(Society of Friends)

February 6, 2017 // Story


(Society of Friends)

I was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, on the 17th of 5th month (May), 1828. I

was educated at Haverford College, Pennsylvania, at which institution I graduated in 1852. I took
the degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1861, and practiced my
profession for about fifteen years. Since 1866 my residence has been at Richmond, Indiana.

My parents were both ministers in the Society of Friends. I had accordingly a birthright

membership in that Church. I was carefully and tenderly brought up, and taught that I must fear the
Lord and keep His commandments. The Scriptures were daily read in our family, and I soon
learned to read and enjoy them for myself. The parental discipline which I received was strict, but
kind and loving. I was to a great extent shielded from the temptations to gross sins to which many
young people are exposed. I was from my very infancy a regular attender upon public worship, and
in my earliest years I enjoyed hearing good preaching.

The chief things inculcated in the teaching and preaching of those days — I mean half a

century ago, so far as the Friend’s Church was concerned — were to mind and obey the light of
God’s Holy Spirit shining into the heart; to be moral and upright and honest and truthful and good;
to do what duty required, and to obey God; and thus to work out salvation with fear and trembling.

It is true that Christ crucified was often spoken of as the sinner’s hope of acceptance with

God; but the fact that the Spirit always testifies of Christ and draws men to Him was too much lost
sight of, and the necessity of an immediate and definite conversion was not clearly insisted upon.

I cannot point to the time when converting grace first reached my soul. I am quite sure that

it was in very early life. I am certain that there were occasions every now and then, during my
boyhood and youth and early manhood, when my soul was filled with the love of God; when I was
contrite before Him; when my peace flowed as a river, and when I enjoyed what I now believe to
have been the witness of the Spirit to my adoption and sonship.


A man can be alive even if he does not know when his birthday was, and so we may have

the unmistakable signs of spiritual life without, in all cases, being able to point to the moment or
the day when such life began. It is not so important to know the time as the fact of our conversion.
But notwithstanding these things are so, yet I want to add right here that I do consider a definite,
conscious conversion — to which the individual can point in all his subsequent life as the day of
his birth into God’s kingdom — to be an inestimable blessing and a glorious privilege. And where
people are rightly instructed such conversions will be the rule, and any other kind the rare

Until I had reached middle life my Christian experience was very unsteady and

unsatisfactory. God was wonderfully good to me; but the carnal mind was very strong and ever
struggling against the movings of the Spirit. So I was up and down, one day on the housetop, the
next in the cellar; sinning and repenting, backsliding and returning; at times growing in grace and at
times almost losing my faith and my hope. I was a Christian, but not a healthy one. Still, upon the
whole, I can say, to the glory of Jesus my Savior, that during those years, by His grace, I did make
considerable progress in the divine life. The old man — the strong man — was mostly kept in
bonds. The struggle was often severe and protracted; but when I trusted in Jesus He gave me the

When I was about thirty years of age my attention was first called, distinctively and

intelligibly, to the subject of holiness as an actual, obtainable experience. This was from a perusal
of the Interior life, by the late Professor Upham.

But it required many years for me to grasp the subject experimentally and practically. I

made consecrations again and again — written and verbal — but somehow they did not stand the
test. I struggled and prayed, and often got the victory; but I was not delivered.

When nearly forty years of age I began to speak, not infrequently, in Friends meetings as a

minister. I only felt just call enough to justify me in opening my mouth; and, without deciding
whether the Lord really intended to make a minister of me or not, I thought it safest to attend to
present openings and opportunities to speak for Him as they occurred. It was comparatively only a
short time before my monthly meeting gave its official sanction to my ministry by “recording” me
as a minister of the Gospel. And still I was interested in the subject of holiness, and still I was
desiring it, and still I was not enjoying it.

At length, in the 12th month (December), 1871, while attending a series of meetings at a

Friends’ Church in Ohio, in which Brother David B. Updegraff was taking part, and acting under
his advice, I arose in a large assembly and stated my sense of my own unworthiness and weakness;
but that relying wholly upon Christ I did there and then reckon myself dead indeed unto sin and
alive unto God through Jesus Christ my Lord.

I had now committed myself publicly. While I knew that I could not make myself dead to

sin I felt as if the responsibility was now laid upon Jesus. What I reckoned in faith He could make
real and true. There was no very marked feeling for several hours. I held on by faith to my
confession. Then came peace — full, quiet, calm; not rapture, nor ecstasy, but “All the silent heaven


of love”; and this continued almost without intermission during my waking hours for several

Now, what did I get? Answer:

  1. A clean heart; I was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and my heart was purified by faith.
  2. Perfect love.
  3. The endowment of power; for whatever spiritual power I have been possessed of since,

either for winning sinners to Christ or bringing believers to entire sanctification by consecration
and faith in Jesus, I date it from that blessed day and hour.

How has it been with me since?

There have been failures on my part, but God has kept me wonderfully. There have been

great and exceedingly subtle temptations — angel-of-light temptations — but Jesus has carried me
through. There have been great trials and fearful sorrows, greater, I believe, than the average
Christian, or even the average holiness man, is called upon to endure; but Jesus sustains and keeps
and consoles. There has been a good deal of blessed service for Him, both in preaching and
writing, and a good many souls testify to having been blessed and brought into the light and
experience of holiness through my instrumentality — with pen or tongue. I wish the number were
manifold greater, as it might have been if I had been wholly the Lord’s from my youth; but I can
rejoice now when others preach and write better than I, and are the means of gathering in hundreds
when I bring units.

And on this 19th of February, 1887, I do still testify that by the grace of God I am reckoning

myself dead to sin; and I have a sure confidence that now the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me
from all sin, and that I have received, and now have, the gift of the Holy Ghost. Praise the Lord!

  1. CLARK, RICHMOND, IND., Second Month, Nineteenth Day, 1887.

Source: “Forty Witnesses” by S. Olin Garrison

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(A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts)
Compiled by Duane V. Maxey

Vol. I — Named Accounts

Interchurch Holiness Convention

18931 Route 522

Beaver Springs, PA 17812

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