February 9, 2017 // Story



I was converted when only twelve years of age, and, after one year on probation, by no

fault of my own I found myself outside of the Church. My sensitive soul was wounded and I gave
up my hope in Christ, and after years of moral darkness, the contemplation of which is yet painful,
at the age of nineteen years I was graciously reclaimed. But I spent only a brief period in
conscious fellowship with God.

Realizing fully that if I became a Christian indeed I should have to preach the Gospel, and

conscious of my inability to meet the demands of the sacred office, I was disobedient to the
heavenly calling.

I put away the conviction of duty from my mind, and sought by severe application to study

to dissipate all sense of religious obligation. I passed through an academic course of study, took up
the science of medicine, and in the excitement of professional life sought a respite from the
convictions of duty. But there came a time when the Spirit of God came with great power to my
heart, the whole tide of my life was turned, my entire being was arrested and held in suspense by
the presence of God, my past failures and future possibilities possessed me by day and by night. At
this time I realized in some degree the danger of further disobedience; it appeared to me that I must
submit to God or utterly perish; and after a severe struggle that lasted many days I yielded, and at a
late hour in the night of August 11, 1857, alone in my office, I bowed in prayer to God, gave
myself to Him, and accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour.

There came into my soul a sense of peace, a calm, quiet assurance of the divine favor; but

it was not like my former experience; there was no ebullition of joy. There was a cold, sullen
sense of submission from necessity, a spirit of subjugation, and the Father seemed far off, as if I
were received on probation, and it was not until the following November that I received by the
Spirit the knowledge of complete reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Floods of light and joy came
into my soul. I was possessed of a new manhood; “old things” had passed entirely away. I united
with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the path of ministerial duty was at once made plain; it


flashed with celestial brightness and glowed with a radiance almost inconceivable, and as soon as
my probation expired I began to preach, but almost immediately renewed the controversy in my
own mind, and for five years kept up my quarrel with God.

“Clouds and darkness were round about me,” weak and undecided; I was vacillating and

“unstable as water.” But there came a crisis, and I united with the Conference, and after two
successful pastorates of two years each, in which many were converted, in the fifth year of my
ministry I became greatly interested in the subject of holiness. I sought earnestly for a clean heart.
The fiery baptism came upon me and I was “made every whit whole.”

For a little more than one year I enjoyed this precious experience, quietly and alone, but

without interruption. No one preached on the subject that I knew of; no one testified to it in my
hearing, and I cautiously kept still and remained quiescent until the brightness of it passed away,
and I found myself without the witness of purity and not always clear in my experience of sonship.

About this time the first National Campmeeting at Urbana, Ohio, occurred, and the whole

country was aroused on the subject of holiness. But both the doctrine and experience were
misrepresented by its friends and caricatured by its foes.

The old heresy of the imputed holiness and the impeccability of the sanctified were

vigorously advocated by a large class of adherents.

These and other forms of error were prevalent in my congregation, and I began a careful

examination of the doctrinal and philosophical aspects of the subject. That I might have opportunity
to hear their experiences and know their teachings I attended the special holiness meetings. I was
also present at the second National Campmeeting at Urbana, and listened carefully to the sermons
and teachings of the members of that association. I heard the thrilling testimonies of the newly
sanctified and the enrapturing experiences of those who had been years in the way, and found the
teachings of the association and the experience of the people to be in accord with my own former
experiences and the standards of the Church. I there committed myself publicly to the cause of
holiness, and declared my faith in the all-cleansing blood.

After my return home I began to study the different phases of the experience as manifested

in the various temperaments and idiosyncrasies of those who enjoyed the blessing. I resolved not
only to be correct theologically, but I was determined to be experimentally and practically so. I
gave myself wholly to God; I utterly abandoned every thing that was doubtful; I put entirely away
the very appearance of evil, and resolved to know and to please God.

I knew that I could not reason myself into a clean heart; but I also knew that my heavenly

Father required me “To sanctify the Lord God in my heart, and be ready to give an answer to every
man that asked, a reason for the hope that is in me, in meekness and in fear.” I soon found that by a
careful adjustment of myself to Christ, “the Vine,” and a continuous exercise of my will to keep this
relation unembarrassed, I grew in grace daily. My strength was enlarged, the witness of the Spirit
to my cleansing became very distinct, and my soul was exceedingly sensitive to the approach of
evil in any form. About ten months of this continuous life of obedience brought me out into a large
place. And in April, 1874, while assisting Rev. I. N. Smith, of the Central Ohio Conference, in a


holiness meeting, I received a special manifestation of the Spirit that far exceeded all my former
experiences. My whole being was permeated with the divine presence. My soul was sublimated,
and Christ in His divine personality was revealed in wondrous power by the Holy Ghost. He
appeared visibly before my consciousness, and for months He was “The man from glory standing
by my right side.”

Thirteen years have passed away since then, years of intense labor and glorious victory;

years of severe trial and gracious deliverance. I have frequently encountered the same spirit that
consigned John Huss to the flames; have gone over on my knees where “There was a sharp rock on
that side and a sharp rock on this side”; but have been enabled to say with the apostle, “Now
thanks be unto God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of
his knowledge by us in every place.”

There have been periods of fluctuation; there have been two periods of short duration of

hesitancy, in which I swerved, in which I lost ground to some extent. I did not incur guilt, did not
contract any moral pollution, but was conscious that I had in some degree lost my aggressive

The causes that led to these weaknesses may be all embraced in the term carelessness. My

will lost something of its tenacity of purpose; my faith relinquished its positive grasp on Jesus, and
selfhood, in one form or another, began to assume dominion. But these periods were of short
duration. For nearly fifteen years I have been a loyal citizen of the “Land of Beulah.” During these
years my soul has grown strong in fellowship with Jesus. I am still in the land, far out toward the
interior. I ascend the mountain heights of this wonderful land. I wander through its valleys; I
breathe its perfumed and exhilarating atmosphere; I feed upon its grains and fruits; I inhale the
fragrance that floats down from its “Mountain of Myrrh.” And some day from one of its
purple-clouded hills I shall step through the misty veil into the upper temple.


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

Beaver Springs, PA 17812

Phone: 570-658-1030