The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation.
SPIRITUAL LEADINGS.--JESUS A CONSCIOUS PRESENCE THREE DAYS.--LOSS OF LIBERTY BY COMPROMISING.--THE PRICE PAID TO BE REINSTATED.--DISGRACE TO BE A MILLIONAIRE
I had once while in Medicine Lodge, a heavenly rapture for three days. My Savior was my constant companion. I saw no form, heard no word. But His dear face was just behind and looking over my right shoulder. He was a conscious presence and the deep peace was beyond any experience I ever had. I shunned the society of persons. I would talk to Him, would sing and play the accompaniment on the organ. I was particular about my home work. While I saw no face, or form, I realized that His was a sweet, smiling, gratified expression, and it told me I was pleasing Him. I did not seem then to think this anything wonderful, and have often reproached myself for not setting more store by this at the time.
There was a period of from six months to a year that I was terribly haunted by a feeling as if hung over a precipice. I was hanging only by a rope above my head held by a hand out of a cloud. At night or in the day, it was the same uneasy dread of falling. The precipice below was black and horrible. There were banks on each side. At last I swung over, landing on the right side. Oh! the relief!
When I first began to pray in public I was very awkward, never could make any but what one would call a disconnected prayer, that never seems to be impressive in an audience,
I asked an old-fashioned sister, who I knew was a saint, to tell me what was wrong in my testimony. "I do not have liberty when I speak." She said: "You do not praise God enough." I began to pray for a spirit of praise. Shortly after this I was at prayer-meeting, was praying for a spirit of praise. It was put in my mouth I rose to my feet and began to say: "Praise God; Praise God!" repeating it over and over. Oh! how sweet to use and hear those words! I could scarcely repress the impulse to use them all the time. For a long time after this, when the Bible was read or testimony struck me as being just right, I would audibly say: "Praise God!" This was a "gift", for I had never felt the impulse before. I have in a measure left this off, but I use it all the time, when I hear good news, or see what pleases me. "He led captivity (sin) captive and gave GIFTS unto men. Ever since I received the "baptism of the Holy Ghost," I have liked one church about as well as another. I go to all even the Catholic. I fast on Friday and use the sign of the cross. Fast, because my Savior suffered in the flesh on Friday; use the sign of the cross, because in the cross is salvation. Meditations on the cross always lift heavenward. 'Tis the royal way, I want to keep it always in view, want it to be the last I see. We who bear the cross continually in this transient life, will wear the crown continually in the eternal. I love a picture of the cross or a crucifix. I am debtor both to the Jew and the Greek. I do not feel the dislike to the Catholic church that some Protestants do. I believe there are as many honest priests as there are other ministers. God's church is invisible to the world, for it is set up in the hearts of the children of men. I have been greatly edified by conversing with Catholic priests. When I lived in Texas my spiritual condition was such that I wanted some explanation. I went to see Father Hennesy, of Houston, I explained to him my strange leadings, he said a wise and good thing, told me to "read the scriptures and pray and God would lead me right."
I was at church in Medicine Lodge one night, during a protracted meeting held by Bro. Parker and Hodges. Two sisters came to me and complained that I made so much noise, said they could not enjoy the service. I said: "To please you I will try to keep quiet, but remember it is my God and YOUR God I am praising. I would rejoice to hear you praise Him." Next night something was said that was good to me. I said: "Praise God!" caught myself when I saw one of the sisters near, and from that time I felt little impulse and at last none. I went to every meeting but lost my liberty and became so bound, I could not testify or pray. I was very miserable, would weep from a desolation of spirit. This continued for three weeks. The meeting was still going on. My spiritual darkness became so great, I went up one afternoon to the altar. I rose and told of how I had "lost my liberty and peace by withholding praise to God by trying to please two sisters." While I was confessing, the spirit fell in great power and I acted like I was beside myself, was almost wild with delight. I seemed to fly home and back in the evening. One in this state appears crazy to the world, even disgusting. No one sees a reason for this unnatural overflow of feeling. At the beginning of the service, opportunity was given for testimony. I rose eager to tell of my returned joy; told of praying for, and getting what I prayed for, then losing it, by compromise; closed by saying: "That never again would I refuse to do the will of God even if it offended all and made me appear a fool." My testimony seemed to be fanatical, for my manner indicated one greatly moved. When I took my seat a "still small voice" said. "You must sing a song." Bro. Osburn was sitting near. He had the song book "Finest of the Wheat," in his hands. I took it then handed it back. I felt like one in a dreadful dilemma--all joy had given place to fear. Bro. Osburn again handed me the book. I felt then I must go through this trying ordeal. I took the book, walked up to the front, all were standing, the church crowded and Bro. Parker gave out the number of the hymn "40". "No," I said, "We will sing No. 3." This song was, "I know Not Why This Wondrous Grace To Me He Hath Made Known." Bro. Parker gave out the number again. I said, "No," and began to sing. Bro. Allen accompanied me with his cornet. Of course one can imagine what an impression this would make on an audience. I sang, two verses and the chorus. I then took my seat. Then a flood of peace and heavenly companionship took possession of me. I then knew what it was to have angels minister unto you. God took me at my word and made me appear a "fool," and objectionable, to the whole people. What a fatal result there might have been, if I had not obeyed God!
I know why people do not have power with God. They will not abandon themselves to the whole will of God, because they will not suffer the OFFENSE of the cross. Why care for the criticism of men that change and die!
I had an experience once for eight months, when I felt that Christ had turned his face from me, not in displeasure, but this was a trial of faith. My prayers had no response, brought me no hope of having been heard. But I prayed quite as much, if not more. Never got discouraged, although I was in gloom, and my heart was like lead. All at once there was a return of the conscious presence of God. 'Tis a poor servant that serves only for hire. "Though He slay me yet will I trust Him." God has kept me from following any but Him.
One dear friend thought that Haney was the great holiness teacher, another one thought Carodine. They would quote their sayings, but I always found better and clearer teaching in the word of God. I could see errors in all the holiness teachers, but not one in the Bible. The book of Job settled the question of the most perfect experience. Men can be perfect men and not perfect saints. When Job was, "holding fast his integrity" God did not bless him like He did when Job saw the perfection of God and said: Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest lesson in holiness and is from the only one that can teach holiness. Great lessons can be taught by all persons, taught of God, but 'tis better to drink at the fountain than out of a stale bucket. Besides all have imperfection. "To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them." "They shall all be taught of God." "If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given."
From the time that my Christian experience began, I never wished to be associated with rich people, or rather people that had wealth for display. Would feel uncomfortable to go in a house filled with furniture or bric-a-brac. It would be an evidence to me of the great waste of money and time by the owner. Nothing had value to me only as it could be used for the salvation of men and women, and the glorifying of God. It mortified me to see a "swell dressed" woman. I noticed that those so- called fashionable women really never had time or money to do charity. Of course there are exceptions. The display of wealth to me is an evidence of a depraved nature. The use of wealth, is in relieving the wants of mankind. The time is coming when the millionaires will be the despised of the people, for they are learning fast that people who amass fortunes, and hoard them, are in that condition because they have ground the face of the poor. They are not honest or good. A man or woman now that can hoard money or goods and pass and repass the suffering every day, has a cold, selfish heart, and instead of its being in the future a letter of credit to say: "Mr. So and So is a millionaire," it will be a disgrace as it should be, to live for wealth and self alone. Still 'tis well to get all the money in a good way, that you can and then use it in a good cause. Job was a rich man but he was a friend of the "fatherless and widow." He dealt his bread to the hungry. He was feet to the lame and eyes to the blind." Such rich men as Job are blessings, but those men who boast of their hoarded treasures, spend their money in the gratification of their lusts, to them God says: "Woe or curses unto you rich men! Weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you! Your garments are motheaten, your gold is cankered and the rust shall eat your flesh as if it were fire." Yes, there is a class of rich men that would now HOWL, and weep with all their money, if they knew their fate.
I have never had so light a heart or felt so well satisfied as since I smashed those murder mills. For years I had an aching, weeping heart. I would often put ashes on my head. I felt like wearing sackcloth. I can see the hand of God in my life. From a small child I loved the world, used to be fond of pets. It seemed that my pets always came to grief. Then I was very anxious to be thought smart. Would try to write and wanted a thorough education. I became almost an invalid. Could not attend school. Was hindered on account of the circumstances brought about by the Civil war. The man I loved and married brought to me bitter grief. The child I loved so well became afflicted and never seemed to want my love. The man I married, hoping to serve God, I found to be opposed to all I did, as a Christian. I used to wonder why this was. I saw others with their loving children and husbands and I would wish their condition was mine. I now see why God saw in me a great lover, and in order to have me use that love for Him, and others, He did not let me have those that would have narrowed my life down to my own selfish wishes. Oh! the grief He has sent me! Oh! the fiery trials! Oh! the shattered hopes! How I love Him for this! "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." There are pages in my life that have had much to do in bringing me in sympathy with the fallen tempted natures. These I cannot write, but let no erring, sinful man or woman think that Carry Nation would not understand this, for Carry Nation is a sinner saved by grace and I know He can save to the uttermost, all that come unto Him. "Heaven is made for redeemed sinners and hell for the proud and disobedient." When I see the proud glance, the boastful manner, the display of, "I am better than thou," I feel pity and commiseration for the poor dying creature and see "behind the face a grinning skull". I like the companionship of the servant in the kitchen more than the mistress in the parlor. I covet the humblest walk. I wish for the power, often, to make the rich take back seats, and give the front to the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. I will not have a piece of fine furniture. I have no carpets on my floors. I have two small rooms in Topeka in the building I desire to give to the W. C. T. U. for prohibition work. The little cupboard I use is made of a dry-goods box, with shelves in it, a curtain in front. My dishes, all told, kitchen and dining-room, are not worth five dollars. This is what the poor have, and better than some have. It is good enough. It is better than my blessed Lord had. I desire nothing better. I would feel like a reprobate to fill my room with expensive furniture, using money I could feed the hungry with, clothe the naked, doing things that would please my Lord. What a change! I used to delight in cut-glass, china, plush, velvet and lace. Now I can say vanity of vanity, all is vanity!" There may be almost selfishness in this eager desire I have to give away the means that are at my disposal. What I use or leave behind will never be placed to my credit in the bank of heaven. What we give away for the love of God and our neighbor is all we take with us. I will be so delighted with a home that I can call mine, forever. I like nice wearing apparel but I will not be deceived by spending my time and means for that which will hinder me from having them where moth and rust doth not corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal. So I wish to make to myself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness and not enemies, for the hoarded dollars are bitter foes that will be witnesses against these rich men at That Day. I am praying that God may send me means to carry out a plan to save Kansas from traitors. The state has made herself a name, that will endure forever, because she began a warfare against a government at a time when few were wise enough to see that this revolution meant defiance to the rum-soaked republican rule. Every moral reform is a protest against this government we live under. What does the W. C. T. U. mean? The mothers banding themselves together to prevent the Government from slaughtering them.
From the beginning of my Christian experience I have devoted myself to the poor. I prayed God to give me opportunity to be helpful to those who were destitute of the comforts of life. The people of Medicine Lodge were so good to aid me. I could go to the stores and ask for flour, sugar and different kinds of eatables and get them. There was one man I never asked in vain, when I wished aid for the poor, that was C. Q. Chandler, a man who was able to help. I have taken poor children to his house and he has given me orders at the dry-goods stores to clothe them, so they could attend school. He has given me money frequently to get fuel and clothes for those who needed them. One Christmas he wrote me a letter, asking me for the names of all the poor ones and asking me to name something they needed. I did, and all got something useful. Such men are worthy to be stewards of God's treasury.
For years I made it my duty, every fall, to go from house to house to gather clothes for the poor families, wash women and others who had not time to sew for their children. I never allowed a child to stay out of day or Sunday school, for want of clothes. I would sort out these clothes and distribute as needed. Persons would say, "I would be afraid I would make people angry." I said if every one feels that way I will say: "You are not the one I am sent to." I never hurt any ones feelings by offering them these things.
There was a family by the name of French who came into a neighborhood about three miles from town. I heard they were destitute. I filled my buggy and went there and sure enough they were sadly in need. I brought the things in just such as was needed. The family was large. The woman cried like her heart would break, just for gratitude; she could not thank me enough. It takes so little to make some people happy.
I read of a miserable miser once who was on the verge of suicide by the side of a river. A little girl came to him saying: "Please sir, my mother is sick and hungry. Please give me something so I can get her something to eat." The man said within himself: "I will do this for the child before I die." He went to a bakershop and got her a full basket. Then she looked so weak he carried it home to her mother. The poor woman on the pallet of straw, kissed his hands and blessed him. He thought of the money he might use to make people happy. He concluded he would use it before he died for he had enjoyed for the first time in his life the peace that comes from giving. After this his life was a blessing to himself and others. He had found the best use of life.
I once read of a beautiful story of one of the early fathers of the church. He gave away everything even to sufficient clothes to keep himself warm. A rich kind hearted woman made him a coat of fur very expensive. Next time she saw him he did not have it. "Where is that coat father," she asked. He replied: "I thought so much of it I laid it up in heaven. Where moth and rust doth not corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal." He had given it to the first shivering man he met.