INDIVIDUALS NOT HEALED
IF I could leave my record where it stands, as given in the preceding chapter, it would not be possible for me to come to any but radical conclusions in respect to Godís readiness to heal. But it is here where I must be careful not to exaggerate, and where I must be prepared to be honest, in the strictest sense of the word, whatever this may imply. It is my purpose, therefore, to add to the experiences of healing which have been mentioned some additional ones, where, though prayer was offered and faith was exercised, like healing was not given. And I would explain that the foregoing five cases of healing were chosen from the whole number which might have been given from my experience, not only because they were amongst the most notable, but also, because I desire to add to them five other cases of an almost exactly similar character. I choose this method of procedure for the reason that the parallelism thus established will simplify both the process of thought and the final deduction. If, say, in ten typical cases of sickness, certain conditions were fulfilled and the same result of healing was always obtained, then one would be justified in generalizing, and a single, uniform conclusion could be reached. But if, on the other hand, in ten typical cases, like conditions being fulfilled, five of these show one result, and five another, then a single generalization becomes impossible, and a new and different conclusion must be reached. The more particular intent of these observations will be understood as this testimony proceeds.
During the days of my evangelistic service, about a year after I had held the meetings previously referred to in Albion, New York, I was asked to return to that place and for the similar purpose of conducting evangelistic meetings. The services arranged for were to be held, as before, for two weeks, and there was anticipation, in view of the previous experience, of much blessing. But again it was mid-winter, and again, at evening, it was necessary to pass from the heated assembly room into the chilly air of the streets. Thus it was, after about a week of meetings, that I caught a heavy cold, which settled in my throat, inflaming it, producing hoarseness and soreness, and making it difficult for me to speak. Under such circumstances, especially with my past experience of healing in remembrance, it was a natural thing that I should go to God and ask for divine intervention. And this I did, with simple trust. But, upon this occasion, the expected healing did not take place. On the contrary, the hoarseness and soreness became aggravated. I then renewed my petitions before God, and with increased fervency. The result, however, was the same. My voice, by this time, was reduced to a low whisper, and I could not be heard in the meetings. It was thus that the services had to be brought to a conclusion before the set time had expired. As for my cold, it gradually passed away. But this was only after I had reached home, and the cure was brought to pass through the usual processes of rest and medical treatment.
In the year 1904, subsequent to the experience of healing from seasickness previously described, Mr. Hoste invited me to visit Shanghai, to take part there, with himself, Mr. Sloan and the members of the China Council, in the adjustment of certain difficulties which had arisen in the Mission. Dr. Howard Taylor was in America at the time, and the way was opened for him to visit China, so that I had the comfort of his companionship upon the journey. As at the previous time, the route across the continent to San Francisco was taken, and as before we sailed from that port. And as before, we ran into a storm, with all the consequences of a heavy sea and rolling steamer. In an hourís time, I was laid low, and, later, there came on severe seasickness, with accompanying heart-weakness. Finally, my condition became serious, and thus I gave myself, with what strength I had, to prayer for healing. But it was in vain. Then, in remembrance of my previous experience, being constrained to think that I had discovered a holy means of answered prayer. I committed myself, in the dedication of a new surrender, to God, for whatever His blessed will might choose for me. Once more, I told Him in all sincerity that I was willing to go to China or not; to go onward or downward; to live or die. The answer which God gave to me was unmistakable. He did not allow me to die; but He did allow me to be sick, and that without relief of any kind. For several days the physical conditions remained wholly unchanged, though they were not so serious as in the previous experience. At last, we drew near the Hawaiian
Islands. There in the calm seas of that tropical dime, the ship ceased her tossings, and, as a result of this I gradually regained my usual health. This, happily, I retained until the end of the voyage at Shanghai.
Some time after God had so remarkably restored Mr. Hudson Taylor on the houseboat upon the Soo-chow Creek, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor journeyed from China to England, and on his way thither passed through Canada. In this manner they came to visit us in the Mission Home at Toronto. Mr. Zaylor, when he reached us, was in poor health, and his condition, while remaining with us, grew worse. He was suffering, at the time, from a nervous trouble, which at last so affected the stomach that little food could be retained, or even taken. This meant that our brotherís strength steadily declined; and thus the time came when he was so weak that he was confined to his room and to his bed or couch. Later, his old physical enemy, heart-weakness, set in, and, thereafter, his state was a serious one.
Mr. Taylor, up to this time, had been acting as his own physician; but his condition was now so grave that he consented to our calling the Mission doctor, that able practitioner and devoted man of God, Dr. Sweetnam. But, somehow, even Dr. Sweetnamís skill did not avail. As time went on, therefore, there was no change for the better. On the contrary our dear Mend continued to fail. The many occupants of the Mission Home had been praying earnestly through the days which had passed. Now that things had reached a crisis, prayer was not only earnest, but also, importunate. There was private prayer, and united prayer; and through all, it was a strong crying unto God for deliverance. In spite of prayer and faith, however, the longed-for answer of healing was not granted. At last, a sense of helplessness took possession of us, for we knew not what to conclude. But just then, Mr. Taylor recalled a remedy which he had not thought of for a number of years, but which he had used in a former sickness with success. Dr. Sweetnam favoured its trial; and the medicine was obtained and taken. Immediately, there was a change for the better, and from that time on, there was steady improvement. Finally, a full recovery took place. Our beloved friend was able to resume his work, holding meetings, having interviews, etc., as usual. He afterwards went to England, where he passed through a heavy ordeal of ministry. Eventually, he returned to China to resume there his usual strenuous service. But this time it is to be noted, Mr. Taylorís recovery was through the use of medicine and not by the direct interposition of God.
Some years ago the Mission in America sent to China for service there a devoted young lady, a Miss De L., concerning whom we had many hopes. For a few years these hopes were amply realized, the blessing of God resting upon our friend in every particular. But then, sad news reached us. We were informed that insanity was developing, and, probably, that the young lady would have to be sent home Later, she was brought from her station to Shanghai, where she was tenderly cared for during some weeks. But at this place her malady so increased that, escaping from her nurse one day, she sought death by throwing herself into the river, from which the police rescued her. There was much special prayer for her after this, but no change for the better occurred, and hence, as soon as proper escort had been provided, she was sent home to Canada. It was thus that she came into the Mission Home at Toronto, from whence she had gone out. Here, everything was done for her which love could suggest. Miss De L. had now repeatedly shown signs of a desire to destroy herself, so that constant companionship and watchfulness had to be provided for her. In addition, she was given, as had been the case in China, the help of constant, believing prayer. Medical aid in the case had proved valueless, and, for this reason, the petitions which were breathed were for Godís direct and immediate healing. But days and weeks passed by without the desired answer being received.
It was at this time that I reached Toronto from Philadelphia, upon one of my periodical visits, and it was thus that I came into personal contact with the serious conditions which had developed. Our friend, more than ever, was bent upon committing suicide, that she might, as she told me, rise from the dead and so convince the world of Godís infinite power. Hence, we went anew to God in prayer, crying out to Him for speedy healing. Healing, however, was not granted. I postponed action still longer, in hope that our gracious Father might send us His help. But the help for which we sought was not given to us. It was thus, at last, that I was forced to commit our friend to the Toronto Insane Asylum, where she could more easily be cared for, and where, particularly, she would be protected from self-destruction. Meanwhile, prayer was not remitted. Daily, the sufferer was remembered before God, and that by an ever widening circle of sympathizing friends.
To our joy, at last, in spite of the fact that the Asylum physician had told us that there never would be a recovery, prayer was markedly answered, for there was decided improvement. This continued till the decision was reached that Miss De L. might leave the Asylum and go to her home. Soon, thereafter, she left us for Boston. We got rather out of touch with her from that time on, though we occasionally heard about her, and we did not cease to pray for her. In this manner, nearly two years passed by. After this time, all the past was suddenly and startlingly brought before us. A paragraph in a newspaper told us that our poor friend had thrown herself into the bay near the city, that she had been rescued and taken to a hospital, but that she was critically ill and likely to die. We afterwards heard that she had recovered. But she was never fully healed, for a few years later she suddenly threw herself before a train and was instantly killed. This, then, is apparent: In the case of insanity previously mentioned, a single prayer was offered, and, though that case was a much more serious one than this, healing was almost immediately given; in this case, prayer was offered for many years, and by saints who seldom knew what it was to have prayer remain unanswered; but full healing was never given. In other words, the results in the two cases, though believing prayer was offered in each, were of a different and opposite kind.
Some years ago, Dr. P. was holding a series of meetings in the home of Miss Huston, at Germantown, Philadelphia. While thus engaged, he became afflicted with a malady which caused him so much physical pain that he was hardly able to continue the services which he had undertaken. To those who were attending the meetings and were aware of what was transpiring, the picture of Godís suffering child was a pathetic one, especially to some of us who had known the Doctor for many years and had never before seen him in any but the best physical condition. It was reckoned a privilege by a few of us, therefore, to have him ask us to meet with him on a given afternoon that we might unite with him in prayer for divine help and deliverance.
The gathering took place at the home of Dr. W. J. Erdman, and besides Dr. P. there were present Dr. Erdman, Dr. Munhall, Pastor Stearns and myself. At the beginning of our prayer service, Dr. P. told us how the disease from which he was suffering had come upon him, apparently as a result of the activities of his Christian service which had involved much travelling and considerable exposure, and how he had prayerfully sought the help of physicians, but without avail. He then declared, since the physicians seemed powerless to help him, that he was convinced that only God could give him healing, and hence, he said that he craved our help before Him as we should ask, with one mind and heart, for a speedy and complete cure. He finally explained that much seemed to depend upon our obtaining an answer from God, because he had received important invitations for service at home and in England which he could not accept unless he should be healed, and also, because he was contemplating a tour around the world, which he hoped would mean much for foreign missions, but which could not possibly be taken unless he should have deliverance from suffering.
All of us who listened to Dr. P. as he spoke were deeply impressed by the humility and trustfulness of his spirit, and also by the fact that he was seeking healing, not for his own comfortóthough there was need of thisóbut for the glory of God and for the exaltation of the name of Christ. As our friend had asked to be anointed with oil, Dr. Erdman performed this rite. We then gave ourselves to prayer in his behalf with much readiness of mind; and we continued in this exercise for about two hours, feeling, on rising from our knees, that the Holy Spirit had indeed been in our midst and that we had been permitted through Him to have special access to the throne of grace. However, none of us had real assurance that Dr. P. would be healed. As for myself, I felt, first on that afternoon and then increasingly as I continued to pray, that God had appointed our brother to suffering, that he might bear witness, as he had never had opportunity in the past, to the sustaining grace and power of God.
The foregoing thought was so much in my mind that, a few days after the Doctor went back to his home, I took the liberty of writing to him, asking him not to be discouraged if God did not answer our prayers as we had offered them, and expressing the thought that it was possible that our all-wise and all-loving Father was going to ask a great thing of him, namely, to show forth Christís life of trust and patience even in the furnace fire of affliction. Dr. P. thanked me for my letter; but, in writing to Dr. Erdman, he was able to give us the good news that, while he was not fully healed, be was so much better that he was largely freed from pain and was able to go on with his usual service. A little later, I was advised that the journey around the world had been decided upon.
Some time after this I had an invitation to attend and take part in a dinner which was to be given to Dr. P. and which was to be in the nature of a farewell to him. I was not able to accept of this invitation; and I will confess that I was relieved when I saw that this was the fact, for I could not help fearing what so long and arduous a journey might mean to one so advanced in years and so feeble in body, and hence that I should find myself somewhat out of sympathy with the purpose of the banquet. I mention this last in order to give myself the opportunity to add that my prayers for Dr. P., as he set out upon his world tour, were increased, both in frequency and intensity. Happily for me, it became possible to make prayer intelligent, for his son kindly sent me copies of his fatherís and sisterís letters, describing the different stages of the outward journey. Through these letters, the news finally reached me that Dr. P. had broken down in Japan, and more seriously in Korea, and, then again, that he was returning home. He safely reached San Francisco and Los Angeles, though in a weakened physical condition and in a state of much suffering. At the latter place, I learned later, our dear friend felt, once more, that God only could give him relief from his sickness and pain, and he did that which he had done before, namely, sent for godly men to anoint him with oil and to pray with and for him.
After the foregoing, Dr. P. was somewhat better, and thus, his relatives were able to bring him across the continent to his home. There he waited the will of the Lord, while hundreds of saints in various parts of the world who knew his need, pleaded with God for his recovery. But the suffererís strength gradually and steadily declined. However, the thing for which I had hoped came to pass. In spite of the fact that many natural causes were against such a result, Dr. P. having always lived a superabundantly active life and being naturally impatient of any restraint upon his activities, Godís grace triumphed and that supremely. Our beloved friend did not once murmur, but, on the contrary, gave himself patiently and even praisefully to the accepting of the will of God. His sick room became thus a Bethel, and the severest testing of his life was turned into the greatest victory which that life had ever won for the Lord. At last, however, the pilgrim journey ended, and the pilgrim saint fell asleep in Christ, with the restfulness and trustfulness of a little child. The last words upon the lips which had so long and blessedly witnessed for the truth were those from the Epistle to the Hebrews, ďThat we might be partakers of his holiness.Ē Nevertheless, it is the fact that in Mr. McC.ís case there was healing, and in the similar case of Dr. P. there was not.