When the New Testament church was first set in order; when this Holy Ghost dispensation was ushered in; when the gospel day began there was a wonderful outburst of light and power from the glory-world. "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up" (Matthew 4:16). As a result of this mighty flood of power and light, the place where the saints were assembled was shaken (Acts 2:1-7), the dead were raised to life, the blind were made to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak the lame to walk, all manner of diseases were healed, thousands upon thousands were converted to God, and many signs and wonders were wrought in the name of the holy child Jesus. We also read of Paul's wonderful conversion, of Peter's deliverance from prison, and of many who were delivered from devils. Oh, what wonderful light God shed upon the hearts of men at that time!
The shining of this glorious light not only enlightened the minds of those who received it; but it also revealed the effects of past traditions and brushed them away. The light also revealed the New Testament life and experience, far exceeding the standard under the law. The word says, "Light makes manifest"; so under the gospel rays every one's condition was revealed. The light not only showed the people their sins, but also showed them how to get rid of them, and then how later to get sanctified wholly. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thesselonians 4:3).
This, of course, is a much higher standard than was raised under the law. The law was, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, love your neighbor and hate your enemy; but when the gospel light revealed God's will in this dispensation, all people became so responsible because of the knowledge of divine truth revealed to them and the unmeasured divine power bestowed upon them that it was consistent to raise the standard where people would love their enemies and do good to those who despitefully treated them. Nor did their love stop with that; it so increased toward one another that "all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need" (Acts 2:44,45).
In many particulars far too numerous to mention can it be shown that the New Testament standard was raised far above the law standard, showing God's compassion to fallen man. For example, consider the woman taken in adultery. The law said, "Stone her to death"; but Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more." Notice also his compassion toward the Syrophenician woman, who was considered a Gentile dog; toward the people when he performed the miracles of the loaves and fishes; toward the multitude when he fed enemies as well as friends. Again, when the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy some who had opposed them, Jesus said, "I am not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Jesus loved the people so well that he healed even the man in the tombs who was possessed with a legion of devils, and also the ear of the servant of the high priest who was then helping to arrest him. It was his compassion that sent out the disciples to heal the sick, to raise the dead, and to cast out devils. All these things were a result of the burning light that shone forth in the morning of this gospel day.
We see that God's church in the beginning was a mighty moving power—a means in God's hands to bring deliverance and salvation to souls, and healing to afflicted bodies. The work done and the signs wrought all so far exceeded what had been done before that the people were made to exclaim, "We never saw it on this fashion." Jesus summed it up well when he said, "The blind received their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me" (Matthew 11:5,6). If from the morning time until now the light had continued to shine with unclouded brightness, who knows how much might have been done toward the salvation of the world! But, alas! the prophecy must needs be fulfilled: "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day" (Amos 8:9). In Paul's time he said, "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
It was not long until the people began to drift away from God, to substitute outward form for inward experience, and penance for faith. Heresies sprang up. Men lost sight of the church of God, and began to form creeds, and to build up man-made institutions. The first creed was formed in A. D.
325. Men drifted farther and farther away from the way of the Lord, and plunged into gross darkness, until they could even kill the saints and think they were doing God's service. They also fell to worshiping images after the manner of the heathen, and doing many other like things. This departure from light brought about a serious state of affairs; so great was the persecution of God's true children that they were hunted for their lives, and had to hide in dens and caves of the earth. History tells us that death was the penalty for having in possession a New Testament. With such a penalty hanging over the people of God, not many would be professing that did not have the experience. It doubtless took a martyr's consecration to keep a real Christian experience in those days, and it is equally as much needed in these perilous times.
This reign of gross darkness continued hundreds of years. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11). But God had designed to bring again his children out of darkness. He proceeded to do so by giving light to such men as Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, and others. History tells us that when light came to Luther, he was steeped in Catholicism, so much so that he was trying to gain favor with God by various acts of penance. On one occasion while he was climbing the "holy stairs" at Rome on his hands and knees, the Lord thundered in his soul that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. We have no account of Luther's getting light beyond justification, but the reformation did not cease with him. Later the Lord gave to the Wesleys, Fletcher, Hester Ann Rogers, and others, greater light on his Word, showing the privilege not only of justification but also of sanctification. As the departure from the light and whole truth in the morning of the gospel day was a gradual process, so the return to the light has been gradual. The Lord shed some light on the world through Huss, some through Luther, and some through the Wesleys and others, thus restoring the full light according to his own plan.
While God wonderfully used these men to shed light on the world in their day, yet many effects of the apostasy were clinging to them. Divine healing in their day was almost unknown or known to but few, and likewise the gifts of the Spirit. Wesley himself testified that he did not possess any of the gifts of the Spirit, and did not think that any one else did. No one in Wesley's time, so far as we know, discerned the one body and the unity of God's children. The one who perhaps came nearest to discerning the body of Christ was either Wesley or Fletcher. In their correspondence with each other, one said in substance the following: "In searching the Word on the unity of God's children, I see that the Scriptures relating to the gathering of God's children into one body must be fulfilled before the end; but I scarcely think we are yet on the threshold of that period." He expressed his desire to see that time by saying, "God hasten the day." No doubt if these men were living today, and walking in the light as they were at that time, they would readily fall into line with the church in this evening time.
"At evening time it shall be light." That this scripture might be fulfilled, God in his wisdom saw fit to shed more light on the one body and divine healing, not upon one person alone, but upon a number of his people in different parts of the world. This light began to break forth about 1880. I wish to call your attention here to the way in which God shed forth the light on the church of God. In making a new sect, some man becomes the hub and center, and round him or his ideas revolves the organization. But God did not center this reform in one man, but gave the light to different ones in various parts of the world about the same time. The work of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts in sanctifying them, caused them to see and flow together. It might be said that the giving of this glorious light was in one respect similar to the second coming of the Son of man: "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." The fact that many persons in different parts of the world saw this light independently of each other and at about the same time is one evidence that this movement is God's work and not man's. Truly this is the evening time, and it is light.
God's will, order, and plan are more fully revealed to his children now than at any other time since the days of the apostles. The Lord enables us more clearly to discern the one body and its operations, and to know our place in it. The gifts of the Spirit are now recognized as belonging rightfully to God's children, and are sought, obtained and used to the glory of God. It is now understood that the same purity of heart and life enjoined by the church in the morning time is not only our privilege to enjoy, but also the standard to which we must measure, and the doctrine that we as ministers must both live and preach. The old Babylon doctrine, "Sin you must," is exposed as a doctrine of devils. The doctrine and practise of trusting the Lord for healing and at the same time using drugs and remedies to help the Lord out is cast aside as false, and the true doctrine of entire trust in God for healing is taught and practised instead. Truly the prophecy is fulfilled which says, "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold" (Isaiah 30:26).
At the same time that God is shedding more light on his Word, his plan, and his holy bride, he is also giving us more light on the workings of Satan and his deceptive power. As the light shines brighter, of course the battle waxes hotter between God and the devil, between light and darkness. As the light reveals the hiding-places of the devil and exposes his works, he is becoming more and more enraged and is making a desperate fight, for his time is short. This means much to the true saints in these perilous times. The enemy is not only doing all he can to hold those who are already under his power, but is doing all he can to spot the pure bride. Since he already sways his scepter over the sectarian world, he needs waste no time on them, but can direct all his energies against the holy remnant.
The harder Satan works, however, the brighter shines the church of God, the one body, the bride of Christ, the more glorious her splendor and beauty. Let us beware. Let us watch and pray, that we may be kept pure and clean. The Lord is the same today as ever, and his promises are as far-reaching. While it takes more grace to live a holy life at this time, yet the dear Lord has provided a sufficiency. As a result we have more to enjoy, and more facilities for doing good. The heavier the responsibilities, the greater the grace.
It is a thing indeed to be thankful for, that instead of the reign of conferences and synods, priests and popes, we have the blessed privilege of living under the loving rule of the holy Trinity, with Christ himself as the head of the church, and all we are breth-ren. "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Revelation 19:6)
Truly we are highly favored among men. While we are now living in a time of great spiritual peril, and have to encounter many dangers by the way, yet we have more to enjoy, and God is more perfectly revealing himself now, than at any other time since the apostles.
"Brighter days are sweetly dawning, Oh, the glory looms in sight! For the cloudy day is waning, And the ev'ning shall be light.
"Misty fogs, so long concealing All the hills of mingled night, Vanish, all their sin revealing, For the ev'ning shall be light.
"Oh, what golden glory streaming! Purer light is coming fast; Now in Christ we've found a freedom, Which eternally shall last."
Do you not think we should be very thankful since we are the most highly favored people on earth? "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Colossians 3:15). Those of us who have been delivered from the dark night of Babylon confusion, and translated into this glorious light, surely have every kind of reason for which to be thankful. Therefore "let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:7). "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Daniel 7:27). Read Daniel 7:15-28.
Various Experiences in Gospel Work
Soon after I discerned the one body, my brother and I visited St. James, Mo. We had labored there but a short time when Brother Warner and his company came to the town to hold a camp-meeting. When I was first introduced to Brother Warner, he made the remark, "And so you are the sister that wanted to stay in Babylon in order to get wolves to take care of Iambs?" and then broke into a hearty laugh. He referred to my remark that I was going to continue to work with the sects, so that whenever a congregation was raised up I could get a sectarian minister to serve as pastor. I enjoyed Brother Warner's merriment, as I was free from sectarian bondage. He was truly a man of God; as meek, humble, and Christlike as any one I have ever met. Meeting him seemed very much like meeting Jesus himself, He was always ready to comfort and encourage young workers. He once felt so bad over having neglected to pray for a sister that was suffering, that he went to the altar and sought forgiveness, although his neglect had been due to the fact that he was so busy that he could scarcely have done otherwise than he did.
Before I began traveling with my brother, he had labored at St. James, where quite a company of saints was raised up. When we visited the town together, strange things were happening. The members of the congregation were having peculiar manifestations in their services—jumping, dancing, and doing other strange things, which they did not know whether to attribute to God or the devil, but which they thought were of the Lord.
My experience at this time showed that I was not entirely free from the influence of the traditions that I had received when a child. In my early years I had been instructed that different bodily demonstrations, such as dancing, jumping, etc., which occurred in the sect meetings some fifty years before, were all of God. When, therefore, we visited this little town, we accepted all their demonstrations as being of God. I even let some who were possessed with devils lay hands on me. I became affected with their false spirit, and on certain occasions my joints would become stiff and I would fall in a trance.
About this time Brother Warner and his company came to the town to hold a camp-meeting. As I went to shake hands with Mother Smith, who was with them at that time, I fell stiff. Mother Smith knew what was the matter at once. At first Brother Warner was somewhat puzzled, as he could see that although some of us were affected by this false spirit, we still had the spirit of God. As he wanted to be sure of every step he took, he began to work very carefully, holding on to God for guidance.
Finally God showed him that the time had come to send forth judgment. He read the 12th, 13th, and 14th chapters of I Corinthians. He said he was going to give us a big gospel dish at this time, and when he came to the scripture, "Charity does not behave itself unseemly," the judgments went forth in mighty torrents.
I was sitting in the congregation, knowing that I had some of the devil's chatties on me. At first I thought I would go out and pray it through; then I said, "No, I will look to God right here where I am." I raised my hand to God and said, "Lord, you must show me what is of God and what is not, so I can take my stand for you." Before my hand went down, God made me to know that Brother Warner and his company were right, and that the judgments going forth were of the Lord. I took my stand for the truth.
At this time and place it meant much to stand for the truth, for the whole country was polluted with this false spirit, and when judgment went forth, it stirred up the enemy throughout the whole country. As a result, a mob came that night after the services were ended, tore up the tents, and loaded everybody and everything connected with the meeting onto wagons and quietly sent them off the camp-ground. I was staying that night at a house about two miles from the camp-ground, and so was not present when the mob came. About two o'clock in the morning Brother Warner, who had got separated from his company, came, with a number of others, to the house where I was staying. I was awakened very early in the morning to pray for a brother's child that was sick. I did not feel clear to do this alone, as I had not sufficient victory over the recent attack of the enemy. Finding out that Brother Warner was there, I called him. We laid hands on the child, prayed for it, and it was healed.
Then I had them lay hands on me and pray that all the bad effects of the recent attack of the enemy might be overcome. There was still a stir all through the country, and soon the people began to gather at the house where we were staying. Many of them were now able to see that they had been under the influence of wicked spirits, and desired deliverance. So many came that from the time we had our breakfast in the morning until the sun went down at night, we stopped neither to eat nor to rest, but were continually in prayer for those who wanted help.
It had been the design of the mob to kill Brother Warner, but the Lord graciously delivered him. It was the second day after the mob came, before Brother Warner found his company; he and they had gone in different directions. In the days following, Mother Smith was quite helpful to me, as the enemy tried to depress and crush me; but the Lord brought me off more than conqueror. A number of other honest souls were also gloriously delivered at this time; some of whom are New Testament ministers today.
God soon showed me that I must trust him for heavenly authority over devils and over every foul spirit. I came to God in earnest prayer, claimed my privilege as a minister, and obtained the gift of miracles. I soon had an opportunity to exercise the gift.
The following spring, in company with my brother, I had the privilege of attending the Bangor, Michigan, camp-meeting. For sometime I had felt the leadings of the Lord to go to this meeting, but I did not have the means. I began praying earnestly that God would open the way for me to go, but he saw fit to let my faith be tested. The time of the meeting was drawing near, and the money for my trip did not seem to be forthcoming. As the time approached and different people asked me if I was going, I would say yes. Some would ask me if I had the means for my car-fare, to which I would answer no. "Well," said they, "what will you do if God does not give you the means?" I replied, "I will trust him anyway." Soon, however, the Lord showed me that I should begin fasting and praying, and that I should not eat until the money was provided. Breakfast on Saturday morning was my last meal until the following Monday morning. By that time God had answered my prayer: I had enough money to take me to the meeting, and there was a little left to apply on my return fare.
It is unnecessary for me to say that I enjoyed this my first meeting after getting victory over my sectarian blindness, past traditions, etc. The meeting was certainly precious and heavenly. The songs were so sweet, being sung in the spirit, and having such a heavenly melody. It seemed, almost, that I was where angels had congregated. Brother Warner would leap, shout, and praise the Lord, both in meeting and between meetings when he would meet a saint. Whenever a new saint came on the ground, you would hear shouts, praises, and halleluiahs, that would make the woods ring. In the morning when we first met each other, our salutations were, "Praise the Lord!" "The Lord bless you!" etc. I have heard Brother Warner say when he met those who seemed to have no praises stirring in their souls, "Have you no calves this morning?" referring to the scripture, "We should offer the calves of our lips, even praises to our God." I have been present when, under the anointing of the Spirit, Brother Warner preached three hours and twenty-five minutes; and those that were interested were not the least bit tired. While my brother and I were attending a camp-meeting at Chanute, Kansas, our systems got filled with malaria. Coming back to the home of Father Bolds, near Webb City, Missouri, I soon came down with typhoid fever. My brother had an attack, also; but, as he fought it more successfully than I, he soon recovered. I had a fight of faith. It seemed difficult for me to get hold of the Lord for healing. On examining my consecration, I found that I was more anxious to die than to live. When I got that difficulty out of the way, the Lord soon raised me up.
Nevertheless, I lay three and one-half weeks, most of the time with my tongue swelled stiff in my mouth. I could eat no solid food, not even softened bread. During that time I lived on liquid foods, such as grape juice and buttermilk. Prayer had been offered for me several times, but without avail, for the reason that I have already given. One evening, however, prayer was offered for me again. This time God gave the victory, rebuked the disease, and I was healed, although I was left very weak. The next evening prayer was again offered that my strength be restored, which petition God granted. The following morning Mother Bolds helped me to dress, and in company with her and Father Bolds and my brother, I got into a lumber-wagon and started to Joplin, Missouri, seven miles away, to begin a meeting.
That evening I testified, and the next day preached twice; although I could not walk alone, and had to be led by two persons for a week, and by one person for two weeks. It was two weeks before the saliva came into my mouth. During this time, also a number of disorders appeared on my body one after another, almost like new diseases. As each new affliction appeared, God helped me to trust him until it was removed.
All this time, however, God had enabled me to help in the services—to preach, to testify, or to pray—whatever seemed to be my duty. Although I seemed able to do so much in the services, yet my mental vigor seemed not to have been restored sufficiently for me to carry on a conversation; and between services, I would scarcely talk at all. Indeed, I was hardly able to think rationally very long at a time; but during the services when the anointing of God's Spirit was upon me, I hardly think any one could have told that I was laboring under any difficulties at all.
The meeting at Joplin lasted four weeks. During that time my brother got a call to another place, and I was left to finish the meeting alone. In many ways my body was not yet normal, but it was improving surprisingly fast. Soon after my brother left, Mother Bolds came to call on me, and I begged her to stay until the close of the series of meetings. I felt so helpless yet that I could not keep from crying like a child. She encouraged me as best she could, and told me that she would go home and see to things there, and then come back next day and stay with me until the meeting ended. She was a great encouragement to me and also a great help in the services.
Shortly after this I went with Father and Mother Bolds to help hold a meeting some distance from there in southern Missouri. Large crowds were in attendance, God blessed in the services, and souls were convicted and saved. A man and his wife who had professed to get saved, sent for us to come to their house, saying that they were sick. It was a peculiar case, one that we did not at all understand. Brother Bolds and I both went to God in earnest prayer, and the Lord revealed to each of us independently of the other that we had on hands a case of evil spirits. We laid on our hands, did all we could to cast them out; but as we did not know how to trust God for authority over them, they would not go.
While dealing with this case, I learned that the man and his father had a grudge against each other, and had not been on speaking terms for sometime. We remained at the house until the night service, when the brother started with us to meeting. We had to pass his father's house on the way. Before starting, the man had asked me privately whether or not he ought to get the difficulty out from between him and his father. I advised him that he should. So when we came to his father's house, he tried to ask his father's forgiveness; but instead of doing as he purposed, the devils began to talk through him and to make strange noises. The son's demonstrations stirred up the devil in his father, who began to rage against Brother Bolds, and to abuse him, calling him wicked vile names. I said to Sister Bolds: "The Lord has used us as well as Brother Bolds in the meeting, and I think we ought to be willing to take our share of the abuse. Let us go up where they are talking." As we appeared, the father turned on me. He said everything that the devil could bring to his mind, but the more he said, the happier I became. Finally, Brother Bolds said, "Sister Cole, I think we had better hurry on to meeting, as the congregation will be there and will be disappointed if we are late." It seemed that I could hardly tear myself away from the place, God was so wonderfully pouring his glory into my soul. The demon-possessed man came along with us, growling and whining like a dog, and making other strange noises. He kept up these demonstrations during the entire meeting. Some of the unsaved people seemed to understand just how matters were and enjoyed it immensely. They laughed and had great fun.
For two weeks afterward the devil-possessed man was completely deranged mentally. His father guarded the house and would not let Brother Bolds call on him; although, when the son saw Brother Bolds, he would say, "If you will let that man in, I will soon be all right." After two weeks his mental powers were restored, but he was completely turned against the truth, and would not come to meeting any more.
On the night of which we have been speaking, I had promised to go back and stay all night at the home of the son. During the night the Lord woke me up and brought to mind very forcibly that the powers of hell were there, and that I was in the presence of a murderous spirit. The Lord impressed me that I should lie awake and pray. Early in the morning my host began to call to me at the top of his voice: "Leave, old Satan! leave, old Satan!" My first thought was, "This is his home, and I shall be compelled to leave." Snow lay about a foot deep on the ground, and the air was cold and sharp. It was a mile to the nearest house. My next thought was, "Why, my name is not old Satan, and I will not answer to Satan's name; but if he calls me Mary Cole, and tells me to leave, I will go as soon as I can, because it is his place, and not mine."
He left the house and went to the barn to feed his stock. I got up and dressed and was impressed to remain until he came back, and then to ask him the privilege of having prayer with him. It seemed that he could not refuse my request. So I read and prayed. Up to this time, I had been bothered very much by my feelings; but now I just leaned on God alone, trusted in his word, claimed the promises, and prayed that he would bring me off more than conqueror. The Lord made me understand that he gave me power over all the powers of the enemy.
After prayer the man called me in to breakfast.
God had already shown me that he did not want me to eat breakfast; so I told the man I did not care for any. He insisted that I come, and began to cry; but I did not go. The door being open between the room where I was and the room in which they were eating, I heard him say, "Wife, I believe we are mistaken; I believe those are the people of God." The next morning being Sunday, he went with me to the meeting, but that was the last one he attended.
This was but a short time after I had the typhoid fever. The fight with the enemy in which I had been engaged, strengthened my faith greatly. I was now more ready to cope with devils than I had ever been before. I had been very weak on that point. Before the experience which I have just related, if I felt all right, I thought everything was all right; but if my feelings were not good, I began to doubt God's promises. God had just brought me off more than conqueror in a severe conflict, and I was now ready to take him at his word, no matter how the enemy raged, and no matter how bad I felt. My faith was now grounded in knowledge.
During the meeting we were then holding, we had to endure some persecutions. One cold night some one put red pepper on the stove. The stove was in the center of the room, and the fumes from the pepper almost stifled the people. They had to run out to keep from choking. Brother Bolds quickly raised the window opposite the door, and the draft between the window and the door soon drove the stifling fumes from the house. Although the people were so affected by the fumes of the pepper, yet we ministers did not suffer a bit. Twice during this meeting we were egged—once with frozen eggs. None of the eggs, however, hit any of us. Two persons who were not fully decided to stand for the truth, got some benefit of the eggs. On the road to meeting one night, some of the opposers of the truth were egged by their comrades, who mistook them for members of our company.
Several times after getting light on the church I had the privilege of helping in meetings in my own home. These were attended with good results: a few got deliverance and were established in the whole truth. Some are true to God yet. One time while at my home, Sister Lodema Kaser and I went to a little town named Greenridge, about ten miles away; and, being solicited by some good honest souls to hold a meeting, we began services at that place. A good interest soon began to be manifested: conviction settled on the people, and hands began to go up for prayer. The meetings had continued nearly a week, when we received a pressing call from Kansas to come at once to hold services in a certain town. As God was working in a marvelous way where we were, I did not feel clear to go. Even after prayer I still felt that we should continue the meeting where we were.
The second letter had come, I think, insisting that we should come. Then I began to infer that if I did not heed this call, they would think that I was refusing because I was so near home. So I submitted and went. To the surprise of the brother who had asked us to come, the Spirit of the Lord did not work in the meeting. The brother soon saw his mistake and asked my pardon. He said, "Sister Cole, I will never do such a thing again."
We did not remain long at this place. The only fruit of our labors, so far as we know, was one dear sister who got under conviction, but who did not get a chance to become acquainted with the whole truth until fifteen years afterward, but the light that she got at that time and the conviction that came upon her, followed her until she was gloriously saved. This was Sister Matilda Magley. The last news I had from her, she was a precious saint of God. Another result of this meeting was, that we learned a good lesson. In the future, we were more careful how we let others persuade us out of God's order.
I hold that God's true ministers who live close to him are able to get their own leadings from the Lord, especially where souls are at stake. God wants us to have our own individuality. True, the Word says, "Be subject to one another," but we are to be subject always in conformity with his will and his Word. I know that I have had to trust my individual lead ing; I have had to depend upon them to keep me from being led off by wrong influences and spirits. When I saw my privilege to individually learn God's will, I took advantage of it, and I have had reason to thank God for the protection of his Spirit.
God's children should be very careful not to urge his servants away from a place before God says go, nor should they urge them to come to a place until God is through with them where they are laboring. By so doing, souls may be lost that otherwise would be saved. At one time I had four pressing calls to hold meetings in different places, and every one of them contained the promise, "We will pay your fare both ways if you will come." God showed me that I should not accept any of them; but should go in another direction, taking my own money to pay my fare. I went, happy in knowing that I was in God's order. Dear ones, let us depend upon the leadings of God's Spirit, and not allow our financial interests to bias our decisions.
While traveling in the West, Brother Warner and his company had held a meeting at Galesburg, Kansas, in which a certain woman was saved. Previous to this time she had been a member of a sect and was unsaved. Her husband, who was a doctor and had once had an experience of salvation, was greatly delighted to think that his wife had an experimental knowledge of Christ. It seemed that he could scarcely have been happier had he been saved himself. After his wife was saved, he sent for Sister Kaser and me to come and hold a meeting. We came; but when he met us at the train, we were not the capable-looking people that he expected to see, and he was quite taken aback. Nevertheless, he invited us to his house and was very hospitable. We found his wife to be a precious saint.
The meetings began; conviction came upon the people; and God began to save souls. Our burden was mostly for the soul of the doctor. At first he seemed quite unconcerned about himself, but much concerned for others. But God was working, and conviction soon fastened upon him. At last I ventured to ask him to raise his hand for prayer, which he did. Next day I asked him to take further steps toward his salvation; but he said, "Sister Cole, I did as you asked me to last night, and I don't feel any better—I feel worse." I did what I could to encourage him, and the Spirit of the Lord continued to work with him. After meeting one night, his load had become so heavy he could not carry it any longer, and he then and there requested earnest prayer. It was near midnight before God spoke peace to his soul, but a happier person you could hardly find. He soon saw that the old sin principle was still in his heart and the enemy suggested, "Do not get sanctified; you will have to give up certain things that you won't care to give up yet. Just live a good justified life." In some way God gave him a warning that he must seek sanctification. He heeded God's voice, came to the altar, and was fully sanctified. God soon had his hand on him for the work. This was Bro. S. G. Bryant.
A man at Essex, Illinois, became interested in the meetings we were holding there. He was educated in four different languages, made a profession of religion, and belonged, I think, to some denomination, but had no experience of salvation. He soon saw that he needed help from God and came to the altar. He had a desperate struggle. He said his education did not help him to get saved, but was only a hindrance, and got between him and God. He wept and plead with God just like any other poor sinner, and finally broke loose from the things that seemed to hinder him and was made to rejoice in the Savior's love. Later he came to the altar and was sanctified. Soon God's hand was on him for spiritual work, and later he became a minister. This was Bro. Addison Kriebel.
This incident shows that while education is all right and a good thing to have, yet it is no help in seeking the Lord. The scripture says, that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. Nor will education bring soul-rest; it can not be substituted for spirituality. Education, however, need not be a hindrance to spirituality if spirituality be made the master and education the servant. If this relationship be maintained, the child of God is safe in the possession of education.
At one time my brother Jeremiah was talking to a professor of a college about his soul, and trying to get him to seek the Lord. The professor seemed to be full of learning, and his affections were so set on the things of this world, that Jeremiah could scarcely make any impression on him. While they were talking, the professor's little two-year-old child, who was playing near by, came up and said, "Papa, Papa, put your affections on things above," and returned again to her play. "There," said my brother, "can you take that? Can you accept the lesson the Lord wants to give you?" Wise as the professor was, he was confounded, knowing that God must have put this speech into the heart of his little child to reprove him. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger" (Psalm 8:2).
At one time when Sister Kaser had been called home, I went home on a visit. While there, I got a call to Meridian, Kansas, to hold a meeting. I arrived at the town on an early morning train, remained in the depot until daylight, and then hired a boy to carry my valise to the home of the minister, Mr. J. W. Wyrick, who was pastor at that place. The door was opened in response to my knock; and, as I stepped in, I received a very strange impression.
The disordered house struck me peculiarly; but my mind was relieved when the man said that his child was lying very sick and that they had been taking turns sitting up with it. In an inner room, I found his wife, a pitiful, sad-looking person, with a face that bespoke trouble. I kept my feelings and thoughts to myself, knowing that the Lord was able to guide me aright and to use me to his glory. I felt wonderfully impressed, however, with the presence of evil spirits. Not being able to locate them, or to reach any definite conclusion, I waited for further developments.
The meeting began. There were at least three factions in the congregation, and I could see but very little good in any of them. The man at whose house I was staying, claimed to represent the church of God. Meeting had continued but a little while before his conduct showed me his spiritual condition, and God wonderfully burdened me for his soul. While he was in prayer, God showed me that his case was serious, and that he was badly under the power of the enemy. It happened at the meeting. The young folks were misbehaving during prayer-time, and Mr. Wyrick prayed against them so vindictively that it was not hard to tell of what spirit he was.
I soon felt led to renounce the wrong spirit that Mr. Wyrick had already exhibited in prayer. This stirred him up. He knew that he had not been acting right, and he insisted that I should come to his home for a talk. I did not feel led to go to his house; but he insisted from time to time. Finally his wife came to me and said, "I wish you would come to the house, as it might make my husband treat me better." For her sake I went; but oh, the awful spirit I met!
If there had been any want of evidence as to the man's condition, that want was now supplied. He began a tirade—said that Eve was the downfall of the world, and number of other things derogatory to woman's character. He told me that he had had a dream in which a forked-tongued snake had been trying to kill him. "You," said he, "are that forked-tongued snake." I told him that I could bear his abuse for Christ's sake. "But it is not for Christ's sake; it is your own devilish work." I could not reason with him at all, and so I said, "Let us pray." First I prayed, and then he prayed—an abusive prayer against me. He kept pouring out his abusive talk, until I closed the door—"slammed it," he said, which was false. God kept me clear through it all; but he made me to know that he did not want me to meet such cases alone any more, that others should be present to be agreed with me, and to stand against the powers of hell.
For several years my youngest brother, George, had been impressed that God wanted him to go into gospel work. He came to where we were then holding meeting. He seemed to think that God had sent him to us for the especial purpose of making me more useful and effectual in gospel work, which no doubt was the case. Nevertheless, God had a deeper design in his coming.
We were soon to go East to a camp-meeting. Although, when George left home he had only means enough to take him to the camp-meeting, yet God had shown him that he should come farther west before he went to the meeting. Before the time came for us to start, the railroad had cut rates so that we could travel for about one-third fare. God had worked it out so that we all could attend the meeting.
At a meeting Brother George and I were holding in Illinois, there was a brother who wanted to walk by faith. He thought that in order to make a success of such an experience he would have to ask the Lord to take away all feeling. I suppose he must have prayed until he got his prayer through, for God certainly did withdraw all good feelings from him. He took a severe affliction which caused his face and parts of his body to swell badly, and which brought on intense suffering. God seemed to be present when we prayed for him, but the brother was not healed, and his suffering became so severe that we were greatly burdened for him, and went to God in very earnest prayer to know wherein the difficulty lay. God showed us how the brother had prayed, and when we told him what the Lord had revealed to us, he saw his mistake and made matters right with the Lord, then he was soon gloriously healed. I have no idea that he ever asked the Lord again to take away all good feelings so as to enjoy walking by faith.
Some few years later, while Sister Kaser, my brother and I were in Robinson, Kansas, at a camp-meeting word came that my father was very sick and wished my brother and me to come at once. Brother Warner and his company were in this meeting. God was gloriously working, and souls were being saved. When the letter came, therefore, we felt very reluctant to leave, and after going to God in earnest prayer, we could not feel that he wanted us to start that day. Besides, I felt impressed that if we should start that day we should not get through to see him alive anyway, so we delayed our trip until the day following.
For about two weeks God had been impressing me that I was going to have a severe trial, at the same time bringing to me these comforting words: "I will go with you through it." This promise had been on my mind many times. The next morning we got a telegram that father was dead, and the enemy tried to crush me with the accusation that I did not love my father or I would have started to him the day before. Upon receipt of this telegram George and I started at once. We had not proceeded far on our journey until we learned that the train we should have taken had we gone the day before, was wrecked. Some of the cars went into the river. The Lord's warning had possibly saved us from death; but if not, from unnecessary delay, because had we taken that train, we should not have reached our destination any sooner than we did.
As I stood and gazed upon the still form of my father and remembered that a great deal of his Christian life had not been satisfactory, I wished I could have talked with him before he was taken.
The night after the funeral, when I had retired to rest, God began to talk to me. "Did I not tell you that you were going to pass through deep waters?" "Yes." "Did I not tell you that I would go through with you?" "Yes." "Have I not done as I promised?" "Yes." Certainly he was a present help—all and more than I could have wished—yes, and more than I comprehended at that time. I was so sustained that I did not at all realize the weight of the burden, because Jesus bore it for me.
A little later God seemed to withdraw some of his sustaining power and let me feel to some degree how heavy the burden really was. It seemed that the life would be crushed out of me. I asked the Lord the reason, and he plainly showed me that if he had not withdrawn his sustaining power I should never have known what a burden he had been bearing for me. I thought, too, that another object, no doubt, was to develop in me greater sympathy for others carrying a similar load.
As I still felt burdened for the salvation of souls at Robinson, Kansas, I returned to that place, and my brother remained to look after father's business. God gave me stirring messages. A number of souls that had been convicted got down to business and were saved. God's design was accomplished, and my soul was relieved.
Our next place of meeting was Wichita, Kans. Our company was to join Brother Warner's company in a camp-meeting at that place. He had received the money to defray the traveling-expenses of both companies. Our company was to meet them at the Robinson depot on a certain morning, and all were to travel together. There had been some misunderstanding, so Sister Kaser and I were not present. Brother Warner, therefore, left word that we should borrow the money and that he would make it right with us when we reached our destination.
Sister Kaser and I did not start until the following morning. We told the saints about the misunderstanding and explained that we did not have the money to pay our way. They did not make us a loan, but gave us the money. Not knowing how much the fare was, we asked for too small a sum, not wishing to ask for any more than we absolutely needed.
We could buy a ticket only to St. Joseph, Missouri, our first stopping-place, and therefore we did not know how much money we lacked, until we reached that place and asked for tickets to Wichita. To our surprise, we found that we had just enough to pay our way to Newton, Kansas, twenty miles east of Wichita. At first we felt somewhat dismayed to think of going without money to a strange town. We told the station agent of our predicament and also of our having friends at both ends of the road, and asked him what we had better do. He advised us to send a telegram to both places. In the meanwhile we sent a telegram up to the Lord, and he showed us that we should buy our tickets to Newton and trust him to bring matters out all right. We were shouting, happy. I remarked to Sister Kaser, "If some of these people on the train knew our circumstances and knew how happy we are, they would think we were ready for the insane asylum."
In the meantime, my brother George was planning to attend the same camp-meeting. He did not know what day we were going, nor did we know the day he was going. After he got started, he found that he was on a road that made very poor connections, and said to himself, "If I did not know that God was leading me to go this way, I should surely think I was out of order." Just before we got to Newton, where we thought we should have to stop because we had no money to go further, George got on the train, rode with us to Newton, got off at the station, and bought our tickets on to Wichita, and we did not have to leave our seats.
When we got to the meeting, Brother Warner helped us to take a good shout, and refunded the money that had been given him to pay our fares. We had a glorious camp-meeting and numbers were saved. Hypocrites made some disturbance, but God overruled.
While here we met a man by the name of Joseph Prouse, who invited us to come to his place to hold a meeting. We went. The meeting had been in progress three days, when, as we were in a private conversation, talking about the nationality of those present, we found out that Brother Prouse was related to my family. His mother and my mother were half-sisters, both being children of the same father. Brother Prouse was the first relative of ours that we had ever met or heard of that had accepted the whole truth. Not only Brother Prouse was saved, but also his wife and some of his children. Truly we had a time of great rejoicing. It seemed so good to find some of our relatives that knew God and were living Christian lives. The event was so unexpected and such a glad surprise that we praised the Lord together.
Shortly before going to Galesburg, Kansas, to hold a meeting, I received a few lines from Brother Warner telling me that two gospel workers, a man and a woman, would join me at that place. In his letter he gave me to understand their spiritual condition so that we should know how to proceed for their good and our own protection. The brother at the place where we were holding the meeting had been saved but a very short time, and was not therefore able to discern false spirits. When he saw that there was no fellowship between these two people and our company, he was tempted to think that it was because we did not have compassion for them. God soon showed him, however, that they were in a bad spiritual condition and that our company was all right. From that time we had his help and encouragement.
After a day of prayer and fasting for the couple that needed help, they both humbled themselves. The man fell to the floor stiff under the power of the enemy, but the woman desired deliverance. So far as we could understand, God delivered both of them, but as they did not take a stand against the evil spirits that had been troubling them, they got into the same condition again. Under the influence of a spirit of accusation, they wrote a letter to Brother Warner finding fault with our company of workers.
Bro. Charlie Williams, who was at that time a member of our company, was corresponding with Brother Warner. In his letters Brother Warner would say, "God bless you, Brother Charlie!" but he would never say, "God bless you. Sister Kaser and Sister Cole!" At that time the enemy was coming against our souls with terrible accusing power, and we felt that we needed a blessing very much. The accusations of the enemy continued for about two weeks, during which time it seemed that our lives would be crushed out of us. Waking up early one morning, I said, "O Lord! why is it I can't get consolation from a certain source," meaning "Why can't I get an encouraging letter from Brother Warner!" The Lord answered, "I will give you consolation first-handed if you will accept it." My heart opened up to God as a little flower opens to the morning dew, and oh, how I drank in the good things of the kingdom!
Then as I found myself, as it were, in a large room with the Lord, feasting on his beauties, his grandeur and glory, the scripture came so forcibly to me: "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84:10). In my thought I could compare my experience to that of a little child accustomed to but few pretty things and poor surroundings who was put into a beautiful parlor containing all sorts of beautiful things for its pleasure. Being told to help itself, it would walk up and down the room with delight, hardly knowing what to take hold of or to enjoy first. In this experience through which I had just passed, I learned the precious lesson that trial is to God's true children like a wine-press to the grape. As the wine-press brings out the pure juice of the grape, so the trials of a child of God bring out and puts on exhibition a pure Christian character.
On going East soon after these events, we met Brother Warner and told him of our experience and of Satan's tempting us to think that he would renounce us. He answered: "No, Sister Cole, we we wouldn't have renounced you, but had we been near enough and had known what you were passing through, we would, had it been in our power, have gone to you and done all we could to help you."
During the first summer that my youngest brother was with us in the work, he did not take a very active part. There were several reasons for this. Before leaving home he was nearly broken down through overwork. Besides, like almost all young workers, he was timid and backward, and needed encouragement and support. When the battle was strong, he would not be able to bear much responsibility. I would doubtless have been tempted in regard to my brother's condition had not God made me to know that I must be patient and give his body time to recuperate and give him a chance to develop as a worker.
Late in the fall we began a series of meetings in company with another gospel worker who had been in the work for sometime. This worker suggested to me in the early part of the meeting, "You and I will do the preaching, and toward the end your brother can have an opportunity to exercise himself." He spoke as though, should my brother try to take part, the meeting would be spoiled. I said but little in reply, feeling sure that God was able to manage things. As a result of this brother's attitude, however, the accuser also turned on my brother's soul, and as a result, discouragements set in on him thick and fast. I felt that something was going wrong and spoke about it to the older brother, telling him that George needed encouragement and not holding back, as he was timid. The brother assured me that he was giving George all the encouragement he could.
Not long after the events of which I have been speaking, I had a dream in which I thought my brother told me that this minister was holding him back and at the same time whipping him and finding fault with him for not moving out. When I awoke, I told the dream to a sister with the remark, "Well, this is nothing but a dream, and I don't believe there is anything in it." Nevertheless, it troubled my mind until I asked my brother about the matter, concluding with the remark, "I guess there isn't anything in it." He answered, "Yes, Mary, I guess there is something in it," and began to cry. God stirred up my soul, and at the first opportunity I talked to the older brother and told him what God had shown me in a dream. He said, "Oh, your brother has been talking to you about it." I said.
"No, God showed me first, and then I asked my brother about it." The brother promised that he would never do so again.
George and I visited a brother (Harvey W.) of ours that we had not seen for nineteen years, not since I was a little girl and sorely afflicted. He looked at me with big tears running down his cheeks and said, "Mary, I can see that God has done more for you than you can understand, as I have not seen you for so long." A few months later, upon his invitation we came and held a series of meetings in his neighborhood. He had once been a Protestant Methodist preacher, and had enjoyed an experience of salvation, but had been quite doctrinized in the "one-work theory." When we came to hold a meeting, he began to defend his pet theory. I soon saw there was no use to explain the Scriptures to him, as he was unsaved, so I said to him: "Now, Harvey, you know you haven't got the first work, so we will not argue about the second. Come to the Lord. Let him forgive you and save you from your sins, and if you find that you get sanctified at the same time, we will gladly accept your doctrine, but if not, you will know it." Before the meeting closed, he came to the altar, called on God for mercy, and obtained forgiveness. As he arose from the altar, I came to him, praised die Lord with him and said, "Now, brother, do you know that you have received both justification and sanctification?" "No, Mary," he said, "I think I did well to get my sins forgiven."
We were once holding a camp-meeting in Nebraska at a new place. The Spirit of the Lord was working mightily. Souls were being saved and sanctified, and bodies were being healed. Much was to be done, and especially toward the close of the meeting our time was fully occupied. While we were the busiest, a brother brought an insane woman to the camp-meeting for healing. Her husband accompanied her. As we were so rushed with the general duties of the meeting, we had no time to give attention to so important a case until the meeting was over. We told the brother that if the man and his wife would remain until after the meeting was over, we would then do all we could for her deliverance.
The meeting closed on Sunday evening, and on Monday afternoon after we had packed our things ready for the next meeting, we took the case under consideration and sought the Lord for wisdom as to what should be done, and one of the company (George) obtained this promise: "God does not give us the spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and of a sound mind." While we were at prayer, the insane woman was down-stairs with a little girl, to whom she remarked, "My prayers are up-stairs." She seemed in some way to be conscious that something was being done for her benefit.
The woman for whom we had been praying had before her marriage been a bright, intelligent teacher.
Before she became afflicted, she weighed 190 pounds, but at the time of which we are speaking, she weighed only 110 pounds. I can not say positively what was the cause of her insanity; but as near as I remember, she wished to become a Christian, and as some of her relatives opposed, her mind gradually became unbalanced. At the time she came to us for prayer, they said she did not sleep for a whole hour during any night, but was walking, talking, or moving about in some way.
As we waited on the Lord in her behalf, our souls were encouraged. We came down-stairs, anointed the woman, prayed for her, and claimed the promises; but when we arose from our knees, she was, so far as we could see, ten times worse than before. We did not look at outward appearances, however, but praised God and rested on his promises and counted him faithful in fulfilling them.
That evening we went our different ways, but before we separated, we could see a marked change in her for the better. My brother asked them to keep us posted as to how she got along, and about a week later we received word that she was much better and was improving rapidly. About six weeks afterward, I think it was, they said there was scarcely any signs of her insanity. She had resumed her duties as mother and housewife, and was gaining flesh. Just a short time before this latter report, it was said that upon the appearance of some little symptom of her former malady, one of her relatives tried to make her take medicine. The brother who related the story, said in his peculiar German way, that she "spitted it out and wouldn't take it." So far as we have ever learned, the sister was fully restored to health.
When we are earnestly looking to God in behalf of some one who needs help, and he gives us a precious promise, it is undoubtedly our privilege and duty to claim the promise and to be strengthened and encouraged thereby. If God does not want to work in the case, doubtless he will not impress us with a promise in this way. At such times we should not feel timid. God is leading, and if we will move forward in faith as rapidly as he leads us, he is sure to bring us off more than conqueror.
While working in Oklahoma, we became acquainted with the members of a new sect known as "The Followers." Some articles of their faith were similar to those of the Christian, or Cambellite, denomination. Besides these, they believed in the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; they professed to speak in tongues and to interpret, a demonstration which God made us to know was a deception of the devil. But the most peculiar tenet of their faith was that their members were not counted perfect until they could pick up a snake without injury. This belief was, we suppose, based on the scripture found in Mark 16:18: "They shall take up serpents." A number of them were able to do this without any bad result, but a few were bitten so badly that they came near dying. The Lord made us to understand so clearly the spiritual condition of these people that we felt clear in pointing out their delusion.
In a dream that I had at this time, I saw a ferocious wild animal coming to take my life. It seemed that if I could get hold of its horns God would protect me and help me to overcome it. During the meeting of which I have been speaking, we went home with one of the families of The Followers. As we were returning to the meeting in the evening, one of their number who professed to talk with tongues and to have great authority, began talking his jargon as though he were pronouncing vengeance on us. God gave me to understand that this was the wild animal of my dream and that I should trust God and rebuke the devil, which I did. God put his rebuke on the spirit, and that night, through us, exposed the false doctrine. One of the leaders came out, got a good experience of salvation, and became a minister of the present truth. A number of others also got established in the church of God.
Shortly after the events related above, we went to Nishnabotna, where we met a spirit similar to the one we had encountered at St. James, Mo. The demonstrations, however, were not quite so vile, but the spirit was making progress in the community and had a number under its influence. In their meetings they would jump and dance and talk about the great power they had. They declared it was God's power and that if any one went against it, something dreadful would happen to him. They even went so far as to say that if any one spoke against the demonstration they made or "the power," as they called it, God would strike him dead.
That same evening one of their number invited us to go home with him. Our conveyance was an old-fashioned farm-wagon. For some reason I did not feel clear in going alone, as the powers of the enemy were so plainly manifested. I therefore asked a certain sister to go with me. We had not gone far until the enemy came at me with great force. "Now you know what was said tonight-that those who opposed the power would be struck dead, and I am going to kill you." I said, "No, you are not." "Yes, I will." "No, you are not." I immediately leaned on God and trusted him for protection. Within a few minutes the enemy tried to carry his threat into effect. The wagon was on the side of a ridge about half way between the summit and the base of a high hill. On our left hand below us a number of feet lay a stream, on our right was a high cliff, and ahead of us was a team which began to balk and push back toward our wagon. For a few minutes it seemed that we must be either crushed by the big team in front or thrown into the stream, God came to our rescue, and the other team was brought under control before ours became very much excited. While the danger threatened us, however, we got out of the wagon, and the sister who was with me sprained her ankle badly. None of the rest of us were hurt. Again the Lord's promises were proved true and the devil a liar.
A number of people who had been under the false spirit, when they heard the truth and learned the difference between the workings of the Spirit of the Lord and the demonstrations of false, deceptive spirits, proved themselves honest at heart, took a stand against the enemy, and got deliverance. A number of them are still walking in the light of divine truth.
At the Beaver Dam, Indiana, camp-meeting I had rather an amusing experience. There was a woman on the grounds who had been delivered of evil spirits; but as she had not taken the proper stand against the enemy, she had again become possessed. I met her soon after my arrival, and she began almost immediately to try to teach me in regard to dress. As I understood her condition, I said to her plainly, "I know that you are devil-possessed. Wait until you get deliverance again, and then if God gives you a message I will receive it. I will not receive a message from the devil." She smiled and walked away.
A number of the sisters slept in an attic. As we were about to retire one night, the devil-possessed woman was acting like an insane person, throwing the bed-clothes down-stairs and acting in a way that showed that the devil had full control of her. Some of the sisters, becoming frightened, huddled in the corner of the room for fear she would hurt them. In the confusion, I forgot for the moment to trust in God. Instead of thinking of God and his protecting power, I thought that the enemy might touch the woman's brain, make her insane, and cause her to do almost any desperate deed. I thought it would be well to protect myself and acted accordingly. Just then Mother Smith, who had been informed of what was going on in the attic, came on the scene, and found the woman raging in the middle of the room and the rest of us huddled in the corners.
Mother Smith took in the situation at a glance, and, pointing a finger at me said: "Shame on you, Sister Mary! afraid of the devil! This is nothing but the work of the devil, and here you are hiding from the devil. Shame on you, Sister Mary!" It would be impossible to tell you how I felt, and so I shall not try, neither shall I make excuses nor plead my case. I came out of my corner and Mother Smith began at once to tell us what must be done. She said that the devil-possessed woman must sleep between her and me that night. She had her way. It was not a pleasant night, and I got but little rest. Every little while the woman would take a spell of choking and then laugh in a silly way. At such times Mother Smith and I would lay on our hands and rebuke the devil. We did this, not once, but many times. By morning I had learned my lesson and never from that day to this have I run from the devil.
When a soul wants to get deliverance, it is the duty and privilege of the minister to exercise heavenly authority. God has delegated to his New Testament ministry all the power that they need for every emergency. I heard of a minister, a sister, who, when evil spirits were to be cast out, became so frightened that she ran and climbed up on the woodpile. The brethren that were present, were greatly amused and asked her if the enemy had her treed. We need never fear the enemy nor give way to him in the least. If we keep our faith in the Master's promise, "behold, I give unto you.... power over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world." Let us remember always that in our own strength we can not expel evil spirits, but that all our power and authority in such cases come from God. If we keep our faith steadfast, the enemy can no more overcome us than he can overcome God himself.
Sometime after I got light on the one body, I was helping Brothers Kilpatrick and Speck in a camp-meeting near Essex, Ill. For three days I was under a severe trial or burden, which became heavier and heavier until it was unbearable. The worst of my difficulty was that I did not know what was the matter.
Finally I went to my room, locked the door, threw myself on the bed and cried, "Lord, you must show me what is the matter; I can't stand this any longer." Then the Lord began to talk to me in a loving, fatherly, encouraging way: "This is a battle between God and the devil. Are you willing to fight in it?" "Yes, Lord," I said, "with all my heart"; and almost before I could think, the cloud was all gone, the burden had disappeared, and I was as happy and triumphant as I had ever been. I don't think I had another test during that meeting.
Through this peculiar experience I learned the difference between soul-burden and condemnation and between accusation and conviction, as I had never been able to comprehend it before, although I thought I had understood this difference measurably well. Many dear souls have been troubled on these subjects, mistaking soul-burden for condemnation and accusation for conviction. A clear understanding of the difference between these soul experiences will save us from many unnecessary trials. I have been thankful ever since for God's teaching.
While in evangelistic work I had the privilege of attending meetings of various kinds in many different States. Shortly before the Gospel Trumpet office was moved to Moundsville, our company attended a camp-meeting at that place. Brother Clayton's earnest labors were beginning to show some results, but the work was still quite new. We arrived there the afternoon before the general meeting began. But little preparation had been made to accommodate the workers who would be present. My brother George had found a place to stay, but nothing had been said to me about lodging. Just before the beginning of the services, a woman came to me and asked if I would go home with her. I did not feel favorably impressed, and thought I would wait and see if I should get another invitation. The night services closed, and no one had yet offered me lodging, so I accepted the woman's invitation. I had been kept awake two nights on my trip to the meeting, and now I had to walk a mile before retiring. As we drew near the house, I felt the awful powers of the enemy coming against my soul. I wondered what kind of place I was going to, but it was too late to turn back. Although it was ten o'clock at night, we met the woman's little grandchild out playing, and the child was by no means in an inviting condition.
When we reached the house I understood at once why I had not felt impressed to accept the woman's invitation. Everything was in disorder, and the house was almost as filthy as a swine-pen. The floor was covered with sand on which tobacco-juice was freely sprinkled, and over this filth the beds had been laid down. The woman had already told me that she had a nice clean bed for me in an upstairs room, and in this I hoped to find the rest I so much needed. After eating, with considerable difficulty, a little lunch set before me, I was shown to my room, which had a more cleanly appearance than the room down-stairs. I wanted very much to lock my door; but as I could not, committed myself to God's care, and went to bed.
Vermin of different kinds prevented sleep; and not long after going to bed I heard a noise downstairs that indicated the arrival of company of no desirable sort. My heart began to sink within me. "O Lord!" said I, "why have you let me come to a place like this?" and the tears began to course down my cheeks. The answer came, "That you may have an opportunity to be partaker of my suffering." I thought to myself, "I am a poor specimen to fulfil that scripture tonight." I do not believe I slept ten minutes the whole night through. I heard the town-clock every time it struck; but during that night of anxiety and prayer I learned the lesson that I must be ready at all times and under all circumstance, to partake of Christ's suffering, and that in order to partake of his sufferings, I must be very little and very humble. Next morning, with veiled face, I made my way to the camp-ground in as round-a-bout way as I could, so that no one would know where I lodged the night before, and thus reproach be brought upon the cause of Christ.
Our next camp-meeting was at Mole Hill, W. Virginia. This was a new place, and not many attended the services; but the Lord blessed in the presentation of the Word, and we had a good meeting. It closed on Sunday. Just before the services on Saturday night, an armed mob came into the camp. Never in all my life had I heard so many awful oaths in so short a time. A number of unsaved young men who lived in that neighborhood and who were favorable to the truth, undertook to defend us and to keep the meeting from being broken up. The mob said that they had come on purpose to tear the tent down, but those who were defending us said that they should not, and that if they undertook to carry out their threat they would be "laid low," meaning that they would kill them. A number of shots were exchanged between the two parties, some of which came very close to me. You may think it very foolish, but I found myself dodging behind the canvas for protection. Afterwards I was amused at myself, but at such a time the weakness of humanity is on exhibition.
After the two parties had continued for nearly an hour, I think, I felt strongly impressed that a number of us should kneel down and call earnestly on God for protection. While we were on our knees, God made me to know that none of us should be hurt and that the tabernacle should not suffer damage. I arose from my knees with victory. Not long afterward the young men who were protecting us, got our assailants on the run. They left in such a hurry that one of their number left his hat behind. He made several attempts to come back after it, but our boys always headed him off. The strife lasted all night, and no one in the camp got any rest. At midnight a sister who for a long time had been seeking sanctification, but had not been able to get the experience, came to the Lord, made the consecration, was made happy, and began singing:
"Hallelujah for the cleansing! It has reached my inmost soul, For the glory now is streaming; Praise the Lord, He makes me whole!"
The next day was a very busy day. God worked mightily. Souls were saved and sanctified, and bodies were healed. It was a day of victory from beginning to end. I had asked the Lord not to let "a dog move his tongue" against the tent. Nothing about the camp was disturbed.
Several times during my ministry the Lord has laid upon my heart a message to deliver, and has not made my burden known to the other ministers present. As such times, if one is not very true and faithful to God, he is likely to be accused of the enemy and so prevented from doing his duty. The first experience of this kind that I remember, occurred at a camp-meeting in the State of Indiana. One Sunday when a very large crowd was in attendance, a sectarian minister who seemed to be getting out of Babylon was expected to preach. The brethren thought it would encourage him and edify the congregation. In the afternoon I overheard some of the ministers encouraging him to deliver a message. God made me to understand that this man was not making the progress that he should and that he was not in a condition to deliver a message, especially at such a time. I was looking very earnestly to the Lord when he made me to know that he wanted me to deliver the message, but I knew from what I had heard that he had not made it known to the other ministers.
This state of affairs put me in a very trying place; for if I should take the pulpit, it would look as if I wanted to be too forward, thus hindering one who might have the message. The conviction on my heart was so great, however, and God's hand so heavy upon me for this duty, that I got up; but as I was stepping into the pulpit, I saw the sectarian minister with his Bible in his hand just ready to rise to his feet. "Oh, pardon me," said I. "No, you pardon me; go ahead," he replied. "No, you go ahead." "Oh, my message won't spoil." "Mine won't either," I replied. Then he again insisted upon my going ahead; and as I knew God was ordering it, I delivered the message and God wonderfully blessed my soul.
Not until the evening service did the other ministers realize that God was putting me forward to deliver the message. That night when there were not more than one-third as many present as there were in the afternoon, the minister of whom I have been speaking, rose to preach. His sermon was nothing but a message from the devil. God's ministers were disgusted. Mother Sarah Smith, who sat right in front of the pulpit and who always encouraged the ministers and held up their hands with her "Amen! Praise the Lord!" began in her usual way. I said to myself, "If I have not misunderstood the voice of God, her amens will stop and her head will go down before this message is ended." It was not long until her amens ceased. Before the sermon was ended, some of the ministers were pacing the grounds in agony because the enemy was filling the pulpit, and some of the sinners felt like taking the ministers out and giving them a threshing because they had permitted such a thing.
It was over at last. Brother Warner came to me and said: "Sister Cole, I can see now why God had you take the pulpit in the afternoon when the largest crowd was present. There would have been much more harm done, had he preached then instead of tonight." This experience emphasized to me the fact that it pays to obey God. First, be sure that God is ordering your steps, and then be true to God. He will stand by you though you have to go through fire to do his bidding.
At a camp-meeting in Michigan God made it clear to my soul that at the evening service he wanted me to deliver a message especially for the benefit of backsliders. The burden upon me was so great that I could hardly sit still until time for preaching. In the prayer just before the sermon, the brother who led made it very clear that he was sure God was going to have him deliver the message that night. I sympathized with him, of course, and did not want him to have any unnecessary trial; neither did I want to disobey God.
I submitted the matter to the Lord, telling him that if he still wanted me to deliver the message, to hold the brother back until it would not appear that I was trying to get ahead of him. God wonderfully owned and blessed his Word, and a number of backsliders were reclaimed. After the service, the brother who had thought he had the message came to me and said, "Sister Cole, I did think I had the message, but the Lord blessed you." "Yes," I said, "the Lord blessed me in obeying; but it took more grace than usual."
At a Kansas camp-meeting there was a man present who had not been living a consistent Christian life. He had done things that disqualified him for preaching. I told the Lord that I would do anything he showed me in order to keep the pulpit clean.
As is usual at such gatherings, the largest crowd was present on Sunday afternoon. I saw the minister of whom I had just spoken, getting ready to take the pulpit. It came to my mind that if I wanted to obey the Lord and to keep my promise I must act quickly. I asked the Lord to exercise his control and to give me the needed opportunity to obey. He did, and I preached the sermon that day. Very soon afterward an accident occurred in which this minister's false teeth were broken, so that he could not preach during the remainder of the meeting. Thus God's cause was protected.
To obey the Lord under the circumstances of which I have just been speaking, takes much grace, especially on the part of the minister who knows the proper attitude toward his fellow ministers and desires to show them courtesy. At different times when I have felt led to move out and deliver a message, others have got ahead of me so that I did not have an opportunity at that time. Frequently under such circumstances God has opened the way for me to deliver the message later and has made it more effectual than it would have been had I delivered it when I first desired to do so. Now, I would not advise workers or ministers to make unusual efforts to get into the pulpit, unless they knew beyond a doubt that God is ordering. But if you are certain of the leadings of the Lord, even if God does not make it plain to others, you may do as God bids you with certainty of success.
In a certain meeting I had the message, but another minister took the pulpit so quickly that I had no chance to deliver it. At the close of the service, a number of persons came to me saying, "Sister Cole, you had the message." "Yes," I answered, "I felt sure I did, but I had no chance to deliver it." "Well, maybe God will give you a chance to deliver it yet." "I think he will if he wants it delivered," I replied, "and perhaps when I do have an opportunity, the message will be stronger—boiled down, as it were." The opportunity came the following day. At that time there were present in the meeting a minister and some of his congregation who had gotten out of the way. God so blessed the delivery of the Word that not only the minister but also a number from his congregation got delivered.
Isaiah's prophecy that the blind eyes should be opened, was fulfilled during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry, and it is being fulfilled today. I have been a witness to a number of such healings, of which I will relate three.
While my brother George and I were holding a meeting in Nebraska, a lady, accompanied by her husband, came a number of miles to be healed of blindness. She was not a saint, nor do I think that she had even been professing. Be that as it may, she had heard that the Lord was healing people. She was so nearly blind that she could not see to sew or read, and could scarcely do her housework at all. At first we talked to her about her soul, and she expressed a desire to get right with God. When asked whether she would rather have salvation or healing, she chose salvation first. We all bowed before the Lord, and asked him to save her soul. She got the witness that she was saved. Although we did not make her healing a special subject of prayer, yet we asked God to do for her eyes all that he saw fit.