Notable Christians in History
From Adventures in Religion:
This is the first of a series of articles on the general subject of “Adventures in Religion.” I want to remind you for a few moments of some of the old mystics who were given glimpses into the unseen that it has not been the privilege of the ordinary man to understand.
The first and foremost was St. Francis of Assissi, whom the world has conceded to be one of the most Christ-like characters who has ever lived in the world. At a later period came St. John of the Cross, who for ten years seemed to live detached from the world. Today he is discovered to be one of the most practical men.
At a later period Madam Guyon appeared on the scene, and almost every library contains one of her books. The moulding of her character was so amazing that it has caused much discussion in the religious world of our day.
We have only, however, to look over the records of our own land to see many others. Such men as Charles G. Finney, founder of Oberlin College, and it’s first president. He was a practicing lawyer. He was seized with a conviction for sin so pungent that he retired to the woods to pray, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him so powerfully, so divinely and took such amazing possession of him that he tells us he was compelled to cry out to God to cease least he should die. His wonderful ministry in the land is so well known, his books so frequently found in our libraries that it is not necessary to discuss him further.
On this list I wish to mention one who is not usually mentioned so lovingly as Finney. He was a Scotch boy, educated in the University of Australia, (John Alexander Dowie). In addition to this, the Lord came to him in his own tabernacle one morning as he sat at his desk. Jesus was accompanied by His mother, the Virgin Mary. He advised Dowie concerning his ministry. Jesus laid His hands upon him and from that period his ministry was marked by the supernatural.
It is a matter of public record and one of the most astonishing facts that on one occasion he invited all persons who were healed under his ministry to attend a meeting at the auditorium in Chicago. Ten thousand people attended the meeting. At the psychological moment they all arose and gave testimony to the fact that they were healed. Those who were not able to attend were asked to send in a card, three and a half inches square, telling of their healing. Five bushel baskets were filled with these cards, representing the testimony of 100,000 people. At the psychological moment these five bushel baskets of cards were spilled over the stage, to emphasise the extent and power of God’s ministry and blessing to the people.
Again, I want to call your attention to another marvellous life, that of Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. To him the Lord came, not only in personal presence, but in prophecy concerning the future. It was Hudson Taylor who prophesied the great revival in Wales ten years before it came to pass, giving almost the very day on which it would begin, and its power and extent. All this came to pass just as he had outlined it, while he was in the heart of China.
The Welsh revival was one of the most remarkable revivals that was ever produced. It was apparently prayed out of heaven by a single little church whose lights were never extinguished for seven years. This indicates that a portion of that congregation was continually in prayer to God, that God would send a revival. And thus it came, the most astonishing and intensely powerful revival. In small churches which would hold perhaps 500 people, in one corner fifty people would be singing the praises of God, thirty-five people would be down praying, another group would be praising God and testifying of His power.
It was not produced by evangelism, but it was the descent of the Spirit of God on the people. Conviction for sin was so powerful men knelt in their stores or wherever they were to give themselves to God. Sometimes while men were drinking in the public houses at the bar, they would cry out to God and give their hearts to Him.
Beginning with that revival there was a movement of God that spread throughout the world. In our own land we were particularly and wonderfully blessed by a movement that began New Year’s Eve, 1900, which was accompanied by the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, and multitudes were baptized in the Holy Ghost.
After that revival there arose a phenomenal group of men and women. I am going to mention a few. The first I am going to mention is Aimee Semple McPherson. She was a young girl on a farm in Ontario, Canada. She attended a meeting by a young Irishman, Robert Semple, who was preaching under the anointing of the Holy Ghost. She became convicted of sin, opened her heart to God, and found Him, and was baptized in the Holy Ghost. Finally they were married and went as missionaries to China, where he died of fever. She was left a widow, and soon with a new born baby. Some friends provided the funds that brought her back to the United States. Later she formed the acquaintance of a fine young business man, and decided to settle down and forget all her burning call to the Gospel. This she tried to do. Two children were born to them. And then one day God came to Aimee in a meeting at Berlin, Ontario, conducted by Rev. Hall. Her early ministry for a period of about fifteen years surpassed everything that we have ever seen in any land since the days of the Apostles - a multitude was healed under her ministry.
Again, I want to call your attention to another unusual man, Raymond Ritchie, who belonged to Zion, Ill. His father was mayor of Zion City at one time. This boy was tubercular. They did not seem to understand his difficulty. He had no ambition; he could not work like other boys. He was in a state of lacitude. Eventually he found God. We speak of finding God as the old Methodist Church spoke of being saved, getting religion, meaning one and the same thing. When a man confesses his sin and God comes into his heart, and gives him the peace and consciousness of his salvation, he has found God.
Young Ritchie, after his salvation, was so absorbed in prayer, the family got sort of worried. The father finally told him he had to get to work and help earn his living. But some woman who understood the boy said, “I have a room you can have.” Another said she would provide him with food to keep him alive.
The great war came on, and the epidemic of the flu followed, when men died by the thousands throughout this United States. He became stirred, and began to pray for people and they were healed. The medical department presently took notice of it, and they sent him to pray for sick soldiers, and they were healed. Very well, he has continued in the ministry from then until now, and some of the most wonderful healing meetings that have ever taken place, he has conducted.
Another man God has marvellously blessed and used is Dr. Price. He belongs to our own locality. Price used to live in Spokane. Dr. Price was baptized in the Spirit. Right away he began to manifest a most amazing ministry of healing. I attended one of his meetings at Vancouver, B.C. He had four audiences a day and 15,000 people in each, and people for a block around who could not get inside. All the churches in Vancouver I think united with him in that meeting. It was the most amazing meeting I ever saw. The sick people stood in groups of fifty and he would anoint them with oil according to the 5th chapter of James, and then pray for them. They were so overpowered by the Spirit they would fall to the floor, and a great number were healed.