“Old Corn” by David B. Updegraff

March 1, 2017 // Story

“Old Corn” by David B. Updegraff 
 
 

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his 

troubles.” — Psalms 34:6. 
 
 

I have yielded to the impression that I ought not to close this book without 

giving its readers as clear an insight as possible into my own heart’s experience in 
the “Way of Holiness.” I have felt that to hesitate to do so would be inconsistent 
with the teachings of these chapters. It is of this blessed experience that this book 
has been born. Whatever I may have said, or done, or written to the glory of God or 
for the good of men, has, in fact, been the outgrowth of an experimental knowledge 
of the truth set forth in these pages. I have seen so much debate and questioning 
arise on account of vagueness in personal testimony that I have felt that I ought to 
be definite. May it all be for the glory of God, and for the comfort and blessing of 
every beloved brother and sister who accepts this invitation into the sacred 
sanctuary of my secret audience with the King. 
 
 

What I say will be the utterance of a grateful heart, and I trust it shall be 

spoken in true humility. My parents and grandparents were all of the highest type of 
religious people. Two of my grandparents were ministers, and one of them died in a 
foreign land, while on a religious mission. My father was an elder in the church, a 
man of devout and sterling piety, while my saintly mother was a preacher of the 
glorious gospel theft she loved so much, and understood so well. They read and 
believed in President Finney, and he was their personal friend; but his Caleb-like 

 

spirit and full gospel was fully forty years in advance of our Israel; and, in 
consequence, “stoning with stones” (Num. 14:10) was a common occupation in 
those days, and not wholly a lost art in this. 
 
 

Their greatest desire for their children was that they might glorify God in this 

life and enjoy Him forever. I cannot doubt that I was solemnly given to God from my 
birth. My infant lips were taught to pray, and when I said, 
 
”Now I lay me down to sleep, 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” 
 
I really expected Him to do it. Precious is the memory of those days of childish 
innocence, and mother love, when home and heaven seemed almost 
interchangeable terms. My young heart was not a stranger to the gracious 
visitations of the Spirit of God, and was often melted under the power of His love. 
But as I grew up, I grew in sinfulness and in rebellion against God. Though 
mercifully preserved from many sins of a gross and disgraceful character, I was 
often in great distress of soul because of those I did commit. At such times I would 
earnestly repent in secret, and cry unto God for mercy. I deeply realized the 
wickedness of my heart, and the weakness of my efforts to withstand temptation. 
Many covenants were made with God, and often, though not always, broken. The 
prayers, restraints, and instructions of faithful parents were not lost upon me. God 
had respect unto their covenant for their children. I see it now as I could not then. I 
want to praise the Lord for His answer to prayers for guidance, even in my 
rebellious boyhood, and for His manifest direction in the most important 
undertakings of my life. 
 
 

After being settled in life I renewed my covenants with God, and sought to do 

right, because it was right. I was a member of the church, and grew jealous of the 
peculiarities of my denomination. I was “zealous toward God, according to the 
perfect manner of the law of the fathers.” For ten years or more I proved that this 
law “gendereth to bondage.” I certainly did “fear the Lord,” but it is a poor service 
that is rendered by one who is only a servant, when he ought to be a son. And I had 
not “received the adoption of a son.” I know now that I was simply a legalist, “kept 
under the law, shut up unto the faith, which should afterwards be revealed.” In this 
dispensation of the Father, with the “bondwoman” for their mother, multitudes of 
professors that are in doubt as to their position, might properly locate themselves. 
”There is a remembrance again made of sins every year,” since “the law makes 
nothing perfect,” not even the conscience. In a Methodist meeting, when more than 
thirty years of age, God met me in wondrous power. And I met the test of public 
confession of sins and need of the Savior. It was a hard struggle, for I was proud 
and stubborn, but my dear wife joined me at the penitents’ form, and we mingled 
our tears and prayers together. I thank God to this day for the depth and pungency 
of old-fashioned conviction. Rebellion against God was seen and felt to be the awful 
damning thing that it is. I was glad to submit to God, and agree to His terms — any 
terms in order to have peace with Him. But the witness of the Spirit did not come; 

 

and after all others had retired, I had it out with my Lord ill the silent watches of the 
night, upon my library floor. And, as people sometimes say by way of emphasis, I 
was converted through and through. And I knew it! I was free as a bird. “Justified by 
faith,” I had peace with God. His Spirit witnessed with my spirit that I was born 
again. 
 
 

I was at once a glad and willing witness to the power of Jesus to save. For a 

time I was faithful and obedient, and then came waywardness, neglect and 
disobedience. This brought severe chastening and suffering from the hand of the 
Lord, followed by restoration of soul. My consecration to His service was renewed 
from time to time. I longed to see God glorified in the salvation of souls and the 
liberation of the church. Several years had passed since I had found the liberty of 
the sons of God; and yet I had seen few brought into the kingdom. To be sure, I was 
only a business man, and was utterly averse to the idea of being a minister. I greatly 
desired to serve both God and men in a quiet and unobtrusive way. The church 
began to lay some work upon me, but I shrank from it with a deep sense of 
unfitness. And then I felt within me a quenchless protest against the formalism and 
regularity of death all about me. Irregularity is the most dreaded foe of a legal, 
lifeless church. My nature instinctively shrank from the conflict, I felt it far more 
than I could understand it. But I determined to have a meeting where the Lord 
should have right of way, and the practical work of soul saving be done. 
Accordingly, my house was opened to all who would come to evening meetings, 
during our yearly meeting week in 1869. Our parlors were filled with earnest people, 
and without were those who were watching and waiting to see whereunto this 
would grow. The Scriptures were read, prayers offered, hymns were sung, 
testimonies were given and souls were blessed. But it was all unusual, and quite 
irregular in those days. We had live meetings, and living things are always irregular, 
while dead things never are. I began to learn what real loyalty to God was to cost, 
and that if really led by the Spirit of God, according to His word, reproaches and 
other like blessings that Jesus had promised, would become a reality. 
 
 

In conducting a few of these meetings, I learned a great deal of myself. I was 

somewhat troubled by the people and the circumstances around me, but I 
discovered one “old man” who gave me more trouble than all the others, and he 
was within me. “His deeds” had been put off, and truly there was “no 
condemnation,” but whenever I “would do good” he was present with me. His 
omnipresence was something wonderful to my opening eyes. And he was there, to 
”war against the law of my mind” with a resolute purpose to “bring me into captivity 
to the law of sin.” If he succeeded, even partially, I was humbled and grieved, and if 
he did not succeed, I was in distress with fear lest he might. Some special incidents 
were greatly blessed to me. I began to see quite clearly that the “law was weak 
through the flesh.” I hated pride, ambition, evil tempers and vain thoughts, but I had 
them, and they were a part of me. They were not acts to be repented of and forgiven 
at all, but dispositions lying behind the acts and prompting thereto, natural to the 
old man and inseparable from his presence in my being. 
 

 

 

I began to cry to God to “cast him out.” As I did this, there came a great 

“hunger and thirst after righteousness,” that I might be “filled with all the fullness of 
God.” My new nature speedily developed wonderful aptitudes for “holiness.” I 
longed for a “clean heart and a right spirit,” and this yearning increased until one 
memorable evening, after the close of the series of meetings referred to, when a few 
of us met at my sister’s for prayer and conference. Up to this time I had never heard 
a straight sermon on holiness, nor read a treatise upon it, nor seen any one who 
claimed the experience for themselves. It had never occurred to me that I had not 
received the Holy Ghost since I believed. Knowing as much of the work of the 
blessed Spirit upon my heart as I undoubtedly had, I supposed, as a matter of 
course, that I had been “baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” His creative 
work in regeneration, and His destructive work in sanctification, are distinctions of 
great importance, but not clearly seen by me at that time. And I might have 
answered much as the Ephesians answered Paul in Acts 19:2, had I been asked the 
same question. I had not even heard of such an experience. But there was present 
with us a brother who had heard that grand and dauntless herald of the cross, John 
S. Inskip, and his noble band of compeers at Round Lake. And he earnestly told us 
of their wonderful meetings, and preaching of consecration and holiness. It was 
only a spark of God’s fire that was needed to kindle into a flame the sacrifice that 
was placed upon His altar. As I went upon my knees, it was with the resolute 
purpose of “presenting my body a living sacrifice to God,” and of proving His word 
that the “altar sanctifieth the gift.” But I speedily found myself in the midst of a 
severe conflict. There passed quickly and clearly before me every obstacle to entire 
consecration, and “a life hid with Christ in God.” How the “old man” plead for his 
life! The misapprehensions, suspicions, sneers and revilings of carnal professors 
were all pictured before me, and they were not exaggerations, either. Selfishness, 
pride and prejudice all rose in rebellion and did their utmost. But I could not, would 
not, draw back. Every “vile affection” was resolutely nailed to the cross. 
Denominational standing, family, business, reputation, friends, time, talent and 
earthly store, were quickly and irrevocably committed to the sovereign control and 
disposal of my Almighty Savior. It came to be easy to trust Him, and I had no sooner 
reckoned myself “dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God,” than the “Holy Ghost 
fell” upon me, just as I suppose He did “at the beginning.” 
 
 

Instantly, I felt the melting and refining fire of God permeate my whole being. 

Conflict was a thing of the past. I had entered into “rest.” I was nothing and nobody, 
and glad that it was settled that way. It was a luxury to get rid of ambitions. The 
glory of the Lord shone round about me, and, for a little season. I was “lost in 
wonder, love and praise.” I was deeply conscious of the presence of God within me, 
and of His sanctifying work. Nothing seemed so sweet as His will, His law written in 
the heart after the chaff had been burned out. It was no effort to realize that I loved 
the Lord with all my heart, and mind, and strength, and my neighbor as myself. My 
calmness and absolute repose in God was a wonder to me. But I cannot describe it 
all. It was a “weight of glory.” 
 
”O matchless bliss of perfect love, 

 

It lifts me up to things above.” 
 
 

When I rose from my knees I was constrained to speak of what God had 

wrought, the best I knew how. The people looked so different! I had new eyes! I felt 
so different that I examined myself, to see if I was the same person. When the next 
day I rode out upon my farm, I felt that every acre belonged to God, and I was only a 
tenant at will. The hills and fields and flocks and trees were all more beautiful as 
they clapped their hands in praise. On the Sabbath following, I broke the silence of 
our meeting, by a testimony to the truth as I had found it in Jesus. I do not 
remember what I said, but I am sure that I preached about “perfect love,” for I was 
in the enjoyment of that blessing, though perfectly innocent of terminology, and I 
have been at it ever since. 
 
 

I record this narrative of the way in which I have been led by the good hand of 

my God, with the hope and earnest prayer that He may make it a comfort and a 
blessing to those who may read it. It is both a duty and a privilege to “show forth 
the praises” of the Lord Jesus. It is of Him and His work that I speak, and not of 
myself, or “frames of mind.” It was Jesus that I found as a complete Savior. And it 
is Jesus that abides as my sanctification, wisdom and redemption. It is His blood 
that cleanses from all sin, and His Spirit alone that protects from the assaults of the 
devil. It is to the Holy Spirit that I look for the power that preserves from committing 
sin, and He is able to do it, and to “keep us from falling.” 
 
 

The special experience just related is now twenty-three years in the past, and 

might be a dead and forgotten thing, but that moment by moment the blood has 
cleansed, and the Spirit has indwelt in answer to a perpetuated faith and obedience 
to God. During all these years the mode of my life, which was inaugurated in that 
hour, when I received the “baptism with the Holy Ghost,” has been totally different 
from that which preceded it. It began a new era in my Christian life. I have had 
abundant time and occasion to scrutinize the reality and nature of the work wrought 
then, and perpetuated ever since. I have often had such a sense of my own 
unworthiness and human imperfections as to be well nigh overwhelmed. But then I 
had settled it that Jesus was my worthiness, and as to human or legal perfection, 
David had seen the “end” of that long ago. In and of myself I am neither holier nor 
stronger than before. 
 
 

“But this I do find We two are so joined, That He’ll not be in glory And leave 

me behind.” 
 
 

What I am, I am by the grace of God. What I do, I do “through Christ who 

strengtheneth me.” And if God cannot “work in us to will and to do of his own good 
pleasure,” we cannot retain our experience. We must “work out our salvation.” “The 
willing and obedient shall eat the fat of the land,” and none others. 
 
 

But entire sanctification, and the filling of the Spirit, means a quickened 

conscience, as tender as the apple of the eye. It means a keen sense of the revealed 

 

word of God. It means an obedience that does not stand to debate and reason, and 
wonder about results. It means the priestly service of a true Levite, who is bearing 
the ark of God some paces in advance of the rank and file of the slow marching 
church, that has much of its inheritance on the wilderness side of Jordan. 
 
 

It is only when men are really “crucified with Christ” and “filled with the Holy 

Ghost” that they are fitted to act as the forerunners of the Lord Jesus. For all such 
must pass through their Gethsemanes alone, in a distant likeness to Christ. Too 
advanced for the multitude, they are even strange to the best of friends. Then there 
is the consciousness of unrequited toil, unacknowledged sacrifice and 
unappreciated service, that would be fearfully galling were it not for that sweet 
sense of privilege, which comes of “putting on Christ,” and seeking “the reward 
that comes from God only.” And self-devotion is the secret of all heroic life. Calling 
forth the very best there is in us, and always strengthened by a tonic of “bitter 
herbs.” Oh! the blessedness of trusting God to keep all of our accounts, sure that 
He will see to it that we get our dues, without any jealous anxiety on our part. 
 
 

All of this, and much more, is involved, if we continue to “walk in the light as 

He is in the light, and have fellowship with God.” 
 
 

And it is in this matter of obeying Him, of keeping His commandments, of 

“walking as he walked,” that multitudes draw back and lapse into their old ways of 
thinking and acting. When “iniquity abounds the love of many shall wax cold,” 
many “hearts are overcharged with surfeiting and cares of this life.” And then the 
spirit of persecution is still rife in the church. The same generation carries it on, 
that “were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by 
Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Paul’s custom was to “reason and persuade” 
and “warn,” though “all men forsook” him, which indeed they did. But he lived in 
the thirteenth of Corinthians, and “the Lord stood with him and strengthened him.” 
The family of “Demas” (popular) is a very large one, and, true to the instincts of the 
old nature, “love this present world,” and will always go back to it, rather than go 
forward with Christ, at the cost of being unpopular and suffering reproach. To 
”rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings,” is almost a lost art in 
our day. Oh! that we may believe that Jesus means what He says when He bids us 
”Rejoice and leap for joy, when men shall hate you and shall separate you from 
their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of 
man’s sake.” 
 
 

Now the secret of victory is in trusting God and holding still in quietness and 

assurance; allowing Satan to stretch the last link in his chain without quivering. 
And if thus kept in the love of God, and in sweetness and patience, while “fighting 
the fight of faith,” we shell “always triumph through Christ.” Glory be to Jesus! It 
takes a little time for Haman to build his gallows, and get things all fixed, but 
Mordecai has no concern about it, whether it takes a time longer or shorter, since 
the coming execution is not to be his, but Haman’s. He simply did his duty without 
compromise. 

 

 
”Oh for a faith that will not shrink, 
Though pressed by every foe, 
That will not tremble on the brink 
Of any earthly woe!” 
 
 

How the lives of the old saints who “quenched the violence of fire, escaped 

the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, and waxed valiant in 
fight,” inspire us with loyalty and courage! How much more such lives of faith in the 
Son of God, and victory through Him, when lived all about us! There are some such. 
May God increase the number! I pray that these utterances may be used of Him to 
assist some into the land of victorious warfare, and encourage others already there 
to push the battle to the gate. I have written for such as these and not for the 
”wise,” or “the disputer of this world”; not for such as are “ever learning and never 
coming to a knowledge of the truth.” For these I pray, and for myself, that I may 
more and more be enabled to publish this great salvation, and continually to 
”rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” “Brethren, pray for us that the word of the 
Lord may have free course and be glorified, and that we may be delivered from 
unreasonable and wicked men.” Glory to His name! 
 
*     *     *     * *     *     * 
 
ACCOUNT #2 
 
DAVID B. UPDEGRAFF 
(Society of Friends) 
 
 

I was born near Mount Pleasant, Ohio, on the 23d of August, 1830. I cannot 

doubt that I was solemnly given to God from my birth by pious parents. My infant 
lips were taught to pray, and when I said, 
 
”Now I lay me down to sleep, 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” 
 
 

I really expected Him to do it. My young heart was not a stranger to the 

gracious visitations of the Spirit of God, and was often melted by the power of His 
love. But as I grew up I grew in sinfulness and in rebellion against God. Though 
mercifully preserved from many sins of a gross and disgraceful character, I was 
often in great distress of soul because of those I did commit. At such times I would 
earnestly repent in secret and cry unto God for mercy. Many covenants were thus 
made and often, though not always broken. The covenants, prayers, restraints and 
instructions of faithful parents were not lost upon me. After being settled in life I 
renewed my covenants with God, and sought to do right because it was right. I was 
a birthright-member of the Church and was “zealous toward God according to the 
perfect manner of the law of my father.” I certain1y did “fear the Lord,” and was a 

 

“servant” under the law that “gendereth to bondage” for many years. But I had not 
”received the adoption of a son.” 
 
 

In March, 1864, I made this full discovery. The Gospel of God came to me with 

great power. I met the test of public confession of sins and my need of the Saviour. 
It was a hard struggle, for I was proud and stubborn: but I was determined to yield 
myself to God, and did it. 
 
 

My spiritual conflict was somewhat protracted, but it came to an end in the 

silent watches of the night, and I had “peace with God.” His Spirit witnessed with 
my spirit that I was His child. I was at once a glad and willing witness to the reality 
of justification by faith and the birth of the Spirit. I loved to tell of the power of 
Jesus to save and of the gladness He had put into my heart. But, first neglect, then 
disobedience, then waywardness interfered with my Christian life. 
 
 

Chastening and suffering from the hand of the Lord was followed by 

restoration of soul. Then a more conscious and definite consecration of my service 
to the blessed Saviour. I had longed to see God glorified in the salvation of souls 
and the enlargement of the Church. Some years had passed since I had found the 
liberty of the sons of God; but I saw that few were being brought into the kingdom. 
To be sure, I was only a business man, and utterly averse to the idea of being a 
minister. I greatly desired to serve both God and man, but in a quiet and 
unobtrusive way. The Church was laying a little work upon me, from which I shrank 
with a deep sense of unfitness. I felt it far more than I could understand it. But as 
the Lord opened the door I stepped in, and soon began to learn what real loyalty to 
God was to cost, and that if led by the Spirit of God, and according to His Word, 
reproaches and like blessings, promised by the Saviour, would become a reality. I 
had always regarded these rather as a consequence of blunders made by people 
who could not manage to keep out of them. There were a good many people who 
gave me trouble; but as I learned more of myself I discovered one “old man” who 
gave me more trouble than all the others, and he was a member of my “own 
household.” “His deeds” had been put off, and truly there was “no condemnation,” 
yet when “I would do good” he was present with me and he was there to “war 
against the law of my mind,” with a resolute purpose to “bring me into captivity to 
the law of sin.” 
 
 

If he succeeded even partially I was humbled and grieved, and if he did not I 

was in distress with fear lest he might. The Lord taught me by some special 
providences, and I began to understand more clearly how that “the law was weak 
through the flesh.” I hated pride, ambition, evil tempers and vain thoughts, but I had 
them for all of that, and they were a part of me not as acts to be repented of and 
forgiven, but dispositions lying behind the acts, and promptings thereto, natural to 
the old man and inseparable from his presence in my being. 
 
 

I began to ask God, with a measure of faith, to “cast him out.” Along with this 

desire there came a great “hunger and thirst” to be “filled with all the fullness of 

 

God.” I longed for a clean heart and a constant spirit.” In such an attitude of soul I 
attended a special meeting for conference and prayer on a memorable evening 
early in September, 1869. 
 
 

As I went upon my knees it was with the resolute purpose of “presenting my 

body a living sacrifice to God.” Such were my relations with Him that I saw a new 
light and a new privilege in entire consecration, and set about it with great delight. 
But I speedily found myself in the midst of a severe conflict. There passed quickly 
before me the obstacles in the way, and the “things to be suffered for Jesus’ sake.” 
The misapprehensions, suspicions, and revilings of carnal professors, as well as 
the conflicts with the world, the flesh, and the devil. And they were not the 
exaggerations of fancy, either; selfishness, pride and prejudice joined forces and 
rose in rebellion, while the “old man” pleaded for his life. But I could not, would not 
draw back. 
 
 

“Vile affections” were resolutely nailed to the cross, and those things that 

“were gain to me” — denominational standing, family, business, friends, 
possessions, time, talent and reputation — were irrevocably committed to the 
sovereign control and disposal of my Almighty Saviour. With my all upon the altar I 
had no sooner reckoned myself “dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God” than the 
”Holy Ghost fell” upon me. Instantly I felt the melting and refining fire of God 
permeating my whole being. I had entered into rest. I was nothing and nobody, and 
glad that it was forever settled that way. It was a conscious luxury to get rid of 
ambitions and self-will, and have my heart cry out for nothing but the will of God. 
 
 

I was deeply conscious of His presence and of His sanctifying work. It was 

not an effort to realize that I loved the Lord with all my heart and mind and strength, 
and my neighbor as myself. The inmost calm and repose in God, of that time, that 
day, that hour, was a wonder to me then, and it continues to be so still. It was, and it 
is, the “peace of God that passeth understanding.” 
 
 

The witness of the Spirit to entire sanctification was as clear and 

unmistakable to my own soul as it was in the experience of justification. I have had 
abundant time and occasion in the nearly nineteen years that have passed, to 
scrutinize and test the reality and nature of the work wrought then, and perpetuated 
since by the power of the Holy Ghost. In and of myself I am neither holier nor 
stronger than before. But I have learned that this wondrous baptism with the Holy 
Ghost is the secret of stability in the Christian character as well as success. 
 
 

True, it is not a state that is necessarily immutable, but rather a more of life 

which may and ought to be maintained by a perpetual faith in Jesus and His 
promises. His constant abiding perpetuates a disposition to do the will of God. And 
our obedience in allowing Him to “work in us to will and to do of his own good 
pleasure” constrains Him to abide. 
 

 

 

I have proven the secret of victory in the life to be quietness, assurance, and 

obedience, loving God supremely. It must be a supreme dread lest we offend Him. 
And if grieving the Spirit of God is regarded as the greatest evil that could befall us, 
the fear of man will not ensnare our feet, and our eyes will keep single and the 
whole body full of light. 
 
 

Let Satan stretch the last link in his chain — it is still too short; he cannot 

reach us. For the “Mighty to save” is both able and willing to keep His own from the 
commission of sin, as well as to atone for and pardon sins already committed. 
 
 

Bless His holy name. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white 

raiment.” “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their 
testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Amen. 
 
DAVID B. UPDEGRAFF, Third Month, Fifth Day, 1888. 
 
Source: “Forty Witnesses” by Rev. S. Olin Garrison 
 
*     *     * 
 
ACCOUNT #3 
 
 

“And he called the name of the place Peniel, for I have seen God face to face, 

and my life is preserved.” — Gen. 32:30. 
 
 

This is the most momentous thing we have to record in connection with 

David B. Updegraff. Not because of remarkable attendant phenomena, but because 
of its subjective results in his own character, and its relative bearings upon his 
work and ministry. It is safe to affirm that the world and the church at large would 
never have known him but for this mighty work of grace. It is quite certain that 
many men and women of marked talents and ability are never known and used for 
lack of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. Their talents are buried in napkins, and 
many of them come to entertain hard thoughts about their Master, as did the wicked 
and slothful servant. True, his natural force of character might have won him 
distinction in lines of business, or ways of the world. True, too, that the first work of 
grace had begun to draw out his heart in affectionate desire and in loving efforts to 
be, in some way, a blessing to those around him. But David Updegraff, the 
preacher, pastor, evangelist, champion of religious liberty, religious author and 
editor, was not born until that memorable night when he passed over into the 
Canaan of Perfect Love. 
 
 

In a sense not intended by the original, his case demonstrated that there 

were “giants in that land.” Certain it is that there were battles of the Lord in which 
he fought a valiant, aggressive warfare, in which he had never enlisted, nor could 
ever have waged a successful fight, until he received the power of the Holy Ghost 
coming upon him. 

 

 
 

We are disposed to linger here because of the importance of this matter, as it 

affects thousands of Christians all around us, and indeed, the general type of the 
Christianity of our times. It will be found in David Updegraff’s history that a man can 
have the average experience of converted men, and yet be a cipher (comparatively, 
at least) in God’s work, without the blessing of entire sanctification; though 
evidently meant and called of God to do a great Providential work. 
 
 

It is safe to believe that few Christians find their true calling until they have 

found this great blessing, and that many live misspent lives for lack of it. 
 
 

It is to be remembered, too, that the type of the Christian work to which this 

man of God devoted himself was entirely above and beyond that which engages the 
zeal of many of our most active Christians. No doubt much that is built on Christ 
these days, is Of the nature of “wood, and hay, and stubble” — not wrong or useless 
things, but things which will, nevertheless, not stand fire, and are not calculated for 
eternal endurance. But he gave himself and all his ransomed powers to the “gold 
and silver and precious stones.” He was not diverted to the material, civil or 
physical aspects of Christian work. The work of actual salvation, and of spiritual 
upbuilding monopolized his head and heart and hand. 
 
 

What is to be distinctly noted is, that in seeking this blessing, it was not the 

objective, but the subjective, which engaged his attention. That is, he sought not 
with reference to public work or enduement for service, but with reference, solely, 
to personal experience and state of heart. This is of great interest, since it furnishes 
us an instance of sanctification sought for its own sake. Holiness wanted because 
God is holy, and not because holiness would make him great or wise or mighty. 
 
 

Much that is emphasized by many as the sole or main feature of the promised 

baptism with the Holy Ghost, is at best meant to be only secondary; often it is only 
incidental. But David Updegraff was under conviction for the thing itself, and for the 
very heart of it, at that. Cloven tongues as of fire, rushing mighty winds, etc., were 
of no account to him, save only as he came the better to interpret and apply their 
symbolic meaning. Gifts of tongues, or knowledge, or healing, or miracle working, 
were not what he followed after, but that Charity which embraces all the graces and 
completes the symmetry of Christian character and experience. Men now, as in 
Paul’s time, make the mistake of preferring gifts to grace. They seek the showy 
before the saving. They imagine that God is more concerned in what they are to do 
for Him than what they are to be. Sanctification deals first with being, rather than 
doing. 
 
 

We hear now his own testimony. 

 
 

“I determined to have a meeting where the Lord should have right of way, and 

the practical work of soul saving be done. Accordingly, my house was opened to all 
who would come to evening meetings, during our yearly meeting week in 1869. Our 

 

parlors were filled with earnest people, and without were those who were watching 
and waiting to see whereunto this would grow. The Scriptures were read, prayers 
offered, hymns were sung, testimonies were given and souls were blessed. But it 
was all unusual and quite irregular in those days. We had live meetings, and living 
things are always irregular, while dead things never are. I began to learn what real 
loyalty to God was to cost, and that if really led by the Spirit of God, according to 
His word, reproaches and other like blessings that Jesus had promised, would 
become a reality. 
 
 

“In conducting a few of these meetings, I learned a great deal of myself. I was 

somewhat troubled by the people and the circumstances around me, but I 
discovered one ‘old man’ who gave me more trouble than all the others, and he was 
within me. ‘His deeds’ had been put off, and truly there was ‘no condemnation,’ but 
whenever I ‘would do good,’ he was present with me. His omnipresence was 
something wonderful to my opening eyes. And he was there, to ‘war by the law of 
sin.’ If he succeeded, even partially, I was humbled and grieved, and if he did not 
succeed, I was in distress with fear lest he might. Some special incidents were 
greatly blessed to me. I began to see quite clearly, that the ‘Law [of God within] was 
weak through the flesh.’ I hated pride, ambition, evil tempers and vain thoughts, but 
I had them and they were a part of me. They were not acts to be repented of and 
forgiven at all, but dispositions lying behind the acts and prompting thereto, natural 
to the ‘old man’ and inseparable from his presence in my being. 
 
 

“I began to cry to God to ‘cast him out.’ As I did this, there came a great 

‘hunger and thirst after righteousness,’ that I might be ‘filled with all the fullness of 
God.’ My new nature speedily developed wonderful aptitude for ‘holiness.’ I longed 
for a ‘clean heart and a right spirit,’ and this yearning increased until one 
memorable evening, after the close of the series of meetings referred to, when a few 
of us met at my sister’s for prayer and conference. Up to this time I had never heard 
a straight sermon on holiness, nor read a treatise upon it, nor seen any one who 
claimed the experience for himself. It had never occurred to me that I had not 
received the Holy Ghost since I believed. Knowing as much of the work of the 
blessed Spirit upon my heart as I undoubtedly had, I supposed, as a matter of 
course, that I had been ‘baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’ His creative 
work in regeneration, and His destructive work in sanctification, are distinctions of 
great importance, but not clearly seen by me at that time. And I might have 
answered much as the Ephesians answered Paul in Acts 19:2, had I been asked the 
same question. I had not even heard of such an experience. But there was present 
with us a brother who had heard that grand and dauntless herald of the cross, John 
S. Inskip, and his noble band of compeers at Round Lake. And he earnestly told us 
of their wonderful meetings, and preaching of consecration and holiness. It was 
only a spark of God’s fire that was needed to kindle into a flame the sacrifice that 
was placed upon His altar. As I went upon my knees, it was with the resolute 
purpose of ‘presenting my body a living sacrifice to God,’ and of proving His word 
that the ‘altar sanctifieth the gift.’ But I speedily found myself in the midst of a 
severe conflict. There passed quickly and clearly before me every obstacle to entire 

 

consecration, and ‘a life hid with Christ in God.’ How the ‘old man’ plead for his life! 
The misapprehensions, suspicions, sneers and revilings of carnal professors were 
all pictured before me, and they were not exaggerations, either. Selfishness, pride 
and prejudice all rose in rebellion, and did their utmost. But I could not, would not 
draw back. Every ‘vile affection’ was resolutely nailed to the cross. Denominational 
standing, family, business, reputation, friends, time, talent and earthly store, were 
quickly and irrevocably committed to the sovereign control and disposal of my 
Almighty Savior. It came to be easy to trust Him, and I had no sooner reckoned 
myself ‘dead indeed unto sin and alive unto. God,’ than the ‘Holy Ghost fell upon 
me,’ just as I supposed He did ‘at the beginning.’ 
 
 

“Instantly I felt the melting and refining fire of God permeate my whole being. 

Conflict was a thing of the past. I had entered into ‘rest.’ I was nothing and nobody, 
and was glad that it was settled that way. It was a luxury to get rid of ambitions. The 
glory of the Lord shone round about me, and for a little season, I was ‘lost in 
wonder, love and praise.’ I was deeply conscious of the presence of God within me, 
and of His sanctifying work. Nothing seemed so sweet as His will, His law written in 
the heart after the chaff had been burned out. It was no effort to realize that I loved 
the Lord with all my heart, and mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself. My 
calmness and absolute repose in God was a wonder to me. But I cannot describe it 
all. It was a ‘weight of glory.’ 
 
’O matchless bliss of perfect love, 
It lifts me up to things above.'” 
 
 

We shall here take the liberty of analyzing this experience for the benefit of 

our readers. 
 
 

We notice, first, the circumstances under which he felt this deep conviction. 

‘Twas “In conducting a few of these meetings.” These were meetings, let it be 
remembered, improvised by himself and designed to “let the Lord have right of way 
that the practical work of soulsaving should be done.” They were held at his own 
house, and we infer from some of the foregoing remarks, at the cost of some 
disapproval from those who esteemed everything that was alive to be irregular and 
unallowable. He evidently, then, was neither unconverted nor backslidden. The fire 
of Christian love was burning in his bones and making its own vent. 
 
 

He is enabled to locate his trouble. What a mercy it is when one is enabled to 

do this. “I learned a great deal of myself. I was somewhat troubled by the people 
and circumstances round me, but I discovered an ‘old man’ who gave me more 
trouble than all the others, and he was within me.” This is conviction of inbred sin. 
And how clearly defined the type of his conviction was. He adds, “His deeds had 
been put off, and truly there was no condemnation, but whenever I would do good 
he was present with me; His omnipresence was something wonderful to my 
opening eyes.” 
 

 

 

Prayer for purity follows. “I began to cry to God to cast him out.” The Jew’s 

departing wail was, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body 
of death?” But one moved by Christian faith has more hope and cries out in strong 
desire: 
 
”Break off the yoke of inbred sin 
And fully set my spirit free; 
I cannot rest till pure within, 
Till I am wholly lost in thee.” 
 
 

No accurate definition of his case. “It had never occurred to me that I had not 

received the Holy Ghost since I believed. His creative work in regeneration, and His 
destructive work in sanctification are distinctions of great importance, but not 
clearly seen by me at that time.” We should remember this in dealing with other 
souls; Distinctions which are very clear to us now were not always so, and they 
may not be so to many who are seeking this grace. Nor is this clear definition of 
things in their minds and on their tongues, to be exacted as a condition of their 
receiving the grace. Doubtless it may greatly aid them; but no doubt, too, that many 
cross over into the land before they have mastered its geography. 
 
 

Providential help supplied. The same sovereign love that sent Philip to 

minister light to the inquiring eunuch, will never let any seeking soul perish for lack 
of help. An Ananias must go to Saul of Tarsus, “for behold he prayeth.” Cornelius 
shall learn from Peter what he shall do, for his prayers and his alms have come up 
as a memorial before God. So this earnest man, whose heart has been uncovered 
by the search light of the Spirit and who is now crying to be “washed and made 
whiter than snow,” is not forsaken. “There was present with us a brother who had 
heard that grand and dauntless herald of the cross, John S. Inskip. He earnestly 
told us of their wonderful meetings and preaching of consecration and holiness. It 
was only a spark of God’s fire that was needed to kindle into a flame the sacrifice 
that was placed upon His altar.” We pause to remark that there is a certain 
incompleteness and measure of imperfection in all human helps on matters of 
salvation and spiritual life. We have sometimes wished that this were not so, and 
that we ourselves might be able to perfectly present the truth and adapt it to needy 
souls. But we feel otherwise now. We believe that God means to employ men as a 
scaffolding only in building up the temple of Holiness in other men’s hearts. He is 
jealous of His own glory as their personal Savior; and jealous, too, of their faith, 
that it should stand in the power of God alone and not at all in the wisdom of man; 
that “Christ may be all and in all.” We have heard Bro. Updegraff speak of this man, 
that he Was neither a preacher nor yet quite a witness of this great salvation, but 
only a carrier of the news of what others were doing and saying and believing and 
receiving. An imperfect help in himself, but a sufficient help to give directness and 
intensity to David’s prayer. 
 
 

“I went upon my knees.” Remember, beloved, he had never heard a sermon 

on Holiness in his life, and yet, with the conviction of his own heart, and the 

 

message of a passing friend, he hurries to the Lord to complete “the great 
transaction.” He adds: “It was with the resolute purpose of presenting my body a 
living sacrifice to God, and of proving His word, that the altar sanctifieth the gift.” 
 
 

Now it is evident that the mental assent and consent to these things which 

some persons think is consecration, and which they say they “do over and over 
again,” is quite a shallow thing compared with what David Updegraff passed 
through on this eventful night. Hear again what he says about it: “I speedily found 
myself in the midst of a severe conflict. There passed quickly and clearly before me 
every obstacle to entire consecration. How the ‘old man’ plead for his life. The 
misapprehension, suspicion, sneers and revilings of carnal professors were all 
pictured before me. Selfishness, pride and prejudice all rose in rebellion and did 
their utmost. But I could not, would not draw back. Every ‘vile affection’ was 
resolutely nailed to the cross. Denominational standing, family, business, 
reputation, friends, time, talents and earthly store were quickly and irrevocably 
committed to the sovereign control of my Almighty Savior.” This ends his 
consecration, which is the human side of sanctification; but only the human side. 
We reason that none but Christians are capable of it. We conclude both from the 
language of Scripture and from the testimony of those who have presented their 
bodies in entreaty thus, that it means “sacrifice” — a sacrifice that is felt at the time 
and tested in time to come. This sacrifice is felt in proportion to the ardor of the self 
life before the surrender is made, and in proportion to the ardor of the spiritual life 
after it is made. Paul “counted all things loss” and then went on to suffer the loss of 
all things. Yet he esteemed them as refuse in comparison with the prize which he 
sought. Consecration thus furnishes no ground for self-complacency. It “is our 
reasonable service.” Obedience to the command and spirit of consecration, 
however, brings the soul to a place where difficulties in the way of sanctifying faith 
are removed. He says: “It came to be easy to trust Him and I had no sooner 
reckoned myself ‘dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God,’ than the Holy Ghost fell 
upon me.” 
 
 

And now he describes the experience which followed: “Instantly I felt the 

melting and refining fire of God permeate my whole being. Conflict was a thing of 
the past. I had entered into rest. I was nothing and nobody, and glad it was settled 
that way. For a little season I was ‘lost in wonder, love and praise.'” 
 
 

“Nothing seemed so sweet as His law.” “It was no effort to realize that I loved 

the Lord with all my heart and mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself.” We 
note a few points of this experience. It was instantaneous; “instantly” is the word 
he uses. It inaugurated an end of the struggles of the wilderness; “Conflict was a 
thing of the past.” It was subject of consciousness, both as to the presence of God 
and as to the work in himself. It was not only an emotion, but an experience of 
righteousness; “nothing so sweet as His law.” After all this, it was still 
indescribable. “It was a weight of glory.” 
 

 

 

He at once felt the obligation of testimony. As it is written, “Ye shall receive 

power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto 
me.” Those who advocate the retention of such an experience in silence only, and 
the withholding of personal testimony to it, are either ignorant or forgetful of 
underlying principles and laws of grace in general, and of this grace in particular. 
For “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth 
confession is made unto salvation.” The confession of the mouth is as necessary in 
its order as the faith of the heart. Moreover, one must violate laws of nature as well 
as laws of grace, thus to check or choke the outpouring of his soul’s gratitude and 
joy; for “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” 
 
 

David Updegraff’s feeling was that of an inability to conceal it. He could not 

but speak the things which he had seen and heard revealed and spoken to his soul. 
He says: “When I rose from my knees I was constrained to speak of what God had 
wrought, the best I knew how. The people looked so different. I had new eyes. I felt 
so different that I examined myself to see if I was the same person. When the next 
day I rode out upon my farm, I felt that every acre belonged to God, and that I was 
only a tenant at will. The hills and fields and flocks and trees were all more beautiful 
as they clapped their hands in praise to God.” 
 
 

The reader is now asking, perhaps, “Did it last?” Many, indeed, who do not 

doubt God’s ability and willingness to sanctify, nevertheless, hesitate to be 
sanctified, lest they might not be able to “keep it” and “hold out.” They think they 
could trust God’s present power, but fear to venture out upon His preserving grace. 
For, to be “sanctified wholly” is one thing, and to be “preserved blameless” is 
another. The one is conditioned upon all act of faith, the other upon a habit of faith. 
The one is the direct and immediate work of the Spirit’s baptism, the other is the 
continued faithfulness of the Indwelling Comforter. None can live upon a past 
experience, not even an experience so bright and clear as this of David Updegraff’s. 
He never depended upon that blessing for his present salvation. It is no more lawful 
to idolize an experience than to worship a god of stone. Christian life is not 
sustained either by recollection or by anticipation, but by faith: “The just shall live 
by faith.” 
 
 

He says upon this point: “The special experience just related is now twenty-

three years in the past, and might be a dead and forgotten thing, but moment by 
moment the blood has cleansed, and the Spirit has indwelt, in answer to a 
perpetuated faith and obedience to God. . . . . During all these years the mode of my 
life, which was inaugurated in that hour, when I received the baptism with the Holy 
Ghost, has been totally different from that which preceded it. It began a new era in 
my Christian life. I have had abundant time and occasion to scrutinize the reality 
and nature of the work wrought then and perpetuated ever since. I have often had 
such a sense of my own unworthiness and human imperfections as to be well-nigh 
overwhelmed. But then I had settled it that Jesus was my worthiness, and as to 
human or legal perfection, the Psalmist had seen the end of that long ago. In and of 

 

myself, I am neither holier nor stronger, than before. What I am, I am by the grace of 
God. What I do, I do through Christ strengthening me.” 
 
 

In closing this chapter, we would remark that, if history furnished no 

parallels, and if Scripture gave us no precedents of such an epochal experience as 
this, we might be tempted to class it with the extraordinary gifts and qualifications 
with which God sometimes endows those whom He would set apart as chosen 
vessels for some special work. That is, we would list it with the prophetic gifts of 
the Old Dispensation, rather than as the supreme and universal grace of the New, 
intended for all believers. but the Spirit of God reveals the need of such a visitation 
in the life and experience of every truly converted person. The promises of the 
Gospel offer it to all such, while nowhere presenting it to others. More are 
consenting now to “tarry at Jerusalem,” in order to obtain this promise of the 
Father; and under such leaders as David Updegraff came to be, this great privilege 
of the church is being emphasized and restored. Praise the name of the Lord! 
 
From hdm3374, “David By Updegraff and His Work” by Dougan Clark and Joseph H. 
Smith 
 
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THE END 

 

All Rights Reserved By HDM For This Digital Publication 
Copyright 1994 Holiness Data Ministry 
 
Duplication of this CD by any means is forbidden, and 
copies of individual files must be made in accordance with 
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*     *     *     * *     *     * 
 
HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN 
(A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts) 
Compiled by Duane V. Maxey 
 
Vol. I — Named Accounts 
 
Three accounts: 
 
*     *     * 
 
ACCOUNT #1 
 
CHAPTER 36 — PERSONAL TESTIMONY 
From hdm3377 —

 

 

Interchurch Holiness Convention

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Phone: 570-658-1030