taska,--now in heaven--had hard work to get into the pulpit, and when he did get there he was obliged to stand. He said he would not come again in such a crowd.
After the address was over we tried to make room for the altar service. It was not long till the altar was filled with seekers, some for pardon, some for purity. I noticed a young man who sat on a chair in the aisle and seemed to be deeply interested. He seemed as though he wanted to come forward; and then, there was a young lady with him. I watched him. All at once he got up and laid his hat and coat down and came forward, and just as he put his hand on the altar rail and was in the act of kneeling down, the Lord blessed him so powerfully that he clapped his hands and shouted, Glory to God, I am saved. He, like the poor man in the Gospel, the leper that came to Jesus, said, "Lord, if Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean," and Jesus said to him in return, "I will; be thou clean."
As he turned to face the congregation, his sister, that he had not seen for years, was just behind him. She had been praying for him, but she did not know that he was there, nor did he know that she was there. She sprang to him and threw her arms around his neck and they had a good time of rejoicing together. This had a marvelous effect upon the congregation. A number came forward, and many professed to be saved that night.
One dear woman that I met last fall at the Saturday night holiness meeting, told me she was converted at that meeting; also her husband and two children. She told me how she disliked me because I was a colored woman; how she went to church full of prejudice, but when God saved her He took it all out, and now she loves me as a sister and thinks I have a beautiful color! Of course, I call that a good conversion to begin with.
Some people don't get enough of the blessing to take prejudice out of them, even after they are sanctified.
Some time after this I went to Pittman Church. Rev. George McLaughlin was pastor. The church was not finished. We held meetings in the lecture room, a fine large room that would hold over three hundred, I suppose, and every night it was packed. Here we had a grand time from the start. On Sunday afternoon we had a marvelous meeting. At that meeting dear Brother Alkhorn got the blessing of sanctification, after seeking it for thirty years, as he said in his testimony when he arose. I shall never forget that Sabbath afternoon. The Lord wonderfully helped me to speak for Him.
Brother McLaughlin was a grand, good man to work with, though he was not very definite on the line of holiness, but he said to me, "Sister Smith, you go ahead; I am with you." So he put no bands on and I had perfect freedom, thank God.
Brother Alkhorn was a local preacher; was a converted man and had been for years, and always longed for the blessing of full salvation. He was thorough Wesleyan as well as Scriptural in his views of the doctrine. He said he would preach it and sometimes would believe he had it, then he would meet with ministers that did not see it as he did, and declare that all was done at conversion. Then he would get in the dark again, and this was the way he went on for years.
He kept a bakery on Lumber street. I got to know him and the family very well. He was a member of the Western Methodist
He sat that Sunday afternoon about three pews from the altar, while many testimonies were given--many of them very definite and clear--to the experience and power of this great salvation. Then we had an altar service, and I urged those who really desired to know the experience for themselves to come forward and kneel at the altar, and settle it then and there. A number came forward. I saw Brother A. get up deliberately, take off his overcoat, fold it together, and then take his hat and cane and walk forward and hand them to some of the brethren. And as he kneeled at the altar, he said, "Brethren, I want the blessing." And he began to pray like he wanted it, indeed; and in a little while he sank down into a calm, and said, "It is done, praise the Lord. The blood cleanseth; glory to Jesus." He arose and bore the testimony that I have already given.
In about a year, I think it was, after this, he met with a sad accident; was thrown from his wagon, and in a few days died. But, O, he triumphs over death, hell and the grave!
I lost a true friend when he was taken, that is, as the world would say, but I have a never dying friend in Jesus. Praise His dear name forever.
At the same altar, kneeling just a little further along from where Brother Alkhorn kneeled, a great big man, a Dutchman, was kneeling. He had been seeking the Lord for fifteen years, off and on, but never got into clear light. The people at the altar were all getting blessed, and rising one after the other, and it was getting late and time for the meeting to close. This poor man got into an awful struggle. He cried out, "Lord, save me." He wouldn't get up.
"Hold on," I shouted, "you are nearly out."
I felt things were giving way, and I said, "All you need, all you want, is a little more faith in Jesus," and his poor wife felt she could not hold on any longer. She came inside the alter and was just about to throw her arms around his neck. She was overcome with sympathy for him. I caught her and said, "Oh, whatever you do, don't touch him; you will hinder him."
"Oh," she said, "I have prayed so long."
I held on to her and kept her back, while the brethren were encouraging his faith. In a few minutes he sprang to his feet,
I let his wife go and he caught her up in his arms, then he let her go and caught hold of some of the brethren. Oh, how he shouted! I kept out of the way; of course I wouldn't interfere. So this was a good start of our meeting for the week.
We went on for ten days, and there were scores converted. During all this time the interest never flagged one night.
Brother M. wanted me to stay longer, but I could not. I had an engagement at Long Island, with Brother Hollis. It was at this time my house in Philadelphia was planned for, without my knowledge. About two weeks after, I got a letter from Mrs. James Orr. She said, "Some friends are planning to buy you a house, but they don't want you to know it, so don't let on that I have told you."
I was dreadfully frightened, and as soon as I had read the letter I got on my knees and prayed that the Lord would not let them succeed in getting the house that they were planning for. I thought it was too much for me. I said, the idea of a poor woman like me having a house given to her! There must be something wrong about it. Oh, how I prayed!
Several days after this I got another letter, saying that the house they were looking at and wanted, they could not get. There was something that was not just satisfactory in regard to the deed, so I thought the Lord had answered my prayer, and it was all right.
In a day or two I was off again, holding meetings. After ten days, I came home. A number of letters were waiting for me--two from Philadelphia. I opened and read them. The first was from the same person. She said, "Don't say I told you, for they want to surprise you. They have looked at another house and have made arrangements to buy, and will pay so much to close the bargain, such a day."
That was all done two days before I got home, as I saw by the date of the letter. Then I thought it all over. I said, I have never asked the Lord to give me a house, and I wonder if He really wants me to have it. It must mean something, for why should these people persist in getting the house for me? I am a colored woman, and they are all white, and they are strangers. So then I got down and prayed the Lord to bless and prosper those who had
Then I opened the other letters. There was one from the very gentleman who was the proposer, and who had set the thing going, Brother Andrew Marshall. He was well known in Philadelphia, one of the leading men in Pittman Church at the time, and a man doing a large business in the bakery and confectionery, and a good man, so I could but feel the Lord was in it. He told me all about it. The house was three thousand dollars, subject to the ground rent of sixty dollars a year. Two thousand dollars of this money had already been provided for through friends of Mr. Marshall's, so that I had nothing to do with this part of it in any way; I must only be ready to come at the time they said. So away I went for two weeks more.
When I returned there were letters. The house was bought, the deed was made out in my name, and I only to come on. They said you need not bring anything if you don't care to. Some of the ladies of Pittman, with Mrs. Orr, had gone to work and furnished two rooms, the front bed-room upstairs, and the front parlor downstairs; everything nice and comfortable. So I got ready and went.
I took a very few things, I had not many. My dear old irons and ironing-board, that had seen me through so many hard places in New York, I couldn't forget them nor leave them behind! Then the little, low, old chair that I had kneeled beside and fought such a battle, on the remembrance of the New York riot after I was sanctified! I said, "I must take these things anyhow."
It was late on Saturday evening before I got off, so I did not get to the house till about seven P. M. Then, sure enough, at 1817 Addison street, a nice little three story brick house, nice white marble steps in front, all lighted with gas!
It was very nice. Then there were a number of friends gathered, and a good warm fire. I didn't know what to do or say, and I praised the Lord, and thanked the people, and I said, "Is it really mine?" Then they handed me the deed. Then I said, "Let us pray."
That seemed out of order, for we were all too happy to pray, so we sang the Doxology.
"Let me walk up and down in it," I said; so we went upstairs in all the rooms; I looked in all the closets, everywhere, then we went down in the basement, then I had the nicest tea! The ladies had provided everything.
It all seemed very fine. Everything went on nicely for about a year, then came a trial.
The great Centennial had started hopes and expectations in many that were never realized; so it was with Brother M. In this extremity he got Brother Robinson, one of the leading members in Salem M.E. Church, to help him meet some liabilities which were urgent, which he did. Then it appears that Brother M. failed on his side, which caused great dissatisfaction and unpleasantness between these friends.
I knew but little about it. I didn't try to know. I felt that what they had done was out of real kindness to me, though bad luck came of it, as it often does out of our best motives. This placed me in a very embarrassing position. They were both Christian gentlemen and business men, and who was I to dictate to them about what they were doing so kindly for me.
It got into the papers, through Brother Wallace, that the friends in Philadelphia, had given Amanda Smith a house, and also one at Ocean Grove. Mr. M. called my attention to the fact. I said, "That is a mistake; all I have at Ocean Grove, is this: the committee are always very kind and they do not charge me for my tent and ground during the time I stay, but that is all."
"Brother Mr.," I said, "you can correct that; see Brother Wallace and tell him," for he was then editor of the "Home Journal," and it was in that paper that the statement was made.
"If I do it," I said, "it will look as if I were dissatisfied, or like casting some reflection on your management of affairs."
"Yes," he said, "I will see Brother Wallace," but I don't know whether he did or not. From that time, according to the best I could learn, the donations to complete the payment on the house stopped; but so far as that was concerned, I had nothing at all to do. I had just one hundred and fifty dollars in hand. This the Lord had given me at different camp meetings during the summer. I had given the one hundred to Mr. M. I kept the rest. I had my house all prepared and painted inside, and a tin roof put on; it was not very long till it was all done.
Always before this time I had managed, and had enough to
Well, I did not know what to do, but the Lord helped me to hold still. I came home from a tour in Ohio, and went to Ocean Grove Camp Meeting. I had been there two days when a telegram came, saying:
"Come home at once. Marshall."
"What in the world is the matter?" I wondered.
I got ready and went on, at about ten A. M. Went to the store, saw Brother M. He was bright and happy.
"What is the matter?" I asked.
Then he told me he was embarrassed, and it was necessary for him to meet a note at such a time.
"Well," I said, "what do you want me to do?"
"I thought I would ask you if you would sign a mortgage, then we could borrow the money out of the Building Association till such a time, and I would get straight."
"You know, Brother M.," I replied, "I don't know a bit about the Building Association, I never could get it through my head, I have never done anything but pay my rent, that is all. I can lead a prayer meeting now and then, and that is about all I know."
"This will be all right," he said.
"Well, if you say so, I will do it."
So he went and had the papers made out. I had made myself responsible to the Building Association for fifteen dollars a month. I had never paid so heavy a rent before; then, five dollars a month for my ground rent, made it twenty dollars a month, besides other expenses; but I did the best I could.
Mr. Cleg, who was the Secretary of the Building Association, was very kind, and I told him I didn't know how in the world I could ever carry it. He told me to hold on and it would be better after a while.
Some months had passed, I don't know how long, when Brother M. came to me again and asked me to help him meet another engagement. So I went again; the papers were made out.
When Mr. Marshall stated to the lawyer the object of our coming again, the lawyer turned to me and looked at me right in the face, and said to me, "Do you want to sign this paper?"
"Well," I said, "I suppose I will have to."
Then he gave a quiet grumble to himself, as it were, and began to write, and I was asked to sign my name. That look he gave me seemed to have an expression in it like this, "Well, you are a fool," and that is just about the way I felt, but still I signed the papers and became responsible still further to the Building Association.
Now, with my ground rent and taxes I must pay forty dollars a month. I told Mr. M. I could not do it, but he said he would take hold and help me out as soon as these urgent demands were met.
I must go on, only God knows how I did. Sometimes I didn't have money enough to get me a loaf of bread. I went to Mr. Cleg and told him he must take the house, I could not pay the dues. He was very kind.
"Hold on, Mrs. Smith, pay what you can, we will not push you," he said, "everything is dull just now," etc.
I got so little for my services, I could not get on, and the constant thought I had to carry all the time that I was getting still deeper in debt to the Building Association. I was ashamed to tell anyone, it would look to white people like bad management on the part of those who were my friends. Then I knew what some of my own people would say, and had said already, that I was a kind of a "white folks' nigger," and I knew they would say, "That is just what I told you it would all come to, can't tell me about white folks." They wouldn't see God in any of it, so here I was. What to do I didn't know. I could not speak of it publicly for the reason I have already mentioned.
One day I came home in great distress of mind. I was away in Jersey helping a good brother who wanted me so much to help him. I went. He told me the people were very poor and could not give me much, and, though I had a number of other calls where I could have expected more, I chose to go to this place and help this brother.
After two weeks' hard work they gave me six dollars; and my railroad expenses were three dollars the round trip. The people were poor, but kind and good, and the minister was a good man and had a large family, but they were poor. God bless them.
I got home about ten o'clock in the morning. I slipped into the house, kept the front windows closed, opened one window in the back room, and got down on my knees. I said, "Now, Lord, you must help me, for I can't go another day with this burden." It was dark. I did not eat. I thought and planned in my mind, and thought. Then I would pray again. When I gave out, I got up and lay down on the sofa and studied what plan I should take. "If I go to Mr. Marshall, he will say just as he said before. If I go to Mr. C., he is so kind, and will say the same." Then, down on my knees again. I saw myself put out of the house with no place to go. I sat with my things all around me and the people looking, some were laughing and saying, "I told you so."
Oh, what a struggle it was. It all seemed as real as life itself. I died out completely on this point, and when the last pang was over I felt myself singing Brother John Parker's hymn:--
"I am more than conqueror through his blood,
Jesus saves me now.
I rest beneath the shield of God,
Jesus saves me now."
Chorus .--"Though foes be strong,
And walls be high,
I'll shout, He gives the victory,
I'll shout, He gives the victory,
Jesus saves me now."
This was about two o'clock in the afternoon. I arose from the place and took my things off, for I had only laid off my bonnet. I opened the house upstairs and down, hoisted the windows and sang all the hymns I knew of by heart, I sang loud and strong. Oh, what a victory! A short time after this, the Lord marvelously opened my way to go to England, yes, I say marvelously, for all told, it was really marvelous, indeed.
After I had been in England about six months, though I had written to Mr. Marshall and Robinson, also Mr. Cleg, the secretary of the Building Association, a letter from Mr. Robinson came to say I must come home at once, the taxes had not been paid, and, I suppose, to hurry me, he said the house could be sold for taxes if not paid by such a day.
I had no one to refer to, but these two brethren, that had trouble enough with it already. I was at Mildmay, in London, when this letter came. My head whirled for a moment. I was in the street when I opened and read the letter. I felt as though I could fly. I said, what can I do, this is Thursday. I thought I would go and pack my trunk and take the night train to Liverpool, and so take the first steamer going out. My heart beat and my mind was so confused. I stood still and closed my eyes and asked the Lord to quiet me and tell me what to do. In a moment He took every thought and wish to go home out of me. I said I can write and say all I need to say, and the same steamer that I would go on will take the letter.
So I wrote to Brother Robinson, "I can't come, but sell the house or give it away, I don't wish it, get your money out, I don't want any."
I see now I might have done differently if I only had known how, but still it would have been a great burden and anxiety on me, for instead of staying three months I was gone twelve years.
Then after I went to India, while I was at Naini Tal, Upper India, they sent me papers to sign, and I went before a magistrate at Naini Tal, India, and in the presence of these witnesses I signed all rights and claim away. So the house was sold, and Amanda Smith was where she was when she first started, so far as having a house was concerned; and that ended the house that so many people think I still own.
I was sorry for the good people who had given the money, but could not help it. I had nothing to do with it from first to last, but to accept it, as I have before stated. After the house was sold, the people had to move. I wrote to them to take care of my things. I sent the money to help to move the first time, but they moved a number of times in twelve years, so I found it difficult to keep up to that.
Every one knows that often in moving, even when one is right on the spot themselves to look after their things, it is difficult to save losses and come out straight, so what must I expect when I came home from Africa. I had no place to go. The people had stored the things and had gone away for the summer, and had not got home when I arrived. When they did come, they could not get a house large enough to accommodate us all, but a good friend in Brooklyn, Mr. Tom Gibson, and his wife, had written me in
Mrs. Gibson was quite ill at the time, and has since passed away. I had known them for twenty years. Mrs. Titus, her mother, gave me a place to stay in her tent the first time I was at Round Lake Camp Meeting, and, after that, good Brothers Hillman and Hartshorn always saw that I had a tent all to myself. God bless them.
After the two weeks I felt I must have a room, my trunk and things were in the way, and through a friend of Mrs. Gibson's I got a small back room, which I had to pay ten dollars a month for. I could not do better at the time, but the Lord knew I could not stand that long, but O, I was so weak and worn and I must have some place.
A number of friends in different places kindly invited me to come and stay with them, but all wanted me to hold some meetings, and I was too tired and weary to think sometimes, and then the Lord, who is ever a present help in time of trouble, put it in the heart of that grand woman, Mrs. Mary R. Denmen, of Newark, and she wrote to me and said for me to come to Newark, and she would give me a room in one of her houses. The house that her coachman lived in was a nice, comfortable little house, with seven rooms, and Joseph had but a small family, so I could have one room there free of rent. Oh, how I praised the Lord for His wonderful, loving kindness, providing for me.
Mrs. Denmen is a member of the Episcopal Church, but ever since I have known her, for over twenty years, I have never had a warmer and truer friend than she has been. Her friendship is so practical, only God Himself knows how many times she has helped me when I know that no mortal knew my need but the Lord himself.
I have enjoyed my cozy little room this winter, while I have been writing my book, though much of the time I am away, but there is no place like home when you are there. Surely, the eyes of the Lord run to and for over the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him, and now I don't know where I may next be led, but no matter where I go I shall never forget No. 64 Park street, Newark, nor my beloved
Mr. Beecher had two Mission churches in Brooklyn--Bethany and the Mayflower. I spent a week at each, in 1878. In both of these churches the Lord blessed us very greatly.
I remember very distinctly one special incident--the reconciliation between two brothers who had once been very dear friends. They were boys together, and were both in business in the same office, in New York. They were both professed Christians, members of the church. One was Superintendent of the Sabbath School. But they had some falling out, and had not spoken to each other for four or five years.
Both wanted to speak, but each was too spunky to speak first, and the longer it went on the more difficult it became, until at last Mr. B. said he was so miserable he had resigned his position as Superintendent, and had quit going to church regularly, and was just making up his mind to withdraw from the church entirely. His wife begged of him, for the sake of the three beautiful children they had, and the influence it would have on them, not to leave, so he was holding on, but felt he would leave. Oh! how the Devil chuckles over anything like that.
Though they would not speak, they would make hateful insinuations and remarks about each other, so that each would get what the other said, without speaking; and how tantalizing that is. But God, who is so rich in mercy, will not let us be tempted above that we are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, also make a way of escape. It pleased the Lord to let me be at the Mayflower just at that time.
One night, while I was speaking on the forgiveness of our enemies, the Spirit of God got hold of this young man. At the close of the meeting he came up and said he wanted to talk to me, and he told me his story. I urged him to go to his brother and have a talk with him.
"I know he will not speak."
"But," I said, "you speak to him."
"But I know him so well," he said, "that I know if I do he will curse me, and I can't stand it."
I told him that God would help him if he would resolve to do right. After a long talk and prayer he said he would go to him. I told him I would pray for him that night and all the next day, and in the evening he was to report about it.
And Oh! how I did pray for those two men. Only as a soul can pray when it feels that God is about to gain a victory. Next morning, somehow, I felt so quiet and joyful. And yet I did not know what had happened. Only I believed God had undertaken for them.
The evening came on. I went to church, and I saw this gentleman come in. His face was like a sunbeam. He was handsome, anyhow. But, Oh! now he was beautiful. I knew something had happened. The heavy, deep, gloomy countenance was gone. He made his way to me at the close of the meeting, and said:
"Oh! Sister Smith, praise the Lord, it is all right."
"Amen," I said. "I told you so. Well, now tell me about it."
"Well," he said, "I made up my mind last night that I would speak to Will anyhow, and if he would not speak, and would curse me, I didn't care. The Lord fixed it so nice. I prayed all the morning as I was going. I am generally at the office first. But this morning he was there. So I went in. There was no one in but him. I walked right up to him, and I said: 'Look here, Will, I think it is time you and I were done with this foolishness of ours,' and he sprang to his feet and took me by the hand and said, with tears, 'Yes, Charlie, I have wanted to speak to you for a month, but I was afraid you wouldn't speak.' 'And Will,' I said, 'I have wanted to speak to you, but thought you didn't care to speak to me, and would curse me. But the Lord has blessed me, and now we are old friends again. Thank the Lord!'"
If nothing else was done at that meeting, surely it was a great victory; this long breach between these two brothers healed, and a reconciliation taken place. Satan would rather they had fought a duel. But the best way to fight a duel, in my opinion, is on your knees, surrendering to God, and getting a heart filled with love and forgiveness. Amen.
Monday night I was at Dr. Cuyler's Church, Tuesday at the Methodist Church, Wednesday night at the Baptist Church, and we ended our services the next Sabbath at Dr. Buddington's. The ministers all united and gave their churches, and all the collections, so the ladies were liberal with me, God bless them. They knew nothing of my expectation of going to England, so I could see it was all the Lord's doings, and was marvelous. I asked the Lord for everything I needed, direct.
The summer before, my good friend, Mrs. Saunders, had given me a very nice black silk dress, had it made and all, and I had expected it to last me all my lifetime, so I put it away and had not worn it. Then when I was at Fleet Street, the ladies had given me a grey suit, dress and cape, so I had these two good dresses, and one other that I traveled in. Some one gave me a pair of kid gloves, then some one gave me some ruching for the neck of my dress; some pocket handkerchiefs were given me, and some one gave me stockings. Oh, it was wonderful how everything seemed to come in. So my wardrobe was complete, though not elaborate, and, of course, it did not take me long to arrange it in my trunk.
That night at Dr. Cuyler's Church they had the lecture room engaged and all lighted and warmed so nicely, but he was regretting that a meeting had been arranged for Monday night at his church, as he was anxious the ladies should have a good collection; also, owing to the old folks' concert that was to be held at Dr. Sudder's Church, that night was not so favorable. He was afraid it would affect the result of the meeting, but his great surprise was the fact that the meeting was to begin at half past seven P. M. I got there at a quarter past seven and the lecture room was crowded, and many outside, and the people were clamoring and saying we must open the church. I never got in all till the church had been opened and a fire started. As soon as the church was opened the people rushed out of the lecture room into the church. Dr. Cuyler told me to wait in the lecture room till the people got settled.
This unsettled me a little, but I prayed the more that God would bless the people and help me to speak for Him, and I said, "Now, Lord, don't let anybody take cold," for the church could not be heated for some time, but as there had been fire all day Sunday, they thought it was safe to venture.
The Lord did help me speak for Him. It was wonderful that night how He helped me. When all was settled and the large church was filled and many in the gallery, Dr. Cuyler said, "Mrs. Smith, will you go in now?" How very kind he was!
I knew there had been some trouble some time before about a lady speaking in his church. I thought if they would make such a fuss about one so gentle and sweet and refined as Miss Sarah Smiley, what would they do with me? So I said to myself, "Well, I will do just whatever I am told to do."
"They will not dare to ask me inside the chancel," I thought, "so if they put a bench or chair in the aisle and ask me to stand on it and speak, I will do it."
Mrs. Johnson and Miss Ludlow and a number of the other temperance ladies were with me, so Dr. Cuyler asked me if I would go in the pulpit.
"My!" I thought to myself; "however, I will do just as I am told," so I walked up, and it was dreadful high. After he had seated me, he said, "Mrs. Smith, would you like to have one of the ladies sit with you?"
"If they would like to, sir, I should be pleased." So he went and asked them, but each declined. Then he came himself and sat by me and introduced me to the people so nicely. I sang and gave a Bible talk. I had perfect freedom, as if I had been in a Methodist Church. I talked an hour and not a soul budged to go out, and Dr. C. spoke highly of the meeting, and the people gave the ladies a real fat collection, just like people do when they are really blest!