For six months not a cloud intervened between me and my Saviour. Whenever there was a proper opportunity, I bore my testimony, and was greatly blessed. At times the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me with such power that my strength was taken from me. This was a trial to some who had come out from the formal churches, and remarks were often made that grieved me much. Many could not believe that one could be so overpowered by the Spirit of God as to lose all strength. My position was exceedingly painful. I began to reason with myself whether I was not justified in withholding my testimony in meeting, and thus restraining my feelings, when there was such an opposition in the hearts of some who were older in years and experience than myself.
I adopted this plan of silence for a time, trying to convince myself that to repress my testimony would not hinder me from faithfully living out my religion. I often felt strongly impressed that it was my duty to speak in meeting, but refrained from doing so, and was sensible of having thereby grieved the Spirit of God. I even remained away from meetings sometimes because they were to be attended by those whom my testimony annoyed. I shrank from offending my brethren, and in this allowed the fear of man to break up that uninterrupted communion with God which had blessed my heart for so many months.
We had appointed evening prayer meetings in different localities of the city to accommodate all who wished to attend
them. The family that had been most forward in opposing me attended one of these. Upon this occasion, while those assembled were engaged in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came upon the meeting, and one of the members of this family was prostrated as one dead. His relatives stood weeping around him, rubbing his hands and applying restoratives. At length he gained sufficient strength to praise God, and quieted their fears by shouting with triumph over the marked evidence he had received of the power of the Lord upon him. The young man was unable to return home that night.
This was believed by the family to be a manifestation of the Spirit of God, but did not convince them that it was the same divine power that had rested upon me at times, robbing me of my natural strength and filling my soul with the peace and love of Jesus. They were free to say that my sincerity and perfect honesty could not be doubted, but they considered me self-deceived in taking that for the power of the Lord which was only the result of my own overwrought feelings.
My mind was in great perplexity in consequence of this opposition, and as the time drew near for our regular meeting, I was in doubt whether or not it was best for me to attend it. For some days previous I had been in great distress on account of the feeling manifested toward me. Finally I decided to remain at home, and thus escape the criticism of my brethren. In trying to pray, I repeated these words again and again: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" The answer that came to my heart seemed to bid me trust in my heavenly Father and wait patiently to know His will. I yielded myself to the Lord with the simple trust of a little child, remembering He had promised that those who follow Him shall not walk in darkness.
A sense of duty impelled me to go to the meeting, and I went with the full assurance in my mind that all would be well. While we were bowed before the Lord, my heart was drawn out in prayer and filled with a peace that only Christ
can give. My soul rejoiced in the love of the Saviour, and physical strength left me. With childlike faith I could only say: "Heaven is my home, and Christ my Redeemer."
One of the family before mentioned as being opposed to the manifestations of the power of God upon me, on this occasion stated his belief that I was under an excitement which he thought it my duty to resist, but instead of doing so, he thought I encouraged it as a mark of God's favor. His doubts and opposition did not affect me at this time, for I seemed shut in with the Lord, and lifted above all outward influence; but he had scarcely stopped speaking when a strong man, a devoted and humble Christian, was struck down before his eyes by the power of God, and the room was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Upon recovering, I was very happy in bearing my testimony for Jesus and in telling of His love for me. I confessed my lack of faith in the promises of God and my error in checking the promptings of His Spirit from fear of men, and acknowledged that, notwithstanding my distrust, He had bestowed upon me unlooked-for evidence of His love and sustaining grace. The brother who had opposed me then rose, and with tears confessed that his feelings in regard to me had been all wrong. He humbly asked my forgiveness, and said: "Sister Ellen, I will never again lay a straw in your way. God has shown me the coldness and stubbornness of my heart, which He has broken by the evidence of His power. I have been very wrong."
Then, turning to the people, he said: "When Sister Ellen seemed so happy, I would think, Why do I not feel like that? Why doesn't Brother R. receive some such evidence? for I was convinced that he was a devoted Christian, yet no such power had fallen upon him. I offered a silent prayer, that, if this was the holy influence of God, Brother R. might experience it this evening.
"Almost as the desire went up from my heart, Brother R.
fell, prostrated by the power of God, crying: 'Let the Lord work!' My heart is convinced that I have been warring against the Holy Spirit, but I will grieve it no more by stubborn unbelief. Welcome, light! Welcome, Jesus! I have been backslidden and hardened, feeling offended if anyone praised God and manifested a fullness of joy in His love; but now my feelings are changed, my opposition is at an end, Jesus has opened my eyes, and I may yet shout His praises myself. I have said bitter and cutting things of Sister Ellen that I sorrow over now, and I pray for her forgiveness and that of all others who are present."
Brother R. then bore his testimony. His face was lighted with the glory of heaven as he praised the Lord for the wonders He had wrought that night. Said he: "This place is awfully solemn because of the presence of the Most High. Sister Ellen, in future you will have our help and sustaining sympathies, instead of the cruel opposition that has been shown you. We have been blind to the manifestations of God's Holy Spirit."
All the opposers were now brought to see their mistake and to confess that the work was indeed of the Lord. In a prayer meeting soon after, the brother who had confessed that he was wrong in his opposition, experienced the power of God in so great a degree that his countenance shone with a heavenly light, and he fell helpless to the floor. When his strength returned, he again acknowledged that he had been ignorantly warring against the Spirit of the Lord in cherishing the feeling he had against me. In another prayer meeting still another member of the same family was exercised in a similar manner and bore the same testimony. A few weeks after, while the large family of Brother P. were engaged in prayer at their own house, the Spirit of God swept through the room and prostrated the kneeling suppliants. My father came in soon after, and found them all, both parents and children, helpless under the power of the Lord.
Cold formality began to melt before the mighty influence of the Most High. All who had opposed me confessed that they had grieved the Holy Spirit by so doing, and they united in sympathy with me and in love for the Saviour. My heart was glad that divine mercy had smoothed the path for my feet to tread, and rewarded my faith and trust so bounteously. Unity and peace now dwelt among our people who were looking for the coming of the Lord.