Of Kate Lee General Bramwell Booth writes, 'She was one of those conquering souls who seldom look like a conqueror. She presented an extraordinary contrast. She was weak, and yet she was strong. She was poor, and yet she was one of the richest. She was intensely human, with many of the most marked limitations which belong to the human, and yet she was in an extraordinary degree spiritual, yes, even divine.'
These contrasts were clear to all and puzzling to many. Not a few people both in and outside the ranks of The Army have asked the question, 'Wherein lay the secret of Kate Lee's success?' One person, accustomed only to surface views, gave answer, 'It is that she always aims to win trophies.'
Let any one determine to gain distinction for himself by lifting from the mire of sin souls robbed by the devil of hope and will power, and even desire for deliverance; let them essay to bring back from the far country wanderers sunk to the level of the brute; let them attempt to break bands of habit forged by the devil, or to deliver the prey from the terrible one. He will discover the impossibility of his enterprise if not his folly.
Desire to win spiritual battles in order to gain personal reputation is age-old. From the day that Simon the sorcerer offered Peter money in exchange for miracle-working power, the exercise of which would have placed him upon a pedestal above his fellows, the rebuke has rung out, 'Thy heart is not right in the sight of God.'
Shortly before Jesus left His little band of disciples, with the charge to preach the Gospel to every creature, He spoke with them on the subject of spiritual fruitfulness. He assured them that, 'Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit,' and in one sentence He made clear the secret of spiritual success. He said, 'He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing.'
The failure of the Church of Christ to extend His Kingdom upon earth by great sweeping victories, lies in the imperfect apprehension or the neglect of this declaration. Tens of thousands of professing Christians do not abide in Christ; consequently, He cannot satisfy their soul. The cares and pleasures of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, occupy them as they do the ungodly; for their pleasures they turn to the world. A smaller section have faith in Christ, and realize the joys of Salvation, and comfort of His presence, but they do not yield themselves to Him for service. A smaller section dedicate themselves to His service, but rush to work for God without receiving directions from Him, with the result that much effort is wasted. If every consecrated soul would pay heed to Christ's direction, how gloriously would His Kingdom extend! Not that the battle would ever become an easy one. The powers of evil against which we fight are second only in strength to those of righteousness and light. In conflict between these powers there will always be the sacrifices of war to reckon upon, the spade work, the tunnelling, the weariness; surprises of the enemy, rushed advances, sick and wounded to care for, and captured territory to be occupied, organized, and governed, before the final victory.
Kate Lee was one of the company that dwell in God. It is difficult to write of her secret soul life; for, keeping no journal she made no record of the dealings between her soul and her Beloved; no fights and victories over the powers of evil, no story of following the heavenly vision, nor does her very scrappy correspondence contain out-pourings of spiritual experience. Her life was a lovely epistle of week-day holiness for all to read, but it was the outward sign of an inward experience. Locked in a private box, a |Covenant| was found after her death which is as a key to the inner sanctuary in which her life was lived with Christ in God. It reads as follows: --
Solemnly entered into, January, 1897; Renewed, January, 1918 TO MY PRECIOUS LORD AND MASTER
In the first moments of this year I present myself to Thee in the deepest humiliation of soul, sensible of my utter unworthiness. I desire nothing in the world so much as to be Thine, and with the utmost solemnity, surrender myself fully unto Thee.
I declare Thee, O Lord, this day, to be my God, and myself to be Thine own child. Hear, O Thou God of Heaven, and record it in Thy Book of Remembrance, that I am Thine, only Thine.
From this first day of January do I solemnly renounce all that has had dominion over me, and every sin, and every lust, and in Thy name, set myself in eternal opposition to the powers of hell.
The whole frame of my nature, all the faculties of my mind, all the members of my body would I present to Thee this day, as a living sacrifice.
I consecrate myself to Thee; all my worldly possessions; and I pray Thee to give me the strength and courage to exert for Thy glory all the influence I may have over others. Receive and wash me. Forgive all past failings, clothe me with Thy perfect righteousness, and sanctify me throughout by the power of Thy Spirit.
Help me that I may never withdraw in any point from this renewal of my consecration and covenant.
Help me to live in the spirit of real consecration and crucifixion; and should I fail in carrying out this covenant in all points as I ought, then, dear Lord, forgive and lead me to perfection.
In Thy strength I promise to be true till death. Until then, keep, guide, and direct me.
Remember, dear Lord, this covenant when I am about to pass away; and should I then be incapable of recollecting it, look with pity on Thy dying child. Put strength and confidence into my departing spirit, and receive it to the embrace of Thy everlasting love.
For Jesus Christ's sake.
May this petition be granted.
(Signed) KATE LEE.
Renewed, January 1st, 1920
Another valuable document traces for us Kate Lee's seeking after sanctification. After having lived in the enjoyment of this blessing for nearly thirty years, she was asked by the editor of 'The Officer' to write her experience. The following article appeared in that magazine three years ago: --
Soon after I was converted I realized a great need in my heart. I had turned my back on the old life, and my face was toward God. I had started to travel the upward way. For the first few weeks I went with a rush, the joy of the new life within buoyed me up. I felt as though I was walking on air. I did not feel any strain of the upward tread. But soon I began to feel the tension of the daily struggle, the weary march. There were obstacles in that way that impeded my progress. My circumstances were against me, and the influences surrounding me had a tendency to draw me from Christ.
I began to stumble and fall. The tempter was soon at my side suggesting, 'You're not converted; it's all a delusion; you would not feel as you do; you would not fail as you have done, if you were really a child of God. Give it up, it's no use trying,' he argued. And, worst of all, I knew sin still existed in my heart. How often passion had broken my peace. How many times bitterness and evil had manifested itself in my nature. Was I mistaken? Had I ever been converted? Was it all a delusion?
Just then God in His love and pity came to my heart; gave me a revelation. He not only showed me myself and my sin, but showed me my need. I needed something, and as I sat in a holiness meeting I realized that need was sanctification. For months the word sanctification was to me a heavy burden; a torture. I could not really grasp its meaning. I read and re-read the theory of sanctification, going from one authority on the subject to another, only to turn away still more puzzled. I then set myself to seek publicly and was several times found at the holiness table, pleading for the blessing that I failed to understand. Again and again I came to the altar, and, as far as I understood, laid my all there. But as soon as the test came, without realizing that I did it, I took from off the altar the sin I had laid there, or the gifts that I had surrendered to God.
This is where I failed many times, and during my officership I have found scores of other souls who have failed on this very point. They come sincerely to the altar, definitely laying their gift there, a living sacrifice; but when the knife is felt, the realization of the dying comes upon them as they feel the hurt and understand fully what it means, they shrink and draw back. Abram's experience, related in Genesis xv., has been a great help to me. He had to wait for the fire. He prayed all day, even until eventide, and then the birds of prey came down; but he stood by the sacrifice and drove them off. Then the fire came and consumed the sacrifice.
That was just the point to which I had to get. I had laid my all on the altar, but then I had to wait for the fire. Meanwhile, the birds of doubt, fear, and discouragement came flying around. I had to get up again and again to drive them off, and hold on to God.
Fresh light came; a new path opened up. The laying of self on the altar meant following God fully and showing my colours everywhere. Could I do it? It was hard to die to self, and say, 'Yes, Lord.' But as I said it, I felt I was accepted, and afterwards, when I carried out that vow, joy flooded my soul and I realized that the Spirit of the Lord was upon me. The desire to sin was removed, and my heart yearned to be kept pure and clean.
I have found the need of great watchfulness, and have needed much prayer to keep my soul in touch with God and on fire for precious souls. Although I realized, after I was sanctified, that I was over sin and no longer under the power of sin, and that I was cleansed from the desire to sin, yet in his subtlety the devil has come again and again and striven to bring me down.
Sometimes he has come as an angel of light, so that I have been led to the very verge of sin, tempted to indulge in what seemed at the moment harmless, perhaps because others, who professed as much as I did, indulged in it too. Tempted to shrink from the sacrifice that a separated life must mean; tempted to give way to the flesh, one's natural desires and inclinations, I have even allowed the devil to take me to the edge of a great spiritual precipice, but God, in His mercy, has flashed His wonderful light upon my path in time to show me where I was, and what would be the outcome if I yielded to the temptation. Oh, how it caused me to pray and seek strength which enabled me to overcome!
Prayer has been my source of help, when burdens have pressed so heavily upon me that they threatened to crush my spirit; when disappointments, misrepresentations almost overwhelmed me, prayer has brought strength and comfort, a courage that could face a world of bitterness and scorn. I have proved that prayer will enable me to retain the substance of holiness. Prayer enables me to retain a passion for souls; keep it burning in hours of disappointment and failure, indifference and hardness, when men and devils rise in power against me.
One must tread the path of holiness carefully, with a watchful eye and ear always open to His voice, and a spirit ever ready to obey. But it is a wonderful way, a way of purity, where the soul can see God, even in the struggles of life. A way of joy; the deepest of joys. The realization of His smile enables me to live independent of all the joys of the world and to rejoice in the hour of sorrow. A way of power; when the channel is clear He works through it and accomplishes His will.
A personal experience of Full Salvation was the secret of Kate Lee's success.
This life was not spasmodic. She did not pass in and out of the holy place, or step on and off the highway of holiness. She dwelt there. That does not imply that never during those thirty years was she overcome by Satan. Once, into a deep sorrow was poured the bitterness of gall through the wickedness of another. The enemy came in like a flood, threatening to overwhelm and root up many precious things, but the Spirit of the Lord was there to lift up a standard against him. 'If ye forgive not your enemies, neither will your Father forgive you,' was the word that came to her heart. She closed her lips, hushed her sobs, crept to the feet of her Lord, where are ever the print of cruel nails, to remind His children of His sufferings and His forgiveness.
'I was wrong,' she said, 'very wrong. I must forgive, I do forgive'; and to the close of her life she lavished love upon one who had sore wounded her. 'If we sin we have an Advocate.' She laid her case in His hands, and left it there.
The officers who served as lieutenants with Kate Lee give us glimpses of the life she lived in the privacy of her quarters. We may stand at the door of the sanctuary where she met with God and learn a little. Says one of her lieutenants, 'It seemed to me that she prayed without ceasing. Her life was one continual looking to God. She prayed upon rising. We prayed together after breakfast; later, she went to her room for an hour's private prayer and study; for special undertakings or emergencies she had special seasons of waiting upon God.'
How much there was to pray for. Her own soul and that of her lieutenant, that they might be kept in touch with God. Her corps, every department of it; the local officers, the band, the songsters, the home league; the soldiers and converts; the town, with its sin and indifference to the claims of Christ, the finance. Then, hers was not a small soul. She loved the whole wonderful Salvation Army of which she was a unit, and her leaders and comrades in all lands were remembered at the Throne of God. It was a great strength to her to feel that she lived in the atmosphere of prayer. When in the midst of a specially heavy battle for souls, she would write to comrades she knew had power in prayer and beg them specially to help her to fight through to victory.
Very real were the powers of darkness and evil against which this frail little woman set herself; sometimes they pressed her sore. She felt something of the sorrows and travail of soul of her Saviour, of whom it is written, 'And being in an agony, He prayed.' At times she suffered from depressions so heavy that they prostrated her. The lieutenant says, 'At these times, all I could do was to let her feel that I was carrying on, whilst she sought her chief remedy, prayer. By and by, she would come from her room, strengthened and peaceful, ready again for the fight.'
Writes another of her helpers: --
She was a wonderful officer in public, but I love best to remember how she conquered in her own private life. When we remember how she attacked the devil's kingdom, we can well believe that he did not leave her unmolested. She had her full share of difficulties, hardnesses, disappointments, and physical weakness; but, whatever her feelings were, she rose above them, and went on with her work.
In her office, over the fireplace, hung a large picture of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. On her writing table was the same picture, but small; so, if she lifted her eyes from her writing, she was reminded of Him whom she loved with her whole heart. As He conquered by prayer, so did she. One morning, one of the local officers called to see her. When I went to her room to fetch her, her eyes were red with weeping. 'Dear, I can't go down like this,' she said; 'will you see to the business for me?' She had been pleading -- agonizing with God.
She was very sweet to me. I can see her smile now as she first welcomed me to the quarters. I was very timid and helpless in public work when I became her lieutenant, but she made me feel that her responsibility was to make me a worthy officer. She said, 'I could get others to do the house-work; you are to be my comrade in the fight.' She took me fully into her confidence, consulted me about corps organization, difficulties, special efforts, everything! She would tell me all her plans and then ask for mine.
The first time she insisted upon my taking the Sunday night address, in spite of having laboriously prepared, I was so nervous that I stopped, fairly played out, in the middle of my talk, but she got up and encouraged me, and asked the comrades to pray. She helped me so much that to give a Bible address is not a difficulty now. I learned to forget myself.
Had she a weakness? Well, it may seem much to say it, but though I lived with her so long, I cannot think of one; she was an all-round conqueror.
Writes still another lieutenant: --
How I love her memory! My Bible was her parting gift to me, and in it she marked the text: 'In all thy way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.' She passed on to me the method that governed her own life.
In nothing did Kate Lee show her likeness to her Lord more than in her practical unselfishness. He wanted nothing from the world. He came to give Himself to save it. It was so with her. A woman so popular could have drawn to herself the homage and service of the crowd; but here she stood aloof. She welcomed, indeed she sought, gifts and service for the work of The Army and the poor, but she wanted nothing for herself. When she and her lieutenant were so pressed with work that they scarcely had time to eat their food, her eye would rove over the corps, and she would select a girl whom she felt had a true appreciation of the Kingdom of God, and ask her if she would like to come to the quarters to help with the house-work, so that the officers might be freer for soul-saving. Many a girl counts it the honour of her life to have shared that saintly woman's home, sat at her table, joined in the prayers, and done the work of the house. The Adjutant and lieutenant paid her out of their small allowance.
To her soldiers, Kate Lee delighted to preach the doctrine of Full Salvation from sin, and greatly she rejoiced over those who entered into this glorious experience of freedom and power.
One comrade, who had been a Salvationist for twenty-seven years, a white- haired, sweet-spirited man, enjoyed his religion in the corps, but was little more than a cypher as a soldier. In a holiness meeting, while the Adjutant spoke from the text, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord,' the old soldier saw in a moment of revelation, that if he were thoroughly yielded to God and obedient to the heavenly vision, the Holy Spirit would cleanse him from sin, and, despite his lack of personality, and very ordinary qualities, would empower him for service. He went forward to the holiness table, seeking this experience. Attached to the corps was a young men's Bible class languishing for want of a leader. A few evenings after his consecration, the Adjutant told this comrade that she wished him to take over the class. The habit of years strong upon him, he began to plead his unfitness; but inwardly reminded of his covenant with God, went away to pray and returned to say he was ready for service.
He laid hold upon those lads. Many young men, as officers, soldiers, and bandsmen, bless the day that Brother Fenwick claimed them for God. They are the fruit of his service.
The Adjutant was as watchful to help souls convicted of the need of a clean heart as to capture the unsaved. A sister writes: --
I am indebted to Kate Lee for leading me into the blessing of entire sanctification. Attending a tent campaign she had inaugurated, after her address setting forth the experience of holiness, she asked those in the congregation who were living up to that standard to rise. Condemnation filled my soul. I arose, but only to slip out of the tent by a far door. The Adjutant noticed the move, and met me as I was making my escape. Then she laboured until I knelt in full surrender, yielding my all to God. One of my chief difficulties was to wear Army uniform, but that was included in my consecration, and from the putting on of my first Army bonnet, nearly twenty years ago, I have been proud to witness for Christ in this way.
As a spiritual surgeon with skill in diagnosis, Kate Lee excelled. A sergeant-major of great devotion and good cheer fell into deep spiritual depression. No amount of pulling himself together or shaking free of the dumps, availed anything. He became as miserable as when first convicted of sin. 'But why?' he asked himself the question over and over. 'I love God with all my heart; I am fully consecrated to His service; then what is amiss?' No reply. To a Watch-Night service this man came, under a vow not to leave his knees until he discovered the reason of this cloud and obtained deliverance.
During the meeting, he, the chief local officer of the corps, made confession before his comrades and knelt at the holiness table. The Adjutant sought to discover his difficulty. 'Sergeant-Major, have you a grudge against any person? Now, think carefully.' The man was silent, searching his heart. Presently he replied, 'You have found the spot.' Years before, a man had deceived him in a matter of business, thereby bringing much trial into his home. By dogged, hard work, the material loss had been overtaken, and the affair forgotten. But there it lay in his heart. The remembrance of the man's name brought with it feelings of resentment and contempt. 'Lord, forgive me for my hardness of heart toward that man as I now forgive him,' he cried. 'Cleanse my soul from every stain of sin and fill me with perfect love.' In an instant the cloud lifted from his soul, and his heart was filled with singing. That was a remarkable Watch-Night service. Other battles were fought and won, and not until two o'clock on New Year's morning did the meeting close, with a final burst of praise, and with renewed consecration to fight for souls during the coming year.
Dr. Garfield Carse, of Sunderland, became a soldier of the Sunderland corps, and entered upon his medical career there, during the Adjutant's term. He says: --
Adjutant Lee was a great advocate of holiness. She preached the doctrine and lived the life. That was the key to her success. Her theme expressed in many ways was, 'Put off the old man, and put on Jesus Christ. Live so that your life reminds people of His life.' She was a great spiritual help to me; understanding the claims of a busy man, she would drop into my surgery and say, 'I have come to visit you for five minutes.' She would read from the Bible, a few choice verses that had refreshed her own soul that day, and then would kneel and pray for me that I might represent Christ in my particular sphere. She was a great woman!
An old local officer illustrates her meekness, when as a young officer she was impulsive and arrived at quick conclusions on incomplete evidence. 'She believed I had done a wrong, and wanted me to ask forgiveness of people who were themselves in the wrong, but made a fair showing. I said, 'No,' and kept to it. She did not turn bitter towards me, nor 'turn me down,' but was kind and sorry. By and by she saw she had been mistaken in her judgment, and said sweetly, 'Ah, yes, I see I was wrong that time.'
Says another, 'What I thought she was when she came to us, I was sure that she was when she went away.'
Kate Lee had a settled conviction that 'the servant of the Lord must not strive.' A comrade says: --
If misunderstood, she would not justify herself, even in a way that seemed wise to me. She would not attempt to hold her own. She would stand up for others or for principle; but for herself, she trusted the Lord to bring forth her righteousness as the light, and her judgment as the noonday. She would say, 'It doesn't pay to contend for self, dear. It ruffles one's spirit and lessens one's influence. We must stoop to conquer.' I was impetuous and hot before I knew her, but her life taught me the meaning of the beatitude, 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.'
During the last year of her life, Satan gathered his forces for a last onslaught upon Kate Lee's soul. She was stationed at the International Training Garrison in London, and her health continuing to be frail, a change was thought to be desirable for her. Therefore, she was appointed to take charge of the Home of Rest for Officers at Ramsgate. Only once before had she found it difficult to trust God concerning an appointment. As to her health, she was quite prepared to die at her post, but to leave the work of training those cadets for the field-work which she understood so well and loved with such a passion -- could it be the will of God?
For some weeks the clear shining of her faith and joy suffered an eclipse. She maintained a calm exterior, but, in sore spiritual distress, sent for an old, trusted comrade to come and see her. This officer tells of a very sacred interview: --
When it was convenient for us to have a quiet time in her room, she turned upon me a face marked with intense suffering. She said, 'I cannot feel this is God's will, and so I cannot be happy. I have never felt like this before in all my experience.' 'But, Katy, what have we always preached? Don't we still believe that a soul, really committed to God, cannot be moved, cannot be hurt, except by His permission? He knows you are here. If, to give up the thing you love best in life, is His test for you, can't you trust Him and not take it from man, but from Him, and say, |Thy will be done|?'
Much searching communion passed between the sister-comrades, and at last in answer to the question, 'Can you not just now take life from God, just as you have done for thirty years?' Kate replied with decision, 'Why, of course I can, and I will.' Then the comrades rejoiced together, knelt in prayer, and when they rose, peace had returned to Kate's heart and shone out of her eyes. 'She looked ten years younger,' says her comrade. 'I had an appointment to keep and she some shopping to do. She took a basket on her arm and tripped down the street with me as gaily as the girl she was when I first knew her.'
Shortly orders came to proceed to Headquarters. She was needed for training work in another part of the world.
Then, sudden, unexpected illness brought her face to face with eternity. After the doctor who gave the verdict had departed, the little maid went to Kate Lee's room to see if she needed anything and found her in tears. 'Leave me a little while,' she said.
Alone with her Lord, Kate Lee realized many things. There was no mistake. Gently her Heavenly Father had been loosening her hold on the sword here, in preparation for higher service. This last trial of faith had been allowed that she might know at the end of her career, as at the beginnings of her service, that she chose the will of God before her own way. By-and-by the little maid, with leaden sorrow dragging at her heart, crept back to the Staff-Captain's door. She started as she met Kate's gaze. It was full of unutterable peace and joy. She smiled and stretched out her hands. 'It is all well. God's will is peace,' she said. From that time until the end, only a few days later, except for the heat of the furnace of suffering, Satan's fiery darts missed the mark. Kate had faced and overcome the last attack of the enemy. She won through to the end.