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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Led By A Way I Knew Not-Chapter 3
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Written by R. Anna Phillips   


But how long I have lingered here around Sinai and Mount Horeb, when in detail of my own travel I had not made the passage of the Red Sea. Oh, the fearful Red Sea! Huge impassable mountains on either side! the hosts of Pharaoh behind, and this fearful unknown sea before! What shall I do? What must I do to be saved? God be merciful to me a sinner! Stand still and see the salvation of God! I was forced to stand still! I was without strength or means to overcome. And for this reason I can have no fellowship for those who have not stood still, but could proceed in their own strength. So standing still as it were, I fell into a profound sleep. God laid me low in death, I hope and trust, that he might raise me up to life--newness of life. My natural and my self, so to speak, were apparently very similar, as I have just now thought for the first time; and this was more than 20 years since. My body and soul were laid down with every faculty exhausted. I had tried to keep both alive and awake, but when the law came I died. I was soul and body enfolded in the irresistible, silent, solemn symbol of death, to be raised, if raised at all, by a higher hand, and in a figure, from the dead. What power but of God could do this? I had not so much power as to raise my sleeping body, much less my mysterious soul from the dead. One lay in the grasp of profound sleep, which must be broken for me ere I could arise to natural consciousness: the other lay in stronger grasp of death, which must be broken for me ere I Could arise to spiritual life. The natural, beyond my control, was subject, not to my will, but God’s unerring laws in nature. The immortal, still more beyond my control, was subject, not to my will, but to God’s unerring laws in grace. How powerless both? How helpless I ? Who would speak to me of human will and agency? Let him as well command me to make a soul as to save it. The symbol of death stamped upon me outwardly and inwardly--on body and on soul. A little child was not more dependent and helpless than body and soul. How striking the similarity! It should teach me to give all glory to God in that I awoke and arose.

How strange the fact and coincident both at once thus; and somehow as one, and yet separate. And both awoke at once, and yet separate For in the very act of awaking from sleep, and before conscious of anything, a question sounded low but clear and distinct in my, mind asking “For what did Christ Jesus came into the world?” I did not or invite the this question: A few` seconds elapsed wherein all that awoke in me came at once to, as absorbed in this momentous question. Then came the sweet soothing voice within me again saying in answer, “Christ Jesus came in to the world to SAVE SINNERS”---to save SINNERS?  Why surely this embraced me!  A great light of revelation seemed suddenly to envelope me, and I think I saw the glory--the justice of God in the face of Jesus Christ. I comprehended what it was to be in the position of a lost sinner--I felt what it was to be one. I comprehended the mission of Jesus into the world:--it was to save SINNERS--helpless LOST sinners otherwise: and this embraced me so entirely, completely, effectually, that I was glad with a great gladness that I was found a sinner. And salvation for sinners was so clear, and so dear, and oh! to me, so timely, that I cannot tell how or what I felt: they know who have been just here without telling: others could not know though I told ever so well. I never did know what time of the morning is was: but know it was before daylight. The first thing I distinctly recall was, that I was kneeling at my sister’s bed in another part of the room from mine, with a soul brimming full of love and praise, repeating the first verse of the 103rd Psalm: my fervency of thanksgiving to God was so strong and I was so overpowered by the great gladness that seemed actually crowding me inwardly, that I could scarcely articulate, or even speak clear and aloud: so in broken whisperings I cried “Bless the Lord, O my soul! all that is within me, bless and’ praise His holy name,” &c. I have no knowledge of knowing these words before;” but know almost overcome with a strange new joy, that flowed out as relieving an excess of heart. Yes, my heart was full—running over with praise to God at the thought of Christ the Savior of a sinner--my Savior. How light, how free, how glad and joyous I felt! Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS! that was enough—that saved me! How peculiarly dear and precious was become the very name Christ Jesus! Then the better and better understanding the principles of salvation--with it’s joys pervading my heart –and believing that people were trying to obtain through their goodness what Jesus had already secured for sinners. I walked the floor, and from the excess of joy in experimental knowledge and realization in my own heart, poured out the words in song,

“Oh that the world might taste and see,
The riches of his grace!
The arms of love that compass me
Would sinners all embrace.”

Yes, the arms of love that compass me—me, so sinful a sinner would the chief of sinners embrace. There was no doubt about the salvation of a sinner. I opened the front door and walked out, regardless of my night dress, and looked abroad, and oh what a change!--what a glorious scene! The house was not yet astir, I was all alone--not a human did I see or hear. But I saw nature’s adoration—I heard thousand voices praising God. All nature apparently, so lately draped in mourning and’ bowed beneath the weight of some impending doom, was now relieved and seemed to meet and salute me with all-pervading joy, and to clap her hands in glad acclamations that old things were passed away, and all thing were new and in harmony with my glad soul in praising God—my God and her God. Like the rich morning incense from the Jewish altars of old, universal praise in one grand anthem--one grand flooding of sweet-savored clouds seemed ascending to God through Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. Nature did seem, as it were, to bring in all her stores and pour them upon the altar of my soul to mingle With mine in one grand ovation of praise of God, for the Savior of sinners. The very foliage, shaken by the morning breeze, seemed trembling in weight of praise:--the forest trees--the lowly grass--the firmament above--the humble flower beds far below--the birds skimming through space, all--all things joined me in praise to God. Just then the sun appeared above the eastern hills and crowned the scene of beauty and praise with effulgent homage: the sky was cloudless, and as he raised his golden disk he sent ten thousand beams abroad, which were as voices praising God in Christ. I was speechless at this sublime and crowning ovation, but my spirit winged free and moved in the universal adoration. I felt the presence of God, and God reconciled in Christ the Savior of sinners; by whom was grace and truth, and to whom was due praise and homage from all things and beings, as through whom came all temporal and spiritual blessings. Then how true to its source was the solemn ascending of praise from nature. How true to its source was my speechless praise of heart and soul, for him who for the garment of heaviness had given praise; and for ashes and mourning the oil of gladness; and for filthy rags the robes of righteousness. No wonder I was glad to be found a sinner, it clothed me with Christ,--no wonder I praised him for the riches of his grace; all else had failed me.

And is it any wonder that my pen lingers here around the glories of that beautiful morning in nature? It was the morning, of truth and grace and life to me--my spiritual birthday. I have never seen such another in all my life---in all my pilgrimage since, I have never seen its like. How often in after-years, when the trials and perplexities of life have pressed hard upon me, and when God covered his throne with black, impenetrable clouds, and that peculiar anguish of spirit that comes with a sense of banishment, causing one to cry out for the living God, has the remembrance of this day given me the soothing assurance of hope. For when thus troubled and searching my past evidences of acceptance with God, and when all else of this day fails me from the fact that this question and answer may have been a delusion of a fevered brain, this that I saw in nature was real. How often, when thus shrouded and disquieted, have I prayed to God, begging to see and feel once more ere I die, just such another day, crowned with its unseen power and presence of all-pervading praise and peace: for as Bethel was to Jacob, so seems this day ~o me- often as none other than the gate of heaven. But not so hath God heard me; yet, like Jacob, whenever I pass I worship at this altar. But never having tarried there in death with my defense-less head on a stone again---never there driven an outcast again, the vision of angels and the gate of heaven comes no more while the altar still stands: and how often I am pressed to travel so far back to find an altar at all, of all I have set up in my pilgrimage. But this is always there, even if covered with cold dead as these. And so sure as I find this, and God revives its fires, so sure I find all others built in the way from there. But alas! that fever! The fact that I went to bed physically sick with some fever; as I thought that night, and that this, more than probable had produced those evidences I had called spiritual, has ever been in my way, causing me to doubt and disclaim these evidences as genuine.

But to return from this digression:--all at once while standing there, I thought of my sister, who had been weeping and mourning, as I thought, for days, yes, years, at times. Lately, I had seen it daily, but was little interested; now I felt deeply for her, and would not wait for her to come, but would meet her at the early morning prayer meeting and tell her Jesus died for sinners. How soon and how easy to show her and cause’ her to believe and be saved. Filled with this idea, I turned into my room to get ready for an early start. As I poured out ‘the pure fresh water to bathe, I shall never forget how for the first time I regarded it as a temporal blessing, flowing to me through Christ. How blind and ungrateful I had been ! How my heart overflowed in gratitude as I regarded all temporal good in this new light. I felt like a new creature, entered into a new world and new fields of thought and where everything acknowledged, and sung, or whispered, praise to God, and was full of meaning of the grace in Jesus Christ for sinners. In combing my hair as I stood before a mirror, I saw my natural face reflected and as all beaming and radiant with pleasure: this instantly arrested my notice, as I had so long seen it reflected with sadness and sorrow. I was surprised and asked what could have produced such a wonderful change? This was the first time a question of change had entered my mind. I always wanted to know, and searched the reason or cause of things or effect. I had not thought of being “born again,” nor would have admitted faith, I suppose, I only knew, and to that extent, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners and was rejoicing in the knowledge that it embraced me. And with this had come love, joy, peace, and praise, of which I had not inquired: I had been, as it were, suddenly ushered upon the new-born glories of a new day, naturally and spiritually; and that as congenial with my new-born soul and spirit: in new songs of praise; and a great and pleasing sense of peace rested upon me, which I had not as yet thought to analyze or understand.

But now, as to the cause of this change in my countenance, or as giving a name to the effect of the general change I felt, I must analyze my true state and condition. What was it? I was startled lest my joy and peace departed at the investigation. Still it was due myself to know why this Change Where was my old self?--my sense of sin and condemnation? I forgot my sister and sat down to think, I surveyed the past and came on up to this, and to that and finally to the night before, when feeling lost and undone, I sunk to sleep crying in spirit, “God be merciful.’’ And yes, I was sick in body, too--I had forgotten that till this moment and then to where awaking Christ was presented the Savior of just such sinner. At this point my mind lost the investigation--forgot it, and reveled in the joys of salvation again, losing thought of all things else. Then again something would call my mind to the change; and I would begin the investigation, and again lose myself at the same point and be swallowed up in exultation. But at last reason said this will never effect must have a cause; you have lost your of bondage and gained a sense of freedom; and but upon what basis? Now, don’t your soul by persisting in holding to a deceptive delusion of a fevered brain--you may be deceived--it is better to know the truth though it slays your joys. So hunt up your old burden and look better to it.” And so I tried,--not that I wanted it, but did not want to be deceived: but not an atom could I find. Had my fevered imagination brought me a bright, pleasing delusion molded in beauty and fraught with joy and peace of heaven that would, as mist before the sun, dissolve before the light of truth? I knew not what to do, except that I would not tell my sister or any mortal anything about it till I had cleared it up to my satisfaction; I would wait and consider further.

So I dressed and went down peaceful and happy, despite these inward fears, For all this time of debate my inner being held her new-found peace, and strongly disputed the tempter’s suggestion; and from her depths constantly asserted “this is none other than the peace of God--the peace that Jesus gives.”

The first stroke of the “continual warfare” which begins immediately after deliverance is “you are deceived,’’ and is often more annoying and staggering to faith than the heavier blows in after years. But God proportions our trials to our strength. While age, skilful in the use of weapons from long’ exercise, stands firm before a host of giants, the young weakling, staggers at the accusation, “you are deceived.’’ Yet, so sure as this war does begin, so sure is the spirit of Christ there. This contest of itself is an evidence of being born again. Yet how often one fears he is not, because of it. He who has not known these conflicts and disputations has not known Christ. The carnal mind is at peace with the natural; while the mind of Christ opposes it everywhere: and this mind and spirit being that of the Christian, and coming in contact with the carnal, as two contrary antagonistic principles met will not agree, and ‘ war inevitably springs. Still when the crossing and clashing of swords comes faith is apt to stagger and hope to hide, even from the very noise and confusion incident. But poor little fearful one, instead of falling down faint or in despair, be brave and courageous, for Jesus’ strength is made perfect in weakness, and the very principle or spirit in you drawing the enemy and receiving and opposing these sword-thrusts is that of the Son of God who has all power. Hence the warfare indicates, yea, assures, the presence of Jesus within. Therefore, woe to those at peace!--to those sleeping in carnal beds!--war to those at ease in Zion! for it knows no woe and indicates a withdrawal of the spirit, leaving the enemy in entire possession. And you who murmur at daily fightings, would you have this dangerous ease, or sit down in this deceptive sleep, curtained, as it were, with the shadow of death?

But when just manifested a child of God, when just opening eyes upon the gospel world, this accusation is almost the only sign of the presence of the enemy; which if one could remove or never allow to enter, and know us a child .of God, there would be perfect peace. And this accords with our preconceived ideas of becoming a Christian, for we had thought within selves that we should know--should not doubt and should live a trusting, holy life. And this idea born of the flesh, we brought along into the kingdom with us; and we want to know--to see--to walk by sight, never once considering that this excludes faith. And the archenemy insidiously whispers, “it is for your good” as he appears, not as an enemy, but as a friend, seeking your good and saving you from fatal error.

But even this first dart of the energy is contradicted, if we could but understand, in that of old things passing away and all things becoming new; not only within, where peace hovers with her train of heavenly graces, also so new and wonderful; but also without, all things sublimely and unmistakably reveal a renewing; not in themselves, but eyes and hearts that were holden in nature are opened in grace or Christ, and in his light we see light; and hence all things receive this new reflection of light. Not to speak of that unspeakable joy full of glory pervading the heart and reaching away and grasping the eternal peace, of heaven as a like inheritance, the literal face of nature is new; not--as said--new or changed in itself, but as presented in newness of light, I believe all created things should, and that all inanimate does, stand forever praising God as I saw it that first morning of spiritual life; but Our eyes are holden Then it is because our hearts are changed that we see this newness, to us, in all things. Then seeing this, we are not deceived: for, if other than God had wrought this change, it would never be to see his praise and glory welling up from all things; it would never be to bring our hearts in harmony to love and adore him in all his works; for it is God’s will that all his works should praise him and not another. Besides, this was in spirit. That day, so new, so exceedingly beautiful in praise, so full of divine presence and peace to me, was as any other day to the rest of the household. The glorified World was in spirit,--and did that day contradict the enemy. Dear Christian reader, this outward view should be prized; for it is the “light of the glory of God shining in the face [or spirit.] of Jesus Christ,” and reflected there from your heart, if you see it. Some see nothing of this in their experience, but have other evidences; while some others have no particular evidence but this: that is, an inward calm and peace accompanied by a beauty and praise to God seen in the face of nature: or as beholding the world in the new light and aspect of praise to God.

When God shines in a heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that is, the glory of his grace imaged by the work and life of Jesus Christ, everything in harmony with God coming in contact will reflect that light and glory. The moon has no light of her own, but reflecting the light of the sun, she shines forth in splendor and glory, and thus displays the light of the knowledge of the glory of the sun in her face.

But some complain and doubt because they can turn to no particular time and place of deliverance. God does not require you should. Repentance toward God and faith in a Lord Jesus Christ, is all the gospel demands. But there is a diversity of operations to this end, yet all of the same spirit to the same life. Some feel more, some less sorrow for sin. Some acknowledge the justice of God in their condemnation: others do not think of it. Some refer to time and place, but more, to relief as coming gradually. For, like the wind in power and operation is that of the Spirit. Some like Paul are struck suddenly and hear: a voice or see a light from heaven; while others but tremble--as inched by a gentle breeze of wind--and “gladly receive the word.” The man born blind knew his eyes opened, but did not know Jesus had opened them; while the same Jesus to the same end told Paul, “I am Jesus. Also eleven lepers all applied to Jesus for cleansing: to one he spake and touched and said “be thou clean.” Here was lime and place and word and touch and assurance that he; was cleansed, and that by Jesus: while the others, apparently, scarcely noticed and sent away as it were from Jesus, were cleansed “as they went not here, by the log where they stopped to pray; not where they rested by the well, or read the word, or heard it explained--but as they went all along the way--gradually without any application of word or deed. Yet they were just as surely and thoroughly cleansed, and by Jesus, as was the one who saw his face, felt his touch and heard his voice.

The change had not come to me at all as I expected; so far from it that I did not once think of it as an “experience of grace.” But I was very ignorant. I did not understand the doctrine. I only knew, and had implicitly received the disconnected fact as fact as presented that Christ was the Savior of a sinner. Then, and for a time afterwards, had acknowledge of the doctrine of election and predestination been a test of church fellowship, I should have been rejected. But this was not a question at all this morning. My paramount question was not how? or why? but was I saved?

I went down stairs determined to guard and keep my secret; yet every time the thought of Jesus as presented to me that morning would flash across my mind I could scarcely suppress my joy and praise. When I was down and looked around upon the family and everything it did appear that every vestige of the late over-spreading gloom was gone. Father and mother looked, cheerful. I seemed to have entered a new world where every prospect was pleasing. I partook of breakfast with a new sense of thankfulness. Every good thing was coming to me through Christ Jesus the Savior of sinners. I shall never forget how I felt on seeing a little helpless negro infant carried in the arms of her older sister, in the yard; I was so powerfully and irresistibly drawn to it in tender care and sympathy as a figure of my late helpless condition. And that strong sympathy and love to such has continued with me. And I have realized ever since that the more spiritual I am, the more I am drawn to a little child even in nature.

My parents proposed to go with me to the “meeting’’ that day. I was still vigilantly guarding my secret when we arrived near the house and I heard them--of the meeting--singing praise to Jesus. The very mention of his name--”Jesus”--sent a thrill of love through my soul. How precious the very name! When near enough to hear the words portraying. Jesus the sinner’s friend, it was with the greatest effort that I partially suppressed emotions that struggled for vent and to join the praises to that name so precious, as also the first time after I had found this Savior to hear human voices sounding praise in song. My heart seemed almost bursting with this suppression, to hide which I turned and leaned in the corner of the carriage as though I heard not. For again I was startled with the fear of being deceived. When I entered the house--by which time my excitement was under control again--my first impulse was to go among the members and join their singing; then that it might attract attention and betray my secret, sent me to a back seat. During preaching when, Jesus in theory was presented as the Savior of sinners I felt it practically--realized it experimentally, and again struggled with emotions while sitting calmly and---I supposed--unchanged. For more than ever I felt determined not to deceive, especially these Christians-- for how I loved them this morning as praising, the Lord. What holy beauty in their worship! What, better employment could men or angels find! Let the earth, the heavens, and all the created things and hosts thereof praise the Lord!

When the preaching was over and the people were coming out, a lady member of that church came to me and throwing her arms around me exclaimed aloud, “God bless your sweet soul! and God has blessed you.” And most of the members met me glad and smiling as if cognizant of my secret. We went out to lunch, I took something and went to one side alone, for I was confused and worried as to how I had betrayed myself. While standing there the preacher who had manifested so much interest in me, came to me, spoke a few words and then went to mother and said I had a hope; mother said “yes.” This was a great shock. Would I deceive my mother? What had I said or done to give the general impression, rather assurance, that I had a hope? But oh, thought I, if I only knew that I was not deceived how gladly would I publish the good news. How would I tell my sister to simply believe in Jesus Christ, the, Savior, of, sinners, and be saved. But I did not know, and had ,always believed I would know if changed by grace.

That evening the same preacher went home with us and asked for a conversation., I regarded him as a minister of the gospel--a servant of Christ, and I loved and had confidence in him. He began to talk; as if my hope in Christ was an established fact. He so questioned me that at last with fear and trembling I concluded to speak the thing, I had heard and seen and ask his advice.  He said God had certainly abundantly blessed me and now imperatively required me to follow him in the ordinances and all good works. We had a long talk. After he left the things spoken of became serious. I took the Testament and began to read. It read so different that I looked to see if it truly was the Testament, I had opened at the eighth chapter of Romans. How surprising was the sentiment! how acceptably so! How my feelings did harmonize With the blessed words of the gospel and the Son of God: This whole chapter sounded as the loving voice of the reconciled Father confirming me “free from ‘the law of sin and death”--that Christ was “the end of the law” to me. How strange and surprising that as often as I had read this chapter, I had never, till now, seen and understood the glorious substance of the gospel promises in it! and my own heart so corroborating the sentiment, as “there is therefore now”--since Jesus is the end of the law--”no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” &c. The sentiment--the very words just as they stood seemed particularly adapted to me--my case--I would not have a word changed. And I drank in the gospel promises in Christ as my living fountain springing up to eternal life and glory, when, as yet I had no correct knowledge as to all the fullness of the gospel, nor of the Godhead dwelling in Christ bodily, as reconciling the world unto himself according to the everlasting covenant behooving Christ. To die, be buried, and rise again, as necessary to establish this fountain opened to sinners. Nor did I once think at that time that I had the right to say “the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God:” though this chapter had completely carried me out of myself, and banished all my doubts.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 October 2006 )
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