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Written by R. Anna Phillips   



One day, I took my hymn book and opened at Christian Experience and began to read such hymns as “Tis a Point I Long to Know,” wherein the writer portrayed doubts, fears, gloom, about which I knew nothing or very little. I did not understand it (but how well now). And the thought came with terrible force that I was deceived, and that was the reason. I did not understand: for this was a “Christian Experience.” And for the first time I was filled with a serious doubt because I had not seriously doubted. I had been afraid I was deceived the few days after the deliverance, but at the same time had strong abiding hope I was not. But now all at once, doubt occupied all the premises of departed faith and left we wretched and bewildered. I resorted to my old refuge—the New Testament, but it too was suddenly sealed. Darkness enveloped me, and distress and confusion led me from one thing to another, seeking light and hope to no avail. For days I was in this bitterness if soul;--what should I do? How could I bear to live life thus? For I was a child in weaning, if I could not get this sweet food that I had been living on, I would not take any other. I would not be comforted. After a time I concluded that surely if I had not been born again I could not have tasted the preciousness of Jesus as a Savior; and that I had sinned to cause this withdrawal of light. The I remembered the days of old when literal sacrifices for sin was made; and how I did desire it to be my privilege to make this literal sacrifice! Would I not offer the first and best of all fruits?--would not I pour out all my goods into the offering for that sweet, inexpressible, hidden communion with Christ, crying “restore to me the joys of thy salvation?”

And this revealed the fact that I thought I was a factor in losing and in finding these joys. I thought I had sinned to lose them and must do good to restore them. Thus myself, under a pretense of duty, has always wanted to handle my trust in God, and to decree and establish things in connection with my faith. God save me from myself—so meddlesome—so officious—so industrious in plying her weapons of human reason! But for whom, perhaps, I should have many a bitter day—many a hard time of work to no avail, and in patience have processed my soul and waited for light in God’s own time and way.

One day while still wishing to make a sacrifice for sin, this passage of Scripture was spoken audibly within me “to do justice and judgment is more acceptable unto the Lord than sacrifices.” How startling was this voice heard within only! And the fact that it seemed to be the same voice, and after the same manner that had spoken other things to me! I did not know then that this was a scripture, as I then knew but little of the Old Testament. But it had its effect then, and led me to “the one offering for sin” that had sustained the justice and judgment of God’s law, and was more acceptable to him than all the offerings on Jewish altars. And this led me into the, as yet, unexplored treasures of grace in Jesus Christ, who not only saved from death but preserved unto life; who not only died for us as sinners, but makes intercession for us as saints; or who is not only our Redeemer having redeemed us from the curse of the law, but also our merciful Great High Priest entered into the most Holy place in the heaven to atone for the sins of his redeemed people. My peace was restored; how much sweeter having been lost? I was willing to pay the heavy fee for the lesson taught me. But with the knowledge came the double weight of gratitude, and a desire to suffer for him.

Awhile after this, when my mind had settled to a calm serenity in this restored peace, I experienced something that causes my pen to hesitate, and in my soul a tremor of fear and misgiving that would throw the pen aside, but for the force of another and stronger fear—something that will not appear strange, more unreasonable, unwarrantable and presumptuous to you who may read, than to me;--something that you will probably quickly and unreservedly condemn as a wild chimera of brain, or a scared-up myth or phantasm of a distorted imagination. But not with the long persistency I have. You will in pity hate to refer to it as too unreasonable and extraordinary to be real; but not with a twenty years determination as I have, and still would pass it over, but for the fear which I referred, and that has strengthened with the impression to give it in connection with this detail of experience; for it links inseparably with it, and was the hidden spring of action causing me to persist in my investigation of missionary institutions. Besides, in giving this detail I am, in passing comment, answering questions asked me as to my identity with, and withdrawal from the Missionaries. Then, while in this state of restored peace, I was one day bending over the table cutting out a garment with mind entirely engaged with the work when I was suddenly astounded by the sound as of a rushing, roaring wind that almost instantly enveloped me completely in its circling roar and rush; while from the first sound that filled me with terrible and chilling awe, my natural forces seemed to suspend and in some indefinable way my whole being seemed to concentrate to a centre within me; and there in the midst as that presence, as of the wind, hovered this instant over me, I heard the words “Write-write--write” spoken there within, and then passed away. When composed enough to think rationally, I seated myself and tried to find the cause--the source --of this wonderful phenomenon. I was in perfect health: no law of my being was disordered :--after a thorough search I found no cause in nature; and yet cause there must be for this wonderful effect. And therefore if not in nature, was it--could it--be in spirit? --could it be the power and voice of the Lord ?--Oh, my frightened, trembling soul!--I could not admit this; for in coming again to myself after hearing that sound and voice, it did seem I came to nearer nothing than I ever felt before: indeed I felt as a frail reed shaken and broken by the wind. Still dare not trifle. What perplexity and bewilderment! What a fearful dilemma? Suppose I should say it was of God, when it was not: would not I falsify and dishonor his name? Suppose I should Say it was not of God, but of the natural or evil spirit, when it Was of God: would not this be to sin against the Holy Ghost as ascribing the works of God to the evil spirit? So I could neither admit nor deny; and as the impression was made that the work demanded was in the far future, I would turn and forget it. But when the question of performance arose as admitting it of the Lord, then looking at my insufficiency and the probable consequences, I said, “impossible, for what am I, but a poor weakling of the flock that the great and holy God should speak to me.”

So this whole matter I tried to conclude was a freak of imagination. Yet, in my hidden secret soul, yet hardly admitting it to myself, I did believe the hand of the Lord was in it. It would be useless to attempt to describe my feelings in connection with this matter. In thinking of what these words required of me I was forcibly reminded of my late desire to do and suffer for Jesus, and if I knew what to do, my fervent protestations to perform. Oh, how vain, foolish and presumptuous I had been.

Thus troubled, perplexed, bewildered, with heart utterly wanting, arose to God for mercy and pity and light. My agitation subsided with time, but the fact related remained as such. It was no dream or vision, but an existing fact that would remain such, no matter what I thought or did. I still entertained a hope or half a hope of convincing myself it was some unaccountable phenomenon of natural law; yet was under the influence of the impression often amounting to a knowledge, that it was of the Lord more than I was aware, or at least would admit outside my secret heart, and from which I now began to search the Scriptures for corresponding precept or example, that is, of the Lord, requiring such a work of a woman. I thought to ask advice; but no, this was something I then felt I never could tell to mortal. “Would God require such a work of a woman?” now became my vexed problem. He only knows how I suffered and searched his word. I thought to wait and let it wear out!

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 October 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.