JOSEPH GRANT MORRISON
1871 — 1939
(A Nazarene General Superintendent)

February 9, 2017 // Story

 

JOSEPH GRANT MORRISON
1871 — 1939
(A Nazarene General Superintendent)

It was in the second year of my ministry. I was twenty-four years old. The call to preach

came to me when I was but a lad, and was, at the time, in a backslidden state. Sitting in the old
homemade pew at the little Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I was definitely and
distinctly impressed that what the preacher was doing in the pulpit, I would have to do when I
grew up.

I keenly resented the call to God’s service. The ministers whom I knew were not, for the

most part, of the kind that would inspire a boy to imitate them. Consequently when the Spirit would
impress my boyish heart that I must some day proclaim the gospel of Christ, I fiercely refused, and
hardened my heart.

However, later on, when a schoolhouse revival broke out, and conviction settled darkly

upon me, I sought to compromise with the Lord and to secure my salvation without entering the
ministry. It seemed as if He consented to this, and after a terrible struggle with the hatred which I
had nursed in my heart, I gave up and was graciously converted, with the idea of preaching entirely
forgotten. Indeed, I served as a youth in the church, and went away to college and was almost
through, before the conviction that I must be a preacher became peremptory. In the sickening
struggle that ensued because of this, I almost gave up my hope of heaven.

At length, rather than be lost and damned, I gave a reluctant consent. Driven thus to the task,

and being a stranger to the thrilling, sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, made the whole work of
the ministry irksome, distasteful and extremely objectionable. There are phases of the work of a
preacher of the gospel that are very trying and difficult even when one is filled and blessed with
the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, but to the man or woman who is a stranger to this
divine enduement, the whole work of the ministry becomes an impossible, a confusing and
distracting effort. No wonder our Lord commanded His disciples to tarry for their Pentecost.

 

My great difficulty was a gun powdery temper. Under trying circumstances it would

explode with a bang, and my eyes would blaze, cheeks burn, and tongue wag with mean, sarcastic,
angry and bitter remarks. Although I had been taught that every case of this was backsliding, and
although I faithfully apologized and got reclaimed, nevertheless I was subjected to this sinful,
carnal habit every few months. Now it was the church board, then it was the Sunday school
superintendent, again it was the good lady who led the choir, while my heart was in a chronic and
almost constant rebellion over the lack of finances, the shabby clothes and the poor food which we
constantly faced.

I had in the meanwhile moved to a circuit with five preaching places. To care for this a

team of horses was necessary. An opportunity to secure two unbroken “broncos” for an
astonishingly small price induced me to buy, and the task of breaking them to the harness and buggy
was almost fatal to all the piety I had, They were wild, difficult to control, ready to kick and run at
almost anything, or at any time.

One day late in October, not long before the annual conference was to sit, I started on

Saturday afternoon to a distant appointment in order to preach there the next morning, and then to
preach at another place some less distance away, and finally at home on Sunday night. The broncos
were a bit chilly with the nipping October weather, and ready to run, plunge, kick or anything else
that struck their fancy. A tumbling piece of newspaper, carried by the wind, whirled beneath them.
With a great plunge they both started, wildly kicking.

I sawed on them with the reins, and we raced galloping down the road. At length my

temper blew up. “If you are going to run and kick,” I shouted, “I’ll give you something to run and
kick for.” With that I held the reins in one hand, caught up the whip with the other, and standing up
in the buggy seat, laid the lash to them. They leaped and raced and ran and plunged. The region
was reasonably level, and I balanced myself in the swaying, rearing, cavorting buggy. We streaked
along like we had been shot out of a huge cannon. At length they tired, and then I had them, for I
made them run, and never stopped lashing them till we whirled around the corner of the farm home
where I was to spend the night.

But I was so angry that I was completely and hopelessly backslidden. Indeed, but for

decency’s sake, I could have done those horses great bodily harm, even after we had come-to a
stop in the farmer’s yard. With hatred and disgust for myself, and fury in my heart and brain, I
stabled the beasts. I was so ashamed and humiliated and still so angry and furious that in sheer
self-abasement, I bent my head over the feed box in the horses’ stall, and wept bitter, scalding tears
of hate. I then and there took a deep vow that I would never preach again. I determined that I was
through. That I could not stay saved and consequently would not be a hypocrite and a menace to the
holy ministry of Christ.

Full of this bitter vow, and hating myself with keen desperation, I fed the team, blanketed

them, and then slowly walked toward the farmhouse. “Come in,” called the pleasant voice of the
farmer’s wife, as I knocked on the door. As soon as I stepped within the room she took one look at
me and then solicitously inquired, “What’s the matter with you, pastor?” I mumbled a false
statement to the effect that there was nothing the matter with me. She promptly replied, “Yes, there

 

is; you don’t usually look like a thundercloud. Neither do you usually drive into our yard with your
horses on the run, and covered with lather and foam. What is the matter?”

She was a mature woman and a ripened Christian. I was twenty-four. Her solicitous

inquiry opened the flood gates of my heart and I poured out a confession of the whole wretched
situation. I burst into tears. “I can’t stay saved,” I wailed. “About every so often I explode with this
awful temper, and then for several hours I hardly know what I am about. I hate myself for it, and I
am so bitterly ashamed of it that I have solemnly resolved never to disgrace the pulpit again by
appearing in it, and I shall never attempt to preach any more.” The good sister was mixing baking
powder biscuits for supper, and had her hands in the ingredients. She calmly continued to mix the
dough as I passionately wept out my shame, my confession, and my resolve never to preach any
more. At length she said, “I know what you need.” At this remark, I burst forth at her, “I know what
I need; I need salvation; but I suppose that I can get it again. This is not the first time this has
happened.”

“No, no,” she replied quietly. “I do not mean that what you need is just to be converted

again. Not that, you need something more than that, you need to be sanctified wholly.” “Sanctified
wholly,” I queried, in much wonderment. “What in the world is that?” “Don’t you know what entire
sanctification is?” she answered. “Have you never read ‘Wesley’s Plain Account of Christian
Perfection’?” “Yes,” I answered. “That’s in the Course of Study.” “Didn’t you know what he was
talking about in that book? ” she inquired. “No, I don’t think I did,” I made answer. “At least I feel
sure that I didn’t get out of it what you seem to have found there. What is this entire sanctification
that you say I need?” “It’s a second work of grace that one obtains after one has been converted. It’s
what the disciples received at Pentecost.” My next question burst from my lips like the discharge
of a rifle. “Will it take the temper out of a fellow?” I almost shouted.

“That’s what it did for me,” she replied. “You mean that you have it?” I asked in

considerable wonderment. “The Lord very graciously gave me that experience,” she quietly
answered. “But is such an experience taught in the Bible?” I persisted. For reply she immediately
ceased mixing the material for the biscuits, and rubbing the dough from her hands, reached for her
Bible. She turned to Isaiah and read, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed
on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

I listened in wonderment. This was my first Bible study on the blessing of holiness of heart

as a second definite work of grace. As she looked at me inquiringly, after reading the marvelous
statement from Isaiah, I answered rather dumbly, “I never knew that was there.” She turned
familiarly to the New Testament, and read again, “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and
I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” She again turned an
inquiring look toward me. “I’ve read that before,” I answered, “but I didn’t know what it meant.”

The farmer’s wife again turned the pages of her Bible and read, “Wherefore he is able to

save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession
for them.” And with the turn of a few more leaves, she read again, “Follow peace with all men,
and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” And again, “Strengthened with all might,
according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” She paused,

 

looked me over for a moment thoughtfully, and then remarked, “That doesn’t sound much like the
way you acted this afternoon, coming around the corner looking like a thundercloud and your team
all covered with sweat.” I had no answer. Again she read, “And you, that were sometime alienated
and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh
through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” And again, “If
we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of
Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”

Seated there in the kitchen of a South Dakota farm home, I saw as by the illumination of the

Spirit the truth of the second work of grace. That there was a gun powdery, carnal disposition left
in my heart after conversion; that it was the purpose of God to cleanse this away. As I saw the truth
in the scripture quotations that this Christian woman was reading to me, I recognized immediately
why my ministry had been so barren and so irksome. I needed Pentecost just as the disciples did.
She read one more, “Jesus, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without
the gate.” I fell on my knees by the kitchen chair and asked her in a humble tone to please pray for
me. Then and there I was reclaimed for the last time.

Though I did not receive the blessing of a clean heart for many months after that, yet I saw a

great hope ahead, and was given divine strength to fight a bit harder and to keep my heart from
yielding to the assaults of carnality. I became a seeker for the second work of grace. And what a
seeker I was. At the first holiness meeting that I heard of, I went to the altar three times a day for
ten days. The preacher, an uncouth old chap, with a rasping voice would kneel down in front of me
and pray loudly, “O Lord, what that conceited young feller needs is to be killed. Kill ‘im, Lord, kill
’im!” When he had run the gamut on this, he would beckon to a booming voiced farmer and urged
him to pray. With a roar, he would cry, “What we need is a first class funeral. Back up your
hearse, O Lord, and load this young preacher in and haul him off and bury him.” This was a regular
feature of that holiness meeting three times a day for ten days.

I did not get the blessing but I did learn a lot about these matters. I read everything about

this wonderful grace that I could find. We were so hard up financially that we went without meat
for nearly a month in order to get money enough to buy Wood’s “Perfect Love.” I read it through
and through. I began preaching on the need of the second work of grace. I described its
characteristics, confessing frankly that I did not have it, but was hot on the trail of it. Several of my
hearers were under conviction for the blessing before I had received it myself. I consecrated all. I
abandoned everything to Jesus my Lord and Master. I did just what the old preacher and the old
farmer prayed should happen, I slowly died.

Finally I reached the place where the great God dared to release His burning baptism upon

my heart. It came one day as I sat praying in my study chair. Like a great spiritual light it slowly
rose above the horizon of my soul. It shined and burned and melted away all the feverish, gun
powdery, carnal, disposition that I had. It filled my heart and my life. It cleansed and sanctified my
soul. The Holy Ghost had come! He transformed my life; He transformed my ministry. From that
moment it was a joy to serve Him; a thrilling pleasure to preach His truth; a glad privilege to suffer
for Him; and a deep satisfaction to be in His wonderful service. I shall praise Him forever for His
goodness to me.

 

Source: “Interesting Incidents” by J. G. Morrison

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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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