February 6, 2017 // Story



In His own way did the Lord now send us out into a far greater wilderness than our former

abode. Either my husband or his partner must go where there was a market for the produce taken
from the farmers in exchange for goods at their store.

Mr. Boardman’s attention was drawn to a large lead mining district in the north of Illinois,

to a place called Potosi, not far from Galena. Originally Potosi was called “Snake Hollow,” from
the fact that a colony of rattle snakes had taken possession of a cavern in a rock at the head of a
ravine. The old name might well have been retained, so completely was the place under the
dominion of “the old Serpent, the devil,” for wickedness did so abound here gambling, drinking,
and lotteries were the order of the day. The employment was in itself most exciting, for a man
might one day be without a cent, and the next day, if he struck a lead, as it was called, his fortune
was made, for these leads usually led on to extensive beds of ore that seemed sometimes to be

In the year 1842, we settled in this place, which had but one street running up a ravine from

the river for a mile and a half; a second street would have been an impossibility, as there were
high cliffs on either side. Sometimes the valley widened out to quite a quarter of a mile, and then
again it became so narrow as barely to admit of the road and houses, which were built up quite
against the hillside.

The back of our house was thus situated, and when there was a heavy rain, the mud came

sweeping down the banks in a channel that found a passage way into the house, leaving our only
carpeted room in a sad plight. The house could not boast much of architectural beauty. In one
respect it as like the Venetian buildings, having various styles of architecture! It had formerly been
a warehouse, with one very large room below and one above. By adding a small kitchen, and
partitioning off rooms with calico, we could boast of five rooms.

We little knew when we pitched our tent in this far off valley of Potosi, what the dear Lord

had in store for us here, among the rugged hills and the still rougher miners. The appearance of


these men as they came out of the mines, covered as they were with the yellow earth, put terror into
the hearts of those unaccustomed to seeing them, for it was really difficult to tell whether they were
human. But many a noble, generous heart, for whom a mother’s prayers had been daily ascending,
was hidden under this earthy garb. Many here were brought out to shine as jewels in the kingdom
of our Lord.

Yes, it was here in our little rough home that the Lord Jesus became to us nearer and dearer

than ever before. As regarded justification, He could not of course be nearer. But here we learnt
the preciousness of Jesus’ indwelling; here we received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and Jesus
was seen and known as a risen, living Saviour. We were brought to understand the truth of those
words, “He” (the Holy Spirit) “shall not speak of Himself;” “He shall testify of Me.” “He shall take
of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” Yes, “He shall reveal to you what I am, so that you may learn
My power to keep you, and sin shall not have dominion over you.” And these promises proved
true, for our Lord was as near to us here as He was to the disciples when they trod together the
streets of Jerusalem.

It was a memorable day when, on looking over our books, I took up the Memoir of James

Brainerd Taylor. In the course of my reading I came to a very remarkable letter, in which he gave
an experience that was most attractive. He told how very precious Christ had become; how He
was revealed to him, as not only with him but in him,


in perfect peace all the day long, and making life one song of praise. Coming to the end of this
beautiful letter, I went at once to find my husband, in order to read to him the delightful bit I had
found. “Taylor had sunshine in his heart all the time,” I exclaimed, as I finished reading. “How
much he knew of Christ! it is lovely to hear this!”

“It is exceedingly beautiful, Mary, and that shall be my experience.”

“O no, that is impossible; it is too great an experience for us common Christians. It is just

the same as the Apostles taught and lived, but for us it would be presumption to think of such a

“But why not? Taylor was a man in the usual walk of life like myself, and God is no

respecter of persons. I can see no reason why I should not know Jesus in the same way he did, and
by His grace this experience shall be mine.”

“Yes, and then when you have it you will die; Taylor died when quite young, and it is given

on purpose to fit one for death. You never see one living on this earth who has such a wonderful
knowledge of the presence of Jesus as always with him, keeping sunshine always in the heart; and I
am sure if you get this you will die; and so I hope you will not get it, for I am not prepared to part
with you.”


“I shall never rest, my child, until I have just such a sense of the presence of God as is here

described by Taylor. I need it, O so much! more than words can tell, and I believe God will give it
to me, unworthy as I am.”

“I cannot see how it is that you can feel such a need, such a child of God as you are, so true

to Him and to your own convictions in every way.”

“I know my need,” replied my husband, “and there is a craving within me that cannot be

satisfied without being filled with God. And He who has implanted this longing of soul will meet
it, I am sure of it.”

From that hour the whole energy of Mr. Boardman’s being was bent on this one thing, and

all his powers concentrated on becoming filled with the presence of God. And then followed
months of misdirected effort, and, therefore, of fruitless struggles. Sometimes he would prostrate
himself flat on his face before God, and cry out: “Just now, O Lord, just this very minute, come and
fill me with Thyself.” At other times he would fast, and was continually going through with all
manner of processes of consecration. Our scanty household furniture, even the little old carpeting
we had, was thought unnecessary, and a thing to be dispensed with. Anything and everything which
could be done to obtain this desired blessing was done. And constant failure did not quench his
ardour, neither did remonstrances prove of the least use. His heart was fixed, and he was not to be
tuned aside.

How mysterious this seemed to me in one, who was considered by all who knew him at

that time, to be a most consistent Christian, upright in all his dealings with others, full of zeal for
the salvation of souls, and far ahead of most Christians in his consistent daily walk. What else
could such a man need, and why should he spend month after month in this useless search for
something far beyond his reach in this life?

But he not only persevered in seeking for light himself, but he took every opportunity of

urging others to seek for the same blessing, and very often in the little prayer meeting he would so
earnestly say, “I tell you, brethren, there is an experience that we should all be seeking. We all
need something. Can you not see how very necessary it is to have more life in Christ, and more of
the presence of God?”

With silent lips my wicked heart would answer, “And can you not see that your efforts are

all fruitless, and that you were much happier before you ever thought about this experience, and
would you not be better off to let it all alone?” I did not seem to myself to be resisting the Lord, for
I had no light on the subject, the Spirit had not revealed to me the possibility of anything better than
the experience we had at conversion. I knew we must grow in grace, and regretted that my growth
was not at all apparent. It was a great mystery to me how any one was to grow, as I thought growth
meant getting better, and doing better, and having more work for the Lord; and that this growth was
attained by culture, that is, cultivating whatever gifts one had, and spending time in fasting and
prayer. And as mine was a very busy life, and on the whole happy, I seemed never to get time for
the necessary work attending growth in grace.


The time came, God’s time, for bringing me down out of all my own ideas, and letting me

see His way of filling the heart with Himself. It was a lovely Sabbath morning in the month of
May, when, not feeling well, I was left alone, my husband having gone to the only place of worship
in the valley, where services were held in a log meeting house. I was looking over our books, and
my eye chanced to light on one left by a Methodist minister when on one of his circuit visits to us.
As he was our guest, and had charged me to read this book before his return, which would be in a
few days’ time, I took it to run over its pages, so as to be able to say I knew what it was about. It
was upon the doctrine of Christian Perfection, and as I had not the slightest interest in this subject,
I was about to put it down, when, on turning to the last pages of the book, I saw the experiences of
Professor Finney and Dr. Mahan. I read these experiences with intense interest.

To my great astonishment, here I found living witnesses to the fact of being filled with the

presence of God, and kept filled by the power of the Holy Ghost. They had found out the great
secret of the power of God to save them from their sins, and this to my mind was something very
practical and most desirable. It was an actual fact that just as they were delivered from
condemnation and eternal death by the Lord Jesus Christ, so they were delivered from reigning
sin,–they who had been troubled with the same sins that beset me, sins that I sought most earnestly
to put down, such as anxiety, ambition, pride, a man fearing spirit, impatience and love of the good
opinion of others.

How often during my past life had I written down resolutions, and placed them on a chair,

then kneeling before them, asked the Lord to see how solemn a vow I was making, would He help
me to keep it? To think of asking God’s help as if I were the head, and He a helper in doing that
which I afterwards saw was wholly His work to do! And now what light burst in upon me as to
Who was to do all! I saw that it was as much God’s work to save me from my sins, as it was to
convert my soul in the first place.


And could it be possible that this experience was just that my husband had been seeking,

without knowing exactly what it was he so longed after? To my mind it now assumed such a
definite form as to be within reach. It was a tangible thing, this being saved from besetting sins. I
needed this very deliverance of which the brethren wrote, and to which they testified, and I too
made up my mind that, cost what it might, this experience should be mine. The first question that
arose was, “How long would it take to get hold of this new life?” I feared I could not hold out in
any lengthened effort, as I still was happy in my first love, never having backslidden, but always
delighting in service for the Master. But I went down before the Lord, and made, that seemed to me
to be a very complete surrender to Him of all that I had, and of myself as well. I then asked the
Lord to show me what else I had to do, and He assured me that no further process was necessary,
He would do the rest. It was His work to cleanse and keep me from sin. I trusted Him to do all,
and peace filled my soul. My spirit was restful and serene as I let myself go into His hands,
believing in His power and willingness to do everything I needed. Jesus was now enthroned
within as King, to reign and govern His own dominion.

Precious moments these, but alas! scarce twenty minutes passed ere a question arose in my

mind. “Have you given your lips to the Lord? Are you willing to tell what He is to you now?”


“How can I do more than I have done in the way of giving my lips, dear Lord? Surely it

cannot be that Thou dost want me to speak in any public way, when the Word says women are to
keep silence in the churches! I talk to individuals; I do pray in small circles; and what else can I
do?” It sounded in my heart, “You must tell what I am to you wherever I wish; your lips are Mine,
and must be fully surrendered.”

“But there is no opportunity,” I argued. This objection was very quickly overruled, as the

answer came that the Methodist class was open to me.

“I can never go there,” was my thought. “What will such and such a one think and say? I can

never go there, and it cannot be that the Lord wishes it.” The pressure increased; my peace had
taken wings, and I was in greater darkness than I had been at any time since my conversion. I tried
to think this pressure was from Satan, but I could not get away from it. Darker became my mind,
and heavier as my spirit, until at last I said, “Lord, what can I do? I am not willing, and I cannot
make myself willing to speak in any public way, it is all so against what seems right and proper.
But, Lord, I give my unwillingness to Thee.”


It seemed but a moment ere I was more than willing to tell out the story of what Jesus was,

and what He could do for all who would consecrate themselves, and trust fully in Him. Only an
hour before I had been in a spirit of opposition, not knowing what I was resisting. I did it in
ignorance, as thousands do.

When my husband returned home, I hastened to tell him of my newfound rest of soul, and

how the Lord had been dealing with me during his absence. He, never thinking it possible that I
could so quickly have come into the experience he was seeking, said, “The Lord be praised for
this; you may get hold of it before I do.”

“Get hold of it? why there’s nothing to get hold of, it is letting go all hold of everything but

Jesus.” He was indeed mystified, and scarcely knew what to say, but was very glad to see me so
full of delight in Jesus. I was greatly disappointed, because I thought my dear husband would see
that Jesus would do all for him, as soon as I told him what He had become to me. And now to find
that he did not see it at all, and could have no sympathy with me, when he had been six months
seeking, was as great a surprise to me as my newfound joy was to him. But I was comforted to
know that the time was near at hand when he would see the simplicity of trusting Jesus for
everything, by letting all go, and leaving all efforts and strugglings. And I said to him, “What you
want is faith.”

“Yes, that must be so,” he quickly replied, “for I have tried everything else; so now I will

try to get faith.” And at once, his thoughts being directed to faith as the object rather than the Lord
Jesus, he was in as great difficulty as before. But he kept on struggling after the necessary faith,
forgetting that faith must be centered on the Object–Jesus Christ.




and I found my feet more than willing, for with joy did I go forward to tell the blessedness of what
Jesus could do. I did not wish to speak of myself, for I saw how the Lord Jesus had come to take
up His abode in my heart, on purpose to reign as King over all its affections and desires.

My testimony in the class meeting stirred the people, and I don’t know how much good

might have been done, had not a brother said, “Sister Boardman, you will not shrink back from
professing the whole truth, and calling things by their right names. You’ll have to profess
perfection, or you’ll not keep the blessing.”

“But I have no perfection to profess, I never before felt my imperfection as I now do. I

always thought myself somebody, but now I see I am nothing and nobody.”

“Yes,” replied the brother, “but all that need not prevent your professing perfection, for it is

not absolute perfection we mean, but Christian perfection. And I am sure you’ll lose the blessing, if
you do not come out boldly on the subject, and declare the whole truth.” “But, brother, I cannot tell
an untruth, and I am not perfect, but Jesus is my perfect Saviour, and I cannot lose Him. He has
taken up His abode in my heart, and I do not think He will go away while I trust Him to stay and
keep me. It is His presence that is my joy and happiness.”

The words of the brother might have troubled me more had not my mind been taken up with

the thought of my husband. I so longed to have him know this glorious Saviour as I knew Him. But
there seemed no prospect of his ceasing all effort, for he was most intently seeking faith.

Just at this time, the Lord, knowing our ignorance and seeing our need, sent a dear sister in

the Lord to stay with us. She had a rich experience, and had seen something of the error of those
professing to be sanctified, but had passed safely through the Scylla and Charybdis of
perfectionism on the one hand, and of indifference or opposition on the other.

The bulk of professing Christians were then as now, indifferent, or opposed to the glorious

truth that Jesus can deliver from the dominion of sin, and keep those who trust Him from yielding
to temptation. She had been a member of Dr. Kirk’s Church, in Albany, and fifteen years before
this, she was one of thirty members who had been turned out, as having embraced great error.

Half of the thirty had gone into antinomian perfectionism, which led them into many very

extravagant ideas, all the while under the impression that they were guided by the Holy Spirit.
Because they prayed without ceasing, therefore they followed the suggestion of the adversary, that
secret prayer was unnecessary. On the same ground they gave up family worship. So they imagined
that the Lord told them they need not observe the Sabbath, as they kept a holy Sabbath every day in
their souls. Therefore the wives and daughters did the same on Sunday as on weekdays, and while
professing holiness, were not ashamed to be seen seated at the window, engaged in sewing, on the
Lord’s day. Thus Satan, as an angel of light, led them into many errors, and brought into great
disrepute the cause of Christ.


But this dear old lady, who had been dismissed from the church with the others, but without

sharing in their errors, was God’s special gift to us. She taught us many things, and strengthened me
in the belief that Jesus would keep me in this blessed peace, if I never allowed anything to come
between my soul and Christ, but would take everything to Him, just as a loving child would take
all its little wants to its mother. All this was a wonderful help for had she put me upon the ground
of what I must do, or what I must be, she would have brought me into bondage, instead of helping
me to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had set me free. As the days went on, we were
continually before the Lord in prayer for my dear husband, and the time came when, in a little
prayer meeting, he was brought out.

Once a week we gathered together at the house of Mrs. Galapsie for prayer and to give

testimony. She was an earnest Christian, living further up the ravine, and had a large commodious
room for this purpose. As we were going to this meeting, I as feeling very desirous of telling out
what the Lord had done for me, as I had promised Him I would do, but the fear of being called a
perfectionist was on my mind. And I said to my husband that I should so delight to tell them at the
meeting what Jesus had become to me, but if they were going to call it “perfection,” as they did at
the class meeting, I could not speak of it, because I felt my imperfection as never before. “What
shall I do?”

“You need not trouble yourself about this,” he replied, “I have never found it of the least

profit to dwell on doctrines, and why should you? Just tell out in a simple way what Jesus has
done for you, and what He is to you, and let the rest alone. Trying, to settle your experience to suit
the opinions of others, will only confuse you, and you are nowhere told in the Word of God to
profess perfection.”

“Sure enough,” I exclaimed, and at once my soul was set at liberty on this point; then

instantly my whole thoughts were absorbed in my husband’s state of mind, for it seemed so very
strange that he who had always been as my teacher, leading me on, should now be in such distress
of mind and so oppressed.


For some time past there had been much interest in this little prayer meeting. But on this

most memorable occasion one was leading who was not spiritually minded. He was fond of
hearing himself talk, and had consumed nearly half the time allotted to the meeting in this sort of
self-entertainment. It was most trying thus to see the precious moments frittered away, and my dear
husband, pressed as he was in spirit, felt like giving the man a sound thrashing. And he fully
determined, when he had finished talking, to reprove him with great severity. He would tell him to
stay at home another time, and get his own cold heart warmed up, and not come to a meeting like
this, and spread out his own views, thus taking all the life out of the meeting.

Then came into his mind a far different thought, a gentle suggestion from the Master of this

meeting. “What would Jesus do were He here, He, in all His compassion and love; what would He
say? Jesus would not lose patience with the individual. He would call attention to Himself, and in
some way He would draw all to look to Him as the Saviour, and fill them with joy, as He did the
woman at the well, and make them rejoice in Himself by revealing His own love.” “If He were


here, yes, if He were only here!” thought my husband. Then came another word, so full, so clear,
”Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. “And faith, receiving what was said as
a real fact, brought the presence of Christ Himself, a risen Saviour, alive from the dead, with him
for evermore. Soon came another word quite as clear, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He
shall save His people from their sins.” That moment he rolled over upon Christ, as his present
Saviour from sin, the whole responsibility of keeping him.

A wonderful change was this after all the toiling and struggling of the past half year! It was

in many respects a glad surprise, a glorious disappointment. It was not entirely different from what
he had expected, but a great deal better. He had been looking to be made holy in himself, instead of
which his eyes were opened to see, and his heart to accept, his own utter bankruptcy in himself,
and his solvency in Christ alone. And this was unspeakable joy, because it bound him indissolubly
to Christ for ever by the bond of an absolutely necessary dependence for everything pertaining to
life and godliness. He now saw where had been his great mistake. He had been toiling and trying
to believe for a completed work wrought in himself, a state of sanctification, in which all would
be completed, so that he might take satisfaction in his own holiness, instead of in Jesus his

My husband rose from his knees to his feet in the little meeting to tell others what had been

revealed to him. And he had now something to say which he thought would thrill every heart as it
had done his own. He was greatly disappointed that all present did not quickly respond. But even
the two who had already become somewhat convinced and anxious for a fuller life in Christ did
not meet his expectations. In his joy he had well nigh forgotten the wanderings of the wilderness
life in which he had spent half a year before reaching the Land. But now fairly in the Land, and
seeing that it was but to step over Jordan and he was there, he thought he could quickly point out
the way to others. But, alas! he found that souls were puzzled and perplexed here in this little
meeting, and this calls to mind what he afterwards wrote concerning his own journeyings from
Egypt to Canaan.

We quote his own words: “In all the wanderings of the children of Israel I see my own

experience wonderfully foreshown. Looking back over all the way in which the Lord has led me, I
see at every step two things–


“When I look at my own part in it I see murmurs, and fears, and rebellions; but, when I look

at God’s part, I see the whole route ablaze with His glory, His patience, forbearance, gentleness,
kindness, faithfulness, and love. Yes, and in the Land He is all the glory of it. Oh! how my heart
melts at the thought!”

Again we take up his own expression of the heart-felt satisfaction experienced this very

hour of the revelation of God to him: “But, oh, when the Lord led me into rest of heart in Jesus for
sanctification, how sweet it was! What an hour was that, and what a place! If ten years before the
open vision of Christ on the cross had made the little school-house, where forgiveness was shown
me, the gate of heaven–this place where now I saw Jesus in His invincible presence with me, face
to face, though it was only a plain widow’s cottage on earth, seemed within the walls of heaven. O


what a revelation was that to me, when in the very name of Jesus–so called because He should
’save His people from their sins’–His office as my Emancipator from sin was embodied! O how
my soul was gladdened with the assurance that the work would be done, that I should be purified
unto God, and made zealous of good works, and should be kept by the power of God, and
presented faultless before the throne in the great day, when I say that it was the work and the
delight of the Saviour to do this for me! Henceforth, in this matter, my soul was at rest; and, oh,
what a peace flowed in upon me and overflowed me! Then I could realize the preciousness of the
words of Christ, ‘My peace I give unto you,’ and of the prophet’s wonderful words, ‘Thou wilt keep
him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.’ Henceforth, the
Bible, precious as it had been to me before, received a double illumination to my apprehension. A
mighty vein, before hidden, now unfolded itself, insomuch that the Word of God, from Genesis to
Revelation, was again new book to me. Here, again, for this new necessity my heart had found its
rest, and every want was satisfied”

However, the experience of the six months of mistaken efforts, before coming into the light,

were of great benefit to him all through life. It enabled him to teach others to avoid these
self-imposed processes, and to lead them to come directly to Jesus, to find in Him every need of
the soul met. Yes, fully met. To him it was not the end of sanctification, but the beginning of a life
of full, abiding union with Jesus. It as a new and better starting point or full and real progress in all
time to come, all the springs of which were in Christ, not in himself. And this gave him unbounded
satisfaction, because it bound him to Christ for all future progress, and gave him the precious
assurance that there would be no end of growth, and also no stint of fruitage. Glory be to God! 

Source: Not Recorded

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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

Phone: 570-658-1030