February 9, 2017 // Story



In the order of a wise providence I was greatly favored in having Christian parents. They

were members of the Wesleyan Society in Manchester, England. My precious mother was one of
the holiest of women. The sweet savor of Christian holiness pervaded my early home. In the midst
of many domestic cares and severe trials my mother exemplified daily the spirit and power of
Christian perfection, and it was her aim especially to bring up her children in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord. She would often take them to her room and, “with strong cries and tears,”
commend them to her Heavenly Father’s watch-care. The remembrance of those hours of devotion
is to me “as ointment poured forth.” I am inclined to that in early childhood I was made a subject of
God’s renewing grace, but, like too many of tender years, it was not distinctly retained.

In the year 1838, when I was fifteen years of age, I came to this country. My new home was

in Philadelphia. The separation from my friends and native land was very painful.

It was not long, however, ere the prayers of my pious mother were answered. In the

following year after my arrival in the United States, in February, 1839, under the ministry of Rev.
Charles Pitman, in the Eighth Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, I was happily
converted. For a time I went on my way rejoicing, but, through the influence of improper
associates and the discouragements of my business position, I was turned aside from the right path.
Through the mercy of God, I was arrested, and restored to my forfeited peace.

Subsequently, I removed to the city of New York and became connected with the Allen

Street Church. There I became acquainted with Dr. and Mrs. Phoebe Palmer, and a lifelong
friendship was formed. They manifested a loving interest in the stranger-boy, and sought to lead
me into the higher walks of the Christian life. They conducted a meeting in the church on Saturday
evening for the promotion of holiness. I attended that meeting and felt its potential influence in fact,
I believe at that time I had some experience of sanctifying grace; but the evidence was not very
clear, and I did not hold to the line. Rev. John Poisal was pastor of the church, and manifested a


lively interest in my welfare. He gave me license to exhort, and I became connected with the Local
Preachers’ Association of New York.

In 1843 I was called to enter the itinerant ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church by

Rev. John S. Porter, presiding elder of the Newark District in the New Jersey Conference. I was
sent to the Madison charge as junior preacher. I entered upon this responsible work with much
trembling, but under the solemn conviction that I was called of God, and that this must be my
life-work. In 1844 I was admitted on trial in the Conference and continued to prosecute my holy
calling, God being pleased to give me seals to my ministry. Unfortunately for me, in the early years
of my itinerant life, my environments were such that a foolish prejudice against special meetings
for the promotion of holiness was engendered in my heart. This was a snare to me, and a great
hindrance to my Christian progress and usefulness as a minister. My friends, Dr. and Mrs. Palmer,
like guardian angels, were ever upon my track, and, had I yielded to their loving ministries, would
have led me into the “Land of Beulah.”

In one of my charges the new sainted and beloved Mrs. Mary D. James was one of my

flock. But I was particularly averse to being led by “holy women” in this matter. I thought I
understood the doctrine of Methodism, having studied our standard writers in my Conference
course, and when I was ready to seek the experience I would do so without the persuasions of
others. The remembrance of those years of unreasonable opposition is now very painful, and I
would fain obliterate the record. But, alas! it is ineffaceable. I held to the doctrine of entire
sanctification tenaciously, and preached it to my people, thinking it my duty to do so as expressive
of my loyalty as a Methodist preacher. Often while thus discoursing to the congregation the Spirit
would speak to me powerfully, saying, “Why don’t you do this yourself?” But I pleaded for a

At length, after about twenty years of this battling with conviction, God, in the order of His

providence, brought matters to an issue by permitting me to go into the furnace of affliction. While
presiding elder of the Burlington District, N.J., I became nervously prostrated and was obligated
to resign my charge. By the advice of physicians I returned to my native land to enjoy a year of
entire quiet. I was thus furnished with an opportunity to review my past life.

In taking this retrospect I became painfully conscious of my defects, and especially did my

mistakes concerning the subject of Christian holiness loom up before me. At this juncture Dr. and
Mrs. Palmer, who were engaged in evangelistic services in my native city, Manchester, called to
see me one day at my father’s house. I was not at home, but when informed that they had called my
heart was deeply affected. It brought up memories of the past very vividly. I attended the services
and the Holy Spirit, through their instrumentality, wrought deep conviction in my mind. At the
close of these services they went to Nottingham. I said to my companion, “It seems as if Satan
gained advantages over me for twenty years touching personal holiness; let us pack our trunk and
go to Nottingham and see what the Lord will do for us there.” Accordingly we went, and obtained
quarters in the home of a Wesleyan local preacher who was enjoying entire sanctification.

On Sabbath morning, May 31, 1863 (ever memorable day) we attended service in the

Wesleyan chapel, and the junior preacher, Rev. Henchell, preached a sermon on the text, ”We
know that all things work together for good to them that, love God.” This sermon was made a great


blessing to my soul. While listening thereto there come to me a voice from heaven, saying, “If the
Lord shall fully baptize you with the Holy Ghost will you witness to the people of Nottingham of
the great salvation?” To this my heart made affirmative response. A flood of joy came in upon me
instantly, and I returned from the house of God to my lodgings, praising the Lord along the street.

In the afternoon we went to the opening service of Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, in the Shakespeare

Street United Free Methodist Chapel. During that hour I was led to make my entire consecration
very definite, and the witness of the Holy Ghost to inward purity, through the application of the
all-cleansing blood of Jesus, was very clear and joyous. In making my entire consecration it was
laid upon me that on my return to the United States I should witness of this grace–a vow which I
sacredly performed. In the evening of that day I was led to give public testimony to probably
fifteen hundred people of my folly in so long resisting my convictions on this subject, and of the
gladness of my heart in the reception of this great blessing. I continued to enjoy the services there,
and had great peace, and although not able to participate very actively therein.

We returned to the United States on the same steamer with our friends, Dr. and Mrs.

Palmer, and had sweet fellowship by the way. The voyage was a stormy, and at times the ship was
in great peril but my mind was undisturbed. While the ship was rolling in the mighty waves, as I
lay in my berth, I was ready to sing:

“This awful God is ours,
Our Father and our Love;
He will send down His heavenly powers,
To carry us above.”

If spared to see next May a quarter of a century of experience on this line of light and love,

will have elapsed. Blessed years they have been! I cannot say, however, that throughout that entire
period I have retained a clear witness of entire sanctification. The evidence has been obscured at
times, but I have never been able to rest without it.

The years which have elapsed have been my growth period. My feet have been more and

more established in paths of righteousness. The last two years have been exceedingly precious, full
of power and joy in the Holy Ghost. I never preached with such freedom as I do at the present
time. I am often filled with rapture in proclaiming a full and free salvation.

The Bible is indeed a luminous book. Its hallowed pages, to my view, glow with

supernatural light. I have great delight in prayer closet, family, and public prayer. I find my heart
going out with glad response to pointed scriptural teachings, particularly, “Love thinketh no evil,”
”In honor preferring one another,” “Esteeming others better than yourselves,” “And seekest thou
great things for thyself? Seek them not.” In a word, love has the mastery, the antagonisms being
destroyed, and my feet rest firmly in the Rock of Ages. I am proving, as never before, that
salvation is a Divine personality — more, far more than a blessing. It is the internal revelation of
THE BLESSER in the infinitude of His attributes, constituting within my soul a never-failing and
ever-springing well “springing up unto everlasting life.” To God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
be everlasting praise!



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

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