ALFRED COOKMAN
(Methodist)

February 6, 2017 // Story

 

ALFRED COOKMAN
(Methodist)

I was born January 4, 1828. When just turned ten years of age I realized clearly and

satisfactorily the converting grace of God. I shall never forget the 12th of February, 1838, the
birthday of my eternal life. Connecting myself immediately with the church of my fathers I laid
down a rule always to attend my class meeting. To a rigid observance of this rule during my
boyhood and youth I gratefully attribute the fact that I have always retained my place in the Church
of God.

At the age of eighteen I took up the silver trumpet that had fallen from the hand of my

faithful father, and began to preach, in my humble way, the everlasting Gospel. Quitting, about this
time, one of the happiest of homes to enter the itinerant work, my excellent mother remarked, just
upon the threshold of my departure, “My son, if you would be supremely happy, or extensively
useful in your ministry, you must be an entirely sanctified servant of Jesus.” It was a cursory
suggestion, perhaps forgotten almost as soon as expressed; nevertheless, applied by the Divine
Spirit, it made the profoundest impression upon my mind and heart.

My mother’s passing but pointed remark followed me like a good angel as I moved to and

fro in my first sphere of itinerant duty, namely, Attleborough Circuit, Philadelphia Conference.
Frequently I felt that I should yield myself to God and pray for the grace of entire sanctification;
but then the experience would lift itself in my view as a mountain of glory, and I would say, “It is
not for me. I could not possibly scale that shining summit, and, if I might, my besetments and trials
are such I could not successfully maintain so lofty a position.”

While thus exercised in mind, Bishop Hamline, accompanied by his devoted and useful

wife, came to Newtown, one of the principal appointments on the circuit, that he might dedicate a
neat church which we had been erecting for the worship of God. Remaining about a week, he not
only preached again and again, and always with the unction of the Holy One, but took occasion to
converse with me pointedly respecting my religious experience. His gentle and yet dignified
bearing, devotional spirit, beautiful Christian example, divinely illuminated face, apostolic labors,

 

and fatherly counsels, made the profoundest impression on my mind and heart. I heard him as one
sent from God; and certainly he was.

One weekday afternoon, after a most delightful discourse, he urged us to seize the

opportunity and do what we had often desired, resolved, and promised to do; namely, as believers,
yield ourselves to God as those who were alive from the dead, and from that hour trust constantly
in Jesus as our Saviour from all sin. I said, “I will; with the help of the Almighty Spirit, I will.”
Kneeling by myself I brought an entire consecration to the altar — that is, Christ.

But someone will say, “Had you not dedicated yourself to God at the time of your

conversion?” I answer, “Yes; but with this difference; then I brought to the Lord Jesus powers dead
in trespasses and sins; now I brought powers permeated with the new life of regeneration. I
presented myself ‘a living sacrifice.’ Then I gave myself away; but, now, with the increased
illumination of the Spirit, I felt that my surrender was more intelligent, specific and careful — it
was my hands, my feet, my hours, my energies, my reputation, my kindred, my worldly substance,
my everything. Then I was anxious respecting pardon; but now my desire and faith compassed
something more; I wanted the conscious presence of the Sanctifier in my heart.”

Carefully consecrating every thing, I covenanted with my own heart and with my heavenly

Father that this entire but unworthy offering should remain upon the altar, and that henceforth I
would please God by believing that the altar (Christ) sanctifieth the gift. Do you ask what was the
immediate effect? I answer, peace — a broad, deep, full, satisfying, and sacred peace. This
proceeded not only from the testimony of a good conscience before God, but likewise from the
presence and operation of the Spirit in my heart. Still I could not say that I was entirely sanctified,
except as I had sanctified or set apart myself unto God.

The following day, finding Bishop and Mrs. Hamline, I ventured to tell them of my

consecration and faith in Jesus, and in the confession realized increasing light and strength. A little
while after it was proposed by Mrs. Hamline that we spend a little season in prayer. Prostrated
before God, one and another prayed, and while thus engaged God for Christ’s sake gave me the
holy Spirit as I had never received it before, so that I was constrained to conclude, and confess,

“‘Tis done! Thou dost this moment save,
– With full salvation bless;
Redemption through Thy blood I have,
And spotless love and peace.”

The great work of sanctification that I had so often prayed and hoped for was wrought in

me — even in me. I could not doubt it. The evidence in my case was as direct and indubitable as
the witness of sonship received at the time of my adoption into the family of heaven. O it was
glorious, divinely glorious!

Need I say that the experience of sanctification inaugurated a new epoch in my religious

life? O, what blessed rest in Jesus! — what an abiding experience of purity through the blood of the
Lamb! — what a conscious union and constant communion with God! — what increased power to
do or suffer the will of my Father in heaven! — what delight in the Master’s service! — what fear to

 

grieve the infinitely Holy Spirit! — what love for, and desire to be with, the entirely sanctified! –
what joy in religious conversation! — what confidence in prayer! — what illumination in the
perusal of the sacred word! — what increased unction in the performance of public duties!

O, that I could conclude just here these allusions to personal experience with the simple

addendum that my life to the present has answered to the description of “endless progression,
steadied by endless peace!” Fidelity to truth, however, with a solicitude that others may profit by
my errors, constrains me to add another page of personal testimony. Have you never known a sky
full of sunshine, the promise of a beautiful day, subsequently obscured by lowering clouds?

Have you never known a jewel of incalculable value to its owner lost through culpable

carelessness? Alas! that so bright a morning in my spiritual history should not have shone more and
more unto the perfect day; that I should under any circumstances have carelessly parted with this
pearl of personal experience.

Eight weeks transpired — weeks of light, strength, love and blessing. Conference came on.

I found myself in the midst of beloved brethren. Forgetting how easily the infinitely Holy Spirit
might be grieved, I allowed myself to drift into the spirit of the hour, and after an indulgence in
foolish joking and story telling realized that I had suffered serious loss. To my next field of labor I
proceeded with consciously diminished spiritual power.

Perhaps to satisfy my conscience I began to favor the arguments of those who insisted that

sanctification as a work of the Holy Spirit could not involve an experience distinct from
regeneration. O, how many precious years I wasted in quibbling and debating respecting
theological differences, not seeing that I was antagonizing a doctrine that must be “spiritually
discerned,” and the tendency of which is manifestly to bring people nearer to God!

Meanwhile I had foolishly fallen into the habit of chewing tobacco — an indulgence which,

besides the palatable gratification, seemed to minister both to my nervous and my social nature.
Years elapsed. When I would confront the obligation of entire consecration the sacrifice of my
foolish habit would be presented as a test of obedience. I would consent. Light, strength, and
blessing were the result. Afterward temptation would be presented. I would listen to suggestions
like these, “This is one of the good things of God.” “Your religion does not require a course of
asceticism.” “This indulgence is not specially forbidden on the New Testament page.” “Some good
people whom you know are addicted to this practice.” Thus seeking to quiet an uneasy conscience
I would drift back into the old habit again. After awhile I began to see that the indulgence at best
was doubtful for me, and that I was giving my carnality rather than my Christian experience the
benefit of the doubt. It could not really harm me to give it up, while to persist in the practice was
costing me too much in my religious enjoyments.

I found that after all my objections to sanctification as a distinct work of grace, there was,

nevertheless, a conscious lack in my own religious experience. It was not strong, round, full, or
abiding. I frequently asked myself, “What is that I need and desire in comparison with what I have
and profess?”

I looked at the three steps insisted upon by the friends of holiness; namely:

 

  1. Entire consecration;
  2. Acceptance of Jesus moment by moment as a perfect Saviour;
  3. A meek but definite confession of the grace received; and I said, “These are scriptural

and reasonable duties.” The remembrance of my experience in Newtown supplied an
overwhelming confirmation of all this, and at the same time a powerful stimulus in the direction of
duty.

“What then?” I said, “I will cast aside all preconceived theories, doubtful indulgences,

culpable unbelief, and retrace my steps.”

Alas! that I should have wandered from the light at all and afterward wasted so many years

in vacillating between self and God. Can I ever forgive myself? O, what a bitter, bitter memory!
The acknowledgment that I here make, constrained by candor and a concern for others, is among
the greatest humiliations of my life. If I had the ear of those who have entered into the clear light of
Christian purity, I would beseech, entreat, supplicate, and charge them, with a brother’s interest
and earnestness, that they be warned by my folly. O! let such consent to die, if it were possible, a
hundred deaths, before they willfully depart from the path of holiness; for if they retrace their steps
there will still be the remembrance of original purity tarnished, and that will prove a drop of
bitterness in the cup of their sweetest comfort.

Eternal praise to my long-suffering Lord! Nearly ten years have e lapsed since, as the

pastor of Greene Street Church, in the city of Philadelphia, I again dedicated my all carefully and
fully to God; the consecration of course included the doubtful indulgence. I said “I will try and
abstain for Christ’s sake. I would do any thing for His sake; and certainly I can consent to this
self-denial that Jesus may be glorified.” Again I accepted Christ as my Saviour from all sin;
realized the witness of the sanctifying Spirit; and since then I have been walking “in the light as
God is in the light,” have fellowship with the saints and humbly testify that “the blood of Jesus
cleanseth me from all sin.”

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk ye in him” — that is as I

understand, continually repeat those exercises or duties you performed when you accepted Christ
as your all-sufficient Saviour. I received Him in a spirit of entire consecration, implicit faith, and
humble confession. The constant repetition of these three steps enables me to “walk in him.” I
cannot afford even for a single moment to remove my offering, to fail in looking unto Jesus, or to
part with the spirit of confession.

Thus I have honestly unfolded some personal experiences in connection with the doctrine

and grace of sanctification. The recital humbles me in the dust as it calls up the memory of years of
vacillating and unsatisfactory religious life; but it also fills me with the profoundest gratitude for
that abounding mercy which not only bore with me but brought me to see again my privilege in the
Gospel, and now for more than ten years has been preserving me in the experience, and blessing
me in the profession, of this great grace. Precious reader, I now offer you this testimony; but,

 

remember, before it meets your eyes it has been carefully placed upon the altar that sanctifieth the
gift, and an earnest prayer offered that it may be blessed to your spiritual profit.

Source: “Forty Witnesses” by S. Olin Garrison

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THE END

 

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HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN
(A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts)
Compiled by Duane V. Maxey

Vol. I — Named Accounts

Interchurch Holiness Convention

18931 Route 522

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Phone: 570-658-1030