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The Gospel Day by Charles Ebert Orr

A Personal Experience.

It is recorded in the Bible that God will not hear sinners. While this is true it has its modifications. Those who are in wilful and stubborn rebellion against God he will not hear, even though in a day of trouble and fear they should call upon him. But when in the more sober moments of life man's heart feels the influence of the Holy Spirit inclining his desires toward a better life, arousing the nobler aspirations of his soul, enkindling to a brighter flame the spark of humanity; when, though he be not in possession of God's saving grace, under such an influence he, in sincerity of heart, calls upon God, he will hear and answer his call as far as consistent with the divine mind, and thus encourage his soul on to the Christian goal.

Our boyhood days and the early days of our manhood were spent amid the gay scenes and pleasures of life. When in the whirl of society-life we had no serious thoughts. There would, however, in our more secluded hours, when naught stood between us and the whisperings of our soul, arise thoughts of futurity. The Holy Spirit would speak to our heart of God, of heaven, of Christ and the blood; he would hold before us in a beautiful picture the life of a Christian journeying onward to a glory world. He would also disclose to our view the hideousness and awfulness of sin, and the uneasiness, discontentments, trouble and fear attending the wicked as they journey onward to the eternal region of woe.

In these more sober hours we would seek God for his protection with sincere, heartfelt pledges that some day we would serve him. God heard these prayers and gave his protection. We now in reviewing the scenes of those early days see the many snares and dangers Satan had arranged for our destruction, but out of them all the Lord delivered us. Bless his name! There was one instance of God hearing our prayer, though in what may be considered a trivial matter, yet made a deep impression upon us and went far to enforce upon us the reality of God and his Word.

One night we had a journey of several miles to make on horseback. It was nine o'clock when we started. After traveling about two miles our horse became very lame. In our pity for him we dismounted and throwing the reins over the saddle started the horse on before us. After some two or three miles of traveling thus, our horse seemed much improved. For the purpose of faster travel, we concluded to again ride. Our attempts to catch the horse seemed in vain. Repeatedly we tried to come up with him, but when we had come near he would trot on before. After many unsuccessful trials it occurred to our mind that we should ask God to aid us. Accordingly the Father was implored to cause the horse to stand that we might come up with him. Although not a Christian we believed there was help in God, and trusting in him we approached the animal, speaking to him as we had before, when he stopped and we mounting continued our lonely journey in deep and solemn thought of the verity of God.

In the winter of 1886-87 we became very much concerned about our soul. A revival meeting was in progress in the little village in which we lived. They did not teach salvation by grace through faith as was taught by the apostles, but we, knowing no better, and wanting to escape the damnation of hell, and hoping for an avenue of escape, concluded to take this. Accordingly we gave the minister our hand one night, and answered in the affirmative his few questions concerning our belief in God. On our way home we were baptized, for we were taught that the water washed away sins. During the days following we kept a close watch upon our heart and life to learn if there was any change. We were disappointed. We found that sin held the same power over us. There remained the same uncertainty of our eternal state. The thoughts of death had lost none of their fear, and the grave none of its terror. We were troubled. Here we had entered, as we hoped, a path that led to heaven, but yet all was dark and uncertain. O God, is this all of thy kingdom upon the earth?

I would question the older members of our congregation about their experience. Should you be called for to-night to depart this life are you fully assured that your home will be in heaven? Have you no fear to meet God? They would answer me thus: |We can never know in this life just what the decision of the Great Judge will be until we come before his awful tribunal. In this world we can only go on the best we can, and hope for the most in the judgment.|

This was sad news to my soul. Is this all there is in a Christian life? Where is the great peace, the joy, the bright hope and positiveness promised in the Bible? But thinking these old heads knew all about the Christian life, I endeavored to console myself and calm my fears. I very poorly succeeded, for which I now praise God.

One instance occurred at this time that troubled me very greatly. One night after retiring we heard a shout of |Fire! fire!| upon the street. On rushing to the door and looking up the whole heavens above us seemed to be one burning flame. All was on fire. The first thought that came to our mind was, It is the last night of this world. The earth, and all its works, is burning up. A great fear came upon me. Whither shall I go, and whither shall I flee from His presence? The cause of alarm proved to be a burning building over a hill, casting the reflection on the dark clouds over us. We read in the Bible of a class unfit and unprepared for heaven, that would in that day call for the mountains and the hills to fall upon them to hide them from God's presence. Here we, trying and claiming to be a Christian, experienced just what was said should be the experience of the wicked, and my soul was alarmed. Earnest became our efforts to live a better life. Fierce was our struggle against sin, deep and firm would be the resolutions, but sin was a hard, strong master, who ground us beneath his iron heel. We sought every known means for relief, walking for miles to hear a sermon to learn of a more successful life.

Often in these days of struggle would I become unpleasant in my home. Should my children be a little trying, I would speak to them in a cross, snappish way. I would see them stand back in fear before my harsh voice, and this would sting my conscience. A child in fear of its father! how unchristianlike! When my wife, whom I had vowed to love always, would not do according to my judgment I would hastily reprove in strong language. We would see the tears start from her eyes, and again our conscience would be heavily smitten. Resolve after resolve was made to be more tender and kind to our dear ones, only to be broken by the power of impatience.

In our efforts to become more gentle and tender we often would read an article in an old school-reader entitled |Sorrow for the Dead.| In this the writer said words like these, to the best of our remembrance: |As we look upon the cold, lifeless form of some dear, departed friend, there will come rushing to our memory, the unkind acts and deeds and thoughts we have had toward them. This remorse of conscience,| he said, |should cause us to be more true to the living.| We often would read this, and did receive some benefit from it for the time, but we found it powerless to conquer an irritable disposition. We can not forbear telling the reader here, although it is a little in the advance, that the day came when we found the Savior in the wonders of his redeeming love and he broke the power of sin, and by his grace did strengthen and help us to be |true to the living.| Glory, glory to his name!

It was in the summer of 1890 that the struggle became very desperate. The convicting hand of God lay heavily upon me. The burden of sin lay heavily upon my soul, especially the sin of tobacco using. We had no man to teach us. None seemed to care, nor pity. God, however, was humbling us down to a final decision. One late October morning on our way to the schoolroom, as we were teaching at that time, all alone upon the road, God spoke peace to our soul. Where is the pen to describe the experience of that hour! Mine, it seems, is utterly helpless. We were conscious of a life, power and glory, not terrestrial, filling our entire being. The earth was lit up with a splendor never seen before. In our days of deepest conviction we would picture to our mind the happiness of angels, but here we had come to the realization of something that far surpassed all we had imagined of the heavenly host. We felt like we wanted to sing and praise God forever. Wife had received a similar experience in her home a few days before. Our home at once became a heaven. We remembered in pity those who had endeavored to comfort us in our fears and tell us there was no better way.

Two weeks passed of uninterrupted glory. However, one morning after about two weeks, when doing some work which went wrong, we were strongly tempted to speak as we had formerly done on such occasions, but we overcame. The second time the work went wrong as previously, when the temptation came stronger than before. We felt something unpleasant within us; however, God helped us to overcome, and we set to doing the work over, when it went wrong the third time. This time we were overcome and gave utterance to a word that brought a sense of guilt. No sooner had we spoken than we fell upon our knees and did not arise until we knew we were forgiven. By this experience we became conscious of a foe within us that was going to give us trouble in the Christian life.

About this time we providentially received a copy of a holiness paper, The Gospel Trumpet, which taught a higher life, namely, entire sanctification. This came as a light from heaven. We began to earnestly seek this experience. Before we reached this experience there were a few other occurrences in our Christian life of which we wish to speak. At this time we were very ignorant of the Bible. It was our custom to have prayer at the schoolroom after the children were all gone to their homes. We would then go to our home with a heavenly glory resting upon us. One evening on our way home, we met a company of our former worldly associates. They accosted us in their customary worldly way. We replied somewhat under the influence of their worldly spirit. I felt the glory depart, and an emptiness instead. I went on my way hastily, asking God to smile upon me again. He taught me by this that he had chosen me out of the world and its witticisms, and that slang phrases were foreign to his salvation.

Soon after this, one morning in November when laboring in my garden a transparent glory shone all around me, and my soul was filled with peace. It was on election day. After working a few hours amid rapturous bliss, we went to the place of voting and cast our ballot along with political men. A shade came over my spirit, and for the remainder of the day it appeared that God had forsaken me and would never smile on me again. He taught me once more that he had chosen me out of the world and that politics in civil government was foreign to the kingdom of heaven.

The Christmas-time drew near, and great preparations were being made by the people for their festivities. In these we found nothing congenial to our spirit. We had decided to remain at home on the night of these festivities and have a protracted Bible reading and prayers. We looked forward to the evening with pleasure, expecting great blessings from God. Just before we were ready to begin our Bible reading wife was taken with a severe aching in the head, that threatened to mar the enjoyment of the evening. We wondered why it was that God permitted us to be thus interrupted, when the Holy Spirit whispered, |If you will ask God, he will heal her.| Accordingly we fell upon our knees and petitioned God for his healing virtue, and instantly she was healed. This was our first experience in divine healing.

In the following February a Holy Ghost minister came to our place and held a short series of meetings. He taught us the way of God more perfectly. We entered the glorious experience of entire sanctification during this meeting. We also beheld the body of Christ, the one true church, and saw in a clear light the monstrous beast religion in all her evils. God soon after called us into his work. We sold our little home, all we had of this world, and used the means in the work of the Lord. Our work for God has been independent of the creeds of men, teaching a full salvation and trusting God for everything. We have held meetings in over twelve of the different states, and have never asked for money. Not on one single occasion have we taken up a collection. It would require volumes to tell of the many times the Lord has blessedly answered our prayers. God has never called us to any conspicuous position in this world. The great faith for the building of orphanages and homes, and establishing missions has been entrusted to other men. Our faith has been only for our daily bread and needs. Oh, what an assurance our heavenly Father gives us that he will never forsake us. We do not want the riches of this world. We would rather not have them. There is a blessedness in taking our every want to Jesus. To look unto him daily for your temporal as well as spiritual support has a strong tendency to draw one very near to him.

We would take pleasure in telling you of many of the instances in which God has heard and answered our prayers, but fearing you will take less pleasure in reading we will forbear, only saying that God has been petitioned for corn for our horse, and the prayer answered in a marvelous way before the day was over. We have asked God for a spool of thread, and our prayer has been answered at once. One time wife was on her knees asking God for soap, when there was a rap at the door, and upon opening it a lady presented her with a bar of soap. Almost daily the Lord is petitioned for flour, meat, sugar, or clothes, and he always gives us what we need. It is wonderful and just as glorious as it is wonderful. In fact, such a life is made up of glory.

Some one may wonder if we ever have any tests of our faith. Oh, yes; there is where the greatest glory is. Not long since we were much in need of a dollar. In searching through my vest pocket for a match I found a dollar bill all neatly rolled up. Where it came from, and how, I never knew, only that the Lord sent it. Just last night, our twelve-year-old daughter said, |This is the last Sunday I can wear these shoes. Unless I get a new pair I shall have to stay at home.| We asked her if she had been asking the Lord for a pair. She answered, |Yes, sir.| This morning in our family devotions we made especial mention, amid some other things, of the shoes. In less than two hours a Christian man came to the door and presented her with a pair. Yes, we would rather have a faith and trust in God than the wealth of a world. We feel more secure.

The times God has healed different ones of our family we are unable to number. For the past eight years he, and he only, has been our physician. We have not in that time spent one cent for medicine. We have three children, aged four, six, and eight years, who have never tasted medicine. They never were given a dose of any kind of soothing syrups or |teas.| God has always healed from the toothache to a broken limb. It does not take much of the Lord's means to provide for us. We wear no superfluous clothing. Our daily fare is plain and common. We use no stimulants, narcotics, nor medicines, and consequently just a few pennies a day is all we need. God in his great goodness supplies all these, while we go telling the world of the wonderful blessings of salvation.

We are at present engaged in ministerial work without salary. In all our meetings we take up no collection, we ask for no money in any way of man, and we have no other source of support but in God alone. Just as the apostles lived in the morning light, so we live in the evening light. Just what they enjoyed, we enjoy. In their preaching they gave God's people warning of the apostasy. In our ministry we preach, |Come out of her, my people.|

We enjoy more of the love of God than ever before. His very life and power and glory fills our soul to the full. We are led exclusively by his Spirit and are fed and clothed by his bountiful hand. Our life is one of blessed contentment. Our home is a heaven and our happiness is complete. Even as we write, the waves of glory roll over our soul until we are made to shout praises to our God. We have never a care nor a sorrow, but a faith and trust in God that keeps us above every wave of trouble. We are dead to the world and living alone for his glory. His great heart's love sweetens and tenders every fiber of our soul, and bids us wait in brighter hope the happy day when he shall call us to our home.

O home of my soul,
In that far away goal;
Each day brings me nearer to thee,
The great throne so white,
And my crown shining bright,
Mine eyes ever longing to see.

There's a musical strain
From that far away plain;
Its melody sweeps o'er my soul,
While a wave of sweet peace
In my heart shall increase,
While the years of eternity roll.

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