February 9, 2017 // Story



There were no circumstances in my early life especially friendly to the doctrine or

experience of entire sanctification, except that the Divine Spirit called me in early years to the
Christian life and made me very susceptible to religious influences. So that at ten years of age I
had a fair apprehension of the nature of sin, a dread of God’s displeasure because of it, and a
strong desire to be guided to the knowledge of salvation. But mine was a home without prayer, or
Bible, or godly influence, yet I prayed and lived in daily fear of the consequences of sin from

The Wesleyan Sabbath-schools of England, to which I owe much of my early convictions

and character were supplied with the best library books relating to the Christian life, and until my
sixteenth year I read these with great avidity. At the age of sixteen I was thoroughly converted,
after three months of diligent seeking; so converted as to be forever spoiled for a mixed life. My
hunger for good books was now greatly increased. I read the writings of Wesley, Fletcher, Clarke,
and the biographies of early Methodist. I was deeply convicted for the blessing of a clean heart
and obtained it in six months after my conversion — while reading The Life of Hester Ann Rogers.
I did not, of course, understand the philosophy of the doctrine, or its relation to my needs; but,
daily beset by the most violent antagonisms to the Christian life, I felt the need of something which
would give me greater strength and rest.

At twelve years of age, while working in the cotton mill, I was severely injured, so that

during the four following years. I suffered greatly from pain and poverty. Out of this came the
advantage to me of a lowly mind — a simple, confiding heart, ready to receive the truth and light of
the Spirit. By severe discipline from my earliest years I had also obtained self-reliance, and
courage to attempt and pursue to the end whatever I felt to be my duty. Thus had God prepared me
to welcome this self-crucifying doctrine and life of perfect love. I had little to give up, for my
estate and prospects were exceedingly limited. And with that I seemed to sink into the will of God.


But I gave myself intelligently, deliberately, forever. And my heart was open as the flower

to welcome the light and warmth of divine love. It was morning at last; the night had seemed long
to me, for I had no happy childhood; the light had come, and how I welcomed it! I now entered the
Beulah-land life, without any purpose to experiment on the subject of full salvation by avowing it
only while favorable and convenient. My consecration was, like my marriage in later years, for
life without drift, but with growing love.

And after forty-six years of its experience and profession, and often of reproach, my

purpose is unchanged. For with me the logic of the doctrine is very short, sharp and direct. Either I
can be holy or I cannot. If I can I must, for God wills it. He cannot approve in me the opposite of
His will. Fellowship with Him, therefore, is impossible without obedience, for less than
obedience is sin. God offers to make me holy through my faith in the atonement of Christ, and to
maintain in my heart and life that holiness by the ministry and inreigning of the Holy Spirit. Less
than glad acceptance of His grace is rejection, and rejection is sin. I cannot be a sinning Child of
God and heir of heaven. But I must be His child; I am in great earnest to get to heaven. He
approved in His servants of old their plain declaration that they sought a heavenly country. I love
His approval more than I love the light of my eyes. Mine shall be a plain declaration daily that I
am going to heaven. Then I must be holy. I can be holy. I will. I rely this moment on His power to
make me clean, and He doeth it; by faith I walk, live, and sing in liberty victory and joy.

“How did I become established?” It is difficult to answer this question. For nothing in my

life of consecration supplies me with a starting point for thought. As well ask the obedient and
loving child of a wise and devoted parent, “How do you manage to keep from running away from
home?” Or the godly and devoted husband, “How do you keep from drift?” Each would say what I
want to say, “I never have thought of drift.” Love knows nothing of drift, or vacillation, or
weariness, in its constancy. My only answer is, I saw the King and loved Him perfectly, and with
my increasing years my Vision of God is enlarged; so is my love. My heart was defiled, even after
my thorough conversion. He promised to make me clean and then to put His Holy Spirit within the
heart He had cleansed. He did it. He doeth it now. He keeps me satisfied, but O, so hungry. “They
that know thy name,” thy perfections, “will put their trust in thee.” I know His name. He deigns to
reveal Himself to me every day; and thus I am abased in my own eyes, but exalted in His. He keeps
me clean and strong and free.

It takes an all-consuming and separating love to settle and establish heart and mind in the

fullness of gospel liberty and rest, and to die to unholy ambition for preeminence or popular favor.
God would not trust me with distinction or popular favor or wealth. He has trusted me with His
communion and kept me lowly, and I am satisfied. The books I prefer do not suggest doubt; I have
enough of that without feeding it. The society I seek does not weaken me by dissipation. The
unfriendliness of the average church to the subject gives me pain, but no fear. I have stood alone
many, many times; I can do so to the end. I have reached a place in Christian life where my own
company is a pleasure to me, for my conscience attests my sincerity and the Holy Spirit attests that
I am clean through the blood. There are forty-six years of this life behind me, and an eternity
before me. I am established; He has done it. “Rooted and built up in him, established in the faith
abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Hallelujah!



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

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