Cry Out, and Shout, Thou Inhabitant of Zion
Before proceeding to the chamber where the good man met the last enemy, and conquered through grace, we will consider one phase of the meetings in which Mr. Smith engaged, that often aroused the antagonism of the formal and churchy, and at the same time drew the curious to increase the numbers that awaited upon his ministry. Demonstrations attended the preaching of the Word. Mr. Smith himself, when aroused by the indifference of the throng, the peril of the unsaved, the pleadings of the penitent, and the presence of the Spirit, preached in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power. Seekers converted, were loud in their praises, and, to the world, extravagant in their actions, while saints made the welkin ring, joining with the angels in Heaven, in joy over one sinner that repenteth. Methodism in its palmy days often witnessed scenes where saints made merry over prodigals returning, and obeyed the injunction, “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” Live men in the pulpit, filled with the Spirit, carrying a God-given message, loving the purchased of a Savior’s blood, and preaching in the Spirit, generally stir the hearts of their hearers. Livingstone in Scotland, Edwards and Whitefield in America, Wesley and Nelson in England, and the early itinerants of Methodism expected to see, and often witnessed, the workings of God among the people to whom they preached. That prince of pulpit orators, Rev. Charles Pitman, in old Green Street Church, in Trenton, N. J., and in old St. George’s, in Philadelphia, again and again would hear the congregations to whom he preached, shout until the echoes rang with the King’s praises, and many of his converts went out to bless the world and shout on the battle in New Jersey camp-meetings and churches and tell over and over again the triumphant scenes they witnessed in days gone by.
That genial man of God, Chaplain C. C. McCabe, who sang and shouted the praises of God in Methodist pulpits, conferences, and camp-meetings, wrote once in reference to the shouting kind of folks as follows:
“You do not believe in shouting? I am sorry. It annoys you, does it? Have you ever stopped to ask why it annoys you? To tell the truth, have you not been so egotistical as to conclude that of course you are just in the right spiritual condition yourself to make you a competent judge of the propriety of shouting the praise of God?
“The sweetest note that ever fell from an angel’s harp would be only another discord in the jangle of some tunes. Now, may it not be that your whole heart is so out of tune with any sort of worship but what is formal, cold, lifeless and dreadfully proper, that you would not know the bells of Heaven if you should hear them ringing? Last Sabbath, while your pastor was preaching from the text, ‘He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich,’ that poor washer-woman up in the ‘Amen Corner,’ with a little fatherless boy on either side of her, was wonderfully happy.
“First, there was a light, a strange, unearthly light, gleaming upon her tear-stained cheeks; and then, when the preacher described the wealth there is in Jesus, that poor woman, though by nature as modest as you are, shrinking ever from the public gaze, yet when her cup of blessing ran over, she raised her withered hands, and clapped them in holy rapture, shouting ‘Glory! glory! GLORY TO GOD!’ until the church rang again, and the preacher stopped preaching, and covered his face with his hands, and wept for joy.
“Did you observe how awe-stricken her children seemed while they gazed upon her? Ah! well they knew the story of those wrinkled hands that kept toiling on that they might have bread! Those beautiful hands! Well they knew how their humble home was illuminated and made glorious by her saintly life; but they do not know just yet how tightly her grave will hold them to truth and virtue when she is dead. They do not know just yet how unspeakably sacred will be to them the old Bible from which she reads, the old chair in which she sits. They do not know as yet how the echo of her voice will sound in temptation’s darkest hours. Yet her shouting troubled you. You said something to your neighbor in the next pew about ‘feeble-minded and uncultivated people.’ Ah! my friend, you never saw the inside of Heaven from the depths of poverty and the midnight of sorrow.
“Yesterday I visited Mother Stoner. She resides in Lewiston, Pennsylvania. Mother Stoner is eighty-five years old and lies upon a bed of ceaseless pain. Heart and flesh are failing fast. Many years ago she was called ‘the shouting Methodist.’ Even the little boys used to follow her in the streets and cry ‘Glory!’ after her as she passed along. She has been shouting ever since.
“Yesterday we were singing, ‘Let me go, ’tis Jesus calls me,’ and the old familiar ‘Glory!’ came from her aged lips, and her dim eyes lighted up with joy, and she waved her hands in token of victory. Brother Sears, her pastor, shouted with her. Who is Mother Stoner?
“Many years ago she was exalted to the high position of Sabbath School teacher. One day she saw a little white-haired boy lingering about the door of the church. She went out, laid her hands upon his head and invited him into her class. Some time afterward she led him to the mourner’s bench. He became converted to God, and Mother Stoner shouted over him.
“That boy became an able preacher of the Gospel. He has been a missionary, he has been editor of the Ladies’ Repository, he is now Bishop Wiley, and will some day be a redeemed saint before the throne of God.
“In another room of the same house with Mother Stoner lies a beloved daughter, who for ten years has not been able to leave her bed. Is she happy? In many a day’s journey you will not look upon so restful a face as hers. ‘His will, not mine, be done,’ she said. She is educated, fitted for society, young enough to enjoy the world with keenest delight; but there she lies, exulting in the Lord, shouting for joy the Savior’s name.
“I want to tell you a story. Years ago, at the Round Lake Camp-meeting, a company of these ‘full cup’ Christians were talking upon this subject. One lady, whose face looked like the Sea of Galilee after it heard the ‘Peace, be still’ of Jesus, arose and said, ‘Friends, I have had to bear this cross of shouting all my Christian life. When I was converted, God saved me wonderfully. I could not restrain my shouts of praise. My father was a presiding elder. He used to take me with him on his district. I would shout under my own father’s preaching.
‘Several times he reproved me sharply. He said to me one day, as we were riding home together, “Not so fast, Susan; not so fast;” and intimated that my conduct was not pleasing to many Christians who had been long in the way. I tried to reform, but failed to do so.
“‘Years sped on and my father came down to die. When he saw his sickness was unto death, he began to examine carefully the foundations of his faith. A strange gloom hung over his mind. It was so different from what he had expected. He prayed much, but found no relief.
‘At last he said, “Please, let all retire from the room but Susan.” My mother, brothers and sisters went out, and I was left alone with my dying father. I prayed with him. The struggle was severe, but victory came. His soul was filled with joy unspeakable. “Call them in now,” he said; “but, Susan, stand by me when I am dying, and shout me through.” I had to do it, and the last thing I heard my father say was, “Go ahead, Susan, go ahead!”‘
“The lady sat down. There was a flash of light as though a window had been suddenly opened in Heaven.
“You do not believe in shouting? Do you believe in the Bible? Have you searched the Scriptures upon this subject? There was shouting when the world was created. There was shouting when Christ was born in Bethlehem. There has been shouting all along the line of march from Pentecost till now. There has been shouting at millions of death-beds. There has been shouting on the rack, shouting in the prison, and shouting at the stake; and there will be shouting when the world is on fire and the elements are melting with fervent heat. There will be shouting when the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, and with the voice of an archangel and with the trump of God.
“And when the graves give up their dead and the followers of Jesus who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air; when the ransomed of the Lord return to Zion; when the gates shall lift their heads for the King of glory and all the hosts of the redeemed — there will be shouting then.”
The old-fashioned saints knew how to pray as well as shout; in fact, the praying habit always precedes the desire to praise. They prayed about all things — let their request be known to God in supplication. The Boston Globe vouches for the truth of the following:
“No,” said the lawyer, “I shan’t press the claim against that man; you can get some one else to take the case, or you can withdraw it, just as you please.”
“Think there isn’t any money in it?”
“There would probably be some little money in it; but it would come from the sale of the little house that the man occupies and calls his ‘home.’ But I don’t want to meddle with the matter, anyhow.”
“Got frightened out of it, eh?”
“Not at all.”
“I suppose likely the old fellow begged hard to be let off?”
“Well, yes, he did.”
“And you caved in likely?”
“What in creation did you do?”
“I believe I shed a few tears.”
“And the old fellow begged you hard, you say?”
“No, I didn’t say so; he didn’t speak a word to me.”
“Well, may I respectfully inquire whom he did address in your hearing?”
“Ah, he took to praying, did he?”
“Not for my benefit in the least. You see, I found the little house easily enough, and knocked on the outer door, which stood ajar, but nobody heard me, so I stepped into the little hall, and saw through the crack of the door a cozy sitting room, and there on the bed, with her silver head high on the pillows, was an old lady who looked for all the world as my mother did the last time I ever saw her on earth. Well, I was on the point of knocking, when she said, ‘Come, father, now begin; I’m all ready.’ And down on his knees by her side went an old, white-haired man, still older than his wife, I should judge; and I couldn’t have knocked then for the life of me. Well, he began. First, he reminded God that they were still His submissive children, mother and he, and no matter what He saw fit to bring upon them, they shouldn’t rebel at His will. Of course, ’twas going to be very hard for them to go homeless in their old age, especially with poor mother so sick and helpless, and, Oh, how different it all might have been, if only one of the boys might have been spared! Then his voice kind of broke, and a thin, white hand stole from under the cover-lid, and moved softly over his snowy hair. Then he went on to repeat that nothing could be so sharp again as the parting with those three sons — unless mother and he should be separated! But at last he fell to comforting himself with the fact that the dear Lord knew that it was through no fault of his own that mother and he were threatened with the loss of their dear little home, which meant beggary and the almshouse — a place they prayed to be delivered from entering, if it could be consistent with God’s will. And then he counted a multitude of promises concerning the safety if those who put their trust in the Lord. In fact, it was the most thrilling plea to which I ever listened. And at last he prayed for God’s blessing on those who were about to demand justice.”
The lawyer then continued, more slowly than ever: “And — I — believe I’d rather go to the poor-house myself tonight than stain my heart and hands with the blood of such a prosecution as that.”
“Just afraid to defeat the old man’s prayer, eh?”
“Bless your soul, man, you couldn’t defeat it!” said the lawyer. “I tell you he left it all subject to the will of God; but he claimed that we were to make known our desires unto God, but of all the pleadings I ever heard, that beat all. You see, I was taught that kind of a thing in my childhood. And why was I sent to hear that prayer? I’m sure I don’t know — but I hand the case over.”
“I wish,” said the client, twisting uneasily, “you hadn’t told me about the old fellow’s prayer.”
“Well, because I want the money the place would bring; I was taught the Bible straight enough when I was a youngster, and I’d hate to run counter to what you tell about. I wish you hadn’t heard a word about it, and another time I wouldn’t listen to petitions not intended for my ears.”
The lawyer smiled.
“My dear fellow,” he said, “you’re wrong again. It was intended for my ears and yours, too; and God Almighty intended it. My old mother used to sing about ‘God moves in a mysterious way,’ I remember.”
“Well, my mother used to sing it, too,” said the claimant, as he twisted the claim papers in his fingers. “You can call in the morning, if you like, and tell ‘mother and him’ the claim has been met.”
“In a mysterious way,” added the lawyer smiling.