ANN PRESTON (“HOLY ANN”)

February 9, 2017 // Story

 

ANN PRESTON (“HOLY ANN”)

“O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? I thank God through Jesus Christ.” —

Rom. 7:24, 25

Among our readers we doubt not there will be wide diversity of view in theological

matters, and even with those who have the assurance of salvation there will be great differences of
opinion as to the expressions to be used to describe various phases of Christian experience. As the
unhappy contentions in the Church of Christ have rarely conduced to edification, it is not the
purpose of this book to enter into controversial themes.

However, we come to describe a great change in this life under consideration, and we do

not wish to be misunderstood. A numerous body of Christians believe that Christian life can be
divided into two distinct stages, the one summed up under the word “justification,” and the other
and further experience under the term “sanctification.” In defining these states, however, great
diversity of opinion is expressed. Some maintain that sanctification is something only to be
experienced in the future state. Then among those who believe that sanctification is the present
privilege of the Christian, two different views prevail some contending that the experience
consists in the entire eradication of the “old Adamic nature,” while others contend that it is the
state in which inward evil tendencies are entirely controlled or suppressed but in the contention
the one side too often gives evidence that there is need of a more perfect eradication, and the other
that there is room for a more complete suppression. In this narrative, therefore, we are not
contending for a theory, but simply narrating facts, and are frank to admit that we have witnessed
the practical results which we are about to set forth in the lives of Christians taking either view of
this great doctrine. In a general way we can appeal to our readers, and feel confident they will
admit that in the circle of their acquaintances there are two classes of Christians. In the one there is
not much to attract those who have never tasted of Christian joys. They live all too much under the
cloud. It is true that they struggle to do right, and that there has been certainly a great change from
their former life. They witness that their sins are forgiven. With actual wrongs committed there is
speedy confession and repentance. They acknowledge their own powerlessness in the presence of
temptation, and admit that they too often yield to some special besetment.

 

On the other hand, there is another class whose whole life and presence seems attractive. It

is characterized by joyous victory. The soul has unbroken fellowship heavenward, and with its
peace and joy it carries blessing wherever its influence is felt. The will is surrendered and the life
wholly consecrated and the Divine acceptance is sealed by the filling of the Spirit. We shall not
quarrel here as to how the transition is made from one state to the other. That those who have lived
in the one should pass out of the first and into the second is sufficient for us. In other words, that
the latter life is possible by grace, is all that we desire to maintain.

In the case of Ann, who had been schooled among the Methodists, we cannot wonder that

she largely dropped into their phraseology and more or less felt the impression of the teaching that
prevailed. However, up to this time she knew very little of the teaching of John Wesley, and did
not understand his theory of sanctification, and still less had she any corresponding experience.
Her ungovernable temper was her great besetment. She wept over it, confessed it, fought with it,
but all too frequently the whole process had to be repeated in the face of some great outbreak
under specially trying circumstances. There came a change, however, and a time when she was
delivered from its slavery.

It happened thus: A young man who stayed all night at the home, before retiring led the

family worship, reading Psalm 34. The 16th verse was strongly impressed upon Ann’s mind: “The
face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.”
She requested the young man to mark it for her, and then went to her room and knelt down and
prayed for light. She opened the Bible at the place where the leaf had been turned down, but the
adversary was there to contend with her. His first suggestion was, “You can’t read it,” to which
Ann replied,

“Well, the Lord will give it to me,” and in a wonderful way she was enabled to read it over

and over again. Men may explain it as they will, but until this time, with the one exception already
noted, Ann had never been able to read a word or decipher the alphabet, but from this time forth
she could read in a simple way from the Bible, although until toward the close of life she was
unable to read any other book, and a newspaper was like a foreign language to her. While still
upon her knees, she said, “Lord, what is evil?” And the answer came, ”Anger, wrath, malice,” ctc.
All night long she wept and prayed as the inward sinfulness was revealed to her. Toward morning,
in sheer desperation, she cried out, O Lord, how will1 I know when I get deliverance?” The
answer came, ”Well, Jacob wrestled until he prevailed.” In her simplicity, Ann asked, “What does
’prevailed ‘ mean?” and to her the reply came, “Getting just what you come for and all you want.”
Again she queried,

“And what will it do for me when I get it?” The reply came back, “It will enable you to

rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks. You will live above the
troubles of this world and the things that now upset you.”

But other suggestions were interpolated from another source. Like a flash she recalled the

circumstances of former outbreaks, and the suggestion came, “Yes, just wait until you are
scrubbing the floor and the children come in with their dirty feet then you will see.” But the
conviction deepened that these outbreaks of the carnal mind were displeasing to God, and that

 

there was deliverance from them. When the morning broke and the children began to awaken, she
was almost fleeing back to the bush to continue in her waiting for deliverance. She said
determinedly, “I’ll die, but I’ll have it.” She arose and went downstairs. To her overwrought mind
the personal struggle with the adversary was so great that she thought she could hear him following
her. In the parlor she met the young man whose word had reached her heart. He asked her what she
had been crying for all night, to which she replied, “I want to be sanctified throughout-body, soul
and spirit.” he simply said, “Well, Ann, how were you justified?” She replied. “Why, just by
believing what God said.” “Well,” he said, “complete victory comes in the same way.”

Again Ann went to prayer and pleaded the promise. “Ask and it shall be given you, seek

and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” She cried, “Lord, I have been knocking
all night. Open unto me! Open unto me!” And there is little doubt but that the answer came there
and then. For two hours it seemed to her as though she had entered heaven. This time the family
were aroused with her shouts of praise instead of her cries and groans. She said as she looked out
that nature took on a different hue, and the very trees seemed to be clapping their hands and
praising God. With her heart overflowing, she cried, “Father, didn’t you intend that man should
praise you more than these?” She at once began to tell it around. She went to her old class leader
and made known her new-found joy. He bade her to rejoice evermore, and pray without ceasing in
order to keep it. This brought in a shade of doubt, as she wondered how she could pray without
ceasing. She thought of the absorbing affairs of life and the things that would occupy her mind, and
wondered how such a thing was possible. But her mind was speedily set at rest by the Scripture
passage, “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

Her joy was so great that she could not eat, and for eight days she was without food.

Friends tried to persuade her to break her fast and to go forth and give her testimony, but it was
some time before she felt that she could return to the ordinary duties.

For seven years and a half after this it just seemed as though she were living in heavenly

places. She fell back on the Methodist Hymnal for expression, as she often cried:

“The opening heavens round me shine
With streams of sacred bliss,
While Jesus shows His presence mine
And whispers ‘I am His.’ ”

At the first dawn of consciousness in the morning her mouth was filled with praises and her

hands clapping for joy. There was very little difficulty in maintaining her Christian life with such a
joyous experience. One morning, however, she awoke, and instead of the usual sense of joy and the
burst of praise, her lips were dumb. At once the temptation came, “You have lost the blessing.”
While thus tried, she fell asleep again and dreamed that she was talking to another woman with a
like experience, and in her dream Ann urged her to walk by faith, quoting the text, “But the just
shall live by faith,” and urged her just to trust God. With that she awoke and turned her sermon
upon herself, with the resultant obtainment of perfect peace of mind.

Source: “An Irish Saint, The Life Story of Ann Preston,
Known also as”Holy Ann” By Helen E. Bingham

 

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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

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