Obtaining More of God
“They shall run and not be weary.”
“I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.”
“In all things more than conquerors.”
“A well of water springing up unto everlasting life.”
“Thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory.”
When General Taylor came to the White House, he brought in his train his war-horse, known as “Old Whitey.” He had borne his master through all the perils of the Mexican war, and when the high honors of the nation were conferred on the General, the old war-steed was not forsaken. The horse was made to feel at home in the paddock on the east side of the White House. There the small chubby steed could be seen feeding in quietness, day after day. The horse was blind and lame, but his hearing was acute: he knew the voice of his master, and came daily at his call; but to all other voices he was deaf as an adder. Dull, and seemingly lifeless, he was indifferent to all surroundings. But the love of the military never died out in the old horse. Like the war-horse of the Bible, “Old Whitey” snuffed the battle afar. He could hear a fife and a drum blocks away. A band made him nearly wild. When the government troops moved from one part of the city to the other, it was the custom to pass the field and salute the old horse. All military visitors came up to the field and paid the horse a salute. A loud snort answered the bugle of flying-artillery. He knew every note, and put himself in position at every blast. He took the review in good earnest. Taking position, he accepted the salute; and when the grand rounds were marched, “Old Whitey” was in his glory; he would snort, elevate head and tail, dart round the enclosure, and seem wild with delight. Crowds filled the avenue to see the old war-horse recall the days of his stirring life. He who taught men by the ravens, the storks of the air, and the birds who have nests in the trees, could give a lesson of integrity and devotedness from the white horse at the capital.
Mr. Smith was never so much at home as when in the midst of the battle for souls. Like the war-horse, an opportunity to engage in the fray was to him a blast from the bugle, a call to action. The first Sunday evening on his new charge at Frome, in 1822, an interesting young female obtained mercy at the prayer-meeting. She was the youngest of three sisters, all of whom were members of the society; but neither of the others had entered into the enjoyment of the Divine favor. A short time afterwards, the second sister called one morning at Mr. Smith’s, and, according to his custom, he inquired whether she had received the blessing of pardon. Upon her replying in the negative, he proposed prayer, and they did not rise from their knees till she also was able to testify the power of the atoning blood; nor was it long before the eldest sister was likewise brought into the same happy state of experience. The parents of these young persons were members of the Society of Friends. Upon one occasion of Mr. Smith’s visiting them, he was invited upstairs to see the mother, who was very ill. He found her surrounded by her weeping family, and suffering under pain so severe that they apprehended her speedy death, unless it were mitigated. After making a few observations, he kneeled down and brought the case before the Lord. The answer was immediate. The pain entirely left her, and, with the return of bodily ease, came an extraordinary blessing upon her spirit.
An answer to prayer of an equally remarkable kind was granted to Mr. Smith during the time he was at Brighton. Calling one day at the house of Mr.____, he there found an infant lying on the lap of its distressed mother, and writhing in a severe convulsion-fit. It had frequently been affected in a similar way, even from the time of its birth. Mr. Smith took the child from the mother’s arms and sitting down, sang one of his favorite hymns. He then engaged in prayer on its behalf. Having risen from his knees he gave it back to its mother and retired. From that time the affliction ceased, the child became strong, and after the lapse of years the grateful mother said the child had never had a single fit. This was only one of many cases in which similar effects resulted from Mr. Smith’s prayers. Such a man, earnest in prayer and faithful in his ministry found fruit everywhere he went. Oh, that preachers of today would emulate the example of this master workman and make full proof of their ministry.
“At Frome,” he says, “the people very generally are getting into action. They look for present blessings in their meetings. Some of the leaders and local preachers are very active and successful. I have frequently seen eight or ten saved at a meeting; I think twenty more than thrice; and once at Frome, between thirty and forty. This blessed work melts me into grateful love to God.”
“March 22. — I have witnessed many signal displays of the power and grace of God since I last wrote. At Badcomb, in the Shepton-Mallet circuit, about twenty souls found peace with God in one night; and a person who does not relish a revival in what is called a noisy way, says he believes forty souls were awakened. At our love-feast upwards of twenty found peace. In several of the country places many have been saved. Glory be to God!”
“June 26. — A short time ago, we had a prayer-meeting after the missionary meeting at Shepton. Numbers were in deep distress, and many found peace with God. I was informed on Monday last that the work was still going on, and that fifty have been saved since the Missionary meeting. [Camp-meeting committees that bar out missionaries for fear of finances, or that it will hurt the meeting or the offerings, take notice. From such narrowness and meanness, good Lord deliver the holiness movement.] We are trying to keep those whom God has given us, and to get more converted. It is God’s work, it must prosper.”
“July 30. — The work of God has been going on ever since. On the 20th I preached there. There was much of the power of God on the people during the sermon. A special power came down in the last prayer. I called on a local preacher to pray. Some ran out with all speed, some were in great distress, some were taken into the vestry apparently senseless. I concluded, and commenced a prayer-meeting, and I think nearly thirty souls found peace with God.”
“Oct. 8. — The work of entire sanctification is going on in many parts of the circuit. We have a number of private bands and have begun to meet them on Saturday evenings. We anticipate much good from this. God is giving stability to the work already done. The backsliders are comparatively few. Some that sustained loss during the harvest, are stirring themselves to take hold of God again. There is a blessed spirit of union among the people. Our leaders at Frome are one, and they are prepared to hail a continued revival. I have been at Bristol since I wrote last. I preached at Easton on a Sabbath evening. During the last prayer, a woman cried aloud for mercy; others were in distress, and five or six found peace. We have had a friend of ours from London, spending a week with us lately. He was one of eleven who were cleansed at one meeting in London: ten of the eleven, he tells me, have been made leaders. He went with me to several places, and was astonished at the work. One evening six persons obtained purity of heart.”
In the course of the year Mr. Smith paid several visits to Bath; and in that city his labors were greatly blessed. On one occasion, at a prayer-meeting at Walcot chapel, several were in distress, and seven or eight obtained mercy. On the following evening, Mr. Smith preached at King Street chapel. Much Divine power was present, and upwards of twenty penitents received pardon. “The work,” says he, in one of his subsequent letters, “is going on still. At one meeting since, I have heard twenty found pardon.”
The Earl of Cork had some game preserves in the neighborhood of Frome; and it was remarked, by a person who knew the extensive results of Mr. Smith’s labors, that he was of more service to this nobleman than all his gamekeepers. But although the Divine blessing thus remarkably succeeded his efforts, his own spirit looked higher for satisfaction and happiness. No outward events could afford him greater delight than the salvation of men; yet on one occasion, after expressing his gratitude for the good work going on in the circuit and neighborhood, he added, “But God is my portion.” To employ his own phrase, his first object was to “obtain more of God;” his second, to “diffuse more of God.” God was the beginning and ending of his meditations, his affections, and his labors: having received, he diffused; and in diffusing he obtained. But he never transposed the order of these duties, or allowed ministerial efforts to call forth any other than an interest subservient to the cultivation of personal holiness.
In the latter part of the year 1823, his robust health yielded to severe and long continued exertion. For some time his friends feared that his lungs were affected, and his doctor advised a rest, which he was compelled to take. In February, 1824, he went into Yorkshire with the hope of being benefited by his native air. After spending some time with his parents, he paid a visit to his friend, Mr. Nelson, preacher in charge. At the band meeting he could not resist the impulse to labor, and thus risk the little strength he had been gaining. The following Sunday he persuaded Mr. Nelson to allow him to preach, by way of experiment, promising to be very cautious. For a little while his exertions were moderate; but at length, warmed by the subject, he forgot his agreement, and gave way so fully to his generous ardor, that it seemed as if he would have fallen in the pulpit. Of course, he was not again to be trusted. He returned to Cudworth; and, finding that he was there in danger of expending his strength as he gathered it, he judged it prudent to travel home. He soon after resumed his labor, and witnessed still greater displays of the grace of God than he had before seen. From the effects of this illness, however, he never fully recovered; and, though his exertions in public were still almost unexampled, yet the prostration of his strength immediately consequent upon them was, in nearly all instances, more severe and long-continued than at any previous period.
In the latter part of the year he was again afflicted. Under the date of October 18th, he thus writes to his father: “You would have heard from me sooner, had I not been unwell. I have had a touch of a fever, which has been making dreadful ravages in Frome and its neighborhood. I providentially attended to it in time, so that I have had but a slight attack. I think it likely that I took the fever through visiting some who were ill from it. I had for a few days much pain in my head. Thank God, it has been to me the best affliction with which I was ever visited. It has brought me much nearer to God. I was so touched with the Divine goodness, while in an agony of pain, that I was constrained to shout the high praises of God. We had a blessed baptism of the Spirit last night at family prayer. We have devoted ourselves afresh to God, and He accepts us.”
Nor was this a solitary instance of peculiar Divine blessing upon Mr. Smith’s family worship. In domestic life he was a happy and an interesting man; and the uniformity of his personal religion exerted a perpetual influence over his home. But it was especially when the members of his household accompanied him to the throne of mercy, that the piety of the husband, the father, the master, and the friend was presented in the most impressive and touching aspect. Many, who had the privilege of uniting in these solemn engagements, never forgot the emotions which were then excited. Mr. Smith’s pertinent observations on the portion of Scripture, (the reading of which formed a regular part of the service), the singular sweetness of the family music, succeeded by powerful and appropriate prayer, could not fail to affect a mind endowed with any measure of religious feeling After the family worship of the morning, which Mr. Smith usually prefaced by several hours of private devotion, he returned to the exercises of the closet, and sometimes on his knees, and often on his face, wrestled with God, till not infrequently a considerable part of the floor of his study was wet with tears. In his unreserved disclosure of his feelings to his friend, Mr. Clarkson, he once remarked that he was sometimes engaged in Prayer two or three hours before he enjoyed that unrestricted intercourse with Heaven which he always desired and which he generally succeeded in obtaining. “Often,” says another of his friends, “when I have gone to his home with those who were seeking salvation, I have interrupted his devotions in which he would be engaged seven or eight hours at a time.” He occasionally spent all night in prayer, like his Master, and in homes where he was being entertained they were often awakened by his groaning in the night when his desires became too great for utterance and his emotions could not be controlled.
His reproof’s of sin were at times overpowering A woman kept her shop open on Sunday. Mr. Smith warned her several times of the sin of this, but though she promised amendment, her heart was too fully wedded to worldly gain, to be persuaded to abandon the sin. One Sunday, as Mr. Smith was going to the chapel, he stopped at her house. Leaning over the half-opened door, he fixed his eyes intently on her as she served her customers, and, shaking his head, silently withdrew. Had a bolt from Heaven fallen at her feet, she could scarcely have been more affected. The shop was never again opened on the Sabbath; and in a short time she herself, having joined the society, became savingly converted. A sinner within the sphere of Mr. Smith’s influence was perpetually exposed to the holy compassion of his expostulations and prayers; and few who were resolved to cleave to their sins, ever had the hardihood to endure a second interview with him, if it were possible to be avoided.
At a prayer-meeting in the Frome circuit, where several were in distress, he once noticed an old man looking on with much surprise. “Well,” said Mr. Smith, “do you intend to leave off your sins, and be saved tonight?” “Why, no,” replied the other with great coolness: “I think I will wait till next time.” Had this been his real design; his policy would have been immediately to leave the place. He remained, however, and presently the hand of God came upon him. He cried aloud in anguish and horror, and in a short time the Lord gave him “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” He afterwards died in peace.
The following incident also, which belongs to the same class of facts, deserves insertion here: A young lady of Frome, who was very ill, expressed a strong desire to see Mr. Smith. Her state of weakness, however, was such, that it was with difficulty her friends were prevailed on to comply with her wishes. At length he was admitted to visit her, and he had the happiness of leading her into the enjoyment of the peace which passeth all understanding. For two or three days she retained the assurance of her acceptance, and her spirit then returned to God. Shortly afterwards, her sister, who was religiously disposed, remarked to a pious female, that she feared Mr. Smith’s visit had hastened the death of her deceased relative. The person to whom this observation was made replied, that, if this was her feeling, she would recommend her to go to Mr. Smith, and express it to him; at the same time offering to accompany her. They went, and found him at home. He immediately addressed her on the subject of personal salvation. “Your sister,” said he, “has gone to Heaven. Are you preparing to follow her?” She was much affected, and united with him in prayer at his request, and was blessedly saved.
In the beginning of 1825, Mr. Smith spent a fortnight in London. Here his labors were attended with extraordinary success; nearly one hundred and twenty obtained peace with God through his instrumentality.