Daniel Whittle recounts how in “Memorials of Methodism in Virginia,” Dr. W.W. Bennet relates the following incidents in the life of John Easter, one of the pioneer ministers who labored there nearly one hundred years ago: He is represented as being the most powerful exhortatory preacher of his day. His faith was transcendent, his appeals irresistible, his prayers like talking with God face to face. Perhaps no man has ever been more signally honored of God as an instrument in the conversion of souls. On one of his circuits eighteen hundred members were added to the church in a single year.
Many thrilling scenes under his preaching yet linger among the people in those counties where he principally labored. A most extraordinary display of his faith was witnessed in Brunswick. At Merritt’s meeting- house a quarterly meeting was in progress, and so vast was the concourse of people from many miles around, that the services were conducted in a beautiful grove near the church. In the midst of the exercises, a heavy cloud arose, and swept rapidly towards the place of worship. From the skirts of the grove the rain could be seen coming on across the fields. The people were in consternation; no house could hold one-third of the multitude, and they were about to scatter in all directions. Easter rose in the midst of the confusion–“Brethren,” cried he at the top of his voice, “be still while I call upon God to stay the clouds, till His word can be preached to perishing sinners.” Arrested by his voice and manner, they stood between hope and fear. He kneeled down and offered a fervent prayer that God would then stay the rain, that the preaching of His word might go on, and afterwards send refreshing showers. While he was praying, the angry cloud, as it swiftly rolled up to them, was seen to part asunder in the midst, pass on either side of them, and close again beyond, leaving a space several hundred yards in circumference perfectly dry. The next morning a copious rain fell again, and the fields that had been left dry were well watered.”
Daniel Whittle shares the following incident, marvelous, as at the time of its occurrence neither party had ever been known to each other:
In New Haven, Conn., lives a little invalid widow, almost helpless, with no one upon whom to rely for support, and only indebted to friendly acquaintances for a temporary home. With no money, no acquaintances, she had nowhere else to turn to but to the Father of all good. She had prayed often, and often had answers, but this time, though needing money, still she received none. The answer was long delayed; she was almost discouraged. “Was God at last to fail and forget her? No, it could not be. Let God be true even if I perish, I shall still cling to Him. I can not give Him up.”
Just at that time a business man in New York, who had been absent on a long journey for the Summer and had just returned, happened to pick up a note among many hundred lying on his desk, and noticed that the writer asked for some trifling favor, saying she was poor, had no means.
Her circumstances were unknown: he knew nothing but her name. He was eager to minister to the little ones of the Lord, and felt deeply impressed in prayer that morning, in asking a blessing on his day’s labors, that he might be able to help the need of some of “his children” who might then be in want. In his business hours the thought came over him with the depth of emotion, “WHAT CAN I DO? LORD, THY SERVANT IS READY.” Just at that moment he picked up this note of the little invalid, who asked the trivial favor, saying it would be such a comfort. (No money whatever was asked for in this note.)
Suddenly the thought came to him, “Perhaps this is my very opportunity. This may be the Lord’s little one in need.” But there was nothing in the letter to indicate she was a Christian. She solicited no money or pecuniary help.
Immediately there came to his mind, amid floods of tears, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it unto me.” Instantly he understood it as a message from the Lord, and the intimation of the Holy Spirit. He immediately sat down and wrote a check for $25, and enclosed it to her, saying, “I know not your need; you have not asked me for help, but I send you something which may be useful. I trust you are a Christian. I shall be happy to learn if it has done good, and made you happy. Give me no thanks. The Lord’s blessing is enough for me.”
The letter was sent and forgotten, but a strange presentiment came over the mind of the writer. “I am afraid I did not direct that letter right.” He sent a second postal card, asking if a letter had been received at her home; if not, to go to her post office and inquire.
Now notice the wonderful singularity of incident. Here is a man sending money, never asked for, to an unknown person, about whom he knew nothing; then misdirecting his letter, and then remembering and sending another message to go and find where the first had gone to. But notice the marvelous result. The little invalid received the postal card, but not the letter. She sent to the post office, and sure enough there was the first letter with its misdirection. She was just in time to save it from being sent to another woman of the same name living in another part of the same city.
She opened her letter, and with tears of thankfulness perused this wonderful reply, a marvelous witness to the power of an overruling Spirit, who had directed everything.
“My heart is full, that God should so answer my simple prayer. I first asked him for $10, then $15, and then for $25. I asked him for $25 several times, and was astonished at my boldness, but the amount was so fixed in my mind, I could not ask for anything else, and then I humbly trusted it to Him, and from that time I thought, I will not name any sum; let it be as He knows my need. And how He has honored my simple faith and trust in these dark days. Your letter contained exactly the $25 I prayed for. I have not had $1.50 to spend this Summer. I have suffered for everything. But through it all I have felt such perfect faith in the Lord, that his hand was leading me, even when I could not see a step before me; and that He should move your heart to help me seems so wonderful, so good. I am so glad I can thank you now, but ah, so much “over there” where words will express so much more in the beautiful atmosphere of heaven. Your letter and kind gift was mailed the very same day that I was praying in great distress and trial. I knew not but that I should be without even a home. My verse was Psalms 50: 15. O, how I had to pray that day. So day by day I was comforted, and now to-day the answer has come.”
Here, then, is a portion of the story of a sweet life who trusted God, not as a God of the past, nor far off, but ever living, ever present, ever faithful, and believed Him able, willing, and that He would help her in her daily life. She tried her Lord, to prove if his promises were indeed true, and she clung to them to the very last. No one knew her need. No one knew what she was praying for. The stranger did not know anything of her. She had asked money of no one but the Lord. Hesitant ever, she dared not name any amount of the Lord, but that ever present Spirit of God guided her heart, made her fix the amount, and then touched the heart of the stranger and fixed the amount also in his mind, and then, by his own guidance saved the letter from being lost, and behold! when opened the prayer of the one and the gift of the other was the same.
What a comfort, what a privilege, then, it is for the true-hearted Christian thus to feel, “There is one who careth for us.”
Daniel Whittle tells us of God’s help even in the courtroom!
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
“In one of our northern cities, a trial at law took place between a Christian and an infidel. The latter had sued the former for a heavy sum, falsely alleging his promise to pay it for some stocks which he claimed to have sold him. The Christian admitted AN OFFER of the stock, but protested that so far from promising the sum demanded, he had steadily refused to make any trade whatever with the plaintiff. Each of the parties to the suit had a friend who fully corroborated their assertions. Thus the case went before the jury for decision.
“The charge of the judge was stern and significant. ‘It was a grave and most painful task which devolved upon him to instruct the jurors that one of the parties before them must be guilty of deliberate and willful perjury. Their statements were wholly irreconcilable with each other; nay more, were diametrically opposite; and that either were innocently mistaken in their assertions was impossible.
“‘Your verdict, gentlemen,’ he said in conclusion, ‘must decide upon which side this awful and heaven-daring iniquity belongs. The God of truth help you to find the truth, that the innocent suffer not.’
“It was late in the day when the judge’s charge was given, and the finding of the jury was to be rendered in the morning. The plaintiff went carelessly from the court arm in arm with the wicked associate whom he had bribed to swear falsely on his behalf. The defendant and his friend walked away together in painful silence. When the Christian reached his home, he told his family of the judge’s solemn charge and of the grave responsibility which rested upon the jurors. ‘They are to decide which of us has perjured ourselves on this trial,’ he said; ‘and how terrible a thing for me if they should be mistaken in their judgment. There is so little of any thing tangible for their decision to rest upon, that it seems to me as if a breath might blow it either way. They cannot see our hearts, and I feel as if, only God could enable them to discern the truth. Let us spend the evening in prayer that he may give them a clear vision.'”
The twelve jurymen ate their supper in perplexed silence, and were shut in their room for deliberation and consultation. “I never sat in such a case before,” said the foreman. “The plaintiff and defendant have sworn point-blank against each other; and how we are to tell which speaks the truth, I can not see. I should not like to make a mistake in the matter; it would be a sad affair to convict an innocent man of perjury.” Again there was silence among them, as if each were weighing the case in his own mind. “For myself I feel as if the truth must be with the defendant; I am constrained to think that he is an honest man. What say you, gentlemen?” Every hand was raised in affirmation of this opinion. They were fully persuaded of its truth, and gave a unanimous verdict accordingly.
Thus the Christian man was rightfully acquitted, and gave thanks to God, with a new and stronger confidence in the power of prayer. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” saith the Lord.
Daniel Whittle records another account of the Lord’s provision:
A poor but pious widow in Boston, in her eighty-seventh year, said to a friend, “When I was left a widow with three little children, I was brought into such extremity that they were crying for bread, and I had nothing for them to eat. As I arose on a Sabbath morning, I knew not what to do but to ask my heavenly Father to feed my little ones, and commit myself and them to his care.
“I then went out to the well to get a pail of water, and saw on the ground a six cent piece, which I took up; and learning that it did not belong to any of those who lived in the same house with me, I thought I might take it to feed my famishing children. Though it was a Sabbath morning, I felt that it would be right to go to a baker who lived in the neighborhood, tell him our circumstances, and buy bread with the money Providence had thus cast in my way. The baker not only did this, but the Lord opened his heart to add a bountiful supply; and from that hour to the present, which is nearly fifty years, I have never doubted that God would take care of his children.”
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Daniel Whittle shares a remarkable incident, showing how God makes the winds to obey him in obedience to the prayer of his righteous ones, and the expectations of their faith, that occurred also in Samuel Hick’s life, which is really an astonishing proof of God’s supernatural power.
A church gathering was to take place at Micklefleld, and Samuel had promised two loads of corn for their use. The day fixed drew near, but there was no flour in the house, and the wind-mills, in consequence of a long calm, stretched out their arms in vain to catch the rising breezes. In the midst of this death-like quiet, Samuel carried his corn to the mill nearest his own residence, and requested the miller to unfurl his sails. The miller objected, stating that there was “no wind.” Samuel, on the other hand, continued to urge his request, saying, “I will go and pray while you spread the cloth.” More with a view of gratifying the applicant than of any faith he had, the man stretched his canvas. No sooner had he done this than, to his utter astonishment, a fine breeze sprung up, the fans whirled around, the corn was converted into meal, and Samuel returned with his burden rejoicing,and had everything in readiness for the festival.
In the mean time, a neighbor who had seen the fan in vigorous motion, took also some corn to be ground; but the wind had dropped, and the miller remarked to him, “You must send for Sammy Hick to pray for the wind to blow again.”
But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
Daniel Whittle shares another account from D.L. Moody:
At one of the prayer-meetings at the Brooklyn tabernacle, Mr. Moody closed by narrating an instance of persevering prayer by a Christian wife for an infidel husband. She resolved to pray for him at noon for eighteen months, and at the expiration of that time, her knocking not having been responded to, she exclaimed, “Lord, I will pray for him, every day, and at all hours, as long as life lasts.”
That day the Lord heard her knock, and gave her the desire of her heart, in the conversion of her husband. When the Lord saw her faith would not give up, he sent the answer immediately.
I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
Daniel Whittle notes that Mr. Moody’s domestic life had always been a happy one, but in the early days of his marriage, he was very poor, and his faith was often put to the severest tests.
One day, on leaving home in his missionary work and labors of love, he remarked to his wife, “I have no money, and the house is without supplies. It looks dark; is it possible that the Lord has had enough of me in this mission work, and is going to send me back again to sell boots and shoes.” But he prayed. In a day or two, a Stranger sent him two checks of $50 each–one for himself, and one for his school.
On another occasion his wife informed him that they had no flour for the day’s use, and asked him to order some on his way. Having no money in his possession, he was perplexed how to proceed to raise the required amount; but meeting a person in whose spiritual welfare he was concerned, he forgot all about such sublunary considerations as money and flour, and went heart and soul into the Lord’s work before him.
On his return home at night, he felt somewhat nervous about his reception on account of his not having sent the flour, but to his joyful surprise, he found that on his arrival the table was spread with a bountiful repast.
It seems that a friend of his was powerfully impressed that morning, and without seeing the family or knowing anything about their need, had packed up a barrel of flour and sent it.
Others of his friends, who were interested in his work, and felt confidence in his work, unknown to him, selected a new house, and furnished it throughout with every facility for convenience and comfort, and when all was completed invited him and his family to it, and made him a present of the loan of his house, and all its contents.
Thus the Great Helper remembered him and answered his daily prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Daniel Whittle records that the New York Observer related a remarkable instance of the return of stolen property, which in its extraordinary way can be accounted for only by the control of a Supreme Will, and all in answer to prayer.
“On February 16, 1877, United States and railroad bonds and mortgages to the amount of $160,000, belonging to Edgar H. Richards, were stolen from the banking house of James G. King’s Sons, of this city. No clue whatever to the robbers could be obtained. Several parties were arrested on suspicion, but nothing could be proved, and the mystery remained unsolved.
“Mr. Richards, being a member of one of our most prominent churches, made it a subject of constant prayer, that the Lord would wholly prevent the thieves from any use of the property and cause it to be returned to him. When asked if he was ever incredulous, he said, ‘No, I have never lost my faith in recovering this property. I believe in prayer, and I have made it from the first a subject of prayer, and it will be answered.’
“Meanwhile some curious influences must have been at work among the thieves, for they acted in an extraordinary manner as follows:
“One day last week a stranger, well dressed, modest looking, gentlemanly, walked into the office of Elliott F. Shepard, Esq., one of Messrs. King’s counsel, and tendered his services for the recovery of the property, asserting he knew nothing about the robbery, nor the thieves, but that he could get the treasure. He was told that a reward would be paid for the capture of the thieves, but he earnestly protested that it was entirely out of his power to obtain any clue to the person or whereabouts of the thief; and no inquiries ever disclosed that this was not a perfectly true statement. Indeed, it proved that he had been selected as an agent to do this work, and that there were at least five or six connecting intermediaries between him and the robbers, each exercising that virtue which is called honor among thieves, and which on this occasion proved a wall of adamant to every attempt to pierce it or break it down.
“True to his word the stranger caused the delivery at Mr. Shepard’s office, at the appointed hour to a second, of an ordinary pasteboard bandbox, wrapped in newspaper, by the hands of a little boy. He had come in a pelting rain-storm, and part of the newspaper had become torn, and disclosed the blue, unsuspected hat box. The boy knew nothing about it, except that a gentleman had given him a dime in the street to bring the box.
“Mr. Richards being present, opened the bandbox, examined and checked off the contents with one of Messrs. King’s head clerks, and found every single item of his missing securities, stocks, bonds, mortgages, accounts, bank books, wills, everything. A most remarkable thing! The parties could hardly believe their eyes.”
At one time in the life of Luther, there was a critical moment in the affairs of the Reformation. Bitter persecution prevailed with extraordinary power, and threatened every one. They were the dark days when faith could only cling. There were but few friends to the reformers, and these were of little strength. Their enemies were every where strong, proud, arrogant.
But Luther relied on his God, and at this moment, with his favorite hymn in his heart, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” he went to the Lord in prayer, and prayed that omnipotence would come to the help of their weakness. Long he wrestled alone with God in his closet, till like Jacob he prevailed. Then he went into the room, where his family had assembled, with joyous heart and shining face, and raising both hands, and lifting his eyes heavenward, exclaimed, “We have overcome, we have overcome.”
This was astonishing, as there was not the slightest of news which had yet been heard to give them hope of relief. But immediately after that, the welcome tidings came that the Emperor, Charles V., had issued his Proclamation of “Religious Toleration in Germany.” In Luther’s prayer was fulfilled the remarkable promise of Proverbs:
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Scripture commands us to be under God’s control – and not of substances. Daniel Whittle shares from the Rev. W.H. Boole, a city missionary in New York City, who had been witness in his ministries, of many cases of complete deliverance from bad habits, and appetites, solely by believing prayer. Many are contained in a little tract written by him, “The Wonder of Grace.” He gives a few of these incidents:
“One is an officer in a church in New York, who had used tobacco for forty years, making during that time many efforts to abandon the practice, but always failing because of the resultant inward growing. But he was brought to an act of specific faith in Jesus, to save him from the appetite, and now, after several years, he testifies, ‘From that hour all desire left me, and I have ever since hated, what I once so fondly loved.'”
“Another is of a prominent church member in Brooklyn, N.Y., who had used tobacco for thirty years, and could not endure to be without a cigar in his mouth, and sometimes even rose and smoked in the night; after many failures to overcome the habit, one night when alone, he cast himself on his Savior for just this victory; and from that hour was delivered from the desire as well as from the outward act, and now wonders that he ever loved the filthy practice.”
“A certain old lady, who lived near Westbrook, Conn., aged seventy, was a confirmed opium eater, and used daily, an amount sufficient to kill twenty persons. She was led to see that the habit was a sin; and as such, she abandoned it, with specific application to Christ to save her from it. She was heard, and lived for two years afterward, free from any desire for that drug.”
“A similar case was that of a carpenter, in Brooklyn, N.Y., who, from taking morphine to allay the pain of a fractured leg, fell into its habitual use, till he almost lived upon it for several years after his recovery. He once swallowed, in the presence of several physicians, a dose which it was calculated would destroy the lives of two hundred ordinary men. Not long since, he was made to look at this as a sin, and tried to break off the habit, abstaining, with an alarming reaction, till five physicians declared that death would ensue, if he did not resume it. This he did for a year; but then on a certain Sunday evening, broke off again, casting himself by faith on Christ, from which moment the desire left him, and has never returned, and he has experienced no reaction or other ill effect, but has greatly improved in health.”