MARTHA WING ROBINSON
BY: GORDON P. GARDINER
Copyright © 1962 by Gordon Gardiner, 1987 by Robert D. Kalis and Paul Munsinger
To the memory of My Mother and Father who dared to prove all things and to hold fast that which was good.
APPENDIX: CHAPTERS 1-29
RADIANT GLORY – About Martha Wing Robinson [Gordon P. Gardiner] Year 1962 ~BOOK 1
Introducing Martha Wing Robinson
The Path Blazer
In The Beginning
Steps Toward God
The Call to Surrender
In the Valley of Decision
One Little Sin
Led in the Right Way
A New Discovery
Christ, the Healer
Viewing the Promised Land
With Signs Following
Neither Shall the Flame Kindle Upon thee
In Treacherous Waters
In By-Path Meadow
A Shrew or a Doormat?
Discovering the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Standing on the Rock
The Call to Toronto
That I Might Know Him
In God’s Training School
The Manifestation of Christ
Moved Only As By Him
The Gifts Or the Giver
Enduring As Him
In the Land of Praise
Controlled By the Spirit
MARTHA WING ROBINSON was an unassuming, little woman, her name known to few besides those with whom she had immediate contact during her lifetime. Among those few, however, were several ministers and missionaries who have labored extensively and successfully in this and other lands, and during the course of their ministry they have referred to the unusual life and experience of their teacher to whom they owed so much. In addition to their testimony numerous of Mrs. Robinson’s writings have been published and circulated the world over in recent years. The result is that today the name of Martha Wing Robinson is much more widely known and her influence far greater than when she died in 1936, over a quarter of a century ago.
With this increase of knowledge of the name and of the works of Mrs. Robinson, there has come an increased interest in her and the desire to know more about her. To satisfy this wish is one of the purposes of this biography.
The story of Martha Wing Robinson is the odyssey of a soul from “the quicksands on Unbelief’s shore” to Beulah Land – “a land flowing with the milk and honey of His own presence,” to employ her own descriptive phrases of these experiences. Converted from near-atheism just before the turn of this century, she immediately consecrated herself to a life of prayer, Bible study, and implicit obedience to the will of God. At that time she was an invalid, pronounced incurable by attending physicians, but during the course of her seeking God, He revealed to her Christ as the Healer of the body with the result that she was made every whit whole. Forthwith, she entered upon a life of active and useful Christian service. As she continued her life of prayer and obedience, she was led on into a number of deeper experiences with God, and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1906, she found Christ as the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit.
With her baptism in the Spirit, the Lord gave her an all consuming cry to know Jesus in all His fullness, to sink into nothingness herself, and to be absolutely and fully possessed by Christ in her body as well as in her soul. And after nine months of the most intense crying out to God, overwhelming as it may seem, God met her in exactly the manner which her soul craved.
Thus it was that Martha Wing Robinson was used of God to blaze a trail, for others to follow, into the realm of God’s complete possession of body and spirit where it is literally and actually true – not just figuratively or spiritually speaking – that it is “Christ living in me.” Most fittingly, therefore, she has been called a trail blazer.
“Perhaps to the majority of Christians, settled down with their beginning experiences with Christ, wonderful as they may be, Mrs. Robinson’s intense passion for Christ is almost unintelligible,” commented one of the critics who reviewed this book in manuscript. “And yet it is ironic that, to many who so glibly use the clichés of Christianity, it should seem strange when God permits one of His lovers to experience actually the fullness of God.”
This narrative does not purport to be a complete record either of Mrs. Robinson’s personal experiences or of her ministry. Truly “it is only a slight part of the story and great wonder of God.” The salient facts of her life, however, are set before the reader with the hope that he will note the notches which she left on the trail and so be encouraged and inspired to go on until he, too, finds Jesus Christ in all His fullness.
Ridgewood, N. Y. March 20, 1962
Gordon P. Gardiner
AS FAR AS POSSIBLE I have endeavored to let Martha Wing Robinson speak for herself, thus making this narrative largely autobiographical. This has been possible because of her journals, notebooks, and other records which were placed at my disposal by her sister, the late Mrs. Nettie E. Graham, and by her secretary and co-worker, Hilda Nilsson of Zion, Illinois.
In addition to this material, I have made extensive use of Mrs. Robinson’s letters which were made available to me by her relatives and many friends. Several incidents included in this account were related to me directly by Mrs. Robinson. These stories I recorded in my journal immediately after hearing them in an effort to preserve them as accurately as possible.
In publishing the various writings of Mrs. Robinson I have taken great care to print them exactly as she wrote them even when it seemed probable that she herself might have revised them had she had the opportunity and even when it seemed that some secretary or typist might have made an inadvertent mistake. Wherever I have had to make any changes in the text, I have clearly indicated the same by the standard marks employed in such instances.
Evidently as a young woman Mrs. Robinson had been interested in her ancestry, for in an old family Bible there were pinned some sheets of paper on the first of which, in her handwriting, is a request she made of her father’s sister:
“Please write on that page names of grandpa’s brothers and sisters in order of age and also grandma’s.” A comparison of the appended list of names with a suggested genealogy supplied by Grace Wing Barnes, genealogist for the Wing Family of America, resulted in establishing the line of Martha Wing Robinson’s forefathers. Complete corroborating evidence was supplied by the United States Census reports which Rev. Mr. Charles N. Andrews of Fredericksburg, Va., searched on a special trip made to Washington for that purpose. Valuable and interesting information concerning the Wing family was secured from The Owl, the periodical of the Wing Family.
As for her maternal ancestry, Mrs. Robinson had also supplied the clue for tracing it when she had underlined the name, “Tuttle,” in the biography of Jonathan Edwards which my mother had given her. This reference led to the standard genealogy of the Tuttle family and to correspondence with A. M. Tuttle, professor of economics of Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, who immediately sent me the complete line of Mrs. Robinson’s maternal forebears back to – even before – those who came to this country in 1635. Walter Muir Whitehill, Director and Librarian of the Boston Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts, graciously furnished me with an official transcript from the records of the First Church of Boston telling of Elizabeth Tuttle’s membership.
In the research work necessary for various parts of this book I am deeply grateful for the help of my friend, the late Charles Kreuzer, who procured numerous volumes from the libraries of Columbia University, where he worked, and from the Union Theological Seminary, New York City.
Other information concerning Mrs. Robinson’s immediate family and background was supplied by her nephew and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon L. Graham, of Rock Island, Illinois, who have carefully preserved the family records of more than a hundred years, together with pictures and other memorabilia. All these things they made available to me and granted permission for their publication. Without their help much of interest in this volume could not have been included.
A trip to Mrs. Robinson’s birthplace in Iowa, made possible through the courtesy of Rev. Mr. Paul Mitchell of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was most rewarding. The town itself has vanished, but by the providence of God our steps were immediately directed to C. K. Greer, who had gone to school with the Wing girls, had attended the revival services in which “Mattie” was converted, and so was able to supply a number of details concerning her family and childhood. Following his direction we located her birthplace.
Inquiry directed to the Rev. Mr. Clarence H. Ferguson, pastor of St. John’s United Church, Kemptville, Ontario, Canada, resulted in illuminating data of the period and place where as a teen-ager Mattie had received the call from God “to live and work just for Himself.” Further knowledge concerning people and events connected with this same time were supplied by the Rev. Mr. George Boyle, sometime archivist and historian of the United Church of Canada, Toronto. And the information bureau of the Toronto Daily Star gave the weather conditions for the day on which the announcement of the opening of the Faith Home in that city was made – a rather important detail under the circumstances.
From Sara M. Brooks I secured (Dec. 1, 1935) a signed narrative of one of the most important periods in the life of Mrs. Robinson, many of the events of which Mrs. Brooks had witnessed and in some of which she had participated. After affixing her signature she remarked, “But it is only a slight part of the story and great wonder of God.” “Slight” it may have been and was, but invaluable for the purpose of this book.
All of Mrs. Robinson’s other associates in the ministry, besides those already mentioned, have contributed to the production of this work: Elder Eugene Brooks, Eva MacPhail Leggett (Mrs. W. H.), Mr. and Mrs. George A. Mitchell, L. M. Judd (Mrs. H. Worthington), Stella Leggett, and Mr. Rex B. Andrews. (“They are all gone into the world of light!” save the last one.)
Many others have given me their personal recollections and help. Those who have done so would be too numerous to mention by name, and there is always the possibility that someone would be omitted. To every one of these friends I would take this opportunity to express my appreciation.
My special thanks are due to three friends who took the time and effort to read carefully the manuscript preparatory to its publication:
John M. Gordon, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania;
Ronald L. Klaus, graduate student of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.;
Hans R. Waldvogel, pastor of the Ridgewood Pentecostal Church, Brooklyn, N. Y., with whom it has been my inestimable privilege to work for twenty-five years. When I was still a boy, he gave me some of the first source material for this book and through the years has given me an increased appreciation of the life and ministry of Martha Wing Robinson. Each of these men in his own way and from his own standpoint has given helpful suggestions and criticism.
Throughout the almost twenty years that I have been working on this book, quite a number of secretaries have freely contributed their services. Edith Woessner Bella typed the first draft which was read and approved, with one or two exceptions, by Mrs. Graham and Miss Nilsson. Their suggestions have been incorporated in this draft. Much additional material has been included in this final draft typed by Leone Wilson who also gave many constructive criticisms regarding the text. A number of the details incident to preparation for publication have been kindly cared for by Tessie Wahl.
The kind cooperation of Mr. Benjamin S. Harrison of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, in taking the aerial photo of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and in identifying the places of interest for this narrative has been most magnanimous.
Special thanks are due the Bingham Photoengraving Company of New York City for the engravings which it has provided for use in this book. Mss Eleanor Perz has most graciously contributed her valuable services in various ways towards the production of this work.
So great has been the inspiration, prayer, and actual work expended on this manuscript by my most capable helpmeet that she could virtually be termed its co-author.
Next to her I owe a debt of gratitude to the Rev. Mr. N. V. Ernest Oldfield of Brooklyn, N.Y., not only for his encouragement and insistence on my writing this book but also for his willingness to read it and give suggestions during the course of its preparation. And it may not be amiss to mention here that during the course of my research into Mrs. Robinson’s genealogy, I discovered that through his mother’s family Mr. Oldfield was distantly connected with the Wing family.
The picture of Mrs. Robinson, which serves as the frontispiece of this book, was taken in Toronto in 1918. Desiring a professional opinion as to what was her best likeness, I took this picture, along with the excellent one of her which had been published with the testimony of her healing in 1900, to a prominent New York City photographer, who of course knew nothing of her life or experience. For more than thirty years, however, he had analyzed thousands of faces so that he might best reproduce their individual personalities. His success in this respect may be judged from the fact that he had the reputation of being one of the four best operators in New York City.
After briefly studying and comparing the two pictures, he said, referring to the Toronto picture, “This is the woman. Then, speaking of the earlier photograph, he commented, “This is the picture of a proper, refined schoolteacher, but this is the picture of one who has gone through and seen life whole.” Her most intimate friends could not have said it better than did this stranger.
In 1947 I mentioned to Mrs. A. W. Naylor of Chicago, Illinois, who was one of Mrs. Robinson’s closest associates in the ministry, that I was at work on this biography. To this Mrs. Naylor responded with one of her terse but powerful comments: “You want to write it with glory, for her life was one of radiant glory.” It was from that remark that the title for this life of Martha Wing Robinson has come.
When Gordon P. Gardiner passed away on April 13, 1986, plans were under way for a new printing of Radiant Glory. The most significant alteration is the addition of the obituary of Henry W. Robinson. Facts brought to light by this obituary necessitated several corrections in the book.
Mr. Gardiner has also asked Dr. Roy M. Gray of Yucca Valley, California to read through the book and note any corrections and improvements that he felt should be made. This he did and we are indebted to him for his time and expertise. To Miss Eleanor Perz of Brooklyn, N.Y., a word of thanks for coordinating the corrections and additions.
It should be remembered that many of the people described by the author in 1962 as still actively engaged in their ministries have gone to their heavenly rewards.
Robert D. Kalis and Paul Munsinger
Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer to all my questionings.
Live out Thy life within me – In all things have Thy way!
I, the transparent medium, Thy glory to display.
The temple has been yielded and purified of sin;
Let Thy Shekinah glory now flash forth from within,
And all the earth keep silence, The body henceforth be
Thy silent, docile servant, Moved only as by Thee.
Its members every moment held subject to Thy call;
Ready to have Thee use them, Or not he used at all;
Held without restless longing, Or strain or stress or fret,
Or chafings at Thy dealings, Or thoughts of vain regret.
But restful, calm and pliant, From bend and bias free,
Permitting Thee to settle when Thou hast need of me.
Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou the glorious answer to all my questionings.
This hymn is attributed to F. R. Havergal in Songs of Victory, a song hook used by Mrs. Robinson for many years. It is not, however, in the authorized edition of Miss Havergal’s complete poems. On several occasions Mrs. Robinson indicated to the author of this book that this was her favorite hymn, at least her favorite in Songs of Victory.
INTRODUCING MARTHA WING ROBINSON
“One could not be in her presence long without recognizing her life was controlled by the One who dwelt within her. There was an inner radiancy and something of a celestial fire which burned the love of Jesus into our very souls.”
This testimonial to the life and influence of Martha Wing Robinson comes from Helen Innes Wannenmacher who with her husband, Joseph Wannenmacher, has ministered for over forty years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, resulting in the establishment of seven churches in that area and the thrusting forth of more than fifty young people into the whitened harvest fields.
Continuing with her reminiscences Mrs. Wannenmacher relates, “I saw her first when I was about eleven years old, when my father and I visited in the hotel where she was staying. I do not yet know why I should have remembered her, but I did.
“Small of stature, charmingly simple and modest, dainty in appearance, she was kind in her interest in me. Somehow, as a child, I felt her beautiful spirit was giving meaning to this new place where I had come to live, and I was happy. I had lost my mother when I was a babe, and now my father had brought me from my home and loved ones in Cincinnati to Zion, Illinois, where everything seemed strange and so different.
“What I did not know was that it was God who had led us to our new home in Zion, and it was He who had brought about the ‘chance’ meeting with this His ‘devoted minister’ who He knew would one day lead me to His feet – to accept Him as my own loving Savior.
“Her life and influence have meant more to me than that of any one else in the world. The world is a different place because she lived.”
Ruth Brooks, one of the ministers of the Faith Homes of Zion, Illinois, first met Mr. and Mrs. Robinson in 1907, when they came to Toronto, Canada, to hold meetings for her father. Throughout the remainder of Mrs. Robinson’s life – about thirty years – Miss Brooks was closely associated with her, living in the same house with her for some time. She it is who furnishes the following graphic pen picture of the subject of this biography:
“To the eyes of the casual observer Martha Robinson would have appeared to be simply a gracious little lady – small-boned and fashioned on the junior-size scale – her height approximately five feet, three inches. Standing beside her tall husband, she looked like a pocketbook hanging from his arm.
“My earliest memory of Mrs. Robinson was of a small woman wearing a black skirt and white waist with a high kind of frilly collar. She was always neat. Her dark hair parted on one side was curled enough to keep it in place and combed away from a high forehead. The face was widest at the eyes, with a hint of high cheek bones, and oval in shape. Presiding over a sensitive, well-formed nose were large, deep hazel eyes which at times appeared to be almost black. These eyes were penetrating enough to search one’s soul but alive with understanding and compassion. One of her distinctive features was a mouth with corners built in so that they always seemed turned up; this gave the impression of a smile even when her face was in repose.
“Children loved Martha Robinson. They held her in awe, sensing, somehow, the dedication and sanctity of her life, but they were also aware of her love for them. I liked to go to her room whenever I had the ‘great privilege’. Nevertheless I entered with some trepidation, for there was that Presence which filled me with a nameless longing. The atmosphere made me want to bow down and weep at Jesus’ feet. The memory of that reality of God s nearness exerted a powerful influence all through the ‘wandering’ years of my life.
“One day when I was about five years old, this gracious lady – who didn’t seem gracious in the role of a prophet – told me seriously and searchingly things I had done in the few weeks past which I knew no one else knew. And under the conviction of these words, I sobbed for hours, feeling that indeed ‘all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’
“I was the recipient of her generosity on two specific occasions. I had baked my first cake and was attempting to smooth some very stubborn frosting on it. At the moment of greatest perplexity Mrs. Robinson came through the kitchen and seeing my plight said, ‘Let me show you how to make it easier.’ She scraped sticky stuff from the knife I was using – to all appearances the knife was being iced rather than the cake. Now she smoothed the frosting over the cake, dipping the knife in water frequently. After a sufficient demonstration, my good Samaritan supervised the job until it was completed and seemed as delighted with the result as I was.
“The second time Mrs. Robinson came to my aid I was in my early twenties. I was visiting relatives in Canada and was planning deliberately to inquire into some of the more ‘respectable’ pleasures of the world for myself. I felt at the time that I had been too much restricted and wanted to be assured I was not getting information about life by hearsay. The ‘world’ turned out to be less glamorous than I had been led to believe, but I was still fighting surrender.
“The time arrived for my return home – but I did not have the fare. Finally a letter came from my parents with the needed amount, but the money itself was not from them – it was from Mrs. Robinson! My heart smote me!
“My mother had previously written me that this servant of the Lord had received a flash from heaven: ‘Ruth isn’t very spiritual on this trip!’ This was the understatement of the year, but by it I knew that my spiritual condition had truly been found out and revealed by the Lord Himself to Mrs. Robinson.
“Now one can meet rebellion with rebellion – but this form of attack! Such kindness! The hard crust of my heart began to melt around the edges; the knees of my heart, to bend. It was the softening up for final surrender.
Suppose God had not had a channel for the flow of His love. Suppose Martha Robinson had been unwilling to go along with God in His kind of forgiveness. Thank God these are only suppositions, for He did find a little, unpretentious woman who had said to him directly, ‘Make me a channel in whatever way You choose.’ And because God took her at her word, many will rise up to call her blessed.”
On one occasion Mrs. Robinson was the matron of honor when one of her associates was married. Included in the wedding party was a vivacious, delightful, red-haired, freckle-faced flower girl, Mary Elizabeth Judd. Now a minister herself, residing in Zion, Illinois Miss Judd gives this inimitable “physical description and personality sketch” of her friend in the form of a letter addressed to an imaginary acquaintance:
“Remember the other day when we met at the bookstore downtown, and you asked me to describe my friend, Mrs. Robinson, to you? We were both pressed for time then, so I will try now to comply with your request by letter.
“Of course, there are the usual marks of identification. In the first place, she’s not tall – being only slightly over five feet – with dark eyes and hair, small features and a fair complexion. But, I think you will easily recognize her, by the quiet radiance of her dedicated and serious face. “Although the unassuming poise of her manner may seem to set her apart, if you have an opportunity to meet her, you will find her interesting, warm, and most understanding. Her keen, penetrating mind and giftedness will more than satisfy your discriminating taste! The unaffected simplicity and love for humanity which possess her seem all-embracing; and her restful atmosphere of calm, unhurried patience will make you feel completely at ease. She can ‘dwell with kings, nor lose the common touch’, – a rare capacity to discover in any society! Doubtless, you’ll notice at once the ease and eagerness with which she adapts herself to the needs of each person and situation. Where many dignitaries or professional people would be too busy or pardonably preoccupied to pay attention to children and young folks, she – being young in heart – never fails to have some kindly word or greeting for them.
“Not to tire you with a lengthy description of my friend, I’ll close by mentioning that, in the midst of numerous duties and heavy responsibilities, Mrs. Robinson has most delightful touches of humor often revealed by a low chuckle and smiling eyes.”
“Martha Wing Robinson appeared on the platform of a gospel tent on a warm summer’s day back in the year ten of this century,” recalls Bessie Pottinger who has faithfully served her Master in various churches from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts in this country and has also spent several years in South Africa.
“This new and petite personage, unknown by name or any other biographical knowledge to a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl, nevertheless immediately stood out to her amid the many other briefly known, yet dearly beloved, ministers on that rustic stage. After the service, still not knowing the name of this evangelist, but sensing the love and humility radiating from this slight figure, she must find someone with whom to share this new experience, better felt than told. Having noted every detail of the speaker, she told a girl friend, ‘She’s small, and her head leans slightly to the left, but not stiff-necked.’
“But just what was it that so captivated the heart of this small-town child, and drew out her love to the pretty, new lady-minister? She was attired in a white shirt-waist dress with a small, white sailor hat, adorned only by a black ribbon, sitting atop soft black hair, self-styled. No beauty parlor touch there! Beneath her hair were heavy eyebrows and gentle, though sometimes penetrating, brown eyes. One could not refrain from observing that these eyes, with their thick black lashes, were never used to attract attention to their owner, but would often close while the pink lips moved quietly as if speaking to Someone very near and dear.
“Then, when Martha Wing Robinson stood to address the audience, hearts quickened as they listened to words issuing from those lips which previously had been conversing with that Someone near and dear, bringing forth hidden treasures from the storehouse within. She spoke as the Saviour, her Beloved, spoke when here on earth – so that little ones could hear and understand, but also so that mature, hungering ones bowed to the Jesus within her.”
Charles N. Andrews, pastor of the Fredericksburg Pentecostal Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia, furnishes this account of Mrs. Robinson in her latter years:
“She looked as though she might have been someone’s little old mother as she sat in her leather armchair which appeared large – perhaps because of her own smallness – with her head a little to one side. Quite noticeable under her ‘crown of glory’ of lovely white hair were her deep brown eyes – lively, missing nothing, kindly, and interested, eyes that could be quite piercing or filled with sorrow and compassion upon hearing of some tragedy which had happened to another. The fact is, she was a real mother, and, although she did not have any children of her own, many called her ‘Mother.’
“As can readily be seen, this description of Mrs. Robinson is of her later years. In fact, my only personal remembrance of her is that of the last three or four years of her life, although my family and I had lived in the same house with her for some time when I was a very small boy. A happening of that period, as related by my mother, is to me an example of her life and ministry.
“While we were living in her home, I became very ill. As Mrs. Robinson passed our room, my mother told her of my serious condition, unquestionably with the thought that she would pray for me. Instead, without even stopping, she quietly said, “A mother’s prayers bear special weight with the Father,” and so encouraged her to believe for the answer to her own prayers.
“To those who knew Mrs. Robinson this action would not mean that she was heartless or not interested in praying for me – unquestionably she did. Rather, it is an illustration of her ministry. She herself had come to know the Lord in reality, as her Great Physician, for example, and her ministry was not just to tell others what she knew so much as to lead them into that place where they would know and experience Jesus for themselves.
“My first remembered contact with Mrs. Robinson occurred many years later when as a young man I had returned with my family to Zion City and was training for the ministry. During this time it was my privilege to see and to hear her on various occasions, and a number of events showed me clearly that her ministry was truly and always by Christ in her. One outstanding incident conclusively proved to me that it was the Lord Himself who ministered through her.
“One day I happened to be in the kitchen of her apartment on some errand. Most unexpectedly the door from her living room opened, and she came out to see me. Immediately and persistently she began to question me about a personal matter which I had discussed with no one. I had been diligently praying about this problem, and desperately had I asked the Lord not to let me make any mistake. Under these circumstances one can imagine my surprise when she herself brought up the issue and dealt with it in such a way that I knew only the Lord could have revealed the situation to her. As she proceeded to question me – one of the methods the Lord had her use to instruct people – she also gave me some pointed advice. Then, suddenly, she said ‘The answer is “No”,’ and without saying anything more she abruptly left me, returning to the living room, the door closing behind her.
“Of course, I knew what that meant, but only later did I realize that it could only have been Jesus in her, giving me a direct answer to my own prayer to Him. Needless to say, this word kept me from making a mistake that would undoubtedly have hindered me from going on in the ministry in the way that God wanted and consequently would have changed the whole course of my life.
“The outstanding thing about her was that Jesus had become the Center and All of her life so that others have been impregnated with the same desire to know Jesus and to have Him reigning within them, living out His life so that both their personal lives and the meetings which they might conduct would be controlled by Him.”
This final appreciation of Martha Wing Robinson comes from the pen of Hans R. Waldvogel, pastor of the Ridgewood Pentecostal Church, Brooklyn, New York. In addition to his extensive labors in metropolitan New York, Pastor Waldvogel has also had a world-wide, evangelistic ministry.
“Rumors had come to me from different quarters about a woman who lived in such close fellowship with God that all the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible were exercised by her. Ordinarily one associates the thought of deep-life saints with a forbidding mysticism. Upon making the acquaintance of Mrs. Robinson, however, not only did I find that not the half had been told me of her godliness – but I was pleasantly surprised that instead of an eccentric person, I found a happy, cheerful child of God who certainly lived Constantly in His presence and combined with her spiritual experience had a good dose of common sense.
“How graciously she understood how to minister to old and young the word of life, always endeavoring to lead people to find the Fountain from which she had been drinking – Jesus! Having come to her for guidance about some intricate problem, she smilingly said to me, ‘Why do you come to me for advice when you have free access to Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Ghost? He will instruct and teach you in the way you must go.
“Those who accepted her teaching invariably discovered for themselves the Storehouse of God’s unsearchable riches which she had discovered and to which she had directed them.
“Forever then shall I thank God for bringing me in touch with the ‘most unforgettable character’ I have known, Mrs. Robinson, and to enjoy her remarkable ministry which was not in word only but also ‘in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance.
True biography was never nor can be written. Fragrance cannot be put into picture or poem. There is a subtle, evasive savor and flavor about character which escapes both tongue and pen. And, more than this, the very best things about such characters and careers are unknown, save to God, and cannot be revealed because they are among His secret things. Like Elijah, the best men hide themselves with God before they show themselves to men. The showing may be written in history, but the hiding has none, and after studying the narrative of such lives, even with the best helps, there remains a deeper and unwritten history that only eternity can unveil. – ANONYMOUS
THE PATH BLAZER
MARTHA WING ROBINSON was a path blazer and came of a long line of path blazers. Staunch Puritans all of them, the ancestors of both her father and her mother came from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630’s. Thus these stalwart pioneers of the American wilderness were among the founding fathers of the United States.
Martha Wing Robinson’s first American forebear was Daniel Wing who landed at Boston, aboard the William and Francis, June 5, 1632. Then a lad of about fifteen, Daniel had come with his three brothers and his widowed mother, Deborah Bachiler Wing, under the oversight of his maternal grandfather, a Puritan minister, “old Mr. Bachelor (being aged 71)… who had suffered much at the hands of the bishops in England,” so John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts Bay, records in his famous History of New England.ⁿ
Note: Wing’s father, the Reverend John Wing, a graduate of Oxford University (1603), was a successful minister in Hamburg, Germany, and later to various congregations in Holland. Thus Daniel’s early, formative years were spent on the Continent. It was while the Rev. John Wing was pastor of a large and wealthy congregation in the Hague that Daniel’s grandfather, Stephen Bachiler, began to recruit settlers for a colony in America, “persuading and exhorting, yea, as much as in him lieth, constraining all that love him to join together” with him in this venture. Evidently Daniel’s father, a man of some means, was one of those constrained. However, he died sometime in 1630, at the age of forty-six, before he was able to leave for the new world. Two years later, on March 9, 1632, Stephen Bachiler and his company sailed from London. Aboard ship were some sixty passengers including Thomas Welde who became an associate minister of John Eliot, the “apostle to the Indians,’ and Edward Winslow, sometime governor of Plymouth Colony, who had first come to the new world aboard the Mayflower in 1620. As fellow passengers together on an unusually long voyage of eighty-seven days, young Daniel had opportunity to become acquainted with two of the prominent colonists of his day. (See Winthrop’s entry for June 5, 1632.)
Upon landing, Grandfather Bachiler lost no time in leading Daniel and the other members of his family to their intended destination, Saugus, a little settlement six miles north of Boston, where he became “the first feeder of the flock of Christ.”
Note: Among Stephen Bachiler’s descendants were Daniel Webster and John Greenleaf Whittier as well as a host of other godly people, including Martha Wing Robinson.
Daniel Wing continued to live in Saugus for the next five years when the Wings, along with a number of others who were dissatisfied with religious and political conditions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, “sought out and were contented with” a place in Plymouth Colony on Cape God which they called Sandwich. Here in what was considered “a remote wilderness” they hoped to enjoy their “spiritual and temporal liberties” and “live peaceably.”
For the next twenty years Daniel Wing did “live peaceably” in this quiet town, pursuing the ordinary life of any pioneer. He bought a farm, married, raised a large family, prospered materially, and performed various civic duties. There is, however, a conspicuous silence in the town and church records of Sandwich of his participation in the organized religious life of the community. The fact is that there was a spirit of indifference to religion in Sandwich, an attitude apparently shared by Daniel Wing.
At length in 1657 two evangelists, “who were called by such a name as Quaker,” came “into those parts.” These men and their message were “gladly received by many,” including Daniel Wing, “who had long been burdened with a lifeless ministry and dead forms of religion.” The result was that “a great fire was kindled,” and among the “many” whose hearts “did burn within them” was Daniel Wing. Now, although “some believed the things which were spoken” of the Quaker evangelists, “some believed not,” so that “great was the stir and noise of the tumultuous citie, yea, all in an uproar.” And “as he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so” did it happen in the erstwhile, peaceful town of Sandwich.
Haunted by the authorities of Plymouth Colony, Daniel Wing and the other Quakers were forced to worship in secret. Far within the woods they gathered in a secluded place about 125 feet deep which has since been called “Christopher’s Hollow,” so named for Christopher Holder, the one who ministered to the people there. The persecution of Daniel Wing and his Quaker associates continued with increasing severity. Repeatedly he was heavily fined so that his entire estate was in danger of being consumed. Finally, all “power to act in any town meeting.., or to claim title or interest in any town privileges as townes men” was taken from him. In other words, he was stripped of his civil rights.
In spite of all this, like the Daniel of old for whom he was named, Daniel Wing “prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” At length, such persecution was ended by order of the king of England in 1661, and some years later his civil rights were restored. Thus by his suffering and steadfastness to the truth the cause of religious liberty was furthered.
Two years after his first wife died in 1664, Daniel Wing married Anna Ewer, the daughter of one of his companions in tribulation. By her he had three children, the second of whom was Bachelor, the one through whom Martha Wing Robinson came.
To summarize the next generations in biblical language: Bachelor begat Sylvanus, and Sylvanus begat Thomas who became a sailor and later settled in Connecticut and was called Captain Thomas Wing. Captain Thomas begat Turner six years before the Revolutionary War, and then he so far departed from the faith of his great-grandfather Daniel, as to bear arms in the Continental Army. After the war he and his son Turner moved to Vermont where they settled in the village of Rockingham. For a number of years Thomas was an active member of the Baptist Church which held its services in the meetinghouse that is standing there to this day. Turner Wing married in Rockingham and begat Jason, and after the turn of the century moved north, just over the Vermont border to a place called Dunham Flats, Quebec, Canada. There Jason begat Sylvester who married Amanda Smith in 1845.
Within a year of their marriage Sylvester and Amanda Wing moved over the border into St. Lawrence County, New York, where on April 13, 1846, their first child, Charles Orin, was born. To all appearances the baby was born dead or died soon after. The doctor, therefore, turned his entire attention to the suffering mother who was in such a critical condition that he knew he must act quickly if her life was to be saved. After a time, satisfied that he had succeeded in his efforts, he prepared to leave. As he did so, however, he was arrested by a faint cry coming from the corner of the room where the baby’s body had been laid. Could it be possible that the baby was alive after all? Yes, he was, and demanding attention. By so narrow a margin did the father of Martha Wing Robinson miraculously escape death in the very hour of his birth!
A year or two after Charlie’s birth, the family moved to Michigan where they lived a number of years and then returned to New York State. In the course of time Charlie attended the Union Academy at Belleville, New York, where he met Harriet Maria Tuttle, a charming, petite maiden, less than five feet tall, who was twenty years old.
Born August 1, 1846, at Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York, Hattie was the daughter of Alanson and Elmina Bowen Tuttle. Like Charlie Wing, her first American forefathers had come to America as a part of the great Puritan Migration. Away back in 1635 “Husbandman” William Tuttle and his wife Elizabeth had left their home in Ringstead, Northampton, England, and sailed aboard the Planter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony where they landed in Boston on June 7. The next year on “the 14th of the same 6th month [N. S. Aug. 14, 1636] Elizabeth, the wife of one William Tuttell,” according to the records of the First Church of Boston, was admitted to membership. That she was “admitted” speaks highly both for her Christian experience and for her ability to give a narration of it satisfactory to the exacting elders of the church.
About a year later their son, Jonathan, was born and “baptized” on July 8, 1637 – the first ancestor of Martha Wing Robinson to be born on American soil.
As strict a theocracy as was Massachusetts Bay – too strict for many like Daniel Wing – there were others for whom it was not strict enough. Among these were the Tuttles who are numbered among the founders of the Colony of New Haven, the strictest of all the Puritan theocracies. William Tuttle was one of those “free planters” who assembled on the fourth of June, 1639, and subscribed to the new colony’s “Fundamental Agreement” whereby it was declared “as in matters that concern the gathering and ordering of a church, so likewise in all public affairs, making and repealing laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature, we would all of us be ordered by those rules which the Scripture holds forth to us.”
Forthwith William Tuttle received his “allotment” in the same square as the governor, evidence of his social and economic standing. One of the town’s merchants, he participated in its civic affairs in various capacities. Twelve children in all were born to the Tuttles. One of these, Elizabeth, married Richard Edwards and so became the grandmother of one of the greatest of all American philosophers and divines, Jonathan Edwards.
That Mrs. Tuttle was admitted in 1640 to the Church of Christ in New Haven speaks even more for her piety than does her admission to the Boston church, in view of the “more than ordinary exactness in trying those that were admitted into the communion of the church” in the new colony. If Mr. Tuttle did not pass the severely strict, theological tests which his wife did, he was considered a godly man. And simply the fact that these two chose to live in New Haven is sufficient evidence of their intense desire to please God in everything, a desire most clearly reflected in the lives of their many, exceedingly godly descendants.
William and Elizabeth Tuttle lived and died in Connecticut as did the next four generations – Jonathan, William, Daniel, and Jabez. Then in the first years of the Nineteenth Century Ransom Tuttle moved on into the beautiful Mohawk Valley near Utica, New York, where his son Alanson was born. In the course of time he married and had three children, the oldest of whom, Martha Ann (1838-1937), was to play a rather important part in the life of her niece and namesake, Martha Wing Robinson. After his first wife’s death, Alanson married Elmina Bowen. It was their daughter, Hattie, who eventually was to marry Charlie Wing and so to become the mother of Martha Wing Robinson.
Ardently Charlie pursued Hattie after they had met at Union Academy, but his hopes seemed doomed when she and her family left New York State for Iowa in June of 1867. Undoubtedly it was Mrs. Tuttle’s brother, Asa, who had influenced her and her husband to move to Sand Spring, Iowa. Located a few miles due west of Dubuque, it was situated on a tract of about twenty-five thousand acres called Bowen’s Prairie, so named after the original owner of the land, Asa Bowen. By control of the sale of this property Asa Bowen saw to it that the town was composed of “a better class of people” – industrious God-fearing men and women. The first group of settlers had come from Massachusetts in 1858 under the leadership of a Methodist minister, and their piety is attested by the fact that before their several dwellings were occupied by their owners, they were first used for religious services. Thus, in a sense, the whole community was consecrated to God.
To receive and to accommodate prospective settlers until their own houses were built, Mr. Bowen erected and operated a large hotel which became the center of the town’s life and economy. It was in this hotel that the Tuttles lived after they arrived in Sand Spring, and shortly became its managers. Before long, however, Mrs. Tuttle became ill, so that Hattie had to assume her duties which included the operation of the kitchen and dining room.
It was with reference to her new duties that Charlie Wing, who was then living in Michigan, remarked in his letter to Hattie, September 6, 1868: “I would like to have happened in at your house about those days when you were ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ so that I could have seen how you managed a hotel.”
“I am not very well now,” Charlie said in this same letter in reply to Hattie’s question as to his health. The fact is that Charlie had been weakly and sick from birth. At this time he had a tumor in his chest and had the beginnings of tuberculosis. Chills and a high fever had forced him to stay in bed for two days of the previous week. In spite of his physical condition, he was cheerful and courageous.
“I walked two miles today and a little over to go to Bible class,” he continued. “It made me very tired, but I made out.” Those two, brief sentences reveal the character of Charles Orin Wing, father of Martha Wing Robinson. He loved God and he would serve Him with all his strength, no matter how little that strength might be – even if he had to walk two miles to do it. Devotion and determination with a vengeance!
Repeatedly in his letters to Hattie he suggested that both of them needed to know God better. To these remarks she responded with casual agreement, for, although a proper church member, she was unconverted, nor was she awake to any special need of God.
Sometime during the next year (1869) Charlie Wing arrived in Sand Spring where he “engaged in the mercantile business.” “He soon won his way to the hearts of the people of this community and acquired a reputation for honesty and uprightness in all his dealings with his fellow men.” He also won his suit for Hattie, and on February 2, 1870, they were married.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wing began their life together in the Bowen Hotel. There on the twenty-first of November, 1870, their first child, Lunettie Emigene, was born. Just two years later, November 24, 1872, Ada May was born.
Early in 1874 Mr. and Mrs. Wing began to look forward to the arrival of their third child. During the intervening months the father gave himself to prayer, and so intense was his supplication that the infant was called of God and separated to Him from her mother’s womb. On the fourteenth of November the baby arrived. Her mother named her Martha Abigail – Martha for her beloved sister, Abigail for a dear friend.ⁿ Delicate and very tiny, Mattie, as the family called her, resembled her petite, graceful mother, except that she had her father’s deep, brown eyes, eyes which when animated looked black and shone as coals of fire.
Note: As the child grew older she disliked her middle name so intensely that eventually she dropped it.
Thus in Martha there was an admirable blending of the qualities and characteristics of her mother and of her father – of the Tuttles and of the Wings. This was to be true spiritually as well as naturally, for in Martha Wing Robinson there was a marked balance and mixture of the Quaker emphasis on the preeminence of the Holy Spirit and the Puritan emphasis on the importance of the Scriptures. The Bible and the Holy Spirit were to have equal preeminence in the life and ministry of this handmaiden of the Lord.
The forefathers of Martha Wing Robinson had indeed helped to beat a thoroughfare “across the wilderness” of the American continent from the rock-bound coast of Massachusetts to the fertile prairies of Iowa. A few years after her birth the physical frontier of America was officially declared closed, but for all the advances which her Puritan and Quaker forebears had made into the Promised Land of the Spirit and the Truth, the spiritual frontier remained wide open. It was into the little-known or unexplored parts of this area that Martha Wing Robinson was to venture and to become a path blazer.
IN THE BEGINNING
AT THE TIME of Martha Wing’s birth in 1874, Sand Spring, Iowa, was enjoying the heyday of its prosperity. A village of about five hundred inhabitants, it was the business center of a much larger, thriving farming community. As for industries, there were two wagon shops and factories for making brooms and washing machines. Its most profitable enterprise, however, was the Butter and Cheese Factory which had been begun by Martha’s great uncle, Asa Bowen, and was located in the basement of his hotel for many years. Sand Spring could justly be proud of this business, for it produced the butter which took the gold medal at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia about two years after Martha’s birth. Thereby a great demand was created in the eastern markets for its butter and so Delaware County, in which Sand Spring was located, was “put on the map.”
Martha’s father occupied a rather prominent place in the affairs of this booming town. “Successful as a business man,” Mr. Wing also “held with acceptance the offices of township clerk and notary public” for some time. The fact is that “gifted with more than ordinary ability and possessing a character of sterling integrity [he] was well and favourably known” in the whole county.
Throughout the years, however, Mr. Wing’s health steadily declined until he became so weak that he was forced to give up working. “His business affairs, which up to the time of his confinement to the house had been prosperous, dropped considerably;” and then, when his store goods were closed out at a public sale, he realized “a ruinous loss.”
“Patiently and trustingly” the invalid “ever bore his ills,” but at length he knew that the end of his earthly pilgrimage was near. Then “with his face turned toward the Celestial City” this Christian Pilgrim penned the following lines:
Writhing in pain I inly groan,
Toiling I cry, “Sweet Spirit, come;
Speak to my heart, Thyself reveal:
Thy counsel all in me fulfill.
Oh, fill my soul with love and joy,
With happiness without alloy;
And lift me from this cave of gloom,
And let me know I’m going home.
A home, a home so bright and fair,
Far, far above this world of care –
Where dwell the good and pure and free,
Who gather around life’s garden tree.”
The thought now thrills this heart of mine,
‘Tis there the glorious God doth shine;
He says, “My child, no longer roam,
Come, join us in thy blissful home.
A peaceful home, so beautiful,
Where each one loves the golden rule –
There, from all pain and sorrow free,
We’ll sing around life’s garden tree.”
This world is bright and beautiful;
But oh, who loves the golden rule:
Who, who doth for his brother care,
And with him in his sorrows share?
Oh, there is One, and One alone:
Who feels our sorrows, hears our groan;
O help me, Lord, to patient be,
Obey Thy voice and follow Thee.
Not long after he wrote this poem, Charles Wing reached the River of Death. “As the moment of dissolution approached, he comforted his weeping relations with the assurance that he should reach a safe haven in the life beyond, and then he passed peacefully and quietly away.” So “Christian” entered the Celestial City, April 8, 1876, five days before his thirtieth birthday.
Two days later the community of Sand Spring “turned out en masse to pay their respects to C. 0. Wing,” the local newspaper reported. “The concourse of citizens was one of the largest occurring here for some years, and all the proceedings highly impressive.”
Doubtless the funeral was held at the Methodist Church which Mr. Wing had attended regularly as long as he had been able and where his wife played the organ for the assembled worshipers for many years. A simple but sturdy structure built of hand-hewn timbers, with a tall spire, it stood near the Wing home on a slight elevation at the head of the town, dominating both it and the surrounding countryside. At the opposite end of the town was a little cemetery where a devoted wife laid away the body of her beloved husband – ”till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.”
Heroically Mrs. Wing now undertook the full support of herself and her three daughters, the youngest, Mattie, being only about a year and a half. Fortunately, before Mother Wing had been married, she had received an excellent education in music at the Union Academy in Belleville, N. Y., so that the “Directress” of the Musical Department of that school had recommended her “as an able, efficient and correct Instructress.” Now Mrs. Wing gave music lessons, both instrumental and vocal, at “ten for a dollar.”
As might be expected, the family circumstances were often somewhat straitened. But if there was not an abundance, the brave little mother saw to it that there were some of those “extras” which mean so much to children so that Mattie could recall years later, “Even in our worst times we always had a little something sweet at the end of the meal.”
As early in life as they were able, Mrs. Wing trained Nettie, Ada, and Mattie to help her in the duties of the household. In a diary which Mattie kept as a very young child, she often recorded, “Gathered chips,” – a small but real aid to her mother in providing kindling for the starting of fires.
Typical of children everywhere, the Wing girls, however, were more interested in play and picnics than in housework. “I was thinking now,” Mattie wrote Ada when she was a grown woman, “how we used sometimes, when we were children, to walk three miles down to the Kline Woods with our dinners, work ever so hard walking through the woods, but what delicate children we would be with any housework in sight to do!”
Mother Wing also carefully trained the characters of her three daughters. Although Mrs. Wing was still unconverted, she was a religious woman of high standards which she inculcated in her own children. Many of these principles she had learned from her mother, Elmina Bowen Tuttle.
The fundamentals of morals and manners Grandmother Tuttle had carefully set forth in a large notebook comprised of selections from – or summaries of her reading on these subjects. Inasmuch as this material gives the moral climate in which Mattie was reared, some excerpts are included here. Great stress was laid on the conscience, several pages being devoted to this important subject. In this connection several “Rules for moral conduct” are given:
“Cultivate, on all occasions in private or in public, in small or great, in action, or in thought, the habit of obeying of the monitions of conscience, all other things to the contrary notwithstanding.
“…above all take the true and perfect standard of moral character, exhibited in the precepts of the gospel, and exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ; and thus examine your conduct by the light that emanates from the holiness of heaven.”
In Grandmother Tuttle’s notebook there were also numerous instructions for the governing of the social relations and habits of young women which were taken from The Daughter’s Own Book. Specific advice is given on a variety of subjects as “Early Friendships,” “Epistolary Writing,” and “Death.” Of special interest, as far as Mattie’s training is concerned, are the following injunctions and observations:
“Forming the Manners – First impressions of the character are gathered from the manners, and first impressions are not easily eradicated. It is always taken for granted, unless there is decisive evidence to the contrary, that the manners are the genuine expression of the feelings... Cultivate good manners then as one means of improving your disposition and imparting real excellence to your character. Endeavor then to banish from your heart all evil dispositions and to cherish every temper that is amiable and praiseworthy.
“Conversation – Whether you are discussing a grave subject, or talking about the most familiar occurrences of life, let it be a rule from which you never deviate, to say nothing without reflection… Beware of talking too much… Guard your lips whenever you find it in your heart to make yourself the heroine of your own story… In a word let it be a principle with you never to be violated that in whatever circumstances you are placed all that you say shall be characterized by the simplicity of truth.
“Self-Knowledge – If you would know yourself, it is essential that you should habitually and faithfully perform the duty of self-communion. You must not be contented with looking merely at the external act, but faithfully investigate the motives and principles of your conduct. You must compare your actions, not with any human standard, but with the rule of duty which God has revealed in His Word… Reading the Scriptures and prayer are among the most important of all the means of self-knowledge. Study the Bible then daily and diligently, and pray without ceasing for the enlightening influence of God’s Spirit, and you will soon be proficient in Self-Knowledge.
“Time – If you would use your time to the best advantage, I hardly need say that you must form a habit of persevering diligence. In whatever circumstances Providence may place you, take care that the whole of your time be employed: and consider the first inroads of indolence as a melancholy harbinger of the wreck of your usefulness, and the loss of your reputation.”
Such were the precepts by which Martha Wing was trained in her formative years, and a comparison of these principles with the fully developed character of her mature years gives abundant evidence that this instruction was unusually effective.
This was supplemented by that received at school and at Sunday school. “A conspicuous object in the town” of Sand Spring was the schoolhouse which was only a two or three-minute walk from the Wing house. Quite awhile before Mattie would ordinarily have started school, she was accepted as a student there simply because she tagged along after Nettie and Ada. Here a profound effect was produced on her and the other pupils by the teachers and textbooks. “Most of the teachers opened the morning exercises by reading the Bible and offering the Lord’s Prayer.” And the readers, which Mattie eagerly devoured, all contained numerous excerpts from the Bible, selections designed to inculcate moral as well as literary values and appreciation.
Regularly Mattie and her sisters attended the Methodist Sunday school; and it was at the Sunday school’s Christmas “entertainment” just after she had passed her sixth birthday that she made her first public appearance. Her piece for this occasion was one of the greatest hymns of the church, written by Isaac Watts. With her “cute little lisp” Mattie recited the majestic, familiar words:
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run,
His kingdom spread from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
Considering the future efforts of Mattie in behalf of the extension of the kingdom of God upon earth, no more appropriate selection than this could have been chosen for her to give as her first bit of ministry.
STEPS TOWARD GOD
Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take.
Jesus, Saviour, Son of God,
Wash me in Thy precious blood;
I, Thy little lamb would be;
Help me now to look to Thee,
For Jesus’ sake, Amen.
MATTIE RATTLED these words off so hurriedly as she said her evening prayers night after night that all she could think of was a locomotive rushing by!
After Mother Wing had seen that her girls were ready for bed, she would bid them goodnight and start downstairs. Halfway down, she invariably stopped and quietly called back, “Don’t forget to say your prayers!” Obediently Mattie knelt with her sisters and thoughtlessly repeated the prayers she had learned from them.
One night, however, she was arrested by the wonder of the words she was saying. Slowly, thoughtfully, she repeated them:
“Jesus – Savior – Son of God,
Wash – me – in – Thy – precious – blood;
I – Thy – little – lamb – would be;
Help – me – now – to look – to Thee.”
For the first time she prayed this prayer, applying each word and phrase to herself. From that night on she talked to God and really thought about what she was saying. The fact is that this was the first experience of personal communion with God in one whose life was to be given to prayer and intercession.
Not long after this, Mattie added a prayer of her own to the ones she had learned: “Please, God, help me to be good, kind, useful, careful, happy, and gay.” After a time she dropped the “gay,” for somehow she did not feel that it was quite proper to ask God to make her gay.
Soon she added still another request to her evening prayers, this one born out of fear and a felt need. Already at the age of seven, Mattie was reading so much that her eyes had become seriously affected. Mrs. Wing called the doctor who, after examining the little girl’s eyes, said: “Nothing can be done for her, and in all probability she will become blind.” This statement, intended only for her mother’s ears, Mattie overheard. Frightened, that night she prayed earnestly: “And please, Lord, don’t let me go blind.”
About this same time she heard a story about a man being buried alive – “the kind of story which should never be told children,” she commented in narrating this incident. Fearful lest a similar fate might sometime befall her, Mattie pled: “And please, Lord, don’t let me be buried alive.”
These petitions Mattie faithfully prayed every night until she was about twelve years old – an illustration of persistence in prayer which was to become a marked characteristic of the mature woman.
If Mattie was having the beginnings of personal fellowship with God, she was at the same time having the beginnings of other hopes and aspirations which would bring her into sharp conflict with Him.
From the age of seven Mattie gave evidence of unusual literary talent. One day, when she was only eight and the family was going on an outing for the entire day, Mattie decided to stay at home. After her mother, Nettie, and Ada had left, she carefully locked the doors of their little house and drew all the shades so that, undisturbed, she might spend the day writing! Her efforts of that day and of the days and months afterwards, she carefully concealed, even hiding some of her productions under the floorboards of her bedroom. Both shy and modest, she was under no delusion as to the quality of her work and consequently wanted no one to see any of it or to know of her purpose. Secretly she pursued her interests, especially the writing of poetry, and slowly but surely there was growing in her the ambition to be a Writer.
Throughout these years Mattie rapidly advanced in school from one grade to another, so that when she was only eleven she had finished the eighth grade work and was ready for high school. As the town had no high school and as Mrs. Wing could not afford to send her to one of the nearby towns which dud, – Mattie continued to attend the local grade school, gathering what additional information she could from the teachers and from her omniverous reading.
Read she must; it was almost a passion with her. After she had read everything else available, she read the Bible through, not only once but several times, mostly because she had to read something. Unconsciously, however, the good seed was being sown in her heart, and doubtless this had much to do with her next experience.
When Mattie was twelve years of age, revival services were held at the Methodist Church by the Foote brothers, rather well-known and successful evangelists of that day, laboring primarily in eastern Iowa. J. W. Foote was the main speaker while his brother, J. G., was the song leader. “Sand Spring was quite stirred up the week they were here,” recalls an old inhabitant who attended the services. “The church [seating about two hundred] was crowded to the limit. Many accepted Christ at that time.”
Note: Today these men are known among evangelical believers the world over for their song. “When I See the Blood,” always printed with the unusual legend, in whole or part: “By Foote Bros. Not copyrighted. Let no one do so. May this song ever be free to be published for the glory of God”
Among those deeply stirred was Mattie. Having accepted Christ as her Saviour, she believed that the next thing for her to do was to join the church. To her this was a very serious decision involving a sacred obligation to God and the church.
In taking this step she realized to the fullest extent what she was doing: she was agreeing to submit herself to “the discipline of the Methodist Church,” promising to evidence her “desire of salvation... by avoiding evil of every kind, especially... the taking of such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord.” Specifically she knew that this meant dancing, playing cards, attending the theater, and participating in any other worldly amusement.
With deliberation she made her vows. To Mattie any promise, but especially one made to God, was a serious matter and absolutely binding. As far as she was concerned she had made her decision for time and eternity, come what might.
Not long after this, Mattie attended a party of young friends during which it was suggested that they dance. All agreed – all except Mattie. Without hesitation she refused. Her friends begged her to join them. After all, she was a popular member of the group, and they wanted her to participate. But Mattie was adamant. Then they wanted to know why.
“When I joined the church, I promised not to dance,” was her simple but firm reply.
Now the begging turned to teasing and ridicule, but Mattie held her ground. After awhile, Mattie’s cousin, one of the older boys present, inspired by her courage, stepped to her side and said, “If Mattie doesn’t want to dance, she doesn’t have to, and I won’t either.” That settled the whole matter, and thus God honored the steadfast purpose of His child.
It was when Mattie was thirteen that the Lord first made the hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” a blessing to her. It was her testimony then, as a beginning Christian, and “it grew richer in meaning all the time” ever afterwards, she testified towards the close of her life, “its beauty” being found only “if you dwell on it.”
Really sincere in her Christian service, outwardly “observing church rules,” Mattie enjoyed a measure of satisfaction for her soul, but, as she wrote a friend some years later, “From my first entrance upon the Christian life I felt there was something higher and better than I had ever myself experienced or seen in the professing Christians about me.
THE CALL TO SURRENDER
“MATTIE, something seems to tell me the Lord wants you to live and work just for Himself.”
It was her Uncle William, a Methodist minister, who suddenly interjected this remark as they were quietly eating their dinner. Immediately there was rebellion in her heart. To accept this call, she knew, meant to give up the plan she had for her life.
On the day after her sixteenth birthday Mattie had left Sand Spring to go to Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada, to live with her Aunt Martha and her husband, the Reverend William Blair, so that she might have an opportunity to continue her education in the high school there.
Shortly after Mattie’s enrollment in the school, one of the teachers met Uncle William and in the course of their conversation remarked, “We have a very interesting and brilliant young girl from the United States in school. She is always ahead of the class.”
“What is her name?”
“That’s my niece,” Uncle William proudly replied.
The following year (1891) Uncle William was transferred to the Methodist Church at Kemptville where Mattie continued her high school course.
Evidence of the thorough and methodical study habits she was forming may still be seen in the Botanical Exercise Book she kept while attending Kemptville High School. Some botanical specimens she found in the “woods in spring,” and one in “copses and rich meadows,” another “up river above Kemptville,” and one she found “about 5 a.m. May 19.” All these were carefully and completely classified according to their Latin nomenclature. Study habits thus acquired became an integral part of Mattie’s mental processes and were later applied to her Bible studies.
Mattie made a brilliant scholastic record in high school. Especially did her literary productions attract attention. Some of these were published locally and were highly praised. All in all she proved most worthy of the kindness shown her by her aunt and uncle.
Rev. Mr. Blair was then almost fifty years old and brought to his pastorate at Kemptville a rich experience gathered from twenty-five years of successful ministry, much of it in pioneer fields. A man of wide vision, his interests transcended denominational boundaries. One of his greatest desires was to see the people of God united in one fellowship. At the same time he recognized each individual’s need for salvation, “total self-surrender, daily personal communion with God, and devotion and participation in Christian service in the local church.”
In the “New Year’s Greeting to My Congregation” which he addressed to the Kemptville Church, January 1st, 1892, he exhorted:
“Begin the New Year with total self-surrender to God. Let our motto be: ‘Whose I am and Whom I serve,’ and a good way to serve God is by love to serve one another.”
Applying this admonition specifically Pastor Blair urged that each member of the congregation renew his “devotion to Sabbath School, and League… making every agency of our church increasingly helpful and prosperous.
As a faithful church member, Mattie cooperated in its program. Along with the other young people she attended the Young People’s League and helped to conduct its meetings. Finally her turn came to give the talk one evening. Unknown to her, Uncle William stood outside the room where the League service was in progress, heard her message, and was greatly impressed with both its content and the excellence of her delivery.
Perhaps it was the next day when Uncle William made the fatal remark which sank, like an arrow, deep into Mattie’s heart: “Something seems to tell me the Lord wants you to live and work just for Himself.”
That was all that was said. Nothing further needed to be said, for by those few words the Holy Spirit had done His work. In one moment the frightening possibility arose in her mind that all of her cherished hopes and dreams of years would never materialize.
So carefully had she nourished her plans! Quietly but persistently she had pursued her goal. She had continued to conceal her efforts, all the while endeavoring to improve her talents. Then one day Nettie accidentally discovered some of her compositions and sent them to the local newspaper. The favorable comments which followed their publication served to strengthen her purpose. Confidently she was expecting to become a famous poetess someday!
Now her uncle’s simple word, casually spoken, fell like a blow, shattering all her ambitions. “Her world” crumbled beneath her feet. At least, that is what she feared would happen. But that was unthinkable. She could not consider any other course than the one she had contemplated. And she would not. Pre–emptorily she endeavored to dismiss the repulsive call. But her uncle’s word was in reality the Voice of the Spirit, and that Voice would not be silenced so easily. Try as she might to disregard and to forget it, that “still, small Voice” persistently whispered into her soul: “The Lord wants you to live and work just for Himself.”
The year 1892 was a momentous one for Martha Wing. The Lord had sounded the keynote for it in Uncle William’s “New Year’s Greeting” when he issued the call for “total self-surrender to God” to the entire congregation. Later he had been used of God to issue that call to Martha personally. As a result, this seventeen-year-old maiden had entered the valley of decision. She had come into a life-and-death conflict. From the very beginning she had decided against the call of God. Not that she did not have a sincere desire to please God, for she did. This was clearly revealed in a decision she made when it came time for her to return home in July of that year.
There were special excursion rates on the trains going to the United States for the weekend preceeding the fourth of July, and inasmuch as this fare would be considerably less than usual, the suggestion was made that it might be an opportune time for Mattie to go then. To do so, however, would mean traveling on Sunday. Uncle William left the decision to Mattie.
To keep the Lord’s Day holy, Mattie felt, was impossible if she engaged in unnecessary travel. Accordingly she decided to take the regular train during the week even though it would be at a greater cost. By so doing she had the inner satisfaction that she was pleasing God. To make such a decision, however, was much easier than to give herself in “total self-surrender to God.” This was the issue which confronted Martha Wing, the thing which was all-important to God and to her future.
IN THE VALLEY OF DECISION
“FROM THE AGE of seventeen up to twenty-two the question of full consecration presented itself repeatedly,” Martha Wing recorded. “As I grew older, I saw the necessity of absolute consecration to God. I had many hard battles over it, and Satan invariably conquered. These times of spiritual anguish and struggle were always succeeded by long periods of coldness and indifference, when my religion was scarcely more than an outward form. During this time I was seeking for a fuller spiritual experience.”
The point over which this consecration battle raged was, of course, whether Martha would follow her plans for a literary career or the Master’s plan for her life – “to live and work just for Himself.” Sincerely she sought “for a fuller spiritual experience, but when she was shown the price she would have to pay for it, she considered it too great and drew back. No matter what else she was doing, this struggle was ever in the background and often came to the foreground of her thinking.
Martha remained in Sand Spring throughout the summer of 1892. Conditions in her home were completely different now, for both of her sisters were married and had homes of their own. Even before Martha had gone to Canada, Nettie had married Leslie W. Graham, a railroad agent, and now they were living in Davenport. Just four months before her return, Ada had married Fred J. Stevenson, a farmer, who lived just on the outskirts of Sand Spring. The home life of days gone by was a thing of the past.
As for Martha, in September she went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she stayed for the next five months continuing her education. Then, after a month with Nettie and Leslie in Davenport, she returned to Sand Spring where she taught in a nearby district school for the spring term of 1893. That summer she spent a week at the World’s Fair in Chicago and attended a brief summer school session at the Normal School in Manchester. In the fall she resumed her teaching, but in another district school located a little further from Sand Spring. There she continued to teach through the winter term of 1895, when poor health forced her to give up her work.
The next years were spent in vain efforts to regain her health. Neither rest, change of climate, nor medicine helped her condition. Loving relatives did all they could to make her comfortable. After a time with Ada, then with her mother, followed by a visit with Nettie, Martha went to Kansas where she spent three months in the summer of 1895 with various members of Uncle Stephen Tuttle’s family. Upon her return she divided her time among the various members of the family. In her desperation she “tried allopathic and homeopathic physicians.” All to no avail. Nothing bettered by any means; she rather grew worse.
“Among the wages Satan gave me during my illness,” Miss Wing later wrote, “were stomach, liver, and kidney trouble, palpitation of the heart, continuous and severe headaches, female weakness with a partial paralysis of all lower organs, all resulting in a diseased state of the nerves that kept the entire flesh of my body in constant pain, resembling inflammatory rheumatism, especially at nerve centers, such as wrists and ankles. I was also subject to severe attacks of pain in the sciatic nerves, so that often I could not move for hours at a time and had similar attacks in the large nerves of the shoulder.
“After a time the vitality of my body became so exhausted that any extreme pain or severe nervous strain would cause a sudden anesthesia of the nerves, so that in a few minutes from the beginning of the attack my whole body would become cold and stiff, so that I could not so much as bend a finger. I always, however, retained perfect consciousness, directing those about me what to do so long as I could speak, the muscles of my lips and face being the last affected.
“Through all this worn-out condition of the nerves, I have much reason to be thankful that I was not ‘nervous’ in the usual sense of the word. My illness, all through was manifested by physical pain and exhaustion, and not by any lack of nerve control.”
At only twenty-two years of age Martha Wing had to face the fact that although she was not confined to bed, except at intervals, she was nevertheless “a helpless invalid.”
Of course, her physical condition, bad as it was, was not all that was troubling her. There was something else which, in reality, was far worse. That “something” was the result of the word her uncle had casually uttered: “Mattie, something seems to tell me the Lord wants you to live and work just for Himself.”
Throughout the months and years since she had first heard that Divine Call to “total self-surrender” Martha had tenaciously clung to her plan for a literary career. Her illness, except for brief periods, did not preclude mental activity. In fact, that was almost her sole outlet and occupation. She could read and write when she could do little else, and she utilized every opportunity to pursue her main interest – writing – with the hope that some day fame would be her portion.
I said, “I’ll be a writer,
And I’ll give cause
For this great world to pause
Just to read.
Oh, I’ll make myself a name;
Oh, I’ll rise to heights of fame;
Words of power and words of might
Shall I for this great world write, And ‘twill heed.”
So I seized me pen and ink, And I set me down to think;
And I thought, – and I thought, –
From morning until night,
But – I – really, I couldn’t think
Of a single thing to write.
So she wrote about that – a delightful, simple, autobiographical lyric full of ambition and reality, a very wholesome mixture for any aspiring author.
In similar vein was another poem, entitled, “My Poem:”
Once I wrote a poem
For the world to applaud;
The thought it was deep,
The subject was broad;
Mighty waves of inspiration
Billows high of exaltation, Seemed to roll
O’er my soul.
“Sure,” I said, “the world will gaze
In great wonder and amaze
At its power.
Soon the time must come to me
When all the world shall plainly see
That I am great –
Patient, then, will I wait
For that hour.”
Sotto voce: I’m waiting still.
No, she was under no delusion about the merits of her productions, but she would plod on – practicing, polishing, pressing toward her goal.
A cursory examination of the few poems written during this period which have survived – thanks to Nettie’s interest and care – show that outside of such purely personal lyrics as already quoted, two themes predominate: nature and children. “Autumn,” “Wind Heralds,” “The Robin,” “0 Sea!” and “The Golden Rod,” are representatives of the first class, while “Rocking” and some lullabies belong in the second category. A closer study of the poems reveals the author’s special liking for birds and flowers. What is really important, as far as poetry is concerned, is the choice of the appropriate words and meter for the subject. In this she was quite successful, for one can almost hear the robin chirp and the waves of the sea rise and fall as she writes about them:
Do you know the song that the robin sings,
On the top-most bough as he sways and swings?
And it seems sometimes that each high note
Is too clear and strong for his little throat.
First he sings clearly his sweet, mating song;
You can hear him warble it all day long:
“Come here, O come here,
Nest time is near;
See, I’ve the best
Little place for a nest,
High in this tree
For you and for me.
My dear, O my dear,
Come here, O come here.”
O Sea, what sorrow hast thou?
What meanest thy desolate moan?
Are there doubtings struggling with hope
In thy murmuring undertone?
Do the gathering clouds foretell
The fate that is waiting thee,
Or readest thou now my fears,
And dost thou but answer me?
In another personal lyric Martha Wing couples her delight in nature with her delight in reading, always one of her favorite occupations:
A leisure hour, a pleasing book,
A golden, languorous day;
A hammock swung in a shady nook
Where breezes love to play,
Where naught is heard save the drowsy hum
Of honey-hunting bees;
For wealth can never furnish claims
That will compare with these.
So the weary weeks dragged on and on, spent with as much enjoyment as possible under the confining, painful circumstances, hope continually being deferred, “fightings and fears within, without.” Periodically she sought the Lord, not for physical healing, for she did not know Him as the Great Physician, but for spiritual blessing. Then the necessity for “full consecration” would again present itself, and Martha Wing would again recoil and give up her quest – defeated and frustrated.
ONE LITTLE SIN
AFTER FIVE YEARS of struggling, at last victory seemed won. In the fall of 1896, while living with Nettie in Davenport, at the age of twenty-two Martha Wing “received the witness of the Spirit.”
“Lightly on wings of Heavenly Love
I swept, nothing doubting, to far heights above;
Holding my Savior’s all-strengthening Hand
Just within sight of the fair Promised Land,
Just one more step to the long-looked-for goal
Where one’s heart is all God’s, and all His one’s soul.”
Now she had peace and joy and spiritual strength, at least, with which to endure her physical ills. In the midst of her afflictions she could write in December (1896) this poem which expressed her faith:
When the dark clouds of care gather o’er me
And the path seems too rough for my feet,
There comes, like rare music, to cheer me
A promise most wonderfully sweet.
I know whatsoever betide me,
“The Lord is a Refuge for me.
I’ll cast all my burdens upon Him;
My strength He has promised to be.
Sometimes, when I feel like repining,
My pathway hidden in gloom,
My skies overclouded with sorrows,
Flowers of faith forgotten to bloom,
When all of Nature’s great organ
Seems jarring in dreary discord,
Like a note of pure music from Heaven
Comes “Your Refuge and Strength is the Lord.”
There are times when the path is so netted
With thickets of thorns that oppose,
That I almost despair of an opening
‘Til I remember that God always knows
Every branch, every bramble and brier,
And for faith He will give me His power
To discern the weak points of the thicket;
Yea! the Lord is my Strength and my Tower.
Be the pathway thorny and stony,
Be it low in the valley of woe,
Be it up the mountain’s steep side way
Where heart almost fails as I go,
I know that ‘tis His strength that will aid me,
That His Hand will ne’er let me fall;
He’ll ne’er lead where I cannot follow;
He knows the temptations of all.
Oh, why should I ever forget it?
Why should I ever know fear?
Why should earth’s sounds clash so loudly
That I should e’er fail to hear
The voice of my Lord and my Saviour
Speaking so gently to me,
Saying, “I am thy Rock and thy Tower;”
Saying, “I’ll be a Refuge for thee.”
And two months later, February, 1897, Martha penned this sincere desire, entitled, “A Prayer”:
My Father, keep me
Day by day;
Guide Thou my footsteps
All the way.
Keep me unspotted,
Free from sin,
And pure within.
Help me Thy purpose
Give me desire
To do Thy will.
Help me to make
My light so shine
That all may know
Thy power divine.
Make Thy dear love
So show through me
That men may gladly
Turn to Thee;
That naught I do
Or naught I say
May turn from Thee
Dear souls away.
And oh, I ask
That those I love
May find a Home
With me above,
That in that Heaven
Beyond the tomb
Thou wilt, dear Lord,
Prepare them room.
My Lord, I ask it
In the name
Of Christ, Thy Son,
Who gladly came
From Heaven’s glory
To earth’s dark night
To lead lost sinners
To the light. –Amen.
What better prayer could anyone pray? Could any desires be higher or holier? Surely all was now well with Martha Wing’s soul. Truthfully she could sing that now she was:
“Close to my Savior, so close I could hear
His whisper of Love, ‘My child, have no fear;
Yield all that thou hast, yield freely to Me
Thy life and thy love, Mine ever to be.
I’ll shelter thee close in Mine Omnipotent Arms
Where storms cannot hurt, and sin ne’er alarms.’”
Here was the old, familiar call to “total self-surrender”!
What would she do with it this time? Never before had she known such joy in the Lord. Surely His will must be sweet. But she records:
“I paused, and the light of His face grew less bright;
‘Dear Jesus,’ I faltered, ‘I know it is right
That Thou shouldst have all; and all I give Thee,
Save one little thing. ‘Tis so precious to me,
I have loved it so long, this thing must be mine;
0, say me not nay, for all else is Thine.’”
“One little thing!” Really it was not “little” anymore, for her ambition to be a writer had grown so that now it was the one consuming passion of her life.
So, she deliberated. She knew Jesus wanted her “altogether”. But then there was this talent which certainly God had given her. Why would He want her to give up something He had given? Couldn’t she keep it and “use it for Jesus even”? A plausible thought! But it was a compromise, and God would be satisfied with nothing short of unconditional surrender. “I meant to be a very good Christian, but Christ wasn’t first.” And that, and that alone, was what He wanted – to be first in her life, her “all, no other interest or joy – Jesus only.” But Martha Wing was not ready for that.
At last she made what to her was her final decision: under no circumstances would she give up her writing. With this fateful decision:
“The light grew more dim; my heart lost its glow,
But He still held my hand, for He never lets go
‘Til we thrust Him aside; and there to His Hand
I clung, while I stood, outside the Fair Land,
‘Til the light faded quite, and cold as a stone
Grew my heart, and I stood, in the darkness, alone.
“Drifting away from the blessed Son of God,
Drifting away from the path that He trod,
Downward from heights of Infinite Joy
Where sin cannot harm, nor Tempter destroy,
Swift I went back to earth’s darkness and din,
Driven downward from God by one little sin.
FOLLOWING MARTHA WING’S deliberate decision to go her own way, her ills and disorders developed with such rapidity that soon she was “compelled to spend about eighteen hours of the twenty-four in bed. If, during any emergency, I ‘wound up’ my nerves to greater exertion, or remained out of bed longer than usual, a severe relapse resulted. In a short time I could so exhaust my powers that weeks would elapse before I regained what I had lost.
“As an instance, at one time, getting some Christian Science nonsense into my head, I thought to believe myself back into health, and for a few days rallied all the strength I had in the determination to be well. The first and second days I pulled through but suffered intensely at night. The third night, after the greatest exertion, I could not sleep, and for weeks the sense of exhaustion never left me for a moment. It resulted in my consenting to go to the hospital.”
Three days after her twenty-third birthday, on November 17, 1897, Martha Wing entered Mercy Hospital, Davenport. There she “spent three months… taking massage and electrical treatment under the care of Dr. W. D. Middleton, one of the best physicians” of the city. “He was very kind to me,” she subsequently wrote, “but from the first gave me little promise of help.” For eight weeks she remained in bed but “failed to get rested.”
As for her spiritual condition, it is best described in her own words:
“Then broader the pathway, and wider the way,
And farther and farther from God’s glorious day;
So dark was the night, the sunshine without,
My soul filled with wond’rings and wav’rings and doubts.
But despite outer warnings, and warrings within,
I turned still from my God, and I clung to my sin.”
Sometime before Martha Wing had entered the hospital, she had become acquainted with a group of young people whose main interest, like hers, was in literature. They were, however, infidels and atheists and naturally propagated their ideas. Having turned from God and His light, the soil of her heart was good ground for the seeds of scepticism and unbelief which they sowed. Now these were watered by further contacts in the hospital.
Sharing her room was a woman of culture whom Miss Wing found to be a most congenial companion. Her friend’s husband possessed similar tastes and proved to be a considerate, welcome visitor. To her surprise Miss Wing found that he, too, was an atheist. The fact is that “he seemed diabolically appointed to influence her yet more along the lines of atheism.” So it was that in the winter of 1897-98 she found herself “under atheistic reading and influence, dangerously close to infidelity.” Now Martha Wing quickly drifted:
“Down towards the depths of man’s darkest woe,
Down where no ray of God’s glory can glow,
Down to the quicksands on Unbelief’s shore,
That Sea of the Dead, where life comes no more
To those, who, having God face to face known,
From His Love and His Glory have willfully flown.”
This “drifting” is clearly reflected in the carefully kept list of books which Martha Wing read during 1897. All in all she read thirty-three books, many of them unusually long. Beginning with a translation of Goethe’s Faust, her reading included the Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a number of long poems, novels, and a few stories specifically designated as religious.
Then number “16” on her list was Marcella by the avowed agnostic but popular author of her day, Mrs. Humphrey Ward. A novel of upwards of a thousand pages, there was in it “an immense amount of radical talk.” “Very good” was Martha Wing’s comment about the book.
Note: In her first novel, Robert Elsemere, Mrs. Ward had done her best to destroy belief in the Bible, certain if that was accomplished, agnosticism and atheism would be sure to follow. More than a million copies were eventually sold. So important and effective did her arguments appear at the time that none other than the Prime Minister of England, William E. Gladstone, took up the challenge with his book, The Battle of Belief.
Number “27” was another book by the same author, The History of Henry Grieve, which the reader did not think so highly of, but having the same attitude towards things religious, it was not without its influence.
The next to the last book which she read in 1897 was The French Revolution by Thomas Carlyle. That she read it through is in itself a testimony to her prowess in reading, for it has the reputation among even the most brilliant and omniverous of readers as a book which nobody ever finishes. “Repellent as a page of Sanskrit” was one great reader’s first reaction. Carlyle’s style is generally considered to be “tortuous” and “obscure.” To Martha Wing, however, “It seemed to me the most wonderful book I ever read,” and she gave it first place in “Books in 1897 I most enjoyed.”
The French Revolution, it should be remembered, is the account not only of a political and social revolution but of a religious revolution as well, in which a form of Christianity, corrupted to be sure, is overthrown and the Goddess Reason is set up as the object of worship in place of the Christ of the Cross.
Now a book is bound, in some way or other, to express or betray its author’s beliefs. Carlyle, reared in a godly Scotch home and selected by his parents to be a minister as their special gift to God, had long since abandoned any belief in “revelation confirmed in historical miracles,” though he did retain the Christian Code of ethics and belief in a god whom he referred to as the Supreme Fact, “the living God of Nature.” Even the liberal theologians of the day were scandalized by his agnosticism and near blasphemy. But he was a literary genius of the highest order and as such he completely captivated Martha Wing.
Under ordinary circumstances The French Revolution should not necessarily influence the reader towards agnosticism and infidelity. The book is a vivid and dramatic narrative of one of the great but tragic epochs of history. But Martha Wing’s condition at this time was not ordinary, and such a book read at such a time when one was already filled with doubts could have quite an unintended, albeit subconscious, effect on the reader.
In such company – good, moral, high-minded authors and friends, but agnostics and atheists – Martha Wing was spending her bed-ridden days and weeks, not without devastating results in her own life.
Towards the middle of January, 1898, she was allowed to get up. “As soon as I arose from bed I again failed rapidly.” Her case baffled the specialist, and he concluded that nothing more could be done for her, as she was evidently dying from several incurable diseases. He recommended, therefore, that she go home and be made as comfortable as possible for the remaining months of her life – a year or so at the most, so he told Mrs. Wing.
Miss Wing’s roommate was leaving the hospital at the same time as she was, and as she had enjoyed her company so much in the hospital, she invited her to go home with her for a time. People of some means, her friends were employing a trained nurse who, they suggested, could care for both of them. The arrangement seemed ideal. Miss Wing accepted this gracious offer and went to her friend’s home, January 30, where she was to spend the next two months.
Physically, every comfort possible was provided for the guest. The congenial nurse gave all the attention and care possible and was also a welcome companion. The time was spent much as it had been during the previous months. The invalid read a good deal – primarily novels. Her host was interested in astronomy which doubtless accounts, in part at least, for two volumes read during this period: Wonders of the Heavens by Camille Flemmarion and Wonders of the Moon by Amelie Guillemin. In addition to reading, there was also “good talk,” which would probably be termed brilliant conversation among intellectuals. Alas, though, a much more direct and constant influence towards atheism was now exerted on Miss Wing by her friends who continued to furnish her with infidel literature.
“Down, downward I went; one more step to take
To enter those depths where God must forsake
Forever my soul; one last call He gave,
Sounding faint from afar, but ‘twas mighty to save,
For, amidst earth’s loud turmoil, I heard, and I fled
Back, back, in wild fear, from the Sea of the Dead.”
One evening Martha Wing’s host informed her and his wife there would be some special phenomenon in the heavens that night at nine o’clock and said he would bring his telescope into their room so that they might observe this celestial wonder.
That night, as she gazed at the heavens, brought so near by means of the telescope, the glory and beauty of the stars thrilled Martha Wing as never before.
Instinctively she thought, “Someone must have made those stars.”
“Perhaps there is a God after all!” was a second thought which followed the first in swift succession.
Then it came to her that if there was a God, how terrible it was to be ignoring Him as she was doing, for if He existed and the Bible was true, she would soon go to hell.
But how could one know? There seemed to be no way to find out whether there was a God or not. The Bible and the Christians said there was; the infidels and their literature said there was not. Which was right? Could a person find out for sure?
As she considered these questions, there came to her a Bible verse she had learned as a child in Sunday school:
Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
She decided to put this verse to the test and by it endeavor to prove whether or not there was a God. Immediately she began to pray, “0 God, if there is a God, if You are anywhere in existence, won’t You let me know You?”
Quietly, in a whisper that no one might know what she was doing, she prayed. On and on she continued, without sleeping, through the midnight hours, and into the early morning hours till daybreak. Throughout all of the next day she pursued her quest with unabated ardor and vigor. Finally, after twenty-two hours of continuous prayer, she fell asleep, exhausted.
When she awoke two hours later, she felt almost ashamed that she had slept while praying about such an important matter – to know if there is a God. But her common sense came to her aid and so she made this covenant: “God, if You are in existence, You know that I am a helpless invalid and that I have to sleep a little. I promise You this, however, that I won’t sleep anymore than I absolutely have to, and all the rest of the time I will pray.”
Then she resumed her prayer and continued in great earnestness. In spite of her weak and painful condition, dying from incurable diseases, she prayed an average of eighteen hours a day for a month. But there was no answer to her cry. The heavens were brass; her very words seemed empty and futile.
“Ah, dim was the light in those quicksands of doubt,
And fiercest the fightings within and without;
With that Dead Sea lying close, a black yawning grave,
And God so far off I scarce knew He could save;
And my sin weighing down each step of the way,
Where perilous pitfalls of dark doubtings lay.
“Then up from the quicksands so slowly I toiled,
Repeatedly burdened, repeatedly foiled;
The door of God’s Heaven against me closed fast,
My prayers seemed unheard, as onward I passed;
Creeping and falt’ring o’er the path where before
I had swept on Love’s wings straight to Beulah Land’s shore.
“Falt’ring and slipping, weeping weak tears,
Troubled by all my old doubtings and fears,
Pausing sometimes in the coldest despair,
Alternately hoping and fearing in prayer,
Hearing naught of God’s voice in earth’s darkness and din,
Upward I climbed – but I clung to my sin.”
At the end of a month she felt she had given God’s promise a fair enough trial and was just about ready to conclude that there was no God, that the Bible was not true, and that she would pray no more. Certainly if there was a God, He would in some way answer the intense and sincere supplication a helpless invalid had offered for a month.
As she contemplated the abandonment of her quest, it came to her to try just once more. In businesslike fashion she told God – if He existed – of her decision and solemnly vowed that if He would reveal His reality to her for just one minute in the middle of the coming night, she would never stop praying as long as she lived, but that if He didn’t, she would never pray again as long as she lived.
With this impassioned cry she fell asleep, but exactly at midnight she awoke. For one moment the heavens seemed to open above her, and the Holy Spirit made the existence of God such a reality to her that never again could she question it. She had received her answer.
“I think I was the happiest person in the world – just to find out there is a God!”
With this discovery came the desire and determination to serve Him even if she awoke in hell.”
A revelation of God and His greatness is always accompanied by a revelation of one’s true self and littleness. The soul sees itself as it is, as God sees it, for in the presence of Him whose “eyes are as a flame of fire” “all things are naked and open.” So it was now with Martha Wing.
“Startled at my own spiritual condition, I deliberately faced the circumstances, and recognizing the fact that my drifting and sin were the direct result of my refusal to consecrate myself, and especially all these years to give up one thing which God asked of me, ‘I sat down and counted the cost,’ saw the paths were sharply defined, and that either I must be all for God, or Satan would have all.
“Finding myself dangerously near infidelity, I turned back and deliberately, merely by force of will, resolved to serve God and yield those things I had withheld even during the time of my greatest spiritual blessing.
“I had done the same thing many times before, but this time I willed to be God’s. I put myself into His hands and promised to live for Him if I were so permitted, or die if He willed; for I did not then know Him well enough to understand that my death was not His will. Knowing my tendency to go back, I asked God to give me a seeking spirit to search until I found Him. I did not feel then that I was answered, and for weeks I spent my time in a deliberate searching for what I had once thrown away.”
A little later she poetically described the events of the night when she made her last try to find God:
“At last from afar came the echo of Love,
‘My Lord,’ wild I cried, ‘if in Heaven above
There’s mercy for me; if God be at all,
Oh, answer me now, e’er I faint and I fall.
Is there a Beulah Land, fairer than day?
Oh, if there is such, let me enter, I pray.
“Then softest of whispers came in answer to me,
‘Long ago that Fair land was open to thee;
One step, and safe then thou hadst been in the fold,
Thou needst never have gone into darkness and cold;
But I say to thee now, as I said then to thee,
If thou wouldst enter, thou must give all to Me.’
“Oh, down from my hands fell my poor, paltry sin.
And I cried, ‘I am Thine; my Lord, let me in.
Ay, long have I wandered afar from Thy side,
For hard was my heart, and foolish my pride:
Oh, take me and make me what Thou dost will,
My heart is all empty that Thou mayst fill.’”
Unknown and unrealized by her at the time was the fact that as a result of her weeks of intense praying, weeks when nothing seemed to be happening, she had been delivered from the evil powers of unbelief and infidelity which had possessed her, and now she was able to make the “total self-surrender to God” which Uncle William Blair had urged upon her more than six years before.
Over six years of rebellion against God! With this restoration there could not but be regret, and her rejoicing was not such as she experienced when she had “received the witness of the Spirit” a year and a half before.
“Yes, God took me in from the darkness and cold,
Made me His own, a sheep of His fold;
His Hand holds me up, His Grace makes me free,
But I’ve lost the first blessing His love gave to me.
No Pentecost shower filled my soul as before,
For faith, without feeling, had opened the door.
“Alas for the radiance of God’s love within,
That I lost when I clung to my poor, paltry sin.
Alas! for the days so willfully spent
Away from His presence on earth’s pleasure bent.
Had I but yielded to the Potter as clay,
What might I not be in His service today?”
That opportunity seemed irretrievably lost, now that she was an invalid, but in the impossibility and hopelessness of her condition there is courage and confidence:
“But God is mine own, and Jesus is mine,
And sometime, I know, His glory will shine
Once more in my soul, if in Him I abide
And in ne’er-failing faith keep close at His side.
If I have no will but His will so sweet,
He will make me a vessel for His use complete.”
LED IN THE RIGHT WAY
WHEN MARTHA WING was “born of God early in the spring” of 1898, she took Jesus Christ to be the King of her life, “her best Beloved, and most Desired.” She meant that He should reign completely. That was what conversion meant to her – Christ reigning instead of herself. Thus she entered upon a life of complete and loving obedience and a “year of worship.”
How else could it be when, true to her promise that if God would reveal Himself to her she would never stop praying as long as she lived, she continued her intense supplication hours every day?
On March 27, she left the home of her hospital friend and went to Nettie’s where she remained until June 7. As she prayed, she examined herself and reflected upon the past course of her life. Her resulting meditations she wrote in a section of her journal which she titled “Thought Weavings.” This section she prefaced with this bit of verse:
And shall I keep in silence
My tiny gift of song,
If I can make, by singing,
Some weary hour less long?
In her first entry dated April 30, she wrote concerning:
Note: Miss Wing’s lengthy journal meditations have been included in full in their chronological order so that one may see the development of her spiritual experience.
THE MASTER WEAVER
What a strange contradiction is a human being, with its weak will and strong desire! We least wish for that which is the easiest to obtain; and that which is the farthest from us is the object of our greatest longings.
Who is satisfied with the obtainable? Who would admire an edelweiss growing in a home garden?
There is no satisfied ambition in this life. He who at morn sighed to reach a distant mountain height stands at noon on the sought-for pinnacle and turns his longing eyes to higher and more difficult ascents and plans to reach them at even. (Fortunate is he if the even comes to him.)
Do the duty that lies nearest. The easiest advice in the world and the most difficult to follow! How much pleasanter to ignore that familiar, tiresome work close at hand and reach for something higher, of more seeming importance! How often we do so, and how miserable the result!
I have been thinking today how easily we may pass by longed-for opportunities. We have some pet ambition, some desire that we see no way of gratifying. Unseen forces are at work; a strong Hand takes the thread of our life and weaves in and out and turns it here and twists it there, until all unknown it has almost reached the longed-for goal.
Then our willful selves take a hand. Some little question of right or wrong comes up. It is such a little thing, and desire is strong. We take the thread from the Hand and weave with our untrained fingers, for such a little way. But the pattern is wrong just in one place, so small a place no one will ever notice. It does not matter, or it does not seem to matter. But the Great Weaver knows we have woven out and around and beyond the longed-for position, and the opportunity is gone by forever.
When our spirits look back on that woven tapestry of life and read the pattern as it was intended, I wonder how many places will be woven wrongly, how many neglected opportunities will show, how well or how ill will appear the finished work.
I often think about this tapestry of life and wonder if the pattern is all laid and planned. Perhaps it is a beautiful, bright-colored pattern, flower-strewn and garlanded; perhaps it has soft greys and tans; perhaps it is dark and sombre. I fancy the warp and woof is all ready, just so much for each tapestry, colors all selected, pattern all planned. Under the Master Weaver we begin our work slowly and painstakingly. Every line and curve of the pattern is known to Him; there can be no mistake when He guides the threads.
And the tapestry is begun. Bit by bit, day in, day out, the work goes on; some portion of the pattern is finished. But mayhap the colors are dull at first. Our nearsighted eyes cannot see nor understand the meaning nor the beauty of the great plan as a whole. We chafe and fret as we watch the work go on. We cry that our lives must have some brightness, there must be some beauty in that growing pattern.
Alas! if our discontent becomes too great, and we take away the thread from the Master’s guidance. Here, where the Lord sought to have us weave a grey, we substitute a rose-color. That is delightful; how great an improvement is our way upon His. We weave on gleefully for awhile; then comes the discord. The rose-color, woven in, never to be released, after all does not harmonize with its surroundings.
Looking back, we see what we could not see before ‘tis done, that the change we have made has spoiled the pattern. Desperately, we strive to remedy the mistake. Without reflection, without comprehension, without higher help, we try one color and then another, but as fast as one is woven in we see some other would have been better. So we weave on, adding mistake to mistake in a miserable effort to rectify the first. How many tire, at last, and give up all effort to make a fair piece of work. Despairingly or indifferently they gaze backward at the soiled and ruined tapestry, or look forward to the future with no desire or effort to improve upon the past.
Others, working with a desperate defiance, cry, “We will make the life-tapestry beautiful. We will enjoy these beautiful colors that lie at hand.” And they weave them all in. After a time the brighter colors are gone; they have used them all; and oh! what endless measures of sombre colors must be woven in with no brightening tints to cheer the weary workers. In vain they cry out at the hardness of their fate. They have enjoyed their sunshine all in one long day; now come the shadows.
Or again, I fancy the weaver growing impatient of the slowness of the work, weaving double threads of brilliant colors, breaking, snarling, entangling them, and, too, life’s best forces are sapped, the threads give out, the pattern lies unfinished, the weaver’s hand is still.
Perhaps, when the work is done, the weaver, looking back at his work, cries unto his Master, “Why need my life have been so wretched? Look at the ruined tapestry with its hideous combination of colors. Was it for this that You taught me the art? Was it for this You placed me at the loom of Life?” And the Master Weaver answers, “Nay, not so; fair and good was the tapestry I planned for you. See, here is the pattern as it would have been under My guidance. Out of your own willful pride came that piece of weaving you despise.”
But I fancy there are those who, when they have first learned their own weakness, looking at their work, cry, “Our Master, we have done ill. We cannot weave without Thy help. We cannot understand Thy plan. We know our work is wrong, all wrong. The tapestry is ruined. Were it not better to drop the threads and destroy what is done?”
But the Master, looking down at the pitiful results of human weakness, smiles. “Nay, My child, you have made mistakes, but your work is not ruined. Know you not that, ‘out of evil, good may come.’” And, “all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord? Are not all things possible to Thy God? Can I not make even sin turn to My glory? ‘Tis true, the wrong is done, but My skill can weave the threads remaining until, altho’ the pattern is changed, it need not be less beautiful.”
Then, under His guidance the human weaver begins again, toilingly, taught care and patience by his earlier carelessness.
And the tapestry grows strong and fair and beautiful, and we, looking on, cannot see the one spot where the weaver erred. It is forgiven and forgotten by the Great Master, but the weaver knows, and knows too, that from that early error good has come, because, at once the faulty threads were put in the Master’s Hands, for He alone could use them aright.
Obviously this is Martha Wing’s spiritual autobiography to date, together with the expression of her confidence in the Great Weaver to make of her marred handiwork something beautiful. The next day, May 1, she recorded her further meditations:
“What is temptation? Is it wrong desire or is [it] strength of any desire? I have been thinking of some wishes of mine. They are not, I am sure, wrong in themselves, but the strength of the desire makes them temptations. They stand out glaringly thro’ everything. Sometimes I am afraid they are my gods.
“When Christ told the rich man, ‘to sell all he had and give to the poor,’ He had more reason than a knowledge of the danger of riches. Undoubtedly Christ saw deeper than could any other and knew his wealth was the young man’s god. It stood between him and eternal salvation.
“There have been men with ‘exceeding great possessions’ who have still found them no bar to Heaven. Perhaps these very men, however, worship some other god. Ambition may become a god. It is no sin to try for the high places of the earth, until the desire becomes stronger than a desire for a place in the kingdom of God. It is noble to serve men when the service is given thro’ love of God.” Then follows another autobiographical musing:
“There were two cups set before me, I sipped of one. It was sweet as nectar. ‘Drink it not,’ warned a voice, ‘lest you forever forfeit the other.’
“‘Is the other as sweet?’ I asked.
“‘The other is purer, more lasting, more satisfactory. It will be saved for you until ‘tis time to drink it. But taste not of the first.’
“But the sip I had taken was new, and sweet, and strange, and I looked at the liquid longingly, fancying I might drain both cups.
“‘Drink,’ whispered another voice. ‘Drink! It is the wine of life; the nectar of gods. You will find only pleasure in this cup.’
“And I drank surreptitiously, eagerly. It was sweeter than anything I had ever drunk, and when it was gone, I longed for more as I had never longed for the first cup. ‘More. Give me more,’ I pled.
“‘Nay,’ answered a voice, ‘see the vial from which it was filled is empty now, save for the dregs; they are poison.’
“After I asked, ‘Then give me of the second cup.
“But answered the voice, ‘The second is not for you; you forfeited it by drinking of the first. Some other one shall drain this.’
“Then I saw it was limpid and pure, and the vial from which it was filled glowed with the liquid. And some dregs had mingled with the liquid I had drunk, and they left a taste that was bitter and my soul was sick within me, both from longing and from the poison; and I cried, ‘O fool that I was to forfeit a vial of pure liquid for a draught of sweet poison.’
“But answered the voice, ‘Regrets are useless! The harm is wrought. Both cups are empty to you forever.’ And I wept bitterly.
“Still the memory of that draught of the wine of life is with me. I dream of its sweetness, and forget the bitterness of its dregs, and the empty cup. And the memory seems more to me than another liquid could be. And I wonder, were the cups once more set before me, which would be my choice.”
Clear evidence that, like many another, Martha Wing, though she had settled her consecration for all time, had her struggles as she looked backward. But God gave her strength to remain steadfast, and, as a result, when she re-read her diary the next year, she had no question about the draughts or what she would do. At the end of this entry she made another, dated August 19 ‘99: “The whole draught was poison.”
As summer came on, Martha went to Sand Spring to be with Ada and her family. “I spent most of the time I was not in bed in a hammock under the trees. I spent the time alone with God.” But whether in the hammock, literally alone, or on a leather couch in the dining room with Ada’s lively boys racing around, she was alone with God, praying without ceasing. Humanly speaking, she realized that she had only a few months to live and was going to make those months count for time and eternity. And true to His promise that those who seek shall find, Martha Wing was finding. Christ was manifesting Himself to her in ever-increasing measure.
About a month after she had been at Ada’s, on July 3, Martha wrote this “thought weaving”:
“It is natural for some people to be agreeable. It is easier to say a pleasant word than a harsh one; easier to smile than to frown. Such a disposition is a gift from God and should be used in His service. If the talent is hid, or used for other purposes than His, it is robbery, for God gives each talent in trust until such a day as He shall make up His jewels. Such a disposition should be used in God’s service as surely as the power of genius.
“Often one hears such a remark as ‘I am as good as Such a one, who is a Christian, while I am not.” The other – the Christian – may have ten times as much to contend against in natural inclinations. All honor to him if he finally conquers. The dishonor is to him who, finding it natural ‘to be good,’ does not put the talent to use.
Lying in the hammock Martha also engaged in reading. There is, however, a marked difference between the books she read in the first and in the last half of this year (1898). In the former period most of her reading was for pleasure – to pass the time away. True, in the latter period Martha Wing did read four novels and two exhaustive studies of literature. Less and less, however, was she reading such books. Spiritual books were now increasingly absorbing her time and attention.
“Two books, ‘The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life’ by H. W. Smith and F. R. Havergal’s ‘Kept for the Master’s Use,’ greatly influenced me and led me in the right way during the summer.”
According to her record, Martha read the latter book first, and on July 10 wrote the following as a result of her reflections on it and its author:
“I have been reading Frances Havergal’s ‘Kept for the Master’s Use,’ and find it to be a wonderful book. Her life was a gospel in itself. It shows how fully one can be consecrated – a great lesson, for it is so easy to slip away. It is a beautiful thing to know of such a life. It is beneficial to the soul if we will accept its teaching. Not that, with our small talent, we can achieve what she achieved; not that we can be what she was; but that, in our own small way, we can live up to our highest power as she lived up to hers. The widow’s mite was acceptable, and my poor, little service will be as precious to Him, if given with fullest love.”
The author of both poetry and prose, in spite of the fact that she was an invalid, Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) was an ideal person to influence and to inspire Martha Wing at this time. And her volume, which Martha Wing described as “a beautiful book,” is undoubtedly the crown jewel of her prolific pen which gave to the world so many exquisite, devotional, literary gems. Among these are some of our best hymns.
One of the best-known of these is her song of consecration which has stirred thousands the world over: “Take My Life, and Let it Be.” For her book, Kept for the Master’s Use, Miss Havergal altered the words of this song to “Keep my life that it may be,” etc., and wrote a chapter on each couplet. The purpose of this little volume is clearly set forth in its opening paragraph – to teach one how to keep the consecration he has once made by finding out “what is the little leak that hinders the swift and buoyant course of our consecrated life.”
Examining the book in the light of Martha Wing’s experience, one readily sees how timely it was for her to read it and how specifically it must have spoken “to her condition,” as the Quakers were wont to ‘say, from its first to last page.
One thing which Miss Havergal emphasized in two different places in her book was the importance of one’s influence. This must have impressed Martha Wing very deeply, for while there is abundant evidence to corroborate her statement that this book as a whole “influenced” her greatly, the only quotation which she preserved from it in “Borrowed Bits,” a section of her journal where she kept choice thoughts from others, is one about influence. The entire passage is given here so that the thought may be complete, but only the words in italics were copied by Miss Wing:
“So large a proportion of it [influence] is entirely involuntary, while yet the responsibility of it is so enormous, that our helplessness comes out in exceptionally strong relief, while our past debt in this matter is simply incalculable. Are we feeling this a little? getting just a glimpse, down the misty defiles of memory, of the neutral influence, the wasted influence, the mistaken influence, the actually wrong influence which has marked the ineffaceable, although untraceable course? And all the while we owed Him all that influence!”ⁿ
Note: See Chapter Twelve, “Our Selves Kept for Jesus.”
This truth about the power of one’s influence is further emphasized in Martha Wing’s next “thought weaving,” written sometime during July or the early part of August, judging from its references to the Spanish-American War which was then in progress:
“MEET FOR THE MASTER’S USE”
Ignorance, even dense ignorance, need not stand in the way of service for the Lord. He has made no instrument He cannot use. The spade that digs the foundation for the beautiful temple is as useful in its place as the sculptor’s chisel that carves the stone. But it would be useful only as a spade; the builder would not attempt to do with it the work of the chisel.
Absolute consecration means wholly used for the Lord. Not until one can say, “Use me, Lord, as Thou wilt, where Thou wilt, when Thou wilt,” does he become an instrument of use in the Lord’s hands. “O, to be nothing” – “a broken and emptied vessel for the Master’s use made meet.”
Here lies a difficulty. How few are willing to be nothing. How many say rather, “Lord, take me. Do with me some great work,” and add, it is to be feared, perhaps unconsciously, “and let all men see my greatness by my work.”
Not until we are willing to do what He tells us, to stay where He puts us, can we be of use. Not until we are glad to be little in His service, can we be much. Not that we should be satisfied to give little when we have much. Not that we should be “nothing” in His service and much to the world. We should give all to His service, place ourselves in His hand. He alone can decide whether He needs us most in a small field or a large one. There are so few large fields; there are so many small ones.
I was reading the other day that in this Spanish War there were hundreds of applications for official positions to every one position. So it is in God’s works: He needs privates in His army who are to do the inglorious work. It is a reflection upon His goodness and His wisdom to say, “There is nothing I can do. I am ignorant. I have no talent. There is no use of my trying to be of service.”
God did not put you into the world to be a stumbling-block. He made nothing He could not use. Christ’s own disciples were ignorant fishermen. God has made more common people than uncommon ones, more average intellects than brilliant ones, more dull people than geniuses. There is but one conclusion to draw, therefore, and that is, He has more use for the commonplace person.
One thing is absolutely without question. There is work for each one to do, a place for each one to fill. No one but God knows how wide the place may become before the work is finished, but this is certain, the field will not widen until the waste places already given are utilized. If you cannot care for a few square feet, you cannot get an acre; if you cannot cultivate a small field, God will not give you a large one.
But says one, “I am not wishing to cultivate a large field. I am perfectly willing to cultivate a few square feet all my life, but I am not sure I am capable to do even that.” Yet what right have you to doubt? Be assured you are capable of cultivating exactly what the Lord has given you. You are capable, and if you do not do it, it is because you will not.
But in reference to a previous remark, why are you willing to cultivate “a few feet”? Is it because you are humble, or because you are lazy – too lazy to take a large field? Are you satisfied to do less than the Lord needs of you? Are you satisfied to cultivate a small field, when God has planned to give you a large one?
One’s duty is to do well the little. Cultivate and recultivate, dig and sow, plan and pray. Use every opportunity, every moment, every bit of strength, and then if God wills, the larger field will open. If He does not will, then at least what you have all along desired is yours, a well-cultivated bit of ground. You have sown and the harvest is ready for the Master. You have done with your might what your hand found to do. If He wills to give a larger field (which He will not until you are ready), then all your experience goes to help you in your broader work.
No matter how small, how plain, how insignificant one’s task is, God knows all about it. And He knows as well when the task is neglected. The little thing undone shows as clearly as if it were a great thing. The little life ill-spent is as sad a sight to God as the great life ill-spent.
And there is another thought – No life, no matter how insignificant, can be without influence.
Now, although Martha Wing accorded Kept for the Master’s Use first place in her list of “books most enjoyed in 1898,” and only second place to The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, it is the latter book which more “greatly influenced” her if one is to judge by the number of quotations from it found in “Borrowed Bits” and by comparison of its teaching and expressions with those found in her own writings.
Exactly what impressed Martha Wing in this book can be gathered from her journal notes of this period under the heading:
Note: Some of these “Thoughts” are verbatim; others are incomplete quotations. Their source is the standard edition of this book published by Fleming H. Revell, Chicago and New York, 1888.
“Thoughts from ‘A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life.’”
The religion of Christ ought to be and was meant to be to its possessors, not something to make them miserable, but something to make them happy.
You have found Jesus as your Savior from the penalty of sin, but not as your Saviour from its power.
The saving from the power and dominion of sin is to be fully accomplished, now in this life.
When you have begun to have some faint glimpses of this power of God, learn to look away utterly from your own weakness, and putting your case into His hands, trust Him to deliver you.
A man’s part is to trust and God’s… to work.
Give your burdens to God. Some people carry their burdens to God, but take them away again. As often as they return, carry them to God.
Faith, not feeling. God’s order – 1. Fact, 2. Faith, 3. Feeling.
Recognize that it must be a fact that when you give yourself to God, He accepts you, and let your faith take hold of that fact.
Faith is only believing. Insist on believing in the face of every doubt that intrudes itself.
In addition to these “Thoughts” recorded at this time, one finds twice in this book a bit of verse which was a favorite of Martha Wing Robinson:
The perfect way is hard to flesh;
it is not hard to love;
If thou wert sick for want of God,
How swiftly wouldst thou move!
Here, also, is found the original of a thought she cherished and often quoted: “Follow gladly and quickly the sweet suggestions of His Spirit in thy soul.”
Beyond these actual thoughts and quotations which influenced Martha Wing, there are three words which Hannah Whitehall Smith used repeatedly which became an integral part of Martha Wing Robinson’s vocabulary: “abandon” (at least thirty-five times), “vessel” (at least twenty times), and “inward” (at least twenty-three times). These words might be considered the key words of Martha Wing Robinson’s ministry.
Unquestionably the influence of Hannah Whitehall Smith’s teaching on “Service”’ is reflected in Martha Wing’s “thought weaving” for August 21: Love says, “Christ, not self.” Love does not put bliss in Heaven before service on earth. Love goes beyond salvation for self, and thinks of doing Christ’s will and leading others to salvation. Love forgets to ask for personal, temporal blessings. Love says, not, “How much shall I give?” but, “How little can I keep?”
Finally, in view of Martha Wing Robinson’s life-long emphasis on John 14:21 and her express statement that this book “greatly influenced me,” it cannot be amiss to note what the author has to say about this verse in particular:
“Your Lord says, ‘He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.’…
“Continually at every heart He is knocking, asking to be taken in as the supreme object of love. ‘Wilt thou have Me?’ He says to the believer, ‘to be thy Beloved…? Wilt thou give up to Me the absolute control of thyself and all that thou hast…? May I have my way with thee in all things…? Wilt thou accept Me for thy heavenly Bridegroom and leave all others to cleave only unto Me?”’
“Wilt thou say, ‘Yes,’ to all His longing for union with thee, and with a glad and eager abandonment hand thyself and all that concerns thee over into His hands? If thou wilt, then shalt thy soul begin to know something of the joy of union with Christ…? Our souls ought to be made so unutterably hungry to realize it, that day or night we shall not be able to rest without it.”’
That was exactly what was arising within the soul of Martha Wing – all insatiable hunger to be brought to the place where it would be literally and actually “not I, but Christ [living] in me.”
The answer of her heart to this call of her Lover is registered in a September “thought weaving”:
“Jesus is mine. No doubt shall enter, for He has said, ‘He that hungers and thirsts after righteousness shall be filled,’ and ‘He that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ He is mine – in sickness and in health, in trouble or in pleasure, in poverty and in wealth, in narrow fields or wide ones. – I am His and He is mine, forever and forever. His will shall be my will, His service my advantage, His gain my gain, His love my All.”
“A book every Christian should own,” was the comment Martha Wing wrote after her entry of ‘The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life’ in her list of books read in 1898. Throughout her life and ministry she was to recommend it to Christians as a guide on their way. In doing so, however, she was careful to instruct the individual not just to read it, but to read it as she herself had done – never more than one chapter at a time and to pray over that chapter until you feel that you “have” it before going on to the next one.
A NEW DISCOVERY
“ONE NIGHT,” during the summer of 1898, “lying awake with pain and fatigue, I faced the future and saw possible years of invalidism before me, and the horror of it came over me worse than it ever had before,” recollected Miss Wing. “I was trying to be resigned to God’s will, as I understood it then, but I very often asked God to hasten my death. That night, however, in a sudden anger with my sickness, which was shutting me out from service to God, I sat up in bed and prayed earnestly something like this: ‘My Father, heal me, heal me and let me live for Thy service. I know it cannot be Thy will that I should drag out my life a useless burden to myself and to everyone else. It is all nonsense for me to try to make myself believe I can glorify Thee by my miserable sickness. Give me health, and let me work in Thy vineyard and atone for my years of idleness.’
“I was instantly and perfectly healed of a serious organic trouble from which I had been suffering intensely. This ought to have taught me that God would do all the rest for me. But I was ignorant of His will and full of false theology and teaching, and instead of seeking further and testifying to His goodness, I kept silence. I even allowed my sister to wonder at the change in me and attribute it to all kinds of impossible causes. I did not wish to seem ‘queer’ and ‘fanciful’ (by believing that God really answers prayer). Although I was daily learning more of God, I could not believe the evidences of my own senses, and would persuade myself that this marvelous change could not last. Of course, the inevitable result was that I lost my healing; but I had it long enough to have tested its absolute reality.
“When, some weeks later, I felt the old symptoms returning, symptoms which I had suffered more or less since childhood, I said in my ignorance, ‘There, I knew it must surely return. Suppose I had been so foolish as to have told how I happened to be free from the trouble.’ I sometimes wonder how God ever thought it worthwhile to enlighten such stupidity. But He is merciful.”
In November Martha Wing’s mother, on her way to Chicago from Davenport, came to see her daughters in Sand Spring. During the course of her visit she told Mattie that Mrs. H. E. Penley, a woman known to both of them, had been healed in answer to prayer.
Prior to her healing Mrs. Penley “had not been able to leave her bed for a year, as a result of an injury received nine years before.” Then she had heard of a minister in Chicago, Dr. John Alexander Dowie, who with associate ministers conducted a home called Zion – where “the sick children of God who are seeking Him alone for healing in the name of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit” might go to receive “instruction in God’s way of healing as set forth in the Holy Scriptures” and to be prayed for. Mrs. Penley determined to be taken there, “and the first time she was prayed with she received strength enough to go to the dining room and eat with the rest of the guests.” Her strength steadily increased until she had been perfectly healed. Her testimony, in brief, was published in Dr. Dowie’s weekly periodical, Leaves of Healing.
“Although I had heard of Mrs. Penley’s prolonged and serious illess and had expected her to die, when my mother told me that she had been healed at Zion, I said flatly that if Mrs. Penley had been healed by that means, she was never sick,” Miss Wing later stated.
“I believed myself to be at this time consecrated Christian. I had yet to learn that consecration does not mean using myself for God, but it means permitting Him to use me; that it does not mean thinking right thoughts for His service, but letting Him think for m So instead of asking God’s opinion of Dr. Dowie, I presumed to have my own opinion and not only refused to investigate, but so opposed the work that my mother went to Chicago and remained there three months without going to Zion Tabernacle or Home.”
Meanwhile, Miss Wing returned to Davenport, November 24, 1898, to be with Nettie for the winter months.
“I suppose, because I was really sincere in my desire to serve God, He gave me another chance. Mrs. Penley visited me with Leaves of Healing, and I read it, partly out of curiosity, partly in order to tell her I had done so, and because, down in my heart, there was a little hope.
“The testimonies were so miraculous I found them incredible. I was fond of saying that the days of miracles were past. I prided myself on sufficient, sound common sense to keep me from believing any exaggerated ‘wonder tales.’ As I read the testimonies and saw that they were said to have been given in the presence of hundreds and even thousands, my common sense told me that such a tremendous fraud could not be long carried on. The people could not all be deliberate liars, I thought, nor could there be gotten together such a large number of marvelously stupid people. But I was afraid of getting into something absurd and fanatical.
“My skepticism and slowness to believe all through stood in the way of God’s work in me. It began to dawn on me that I might be mistaken myself; that God was trying to teach me something that I was putting away from me without looking to Him for guidance.
“My sister and I took it to God in prayer. We asked that I might do exactly what God willed in the matter. I asked that I might accept all the true and reject all the false (if any).
“I then sent for reading matter. I carefully studied and prayed, looking to God for full light. It was my intention to be strictly impartial, but so prejudiced had I been against all so-called ‘faith cures’ that I combated every point not in accord with my own ideas or early teaching. I would search the Bible through and through, trying to disprove statements Dr. Dowie made in his sermons, and only succeeded in proving them. When I saw the evidence plainly in the Bible, often not even then being able to fully believe in my own heart, we took it to God and asked for full light to accept any truth He wished me to.
“After I had spent a week or two in this deliberate search for knowledge (nearly all the time I was out of bed I was seeking for the truth in God’s Word), I had a good deal of conceit taken out of me. I found that instead of knowing the Bible as well as I had supposed I did, I had only a mass of false theology which I called Bible knowledge; for, with many other Bible students, I had made the Bible fit the facts of experience and practice, instead of trusting God to fit the facts to the Bible.
“Having awakened to my own ignorance, I was willing to be taught, and under God’s direct guidance I began a new and prayerful study of His Word. Those weeks were a revelation to me of how God will open the understanding to the truths of the Bible if we will trust Him instead of ourselves. My convictions concerning Divine Healing, after this study, were deeply founded. I feel that it was my firm stand on this matter which enabled me to go the full way through all the discouragement Satan brought to bear upon me, for I still had very much to learn.”
In the weeks after Martha Wing returned to Davenport she “again badly overdid.” “I was getting discouraged,” she relates, “and especially after a severe relapse at the holiday time [1898-1899], from which I never even slightly recuperated until God healed me.” During these same weeks Miss Wing had been studying the Bible, as she tells, and the result of this was that she had decided to trust God for healing.
“Having fully decided to give my body to God, I sent to Dr. Dowie about January 1, 1899, setting a time for prayer. My sister and myself prayed at the same hour. I was not helped.
“I prayed and studied further, and again sent for prayer, and again apparently God did not hear.
“Knowing that He would hear me, I claimed the promise, ‘Seek and ye shall find,’ and went on seeking, determined not to give up until I found. I learned very much about prayer during the following period. I learned that lying all night and clamoring after God in tears and anxiety was not prayer, and the abuse of my physical nature brought on exhaustion and violent headache. Hezekiah’s description of his ‘soul chattering like a crane always reminds me of that stage of my experience.
“When I found my prayers and even Dr. Dowie’s unavailing, I realized, although I was truly given to God, that I yet lacked something. I asked God to show, and then Dr. Dowie’s teaching on repentance began to give me increased light. Repentance, as Zion [taught] it, was unknown to me.
“I then asked if any sin stood in my way and promised, if there were, I would gladly and instantly confess. I thought I meant what I said. When God clearly and distinctly chose from my past a seemingly small thing which I had done and said, ‘Confess this sin,’ it seemed to me that the one thing which I could not do had been given to me. Instead of going instantly and gladly with the confession, I struggled over it for nearly three weeks, seemingly losing all the ground I had gained. I begged that I might keep this thing silent, and I would tell anything else. I got so I could not pray. It was like the old struggles over consecrating myself to God. It came to where it was a question of giving up all or obeying. At last I yielded and made the necessary confession, and after I had done so it seemed so easy, and my relief was so great I could not forgive myself for the delay, nor fail to regret the loss of the blessing which instant obedience brings.
“I thought that now all was right. I looked into the past and my own heart, under God, and felt that all was clear before Him.
“But He was not through with me. When I again set a time for prayer, and apparently God did not answer, I began with greater humility than I had ever yet known to search further for that weakness or sin in me that so delayed the fulfillment of God’s will. I asked God to show me myself as He saw me, and in answer to that prayer He gave me such a glimpse of myself as I shall never forget.
“For the first time I felt my need of Christ’s atoning blood. I saw the meaning of His death for our sin. I saw that all my consecration and obedience – if it were possible to be perfect in this – were not sufficient to cleanse my heart. I saw that what I had regarded as an upright, and even Christian, life was very dark in God’s eyes. I know now that this revelation was what I needed to bring me into the right attitude toward God. By this time I knew there was so much to learn that the only thing for me to do was to keep on seeking step by step, as I had been doing, trusting God to take me the full way.
How thoroughly God dealt with His seeking child about this subject of repentance is seen from the “thought weavings” in her journal. In the first, February 26, 1899, she wrote:
“Repentance is the ‘beginning of the gospel.’ When one truly repents one does not measure his sins by the sins of others. He begins to see himself as God sees him; begins to measure not merely the sin, but the temptation, the causes, the lack of excuse. He begins to understand that the sin of his own that has seemed trivial may be greater in God’s eyes than the crime of his neighbor. The true penitent must see himself in a light that humbles him. There must be conviction of sin. The true penitent desires this conviction. He does not want peace until God has shown him all and cleansed him from all. He does not begrudge the suffering; rather, he welcomes it.”
To this she added, “Repentance is getting a square look at one’s self.” Then, two or three weeks later, she wrote out a rather full discussion of:
Suppose in the course of a busy morning’s work you have soiled your face. You do not know of the stain upon it until someone entering presumes to mention it. In all probability you are too busy to pay any attention. You say, possibly with impatience, that you don’t care, you haven’t time to bother about that now.
After a while someone else comes in and tells you you have a black spot on your forehead. You haven’t time to stop to cleanse your face, you say, until the work is done. But presently someone more outspoken than the others exclaims, “My, but your face is dirty!” Very likely you are irritated. You say you don’t care if your face is as black as soot, you have not time to attend to it. But when one and then another tells of a stain on the forehead, the cheek, the ear, you begin to think perhaps your face is most unpresentable.
If a guest should step in at that moment, probably the first thing you would do after he was gone would be to hurry to a looking-glass. Immediately you are dismayed and humiliated by your own appearance. You find Yourself exclaiming, “Why didn’t someone tell me!” “Why didn’t you make it stronger!” “I didn’t suppose my face was so dreadfully soiled as this!” “What must our guest have thought! etc., etc. It goes without saying that your first and immediate desire is to get water and wash away the stain. The work can go. You are too disgusted with your own uncleanliness to think of anything else until the stains are removed.
What would be your consternation if you should discover the stains were so deep you could not remove them?
So I think it is with a repentant person. You may know your spirit is stained with sin, you may even be told so, but you need to get a good view of yourself in God’s looking-glass before you feel any keen desire to be cleansed. You may go on for many years through your busy life, knowing yourself unclean, adding stain to stain, “too busy” to attend to “that now.” You will in all probability have some intention of allowing yourself to be cleansed in a vague, comfortable “sometime.” When the rush of your life work is over, when you have “time for religion,” then you will be cleansed from your sin’s defilements. At times you may be troubled over your own uncleanliness; you may make spasmodic attempts to improve. You don’t think so much about washing away the present stain as you do of avoiding adding any more. But knowing the stain of sin is still upon you, it is so easy to commit the same again. Its blackness beside the already dark stains does not show up very plainly.
But some day, (happy for you if such should be the case) some providential incident, some God-sent message or circumstance leads you to look into God’s great looking-glass, and you see yourself as your Saviour sees you, — all filth, all blackness.
Oh, the horror, the dismay, the humiliation of that first, clear view. You cry, “I never dreamed I was so vile. I never dreamed my life was so base. I thought I was living almost as I ought to live. I did not see my own sins.
Now your first desire, after seeing yourself thus, is to be cleansed. I cannot conceive of a man turning away from that mirrored self, saying, “I will stay in my sin. I will live in this filth. I will not be clean.” Your one great desire is to get away from that filthy soul, to have it cleansed and made new.
Just so long as you remain where you can see yourself (see yourself as you are, not as you have thought yourself, not as the world sees you, but as you are), you are going to hate yourself. The principal reason why men do not turn away from their sins is because they fail to realize them. A man might turn his back on that terrible sight of himself, might close his heart and head and conscience, might persist in his wickedness, but I cannot conceive such a case.
But you, after that view, cry out for cleanliness. “What shall I do? How can I wash away my stain? How shall I become clean?” And the answer will come to such a cry, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Then just as soon as you yield to that cleansing, just as soon as you permit that cleansing power to cover your spirit, you are clean. You understand now how the blood of Christ “cleanseth whiter than snow.” The verse has had no particular meaning before.
But this is not all. Repentance is a “turning away” from sin. Your cleansing will be nothing if you begin again to soil yourself with sin. The truly repentant will not – almost cannot. What one has suffered for, and sought for, will not be easily given up. Your prayer is changed, but there is still a prayer. No longer “Make me clean,” but “Keep me clean” is your petition. If through old habits old temptations come upon you, soil your white purity, again comes the cry, “Wash away the stain, Father.”
“Meanwhile, during these two months I had been growing physically worse. Instead of regaining any strength, or recovering from the severe relapse caused by over-exertion at the holiday time, I had been growing steadily weaker and suffered much. In addition, my liver trouble, from which the latter part of my sickness I had been comparatively free, returned in a severe form. My side was swollen, so that my clothes would not meet within two inches under my loose-front wrapper. I was compelled to lie in one position, slightly on my left side because of the extreme sensitiveness and soreness. Every movement was painful.
“It seemed as if Satan had chosen the one thing that might tempt me. It was the only trouble which had at any time been consciously relieved by medicine. Medicine had in a measure temporarily relieved me, and it came to me again that it would be wiser to take a little of the medicine which had benefited me than to run the risk of being entirely confined to my bed and perhaps alarm those who had the care of me and so lead to a physician being called against my will.
“I am glad to say it was not at any time a real temptation to me, for I recognized from the first that absolute dependence on God was the secret of the prayer of faith. I determined that death was preferable to disobedience, although I had no fear that God would fail to keep His promise to me. This condition of my body had lasted for some weeks, and I finally became so ill I saw that I should be confined to my bed. I knew that in my condition I was unable to endure one of the severe attacks of pain to which I was subject. The probability of a doctor being called grew stronger.
“My sense of absolute helplessness brought a fuller surrender than I had yet known. Unconsciously, I think, I had still been clinging to my self, my own faith, and prayers. I threw myself on God and left the responsibility to Him, knowing He would not permit me to be tempted above what I was able to bear.
“In this frame of mind I arose one afternoon at 3 o’clock for the purpose of having prayer with my sister. It was with difficulty, because of the pain and soreness, that I knelt. As we prayed, a singular sensation passed over my side as if something rolled slowly away from it. I rose to my feet with perfect ease and without pain. I did not know what had happened, and put my hand to my side. To my amazement I found there was no soreness. It was not even sensitive to heavy pressure. The swelling and pain had also left instantly, and my clothes fastened loosely about me.
“From that moment, in February, 1899, the healing which occurred [was] perfect. Stomach, liver, and kidneys [were] in healthy condition. This was very wonderful to me, as I had no recollection of a time when my side was not sore and sensitive to the touch, or was free from pain. Of course this wonderfully strengthened me physically and increased my faith, but I was far from being perfectly healed, as these troubles were only a part of my many ailments. I was still weak in many ways and had no vitality. I went on seeking.”
During this period of seeking, about two weeks after this “instantaneous deliverance,” Martha Wing wrote on March 14, 1899:
“Having patience with our own sickness is a good deal like a lazy housewife sitting down in her filthy, dirty house and saying, ‘See the trials I am compelled to endure. But I am resigned. I make no protest against it. I am patient.’
“But if one were compelled to come into such a house, fretting and worrying would only make matters worse.
“The only possible way of solving the difficulty would be to clean out the filth.
“So it is with our bodies. Our spirits should be patient while in the filthy house, but not content to so remain. There is power that will cleanse, so that a clean spirit need not dwell in an unclean body.”
CHRIST THE HEALER
“GOD HAD, during this time of seeking, led me past the point of seeking healing only. I saw I needed the Healer, Christ Himself, His Life, His Fullness, in greater measure. But for many weeks after this one miracle of healing, I apparently stood quite still. At this time God led me to the company of others who believed in God as Healer of the body, that I might have a little teaching.”
This was “the company” of people in Chicago, already referred to. Up to now she had not considered going there though she had been in regular correspondence with them. “In the first place, humanly speaking, it was impossible for me to go. I thought if I could not get my healing at home, I could not have it at all. I knew, of course, if my faith were strong enough and my life right, I need have no one pray for me. I had not the means to go to Zion Home, and there were several obstacles which seemed insurmountable. Also, I really wished my healing at home, as I thought that would do away with all theories of hypnotism, etc.
“God knew so much better than we did, and a chance remark of Mrs. Penley’s, ‘If God wants you to go to Zion Home, He can take you there, no matter if it is impossible,’ set us on a new line of thought. We saw that we were again taking matters into our hands; that we ought merely to ask God to do it in His way, not ours; that if He wished to have me go to Zion Home, His way was surely best. I saw I ought to have no choice in the matter, provided God’s will were done. We took it to God, asking Him to do His will.
“Within three days of our first prayer in this way, every one of the ‘insurmountable obstacles’ were removed without the slightest effort on our part. The way opened distinctly for me to go to Zion Home, and the guiding hand of God was manifest.
Nettie’s husband, Leslie W. Graham, in whose home Martha Wing lived, was the railroad station agent in Davenport. A kind and thoughtful man, he had welcomed Mattie into his home, and throughout her illness had cared for her as though she were his own sister. Now he made the necessary travel arrangements and took her to Chicago himself, on Saturday, April 15, 1899.
“I looked for an immediate healing. I was conscious of a clear, physical strengthening the first time I was prayed with.” Writing to Nettie later in that same week she said, “A power went over me. It was a sensation a little like I had the day that my side was instantly healed of the soreness and again when you and I were praying together, only this time it seemed to go nearly through my whole body, and was stronger. Well, now I think that was a beginning of a healing that I lost because I didn’t accept it as such. I had some pain afterward, slightly, and I waited – and doubted.
That blessing came on Sunday. The next day, Monday, Miss Wing attended the regular divine healing service for the guests in the Home and was prayed for by one of the ministers. “I had no sign,” she wrote Nettie, “but all day Monday I felt well, after having been on a dead go all day Saturday and Sunday. But down in the parlor a lady asked me how I felt, and I said, ‘Very well,’ but added that I was apt to have days of feeling good, and it might be only a ‘wind-up’. I went upstairs in a few minutes, and before I had left the elevator I felt so tired I could hardly get to my room. I felt real bad all night – and I just got blue.
Tuesday Miss Wing attended another divine healing service, this one conducted by Dr. Dowie himself. Still she was not helped, and as a result suffered discouragement, followed quickly by condemnation.
Referring to the thing which God had shown her to confess during the previous winter and over which she had such a struggle then, she wrote her sister:
“Do you remember the fight I had last winter with myself? And the misery I went through trying to do right in some matters? Well, all that came back to me. I wasn’t sure I had done all I ought to do. I began to be afraid I was not ready for my healing.”
Wednesday she wrote Nettie, “I thought when I came I was pretty well prepared for the blessing, but I begin to find I need lots of cleaning out yet. Don’t you worry a bit. God is going to heal me. I am sure of that. And I am glad not to get healing until I am all right spiritually.”
That same morning she attended another service for the sick in the healing room. Still she received no physical help. Now her discouragement and condemnation deepened. Fortunately, in the afternoon she met one of the ministers in the hail and spoke to him, saying she “had run up against a ‘stone wall.’”
“He was in a rush, but when he saw I was in such a state of mind, he took me into a room, and we had about five minutes’ talk, and he made everything clear to me. I told him plainly about everything and that I thought I had everything settled before I came to Zion Home, that I had given up everything that stood between me and God, that I thought I had confessed all that was necessary, had made all right that I could, and then told him that I had begun to feel again as if I were down just where I was three months ago.
“He asked me a few questions, and when I told him about that instant healing of my side three or four weeks ago, he said, ‘Well, now, how foolish you are! You fought out your fight last winter and made your decision. God put His stamp of approval upon you plainly by that partial healing. You were in doubt if He were hearing, and He gave you the healing of one distressing symptom to show you His approval and to strengthen your faith. Now you have gone back on God’s promise to you. He told you you were forgiven. Now accept it. The devil will get hold of you every time you give him such a chance. Just know you are given to God.”’
“I will,” Miss Wing replied, her questions answered, so that she had no more qualms about this matter. Her only regret now was, as she said, “I have practically lost the days I have been here, only, of course, the teaching is not lost. I learn more and more every day.”
It was during one of the services which Miss Wing attended her first week that she heard for the first time a prayer which even years later she described as “a good prayer to pray through all the ages of eternity.” It was the prayer of consecration which Dr. Dowie always asked the congregation to stand and repeat after him, clause by clause, following his sermon: “Take me as I am and make me what I ought to be in spirit, soul, and body, no matter what it costs.”
Wednesday night, a baptismal service was held in the Tabernacle, and Miss Wing availed herself of the opportunity to follow her Lord in baptism. Some years previously, from her own investigation of the Word of God, having once had her attention called to it, she had become convinced beyond any doubt that she had never been baptized. “I said then that if I ever found a church which taught and practiced true baptism, and was in other respects equal to the Methodist Church (at that time my eyes were too blinded to see clearly how far away from the early teaching and practice it had fallen), I would not hesitate to enter the truer church.” So it was that she took this step at this time.
The following morning she attended the divine healing service conducted by still another minister or elder, as the ministers were called, whom she had not heard before. “Just as he was closing he said we should not be anxious for our healing, because we should give ourselves up to God, spirit, soul, and body, and not assume the responsibility. Give ourselves to God unconditionally, and say, ‘God, I am Thine. Use me where it is best. I am not my own at all.’ It is for God’s glory for us to be healed. We are of more use to Him well, and it is His will to heal us, but that is not our business. When we are God’s, when we are passive in His hands, then He can do His work with us. We know it is His will to heal us, and when we have completely surrendered, the healing will be given us, with the rest. As he said, it is a very little thing for God to heal us; that is only a small part of the plan of salvation for us.”
This was the spiritual light and help God was endeavoring to establish in Miss Wing’s soul, but physically she was no better, and her week was almost over.
“I supposed that I could remain at the Home but one week, and it seemed to me the worst thing that could happen would be to go home unhealed. It seems strange that I should have trusted God so little, after having been led so far. It seems to me that I could surely have left it all with God. Instead, I lost time and blessing through impatience. I had to be given the lesson over and over again, of letting God plan things, before I could learn it.” Now the Lord made it possible for her to stay on at the Home, clearly indicating this was His will.
“For more than a week I stumbled along, more and more confused… In my intensity I was running from one to the other seeking help, one day hopeful, the next despondent. Very earnest for a few days, then a period of discouragement, anxiety, and even coldness. My soul, ‘chattering like a crane,’ continually cried out, ‘Lord, why do You not reveal Yourself? Why do You not come to me? Why? Why? Why?’ Then I realized that I was going back on all my hard-learned lessons. I saw others about me healed, while I gained nothing. I knew God was no respecter of persons. The healing was for me. Evidently there was something yet lacking in myself.
“One afternoon, while in this state of mind, I was led to a good brother who asked me to read… Exodus [33:21, 22]. ‘Sister,’ he said, ‘what do you think Moses did when God showed him the rock?’
“‘He went to it and stood upon it,’ I said.
“‘And what then?’
“I considered. ‘Why, I suppose he waited for the glory.’
“I thought it over. ‘I don’t think he did anything else.’
“‘No, nothing else,’ I insisted, assurance increasing the more I considered it.
“‘But suppose God didn’t pass by at once?
“‘All Moses could do was to wait until He did pass by.
“‘And you don’t think Moses got impatient and anxious and feared lest the Lord might forget His promise, and so slipped off the rock and ran up the road every once in awhile to see if the glory was in sight?’
“0, it didn’t need any explanation to drive home the point, although he gave it. ‘Sister,’ he said, ‘God has shown you in His Word the Rock, Christ Jesus. His promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. By His (Jesus’) stripes are we healed. He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses. By your own statement you have absolute conviction as to God’s will in this matter. His Word is quite plain. You have taken Jesus the Christ as your Saviour and Healer. In other words, God has shown you the Rock, and you have come to stand upon it. But have you stayed upon it?
“‘Alas no,’ I cried, as I saw myself. ‘I haven’t. I have doubted and feared and questioned. And when the glory has been delayed I have gone up the road – in worry and anxiety of soul – looking for it. By the grace of God I will take Him at His Word and stand steady.’
“From the first, the intimacy with God in Zion [had] filled me with wonder and longing. I had truly given myself to God. I know that, from the moment of acceptance of redemption for the body, my one object was not a selfish wish for healing for my own pleasure, but a desire to be enabled to serve God better. I intended to use the health He was going to give me for Him, and aside from this I was really not anxious to live. Life in my sickness had become a great burden to me, and I was not afraid to die. But when I began to love God, I wished to live for Him. Yet I know now that my healing all through had been a sort of primary object, a thing to be sought separately.
“Much in the same way, years before, I sought for a ‘genuine spiritual’ experience, as my privilege through the acceptance of the Atonement, forgetting that Jesus Himself was the Atonement, and what I needed was Jesus Himself in my heart. So I was seeking healing as a separate spiritual experience. Gradually my need dawned upon me. I saw that God was more real to many of those about me than He was to me; that Jesus was more real; that the Holy Spirit was real. I began to wish for what I saw they had. I found I was too anxious for healing. I came to where I saw I must simply be true and obedient, waiting in faith upon God.”
Writing to her mother on April 26, a week and a half after she had come to Chicago, Martha Wing said: “I did not suppose I would stay so long as I have stayed, but I have had a good deal of experience, and five hundred, five thousand dollars would not buy what I have received here. Dr. L_____ said last night we would not reach the mountain top without going through the valley, and we could only appreciate the light at the summit by passing through the shadow. I am catching a glimpse of the light at the summit, and I am glad for the valley. I came here seeking healing, but I am seeking the Healer — and will find Him, and as a lady just said to me, when He is found, the physical healing is only a small part of the experience. It is nothing. That is the way I wish to feel.
“My anxiety to be healed before I left Zion Home has stood in my way of receiving blessing. I can see that now. I was so afraid, after I got so upset last week, of not receiving healing and going home and disappointing you all, and using your money up for apparently no purpose, that I thought too much of getting my healing. It stood in the way of a spiritual blessing. But I will find the Healer here, and the healing will come, here or there. I am God’s, and the moment I lie absolutely passive in His hands, He can work His will in me. I have not been passive. I have been worrying and reaching and seeking, but of course I am finding because ‘He that seeketh – findeth.’
“Now I asked God to show me myself, and He did so last winter to a great extent. I have been asking Him to keep on enlightening, pruning, cleansing until the work was complete. I thank Him that He did not permit me to remain in ignorance and receive a healing that I might through ignorance lose, for that occurs over and over. People get the healing through faith sometimes instantaneously without previous teaching, and not understanding plainly God’s will, not ‘knowing’ God, they go no further, and lose their health again after, usually, quite awhile, and when they do, they cannot grasp it all so quickly again…
“Don’t allow yourself to be disappointed at the way things so far have turned out. I am very sorry that I was a little at first but I see things differently now. I need just the discipline that I have received, and I want just as much of it as I ought to have. Life does not mean what it used to mean to me.
“John 14:21 helped me much at this time,” continuing from Martha Wing’s published testimony. “I claimed the promise of the manifestation of Jesus Himself to me, and seeing more and more that divine healing was a part of the redemption, I knew that with the coming of Jesus into my life there would come with Him all the riches of His grace. I stopped seeking for any especial thing or experience, and prayed that I might know Jesus. As I prayed, the desire to know Him for Himself grew stronger. I got to where I felt that if I could have Jesus in my life, the other things did not matter in the least. I did not care whether I was healed at Zion Home or not, provided it was according to His will.
“And as He led me into that rest in Him which makes anxiety impossible, so that I almost forgot my body in the joy of a closer acquaintance, I awakened to the fact that my health and strength were coming rapidly. One ailment after another disappeared, one or two instantly, so that I knew of the change at the moment. Others passed away so quietly that I became conscious of my healing by the gradual but complete departure of pain while my body grew stronger.
“God is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think. He not only kept me at Zion until I was healed, but enabled me to remain under its teachings several weeks longer, as I remained at the home of Mrs. Congdon as a guest.”
Through the kindness of Mrs. Congdon, Miss Wing stayed on in Chicago for two months. Toward the last of her stay she was employed at a bank “for about a fortnight, working very steadily and thoroughly testing my new strength. To me one of the most wonderful parts of my experience came directly after my healing. My muscles were, of course, new and undeveloped, yet I felt no fatigue upon exercising. Instead, a singular lightness and strength sustained me until the natural strength, through development of muscle, had been gained.”
On June 29 Martha Wing returned to Davenport, Iowa, a perfectly well woman. She had stood “upon the Rock,” and “the glory” had indeed passed by, making her every whit whole. Her experience is summarized in the following poem which she wrote at this time:
Oh, my heart was heavy laden,
Oh, my tears would ever flow,
And I cried to God to save me
From my weight of pain and woe,
Cried that in my darkened spirit
All His glorious light might shine
Till I felt His blessed presence,
And I knew the Savior mine.
His voice answered, “Here beside Me
Is a place:
Stand upon a Rock I’ll show you
By My grace;
All My glory shall pass by you
As you stand;
In a cleft I’ll place and hide you
By My hand.”
Could I doubt the promise given
To His weary, wand’ring child?
Down I laid my heavy burden;
Down I laid my heart defiled.
Though I caught no glimpse of glory,
Though my day was cold and dim,
Sinful self I yielded wholly,
And I answer made to Him,
“On the solid Rock Christ Jesus
I will stand,
‘Til Thy glory passes by me,
And Thy Hand
Puts me in the cleft and covers
All my soul:
‘Til I feel Thy blessed Presence
And am whole.”
There upon the Rock Christ Jesus
Stood I waiting patiently
‘Til the glory dawned upon me
There to shine thenceforth for me.
In the cleft His loved Hand placed me,
There my soul shall safely hide,
In the secret place He showed me
Of His Presence, I’ll abide.
In the clefted Rock Christ Jesus,
Safe at last;
All my future is my Savior’s,
All my past.
Here I have no doubt to touch me,
Fear no fall.
Life and death to me are nothing;
Christ is all.
VIEWING THE PROMISED LAND
NOW THAT MARTHA WING was healed, she lost no time in paying her vows to the Lord to go and work in His vineyard and so to “atone” for her “years of idleness.”
Already there were in Davenport, Iowa, a few people interested in divine healing and the deeper truths of God. Two days after her return from Chicago, this little company met and organized themselves into a fellowship, Sunday, July 2. The following Wednesday, July 5, they met again and chose Miss Wing as their leader.
The next Lord’s Day Miss Wing was to begin her ministerial labors officially. Thus it is not without significance that on the day before, Saturday, July 8, she should be subjected to a fierce attack of the enemy, perfectly timed and unquestionably designed to be a knockout blow which would prevent her from beginning her service. One of her old troubles came on her again. “It was serious,” she recorded. Fortunate for her, she was not ignorant concerning the devices of Satan but had learned to resist the devil when he would come in as a flood This she did so that she was healed of trouble same night”
Her great joy at being able to live and to work for God found expression in a “thought To live for God – a privilege. Once it seemed a sacrifice. Consecration, a hard duty – “a doing something for God.” Now I know it only means letting God do for me and work with me and through me. A giving up of paltry brass for fine gold and exchange of one’s worthless life for the fullness of the love of Jesus.
Immediately Miss Wing began to be called upon to minister to sick people in their homes. One of these was a poor woman who had gangrene in her foot. Having accepted the good news that Jesus is the Healer of every disease, she decided to trust the Lord alone for healing. This she did in spite of the violent opposition of her husband and friends. With a true shepherd’s heart, Miss Wing went to this suffering sheep. “Night of August third I sat up and prayed for her in her pain. There were ten or fifteen persons in the room at the time for some time.”
This brief journal entry only suggests in the least degree the situation in which Miss Wing found herself. The fact is that most of those gathered in the room were a coarse and rough group of strong, angry men who cursed almost constantly, directing their wrath against her. Dauntless, this small, sensitive lady stood her ground against these roaring lions who were gnashing at her on all sides. “It gave me my first, clear lesson in moral courage,” Miss Wing wrote. Absolutely defenseless in herself, God defended her and gave a mighty victory.
An example of Miss Wing’s early teaching is seen in the following outline of a lesson which she prepared August 19 to give to the Gathering, as the group was called:
FOUR MODES OF HEALING
There are four modes of healing enumerated in the Bible. First, by the simple and direct prayer of faith. Such healings are rare. There are less than five mentioned in the Bible. One of these illustrations we find in Math. 8:5-13 in regard to the centurion’s servant. The promises concerning this are many, but the conditions must be fulfilled, as in Math. 21:22 – “All things whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive;” John 15:7 – “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Faith rarely rises to meet the conditions.
The second way is through a promise given to the disciples: Math. 18:19, 20 – “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven.”
The third way is by the anointing by the elders with oil. In James five we have the command, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,” and the promise follows, “And the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him.” Also we have it in Mark 6:13 that the disciples anointed with oil.
The fourth is by laying on of hands. This is the way most frequently mentioned in the Bible, and included in Christ’s command and promise, Mark 16:18. Under this comes the exercise of the Gift of Healing.
The next day after Miss Wing had written out this study, Sunday, August 20, she woke up in the morning “with swollen cheek and tooth.” That Lord’s Day was to be a special one, for her position as conductor of the Davenport Gathering was confirmed. For her it was an advance step in the ministry. Unquestionably the enemy was angry at her and was determined to hinder and, if possible, to defeat her, whenever she was to take any forward step in her service for God.
In spite of her discomfort she ministered that day as usual. “At night, grew bad very rapidly,” Miss Wing cryptically notes in her journal, adding, “spread so could not move lips, and was swelling and paining into other side of face. Received instant relief on right side of face, and swelling confined to left, in answer to prayer Sunday evening. Rest of healing came gradually.” During the next three days she was very weak and sick in body,” but on Wednesday, the 23rd, she “improved with decided change for better. Later learned Dr. Dowie prayed for me at that time. It was neuralgia but had very little pain” Miss Wing wrote, explaining her trouble, something which she had suffered with periodically in past times, and then adds, “Getting continual answer to prayer in this matter.”
Throughout this trial Miss Wing remained in communion with the Lord and waited expectantly for deliverance till it came. What was occupying her thought may be seen from the “thought weaving” she wrote in her journal on the 23rd, possibly in preparation for a meeting Wednesday evening:
JESUS THE TEACHER
Thoughts on Mark 6:1-14 and 30-35. Also Matthew 9:35-38.
These chapters are among the most familiar at Zion because they are used a great deal in the teaching of beginners. And most that go to Zion are beginners. They may be themselves teachers of the gospel, ministers maybe, but they need to be taught when it comes to the question of divine healing. They “must become as little children” and be willing to learn the A, B, C of God’s will and God’s love before they can advance to higher truths. It is a sad fact, moreover, that many of these have believed themselves to be on the mountaintop in knowledge of God’s Word and have been trying to show others the way. These waken to the fact that they have been “false shepherds,” leading their sheep in paths God never laid down for them.
These chapters were not selected because they tell of healings by Jesus. The accompanying chapters are full of such accounts. The thought to be dwelt on here is of “Jesus the Teacher.”
I was interested, in looking at a list of titles, given in the back of my Bible, of names given to Jesus that Teacher was among them. The reference is to John 3:2 where Nicodemus came to Jesus saying, “We know Thou art a teacher sent from God.”
We are not apt to think of Him in that light. We look upon Him as the divine Son of God, the Saviour of the world, the greatest preacher and prophet and performer of miracles the world has known. Some of us know Him personally as our Healer, but we do not realize how great a work He did as teacher.
It may seem a strong statement, but it seems to me His most important work on earth was teaching. When we think of how little understanding the world would have of the real object of His death on the Cross, of His work and mission and omnipotent love, if He had not taught, little by little, these things, we cannot question the importance of His work as teacher.
In Matthew 9:35 we see He went about teaching, preaching and healing. This order is not accidental. In the fourth chapter (of Matthew) we have an almost exactly similar wording: teaching – preaching – healing. (Matt. 4:23)
Many erroneously, because thoughtless, suppose Jesus performed miracles first and thereby attracted the people – then He preached to them. A careful reading of the Gospels assures us this was not the divine order. It was not then, and is not now.
“I have been blessed by the reading of a book written by Mrs. Smiley, called Fullness of Blessing,ⁿ” Miss Wing records in her journal immediately following the account of her deliverance from neuralgia. She had secured this book in Chicago the day before she returned to Davenport, and for the following six weeks she had carefully and prayerfully read it, and then the very day she finished it, she began to reread it.
Note: Smiley, Sarah Frances, The Fullness of Blessing or the Gospel of Christ, as illustrated from The Book of Joshua, 336 p. Anson, D. F. Randolph and Co., New York, 1876
The Fullness of Blessing or The Gospel of Christ as illustrated in the Book of Joshua by Sarah Frances Smiley is primarily an exposition of the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is shown to be an experience subsequent to conversion and the entrance, as it were, into the Promised Land of all the spiritual blessings provided for the believer.
“Am I willing that God’s Holy Spirit should baptize my whole being – spirit, soul, and body, so sanctifying me and keeping me blameless unto the coming of the Lord?” is the searching question which the author asks of the reader. And then referring to Christ’s promise, “I will come to you,” Mrs. Smiley goes on to show that this is in reality the purpose, the very essence of the baptism: “It is a Presence – it is a Person who comes – ‘I will come’ – ‘I will see you’ – ‘I will manifest myself.’”
Especially significant, in view of later developments in Miss Wing’s life, are the recurring suggestions in this book that “our entire being, even this body of ours,” is to become “like unto His glorious body,” which Mrs. Smiley links with the fullness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, implying that Christ desires to come and so manifest Himself in these temples of the Holy Ghost as to control them Himself.
Unquestionably at the time Martha Wing read The Fullness of Blessing, she was, spiritually speaking, very near the borders of the Promised Land. God had brought her out of Egypt and through the Wilderness. Most signally He had led her on, step by step. All the while He had fed her with manna and had given her to drink of “that spiritual Rock,” Christ. Unquestionably, too, this book was one of God’s calls to this “Israelite indeed” to go in and possess the “Fair Land” at this time.
Alas, for some reason or other, she did not cross the Jordan then, but remained on its banks, as it were, for seven years. Only then did she receive the blessed baptism of the Holy Spirit and go in to possess the Land. Meanwhile, she viewed the Land, saw something of its beauties, and even ate some of its fruits, such as the grapes of Eshcol. All blessed foretastes of what one day would be her very own possession! But there is a difference between enjoying a foretaste of God’s blessings and having all He has purposed – filled with all the fullness of God.
WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING
ON AUGUST 29, 1899, Miss Wing began work as the General Secretary of the Lend-a-Hand Club of Davenport. This club had been organized by public-spirited citizens as a recreation and social center for the benefit of the working women of the city. Its motto, composed by Edward Everett Hale, well expresses its objectives:
To look up and not down;
To look forward and not back;
To look out and not in
And lend a hand.
After entering upon her new duties in this club, Miss Wing suffered with “high fever, chills, and night sweats for several days” but “was instantly healed one night in answer to prayer.” Thus again the devil contested another forward move by Miss Wing – regular, daily employment in a place where she could be of special blessing. And again the Lord miraculously gave deliverance.
“A busy and responsible position,” the work connected with it was very heavy at times, “calling for considerable evening work in addition to that of the day’s duties.” To better herself Miss Wing undertook the study of shorthand and regularly attended a class for that purpose throughout the winter and spring of 1899-1900, with the result that she became unusually proficient in this skill.
All the while she was thus employed and studying she gave “all the time possible to God’s work” as the conductor of the meetings and leader of the Gathering in Davenport. Most truly could she say of this time that she “had hardly a moment’s leisure.”
The dawn of the Twentieth Century found Miss Wing on a brief visit in Chicago. Leaving Davenport December 29, she had arrived in plenty of time to enjoy to the full the special program provided by Dr. Dowie there for this occasion. From six-thirty on Sunday morning, December 31st, until seven o’clock on Monday morning, New Year’s Day, 1900, for “twenty-four and a half hours, there were continuous, enthusiastic services,” conducted with but the briefest of intermissions.
The main service, of course, was the “all night with God,” attended by over three thousand which ushered in the new century. Then it was, not long after “the bells of the city rang in the new year,” that Dr. Dowie unveiled a map showing the site of Zion City. “A city of God and–for God,” built on God’s plan, it was to be a place where people could live in an absolutely Christian environment completely free from all the evil influences of the world. Ideally located about forty miles north of Chicago, between the cities of Waukegan, Illinois, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, the site consisted of 6,500 acres of beautiful farmland directly on Lake Michigan!
“For a moment the thousands were silent as they gazed. Then a thunder of applause burst forth, which reechoed again and again” as “the great advantages of the situation were” pointed out.
After an intermission at two in the morning, the congregation reassembled for a lengthy season of prayer. “What a wonderful scene was that!” In serried ranks, tier upon tier, up to the highest place in the gallery, the thousands knelt, and in those solemn hours of the early dawn of the New Year, joined their hearts in common petition to God.” Shortly before the meeting closed H. Worthington Judd, the man who had actually selected the site and engineered its purchase, sang in his rich tenor voice, “Go Forward, O Zion,” followed by “the grand old doxology… from the still fresh and vigorous voices of the undiminished audience.”
Thus was inaugurated the city where Martha Wing would live for almost thirty years!
On January 3, 1900, Martha Wing returned to Davenport. Throughout the months ahead the Lord blessed her efforts which were not confined to Davenport but extended to its sister cities, Moline and Rock Island, Illinois, directly across the Mississippi River. In August a number, including Martha Wing’s sister, Nettie, were baptized.
Miss Wing’s zealous witnessing to the truth of God could not but attract the attention of the officers and members of the Lend-a-Hand Club. A few of these objected to her active association with a church which proclaimed truths such as divine healing and began to be anxious lest she spread these doctrines among the girls who took advantage of the noon-rest attractions furnished by the club. Consequently she resigned her position as General Secretary, effective August 31, 1900.
Looking back over the period from the time of her healing a year and a half before till November, 1900, Miss Wing wrote a friend, “I have kept in excellent health throughout... A few times during the last year Satan has attempted to bring upon me his old power. I thank God that the healings have been clear and distinct, and usually instantaneous.ⁿ
Note: In addition to the instances already cited, there is the following deliverance which Miss Wing related on another occasion:
“Before I knew anything about Divine Healing, I had a very severe felon. We have had several of them in our family and we know they are very serious; so I got at it in good time and put a lemon on it and had only one week’s pain. After I learned of Divine Healing, I had another, and the Devil said, ‘Suppose you should not get healed? How much better it would be to put a lemon on that and avoid the possibility of being laid up with your hand.’
“I looked at my felon; it was aching up into my shoulder by that time. I turned right around and said to the Devil, ‘If I lose my thumb, I won’t put a lemon on it. So, there!’ And immediately the pain went out of my thumb. I went to bed and forgot all about it. In the morning that felon had come to a head. I came home that night with a perfectly healed thumb. It had broken, the core had come out, and there was not even a scar left.”
“This year has been the happiest of my life. It has had its mistakes, and I am sorry to say, its sins, which looking back upon them seem inexcusable… but thank God, [I have learned] not to leave unrepented of what I would once have called little sins, to become a barrier between myself and God.
“There are many things to learn all the way. Needed lessons come daily, but I am no longer unwilling to learn. Divine Healing has proved such a ‘Beautiful Gate’ to the fuller knowledge of God and His love. It is the entrance into heights and depths of His love such as some of us never dreamed of.”
When the time came for Miss Wing to seek another secular position, she prayed that she would be definitely led to just the right place. Naturally she thought she would have to search through the advertisements in the local paper for a likely job. However, as soon as she picked up the paper, the Lord immediately directed her attention to one of the ads and showed her that that was the place where she was to apply for work – the Tri-City Electric Company. An aggressive, prosperous firm with offices in both Davenport and Moline, this company was the only electrical contractor serving these cities and Rock Island. Upon application she was accepted at once as secretary to the manager of the Davenport store, Mr. S. C. Wheelock.
The wages, although low, were not unusual according to the standards of the day – four dollars a week! Certain that the Lord had led her to this place, she accepted this meager salary even if it created a real problem for her. To pay the Lord the tithe of her income had become her practice, but it was impossible to pay both her tithes and board out of such a sum. Under no circumstances, however, would she rob God, no matter what personal privation she might suffer because of it. And according to His challenge He forthwith proved Himself to His faithful, obedient child. Impressed by the intelligence, industry, and efficiency of his new secretary, Mr. Wheelock raised her salary at the end of her first week of employment, her first payday, so that she was easily able to pay her tithes and to meet her obligations.
As Miss Wing worked at Tri-City Electric day after day, week after week, Mr. Wheelock was impressed not only by the efficiency with which she did her work but by the obvious fact that God was in her life. God’s Spirit now began to draw him unto Christ, and in time he joined the gathering of which his secretary was the leader. His sister, who kept house for him and his motherless children, was also converted, became an ardent Christian and one of Miss Wing’s personal friends. For the infant congregation to have among its members a rather prominent businessman of the city, and for Miss Wing to have an employer who was in full sympathy with the work of the Lord was indeed a signal act of God. The result was that Mr. Wheelock allowed her to leave her work at the office to pray for any sick calls demanding immediate attention.
One day a most urgent call came for her to pray for one of the most faithful members of their band who had become dangerously ill. At the time it came, she was already away on some other errand for the Lord, but upon her return to the office she found the memorandum and forthwith left to minister to this woman who lived across the Mississippi River.
When at length she arrived at the house, she was met at the door by the woman’s skeptical son. Curtly he told Miss Wing that there was no need for her, as his mother was dead, and forthwith began to close the door in her face. Then she asked if she might at least be permitted to look at the form of her friend. Reluctantly he admitted her. Neighbors who believed the woman to be dead had already prepared the body, home fashion, for the burial. As Miss Wing looked on her friend, she placed her hand on her head and, to the amazement of all, at that moment she opened her eyes, smiled, and arose.
Miss Wing’s success as a Christian worker could not go long unnoticed but soon attracted the attention of Dr. Dowie, so that he suggested she be ordained. Accordingly she was set apart for the ministry of the gospel in Chicago on May 24, 1901, together with a large number of other candidates. Among these was another young woman whom Miss Wing knew then perhaps only by name, but who, some years later, was to become one of her closest friends and coworkers – Lydia Leggett, who afterwards married George A. Mitchell.
Upon her return to Davenport Miss Wing entered upon a period of zealous activity for the Lord. Early in the summer she organized her flock for more systematic house-to-house visitation work in Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline. This work she and the group faithfully continued throughout the summer months even though they “found the majority of the people indifferent and unresponsive.” In addition to this canvassing Miss Wing conducted street meetings which, however, “brought little or no results.”
Nothing daunted or discouraged, Miss Wing sought for effective ways of winning souls. The most fruitful method she found was personal witnessing to individuals supplemented by a copy of the Leaves of Healing with its stirring, faith-inspiring sermons and its testimonies to God’s power to save and to heal.
The testimony of those healed as a result of Miss Wing’s ministry was also very effective. In June she was called to pray for a German woman who had suffered a stroke of paralysis. The next day she “so far recovered as to be able to sit upon the porch. Her mind and reason, which had been gone, were fully restored. The next Sunday she walked fourteen blocks and home again.” The same woman was also healed of rheumatism and heart disease in answer to the prayer of faith.
Another case of healing was of a man who had suffered from catarrh since childhood and had spent hundreds of dollars seeking healing. Miss Wing invited him to attend the meetings. “I was too sick to come,” he later testified, “but God enabled me to come in answer to prayer. I was very sick after I got there. We knelt in prayer and I arose still sick. Yet, praise God, the disease all vanished before I left the meeting. I threw away all my medicine and have laid aside my spectacles. I lean upon the precious promises of God. He has made me well.”
Another outstanding miracle was the salvation and healing of a woman eighty-one years of age who for forty years had been an infidel. Having lost her faith in God she had thrown her Bible into the fire. Then in her old age, somebody sent her the Leaves of Healing which she found so fascinating that she could not stop reading it, with the result that her faith in God came back and the Bible became a new book. Later she was healed of some trouble on her foot for which she had been operated repeatedly. Evidently it was a growth which would return after being removed.
The sister of Miss Wing’s employer testified that the Lord so touched her eyes that she had been “enabled to lay aside glasses entirely.”
Thus the Lord, by His own appointed means, confirmed His Word with signs following and added to the number of the gathering.
“NEITHER SHALL THE FLAME KINDLE UPON THEE”
“YOU HAD BETTER take the car and go right home!” Mr. Wheelock urged Miss Wing. He had just come into the Tri-City Electric store after learning that a terrible fire was raging through East Davenport and was swiftly sweeping northward toward the Mount Ida district of the city. Immediately he had thought of his secretary and asked her if she did not live in that neighborhood. Yes, she did.
Hurriedly Miss Wing left the office. Outside she found the skies filled with black clouds of smoke and the streets with people, many of them, like herself, trying to get to their homes before the fire reached them. It was impossible to get onto a street car, for they were already packed with passengers, so that there was nothing else for her to do but to walk to her place. A long, steep, uphill climb for about two miles, it was always wearisome, much more so now at the close of a sweltering July day (July 25, 1901), amid the crowds that thronged the hot, dusty streets. As quickly as possible, however, Miss Wing pursued her homeward course, realizing that the devouring flames were wildly racing nearer and nearer her home all the while.
Only a very short time before Miss Wing began her slow, uphill walk – within an hour at the very most – this fire had started on the bank of the Mississippi in a little curl of smoke. When the fire company had arrived, “the fire looked harmless enough at the time – just a fire in a good-sized stack of kindling wood. Within twenty minutes, however, it became “a crackling inferno,” threatening the entire city with destruction.
Note: “Centennial Edition” of the Morning Democrat, Davenport, Iowa, October 8, 1955 – This account is substantially the same as the original report in the same paper the day after the fire, July 26, 1901.
The fact is that the weather conditions had made such a situation not only possible but ideal. Davenport had suffered under intense heat for a long time; only the day before, the temperature had been 106°. For weeks and weeks no rain had fallen so that the city was “tinder-dry.” Now as the firemen tackled the kindling-wood fire, a strong south wind hampered their efforts and blew sparks into a pile of sawdust. From there the fire raced into a large nearby lumberyard.
“The path of tragedy had now been set. Fire crept into the huge stacks of shingles and lumber, then swiftly swirled into the sawmill, the offices, and storage barns of the company. Another alarm was sounded, more firemen raced to the scene, but the cry was up all over East Davenport that the fire had gotten away from the firemen. Hose lines burned in two, firemen were cut off from their hydrants; then, suddenly, with a roaring gust, the flames leaped across River Street and made their wild race for nearby homes and businesses.
“There was a wild stampede as residents... ran for their lives. The narrow streets of East Davenport were inches deep in dust. Teams and light wagons were urged through the screaming crowd. Women lost crying children from their grasp. Men yelled hoarsely. It was a scene of frightening confusion as the crowds surged up the hill to what they hoped was safety.
“Above it all was the tremendous hollow roar of the mountains of red flames. It was now twilight, but the black clouds of smoke made the scene as dark as midnight. The lumberyard that stretched for blocks was a volcano of fire. Flames climbed three hundred feet in the air; the up-draught was so great the fiery brands of four-by-four’s and six-by-six’s were sucked into it and then flung outward to start new fires. Houses were burning on all sides of the lumberyard fine; trees were going up like matchsticks.
Houses, dry from the lack of rain, burst into flame from the tremendous heat before they were ever touched by fire. So swiftly was the wall of fire now moving that firemen were practically helpless.”
“Time and again it was seen that the stream from a nozzle was licked up by the flame before it fell on the fire. The water never had a chance to fall on the burning wood. It was vaporized in the air,” wrote the eye-witness reporter in the next day’s Morning Democrat.
“Wooden sidewalks were the nemesis of East Davenport as the fire leaped toward the hills. The walks became pathways of fire... [and] were blamed for carrying the flames over a ravine and up the hill. Meanwhile, houses and barns in the Mt. Ida district were ignited by burning firebrands that filled the air. By now, there was a distinct threat that the entire east end of Davenport would become a huge, raging holocaust. Visions of the great Chicago fire were in everyone’s mind.
“As a last ditch effort to save houses north of the lumberyard, dynamite charges were set to create fire breaks. The blasts thundered and rocked all of Davenport, ploughing great furrows in the ground. But the effort was useless; the flames jumped over the blasted areas, and the fire fanned out anew…
“Rock Island and Moline fire departments were on the scene, and a hurried conference was called to try and stem the fire’s spread toward the business district. A do-or-die hose line was set up by firemen and volunteers of the three cities in the vicinity of U. N. Roberts Co…
“The buildings of that lumbering firm, previously spared by a favorable wind, were smoking by now, and employees were trying to soak them down with wet tarpaulins. If the lumber piles and drying sheds of Roberts Company caught on fire, there would be no checking the blaze as it pushed west and over the hill and possibly down to the business district. As firemen gathered hose in this vicinity for the final stand, adjoining housetops were already ablaze.”
All these details of the onward course of the fire Miss Wing could not know at the time, but when at last she reached the place where she was rooming at 734 (now 804) East 14th Street, she knew that the fire was quite near, in fact only a few blocks away. Even then the smoke from it was pouring over the house. She was confident that the house was going to burn down and rushed upstairs to her room to rescue whatever she could.
Upon entering her room, however, she could not think of one thing to do. As she stood there for a moment, she thought of her bank book. Then she saw her Bible lying on the middle of her bed, and she took it in her hand. That seemed to be all she needed.
With only her Bible she returned from the room, went downstairs and out onto the front porch. The flames of the Panoramic View of the raging fire could now be plainly seen, and the smoke was coming towards the house in thicker clouds. As she stood there watching the fire advance ever nearer, the words of Isaiah 43:2 came to her:
“Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
This was God’s word to her! Raising her hand toward the threatening, uncontrollable flames, she claimed that promise by an act of faith as indeed her very own.
At that very instant, the wind changed. The place was safe!
When she realized what had happened, she re-entered the house and went to her room, placed the Bible on the middle of her bed once again, and with deep humility returned thanks to God for His mighty preservation.
At the time, however, she did not know the full extent of the miracle God had performed for His handmaiden. When the wind changed, the flames were driven toward the river where the fire shortly spent itself. Thus, not only had her own place of residence and that particular section been spared, but the ravaging fire itself had been stopped, so that the entire city had been saved from possible complete destruction.
Most significant is the testimony of the reporter in the Morning Democrat the next day: “There never was a time when the fire was under control. It ran away at its start and never was checked except at its outskirts. It was not got under control, but burned itself out. All the hose of Iowa played on that crater of fire would not have been felt.”
And again it is stated, “It seemed impossible to keep the blaze out of the main Roberts yard. Then, there seemed a lull in the wind. The sparks quit blowing, and there was time for the firemen to re-group... Meanwhile, up on the hill, the fire was slowing down.”
No adequate, natural explanation could be given, but “up on the hill” a little woman had prayed, God had answered, and a whole city had been saved.
True, within three short hours or so, twenty acres of homes and business houses had been leveled to the ground, amounting in all to a loss of at least a million and a quarter dollars. The heat of the fire had been so great that it buckled the street car tracks. At least two hundred and fifty persons had been left homeless, but though a number of persons suffered burns, not a life was lost. “While it was a tragic fire, the biggest in the city’s history, it was a miraculous one, too,” concluded the Morning Democrat.
The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person indeed availeth much.
IN TREACHEROUS WATERS
IN PREPARATION for special services to be held in September (1901) by a visiting minister, Miss Wing and the members of the congregation “distributed some thousands of notices.”
“The meetings were full of blessing,” reported Miss Wing. “The interest gradually increased until, toward the close of the series, many were seeking the truth. At the last meeting... as the people passed out, strangers on all sides were heard expressing regret that they had failed to attend earlier. We believe an opening wedge has entered and that it is only the beginning of greater work for God through the three cities.”
Unquestionably that is what God intended to do. Alas, however, Miss Wing would not be permitted to see this “greater work” for which she had prayed so earnestly, had labored so faithfully, and which now seemed at hand, for soon she would be called to other fields of service.
Dr. Dowie carefully watched the regular reports which came to his office from his ministers. When he found promising workers, he usually brought them to headquarters, with a view to using their talents there or in some other place which he deemed more strategic or needful. Consequently it is not surprising that in the fall of 1901, he advised Miss Wing to give up her work in Davenport and to come to Chicago.
To even a casual observer it would not have seemed to be propitious for Miss Wing to leave the work there at that time. The assembly had been steadily growing under her ministry, and now there seemed to be a bountiful harvest at hand as a result of her prayerful sowing and watering of the precious seed of the Word of God. Later Miss Wing was certain that it would have been the will of the Lord for her to have continued in Davenport and not to have run away from the success He was so evidently giving. After all, she it was to whom God had given the light and faith of the work. She it was to whom the Chief Shepherd had given a shepherd heart for the sheep of that particular pasture.
At the time, however, she knew no other course than to follow Dr. Dowie’s directive. Certainly a man of God such as he, an experienced and great minister, would know the mind of the Lord better than she, a young Christian and only a beginning minister. Therefore, no matter how she may have felt in her own soul, humbly and unhesitatingly she obeyed him who had the rule over her, believing that his will must be the will of God and thus the spiritual thing for her to do.
The fact was that Dr. Dowie needed capable men and women to assist him in the gigantic project of building Zion City. Therefore, he called to headquarters many of his ministers whom he thought would be likely helpers. His plan was to build, first of all, a strong nucleus or home base and then from there to send out missionaries and evangelists to all the world. In the meanwhile most of these Christian workers would have to serve the Lord in a secular capacity with very limited opportunities for spiritual service. (But after all, was not all service of whatever kind for just one purpose?) This arrangement was intended to be only temporary. Alas, for many it became permanent and proved to be a dead-end street from which there was no exit. Thus many were sidetracked from the real call and purpose of God for their lives.
Such were the treacherous waters with its hidden shoals into which Miss Wing’s bark was being steered at this time. In November of 1901, Martha Wing left Davenport for Chicago.
That month, it may be noted in passing, Miss Wing celebrated her twenty-seventh birthday. This she eventually came to regard as an important milestone in her pilgrim journey, the close of a special period in her spiritual experience. Referring to this period she remarked many years later: “From the age of twenty-three to twenty-seven I was like a trunk in which the Lord packed away the truths of His Word.” During these four years the Lord had instructed His child, and she had been an apt pupil.
Thorough habits of study learned in earlier years she had applied in the study of the Scriptures which her notebooks, kept at this time, are eloquent evidence of, for she roasted that which she took in hunting. Here, for example, are her own lists of subjects studied in the Gospels:
Parables, Similes, Comparisons, etc.
Incidents of Healing
Incidents in Life of Jesus with exception of Healings
Jesus’ Teaching of Prayer
Jesus’ Teaching of Faith and Seeking
Note: Some of these studies she considered so valuable to her, especially the “Incidents of Healing” and her study on “Divine Healing,” that she copied them in a Bible she acquired years later.
In connection with her intensive study of the Old Testament it appears that it was at this time that she first read the Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, making numerous observations on the book and carefully comparing it with the Bible, noting any differences, additions, etc.
Note: Years later she was to return again to this volume, study it most carefully, making numerous comments and notations in the margins. This examination and study she extended to Josephus’ Wars of the Jews and, to judge by her markings, she prepared an abridged version of this remarkable book which deals with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and so contains the record of the fulfillment of a number of Christ’s prophecies. Of interest is the word she wrote on the title page of her copy: “The Bible has truth. Josephus –loquacity.”
All this assiduous, personal Bible study Miss Wing carried on in addition to her heavy business and ministerial schedule!
A knowledge of these facts gives special point to the testimony which Miss Wing gave in Chicago about two weeks after she had gone there: “I had two and a half years of invalidism. I have had two and a half years of active service… I know it is away beyond my natural strength the way I have been able to work, living almost the entire year on four and five hours’ sleep at night, and carrying on the work of two women, not having lost an hour’s work through sickness and not having missed a meeting. I think it is quite a record for a person who had been almost an invalid from birth.” Quite a record, it might be added, for even a person of normal health!
IN BY-PATH MEADOW
ONCE IN CHICAGO, Miss Wing was employed as a stenographer in the administrative offices of the church until the end of the year (1901). Then she was selected to be the secretary to Henry Stevenson, the manager of what was to be Zion City’s basic and largest manufacturing concern, Zion Lace Industries. To be chosen for this responsible position indicates something of the esteem in which she was held, for in addition to her secretarial duties this position included the spiritual oversight of the women employees of the factory. Early in 1902 she moved to Zion City, which had been officially opened the previous July, and so became an active pioneer in the building of a theocratic society, a community to be ruled by God and His laws alone, – one of the very last ventures in the United States of the kind which had brought her forefathers to this “strange country.”
Miss Wing’s first place of residence in Zion City was Edina Hospice. In reality a small hotel, it had been erected to house the employees, of the Lace Factory and other workers and prospective settlers until other living quarters might be available. Here the residents lived together “in harmony and peace and purity as one large family.” Operated by one of the officers of the church, the spiritual life of this large family was under the oversight of one of its ministers. For a time Miss Wing conducted the home’s daily family worship and taught a Bible class there – after the long working hours, of course.
During one of these classes Miss Wing was led to teach about the Christian’s thought life, using as the lesson text, Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
This command, the teacher pointed out, was written, not simply to be read, but to be obeyed literally by every true Christian. As a result of her teaching on this subject, every one in the home was stirred to action.
The waitresses, for example, agreed with each other to govern their table conversation by this verse. When one of the girls would start to tell a story, perhaps a bit of gossip just overheard in the dining room, she would be asked, “Is it true?” If she was not sure it was, then she could not go on with it. If, however, it passed this test, the story was subjected to the other standards enumerated in the verse. Perhaps it would pass all the tests until someone asked, “But is it lovely and of good report?” If there was any question about this, it was automatically eliminated from the conversation.
The men, too, undertook to obey this verse minutely in their quarters. One man was accustomed to play music on his violin which, while good in itself – probably even classical – reminded another man of the sinful life from which he had been delivered. After he had mentioned this fact, the violinist felt he should refrain from playing such numbers which could cause his brother to think impure thoughts and thereby to offend.
Naturally the effects of obeying this very simple and practical command revolutionized the spiritual life of the home, and its effects were felt and remembered many years later by those who participated in this effort to think and speak only those things which were “pleasing in His sight.”
Miss Wing’s ministry in the home and factory was only a part of her Christian service. Eager to bring the gospel of salvation, healing, and holy living to those still in darkness, in the spring of 1902, she led a group of workers from the home and factory to go to the neighboring cities of Waukegan and Kenosha to do house-to-house visitation each Sunday morning and to hold open-air meetings.
One of the most earnest participants in these various activities was a tall, handsome gentleman, Henry Walker Robinson. One of the early settlers of the city, he had come in 1901 from Toronto, Canada, together with his close friend, William Marlatt. Having heard that God was “in the midst of her,” Mr. Robinson came to Zion City, in the first instance, evidently to find out whether these things were so. “I had a battle before I became reconciled to the teaching of Zion. At last I realized that I was not right with God, and I became convinced that Zion was of God. I asked people to pray for me. That prayer was answered and God has blessed me.”
Born in England, April 7, 1874, Harry, as he was always called, migrated at an early age with his parents, Thomas and Eliza Jope Robinson, to Canada. An only son, he was the pride and joy of his mother, who devotedly cared for his every need. As a young man, he felt the call of God to the ministry and had engaged in Christian work.
In the Home and in the work of the Lord, Harry Robinson and Martha Wing were thrown into daily contact. A man of some culture beyond his fellows, pleasant and witty, and at the same time a zealous Christian worker, Harry was indeed attractive. Soon he and Martha found they had a number of common interests which made for congeniality. Ere long, the inevitable happened: Harry became Martha’s ardent suitor.
Quite some time before Martha Wing had ever met Harry Robinson, she had received the conviction in her soul that God desired her to remain unmarried that she might care only “for the things of the Lord” and “attend upon the Lord without distraction.” Dr. Dowie however, very definitely encouraged all the young women of his church to get married, bear children, and raise them for God and Zion. After all, Dr. Dowie had been right about so many things, and she knew it was certainly possible that she could be mistaken. Yet, there was the deep conviction in her soul which, to the best of her knowledge, had been given her by God.
Martha Wing was in the valley of decision. What should she do? There was only one thing which she desired in this world – the will of God. Of that she was absolutely certain, whether it meant for her to be single or to be married. But the contradictory ideas and advice she was given brought her into confusion. At length, however, she turned him down.
Conscientiously and diligently Martha Wing pursued her appointed tasks, in the office, the Home, and the harvest field, while all about her there was the feverish, bustling activity incident to the building of a city.
Some idea of the rapid and phenomenal growth of Zion City may be gathered from the fact that in less than nine months from the day that the gates of the city had been opened for settlers, it became “an incorporated city under the laws of the State of Illinois” (March 31, 1902). On the same day the city’s one house “for the worship and service of God,” Shiloh Tabernacle, designed to seat 6,300 people, was consecrated to God. Erected within forty-six days, much of the work was done “in the very dead of winter,” at a time when the ground was so hard that it was necessary “to use blasting powder in making excavations.” (Within a year this building would have to be enlarged to accommodate 8,000 people!)
Ten weeks later (June 19, 1902) Elijah Hospice, a large hotel which was to serve the same function as Zion Home had in Chicago, was formally opened. Not counting the public rooms, such as the dining room, it had 345 rooms. At that time, it was said that there were only two other frame hotels in the United States larger than this. Here guests, especially the sick seeking healing, were entertained; some of the out-of-town ministers of the church made it their home when returning for a visit or in the interim when they were being transferred from one charge to another. Still others made it their regular home. Here it was in the late summer that Miss Wing took up her residence, after she had spent some time – probably her vacation – ministering in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Here, too, it was in September, 1902, that Miss Wing first came into personal contact with the two ministers with whom she would later be most closely associated in the work of the Lord – Elder and Mrs. Eugene Brooks.
One of the testimonies to divine healing which had deeply impressed Miss Wing when she first read the Leaves of Healing was that of Mrs. Brooks, then Sara M. Leggett of Chesley, Ontario, Canada. Dying from a “blood tumor of a malignant form,” according to the doctor’s diagnosis, Sara Leggett had been taken on a stretcher from her home to Chicago, some five hundred miles, where, in answer to Dr. Dowie’s prayer of faith, she had been instantly healed. The detailed testimony of her months of struggle and of how the Lord Himself had led her step by step had been a great inspiration and encouragement to Miss Wing during her own period of seeking healing.
Since then she had been married to Elder Eugene Brooks, a capable, successful minister. (In one of his pastorates there had been an increase of five hundred members within the space of two years.) A bold and fearless fighter for the truth of God, he was at the same time a kind and faithful shepherd, respected and loved by his flock. The Brookses had recently come from Victoria, British Columbia, where they had labored with marked results. About forty of their parishioners had moved to Zion City so that it was deemed advisable for them to go elsewhere. While waiting for their next assignment, they lived in Elijah Hospice, occupying the room next to Miss Wing. In October they were sent to Toronto where some four years later they would again meet Miss Wing.
One thing the Brookses could not help notice was the fact that often, after her long hours of work in the Lace Factory office, she had a number of visitors. What they did not know was that usually, if not always, these were souls in great need. Often when sick people found the prayers of others unavailing, they sent for her or came to her for prayer. It was understood that she had power with God, and everyone for whom she prayed at this period of her ministry was healed.
The fact is that when she had prayed herself through to her own healing, God had given her, unknown to her at the time, a gift of healing. She did not, however, simply pray for a sick person when called to do so, but as God had dealt with her, so she dealt with others. When the answer to prayer was not forthcoming, she went to the bottom of each one’s condition, seeking to find what was hindering the deliverance or patiently teaching those who needed more light to enable them to appropriate the exceeding great and precious promises. No matter how much time or labor was involved, once she was appealed to and undertook the case, she saw it through by the grace of God.
With the increase of the city’s population and the presence of more men ministers, the sick were directed to call for them. This fact, together with her heavy schedule, afforded Miss Wing less and less opportunity to exercise her gifts or talents. Now it is a law of the kingdom that one must trade with his talents if he is to keep them and gain more. Some years later Miss Wing was to realize that at this time and for the reason suggested – not because she willfully buried her talent – there came a loss in her ministry and that in spite of her circumstances God held her accountable for not trading with her talents to the best possible advantage. She did, however, give of her time and service unstintingly wherever it was possible and in the ways prescribed for her.
As the captain or leader of a corps of well-trained personal workers, she took her group to Chicago each Sunday morning throughout the winter of 1902-03 to engage in an intensive program of house-to-house visitation. To do this, Miss Wing and her co-workers had to rise about five in the morning in order, first of all, to be present at the six-thirty service, appropriately called “The Early Morning Sacrifice of Praise and Prayer.” After this they left for Chicago, an hour’s trip by train. There Miss Wing and her fellow soldiers joyfully tramped the streets of Chicago, bringing the “gospel of peace” to each house and apartment in the area assigned them. Thus the entire morning was spent in the service of the King. After a cold lunch they returned to Zion City in time to be present at the main service of the week which lasted for three or four hours Sunday afternoon. Such was Miss Wing’s “day of rest” after working ten hours a day, six days of the week, at the Lace Factory, followed by numerous weekday services and much personal work.
Throughout the year she continued her work as the secretary to the manager of the thriving Zion Lace Factory. There her duties increased until, in addition to her regular secretarial work, she was also making out the biweekly payroll for the factory’s nearly five hundred employees. In spite of the ever increasing and more exacting demands made upon her time, strength, and service, Martha Wing faithfully maintained her personal communion with the Lord. To do this meant not only very early rising but seizing every possible opportunity she could to be alone with God. Often she would walk by some unfrequented, back way to or from work just to have a little more time with her Lord. How she longed for Him and craved His presence! How she desired to know Him better, to advance in her Christian life!
Early in 1903 Miss Wing moved to a private home. As Zion City grew, it was divided into districts with a church officer in charge of the spiritual life of each district. Miss Wing was appointed one of these district leaders. As such it was her duty to visit all the homes in her section periodically, to minister according to the special need, and to hold a prayer meeting weekly in one of the homes for the benefit of the entire group. To coordinate these many church activities there was a weekly officers’ meeting which Miss Wing attended faithfully. One of the most energetic of the district leaders, she was always ready with some scriptural teaching or exhortation in the officers’ meeting for her fellow ministers who highly esteemed her spiritual life and counsel.
Now, although Miss Wing unquestionably was happy in her Christian service and was zealously devoted to the building up of Zion City, yet clouds had gathered in her skies. Evidence of this is found in her poems written during 1902 and ‘03. In one of these she says:
“Weary at heart, and worn and sad,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Who like Thyself can make me glad,
Who from sorrow can set me free?”
And again she writes of friends who have “proved foes,” and the “venomous dart of pitiless tongues” which “has wounded the heart.”
Such lines certainly suggest sorrow and inner conflict. They also reveal a certain sensitiveness which their author possessed by nature. This trait was especially marked if she was criticized when she meant to do well, at least, but her motives were misunderstood and misjudged.
God was wanting to deliver her from such flesh. In fact, He was desiring to lead His child into death to self, utter crucifixion. Sincerely she desired the “whole will” of God to be done in her, the accomplishment of His plan. At the same time the process whereby this was being wrought out was painful to the extreme. As she contemplated God’s call and the path before her, she asked herself:
Death! Does it mean just this,
That my very self shall die?
That all the hopes and plans of years
I shall sternly mortify?
Must I die? – Die to all
That has made my life most dear?
The hopes and plans and the cherished ties
Formed through each passing year?
Conscious of her own weakness and natural inability to go that way, in another poem she prays:
Not the cries of my flesh,
I pray Thee answer for me,
But what Thou seest is best
And gladly dost give to me.
Yea, if my flesh rebels,
Yea, if my heart cries, “No,”
Heed not the selfish will,
But grant a new life shall grow.
Only to do Thy will,
Only to live for Thee;
Crucify, crucify self,
Ever Thine own to be.
On October 1, 1903, Miss Wing wrote “Gethsemane,” in which she described the sufferings of the Saviour, and then goes on to show how that each child of God who wants to go all the way with Him “must pass through alone his own dark Gethsemane.”
It was a very real question which God was putting before her at this time: Would she go all the way of the Cross, from her own Gethsemane to her Calvary, and die to herself so that, rising to newness of life, Christ would possess her fully?
“In the spiritual life,” says Brother Lawrence, “not to advance is to go back.” And according to Miss Wing’s own testimony of four years later, at this time she “slipped back.” Not into the world, of course. Not in her personal devotional life, either. This she maintained to a far greater degree than the average Christian ever thinks of doing. And certainly she did not slip back in her Christian service for God. She kept busy, probably too busy, for her best spiritual interests.
The ordinary Christian observer would not have seen, much less detected, any slip back in Miss Wing’s spiritual life or experience. Instead he would have seen her works, her patience, and her labors pursued without fainting. With Madame Guyon she could have said, “My infidelities were of a kind that would have appeared good to any other but to my God.” But God saw, and God detected that, however imperceptible and unintentional, there had come a waning not of religious practices and works but of that first love for just Himself.
The inevitable result was trouble and confusion in spirit, soul, and body. Now, for the first time since her miraculous healing four years before, she was troubled with some physical weakness in her body which she could not get the victory over. There was a diminishing of that abounding vitality which she had enjoyed. This was not of so serious a nature as to keep her from abundant labors, but there was a difference.
Unfortunate – even tragic – as is any slip back from the perfect will of God in the life of any child of God, yet it is still true that “God works all things together for good to them that love Him, to them that are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28 R. S. V.). The “all things” include our failures. One good which came out of Miss Wing’s mistakes of these years was to show other ministers where some of the hidden dangers lie along their pilgrim pathway. Thereby the teachable would profit by her mistakes and be saved some of the sorrow and loss which she had sustained.
Six weeks after Martha Wing wrote “Gethsemane,” her brother-in-law, Nettie’s husband, died most unexpectedly (Nov. 11, 1903). Within three or four weeks Nettie and her two children, Vivien and Gordon, moved to Zion City. Martha secured a house, and for about a year they all lived together. In the fall of 1904, it became advisable for Mrs. Graham to go to Chicago for employment. Taking Gordon with her, she left Vivien with Miss Wing. In December Vivien suddenly died – a tragic, bitter blow to herself as well as to the child’s mother and brother. Shortly after Vivien’s death Miss Wing went to lodge with a Mrs. Luber who had a large house conveniently located near the Lace Factory.
Miss Wing’s arduous labors in the office and in behalf of the church were certainly taking their toll on her in various ways. In addition, however, she was suffering, along with the entire city and church, from a spiritual decline in their leaders which naturally resulted in a decline in the spiritual life of all around. No longer was the quickening power of God manifest in the long services – meetings which had once been quite informal but were now increasingly heavily laden with ritualistic ceremony. People were becoming increasingly weary and discouraged for various reasons.
Now it was that Harry Robinson launched his final campaign to gain the object of his choice. For years, Martha had been subjected to increased pressure to get married. And so, at long last, Martha Wing said, “Yes.”
One thing probably influenced Martha Wing in her decision. If she married this young minister, it would mean that she would be released from secular employment and be free to engage in full-time ministry once more. This she had felt to be her call, but for almost four years it had had to take a secondary place. Until she became married there was little or no likelihood that she would get into full-time Christian service. Dr. Dowie championed the cause of women ministers, but he wanted them married, virtually insisted on it. Harry was to be given an assignment at this time in Detroit, Michigan.
On August 10, 1905, Martha Wing and Harry Robinson were united in marriage in the Luber home, attended by John D. Thomas and the bride’s sister, Nettie. One of the senior ministers of Zion, J. C. Excell, brother of the famous hymn-writer, E. 0. Excell, performed the marriage in the presence of family and close friends.
A three-week honeymoon followed at Ben Mac Dhui, the summer estate of Dr. Dowie on White Lake, Montague, Michigan, not far from Muskegon. There on August 15, Bethany Park Hospice, “a resort for all Christians who need to get away from business and the world for a season to rejuvenate and be quiet and alone with God,” was formally opened with Mr. and Mrs. Harry Robinson among its first guests. A beautiful boat ride across Lake Michigan brought guests to their desired haven
A SHREW OR A DOORMAT?
THE ROBINSONS went to Detroit, Michigan, to assume their ministerial duties on the first of September, 1905. Not only did they have charge of the congregation in that city but also of one in Toledo, Ohio, which necessitated much traveling between the two cities. Faithfully and acceptably they ministered to the flock over which they had been made the overseers. Mr. Robinson was primarily a preacher and quite an excellent one, while his wife was essentially a teacher. Thus their ministries complemented each other.
An old notebook contains the outlines of some Bible lessons which Mrs. Robinson taught at this time. For example, on November 19 she began to teach a series of lessons on the subject, “The First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ,” beginning with “Repentance,” followed the next Lord’s Day by one on “Faith.
The same notebook gives evidence of diligent, personal Bible study at this time, especially on such subjects as “Of the Spirit” and its counterpart, “Of the Flesh.” These topical studies are quite detailed, covering quite a bit of the teaching in the Epistles on these themes. Under her study, “Of the Spirit,” is a list of the fourteen characteristics of love as enumerated in First Corinthians Thirteen. Doubtless this was closely connected with her present spiritual experience.
As a result of a number of circumstances, the Lord had awakened Mrs. Robinson to the fact that she was not “perfect in love.” He allowed a number of “outrageously mean things” to be done to her. Personal insults were heaped upon her head. Misrepresented and misjudged, she was, in addition to this, often blamed for doing well. The gross injustice of her trials weighed heavily upon her.
Her first reaction was the natural one – rebellion followed by increasing bitterness, coupled with the temptation to retaliation. Soon she realized that she could either overcome or be overcome by this untoward condition. In desperation she said to the Lord, “You know, Lord, I can be either a shrew or a doormat.” Convicted of the difference between her attitudes and the standard of love plainly set forth in the Word of God and desiring to obey God no matter what the test, she solemnly consecrated to be a doormat for others to walk on – “anybody treat me anyway, and I love them.”
To live like this she realized she needed an abundant supply of the grace of God, something she saw was plainly lacking. To get this sufficient grace she knew she must go boldly to the throne of grace. This she did, determining that her spiritual need would be met as her physical need had been years before. Earnestly and methodically she began to pray to be made perfect in love.
Life in Detroit was a busy one. In addition to her duties in the home, she shared with her husband the work of the ministry with its services and visitation work, together with all the preparation which these various duties required. (Traveling to and from Toledo alone would take a large portion of their time.)
In spite of all this heavy schedule, resolutely Mrs. Robinson added to it by setting aside two hours of each day for prayer about her need of love. She would have full victory in her life. She took the Love Chapter, First Corinthians Thirteen, and specifically prayed over each individual phrase and clause. Weighed in these balances she found herself wanting. Clearly she saw that she was exercising flesh if and when she did not live that chapter, no matter what other people did. By it she saw that God was expecting her to go out joyfully to love others, “everybody without exception.” As she continued to pray, the Holy Spirit caused her to despise the workings of the flesh which that chapter revealed were in her, and she purposed to put her foot down on everything in her life – each thought, act, word, look, feeling – which was contrary to what was enjoined in that chapter. She saw, too, that she was to suffer in silence, for to want others to know if she did not feel well was “real shallow.” And this longsuffering – “not minding” must be with joyfulness.
Day after day she prayed. The days became weeks. The weeks lengthened into a month. One month into two months. And still she continued, day after day. The trials did not abate. If anything, the fire grew hotter and burned more fiercely. She was, however, learning her lessons and God was giving her the victory. And a light began to dawn which increased in brilliance: It must be the very life of the Son of God in me that will enable me to live out this chapter in my daily life.
“Two hours a day for three months I prayed for love,” she told a friend in later years. Then with a smile and a twinkle in her deep brown eyes, she added, “That shows how bad off I was!
At the end of the three months, however, she had prayed through her consecration to be a doormat for others to walk on. Henceforth, no matter what anyone else did, she could and did live a life of perfect love, even under the most provoking circumstances. The answer was worth far more than the effort.
Her consecration was to be tested again and again in the months and years ahead. And many times the Lord allowed her to be what she had consecrated to be – a doormat. But the life of the indwelling Son of God made it possible for her to be just that and to be it without murmuring or complaining, but joyfully.
ALTHOUGH MR. AND MRS. ROBINSON were blessed and used of God in their ministry in Detroit and Toledo, they were not satisfied. They were very busy for the Master, to be sure; they engaged in many works, but they did not see fruit commensurate with their efforts or such as is promised. Realizing that she shared the responsibility of the ministry with her husband, Mrs. Robinson began to search her own heart for the reason, to see what might be in her that was hindering the fullness of blessing.
Asking God to show her herself, she endeavored to look at herself “squarely” as He saw her. As she did this, in December, 1905, she was led to be “definite” by “taking a paper and writing down in plain black and white, ugly, horrid-looking sins, failures, and weaknesses of my life – just every one out in plain, disagreeable English.” By this means she was “much helped.”
“Of course, everyone might not be so led,” she added when writing to her sister Nettie of this experience, “but it made me clear-cut and honest with myself.” “A little introspection… is excellent, for if one is to seek God, one must feel one’s need of God. And perhaps the only way to do that is to get a good view of one’s self. If we get that, we will see our tremendous need of God to make us fit to live… God’s looking-glass never makes us conceited.”
“Then I put [the list of my sins, failures and weaknesses] before God and just told Him there was my mean, wretched, useless, good-for-nothing life. Here it was, a perfect fizzle, and yet I gave it to Him… I… finally wrote my consecration down. I just made a contract with the Lord, that I gave myself wholly, unconditionally, to Him… In my contract I listed what I gave – weak body, poor education, weak spiritual life, bad nerves, loose tongue, etc.
“You may laugh, but I was honest with myself for once,” she wrote Nettie. “It wasn’t very flattering.” But then, she continued, “When we really size up what we are giving to God, we will find it mighty little.”
Having begun to see herself as God saw her and having given herself anew to God, she prayed an earnest prayer of confession and consecration (December 18, 1905). “I told Him I was so weak, and cold, and helpless; I was just a babe crying in the night. I wasn’t able to come to Him, nor really to give myself; He must take me, He must undertake for me.”
“I had so little of the spirit of prayer at the time, I felt as if my words didn’t reach Him. They did, you know, but I felt as if they didn’t. …But I meant business and wanted Him in all His fullness; and He took me right then and there. Of course He did, [but] I did not have a particle of feeling about it.
“And do you know what happened? I did all the worst things I was equal to, all piled up together, for a long time; by spells, you know. But I really wasn’t any worse in God’s sight, inside, you know. Only God let things come into my life that roiled up the dirt inside and made me see what a poor, useless piece of humanity I was. God knew my bump of self-esteem needed carving off first of anything, so that is how the work began in me.
“Yet most of us need a look at ourselves, not a general knowledge that we are sinners, but a good look at our sins and unrighteousness. If we put ourselves into His hands absolutely, He is going to give us what we need; and He lets just the trials come upon us that will reveal our weaknesses to ourselves; or He will let us be rubbed and hurt most where there is an unsightly excrescence that needs to come off.
“All this alternately discouraged me and set me to seeking harder. I had hot spells and cold spells: ups and downs. I couldn’t see that God had really undertaken my case. There was no one to give me light how to yield myself, and the Holy Ghost had to teach me as best He could from the outside.”
“Seeking harder.” Those two words adequately describe Mrs. Robinson’s life throughout the months which followed, a period of earnest supplication in which the Holy Spirit faithfully instructed His apt pupil in the ways of God. In turn she put her lessons into immediate practice.
It was during this time that her attention was especially directed to the very first recorded instruction of the Great Teacher, The Sermon on the Mount. There she found the Beatitudes, a passage well known to her. However, as she meditated upon these “Blesseds,” she realized that they were something to be experienced in one’s life. And the question which logically followed was, “Am I poor in spirit?”
Immediately she resolved to pray through each of the Beatitudes, as she had done on the subject of love, beginning with the first one:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Now when anyone begins to pray in earnest over this subject and really desires to be poor in spirit, no matter what his previous ideas or his grasp as to its meaning may have been, he is bound to come to the place quite soon where he wants to know exactly what it is that he is praying for. What does God mean by this? So it was with Mrs. Robinson who testified, “I came to that place and stumbled over it, wondering what it is.”
This question is very likely to be followed by an utter emptying of one’s preconceived ideas of the subject, in order that the soul may come into complete reliance upon Christ, Himself, for the experience. Then it is that the Holy Spirit Himself can begin to instruct the seeking child in the ways of the Kingdom of God, for poverty of spirit is absolutely fundamental to having Christ reigning within the soul.
Oh, to be nothing, nothing!
Only to lie at His feet,
A broken and emptied vessel,
For the Master’s use made meet,
Emptied — that He might fill me,
As forth to His service I go;
Broken — that so unhindered
His life through me might flow.
These words sing the experience, for to be nothing and Jesus everything is the secret of poverty of spirit. To be poor in spirit is to have the consciousness that you are nothing, that you know nothing, that you can do nothing. True poverty of spirit brings one into utter silence about one’s self, into utter abandonment to the Holy Spirit, and into utter reliance upon Christ. To be poor in spirit is to have the mind of Christ with His thoughts and attitudes instead of one’s own. It is an all-inclusive experience and at the same time one so exceedingly simple as to be easily misunderstood and lost.
Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ, be seen, he known, be heard,
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.
(The author of that blessed song remains anonymous, but the music for those words was written by a man who had a deep, rich experience of poverty of spirit, A. B. Simpson.)
Doubtless this portrayal of poverty of spirit is inadequate and imperfect, but the fact is that it is not something to be grasped intellectually or to be described by words of man’s wisdom. As Mrs. Robinson herself said at one time, “You don’t understand it until you experience it.”
Another thing that is certain is that it is not entered into simply by prayer. “You must be ready to go through the mill connected with getting the experience,” she once taught a young man who desired to be poor in spirit. And that mill’s stones grind exceedingly fine! So fine, in fact, that very few are willing for the milling.
Mrs. Robinson prayed on and on to be poor in spirit. Throughout these months she indeed went through the mill – God allowing “just the trials,” the rubbings, and the hurtings, needful for the perfecting of His child.
“I prayed seven months for it, and then the Lord stopped me and told me I had it.” She did not, however, feel that she “had it” in the sense that it was an experience she could hold and keep, apart from Christ. Oh, no! for “poverty of spirit never lets anyone feel he knows anything or can do anything, but lets him have faith for the indwelling Christ and the in–working of what He wants to do.” It is allowing the King to set up His Kingdom within the soul. Hence He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Note: The exact time when this occurred is unknown to the author. Mrs. Robinson did state that she began this prayer before her baptism in the Holy Spirit (December, 1906), and it appears likely that she probably finished this prayer before that event too.
In the school of the Holy Ghost at this time she did learn that a person would have to be poor in spirit if he was to be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, for it is one of the prime preparations for a Holy Ghost ministry.
She learned something else. She found that poverty of spirit is the key to all the other Beatitudes, that if one has prayed the first one through, the rest follow almost as a matter of course. More than this, perhaps, was the light given that it is the open door to the glories of all the truth that is in Christ Jesus.
DISCOVERING THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
IN SEPTEMBER, 1906, Mr. Robinson sent his wife to Zion City for a visit. Serious trouble had arisen in the church, and Mr. Robinson desired to know the true state of affairs. This, he felt, could be ascertained only by first-hand investigation. Inasmuch as he did not feel free to leave the work in Detroit at the time, he sent his wife “to spy out the land.” In addition to this, it would give Mrs. Robinson an opportunity to visit her mother and sister.
The Zion City to which Martha Wing Robinson returned about the middle of September was a very different city from the one she had left a year before. Then it was a united community, religiously, economically, and politically, under the vigorous leadership of John Alexander Dowie.
Whatever cracks there may have been in that solidarity were scarcely discernible from the outside at least. The inner disaffection, however, had ripened until now both church amid city were hopelessly divided, full of strife and bitterness.
Just a year before, Dr. Dowie had suffered a stroke, as a result of the heavy burdens he had borne, so that he was unable to minister or to conduct the affairs of the city. Financial difficulties which had been developing for some time now came to a head. The local bank failed; the city and its industries went into receivership. Worst of all, the people, for the most part, lost confidence in the man they had loved so dearly, respected so highly, and had followed so obediently. As a result, early in the year, Dr. Dowie had been deposed from his position as head of the church and large numbers had left the church. Thus the seamless robe of unity was rent into many jagged pieces.
Over all the city there hung heavy, dark clouds of discouragement and black despair. Crushed and broken, the people seemed hopeless, for the cherished hopes and dreams of a city of God on earth had vanished. Over all seemed written “Ichabod” – the glory is departed!
God, however, had reserved for His dear people an even greater glory than any they had yet seen or dreamed of. Faint, bruised, and scattering, He beheld them and had a plan “to bind up the brokenhearted.” Unto them that mourned in Zion He would give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… that He might be glorified.” Over all the chaos the Spirit of God was brooding. “And God said, Let there be light.”
A few days before Mrs. Robinson returned to Zion City, God sent a man anointed of the Spirit of God to preach good tidings – that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for the people of God today just as on the Day of Pentecost.
Reports of the outpouring of the Spirit in Los Angeles had preceded the arrival of this brother. Consequently, there were many that were keenly interested and ready to hear this man. Therefore, when the manager of the hotel (Elijah Hospice), George Rogers, learned of the message of this evangelist, he made arrangements for him to hold a meeting in one of the large assembly rooms of the place, so that the minister could expound this “new doctrine.” His first meeting was followed by a second one the next afternoon. When, after a little, “the powers that be” learned of the nature of the meetings that were going on, they forbade them to be held in the hotel.
As a result, many homes were opened in various parts of the city where the meetings continued. Attendance at these cottage meetings steadily grew and increased until the porches and even the yards of the houses were filled with eager listeners. Among these were also the curious and the scoffers, but “many who ‘came to scoff remained to pray’!”
This man’s “good news” came “as cold waters to a thirsty soul,” and it met the longing of their famished, hungry hearts. Hope revived. People began to seek the Lord for the baptism of the Holy Spirit which, they were assured, was for even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” With many, everything else became secondary to seeking God. Some became so desperate that they took off from work to be able to wait on Him uninterruptedly.
“We would go at nine o’clock in the morning and stay all day and far into the night,” recalls one participant. Some did stay all night. Day after day we met to wait upon and to seek the Lord.”
Now when Mrs. Robinson arrived in Zion City this revival was just beginning. The whole city had been stirred by this “new” teaching. Some said it was of God. Others said it was of the devil. Mrs. Robinson made it her business to investigate the meetings firsthand and to search the Scriptures to see if this teaching was correct.
For nine months she had been seeking God most earnestly. The soil of her soul had been plowed and harrowed and now was well prepared for this seed. “I seized the advanced teaching readily,” she said, and soon had “settled it by the Word and my soul with God” that this is that which was prophesied by the prophet Joel, “in the last days I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” She was not, however, immediately persuaded that this experience was for everybody – even her. But whatever questions she may have had about the baptism of the Holy Spirit being for her personally were answered by what she witnessed on the night of October 18.
That night, when most of the people began to leave the meeting, a young woman, Marie Burgess, lingered on, earnestly seeking the Lord. Miss Burgess, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, had been a very successful food demonstrator in Zion General Store. When she began to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to invite her customers to the Pentecostal meetings, many of them personal acquaintances and friends, she lost her job because the store was managed by officers of the Zion Church. This left her free to seek the Lord continually. For three days and nights now she had prayed without taking her clothes off. Today, her birthday, she had fasted also, for she desired only one birthday gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now her birthday was almost over, the meeting seemed finished, and she had not received the baptism. Keenly disappointed, she told the Lord of her feelings. In reply, He instructed her how to receive – to thank the Lord for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Suddenly the Holy Spirit began to shake Miss Burgess and continued to shake her for an hour. Then she began to speak in tongues and at the same time had a series of visions which lasted several hours.
Among the few others who remained were Fred Bosworth, the bandmaster of Zion’s rather well-known prize band, and Mrs. Robinson. As Mr. Bosworth saw Miss Burgess receiving her baptism, faith rose in his soul for his own baptism. Soon he, too, was filled with the Spirit. (This was the man who became an evangelist of world-wide fame and blessing.)
All the while that these chosen vessels were being filled, Mrs. Robinson tarried with them, watching and praying. When the Spirit of God had completed His work in Miss Burgess, it was nearly five the next morning. As she prepared to go home, Mrs. Robinson remarked to her, “I have seen two wonderful baptisms tonight that have completely convinced me.”
Note: Marie Burgess was to go to New York City three months later and open a mission which became Glad Tidings Tabernacle. Later she married Rev. Robert A. Brown. For more than fifty years Mrs. Brown has faithfully held forth the Word of Life in the great metropolis.
“Having quite settled it that Jesus does baptize with the Holy Ghost, that He wills to baptize all, even me, I accepted Him in this capacity also,” Mrs. Robinson wrote in her diary. She was, however, to have “a period of deep seeking” during which the Lord would teach His child a number of lessons, both for her own good and the good of those to whom she would later minister, before He would baptize her. These lessons are best told in her own words, written a few months later: “When I first began to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was a bundle of nervous, impatient restlessness. I wanted my blessing so quickly… I did not have doubts to battle against. Everyone looked for me to sweep through into victory quickly. So did I. Therefore, the more other people got their blessing around me, the more positively did I pray and seek and agonize and wonder and get anxious and upset. I went from meeting to meeting. And when the meeting went wrong and Satan seemed to be permitted to hinder, I chafed and rebelled in spirit, feeling I was losing time.
“One day a quiet little German woman said to me, ‘Sister, you have too restless a nature. You need to get still. You don’t stay put. Instead of getting quiet before God, you wait for influences about you to get into the right attitude. You come into a meeting, and if the speaker doesn’t please you, you slip out. If you feel like prayer and there is speaking or testimony, you fret in your spirit. You need to give yourself more over to God, and when you go to a meeting, look for a blessing, but take it in God’s way.’
“This opened my eyes. I saw I was running myself. I determined to give God a better chance to work out His will with me. From that time I endeavored to abandon myself in a meeting to the will of God. It took time to learn the lesson, but I learned it. This abandonment is necessary in a meeting in order to get blessing. In a meeting where there is liberty of the Spirit, there are many things our flesh, until it is brought into subjection, will rise against.
“I objected heartily in the beginning to emotionalism. I could not keep my mind, eyes, nor disapproval off of manifestations about me. I have always been acutely susceptible to peculiarities of speech or manner in others. Satan took pains I should remain so. I had my own pronounced, very pronounced opinions of the way things should be done. One by one God helped me to lay all these things down, to give my spirit up to Him, to rivet my thoughts on Him, and not to feel ruffled or disturbed by any unfortunate turn in the meeting, any unwise testimony, any extreme and perhaps really fleshly emotionalism, any absurd prayer.
“All these things are bound to come into meetings from time to time, and until we can realize that the Lord is quite able and sufficient to care for His own work and overrule anything the flesh or the devil may bring in, we will permit Satan to have the triumph of accomplishing one of the very purposes for which he has introduced these things, that is, distraction of our thought, or disgust with the meeting, or a rebellion of spirit that preclude all possibility of blessing. The ability to sit in a high, sweet calm above the mistakes and vexations is of inestimable blessing in a meeting where all are unitedly seeking God.
“The lesson I had to learn in the meetings has been steadily impressed on me all the way along, until the tendency to ‘run’ other people, to put my hands on God’s work, to carry responsibilities that are not mine, has been gradually more and more eliminated. I realize we carry many burdens God never gave us to carry and that we have no right to carry; in fact, that we presume upon God’s goodness when we attempt to carry them. How much slower we would be with our advice, our assistance, our pushing in to straighten out mistakes, if we could see things as God sees them and stay just where God puts us. This wretched energy of the flesh. How much I have had!
“While seeking during this period I became greatly humiliated. As others of shorter experience and presumably less acquainted with the deeper things of God swept into blessing, I was made to feel my unworthiness in the sight of God. God so permitted this to grow upon me that presently I was right down in the Slough of Despond. I felt that I had had such blessings and so slipped back from and misused them that I had grieved the Holy Spirit away. Satan began to tell me my opportunity was passed by, that I would never get the blessing.
“One day in the midst of the darkness of this experience I shut myself into a dark closet and waited alone on God. While I was praying, I seemed to have a vision of the omnipotence of God. I did not see Him – but His majesty, His glory, His power. Far, far up in the heavens, millions upon millions of miles away, it seemed, He dwelt enthroned in awful, majestic power, eternally calm, eternally distant. Glory and light were around His throne. Peace and purity enveloped Him. No words or pen can ever express even that glimpse of God’s matchless, supreme, majestic authority.
“And then I saw something else. Far, far down, away from the glory of His presence, in the cold and dark of a terrible, impassable distance, was an atom – a tiny, useless atom, tossed hither and thither. And that atom was myself, and the truth that impressed me in the sight was that the atom was not needed, was useless, cast away, and that its immediate annihilation would be no loss to God’s great universe.
“Just as I was sinking under the terrible reality of this picture and the humiliation and hopelessness of the revelation, a change took place. A shadowy light like a path began to show itself between the atom and the great God. Down toward the atom it was dim and indefinite but grew brighter and brighter until it was lost in the glory of that great God. And as I gazed, I was conscious that the Good Shepherd was leaving the glory and coming, all alone away from the Father, down to the darkness that surrounded that atom, my lost self.
“O such an illumination as God gave me of Jesus leaving His throne in Heaven and coming all the way to Calvary for me. A new meaning came to me that has never left – the personal application of the blood of Jesus for my sins – what it had meant in my life that Jesus died for me, and yea, where I would be today if Jesus had not died for me. It shows me still where every sinner out of Christ is, and that only as the Good Shepherd leads them up to God can they find the way. For this is what seemed done to me – Jesus came closer, closer, and finally gently led me up the path for a little way.
“And then the vision passed, and I saw that that was where I was – just a little way, not yet out of the twilight, up the path of the just that ‘shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day;’ but I was in the Good Shepherd’s care, and the love as well as the power of God was impressed upon my soul.”
Note: Mrs. Robinson wrote this account of her seeking for the baptism almost a year afterwards, some time after August, 1907, incorporating it in her journal. After this last paragraph she adds, before continuing the narrative in chronological sequence, the following: “Sometime since my baptism, when wondering at my own slow progress in the things of God, one day while in prayer a sweet peace fell upon me, and for a moment I again saw the picture of this path. It was a blaze of glory up toward the Lord, and I was still down the path, but in a much clearer, brighter light than when the vision was first given me. And God showed me that I was going evenly, steadily forward into greater light continuously.”
The days were slipping by all too quickly. Soon Mrs. Robinson must return to her husband and the work in Detroit. How she longed to receive her baptism before that! Most earnestly, therefore, did she wait upon God during the last two weeks of October. Others tarried with her and sought to encourage her.
“Come on up. The scenery is fine,” said Miss Burgess to her one evening.
“The scenery along the way is fine,” replied Mrs. Robinson.
Yes, “the scenery along the way” was fine. Jesus was becoming even more real and precious, but on November first she left Zion and returned to Detroit – without having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
STANDING UPON THE ROCK
UPON HER RETURN to Detroit, Mrs. Robinson gave full reports, both of the conditions in the church and city and of the Pentecostal revival. Not a man to be easily or quickly persuaded of new light or experience, Mr. Robinson continued with the Zion Church, ministering to the flocks which had been entrusted to his care.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Robinson continued to seek the Lord with ever-increasing intensity, determined to have all that God had for her. Still her cry seemed to go unanswered. Of course, God was answering and doing a mighty work of preparation in her soul for subsequent blessings, but she was not getting what she was expecting. She would not, however, be discouraged nor denied.
Now Mrs. Robinson well knew that “the very first step toward getting anywhere into the deep things of God is an absolute surrender, consecration, abandonment to God,” and that “we may pray until doomsday for a perfect work in us, but it will never be done until we let go of ourselves – give ourselves over to Him.” To the best of her knowledge, she had done this; but when she did not receive the victory she was so earnestly striving for, she decided to make “a thorough canvass” of her life, “to know if everything were wholly God’s, spirit, soul, and body.”
Diligently Mrs. Robinson searched her heart. Harry and her home, her friends and their approval, her position, her ambitions and plans, her religious work and her future work, life itself – all went on the altar. These items she evidently added to the contract she had made with the Lord the year before. Certainly her consecration was now complete.
At this point she left her room to go downstairs, but at the top of the stairs the Spirit of God stopped her and spoke in her soul, “There’s one thing you haven’t given.” What could it be? She pondered. She had given everything she could think of. She retraced her steps, entered her room, took out her written consecration, re-read it, and tried her hardest to think of what it was she had not given. She could not possibly think of one thing she had reserved.
At length the Lord Himself told her: “It’s your reputation you haven’t given.” So she added to the list, “my good reputation.”
(Reflecting on this later, Mrs. Robinson said, “It was a very good thing I did, for it was not long before it was ruined.”)
About ten days or so after this, “in the midst of a time of deep prayer”, the Lord gave His seeking child a vision of her heart, “absolutely empty and clean.”
“Why, it’s nothing but a hollow shell!” Mrs. Robinson exclaimed. Then she continued her relation of this precious experience: “And Jesus spoke and said, ‘I will come in and make it a well of praises.’
“But He didn’t then. And the experience that followed was just that sense of emptiness and cleanliness. I went around for days feeling as if my heart were empty and terribly clean, but not a feeling of any other kind. No joy, no change of any kind, no increase of love. I never heard of any other person having this experience.”
It was at or near this same time, in December, 1906, that the Holy Spirit spoke over her lips the one word, “Baptized.” From that moment on she claimed her baptism in the Holy Spirit as an accomplished fact, though it was not until two months later, February 11, 1907, that she spoke in tongues for the first time. In the meanwhile, she “just held on believing” for the complete fulfillment and manifestation of the word spoken to her.
During this waiting period her faith was sustained and strengthened by Exodus 33:21 and 22, the same verses that God had used to lead her “into a firmer, less wavering hold on God’s promises when she was seeking her healing eight years before.
“These words were spoken by the Lord to Moses at a time in his experience when he was crying out for God,” Mrs. Robinson commented in writing of her baptism. “The people had sinned; God had said He would not go with them to the land of Canaan, but in answer to Moses’ prayer the promise was given, ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.’ And Moses answered, ‘If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.’
“And then Moses began to plead with a great hunger for more, ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ And as a result of that prayer, the Lord made the promise, ‘Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.’
“After a period of deep seeking for God’s work in me, which corresponded in my experience to that of Moses crying after God, I came into that place of confidence that the work would be done and that I should be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Then God permitted my patience and faith to be severely tested by a long waiting time, in which there was no apparent change or progress.
“‘Let patience have her perfect work.’ How glibly we say it to others when they enter upon their testing times. How difficult it is to let it be worked out in our own experience.
“I found all I could do was ‘to stand.’ Ah, I was on the Rock, Christ Jesus, and had the invincible ‘promise of the Father’, and all I could do was to wait for the ‘glory to pass by.’ Over and over I would say to myself when God seemed to delay, and Satan would tempt me to doubt or anxiety, ‘I am getting off the Rock, and I must patiently wait until the glory passes by.’
“I learned some new lessons. There are more ways than one of hindering the glory passing by. I found that in this patient waiting time one must watch as well.
“I imagine Moses thought of nothing else until the glory passed by. We can’t imagine him settling down to read, or write, or study out some problem, ‘in the meanwhile.’ Neither can we imagine him slumbering – ‘taking a little nap’ – until the blessing came. If he had done any of these things, surely the glory never would have passed by. I think he was watching, expectant, earnest, undoubting, ‘watching for the glory,’ the sign God had given that He Himself Would pass by.
“While all seeking the Baptism of the Holy Ghost are not so situated that they can drop everything, literally, and tarry in one place, yet [it] is possible for a man to so earnestly accept the blessing that he will get upon the Rock and stay there and continuously, unremittingly, expect Jesus to pour out the Holy Spirit.
“Moses took no one with him to the secret place God showed him. We have to come into our deep experiences alone in the Spirit. It may be in a meeting, or with companions, in our closet, or in a crowded office, store – but whatever comes to one in the Spirit must come direct from God, and no one else can partake of our own especial experience. Words, as we testify, fail to convey one-half of the reality. And we stand alone. We must be shut in with God so that waking and sleeping, working or praying, the running current of thought is Jesus.
“Many seek for a time, and then, because there is delay, let their minds wander to other things, or get into a lethargic, indifferent spirit, which I have called ‘taking a nap.’ We are apt to deceive ourselves, under both these conditions, that we are really ‘waiting.’ Alas, no, God sees differently and we may ‘wait’ indefinitely in this way. One may ‘tarry’ indefinitely, that is, drop all other duties, and yet not truly tarry in spirit. And again one may be busy, but yet have a tarrying spirit – that is, a waiting, expectant, prayerful spirit, and unbroken communion with God.
“I learned these lessons largely through my experience, but praise His name, I stayed upon the Rock and waited until – the glory passed by, and He put me in the cleft of the Rock and ‘covered me there with His Hand.’ “Jesus baptized me with the Holy Ghost, amid truly I find myself in the cleft of the Rock.”
THE CALL TO TORONTO
MR. ROBINSON HAD BEEN giving due consideration to the message of Pentecost… especially since his wife’s return to Detroit. He desired to have whatever God had for him, but he had not as yet been convinced of the scriptural–ness of this new teaching. Mrs. Robinson finally suggested that he go to Zion City and see the meetings for himself. Deciding to do this, they went so as to be there for the “All Night with God” service, December 31, 1906. Very shortly Mr. Robinson was assured that Pentecost was of God and then began to seek for his baptism.
This decision was of great importance and consequence for the Robinsons personally. First of all, it meant leaving the Zion church in which they had received such blessing and to which they had been so devoted. That in itself was doubtless made easier by the tragic events of the preceding year. More than just leaving the church, however, was involved. It meant giving up their ministry and visible means of support. In other words, it meant “boldly entering upon a life of trust” in God for the supply of all their material needs as well as for a ministry. A momentous decision, indeed! With full knowledge of its implications and with implicit faith in God, they resolutely took the step regardless of the consequences.
The immediate effect of resigning from Zion was a sense of release as from a prison. Now they were free from the binding chains of man’s decisions, free to follow the Lord just as He would lead them. With this freedom Mrs. Robinson received a deep conviction: “I got the light that God did not want me to be affiliated with any organization.” And she never was for the remainder of her life – thirty years.
The Robinsons continued in Zion City for a short time, attending the meetings and a Bible school which the evangelist conducted, all the while seeking the Lord for the fullness of the blessing which He had promised. Their earnestness and spirituality, coupled with their ministerial abilities, deeply impressed their teacher.
One of the earnest seekers in these meetings was Lydia Leggett Mitchell (Mrs. George A.) who, it will be remembered, had been set apart for Christian work at the same time as Mrs. Robinson some five years before. Mrs. Mitchell had sent regular reports of the outpouring of God’s Spirit to her sister and brother-in-law, Elder and Mrs. Brooks, in Toronto. For some time they had been dissatisfied with their spiritual experience and had been praying to be filled with the Spirit. Consequently, they were prepared souls for the message of the baptism of the Spirit. Realizing their keen interest in this Pentecostal outpouring, Mrs. Mitchell expressed a desire to the evangelist in Zion that it might be possible for him to visit the Brookses in Toronto. Whether or not it was this suggestion which prompted him to go there, the fact is that some time in January, 1907, he went to that city and directly to the assembly of which Elder Brooks was the pastor.
Elder Brooks asked the evangelist to preach and was tremendously impressed with his message. As a result, Elder Brooks invited him to hold some special meetings in which five or six Pentecostal missions of the city united. Together they rented Wolesley Hall, downtown on Gerard Street, as a more centrally located place for the services. This done, the special speaker virtually took over.
At the end of three weeks, when the evangelist had to leave, he suggested that to avoid showing preference to any of the leaders of the groups which had participated in the special meetings some outside ministers be invited to come and to take charge of the work he had begun. This proposition agreed to, he forthwith dispatched an invitation to the Robinsons to come to Toronto, requesting an immediate decision to be given the same day – “before sundown.”
Mrs. Robinson had no witness in her soul that this call was the will of God for them, but naturally it was for her husband to decide. She had felt impressed that they should return to Detroit, doubtless to give the beloved sheep of their recent pasture the opportunity, at least, of learning the truth about the baptism. This would certainly seem to be the logical, the spiritual, thing for faithful shepherds to do.
For Mr. Robinson the call to Toronto doubtless had several very appealing features. First of all, it was a definite open door to minister. (Were they to return to Detroit, they could not return to their former assembly, as such, for they had severed their connections with the denomination.) In addition to this, Mr. Robinson was a Canadian and had spent some time in Toronto previously. Perhaps a minor, secondary, consideration was the fact that his close friend, William Marlatt, with whom he had originally come to Zion City, now lived there.
At any rate, he accepted the invitation and with his wife went to Toronto in February, where they stayed with the Marlatts who ran a boarding house at 5 St. Albans Street (now 5 Wellesley Street W.), which was only a few minutes’ walk from Wolesley Hall, their place of ministry.
THAT I MIGHT KNOW HIM
MRS. ROBINSON BEGAN her ministry in Toronto by taking a very careful inventory of her spiritual stock. In her journal, under date of March 5, she writes: “Praises to Thy precious Name! Thou hast redeemed me! Thou hast called me by name. Thou art mine. As I look over the written prayer offered a year ago – Dec. 18, ‘O5 – I cannot thank Thee enough for having so led me on. I am still a weak but no longer a sinful child, and Thou hast increased my faith a little and hast answered prayer in a measure, and there is a slight measure of power in my work. And praise God I am no longer cowardly. ‘Anywhere’ with Jesus I will gladly go. I am no longer nervous to any degree. Alas, sometimes I am momentarily irritable. I no longer talk of private prayer and Bible study—but I also practice. I have the indwelling Spirit in a measure, and I am consecrated – absolutely, wholly. Praise and glory be to Jesus.
Note: Although this prayer is not to be found among the journals Mrs. Robinson left, it is evident from various references found elsewhere that it had to do with the spiritual crisis which occurred then and is referred to in Chapter XVI
“The steps back to God have been seeing the nakedness and uselessness and powerlessness of my life, listening to the Voice of God, continuous prayer for the Holy Spirit to come in, much searching of the Scriptures, much humbling by the Hand of God, perseverance, patience, importunity, steadfastness, the dying out of the self-life, the glorious cleansing by the blood of Christ of the old sinful nature following an absolute consecration to Thee, boldly entering upon a life of trust.
“Present needs – present dangers: danger of getting proud of my own abilities again, of being too authoritative and not staying humble. Need of faith, love, unselfishness, overcoming carelessness, humility, more patience.
“I am sent out to do a work I am too small for, but praise God, He fills the place and is responsible.
“Praise God, I have been made over and have a new heart. I do desire all the fullness of God.
“Do Thou undertake for me, O God. I am only a little child, with small powers, weak faith, weak in wisdom. Thou hast given me work to do amid I am ignorant and incompetent, but the knowledge of answered prayer gives confidence that Thou wilt perfect that which concerneth me.
“O Lord Jesus, I need Thee in my life. This day I covenant with Thee to follow Thee all the way of the Cross. 0 crucify, prune me, purge me, until I abide wholly in Thee. Magnify Thyself in me. Fill me more and more with Thy Spirit, until those who know me will take knowledge I have been with Jesus. Keep me low – low down, humble. Take possession of my too ready tongue. Develop in me all the fruits of the Spirit. Make me to bear much fruit. Give me the prayer of faith for the sick. If Thou dost choose to have me speak in tongues, give me the interpretation.
“May the Divine Love in me conquer every tendency to irritability, selfishness, or egotism. Give me a great passion for souls. Increase my teaching gift. Enable me to cast out demons. Help me to know more and more how to so yield myself to Thee that I shall be as passive clay in Thy hands. Heal and sanctify and invigorate my body. Do Thy perfect will in me. Sanctify my thoughts and give me wisdom liberally.
“And as this work now lies before me in Toronto, undertake it all for us. Show us what steps to take, how to act, what to say and do at every point. Make known Thy will in every detail and grant unity that all may obey.
“Come in, Lord Jesus, the door is open. Come in and sup with me.”
One week hater, March 12, she prays: “O Lord Jesus, come quickly. My soul thirsts after Thee, the Living God. My heart crieth after Thee. More than fruits or gifts or power I long for Thee. Come and dwell in me in great fullness, Thou Son of God. Help me, help me to drop everything of this earth, and take Thee.
“O Lord Jesus, Thou seest me a poor weak vessel. It is Yours. Do Your will with it. O Lord, Thou seest Thy work here. You have placed me in it, and it is Your responsibility whether I am fit for the work or not. Do You undertake the work, O my Lord and my God. If Thou canst not do the work through me because of my incapacity, either Thou must enlarge me or bring another worker here who can do it, or use others for this purpose, else Thy work shall fail. If we are not in Divine Order, show us our wrong. If we are displeasing Thee, show us where. We ask wisdom. 0 precious Jesus, give me wisdom. Make me to know Thy will. And reveal Thyself, O my God and Savior, in greater fullness.”
Following this and continuing throughout March and April, the work went through “a long period of barrenness, deadness, failure, falling away of the people attending meetings. No power.” Naturally this was not only dissatisfying but humiliating, a real trial of faith. Especially was this so in view of their recommendation as capable ministers and of the knowledge of their previous successes in the work of the Lord. So critical was the situation, “we talked of unifying with East End Mission and dropping our work,” she records. “God would not let us. We intended to go stay at East End Mission. We were stopped.”
The East End Mission, located at 651 Queen Street E., was a thriving assembly conducted by Mr. and Mrs. James Hebden and consequently was often referred to as the Hebden Mission. Crowds of earnest seekers filled the hall every night as God poured out His Spirit in mighty power, convicting sinner and saint who “went down before God in a great cry” for salvation, purity of heart, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Above the large hall there were living quarters, ample for others besides the Hebdens, which they made available for other Christian workers. To unite forces with the East End Mission would have been an easy way out of their rather discouraging condition. An appealing one, too, for the Robinsons could then stay in the living quarters. However, as Mrs. Robinson says, God would not let them take this course. There followed “days of waiting on God” for light on the way. At the same time Mrs. Robinson’s sense of her need of God was increasing, and with this her prayer to know Jesus in all His fullness increased.
“On Sunday morning, May 5, a great spirit of supplication came upon me,” Mrs. Robinson records, in which she cried from the depths of her soul: “Let me die, let me die, and Christ Jesus live in me. Her soul travail was so great that she could describe it only as “two hours of Gethsemane,” praying, “O God, undertake.”
This and the following two days – May 6 and 7 – were “three days of fasting and prayer.” She received “assurance, but no light – no instruction” about the course she should take in view of the condition of the work. Again she notes, “Work dead,” and cries, “O God, undertake.”
The next day, May 8, however, she received “light.” “At prayer in East End Mission God showed me some things: Laid the plan of work before me in a sort of panorama. Showed me bills to have printed and cards. Just what to do about them.”
With her characteristic carefulness and caution Mrs. Robinson spent the next four days, “May 8 to 12, waiting on God about this apparent leading. Sunday [the twelfth] dead, small meetings as ever, yet God won’t let us let go.” On the same day, with a deepened conviction that her leading was of the Lord, she told her husband. The next day while she continued “waiting on God to know what I should do, if I should go downtown and have printing done... the Spirit said, ‘Go! go! go!’ repeatedly. I went.”
“May 13th to 24th [was a] period of illness in body and burden in spirit.” This “burden in spirit” was occasioned in part by the fact that her husband had not yet received his baptism. Therefore, while he was continuing to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, she was having to carry on alone. This was a special trial for her as is indicated in her entry for May 18: “A day of burden – of loneliness – of illness – and helplessness. It has seemed so hard to travel alone, to have no worker at my side.”
The next day, Sunday, May 19, she is able to report “victory in this,” and concerning the meetings notes they “had fair attendance and I was under the Spirit…
“Another week of supplication – crying for power of the Spirit, … Days of extraordinary supplication – hours of agony – the Spirit straining the flesh with prayer, until I felt it necessary to ask for relief. Praying in tongues, in English, in groanings. God, how long, oh, how long!”
On May the twenty-second she enters this prayer in her journal: “Still a helpless babe crying after Thee. O God, let me grow faster. O my whole being, desire, aim, all is to win Christ. I count all things but dung that I may win Christ, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. O for a greater measure of the Holy Ghost, an outpouring, a submerging.
“O Lord, Lord, how long? I need Thee, Jesus, – blessed Jesus. I want to die that Thou mayst live in me. O God, my God, teach me how to pray. O I want to be buried with Christ in God, out of sight, so I will get out of the way. Jesus, Jesus, be Thou my help!”
On Saturday, May 25, in answer to her prayer for relief from this intense spirit of supplication, she notes: “Supplication lifted. Rest in Jesus. Spirit of prayer in service at night.”
The next entries speak for themselves:
“May 26. An afternoon meeting, well attended and power in the meeting. All responsibility gone. I was under the power of the Spirit. Same in evening, but smaller attendance on account of rain. Still rest.
“May 26 to 30. The Lord seems to have spoken, ‘Come aside and rest.’ No cares, no burdens – all on Jesus – save a great stirring up of spirit to pray for sick and to cast out demons. The Spirit presses me to pray.
“May 30. Thursday. A wonderful day. In morning hoped to have the day alone in prayer so planned to do my work up first and then wait on God all day. But God knew what was coming so set me to prayer, and for an hour I sang in tongues, strange, weird, foreign tunes, changing from language to language. Harry came home, and we packed and looked over our things all afternoon.”
This packing was done preparatory to their moving in a day or two. Since their arrival in Toronto, they had been boarding at Marlatts’. At this time they were invited to live with Mrs. Robinson’s Aunt Mattie, now a widow and residing in Toronto.
It will be remembered that it was Aunt Mattie’s husband, Uncle William Blair, who had precipitated the great crisis in young Mattie’s spiritual life when he said, “Something seems to tell me the Lord wants you to live and work just for Himself.” Uncle William had died three years before (March 1, 1904) while pastoring a Methodist Church in Mimico, a suburb of Toronto. He was gone, but his works had followed him. And the trail he had opened many years before had led his niece to the present place. In a way, it was especially fitting that on the eve, as it were, of the time when Martha Wing Robinson was really to “live and work just for Himself,” she should find herself with her aunt with whom she had been when God’s particular call first came to her.
After the Robinsons had finished packing for their contemplated move to Aunt Mattie’s, she writes: “At four we went to prayer. The spirit of prayer came upon us both, and after a time we started to pray aloud. As I prayed, the Spirit of God came upon me and filled my being. O, glory to God! My hands shook and my whole body seemed changed. I spoke in several languages. Harry came into the Spirit, too, and we had our first real fellowship in prayer since we began to seek the baptism.
“Again in the evening the Spirit of God took hold of me. A good attendance and blessed meeting.
“May 31. Beside the still waters, through green pastures, He leadeth me. All is at rest. I think He intends to lead me to some deeper depth and is letting me gather strength. I realize death to self has been going on. The Spirit has greater control. Praise God for fellowship again this morning with Harry in the Spirit. O God, bring him on into Thy fullness.
“O God, this is my confidence in Thee that Thou wilt mould and fashion this unworthy clay to meet Thy purposes. Thou wilt develop the fruits of the Spirit. Thou wilt give me such gifts as Thou seest meet. Thou wilt give me the signs of a believer. Thou wilt give me Christ Himself to dwell in me. Oh, wonderful thought, oh, supreme mystery! God to dwell in me – the great, eternal God to dwell in this lump of clay.
“June 1. Again yesterday the Spirit sang through me in tongues for some time. Wonderful! Still rest and peace. Responsibility in God’s hands. Sweet communion. 0 God, lead me on, lead me on to still deeper fellowship with Thee. May the Holy Ghost possess me utterly. Today my great desire is that my everyday life – the common words and tones and actions – shall show forth Jesus. My Lord God, undertake for me.
“Evening – A season of prayer at the hall. A dozen present. Miss J – has her baptism. I am asking God to make me understand the shaking. I have shaken a little myself. O God, I must understand from Thee just what it means.
“And God, I still lack a fullness of fellowship and love with Jesus. Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, come to my waiting heart and let us have a feast of love. The Holy Ghost gets fuller and fuller possession. O, may He make me to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.
“June 2. O, my soul cries after the living God. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, come Thou to me. O God, how I long after Thee! O God, how I long after Thee! O that Jesus – Jesus – may be manifest in me! I want but Jesus. None but Christ satisfies. I must know Him and the power of His Resurrection. O my soul cries after the living God. O Jesus, Jesus, undertake for me.
O to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
O to be lost in Thee.
O that it may be no more I,
But Christ that lives in me.
O, the power of His Resurrection – what I ask for I know not. The Holy Spirit knows. O, may my spirit and soul and body know of His Resurrection…
“Had a talk and prayer with G – who is growing cold. God, bring him back to Thyself. Meeting hall full today; power of God present. O, it has paid to wait patiently for Him to bring it to pass.
“O Lord, keep me low at Thy feet. Keep me waiting on Thee. More, more of God I would have. O, let the very life of self disappear forever – forever – forever – and Christ live in me. A vessel of the world’s despising, how little it matters!
“June 4. God’s goodness in temporal matters providing for us with home and friends by such sweet providences. But O, my God, not yet is my spirit satisfied. I thank Thee for the wondrous visitations of Thy goodness, outpourings of the Spirit. But O, to live in the Spirit – just under His power so the flesh cannot assert itself.
“It is still death I cry for. O, may I be crucified! O my Lord, I have chosen to go the way of the Cross. I have laid down all. I have given up self, but it still lives. O my Father, grant that I shall get on the Cross and die there and from henceforth live in the Resurrection life of the Son of God. O to know Him and the power of His Resurrection—to never have a moment’s sense of separation.
“Jesus, Jesus, reveal Thyself to me in greater fullness. My soul cries out – I need Thee, Thee only. Death, what does it mean? Let me know and experience all it means. Then I will rise in newness of life.
“O, give tonight a message from the Holy Ghost to the people. I ask that I may be used to bring people to the feet of Jesus. Not unto myself but to Thee, dear Lord, may the glory be given. Keep me out of sight. Keep me down low. O, give me wisdom. Jesus, give me Thyself.
“June 5. It is camping time. I so desire to be under the power of the Spirit all the time. I begin to see there must be periods of quietness. But I pray that I may be delivered from myself, that the flesh may die. O, I am such a weak, puny vessel. God can use me yet in such a limited way. My body lacks strength as well. O, I grow impatient at times for the work in me to be hastened. Lord, keep me low and quiet at Thy feet. Help me to be just abandoned to Thee so Thou canst do Thy will.
“Our first financial test is upon us. We look to God to fulfill His promises. We are seeking first the Kingdom. Praise the Lord, that settles the whole thing. We are seeking the Kingdom first. The rest is God’s business.
“June 7. It seems like one of the times of Jesus’ withdrawing Himself. I have seen Him at the window; my soul cries after Him. I go about the streets of the city. ‘Has any one seen my Beloved?’
“Yesterday, after the presence of the Spirit all day, when the evening meeting came, there was an absence of power. I could not abandon myself. God blessed us, but things were not as they should be.
“O my God, must I have my lessons at the expense of Thy people? Where is the failure? O my Lord and my God, teach me what I need to know. I have spent less time in prayer this week, done more talking upon general topics. Lord, does it lie there? You have provided this home, this companionship, this help; show me just my course while here.
“We are still without money except barely enough to pay carfare. Yet we have all we need. How wonderful of God to stop our expenses of living just at this time! We are just little children, and just as Father arranges it is all right. Up to the time we became guests in this home we had sufficient to pay for board and room.
“I have taken a bad cold and have not yet victory. 0 gracious Father, Thy patience is great. Help my unbelief that I may have faith to claim for me all I need for spirit, soul and body.
“I must have Christ in greater fullness. Only Christ can satisfy. I must have a further revelation of Himself.
“I desire to be so utterly separated to God there will be no hindrance of the flesh anywhere in the carrying out of God’s will.
“Separate me, separate me, Lord God, from everyone and everything.
“June 8. Still seeking God. Spent yesterday afternoon and evening at East End Mission. Received some deliverance from my cold.
“The Christian workers under Fisher have had a wonderful experience. The Shekinah glory descended upon them while at prayer and shone not only in the room but over the house, so that fire reels came to put out what appeared to be a fire; and there was no fire. Truly we are in a wonderful time.
“A lady at East End, a stranger to me, handed me one dollar yesterday which supplies us with carfare for a time again. So we are all right. She said she felt impressed to give it to me. We know why.
“I still have that sense of reaching after God. The power of the Spirit is not upon me. My soul cries after God. As the hart panteth after the water brooks so thirsteth my soul after Thee, O God. When shall I come and appear before Thee, O God? O God, I know I am in Thy hands. Thou dost work out Thy purposes. You have some lesson for me. But O, I want Jesus all the time. Is this too much to ask? I keep hungering and thirsting for Him if there is the least withdrawal. O, for a greater revelation of Jesus! O that I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection and, Lord, – yes – the fellowship of Thy sufferings! Lord, lead me on.
“It seems as if I have to keep separated in every way unto God, not to allow myself to get into general conversation. Since I have been here I have ‘visited’ too much. O, I need to be much alone with God. It is in the last four or five days I have lost the overshadowing, continuous presence of Jesus – the filling, thrilling power of the Spirit. I know I will have the blessing again, but O Lord, let the experience teach me.
“June 9. Sunday Morning. Last night at the prayer service the cloud over me lifted, and I came into the presence of the Lord in a blessed way. And now, O Lord, this day is in Thy hands. I trust Thee for its every need. Cold healed.
“I have been asking Thee to help me to abandon myself to Thee. Teach me not to even try to do that. The responsibility of that is in Thy hands. I have given myself to Thee, spirit, and soul, and body. I am not my own. I am not responsible at all. I reckon myself dead. Therefore, O Lord, whatever happens is of Thee – not of myself. I submit the responsibility of myself to Thee. Undertake for me, dear Lord.
“June 10. In writing to a friend the Lord brought to my remembrance an experience I feel led to record a portion of. In speaking of the time when, waiting on the Lord concerning the way our work had run down: ‘All the time, for about three weeks, a tremendous spirit of supplication was upon me. Crying – with groanings that could not be uttered – crying for Jesus. It was during this time the Lord began to show me the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. He began to show me such a separated life as I had never dreamed of. The world fell away from me; I stood naked and alone. I can’t describe it, – that dreadful sense of aloneness – of aloofness – as if I were in the heart of a great wilderness – with God.
“‘I began to pray, “O God, let my husband come too.” Then I began to ask God for someone to stand with me in the work, and He would let me pray no more that way.
“‘It was near this time I got an interpretation at the East End. Mrs. Hebden was speaking in tongues. One message I know now was especially intended for me. As she spoke I had a vision. It seemed to stand – a picture, right in her flow of words. I saw a picture of a bleak, barren, rugged country under such a strange, lonely, grey sky. Away in the background on a boulder against the grey sky was a cross.
“‘What she said was that as Jesus trod the bleak hills of Judea alone (and that aloneness gave me the thought of spiritual separation from all about,) so must all who would share His glory be willing to take up their cross and tread the path He trod. As during this supplication I experienced that loneliness, I saw again and again that picture, that cross against a cold, grey sky, and again and again I have had to come to the end of my prayer for help and say only, “Thy will be done. I will go all alone.”’
“Yesterday afternoon, good attendance. In the evening, very small… I was led to give a little of my experience. Professor Farmer and a Mr. Smith came into meeting, and we had a long talk with them and prayer afterward. Talked of Divine Healing.
“June 11. We were at All-Night of Prayer last night at East End. Good, interesting meeting. No great power of prayer manifested. Well, bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
“We had an interesting talk with Professor Campbell and wife of McMaster College.
“Last night I covenanted with the Lord for [a] greater manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, Love. May God enable me – fill me with great love and a passion for souls which I lack.
“For several days the Spirit has not been upon me in such fullness. I do not supplicate as I did. And yet my whole desire is to be continuously in the Spirit, under His wonderful power. For a little while last night, while speaking in East End Mission, I was under His power.
“June 12. My soul still cries after Jesus. When shall I have that fuller revelation of Himself as He has promised? I still seek to know Him and the power of His Resurrection.
“O God, my God, hasten Thy work in me. Give me a greater, continual filling of the Holy Ghost. I would so live that every moment of my life – every breath that I draw – shall be in Him and by Him, that I may be dead and Christ living in me.
“And I pray for our work. God blesses. People are seeking Jesus, yet still I feel the lack of power. No mighty signs are following. We lack faith. O God, from whom all blessings flow, make us channels of those blessings to others. Cast out demons, heal the sick, save, sanctify, baptize with the Holy Ghost. Here we are, willing but feeble instruments. Use us, O Lord, my God. O Lord, bring souls to Thyself. Bring souls to Thyself.
“Attendance at meetings very small during week. Lord, God, Thou knowest. I don’t. Lord, my God, if there is failure on our part, show us. If there is none, but this is in Divine order, help us to keep our hands off and trust Thee.
“We are going through a trifling financial test. For days we have received just barely enough to pay our carfare. We now have fifty cents. The Lord is sufficient. The cattle on a thousand hills are His. Lord, help us just to stand still and see Thy loving care.
“June 15. Show me Thy ways, O Lord. Teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me. For Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Look upon my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my iniquities.
“Lord, Thou lookest on the heart. Thou hast patience. O Lord, how merciful Thou art.
“Lord, remember Thou our covenant that I shall be filled with love. It is my great need.
“Lord, give me true poverty and teachableness of spirit. Make me meek, merciful, and a peacemaker. Help me that my light may shine. O Lord, help me to live up to the whole of the fifth chapter of Matthew, Matthew 6 and 7. Help me to be forgiving, not to sit in judgment. Help me to earnestly seek Thee continuously. O Lord, help me to do the will of my Father.
“God has promised that I shall be filled. As yet I am not. In spite of the conscious indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in spite of my knowledge He uses me, makes me His witness, in spite of blessed anointings – my soul keeps crying and crying for God.
“And I thank Him it is so. Only that hunger and thirst for Himself will give me Himself. With all my failure and imperfections, with all my weakness and shortcomings, I know absolutely that I desire God more than anything in the world, that I have left all to follow Jesus, that I am God’s absolutely. Yet, oh – the reaching out for more of Himself.
“Measuring myself by the Word, I see how great things I lack. The fruits of the Spirit are scarcely developed at all. I lack love, joy, kindness, meekness, gentleness. I need to be lowlier, humbler, more patient. I lack faith. As yet I cannot do what I used to do – lay hands on the sick and they recover.
“God, should I wait for leading and assurance to do this, or should I step out in faith, leaving results to Thee? Oh, that is it that is the lack – the faith to step out in. And yet, should I in obedience lay on hands, trusting all to Thee?
“O such a helpless, weak baby as I am! Leading others ere I can scarcely walk myself. O Lord, for the honor of Thy Name, fit me for Thy use.
“I have so little strength of body I cannot minister to others as I ought. I can’t be of service as Thou wouldst have me. God, my God, be Thou my helper.
“June 16. Sunday.
O, to be but emptier, lowlier,
Mean, unnoticed and unknown,
But to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ and Christ alone!
Naught of earth to cloud the glory,
Naught of self the light to dim,
Telling forth the wondrous story,
Emptied, to be filled with Him.
“Myself always in the way. Idle words before I think, that is, unnecessary words, Lord. Wilt Thou so fill my being with God the Holy Ghost, He alone can speak. I wait on Thee, Jesus, my Saviour. The path Thou art leading is strange to me. I would say I had gone back, for I have not that wonderful, filling, thrilling presence of the Holy Ghost I had for a time when He used my mouth and mind and body regardless of my own ideas and plans. Yet my confidence is in Thee that Thou art leading me forward. If some lesson is to be learned from this, then may I be teachable. This I know, Thou hast undertaken my case and will lead me into the fullness of blessing. May I walk as hopefully and confidently by faith as by feeling.
“Perhaps that is it. I have felt the thrilling presence of God in me, but I must believe He is there even when I don’t feel His presence, and abandon myself just the same, launch myself out in Him only, trust Him to keep me from speaking my own words, or doing my own acts. My greatest difficulty is in meetings when I rise to speak. I usually am able to yield right up to Him and let Him speak through me. But to understand just the order of the meeting, just to give it over to Him so we will sing at the time He tells us, go to prayer when He directs, have testimonies or praise as He directs is another question. When filled with the power of the Holy Ghost, I act spontaneously, involuntarily. But I have something to learn that is not yet clear to me about letting the Holy Ghost lead the meeting, always.
“Yesterday I spent a good share of the day measuring myself by the Word of God. O, how I fail before Him. Yet He has undertaken and I need not be discouraged at His work.
“We are still walking very closely pruned in regard to money. Have just ten cents now and car tickets enough for today. Lord, I am seeking Thy Kingdom, but deliver me fully from a doubtful mind.
“Lord, wilt Thou help me to fall back into Thee for all the needs of this day. Give me that passiveness in Thee that will enable me to do Thy will in everything. The responsibility of the meetings is not mine, but Thine.
“June 17. Still crying to God. This time for H______. O God, show him what he needs. O God, deliver him from himself. O Lord, give him steadfastness. Only Thy Holy Spirit can show him the truth.
“Yesterday, small meetings, good, but small. Lord, make rivers of Living Water flow out from me. Give me Thyself in great fullness. Rivers to swim in is my plea. O Lord, we ‘advertise’ the Water of Life, and then there is only a little trickling stream when there ought to be gushing abundance. O Lord, my God, give help.
“Still financial test. We are now possessed of five cents and four or five car tickets. Well, praise the Lord for the test. It has shown me I am a little weak. In spite of myself I take ‘thought.’ Lord, perfect me in this.
“June 18. Jesus, Thou canst not deny Thyself. Thou abidest faithful. In this I rest. The clouds are dark and I cannot see my way, but it makes me long for the light of Thy countenance. Though I say with David, ‘When shall I come and appear before God?’ – I long after a greater fullness of God. O, that the gushing, abundant streams of life might flow! Our work seems weakening again. There is so little power there. O God, let the living streams of life flow abundantly.
“I rest our temporary needs with God. He is my God, my Father, He knoweth what we have need of, better than we. He will supply all our needs. In this time of money stress He has graciously provided a pleasant home and good food, every comfort. We have not as yet needed one thing we haven’t had. But we are right up to the edge, and it is time for God to act. Praise His Name!
“Last night we had just two car tickets. Harry said for me to use them for going to meeting and he would walk. At first, it seemed the only way. Then I thought, if we do that, it will mean that we have needed – something God hasn’t supplied. God can’t permit that. We will each use a ticket going down and trust God to pay our way home. He did. At meeting He gave us two dollars, and besides a friend paid our way down.
“June 21. Well, I am certainly in the dark just now. Our meetings are going to nothing again. There are no results, and I have no leading, no light of any kind. Lord, my God, come to my help. Where is the failure? What wouldst Thou have us to do? Lord, I will stand alone if everyone falls off if You want me to do so, but don’t let me stand if it is not Thy will.
“June 22. All Thy floods and Thy billows have gone over me. O, help Thou me. I cry from the deep. Deliver me. I cry for Jesus. O blessed Holy Spirit, reveal to me more fully Jesus. O my beloved Lord, why dost Thou withdraw Thyself? I go about the streets searching for my Beloved. He has looked through the lattice. Why comes He not into this waiting, longing heart? I know there is a fuller revelation of Jesus for me. O, gladly will I die if He will come in. O, let me die that He may be formed in me. O Jesus, Jesus, let me find Jesus. O, I know there are trystings of love for me with Thee that I know not of.
“O, I see more plainly today than ever before the sin of having wandered away from fellowship with Jesus. What might I not be in His service today if I had but yielded to the Potter as clay?
“My soul has again today been drawn out in intense supplication to God. All my own utter unworthiness has passed before me. What am I that I should ask to be an overflowing fountain for God? Yet I do ask it – and persist in asking it. It is not the vessel. It is His power that will make me useful to Himself.
“O, the barrenness, the fruitlessness, the uselessness of my life! Eight years ago I gave myself fully to God. Three of those years I slipped back. The last year I have sought after God. Oh, what a long path it has been – what persistence, what reaching after God, groping through the darkness of my own coldness and deadness! And how little distance I have come – yet how far! Oh, I thank Thee, Lord, for all the help and blessing Thou hast given, but O Lord, my God, Lord my God, complete Thy work. My soul thirsts for Thee.
“Yesterday the Holy Ghost prayed through me repeatedly, ‘In the Name of Jesus,’ as if He would teach me the power of that Name. Jesus, enable me to learn the power of Thy Name. My whole prayer seems to be now: ‘Make me a soul-winner. O Lord, how long?
“June 23. Sunday. Usually after a time of supplication God graciously gives me a calm. Lately there is increasing joy mixed with my peace. This morning I am very happy in the Lord, praise His Name.
“June 30. Well, another storm – the winds blowing over my soul. I could only bend to the blast. Thursday after the evening [service] – which was only a prayer service really, and full of power – the devil attacked me in the one way he knows he can weaken me, and for two days I have gone through deep waters.
“The agony of my soul was awful yesterday. I was down at East End nearly all day and could only weep and pray for Harry to have his blessing and receive the Holy Ghost. I got under, I am afraid, and came near praying the prayer of despair. Felt for a time as if there was no use holding on any longer to the work until Harry got his baptism. But today I have victory over this and know I must simply go on in the Name of Jesus doing my work but leaving results to Him… Harry at East End where he is going to tarry all day…
“This forenoon I have been having a wonderful time… I began to speak in tongues, and then, as I often do, to sing. And sing! My voice went to where I never could sing myself – such high notes. I had a hallelujah time. Interpreted some. Sang once,
Lord Jesus, now at Thy feet I fall,
For Thou art now to me my all in all.
Another song was something like this,
O my Jesus, how I love to wait
At my blessed Savior’s feet,
And I praise Thee – that – Thou
Wilt so sweetly fill me now.
As Mrs. Robinson continued singing in the Spirit and worshipping the Lord, she had an entirely new experience. She found her hand writing automatically. Amazed and perplexed at this operation of God’s Spirit, she questioned it.
“Instantly my hand stopped, and then I had a strange experience. The Spirit began to pray in the most agonizing way, crying out, and once in English, ‘O, No, No,’ and I knew what was being said. It was that I was denying the word of God and would lose this blessing. And I began to weep terribly in the Spirit, and I was so stricken with fear and remorse. I myself prayed again and again, ‘Forgive me, Lord. I won’t deny Thee. Do what Thou wilt with me.
“Instantly my hand shook violently and I began soon to sing and write again. I sang one such pretty verse in English about the Holy Ghost, but I remember now only one line, ‘Fill me within Thy Love Divine.’
“Have been attending the C. A. meetings this week. Convention here. Ti-icy arc seeking Pentecostal baptism, but they are so afraid the Holy Ghost may not be just as moderate and modern and polite as He ought to be; they are scared, and so He does not manifest Himself to any degree.
“O Lord, help us to bend, to yield to Thee. O God, help me to give up to Thee more and more and more.
“The Lord is again graciously supplying our needs. That is a minor matter.
“July 6. I seem to have come up against a wall. I do not see the way through nor around. I am unable to see God’s will. Our meetings are small and smaller. Harry has tarried all week at East End. I have come to that point where I seem to have no faith to go on until Harry has gotten his blessing. Satan may be pressing this upon me, and making me doubt, but it may be it is true. I know that the battle has been a hard one ever since my baptism. I cannot hold my blessings as I should. The two times Harry has been in earnest spiritual state I have swept right on in victory, and the meetings have shown results. Perhaps I must go through this trial until I get the victory to stand absolutely independent. Yet it isn’t God’s way of working, myself to be at work and Harry taking no part whatever.ⁿ
Note: As one who had not yet received his baptism, Mr. Robinson, in common with Pentecostal people in general of the time, did not believe he should minister. Naturally this created an awkward situation for his wife.
“Today I got under the burden again. O, how patient God is with me; and yet He knows I suffer. It seems today my every inch of flesh pains with the heart agony. O God, grant me strength, and faith, and courage. Five months of Spirit-filled life, and yet so little fruit!
“Yet I would acknowledge all my blessings. The well of water springing up is indeed mine. Even in the midst of the burden of today the spirit of prayer is there. There is a definite and steady communion with God, and wonderful experiences in the Spirit when alone. Tonight at hall alone, I sang and sang in tongues. Then wrote again but not with liberty and power. Do not know whether Spirit had full way or not… I want the fullness of the Spirit. Not just the well of water – the self-edification, but the overflow. O God, give me the overflow that will touch and bless other lives. O God, my God, fill me, fill me, fill me. Let me be of use to Thee.
“O, continue to increase my love, my passion for souls. O, if I am in the wrong place, God, my God, put me where I belong. O, I do know that my prayers are heard, and I do know that I shall in some way be used for Thee. I realize the purging and pruning going on. But, oh, time is flying. O, that there might be a great outpouring of God’s Spirit upon me, a great flooding of power, a great death of self that the work might be accomplished. O my wretched self, why will it not die?
“July 11. Still waiting for God’s work in me to be more marked. I feel the need of being able to know the will of God more than anything else. Surely wisdom is the principal thing. I am asking God earnestly to show me what we are to do in regard to our meetings. For the first time I am feeling led to close them and get out into work.
“Harry is tarrying at East End Mission, seeking his baptism. Praise God, light seems dawning. I have had so much burden and sorrow and supplication about his experience, but God doeth all things well. It seems as if this has been the point – the vulnerable point – Satan could attack.
“Just as I am thinking of leaving meetings here, a request comes from Toledo for me to go to Fostoria [Ohio] to hold meetings. Is this the will of God? I am at His feet to know. O God, give me clearer leadings, and don’t let anyone influence me to act by feelings, impressions, or conditions.
“Was at Hall before meeting time. Opened Hall and was having a little prayer time and began to sing in tongues. Presently sang in tongues a whole hymn, apparently repeating chorus. New time to me. Then I finally got chorus in English as follows,
O sweetly singing,
Now we are bringing
Incense of praise.
O praises to Thee!
“I so often gesture or keep time to music when singing in tongues. I did not notice at first that my hands were apparently playing the tune on a piano. When I did, I went at once to organ, still singing the chorus, and played, with my eyes shut, without a discord, or hunting for a note, the tune I was singing. The tune has a minor strain in it, and I do not understand minor chords well enough to catch them on organ without trying one after the other until I get the right sound. But I struck the minor chords – such pretty combinations – just as freely and easily as the others. This is my first experience of playing under the power of the Spirit.
“July 17. For several days have been in deep waters. The floods went over my soul, and I seemed to go down under for a time. Such burden, such discouragement, such weeping, and alas, I am afraid, bitterness, a reckoning up of my wrongs, which love never does.
“I have given up meetings at Hall with no clear or definite leadings, except I feel God has permitted me to do so. I have grown bitter (not toward God) over some things in my life. I have felt myself held back from what God would do in me if I were permitted to follow His leadings. But I have had to get down before Him to have my rebellious, hard spirit taken away. O, God does so much for me, and I am so unworthy. Harry… is gaining so much spiritually that I am greatly encouraged. O God, let me forget those things behind and press forward. Give me a blessed day today.
“Tonight I want to put something on record against myself, for future warning to myself. I find when I fail in a test the Lord gives me time and then tries me again along the same line.
“About three months ago, when we were definitely thinking of closing meetings, after very much waiting upon God, God showed me to continue, which I did, with blessing for a time. Then some trouble came to me that I did not rise above. As a result I lost a wonderful experience I was having at the time, and the meetings dropped down in power and attendance at once. The leadings I had to continue meetings were clear-cut and positive, so I have never been able to doubt for one instant. But in addition, at the time I made decision, great outpourings of blessing came upon me, blessed anointings, wonderful experiences, added power. Meetings changed. So I had every reason to stand by my leadings.
“When meetings got small, I never questioned the leadings but stood pat, realizing that I had dropped from my own experience in a measure because of difficulties I was facing, but determined to stand until God showed me to move. All through, I had a strong impression that the meetings were being held on for a purpose – some worker coming in after while, or something of that kind, but that God was keeping me there and in answer to every prayer I simply got the impression, ‘Hold fast. Be patient. In due time you will be rewarded.’
“Well, I stood, though much influence was pressed upon me to make me think I had made a mistake. But a couple of weeks ago I gave way to a discouragement that had grown upon me, and I felt I could no longer bear the pressure of resisting the constant objections to my remaining as I was, and in weeping I told the Lord there was no use. I was so disheartened I could be of no use to Him and asked Him if I could not be set free.
“I set a test and said if He wanted me to stay, He was to have things so and so. I feel He accepted the test, and He set me free. But there is no victory in it for me. I feel like Elijah… God fed him by ravens, but he wasn’t in the place God wanted him. It wasn’t God’s best for him.
“God’s best for me was to have stood still and steady and continued to suffer and bear it until God showed me His will, instead of permitting my choice because I was weak. If He wanted the meetings closed, He could have shown me so clearly I could have gone out victorious in my soul, knowing His will was done no matter how it looked otherwise. Or if He wanted me to stand and to be a partaker in the joys of success in the work, I missed all that.
“Elder Brooks has felt led to take up meetings. If it is of God, he has been called to fill the place I ran away from. God is bearing with me, but I haven’t had His best. And yet He is very good to me in it all, giving me rich blessing of companionship with Harry after my long, lonely, unhappy walking alone. But I realize I shall probably yet have to learn the lesson and bear the test of obeying God and God alone against the will of every human being, nearest and dearest.
“O, I am very weak and unworthy. The best I can do now is to put the tangled skeins into God’s hands and let Him straighten them out as best it can be done now. O Lord, help me not to run again before I am sent. Help me to stand quite still, and walk a step at a time, as Thou dost show.”
So ended Mrs. Robinson’s ministry in Wolesley Hall, and so closed the first chapter of her life in Toronto.
IN GOD’S TRAINING SCHOOL
NOW THAT MRS. ROBINSON had no ministerial responsibilities she gave herself entirely to prayer and waiting on God. “I thank God for a good day today, the well of water springing up,” she notes in her journal for July 18. “O Lord, how blessed! Very quiet in my experience just now. In one of the still, waiting places.”
Then she goes on to review the work God has been doing in her soul since her baptism in the Spirit and the beginning of her time in Toronto:
“As I look over my experiences dating from first entry in this book, or rather date of its first writing, I realize that certain work has been done in me. I seem to have become quite – wholly – separated from the world. It seems to have dropped back somewhere down below me, and I am standing in a higher plane of God looking down at it, and it looks so small and eternity so great. The world has nothing to offer me. But I am not free from my old self-life. It seems sometimes as if there has been no death at all. I have been so rebellious under difficulty – my whole flesh protesting. O God, let me die faster.
“O God, get me down lower. O, I realize You have been answering my prayers for death to self by prunings and leadings hard to understand, and I have shrunk under the knife. God, help me stand still and let Thee cut off every thing. Perhaps I don’t realize what I ask, but that doesn’t matter; it is what I need and Thy grace is sufficient. Help me to appropriate Thy help. I know You could not trust me with much blessing or success in my work. O God, bring me to the place where You can trust me.
“If I record my failures, I would not fail to record God’s mercies. He provides for our needs steadily, quite outside of the hail work. Has sent us ten dollars twice lately from outside the city, also small amounts from unexpected sources in city.
“July 20. Yesterday, the 19th, was a blessed day. In the morning I awakened with pain in the part of the body where I have had so much weakness and so little victory for two or three years, but especially the last year. But this time for the first time I claimed healing, positive, complete, unconditional healing. I had assurance that it was to come and thought at first the victory was right there. Today I have had a severe and unusual testing in my body, but instead of making me question, I am able to stand quite still and am positive God has undertaken my perfect healing. This testing and symptoms is only a passing incident.
“In afternoon I went to East End, but first thought it best to go to buy a pair of shoes. Three months ago I said I must have some at once as these I have would soon be worn out; but they are today almost as good as then – (‘have waxed not old’) –and yesterday, first time I could buy any, I felt impressed to go then and found a shoe sale on and got them at extraordinarily low price. An incident of God’s care in little things.
“I then went down to East End, found them in the middle of prayer service. Praise God, Harry went under the power of God and lay for four hours, as he expressed it, ‘in the arms of the Lord.’ Oh, I am so thankful to see him coming through to blessing.
“And I am waiting on God to perfect His work in me, to make me meek and lowly in spirit, fill me with love and patience. I do fail so dreadfully; I am so full of myself. I sometimes seem to get worse instead of better. Again I see that it is that I see myself more plainly. Well, the work is in God’s hands.
“July 22. No chastening at present seemeth to be joyous. Verily, no, but may it yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness! It seems as if there has come on me a fixed sadness from the chastening God has permitted in my life, but I know ‘joy cometh in the morning.’ Perhaps this is to subdue and quiet me and get me in my place.
“Yesterday spent day with Harry at East End. Quite a wonderful day all day. In evening had odd experience. Mrs. Hebden asked me to speak. There was considerable emotionalism in room to begin with. As I spoke, I came under power of the Spirit and spoke in tongues and also shook, though I don’t know that I did so visibly; and it seemed to me as if the whole audience were in the midst of a rustling wind, and I were talking above the wind. All the time I was speaking I felt this way.
“Today came home and stopped at Marlatts’ and had dinner, and in afternoon Margie Davidson came in, and George was home and Mr. Marlatt, and we had a season of prayer and such blessing.
“O God, I am still before Thee, not yet of service, still under the pruning knife. I ask Thee to enable me to keep humble and keep sweet no matter what the circumstances are. I have a rebellious spirit against injustice along certain lines. I cannot bear to be blamed for well-doing or to be misunderstood, or mis–judged. Oh, if I were dead to myself these things would not hurt. Make me dead, my Lord and my God.”
This conflict between the Spirit and her self-life Mrs. Robinson elucidated and elaborated upon in a letter to her sister Nettie, written sometime during July. In this epistle she explained the relation of this struggle to the heart-cleansing she had received the previous December:
“Looking back these… months, since my baptism, I realize keenly that I have been in God’s training school, and I have been a slow pupil… God seems to give according to our capacity. My capacity to receive was limited, and the Holy Ghost came in as a teacher to enlarge and develop me.
“Now, there are two kinds of works of the flesh, the carnal nature or inbred sin to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and the self-life, which is a terrible enemy. In the third chapter of Philippians Paul says, ‘If any man might have confidence in the flesh,’ he could, and goes on to tell of his good birth, education, righteousness of the law, zeal in religion, etc. It is as if a man now boasted of a good, clean ancestry, education, abilities, moral, clean life, etc., and Paul calls these things of the flesh. And what does he say? He counted them as dung that he might win Christ.
“Oh, there is much of the flesh, of self, left in one when one is cleansed of sin. All the abilities, powers, independence, ‘righteousness,’ self-sufficiency, self-wisdom, stand in the way of the perfect work of the Spirit so long as we lean on them. It is these things that have to be ‘crucified,’ not our ‘sins.’ Our own opinions so wise, our own plans, our own ways – all so wise and sensible and better than anyone’s else have to be laid down. This is what Paul meant when he said ‘I die daily.’
“I do not mean that these things, good birth, etc., of themselves are wrong, but the self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-wisdom, that grow out of these good things have to be laid down, crucified. We have to become as little children. It is this teaching in the Bible that has led to the erroneous idea of slow cleansing from sin. No, the Holy Ghost wants a clean vessel to come into, but He will come into a most imperfect, warped, crooked, leaky old affair and begin to develop, carve, mould, and teach until we are vessels of honor.
“My self-life was, I believe, a worse enemy than my carnal nature. By God’s goodness, no dreadful heritage was upon me of immorality, or terribly bad disposition, etc., though I needed just as much the blood of Jesus to cleanse as any drunken sot who lives before I could become pleasing to God. But this very ‘tendency to righteousness,’ moral goodness, helped to develop in me a strong self-life, a self-sufficiency, self-wisdom, self-pride, independence, self-confidence – what a mess for the Holy Ghost to get rid of. And until our self is out of the way, He never can work freely and fully.
“The first few weeks of His indwelling was a battle between the Spirit and this flesh until I could learn what was in the way and get my will on God’s side, to have this self-life die. And, oh, since the death has been a real crucifixion, what a pruning and cutting has had to take place! What humiliations and visions of myself! What emptiness and weakness and yet blessing and growth. And what a tremendously tenacious life there still is in my flesh!
“How this hydra-headed self seems to be quite conquered, dead, and I am passive in God’s hands, and He is working so sweetly and all is going His way, and there seems precious victory for Him, and then, alas, up pops in some unexpected place one of those awful heads of self, and there is, I discover, some of my own self-energy, or planning, or opinions, or pride, or desire, getting in the way of the Holy Spirit. And I needs must get down in the Valley of Humiliation and let God cut off this projection. The chief growth I see is the willingness to have the pruning knife upon me no matter how it hurts. I no longer ‘kick against the pricks.’
“Well, no doubt, if there were less self-life, the Holy Ghost would have been poured out in greater power. I have confidence in God that He will perfect that which concerneth me, and that the time will come that not only will I have the ‘well of water springing up into everlasting life’ (which I now have, praise His name), but the flow shall be so strong and the channel so free and unimpeded by self that ‘rivers of living waters’ shall flow out for the good of others. Sometimes I say, ‘O Lord, how long!’ but yet I know He is working as fast as I can receive.
“Another thing – I supposed when I was cleansed there would be restored my old passion for souls, love and joy and peace. Then, when I learned that this was not so, I supposed the Baptism of the Holy Ghost would mean an instantaneous life of love, of passion for souls, an out–flowing in power to others. Not so in my case because of the reasons just given.
“Love, joy, peace, meekness, etc., are fruits of the Spirit, and they develop in our lives according to the workings of the power within us. It is a growth, a development at best, but some receive such a wonderful in–pouring of the Spirit, and the fruit is more quickly manifest. Little by little my love for sinners has grown. Peace is beginning to ‘flow as a river.’ Love for others is beginning to manifest itself in me. I can feel my heart go out more and more for others. I am not very meek yet. I think that is my worst failing. And yet, I can see that God’s hand is upon me continuously, and in spite of failure and weakness there is growth. Oh, to become absolutely passive in His hands.
“And yet in the midst of it all, this well of water springing up is most wonderful. The wonderful, wonderful experiences I have alone with my Lord. The communion, the worship – I never grow weary of being alone. The speaking in tongues alone is such a wonderful self-edification, I would hardly know how to worship God without [it]. In fact, I never in my life truly ‘worshipped’ God until the Holy Ghost within me became my Teacher. I haven’t time to write now of some of the wonderful times I have, the singing in tongues, etc., when my soul goes right up to [the] gates of Heaven.
“But now, do you see the difference between cleansing and developing? …I cannot say, as I do not know, that the only hindrance to a powerful, instantaneous work of the Spirit is the self-life, but it is one hindrance, that is certain.”
Then Mrs. Robinson adds a practical word of help for her sister’s personal experience:
“Yet don’t make the mistake of thinking there must be a long time of pruning and purging and cleansing and so forth before you can receive the Holy Spirit. All God wants is an undivided heart and perfectly surrendered life. Give Him that and trust Him to speedily give you the Holy Spirit, for until you have the Holy Spirit in you there is much of abandonment and development impossible to learn.
“And yet, to boil all this down, it is simply Jesus. Are you seeking righteousness, sanctification? He is our righteousness, our wisdom, our sanctification, our redemption. (See I Cor. 1:30 especially.) If we seek Jesus more and more, and more and more, a personal relation with Himself, we come into Him and He into us, and the cleansing, and purging, and pruning goes on almost unknown to ourselves.
“We do need to be definite in our consecration. But after that, don’t keep looking at yourself. Look at Jesus.
Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
So entranced my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.
All for Jesus, All for Jesus,
All for Jesus crucified.
You know the song. It can become a living reality. 2 Corinthians, 3rd Chapter, verse 18 (R.V.) says, ‘But we all with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.’
“If we looked at Jesus more, and ourselves, and our friends, and our trials, and our failures, and conditions of life, and the world, and flesh, and devil, less, we would reflect His image more and more, and the hardness, and impurity, and temper, and selfishness would fade away, and there would be tenderness, and purity, and gentleness, and love just take their places – changing from glory to glory.
“This is why He requires closet prayer. This is why we need to get still before Him and listen to His voice, get into His presence. If we listened to Him more, looked to Him in stillness more, and chattered to Him less, we would get the sense of His presence better.
“Whenever you can, take a few minutes of just waiting on Jesus, not necessarily praying, but just waiting, looking into His face, desiring His presence. At first, you may not seem to receive much, but if you take every opportunity, presently your soul will hunger for Him, and the sweetness of Himself will come to you, and you will get like lovers – rather slip away with Him just for a minute or two than talk or read or rest or eat. And when you are tired, or rushed, or nervous, a few minutes with him in the stillness of His presence will rest you more than anything in the world. ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me,’ Jesus said. You are thirsty for righteousness, for a work to be done in you. But you must have the righteousness of Christ. See Phil. 3:9.
“Don’t bother your head as to the details of being so clothed upon. After a square look at yourself and a real consecration, you are a vessel in God’s hands and you can just enjoy Jesus. Take all the time you have, all the thought you have, all the energy you have to spare, and follow on to know Jesus, Jesus! He will supply all your need. In your hurrying life, you cannot split hairs. Let God have His way. Ask Him to make you hungry and thirsty for Jesus, and give Him the chance to answer by getting into His presence every opportunity you have, and He will give the victory along every line.
“I have learned in prayer to do less talking than I used [to]. We rush into God’s presence too boldly and irreverently. If, when we go to prayer, we would just take time in the beginning to get quiet in soul, to be still before Him, to seek to get into a sense of His presence, to reverence Him, and then, when we do speak, first thank and praise Him when we did offer our petitions, we would not so often have the feeling of their falling back on our heads unanswered, but we would pray ‘through.’
“Often when I have a burden on me until it seems as if I can hardly stand it until I get before the Lord alone, and I expect to just lay my difficulties before Him in detail and with earnest supplication, when I follow this method of prayer, by the time I have felt His presence and felt His touch, and praised Him, I have just a sweet time of worship, and when I get up, I think, ‘Why, I never told the Lord about that at all,’ – and I just don’t need to; the burden is gone, the problem is solved, and I know He has undertaken for me.
“Not that we never need to supplicate, because we do, but not so often as we sometimes think. But we need far more waiting on God than we have.
Returning to her diary, under date of July 24, Mrs. Robinson writes of some personal ministry the Lord gave her at this time:
“Called yesterday at Mrs. L—’s. Found them in quandary over their little girl, Emily, thirteen years of age. She is under great spiritual conviction, and no one seems to be able to help her. Mrs. L— wanted to send for me, but Mr. L— was rather afraid of my teaching. Then Mrs. L— said she would pray that I would come if it was God’s will; so in I walked. This led them to present the child’s case very earnestly to me. Oh, may God use me for her.
“Last night, went to Elder Brooks’ meeting, and on way home had a long talk with George. Am holding him very earnestly before the throne.
“July 25. Lord, plant my feet on higher ground. God needs to do this indeed. Truly I am on a low plane. For some time I have asked God for discernment of spirits. Twice lately God has shown me an evil spirit in a person. The other day as I was seeking most earnestly for discernment – power to know spirits – the thought came suddenly to me: ‘Do you know what you are asking for? The power to discern demons must necessarily include the power to cast them out. That means taking unto one’s self an authority under embarrassing circumstances at times.’ I asked God to bring me up to my own prayer.
“Then this morning I prayed again along this line. I felt so greatly the need of being able to understand what things are prompted by God in the demonstrative meetings. We came down to prayer – we were at East End.
“While we were at prayer, a drunken man came in and fell down on his knees and went to weeping and begging God’s mercy. As we were praying for him, I was led to pray; and as I did so my prayer changed, and in tongues, as has happened once or twice before, I began to rebuke the evil spirit in him. A strong impression came over me to rise and command the demon to go out; but I wavered. I felt the words just coming out of me, and I felt so strong. But all sorts of things came into my mind, principally how H— would take it, also Mrs. H—. H— is very fearful of my presuming in any way, so I argued with the Lord. Finally I said, ‘I believe it is a demon.’
“Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke through me, ‘It is a demon.’ Then again I felt I should just rise and command the demon to depart; but I let the moments go by, and the power passed. Then I said, ‘Lord, what must I do? Is it really a demon?’ and the Spirit said through me over and over, ‘It is. It is. It is. It is,’ and I still wavered until great conviction came over me, and I could only weep. Then I prayed aloud and asked God to forgive my cowardice, and I was all broken up and would have then commanded the demon to go, but the power was gone by. And the man changed in his spirit.
“My handbag was lying there, and he must have caught sight of it – poor, weak, miserable sinner; and he took it and slipped out while I was weeping over my weakness. Served me right, too, that the demon got ahead of me so.
“Well, I am praying God to convict the sinner and to return the bag. God help us all to be more fit for God to use. I have asked God, instead of withdrawing His answer to my prayers, to strengthen me with a holy boldness until I am strong enough to bear and honor the answer to my prayers.
“In spite of the failure, I was wonderfully blessed all day and strengthened in the inner man. In evening, was doused with cold water and a cloud came, but God permits me to have this kind of chastening still.
“July 26. Cloud still hanging, but I see victory coming in my son. I am better able than I was to be misunderstood and wrongfully accused and just keep silence. I do not have such a rebellious rising and resistance in me for sell-justification. ‘Love suffereth long and is kind.’
“O God, make me dead, not to care what anyone thinks. I find I have to live separated unto God, in everything. My great difficulty is in letting others press me into not following the exact leading of the Spirit by arguing with me that my leadings are mistaken, that I am presumptuous in assuming to have any clear leadings.
“I have not had the baptism of fire. Jesus was to baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. I don’t know what it all means but I want the whole promise, and I ask for the baptism of fire. I know I am cold, hard, stiff. I need burning, melting, softening, refining in God’s crucible. I need to be burned up. God, give me the fire, the fire. Why should I stop short of the fulfillment of the whole promise? I ask the baptism of fire. O God, work out in me Thy perfect will. O, make me what I ought to be. 0 Lord, I give up to Thee. Thou art too wonderful for me.
“July 27. Yesterday, a day of blessing. In the afternoon a rich anointing of praise and joy and laughter and songs in tongues. The blessed experience stayed with me into a time of great rest and peace in the evening. I seemed floating on billows of calm.
“Today God seems to have made the way open and plain for me to wait on Him. ‘Sitting at the feet of Jesus.’ Oh, how much we need to do that! God is working something out in me. I have that sense of being in His training school.
“Sometimes His workings seem so plain. Again I just have to stand still and trust. I am persistently holding before Him my plea to know His will. He is teaching me in many ways, letting me have strong impressions to do things that are not His will and then closing every door to show me I am wrong. I was puzzled at first, but I believe now that He is making me to measure the difference between impressions and leadings. As I go to school, I learn my lessons one by one.
“This is coming plain – to know the mind of God we must be free from our own mind. He literally has to think through us. In order to get the mind of God, we must get our thoughts off everything else that would influence. Conditions, advice, opinions, impressions, inclinations, desires, feelings, all laid down, emptied out; then with a blank mind get into a stillness before God and let Him either positively speak, which He does sometimes, or drive home a definite, steady, positive, clear-cut conviction.
“I also learn that one must be very wary of strong impressions. They may be from God; but when we have them we should stand still, get still before God, empty out before Him, get His mind. If the impression is from God, it will deepen, strengthen and grow into a clear, steady, unmistakable conviction. With such a leading one can stand fast in the face of all opposition.
“And this is the third lesson. One must stand fast. Deny a leading, falter, waver, or question, after having seen a thing clearly and positively, serves to throw us into confusion and doubt that hinders us from getting God’s will next time. He will not waste His blessing. If we receive clear leadings from Him, He will have us obey them, or He will not give them.
“Fourth, it takes great patience. God isn’t in a hurry. Eternity’s years are His. He will not let us hurry Him. The very first requisite for getting His voice is to get quiet, to be patient. All restlessness, anxiety, haste, uneasiness stand in the way. God moves in a great calm. He doesn’t speak to the inner ear of man by whirlwinds and earthquakes. He has His messages in these. But to the child of God He speaks gently, in a still, small voice. There must be stillness – stillness of the soul – to meet Him and hear that voice; there must be faithfulness, and obedient faithfulness, to get still and stand still until God does speak.
“Our God is a jealous God. If we don’t give Him all of our obedience, He will not give us of the priceless, deeper treasures that come to a perfectly surrendered life. And if there is an inclination on our part to run away from His presence and get weary of waiting for His voice, He withholds the blessing. Or rather, it is only by that patience and that waiting that our spirit gets in that touch with God that tunes the inner ear to His voice. God moves in great harmonies. This stillness and waiting and patience and submission tunes every discordant chord of our being into harmony with His; and when He touches us with His divine finger, whispers to us from His divine knowledge, the tuned chords respond, and we have His mind in us.
“O gracious Father, put me into harmony with Thee. Take away every discordant note of my own choice, and let Thy mind control mine – ’every thought brought into captivity.’
“Sometimes in so waiting upon God, perhaps for days, for some clear leading as to our path of duty, we are confused by many impressions and even by doors opening in such an unexpected manner we take them to be of God. But this is our testing. Satan is always busy seeking whom he may devour and never more so perhaps than when a child of God is at the feet of Jesus asking for direction. God never works aimlessly. And Satan knows no matter how simple or personal a matter it is, God’s decision will be one that will hurt the kingdom of darkness. To deflect the child of God by any possible means from entering upon that path, therefore, is Satan’s aim. And knowing he cannot tempt to disobedience, he will, if possible, coming as an angel of light, draw the child of God by deceptive leadings, impressions, or conditions into the wrong paths.
“God high over all permits this testing. In His great eternal calm He, looking at the troubled soul, sees further than the present emergency. He knows if He is too merciful it will never learn the lesson of hearing His voice that the battle will strengthen, not weaken. And even if there should be failure and temporary victory on the part of Satan, experience – painful though it may be – will be the teacher to bring that impatient soul to a better understanding of God’s dealings with His children. The lesson once learned, then God has an instrument in His hand to whom He can communicate His will, – to be worked out in the obedience of an absolutely yielded, human will.
“Oh, better to stand the testings and suffer the failure, even, than to give up and stand on the lower plane of a servant, walking in ignorance. As His friends we have a right to know what He doeth, and only to His friends, those who are in intimate, personal relation to Himself, can He give this knowledge.”
“‘THE LORD HAS been leading me in quiet ways,” Mrs. Robinson recorded in her journal, for August 16. “No marked testings, leadings, or experiences. Every door and avenue of service, except in quiet, unostentatious ways, closed. Just a waiting time while Harry has been earnestly seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Has been staying at East End Mission. Is now in Simcoe.ⁿ
Note: Evidently some door for temporary ministry was opened for Mr. Robinson in Simcoe in view of the entry below under August 27.
“The chief encouragement that I have is my ability to wait and be quiet, to be at peace and leave all to God. The hurry and fret and rush seem taken out of my life. I am entering into His rest.
“Also, I see some answer to prayer. All my life I have found it terribly hard to bear misunderstanding, to have my motives misconstrued. I would explain and explain and think it over and over. He has permitted me to go through a terrible pruning of being constantly and repeatedly misunderstood. He, in fact, by this process, woke me up to how sensitive I was along this line. I have prayed earnestly that I might rise above this thing and be willing to have only God understand. Praise His name, He is certainly answering. Day before yesterday I was tested in a new way. After a time I realized my peace was ‘flowing as a river.’ For hours I was in such a triumphant calm. My very body seemed to enter a tremendous repose that was joyful.
“August 27. I think I should put on record our present experiences. Two weeks ago Harry was in Simcoe. I came down to my last ten cents. Went to East End in morning, trusting. Met Mr. D— there who asked me to go into country to his home. He handed me ninety cents for carfare, etc. I went. Miss D— bought my ticket home.
“On my way home I reminded the Lord my room rent was due, my laundry, etc. Asked Him to provide and have a letter waiting for me with money in it. Sure enough, when I got home, there was a letter from Mrs. F— of Detroit with $9.92 in it. This paid room rent, laundry, and immediate grocery needs, leaving about six dollars.
“A letter came from Harry asking me to go to Simcoe, and so I began to plan. At the same time I was reminded that I had not tithed. Also that I should take a dollar or two up to Brookses. (I afterward learned they were in need at this time.) On my action I now believe hang the subsequent events. Instead of obeying this leading, I figured out that the money I had would just evenly finish up expenses here and take me to Simcoe. As I was paying my own fare, I felt it would take place of tithing. O the mean schemer that I was! After all God’s wonderful provision, to be niggardly with Him.
Note: Evidently Mrs. Robinson was going there to minister, and therefore felt justified in such a decision.
“After all, I did not go to Simcoe. Harry came home, and we lived on money for a week. But when it came time to pay room rent, for the first time we could not. Finally, Saturday, we came down to just enough car tickets for Sunday and enough for a loaf of bread. Harry went to Marlatts’ and got fruit and tomatoes we had there. These, with bread and a little butter we had left, supplied our dinner. In evening we took tea with S—’s. Sunday morning, had more of tomatoes and fruit and bread – no butter – and went to East End and spent day there.
“Monday we had just two car tickets and two cents. We finished bread and tomatoes – except little – and took the last slice of bread to East End for lunch. Up to this afternoon I was not restful in mind. Was troubled and burdened. Kept praying and thinking about it. Harry had more faith. I began to see there was no help until I could get over that. Took it to [the] Lord and was very peaceful.
“Then we deliberately launched out and went to East End with our two car tickets, trusting God to get us home. We ate our dry bread and enjoyed it for supper and then were invited upstairs to tea and bread and butter. Meeting was over. We went out of the door together. Neither of us had any money. Apparently no way to get home.ⁿ
Note: A distance of about eight miles.
Some way it didn’t bother either of us. Presently Harry said, ‘I have four two-cent stamps.’
“‘But the conductor won’t take them,’ I answered.
“‘We might change them into money,’ he said. Immediately I thought of our lone two cents, and he went into a store, sold his four stamps, and lo! we came triumphantly home, safe and penniless.
“This morning we had nothing to eat but some fruit (canned) and no money. We got up late so wanted no breakfast. Before dinner we were at prayer together and got into a waiting calm. In the midst of it Aunt Mattie’s voice ascended, ‘I will make a bargain with you. If you will put up my lace curtains, I will get dinner.’ And so it was. We put up the curtains, and we had a full dinner. Aunt Mattie did not know of our need. Just wanted her curtains up.
“We then went upstairs. We wanted to go to East End, but had no money. We went to prayer, and I began to talk in tongues. Said one word over and over as if it were a message, but could not get the interpretation. Sang in tongues. Got lots of interpretation… This lasted for an hour. We just had a feast with the Lord. By that time too late for meeting and no way to go. All desire to go gone.
“But Aunt Mattie had asked Harry to do an errand for her downtown, and he was going to walk. I bethought me of more stamps. I got them – five cents’ worth, to pay fare down. He went on to East End.
“Suppertime came. I had only sauce. Aunt Mattie kept calling me down to get my supper with her, so I went, praying. I had to remark that I was out of bread, and she said not to go and get any, but to use hers. So I had tea, bread and sauce. But [I] did not feel quite satisfied that was God’s way.
“I got a little troubled before supper. Patience hasn’t had her perfect work yet. So here we stand tonight… both of us praising the Lord. We are interested now to see how the Lord will work it out. He surely must soon.
“Mr. Manly is speaking at East End on Divine Healing and praying with the sick. We need the teaching indeed, or rather the inspiration, the getting ‘warmed up’ again. Alas, that we should step back from any experience in Christ. To think of the wonderful health I had, and how I slipped back, although, praise God, I am still a miracle of His mercy, for I am well.
“Harry has come out into a much more blessed experience. We have happy times together in Jesus.”
The details of their faith life experiences for the next six weeks are not available, for a number of pages are missing from Mrs. Robinson’s journal. The next complete entry, however, tells in detail some of the lessons learned in connection with their trusting God for their material needs:
“October 7. It is almost a year since Harry and I launched out on faith lines, and God has provided every need. In fact, for nine months, not only every need but luxuries also. Then our testing began, part of which I have written down. We have learned several things God saw we needed to learn.
“One, our pride has been wonderfully cut down. There was a great deal in us which we called zeal for God’s glory that God showed us was a shrinking from being humiliated ourselves. So God let us be humiliated in more ways than one and took care of His own glory.
“Second, we found we had been very selfish with our money. Instead of spending only what was necessary on ourselves and giving the surplus to God and God’s children, we selfishly spent nearly all that came in above our tithes on ourselves.
“Third, we did not know how to be abased, to economize properly.
“Fourth, we did not know how to ‘take no thought’ under test. Our faith seemed very complete as long as the money poured in, but as soon as we were tested, we got into a tremendous time of wrestling in prayer that had a good deal of anxiety in it.
“Fifth, our heart-searching brought us to a realization that there was a little clinging to earthly things, that we were not living quite that moment-by-moment life that we needed to live, and it led us to rid ourselves of everything superfluous in our possessions.
“Sixth, we have been receiving some lessons in patience. ‘Let patience have her perfect work’ is easier said than done. And we became very impatient. Harry could hardly keep from going to work.
“Just now we are absolutely penniless. Were entirely out at end of week. Mr. H— handed us fifty-one cents on Wednesday evening. That was just gone when Mrs. C— sent one dollar for some booklets, Holy Ann, and told Harry to keep change, which was fifty-five cents. This bought us a little butter, a piece of meat for soup, and our car tickets for Sunday.
“Today, Monday, we are almost stripped, and yet have been comfortably satisfied in food. Have milk and bread and potatoes and beans and tea. Ha! Ha! Harry and I at noon began to count what we are out of. We are out of milk tickets, bread tickets, butter, eggs, any kind of fruit or sauce, kerosene, etc. Suddenly we said we had better count our blessings instead of our lack. Then we were quite surprised to see what we have. For we do not need more than supplies for this day. And though our bread tickets are out, we have two loaves of bread. And our milk tickets, yet we have nearly a pint of milk, and the food we had today did not require butter. So there we are.
“Truly we are in a training school. We live one day at a time – one hour – one moment. It is lying-in-camp time. The General has not said when the march will begin or where we will go or what is to be done when we get there.”
THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRISTq
WHEN MRS. ROBINSON wrote the foregoing account, she and her husband had been residing in the home of Elder and Mrs. Brooks for about a month. Early in September, Mrs. Brooks and her two children had gone to the home of friends on Georgian Bay so that she might have an opportunity to recuperate from a severe illness. After her departure, the Robinsons went to keep house for Elder Brooks. At the end of three weeks, Elder Brooks joined his wife, and the Robinsons were left alone in the house.
So it was that they had a blessed opportunity to wait on the Lord uninterruptedly. Mr. Robinson often attended the meetings at the East End Mission, which was about nine miles away at the opposite end of the city, but Mrs. Robinson remained at home as much as possible, waiting upon God. This secluded spot at 31 Ritchie Avenue, at the extreme western end of the city, had been prepared of the Lord, as it were, as a place where He could answer Mrs. Robinson’s prayer and accomplish His victories in her spirit, soul, and body at this time.
After telling the lessons learned in their faith life, Mrs. Robinson went on to give a little summary of her recent spiritual experiences.
“Saturday night, Oct. 5, Harry and I were both led out to talk together of a project that has been forming in our minds unknown to each other, about some literary work, but we have put it in God’s hands to lead us on if it is really of Him.
“Last Friday evening [October 4], spent evening in prayer and received a blessing. Jesus came very near to me. I have been longing and seeking for a fuller manifestation of His Presence. I do still. I praise God for what was granted to me and stayed with me since then; but I am waiting for a still deeper manifestation.
“O Lord Jesus, come quickly; reveal Thyself more fully; I long for Thee. The world has dropped away from me. Jesus is the fairest of ten thousand to my soul, the One altogether lovely. Yet He shows Himself at the lattice, and then is gone. 0O my Beloved, come in unto me.
“I at same time have been having a battle physically. Truly the test has been all the way round. However, I realize it is sheer unbelief keeping my body weak. I am not strong to walk or do physical hard work. And last week was unusually handicapped. Felt myself running down all week and Friday was ill. Seemed as if I might be going to have pleurisy. But the spiritual blessing I received Friday eve brought me so in touch with Jesus I took hold – touched His garment for deliverance – and praise God, He gave it, altho’ a cold still lingers – purely because of lack of faith for immediate and perfect deliverance. 0 God, increase my faith. Restore to me the simple, strong faith I used to have in Jesus, my Healer.
“I feel I would have had blessing in recording some of God’s dealings with us lately, but time has so flown. One day of much blessing was at Mrs. B—’s, where we tarried. There God gave me a new thought. But before this Mr. A— preached a sermon at Craig Mission on our reckoning ourselves dead – crucified with Christ at His crucifixion. This was a help to me.
“At Mrs. B—’s there was a discussion going on as to crucifying ourselves. It became so wordy and theoretical I was led to say, ‘But if we give too much time to thinking about crucifying ourselves, and are always pruning ourselves, will we not develop just another part of the self-life? Are we not rather to forget self and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and go forward in Him?’
“The one speaking said, ‘But we are told to deny ourselves.’
“‘Yes, but what is it to deny ourselves?’ spoke up an English lady. ‘How did Peter deny the Lord? He said, “I know not the man.”’ How God illuminated those few words to me. It has brought me into a deeper and sweeter experience.
“October 25. Friday again, and I am alone with God. That reminds me, I was baptized on Friday; and on this afternoon, since I have been alone, my baptism, so far as tongues are concerned, has been almost repeated. A spirit of prayer came over me that I might interpret. Immediately I began ‘chattering’ as one does getting the baptism, or rather getting the tongues… I can’t but believe it is connected with my prayer, for it is like when one [is] getting a new language. Perhaps it is more abandonment I need.
“I intended going out today but am having such a good time with the Lord, will stay at home. Meant to go down and pay part of the rent. The Lord has again richly provided for us, and we are able to help the Brookses a little in return for their kindness. Certainly we do have a marvelous experience all the time.
“If we could feel perfectly satisfied, we are just where God wants us, all would be well. But we are in such a still place. Yet it is the seed down in the dark just now – fallen into the ground that it may die, I believe. Certainly God makes me to see how well He can get along without me in His management of the universe. Yet lest we should get altogether discouraged, He gives us some results.
“Have had a hard battle physically. Seemed to have such a weakness of right limb that I couldn’t walk at all. Have prayed much for healing. But at last I put it before the Lord and laid the responsibility on Him. I live one day at a time. Each day is His. It is His work to supply me with strength for that day’s duties. I step out in Him. If occasion comes to take a long walk, I take it; and marvelous has been the change since I go that way. Yet the weakness in my limb seems to remain. Even around the house I feel it. But I launch myself out in Him, and He supplies the strength.
“At this point, I remembered that Aunt Mattie might go with me to Mr. A—’s meeting this afternoon if I called on her. So I left writing and went, only to find her busy at work. I then went on car down to S—’s where Harry was. All the way down, the power of the Spirit was upon me; and when I got there, I could not understand why I came out. As I talked with them, they seemed miles away. I was somewhere up in the Heavenlies. I felt so strongly this way, Mrs. S— sent me to parlor, and I went to prayer alone.”
As Mrs. Robinson waited upon the Lord, she received “three new tongues during the course of the afternoon.” In the midst of this, she became aware that the Holy Spirit was also speaking through her in English. As she abandoned herself to the Lord, she noticed that she “was saying the English word, ‘Pay.’
“Immediately it flashed over me about the rent not yet paid. We had seven dollars but, because of other needs, planned to pay four dollars, but God spoke to me in [the] Spirit in morning and said we should pay five dollars, but I hesitated over it and compromised by saying, if Harry felt that way, it would be all right.
“I kept on in the afternoon saying, ‘Pay, pay.’
“‘Yes, Lord,’ I answered, ‘What shall I pay?’ I expected the completion of the word, ‘Pay rent.’ I received nothing more in English for some time. Then I began to make ‘m’ sounds and presently said plainly, ‘Money. Pay My money. A little after, ‘Pay My money to,’ and still later, as I prayed, ‘Pay My money to Brooks.’
“I had a wonderful experience during all this. The minute I began to get a sound, my imagination [would] run in ahead, and so the word would not be completed. And the Holy Spirit dealt with me as a foolish child. I have seen people try to put bits in horses’ mouths and wait until it wasn’t noticing and then slip it in suddenly. And so were these English words slipped in. I would be talking in tongues – new ones – so that I was very interested, and when I had momentarily forgotten the English message, in would slip the English.
“After getting [the] complete sentence, ‘Pay My money to Brooks,’ I came under [the] conviction that I was holding back what God had given for them, and I promised the whole five dollars.
“Then the Lord began to say through me, ‘Two dollars. Two dollars.’ This was very hard to understand, and I had to give it up and wait for God to make it clear.
“But this morning [Saturday, October 26], Harry and I received two dollars in a letter. At once I knew that also was for Brooks; and a moment’s thought convinced me the whole eight dollars we have in hand—or rather nine, but eight is due on rent – must go for rent. I prayed Harry would see it, too, and presently it flashed over him… By paying the eight dollars on rent, we have one dollar which we owe for milk and some change. So it is interesting to see what the Lord will do next.
“October 26. We have lately been meeting with the L— family Saturday nights – just Harry and I, and having a season of prayer. Since the night I talked in tongues at tea table, they have been earnestly seeking baptism of Spirit – whole family… In [the] forenoon, Harry went over to see if we were expected… We went over to Mr. L—’s and in evening we went to prayer. Very soon I began to ‘chatter’ in tongues. Mr. L— began to pray earnestly that I would get [the] interpretation, saying, ‘There may be a message for me, Lord.’
“At once the syllables became more pronounced, and I said in a short time, ‘Get low down, whole heart,’ several times. After a time I said, ‘Haughty,’ repeatedly, and, ‘Nine.
“Later Mr. L— said (as I knew in my spirit it was) that the message was to him and that nine years ago he had received a similar message – that he was haughty and must humble himself with his whole heart.”
Thus the secrets of Mr. L—’s heart were “made manifest”, and he could not but be convinced of Mrs. Robinson’s ministry and report that God was in her “of a truth” (I Cor. 14:25).
This is the first recorded instance of Mrs. Robinson’s having had an experience like this – in which she gave a message under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to another person in English, by which the Spirit of God “made manifest” the secrets of a heart and brought to light things long hidden, things unknown to her, but well known to the hearer, and thereby made that individual know that the word spoken was not the word of a woman but, as it was in truth, the word of God. This gift was subsequently developed and brought into full perfection. Many are the people who were both convinced of the genuineness of her ministry in this way and received great help when they acted upon the reproof or admonition given as a result of such knowledge.
The day after this new experience, Sunday, October 27, Mrs. Robinson goes on to record:
“We spent the whole day at East End. Wonderful meetings all day. Power of God on me all day. In fact, have been living under a ‘shower’ for two or three days. Afternoon meeting was followed by a powerful seeking meeting, upon which the Spirit of God fell over whole house. Mr. Campbell got his baptism. Several were prostrated. Many weeping. It continued straight through until evening meeting.
“In evening Mrs. Hebden had one of her wonderful times. Interpreted everything she said, first time. She gave, or rather God gave through her, a powerful message to sinners, a warning. Then God pressed me to make the altar call. Many came to altar. Conviction was over house. After a long time of praying, pleading, singing, Mrs. Hebden said again, or rather the Spirit said in tongues and interpretation, ‘The meeting is past. The opportunity wasted. Farewell, sinner, farewell. Doomed, doomed, doomed.’ It was very solemn and awe-inspiring and terrible.
“Monday, October 28. The next thing the Lord did financially was to give us one dollar about two hours after paying rent [Saturday]. Next was fifty cents, next day. And next was ten dollars, today. What a wonderful Father.
“Tonight, we intended to go to East End, but Harry was tired and had a cold, and I felt little inclination to go. [As] I prayed about it, …I said, ‘O Lord, how blessed it would be to ask You and just have You tell me.’ …Then I began to say, ‘No, no,’ …I got up and went into another room and began to pray earnestly, for I do not want any delusion to get hold of me; and I spoke again, over and over, ‘Don’t go.’ Still I prayed and pled to be kept from error. I asked for a repetition, but instead I spoke the words, ‘Didn’t I tell?’ but finished question in tongues. This occurred several times.
“O my Lord and God, if Thou art going to put within me such a privilege, the right to have the Holy Spirit Himself give me direction, how marvelous, how wonderful it will be! Oh, keep me down, make me humble, keep me steady arid wise and patient. Let no flesh get in. Have Thy way, Lord, have Thy way…
“I thought Harry was going to bed early, and I was going to be alone with the Lord, but he did not until after ten, and I was feeling a little disappointed at not having my time with God; and the devil came to chafe me and make me feel as if I were guilty and ought to sit up. I wrapped myself up – only warm room is kitchen – and went to parlor and prayed and asked if I should sit up. Suddenly the answer came in English, in an indulgent tone as if to a foolish child, ‘Go to bed.’ Needless to say, I went.
“For months I have been praying for wisdom – the knowledge of God’s will – ability to know when He speaks to me. Just before this new experience came to me, I was much before Him that He should enable me to know His will. But I have had such discouragements I could not understand.
But this would be a most wonderful way if He could trust me, and if it is His way of speaking to me.
“I have not recorded about our little Roman Catholic woman. A few days ago – a week or two – Harry and I took tea with Mrs. H-. She had a roomer, a young Mrs. L-, there. After supper we all had prayer, and Mrs. L- got under conviction. She cried and finally prayed long and earnestly, first in French, then softly in English, and then openly and boldly. Now she is coming right along to meetings, her husband with her. I had a talk with him last night. It is horrible the darkness the Roman Catholics are in.
“Tuesday, October 29. We washed and I worked quite hard all day. After a rest I planned to go to East End to workers’ meeting. This evening the Spirit said to me repeatedly, ‘Do go.’ I went to parlor for a little time alone with the Lord, and [was] there for an hour, which I thought was about twenty minutes… I sang in tongues, also in English, ‘I love to do Thy will, O God.’ (This was the refrain.)
“October 30. Strange experiences multiply… Last night I asked God what I should do today. He has been pressing me to work among girls in factory where Mrs. L- works. Mrs. L— told me to call at eleven and ask for Mr. A—. The two proprietors are Mr. Br- and Mr. A-. But last night when I asked God about today, at once came this message, ‘Go down town to factory at ten tomorrow.’ I then asked whom to ask for and was told to ask for Mr. Br-. This morning a card came from Mrs. Bi-’s asking me to go up to her place today at ten. I prayed and answer came quickly, ‘Go to factory by ten, then to Mrs. Bi-’s. I did this. Mr. Br- was kind and gave me permission.
“I then went to Mrs. Bi-’s. Mrs. H-, who has tumor, was there. I went under power of Spirit and talked much in tongues and gave a message to Mrs. H-, ‘Be patient. This is for Mrs. H-. Be patient. Don’t be patient with the devil. O, no, no, no, be patient.”’
In the midst of this new and strange experience, Mrs. Robinson questioned and hesitated, for things happened she could not understand at the time: “If God is speaking through me, I do not want any unbelief to stand in the way of His full work. On the other hand, God forbid the flesh should do anything, that any of my thoughts would intrude, and oh, that even one word of mine should be given as a message from God. O God, my God, deliver me from all that is not of Thee.”
With the record of this day’s events Mrs. Robinson stopped making any entries in her journal. Right at the most interesting, the most exciting, the most important time in her whole life and experience! Perhaps new experiences multiplied too rapidly for her even to record them. And perhaps the Lord did not desire her to do so, for they were too sacred and personal. Furthermore, even in her journal entries there is evidence of the truth of her own statement that she had it in her “nature to hold an absolute reserve of private experiences.” Therefore, the happenings of what in some respects at least was the most important month of her life, November, 1907, must be gathered from the brief references she made to them in letters, in sermons, in conversations with her most intimate associates, and by the outstanding change in her personal life and public ministry after the experiences of this month – a transformation which was recognized by all who knew her before and after these events.
For almost nine months now Mrs. Robinson had been praying, “Jesus, I must know Thee. I do want to know Thee.” Later she stated, “I cried out to God to let me get to the place where I should never, never have to do anything my way. I just said to God, ‘I would like to be perfectly dead.’” I just wish that there were no Mrs. Robinson at all. Oh, I would just like to be where the Lord would take me and change me until there was not one thing left like the old Mrs. Robinson. O Jesus, I wish that You would just come and I would just move out. I would just like… the Holy Ghost to take possession of my body.”’
The time was now at hand for God to answer this great cry of His seeking child. For her encouragement, perhaps also to spur her on for the final lap of this race, the Lord Himself gave her this message with its command and promise, probably on October 30th:
“Pray, My own daughter. The Lord will come to thee in all the fullness thou dost desire.
“Pray, My own, for the Lord will come to thee as thou dost desire, My daughter, in fullness of joy.”
After receiving this word from the Lord, Martha Wing Robinson’s praying became intensified manifold. In the following days and weeks she “agonized before God, and wept, and called upon God” as never before. How she longed to be utterly gone” and to have Christ Himself to live out His very own life within her!
At length, probably about the time of her thirty-third birthday, November 14, the Spirit of God came upon her, helping her infirmities. Now He Himself interceded through her with a petition of just three words: “Let me die.” Like the tick-tock of a great grandfather clock, so it seemed to her, this simple prayer ascended unceasingly from her heart to the throne of God for three days and nights.
On the evening of the third day Mr. Robinson decided to go to the East End Mission to hear a minister from England. After he had left, Mrs. Robinson prepared to settle down for another evening of prayer. The only comfortable room was the kitchen, heated by an old-fashioned coal stove. Therefore, before its opened oven door she placed a chair beside which she knelt.
Suddenly the prayer in her soul stopped! There was not a sound in her soul! Her whole being was enveloped in the great silence of God!
The fact was that, to change the figure, God’s hour had struck to answer her prayer and to come to her “in all the fullness” she had desired. She had “prayed through… believed through… obeyed through… loved through.” Inasmuch as she was “all obedience,” Jesus could reveal Himself to her and fulfill His presence in her very body and reign there as King.
The complete details of what followed on this memorable night are known to God alone. Even if they were available, it would not be lawful to utter them, much less to publish them. During those holy hours, however, as Mrs. Robinson was held in the mighty presence of God, the Lord Jesus Christ came to her and performed the miracle whereby she was set out of herself and into Himself. As for Mrs. Robinson, so oblivious was she of herself and so conscious only of Christ that at the time she did not fully realize what was happening to her. She knew only that He had come in to make His abode with her.
“I heard the Lord say something to me, which came in a simple way across my lips,” she later recalled, “and I never noticed He used my own lips. I was astonished that the Lord spoke out to me in words.” Suddenly Mrs. Robinson exclaimed, “Jesus, You are here, but where am I?”
Later Mrs. Robinson was to grasp the significance and extent of what had taken place during this blessed time. She had indeed “passed over into a change which was not like anything we had ever heard of. It included everything from head to foot. In a moment we were gone and a greater One was there. Entire spirit, soul, and body were in a new and divine control. We walked out of the natural into the spiritual in the body as well as in the soul.” Included in this change was the deliverance from those ills and infirmities which had harassed and hindered her during the previous three years.
It was indeed a new Mrs. Robinson to whom her husband came home to that night. She did not need to tell him about it; in fact, there was little she could tell him under the circumstances. Her new experience soon spoke for itself, for it could not but be obvious that Christ was mightily present in her so that even her bodily movements, as she performed her various household tasks, were controlled and directed by the One who was dwelling within her.
As for her feelings in the weeks which immediately ensued, Mrs. Robinson described them in these words: “We felt that we had died and Christ had come to dwell where we had been. We knew only God and were hidden away in God in such a tremendous mystery – the very presence of God came upon us, and we were just bowed before God in that wonderful experience. I felt my God had moved in and, as it were, had eliminated me. My mind did not seem to work at all – my spirit [seemed] off in heaven. It seemed that Christ was just borrowing, as it were, my body. Christ was living in me, and yet I did not seem to live at all. It was more wonderful than anything I had ever dreamed of. I would say it was just Himself.”
Now the Lord explained to her just what had happened to her that momentous night as “the mystery of the indwelling Christ.” “We found out it was a taste of something God is going to do in the last days.”
“MOVED ONLY AS BY HIM”
SHORTLY AFTER Mrs. Robinson had had this great experience, her husband wrote Mrs. Brooks about it and suggested it would be well if she would return home.
“When I arrived at my home in Toronto, I found the great presence of the Lord there,” recalled Mrs. Eugene Brooks. “God had come to our house. Mrs. Robinson had entered into an experience such as I had never heard of nor seen before. One of time ways in which Christ manifested His presence and power was by speaking through her in the word of wisdom and prophecy. I was overawed and profoundly impressed by this mighty manifestation of the Lord. When He talked to me through Mrs. Robinson, I knew it was the Christ. My soul was bowed in love and reverence to my heavenly Father for the words He spoke to me. As a result, my own soul was inspired to know God in a greater way.
“No one should think this incredible – that the Lord would speak thus over lips of clay,” Mrs. Brooks continued, “for this is His promise to those who will cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit: ‘I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” (II Corinthians 6:16-7:1)
“It was the personal knowledge of Jesus under the power of prophecy that was my marvelous experience,” wrote Mrs. Robinson to Nettie some months after this. Then she went on to tell something about the various gifts of the Holy Ghost as she had experienced them and had been taught about them. To explain and to illustrate this teaching, she gave a few examples from her own life: “Wisdom, knowledge, etc., are gifts of the Holy Spirit in you. Under the gift of prophecy one deals direct with Christ and His messengers. The gift of knowledge is about men and things and places. Wisdom gives guidance.
“For instance, by knowledge I would be able to know what was happening anywhere. One day I came home and found Harry away with [the] key. Knowledge said, ‘He is at B’s.’ So he was. I found him there.
“I needed money. I prayed. God answered. Knowledge said, ‘Thursday a letter will come from Mr. K- with $5.00 in it.’ (That is not prophecy.) The money came.
“Knowledge said, ‘One month from today (14th of November) a letter will come from Harry’s mother containing money, telling him his father is ill. He is to go to Montreal.’ On the 14th of December it came.
“Wisdom guided me what to do. Wisdom would say, ‘Go to E’s.’ I would go. The Spirit would say, ‘Stand here.’ So and so would come. I would then have a talk with her. She would, of course, not know how it happened, except by accident. And I would find she had some need. The Spirit controlling my words would say to her just what He wanted, and the fruitful results were very blessed. [People] would come to me afterward and tell how they were helped or delivered in a moment of need.
“Prophecy did not tell little, simple, future occurrences, but knowledge, under the prophetic gift… God put me under the spirit of prophecy for real prophecy but a few times. I remember only once in [a] mission. The whole meeting melted down. It was a prophecy about Christ’s coming and the tribulation. I ‘saw it.’ Prophets see, so were called ‘seers.’ When wisdom spoke from my lips, it was simply my lips used; but when there was prophecy, it was in and through my whole being, and my soul laughed and wept according to what was prophesied…
“In prophecy, as I said, I dealt directly with Christ as a personality, not the control of the Spirit upon me merely. Wisdom was the gift commonly exercised. People don’t understand it was knowledge, not prophecy, by which I told little future events, sometimes by wisdom.”
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive exposition either of these gifts of the Spirit or of Mrs. Robinson’s own experience. As she explained in her letter after relating these happenings, “I am just touching here and there on these varied experiences.” Later she was to teach extensively about the gifts of the Spirit and to show, for example, the use of the word of wisdom in preaching, in teaching both public and private, in giving of direction, etc.
These operations of the Holy Ghost, wonderful as they were, were not the only ways in which Christ manifested Himself in Mrs. Robinson’s life. The fact is that the power of God rested so greatly upon her that in all her personal movements about the house, as well as her going out to make calls and in her ministry, her very body was literally moved by the Holy Ghost.
Naturally such a life, attended as it was by such blessed results – real miracles, in fact – in the lives of others, could not long be kept “in a corner.”
Of course, there were some – good and even very spiritual people at that – who discredited her experience because they had never seen or heard of anyone else who did everything, great and small, by time Lord. But the remarkable leadings and guidance continued, and judging by both Mrs. Robinson’s manner of life and the fruit, “their correctness could not be gainsaid by anyone.”
THE GIFTS OR THE GIVER?
“WOULD YOU be willing to be a failure for Me?” was the question which the Lord asked Martha Wing Robinson shortly after she and her husband had returned from the Brookses’ home to live again at her Aunt Mattie’s in December, 1907. Utterly consecrated and abandoned to God, she readily acquiesced in whatever He might will for her, although she could not fully understand what might be involved in her acceptance of such a call.
Evidently it was about this same time that the Lord showed her two paths for her life and told her she might choose either one, just as she desired, for either one would be His will and that in either choice she made she would enjoy His blessing. She could choose to be a successful evangelist, used to bless the multitudes, with the fame and acclaim which generally attends such a ministry, or she could choose to be a vessel hidden and comparatively unknown, with misunderstanding and great suffering as her main portion.
To the natural person, the first path, of course, would be the appealing one. On the basis of her experience as a young minister in the past nine years, she had reason to believe that she could indeed be successful. But Mrs. Robinson had passed out of the natural into the spiritual so that her own will “had, as it were, disappeared, or, rather, passed into another will.” Therefore, Mrs. Robinson said to the Lord, “Jesus, I wouldn’t know which to choose. You choose for me.
And He chose the hidden path, the path of suffering.
About this same time the Lord began to teach Mrs. Robinson just how it was that people got into error and fanaticism in the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was with a view to her being able to help those thus troubled. Subsequently, the Lord did use her especially in this way, to the eternal gratitude of those delivered.
Now the Lord placed before her the supreme test of her whole life, a test which was absolutely necessary and fundamental to her entire experience. One day, as she was combing her hair, the Lord spoke to her, saying, “I am going to remove all these miraculous gifts and powers which you have enjoyed.” Immediately she acquiesced, saying that He should please Himself in this matter.
Then He told her further that when this withdrawal of His power and gifts did occur, she would conclude that it was because she had displeased Him in some way or other, but He hastened to assure her that that would not be the reason. (He did not, however, tell her what would be the reason for His working in this manner.) Mrs. Robinson told the Lord she would remember His word to her. “No,” the Lord declared emphatically. She would not remember this word but would forget it. Then she suggested to the Lord that she would write this promise down on a piece of paper and place it in her mirror where she could not help but be reminded of it. This the Lord would not permit her to do.
For a time thereafter, she continued to be supernaturally moved by God, miraculously led and used just as she had been since the Lord had come to her a few weeks before. There seemed no change, and she forthwith forgot the word of prophecy the Lord had spoken to her.
Gradually, however, little by little, the power of God was withdrawn from her. She did not understand what was happening. She knew she loved Jesus as greatly as ever and was conscious of His great presence within her heart, but the fact that God was not working in and through her as He had was confusing to her, to say the least. Finally, she wondered wherein she had displeased the Lord to cause such a withdrawal of His power.
Her beloved Aunt Mattie in whose house she and Mr. Robinson were now living became stumbled by the change. Those who had thought so highly of her and had been blessed by her ministry lost confidence in her. Soon all had forsaken her so that she was left friendless, save for the loyal support of the Marlatts and Mrs. Brooks. (This loyalty Mrs. Robinson was ever to remember with the deepest gratitude.)
Rumors flew around Toronto with lightning rapidity as to the cause for the change in Mrs. Robinson. Some were confirmed in their belief that her experience was not of God. Others felt that her mind must have been affected by her intense praying. Far and wide, false reports were spread, which became increasingly distorted as they were repeated or written to others in distant places who knew and had highly respected Mrs. Robinson and her ministry in former days. Well it was that she had consecrated her good reputation, for now it was completely gone.
At last one morning, as she was washing the breakfast dishes, one of the leading ministers of the city appeared at her door. He had come, so he indicated, to set her straight. Confidently he asserted that he had known all along that she was wrong and asked her to acknowledge that fact and to repudiate her experience.
With perfect inner and outer calm she listened to his humiliating and bitter indictment. Frankly she admitted that she was puzzled over some things which had happened to her recently; she could not explain them. At the same time, she knew God had been with her greatly and, as was perfectly evident, had used her for His glory. Humbly but firmly, she maintained that she could not – would not dare to – say that her experience was of the devil.
Turning to Mr. Robinson, the minister said, “I told you she would be like that. There is nothing I can do for her,” and quit the apartment. (Alas, this minister subsequently had to leave the ministry, died in disgrace, virtually unknown and unmourned.)
All this humiliation and judgment Mrs. Robinson bore in silence with becoming humility and grace. However, with virtually everybody, even the most spiritual people she knew, judging her as they did, she began to wonder if perhaps, after all, they were right.
At this point Mr. Robinson, who as yet did not have his baptism, became completely discouraged and disgusted with Pentecost. Consequently, he decided that he and his wife were to sever all their connections with the movement.
Furthermore, he forbade his wife to have any manifestations of the Spirit. She must not even speak in tongues.
Instantly and implicitly Mrs. Robinson obeyed her husband. At this time Mr. Robinson received word that his father in Montreal was ill – just as the Lord had told Mrs. Robinson, and his mother requested that he come and help care for him. This turn of events seemed most opportune to Mr. Robinson. He would go to Montreal, and as soon as it was convenient for his wife to come, she was to follow him.
There they would be away from their Pentecostal friends and influences. This was an ideal way to get out of all their troubles. Forthwith, Mr. Robinson left for Montreal, and Mrs. Robinson began to plan accordingly to join him.
Truly this was “the dark night of the soul” for Martha Wing Robinson. Forsaken of friends! Seemingly forsaken of God! Forbidden the spiritual fellowship and blessings she had enjoyed! Bewildered and discouraged! In spite of it all, however, not for one moment would she give up loving and worshipping Jesus. No matter how little she understood her circumstances never would she give up her inner fellowship and communion with the Son of God.
To see just what she would do in such a condition, so the Lord later explained to her, was the reason He had permitted her to go through this dark valley. He wanted to see if she would mourn over the loss of her spiritual power and gifts and, perhaps, blame God; to see if she was in love with the gifts of God more than the Giver; to see if she loved Jesus just for Himself and would be satisfied with just Himself, even if everything else was seemingly swept away including the blessings and experiences He Himself had bestowed upon her.
For now, however, she was left to walk in darkness, without one ray of light, and in simple, naked faith to stay upon her God.
ENDURING AS SEEING HIM
IN JANUARY, 1908, Mr. Robinson, his father now dead, sent for his wife to join him in Montreal. Before going there, she had a brief visit with former parishioners and old friends in Detroit who received her warmly.
Arriving in Montreal after a dreary journey, Mrs. Robinson received but a “scant welcome” from her mother-in-law. A woman of good qualities, she did not, however, have the spiritual insight necessary to understand the vicissitudes through which her son and daughter-in-law had passed during the year since they had embraced Pentecost. A most attentive mother, she pitied her only son, and attributed his recent misfortunes to his wife whom she regarded as in error, to say the least. In various ways, therefore, she slighted and showed her disapproval of her daughter-in-law. Martha put forth every effort to be gracious; but whether she was sociable or silent, she was unable to please her mother-in-law.
With Mr. Robinson’s determination to break with his Pentecostal associations, his mother was in full agreement. Especially was this so in his desire to keep his wife from Pentecostal practices and from protracted periods of prayer. To this end, her mother-in-law treated her as the servant of the house and kept her busy with various manual labors, some of them very arduous and difficult.
Graciously Martha submitted to the orders given. Heartily she performed each task “in the name of the Lord Jesus as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Fortunately she had long since learned that, however desirable, it was not necessary to be on her knees or to use her lips in order to pray. She had learned how to pray without ceasing by means of that interior prayer which, like incense, can arise without interruption from the altar of the heart that loves and worships Jesus. This kind of prayer no man nor woman nor circumstance of any kind can hinder or stop.
Without abatement this condition continued for some time. All the while she endeavored to keep in perfect love, but at length she feared lest there had come in her heart “a tiny bit of resentment” because of the ill treatment accorded her. Had she not, through all that had happened, lost out on the answer to her prayer for perfect love? She began to pray again over First Corinthians Thirteen, carefully searching her heart for even the smallest root of bitterness. Shortly, she was stopped, and the Holy Spirit assured her that she had not lost the slightest part of the answer to her prayer. And through all the provoking circumstances of the succeeding weeks, she suffered long and was kind, bearing all things, enduring all things, with joyfulness.
So disheartened, however, did Mrs. Robinson become over her present situation that she longed, even prayed, to die. After all, would it not be far better to be with Christ? Reprovingly the Lord spoke to her, “I don’t want you to pray to die.” Then He went on to explain, “In so doing you have opened the door for a sickness which I will bind up now but which you will have to fight out later.” Obediently she stopped her prayer and bowed to the perfect will of God.
Her inner feelings of this period are well expressed in a poem she wrote in July (1908) and aptly titled,
GOD’S MEANS OF GRACE
“He endured as seeing Him Who is invisible,”
And you, my soul, endure as seeing Him!
What tho’ the way he rough with stones of trial,
And joys of life be clouded o’er and dim?
What though your earthly hopes are torn and shattered?
What though your earthly plans must each one fail?
Endure, as seeing Him, though yet invisible,
Save as my soul meets Him within the veil.
Endure, my soul. – The service you are giving
Is not to meet the plaudits of the throng.
‘Tis He you serve; He only sees your effort,
He only knows how, day by day, you long
To please Him more; to be a yielded vessel
Made fit for use as Potter moulds the clay;
Tho’ man may scorn your weak attempt and failure,
The Saviour gently bears with thee alway.
O soul, get free from all the weight and bondage
Of selfish flesh, of clinging worldly cares;
The Father, coming out to meet thy yielding,
Doth heed thy supplicating tears and prayers;
This span of time in God’s great arch eternal
Is passing swiftly onward from our view;
O, rise to see Him, – One who never passes,
Whose Love is endless as His Word is true.
Endure unto the end. Night passes. Dawn is breaking.
Be ready for thy Saviour’s call to thee;
What matter then what trials have crossed thy pathway,
What stormy billows tossed thee on life’s restless sea?
Behold, He cometh! O my soul! As clothed upon
With immortality you meet Him in the skies
And see Him as He is, ‘twill well reward thee
To have one glance of welcome from His eye.
So help me live as seeing Him, invisible
To mortal eye, but present with the soul;
As unto Him perform each humble duty,
The daily task, or seeming fruitless toil,
Each uttered word, as heard by Him Who listens,
Each simple act as guided by His Word,
That when He comes, my soul may, earth forgetting,
Leap forth to be forever with her Lord.
For worship and fellowship Mr. Robinson became affiliated with a small congregation of the Brethren in Christ Church which held many of the same beliefs as Zion, such as divine healing. A church like this was acceptable to him, and the people were most congenial. Evidently this assembly was without a pastor, for upon learning that he was a minister, Mr. Robinson was soon asked to act in that capacity for them.
Mrs. Robinson accompanied her husband to the services, sitting in the audience, no one realizing that she, too, was a minister. Occasionally, as she was led, she testified briefly as anyone in the audience was free to do when the opportunity was given. As she always exalted the Lord Jesus and reminded the people of the fact that He was in the midst, her simple words proved a blessing to the congregation. Some of the worshippers would come to her afterwards to tell her of the blessing they had received from her testimony. Then a member went to Mr. Robinson and told him the same thing, suggesting that his wife should be ministering with him.
Mrs. Robinson knew, of course, that this was what God wanted. But, under the circumstances, she also knew that she could not do one thing about it and that, if the door for public ministry for her were ever to open again, God Himself would have to open it, for it had been fast closed and bolted. Obediently and without complaining she had submitted, as a Christian wife should, to her husband’s interdict, but humbly and without saying a word to anyone she had taken her case to God. She could not conscientiously give up her call from God nor could she disregard the fact that He had so signally equipped and gifted her for working in His vineyard. Quietly she prayed about the matter, asking God to get His will done. At last, she had prayed through, and then God gave the answer in a miraculous, unexpected way.
One day Mr. Robinson was preaching with great liberty and eloquence when suddenly he stopped short in the middle of his sermon. To the surprise of everyone, including his wife, he announced: “Mrs. Robinson will come to the platform and finish this sermon.”
Without hesitation Mrs. Robinson arose from her seat in the audience and under the controlling power of the Holy Spirit went to the platform. Calmly and just as though it might have been planned, she took up her husband’s sermon. Mr. Robinson had been speaking about immature Christians and how they ought to grow up in Christ. Now she continued the sermon with an illustration which the Lord brought to her mind from her childhood. As a little girl she and her sister were playing within dolls one day when her sister remarked, “Mattie, you know, when we get big, we won’t play with dolls anymore!”
“What!” Mattie replied, “When I’m big, I’m going to play with dolls all I want!”
So Mrs. Robinson pointed out that babes in Christ are permitted to do some things which they won’t think of doing when they grow up to be mature Christians. From there on she developed the subject and concluded it in a striking manner. Amazed at this unusual performance, coupled as it was with such an evident knowledge of the Scriptures and such able exposition, the people agreed that she should be ministering with her husband. One old deacon, in particular, who had been strongly opposed to women ministers, was completely satisfied and won over. The result of all this was that the congregation voted that from then on Mrs. Robinson was to have an equal place with her husband on the platform. Thus by her obedience and faith, the seemingly impossible had happened. God Himself had fought for her and restored her to her ministry.
The congregation, which had been a mere handful in the beginning of Mr. Robinson’s ministry there, had steadily increased. Now under their united ministry, the place was crowded to capacity. This marked success caused the church to desire that time Robinsons would be ordained by the ministry of their denomination and then duly installed Mr. Robinson as their pastor, while Mrs. Robinson was to conduct a Bible school. First, however, the church felt it would be well if Mr. Robinson would attend a term in their theological school, Ashland College, located at their denominational headquarters in Ashland, Ohio. Inasmuch as the proposition was appealing and logical, Mr. Robinson accepted their offer and left Montreal in August (1908) to enroll in the college for the fall term.
Enroute to Ohio, Mr. Robinson decided to stop with a Mr. and Mrs. Aman who lived on Big Island, about five miles from Belleville, Ontario, in the Bay of Quinte. In years gone by, Mr. Robinson had lived with these people quite a while, and they had come to regard him as an enjoyable son. The Amans had also been members of Zion. Consequently, there was a strong bond of spiritual fellowship as well as of personal friendship between them. Mr. Robinson decided to leave his wife with these friends while he went on to the college in Ohio to secure an adequate place for them to live. The plan was that Mrs. Robinson was to follow with their trunks when he notified her.
IN THE LAND OF PRAISE
“JONAH! JONAH! JONAH!” This was the word which came involuntarily over her lips one day when Martha Wing Robinson was praying in the woods on Big Island. During these days she had much time to herself. Her native spiritual habitat was prayer, and therefore she utilized her present opportunities to good advantage. Often, as on this day, she retired to the woods for times of meditation and prayer. Today’s manifestation startled and frightened her. What could it mean?
Returning to the house, she noticed a Pentecostal paper, picked it up, and there in the middle of the article she saw the word, “JONAH.” She began to read the article, the gist of which was: If you are a Jonah, go back to Nineveh. God will never let you alone until you go back to your Nineveh.
“Lord, where is my Nineveh?” Mrs. Robinson inquired.
Six weeks or so had passed since Mr. Robinson had left her to go to school. Circumstances in Ashland were not altogether as he had anticipated or to his liking. Doubts as to the wisdom of his decision were beginning to enter his mind. Still he would go through with the arrangement.
When the time came for Mrs. Robinson to join her husband, she had to go by way of Toronto. There she arrived towards the end of a week in November. Leaving her trunks in the station, as she expected to resume her journey after the weekend, she went to the Marlatts, their old friends, who welcomed her with wide-open arms. How happy they were that she had come!
Immediately they began to urge her to stay with them for a longer time than just over Sunday. Mr. Marlatt, who was a carter, said, “This is your place. Give me your checks for your trunks.” At length she did – after the Lord had clearly shown her what to do.
On Saturday night there was a cottage meeting in the Marlatt home. Among those who came were Elder Brooks who had misunderstood and opposed Mrs. Robinson before she went to Montreal. (Early that year, Elder Brooks had finally, after about a year of seeking, received his baptism.) Now Elder Brooks especially was happy to find her there.
During the course of the meeting the power of God descended mightily upon the little group. Another minister who had also previously opposed Mrs. Robinson rather strongly broke out in powerful tongues and gave a message to Mrs. Robinson. His wife, for the first and only time in her experience, interpreted the tongues, the gist of which was that the Lord desired Mrs. Robinson to take up again the call He had unmistakably given her and which she had had to lay down all these months.
After the service Elder Brooks, who had been so blessed and impressed during the meeting, insisted that Mrs. Robinson return to their house and stay with them overnight so that he and Mrs. Brooks might have opportunity for further fellowship with her. Needless to say, this was to the surprise and great delight of Mrs. Brooks.
Upon her return to the Marlatts the next day, the Lord began to deal with Mrs. Robinson in an unexpected manner. After her hosts had left to attend a Sunday evening service, she went to her room to wait upon the Lord. Once there, the Lord spoke to her, asking if she would be willing to remain there until He told her to leave. Of course she would. Immediately the Lord began to manifest Himself to His vessel and to restore the gifts and powers which by His sovereign will and for His own purposes He had withdrawn about a year before.
When the Marlatts returned that night, the Lord, speaking through His vessel, asked them if they would be willing for Mrs. Robinson to stay there for awhile. Mr. Marlatt said she could stay for a year if it was desired. Somehow God had given both him and his wife something of an understanding of God’s purposes for their guest at this time.
So Mrs. Robinson remained in Toronto and began a protracted period of tarrying.
Events signally corroborated that Mrs. Robinson had been led aright in staying on in Toronto. In Ohio, Mr. Robinson came to the conviction about this time that he had certainly been out of the will of God in considering attendance at the school there. Completely dissatisfied, he sought a place of ministry elsewhere. He could not return to the Montreal assembly, at least not then, for someone else had been called to take his place. Therefore, he was sent first to Indiana, then to a pioneer field in Missouri which was indeed “hard scrabble circuit.” The privations and tests which he had endured in the first year of his faith life in Toronto were as nothing compared to what he now suffered in Missouri. Then, God had always supplied, even luxuries at times, so that they could testify that they had lacked no good thing. Now, when he was sponsored by an organization, he had need and really lacked.
When nothing worked out right or satisfactorily, it at last became very clear to him that he had leaned to his own understanding in coming to the United States, for the blessing of God was neither upon him personally nor his ministry. He then decided to return to Canada, but had no money for his fare. When at last he was able to get to Toronto, he came as one who had been greatly chastened by God Himself so that he was ready also to return to the fellowship of Pentecost.
Throughout these weeks the Lord wrought many victories in Mrs. Robinson’s own life and through her for others. Outstanding was her deliverance from sickness when she was at the point of death. During this tarrying God had demanded the most exact obedience and abandonment to His will. By following a simple and seemingly reasonable suggestion of her hostess, Mrs. Robinson unintentionally disobeyed the Lord. The result of this slight, almost inadvertent disobedience, was that she became sick unto death. (This was the illness the Lord had told her in Montreal the previous summer that she would have because she had prayed to die.)
The climax came one Sunday night when, according to her own desire, Mrs. Robinson was left alone in the house, the Marlatts having gone to a service at the East End Mission. Inquiring friends had repeatedly asked the Marlatts of Mrs. Robinson’s health. Realizing the seriousness of her condition, they had repeatedly warned them of the probable consequences to themselves if she should die without having had a doctor: imprisonment, under an old English law in effect in Canada. This night they were especially strong in their warnings. In addition to this, a young man told them how he had seen in a vision or dream Mrs. Robinson engaged in a death struggle; that he had seen a demon enter her bedroom window and that she was lying on her bed, apparently dead.
Through all this pressure, the Marlatts had remained firm, fully persuaded that, as she was in God’s hands, she would not die but live and declare the wonderful works of God. After the narrations of this vision, however, they were perturbed and hastened home to see how Mrs. Robinson really was.
At home, they found their guest alive, but that she had indeed engaged in a struggle within death itself. From her they learned that she had seen the demon of death come in by way of her bedroom window and fasten itself upon her. She had felt and heard the death rattle in her throat. Calmly she considered her evident condition and the probable results. “This looks like death,” she said to the Lord.
“It is death,” He answered. Then, as she waited to see what God would do, He said, “Why don’t you tell death to go away?”
Again Mrs. Robinson waited. Suddenly the Spirit of the Lord rose up within her and in a loud voice commanded death to depart. By the Spirit she saw the demon leave her and depart by the way it had come in.
The sight and words of the young man had been confirmed. But more than that, God had honored the Marlatts for their steadfastness to Him and His chosen vessel. It became very evident that she was perfectly delivered, for immediately she began to put on flesh and to gain strength.
It had been God’s express purpose for Martha Wing Robinson to go through her experiences at this time absolutely alone, to be taught of God directly without the benefit of any human teacher or without receiving help from spiritual books. As has been indicated, she had never seen nor heard of anyone else ever having some of the experiences which she had. Walking in untrodden ways, ways so new and so strange, she often wondered and questioned. Truly it was a walk by faith alone.
She had heard of Madame Guyon, but she had never read any of her writings. Now, in the providence and goodness of God, a woman came to the Marlatt home one day and left a book for Mrs. Robinson – the Autobiography of Madame Guyon. When Mrs. Robinson received and opened it – seemingly at random – her eyes fell on a passage which she read with such surprise that she exclaimed, “Why, that woman back in the Seventeenth Century had the very same experience I have had!” In a moment she thought, “I should have said, ‘Isn’t it wonderful that I have had the same experience that she had?’” God had brought her the book at just the right time. It was a great encouragement to her to realize she had been led in paths that were not altogether unknown, a real corroboration of God’s dealings with her. (She was to reread the Autobiography many times, twelve times, she once told a well-known pastor friend. And concerning Madame Guyon’s life and experience, she stated that it was that which had kept the light of the inward life ablaze in the world at a time when it had almost gone out.)
On the twelfth of February (1909), Mrs. Robinson wrote her mother something of what God had been doing in the preceding three months and how He had now opened the door for service:
“My dear Mother:
“Well, at last I seem to feel at liberty to write you. As you know, the Lord made me His prisoner in love, and not a letter went from my hand for many weeks. Why it was and what about, it will be written as fully as He wills, at a time He wills. Just now I haven’t time and feel no freedom to speak of my personal experience, only as the Spirit is upon me for the purpose.
“You will know how much it meant to refuse to write to the ones who were anxious about me. But the Spirit upon me and in me and God’s peace kept me, for He made me realize all I was doing was for Him and He made no mistakes. What was made a trial of faith and a very veiled, peculiar action on my part has proved to be a blessing. At another time I will explain how.
“God has been with me in a most blessed way and has brought me into a Land of Praise, a land flowing with the milk and honey of His own presence. I am on the borders of it – and the great and walled cities and mighty and terrible enemies are still before me, but I trust it will be still God who fights my battles.
“We are having meetings in the Marlatt home, not big ones, just souls God chooses out and sends to us. As we have no one to hinder, we just let ourselves be led of the Spirit. At a moment’s notice, we are shown to begin meetings. Certainly He works in them. Such beautiful, holy, restful meetings!
“Harry was brought back here. It was God’s will. He has been here three weeks. He is well and blessed spiritually.
“One night Jesus gave a message about His waiting. ‘I wait, I long, I am at your heart, when you have been at prayer you felt My presence, you felt the touch. A moment of response brought Me to your heart. But you wait a moment. I am waiting many, many years, for My own. When the veil of flesh between is broken through, then you will know how I waited.’
Further on in the letter, Mrs. Robinson quotes another message which the Lord gave in which, in speaking of her, the Lord said, “My child is to learn to walk by faith.” She goes on to indicate that the Lord does not tell her what to do in advance but waits “until it is necessary that I may learn to rest passive in Him. I am trusting to learn perfectly the lesson taught me to know one moment at a time, to rest in His will, to bother about no one, but commit all to His responsibility. Oh, how sweet to obey and be at peace. But the crucifixion of time – flesh – the will – the mind – ambition, desire, all these things go, as we go on into abandonment to His holy will.
“May God bless you and make you a vessel all His own. He says, ‘A vessel is nothing. It has no feelings, no desires, no will, no plans. It is wholly in the hands of the One Who owns it.’ Praise His Name. Glory!
“Much, much love, and praying you will be blessed, Martha.”
CONTROLLED BY THE SPIRIT
“THAT IS THE young woman whom I told you about two weeks ago. I have brought her to you.”
This was the word which the Lord spoke to Mrs. Robinson when Mrs. Marlatt announced to her that there was a young woman – Miss Eva MacPhail, who wished to see her. Miss MacPhail had heard of Mrs. Robinson for the first time earlier that same day and had made haste to come to see her if possible.
Miss MacPhail came of a long Scotch ancestry in whose veins flowed the blood of martyrs. While a student in Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, she had received a mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit. An energetic, zealous, personal worker, she had a great love for souls. After graduation from Moody Bible Institute, she had volunteered for missionary service in China and had been accepted by the Presbyterian Church of Canada. Then followed a period of such questioning and uncertainty about her decision, during which she lost the glory of her baptism, that she set aside a day for fasting and prayer – February 14, l909 – to ascertain the perfect will of God for her. As she waited upon the Lord He made it clear to her that she should go to the president of the Woman’s Auxiliary Band and tell her she would not go to China. When she promised to do this, back came all the glory which had left her.
Before going to the board within her announcement the next day, Miss MacPhail stopped to see a friend, Mrs. Peter Toews, whose husband was a professor of modern languages in Toronto University. She had met both Professor and Mrs. Toews at Pentecostal meetings in the city, for these educated people were humble seekers after the truth of God. Sewing that day for Mrs. Toews was a poor widow woman, Mrs. Mallaby, in whose home Elder and Mrs. Brooks and their children were then living.
As Mrs. Mallaby heard Miss MacPhail’s story, she ventured a suggestion: “The Lord shows me you should meet a Mrs. Robinson who has been shut up with the Lord for three months at Five St. Albans Street.” To this suggestion Miss MacPhail felt an immediate response in her soul. After tending to her errand at the Woman’s Auxiliary Band, she went directly to the address of the Marlatts, arriving there in the late afternoon, and asked to see Mrs. Robinson who indicated she should come to her room.
“Mrs. Robinson had a little common room, directly over the kitchen,” Miss MacPhail related, “which was simply furnished with a sheet iron stove, one chair, and a wooden bed. But when I entered that room, I thought I was in heaven, the presence of the Lord was so greatly manifested there. Mrs. Robinson was sitting on the floor, wrapped about in a blue woolen bathrobe, when I entered. Soon the glory of the Lord so filled our souls that we were dancing under the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Then the Lord began to speak through Mrs. Robinson, teaching Miss MacPhail. He discerned her experience, the present needs she had in her life, and gave her a mighty deliverance, so that she was freed from certain bondages which otherwise would have destroyed her usefulness in the kingdom of God and completely wrecked her own life. How exceedingly free and happy Miss MacPhail was and how bowed in humility and thanksgiving that, exactly at the right time, in His great mercy, God had so miraculously brought her in contact with one by whose ministry she could be so greatly helped and delivered.
About seven o’clock Mr. Robinson, who had been away working, joined them, and Mrs. Robinson continued teaching and ministering by the power of the Holy Ghost. At eight o’clock there was a rap at the door. Elder and Mrs. Brooks had been definitely led of the Lord to come from their home in the country, ten miles away, to see Mrs. Robinson that night. When the Brookses had settled themselves – the room was so small that visitors could be accommodated no other place than on the floor – the Lord began to speak concerning His plan and said that He now had the ones together He had been waiting for and that they should start regular meetings Wednesday night (Feb. 17, 1909). These services were not to be advertised, but they should let the Lord send in the people whom He would.
It was eleven o’clock before the little group separated that night. The six and a half hours that Miss MacPhail had been with Mrs. Robinson had passed so swiftly that they seemed but a few minutes. By this visit, the course of her whole life and ministry was completely changed. On the same occasion there was inaugurated a five-fold fellowship of friendship and ministry which would be broken only by death.
The meetings were begun in due order and held on Sunday afternoon in the Marlatt home and once a week on Saturday night in Mrs. Mallaby’s home. To accommodate everybody, the group sat on the kitchen floor in the latter place. Eagerly and hungrily the worshippers gathered and, Quaker fashion, waited upon the Lord for Him to manifest Himself in whatever way He chose. And how the hungry were fed and the thirsty satisfied with the bread and water of life as it was ministered through His vessel.
“The thing which blessed people so greatly in Mrs. Robinson’s teaching was that she pointed them to Christ,” Mrs. Brooks testified. “It was not a new doctrine which was preached; it was just the simplicity of the gospel, Christ Himself. He alone was exalted. The Lord met with those who gathered there in a great way and performed many miracles of divine grace in our midst.”
Among those who regularly attended these cottage meetings were Professor and Mrs. Toews. Humbly they took their places on the floor with the other members of the group, most of whom were poor and from less-educated walks of life. In one of these simple services, Mrs. Robinson said that the Lord would like somebody to offer a room in his home where Miss MacPhail could wait upon time Lord absolutely uninterrupted for as long as He desired. A stiff Prussian gentleman, Professor Toews was not given to entertaining guests and was especially averse to having strangers in his house, for he did not desire anyone to intrude on his privacy nor to interrupt the routine of his home life. Nevertheless, Professor Toews immediately offered a room in his home for this purpose.
There Miss MacPhail went and for five weeks tarried until she was endued with power from on high. During this period time Lord changed Miss MacPhail so completely that she was brought out of the natural into the spiritual in body as well as soul. He possessed her and gave her a truly “spiritual mind” – the mind of Christ – ”where,” as she described it, “I was conscious of Jesus only.” In this connection, among other blessings, she was given a gift of prophecy.
The Lord gave Mrs. Brooks a similar call. For years, she had been asking God to come to her, and in the months immediately preceding this time, God had been preparing His servant for this next step by a great emptying out of her self and by the crucifixion of her flesh. Therefore, God was able to work very quickly in her soul and body. At that time God gave her the gift of the word of wisdom. Some little time later the Lord poured out His Spirit upon Elder Brooks and gave him a gift of interpretation of tongues and “the power to preach by the Lord in prophecy and wisdom.”
“The Lord guided and controlled our actions in a supernatural way,” wrote Mrs. Brooks in a short, autobiographical account, “and we entered into an experience somewhat similar to that which Mrs. Robinson had entered into in November, 1907... By the experience which the Lord gave me at this time, my inner life and communion with Jesus was completely changed as well as my ministry. I had found Him Whom my soul loved and longed for. I lived continually in His presence and under the shadow of His wing. Christ had become very real to me… God had answered the prayer which he had put on me… when I prayed that He would come to me and do the work Himself – the work we were not sufficient to do.”
Many years later Mrs. Robinson described these early days in this way: “Away back in the beginning of this work when we prayed through to our death, we passed over into a change, which was not like anything we had ever heard of. It included everything from head to foot… In a moment we were gone and a greater One was there. Entire spirit, soul, and body were in a new and divine control. We walked out of the natural into the spiritual in the body as well as in the soul. This was the experience by which God opened this work.”
All who attended the gatherings of the first year of the work in Toronto were unanimous in their testimony that they never witnessed, before or after, meetings upon which the presence of God rested so greatly and in which God worked so supernaturally. On the “platform” were Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, Elder and Mrs. Brooks, and Miss MacPhail. These five ministered as a unit, one or another being used of God as the Holy Spirit led or directed, supplementing or complementing the ministry of each other, all working in harmony and to one end. A marvelous example of the teaching set forth in First Corinthians twelve – ”many members… one body,” “diversities of gifts,” of ministries, and of operations, but the same Spirit.
“We always sat in silence until the Lord began to do something – give some prophecy… or some teaching by wisdom through Mrs. Robinson. Sometimes all of us just sat in silence, worshipping God for quite awhile, and then we would sometimes have wonderful praises.” Such was the description of the meetings by Miss McPhail.
It is very important that one understands the various references to prophecy in this narrative. It does not refer to or imply the foretelling of future events. No. Rather, as in the Word of God, he that prophesied spake “to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” (See I Cor. 14:3) In addition, by prophecy, oftentimes the secrets of the hearts of those present were made manifest. (See I Cor. 14:25). By such ministrations God convinced many of the authenticity of the gifts manifested, showed them their need, and brought victory into their lives. Nor were these parlor meetings a mutual admiration society, “saints” gathering to feed on messages, dreaming dreams, and building air–castles. No. The ministry was too strong for that. Flesh was exposed. People were told the truth about their natures. Often this was uncomfortable. Only the great presence of God could make such a ministry possible. God confirmed His word with signs following. People were healed, baptized in the Spirit, and delivered from many bondages.
Almost thirty years later one of this first group – ”old Mrs. Dunlop” – testified that in one of these early meetings she was instantly and perfectly delivered from chronic – probably migraine – headaches by the word of His power. Never after did she have a single one of these headaches, though they had been her horror for years previously. A minor miracle, one might say, unless one has been distracted with such a torment for years, or lived with one so afflicted.
At the beginning of the meeting one night, the Lord spoke through Mrs. Robinson and named four or five people present who had not received their baptism in the Holy Ghost as yet. He went on to say that He would baptize all of these people that night before they left the meeting, if they would be willing to receive the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues. Those mentioned said they would. Then one of the ministers saw in a vision, or by the Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ enter the meeting within a lighted lantern in His hand. This He held before each one who had been indicated. That was all “the evidence” there was.
During the next few days, however, reports began to come from members of the families of the baptized ones how they had been so tremendously changed. The fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace – was manifested in such a marked degree that others could not but notice it and be impressed. In due time, throughout the next two years, one and then another did speak in tongues “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” All except one woman. Her husband, a denominational minister, was so opposed to tongues that it seemed the Lord withheld that evidence in her case.
All this… while meetings had been held in the house which the Marlatts rented. Most unexpectedly, on the first of April, 1909, Mr. Marlatt received a notice from his landlord to move out, that the back yard was going to be taken to be added to a lumber yard. “He got all wrought up,” wrote Mrs. Robinson in a letter to a friend. “There was a question of law that he looked into, something about lumber being too near a building. He didn’t want to move, as it is a very good place for him. He thought he could block the lumberyard and hold on to the house, for they wouldn’t let him go if they couldn’t get that back yard. He blew around about it for a day or two, and then it occurred to him to ask the Lord about it.
“Now Mrs. Marlatt talked this way: ‘If Jesus wants us to move, then we want to move; and if He doesn’t want us to move, we’ll stay, lumber or no lumber. We’ll stay at the price we have to pay, whether we like it or don’t like it. When we move we’ll let the Lord pick the house out. I’m perfectly willing to turn time whole thing over to the Lord and never do a thing until He directs.’
“Mr. Marlatt readily agreed. He wanted those directions right that minute, and not a sign of a direction could he get. He waited, and he waited, and he waited. He would remind me about four times a day. The notice was upon them. They had boarders who were a part of their support. They did not know where in the city they could get a suitable house, and they were dreadfully willing to do anything the Lord told them to do, and they asked about four times a day.
“I don’t know that they would ever have gotten an answer if they had not died over it. They simply got to the place where there was no answer, and they slowly and unconsciously rose up to the consecration they had just made to truly turn it over to God. It was on the first of the month that they had notice to be out on the thirtieth. About the fifteenth they stopped inquiring of the Lord. About the twentieth they were quite happy. By the twenty-fifth they had forgotten they ever had a notice, and by the twenty-ninth they were cheerfully remarking in a jovial way that they were ready to get out on the street anytime, but that God was going to keep them there evidently.
“On the evening of the twenty-ninth, in a little meeting, the Lord suddenly spoke through me quite unexpectedly, ‘Mrs. Marlatt, Jesus says your house is a very nice place for these meetings. He will keep you here for the summer.
“The next day the landlord said to Mr. Marlatt in a very humble sort of way, ‘By the way, Marlatt, did you make any move after that notice?’
“Mr. Marlatt said, ‘Not a move.
“The man answered, ‘Well, we’d awfully like to have you stay.’
“And Mr. Marlatt said, ‘Yes, so the Lord said.’”
Mrs. Robinson went on to “point the moral and adorn the tale” for the benefit of the correspondents to whom she related the incident, showing some of the ways of the Lord when one wants to be led of Him: “When Mrs. Marlatt turned that over to the Lord, she did it absolutely. She did not worry. She believed God would hold the house for her. Mr. Marlatt …failed to deal directly with God in passive faith. If Mrs. Marlatt alone had been dealing with the matter, that message would have been given the day she turned it over to the Lord. But to give Mr. Marlatt the opportunity to come in the same passive faith and perfectly restful obedience, Mr. Marlatt was allowed to ‘die’ [to his impatience] by getting no message, and Mrs. Marlatt shared the little privation with him.”
Among those who came to the meetings in the Marlatt home was Mrs. Aman in whose home on Big Island the Robinsons had stayed the previous summer. During Mrs. Aman’s visit the Lord baptized her in the Holy Spirit and greatly blessed her, and she invited the Robinsons to her home again. Consequently, accompanied by Miss MacPhail, they spent two months amid the truly enchanting surroundings of their beautiful island. Much of this time was spent in prayer and waiting upon God, and Mrs. Robinson was used to teach the Word.
About this time, the Lord showed Mrs. Robinson that He desired that a house should be secured in Toronto, suitable both for living quarters for the various ministers who had been brought together and for holding the services. Mrs. Robinson, however, was restrained from saying a single word to anyone about the Lord’s plan until He had revealed the same thing to one of the other ministers, Mrs. Brooks. Thus, in the mouth of two independent witnesses, was the matter established.
Naturally speaking, Sunday night, the twelfth of December, 1909, was not a propitious time to announce such a venture. The day had been cold and miserable. The thermometer had not risen above 29 degrees, and at the time of the evening service it was snowing. Three inches of snow fell that day. But God’s ways are not man’s ways, and the Lord had said that the announcement of the proposed home was to be made in the service that night. Therefore, in spite of the fact that only a very few were present, due to the inclement weather, the announcement was made exactly as the Lord had directed it should be.
Now the Lord had said that the home should be opened Wednesday of that week – three days from then. Not a single preparation had been made for such a move. As yet, they had not even looked for a place. Furthermore, as for cash, the ministers did not have more than ten cents between them! To rent, to furnish, and to move into a place within three days was almost unthinkable.
During the course of the meeting, however, just when the Lord so directed, it was announced that the Lord desired to have a home for such purposes as already indicated, that it was to be opened on Wednesday of that week. To do this seventy-five dollars were needed.
Immediately after this announcement, an old man in the audience, Alexander Campbell, gave exactly seventy-five dollars for the proposed home and then told how he happened to have that amount with him. After he had left his home that evening for the meeting, he had been impressed to return and to get seventy-five dollars from the safe of his grocery store. So strong was this feeling that in spite of the weather and the fact that he could see no need for having such a sum, he retraced his steps and secured the money. Thus, most signally, the Lord confirmed His word.
But this was but the beginning of wonders. The next morning, at the direction of the Lord, Mrs. Brooks and Miss MacPhail went out and, under the power of the Holy Ghost, walked until they came to 23 Surrey Place, a house just east of the Ontario Parliament Building. There they were stopped, and the Lord said to them, “This is the house.” Then they learned the house was for sale.
Immediately they proceeded to the agent’s office and asked to rent it. When the owner learned that it was desired for religious work, he gave permission for its rental at twenty-five dollars a month. These terms were acceptable, and forthwith the house was rented without further examining it, simply because the Lord had said it was the place He desired.
Once secured, they found it to be perfect in its appointments and layout for their purposes. On the first floor there were two large, adjoining rooms, completely separated from the kitchen and other rooms, which were suitable for the services. On the two upstairs floors the bedrooms were so arranged as to afford a maximum of privacy for all. Thus, once again the Lord confirmed His word and the direction given to His servants.
Finally, on Wednesday, the fifteenth, exactly as the Lord had said, those whom the Lord chose to move in first did so:
Elder and Mrs. Brooks, their two children, Ruth and Eugene, and Mrs. Mallaby and her two daughters, Velma and Pearl. Thus “the thing was done suddenly” for it was of the Lord, and God had prepared His people for it.
Now, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the house was fully furnished and made ready for the others whom the Lord designated to come. Within a few days Miss MacPhail and her sister Margaret joined the household. Margaret was to be a helper in prayer and together with Mrs. Mallaby, the efficient and ingenious housekeeper of the new family, was to care for the secular duties of the home, thus leaving the ministers free to give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” At length, when the house was fully settled, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson came to live there, sometime after Christmas.
In addition to his original gift, Mr. Campbell sent a wagon-load of groceries and stocked the larder of the new home.
Within a month’s time the Lord supplied four hundred dollars from various sources for furnishings. A little later, Mr. Campbell, who received a call to the ministry, gave up his store and came to live in the home. Soon after his coming, the Lord poured out His Spirit upon him so that he became a very exceptional preacher. And so a sixth minister was added to the group.
Thus by His own ways and means the Lord brought together the people He desired to be in this Toronto faith home and selected and furnished the place itself by His own direction and appointment. And with the opening of this home, the attendance at the services increased and the work enlarged.
RADIANT GLORY – About Martha Wing Robinson [Gordon P. Gardiner] Year 1962 ~BOOK 1