For a year I thought and prayed and preached to almost empty seats..
But all that year I was dying and finally I lay down on a bed, folded my hands and gave the death yell.
From being a popular preacher of a sectarian church I was nobody. I didn't own a shingle on my roof; I had an old church on leased ground. The drunkards and harlots I had helped out of the ditch and for whom I had spent my last dollar forsook me.
I was in the garden of Gethsemane--poverty-stricken, forsaken, neglected, heart-broken. I thought all was gone. I prayed for death and expected it. My every hope had gone; there was not the twinkle of a single bright star in my sky. All was blackness and desolation--and that was where God wanted me.
For three days I ceased to pray. I was not angry with God, but I had nothing to say to Him. I had been in the heat of the battle, but I lay wounded and dying on the field, as it seemed to me.
I could not exactly understand my state; I seemed to be on the bosom of a great water and there was not a breath of air to fill my sails. I was waiting. I had come at last to the end of myself. Little did I think what was about to come to me.
Then Jesus stepped in:
On the morning of the 20th of September, 1901, as the clock struck four, I was suddenly awakened while lying in my bed.
And as I opened my eyes I beheld a sight on which I had never before looked.
I had long studied that text in the Bible twice spoken by John the Baptist--"He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire."Now on my ceiling I beheld a crown of gold and that crown was notched and ornamented by open work and it was wreathed in flames.
The flames broke out from the open work and around the edge with indescribable beauty.
I exclaimed aloud, "Oh, what does this mean!"
I had no sooner spoken these words than the vision of the crown and the fire vanished and into the deep recesses of my soul was poured the baptism of divine life and fire.
I have often tried to write of this matter and to tell it to friends and congregations, but I am unable to describe what I enjoyed--such peace, joy and holy love; such delight I never knew it was possible for a being on earth to enjoy.
The fact is I had paid God's price and He had witnessed to it. There were three manifestatiosn (sic) of the presence of the Holy Ghost.
The first was a wonderful peace.
The second was the burning fire, which I felt especially in my feet and lower limbs, accompanied by a desire to dance and shout. I seemed to be in the grip of a supernatural power that must be obeyed and my heart was ready.
There was a third manifestation, to me remarkable; there seemed to spring from my heart a stream of water arising in a perpendicular direction, then the central stream divided. And these streams of pure, beautiful water kept up a constant flow.
The Holy Ghost says in the Scripture, "I will be in you a well of water, springing up into everlasting life." This is literally true.
There was a fourth manifestation in my heart and that was there was the song of birds so sweet that they must have been born in Paradise.
I controlled myself under these divine manifestations the best I could until 6 o'clock.
* * *
When this baptism was being poured upon me it appeared to me that the Lord Jesus came and stood at my right hand and a little back of me, so I did not see His face. But His form and His dress were plainly to be seen. It appeared to me that I could almost touch Him. He made me understand many things.
He recited to me a hymn which I had often sung when I was a Methodist preacher:
"On the mountain top appearing,
Lo, the sacred Herald stands,
Welcome news to Zion bringing,
Zion long in hostile lands"
This hymn was descriptive of my previous condition, strikingly so, but the recitation of this hymn or the calling of my attention to its words was very sweet and comforting to my soul.
The Lord made me understand about my trials and sufferings, but He made me a divine promise that from that time on I should be blessed.
I cannot tell just how the instruction was conveyed to me, but I was made to understand that my hardest struggles were over, that I should have peace and blessing and temporal prosperity, that I should live to a good age and that at my death I should be saved in heaven and respected if not honored on earth.
This a beautiful story of a powerfully loving Savior for a despondently broken man.