XIV. THE MINISTRY OF HEALING
THE ministry of healing was never wholly lost from the Christian Church. The testimony of Irenaeus, Tertullian and others shows that it continued during the first three or four centuries. It was revived by the Waldenses in the Middle Ages. Martin Luther claimed that Melancthon had been miraculously healed. Remarkable instances of supernatural healing occurred in the ministry of George Fox and the early English Friends, and authentic cases are narrated in the lives of Peden, Cameron, and other Scottish Covenanters. George Whitfield was raised from what seemed to be a death-bed and that same night preached the Gospel. John Wesley declared that anointing was a Christian ordinance designed to be permanent in the Church. In the last century Dorothea Trudel and Pastors Zeller, Blumhardt, and Schrenk on the Continent, and Dr. W. E. Boardman in England were greatly used of God in the healing of the sick. In America, Dr. Charles Cullis, a physician of Boston, Ethan Allen, a venerable minister of Hartford, and others exercised this ministry with remarkable results.
In the Old Orchard covenant Dr. Simpson solemnly promised to use the blessing he had received for the glory of God and the good of others. Some time before, when studying the Scriptures with a brother minister, his friend said, "Yes, Simpson, I see that healing is part of our privilege, but then we cannot preach it." To which A. B. Simpson replied, "I do not yet clearly see that it is part of the Gospel for today; but if I ever do, I must preach it."
Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie, who was in close touch with Dr. Simpson from the beginning of this ministry, says: "Had he renounced Divine healing he could have obtained a wider and more tolerant recognition. But that would have required a diplomacy of which he could never be guilty. He would be true to God as God had led him to see truth, come what might. And now we find that it was the healing element in his initial work that proved most influential. The Friday afternoon meeting became a shrine for thousands of people connected with the churches of the city and its suburbs. From that meeting radiated streams of blessing that sanctified homes and hearts and parishes."
Referring to the early days, in one of his last addresses. Dr. Simpson said, "Sanctification and Divine healing were not crowded upon the popular audiences who were not prepared for such strong meat, but some of the week-day meetings were appointed for the purpose of teaching and testifying along these lines."
The Friday Meeting, which began in Mr. Simpson's parlors, has been carried on uninterruptedly for thirty- eight years. It often crowded the auditorium of the Gospel Tabernacle and is still one of the most spiritual gatherings in the Alliance work. An address on Divine healing, and testimonies from those who have been healed are given, and requests for prayer are received from all over the world. The meeting always closes with an anointing service, according to the instruction given in the epistle of James.
Dr. Simpson was always careful to direct those who were anointed to look to the Lord and not to the anointing or the anointer, and very frequently took a very subordinate part in such services lest the eyes of any one should be turned to himself. As early as 1883 we find him writing, "It is very solemn ground and can never be made a professional business or a public parade. Its mightiest victories will always be silent and out of sight, and its power will keep pace with our humility and holiness. We solemnly warn the people of God against caricatures and counterfeits of this solemn truth, which they may expect on every side. We greatly deprecate the indiscriminate anointing of all who come forward, of which we hear in various quarters. We trust no one will take this honor to himself, but 'he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' We hope the wonder-seeking spirit will not be allowed to take the place of practical godliness and humble work for the salvation of people."
Among believers in Divine healing anointing with oil has been frequently in connection with prayer in private for the sick. Though the elders of the Church, where such are available, are usually called upon, many others, both men and women, have anointed the sick in the name of the Lord, sometimes disregarding Dr. Simpon's warning.
Mr. Simpson soon felt impelled to open his home for personal ministry to the afflicted. The Lord had been preparing the way for this by a work of grace in Mrs. Simpson's heart and life. She had been very slow to believe that God was leading her husband out of the ordinary channels of life and service into the way of faith and sacrifice. The difference in point of view became acute when their little daughter was stricken with diphtheria. True to his faith, he determined to commit the case into the hands of the Great Physician. Mrs. Simpson bitterly opposed this course, and finally, late at night, left the child with him declaring that she would hold him responsible for the consequences. He lay down beside the little girl, took her in his arms, soothed her to sleep, and committed her then and forever to the keeping of the Lord. At daybreak, when Mrs. Simpson entered the room, she refused to accept the assurance that the child was better, but a careful examination showed that every trace of the disease had disappeared. Without a further word, she turned away, went to her own room, and, shutting herself in, cried to the Lord to reveal Himself to her. That was the turning point in her life, and shortly afterwards she consented to the proposition to open their home to God's suffering children.
On Wednesday, May i6th, 1883, a company of Christian friends assembled in their home at 331 West 34th Street for its dedication as a Home for Faith and Physical Healing. The announcement stated that "any sufferer who is really willing to exercise and act faith for healing will be received for a limited time for instruction and waiting upon God for temporal and spiritual blessing."
The following paragraph of a recent personal letter from Miss Fanny A. Dyer, of Chicago, tells of her visit to this home in 1883. "I had never heard much of the doctrine of Divine healing when I entered the Friday Meeting. On Sunday morning while preparing for breakfast, without being able to give much more Scripture for it than the promise of James 5:14-16, I was instantly healed, as gloriously and supernaturally as was the centurion's son. A new era began in my life for spirit, soul, and body, glorious beyond expression."
In her life story, published in a periodical some years ago, Mrs. Katherine H. Brodie tells of her stubborn refusal to consider the testimony of her friends, Mrs. Margaret Bottome and others, concerning Divine healing.
Finally she attended the Friday Meeting and was invited to the Home. "I longed," she writes, "to accept the invitation but had not the courage to leave the hospital and my remedies, and I feared the opinions of my husband and my friends. Later I attended another of Mr. Simpson's meetings and, in obedience to the command in James 5:14-16, was anointed and solemnly dedicated to the Lord. Then followed ten days in the Home on Thirty-fourth Street where precious lessons were learned and glorious work given me for my Master. All pain left; the Lord had become my strength. I wrote my husband of my new life, but he, failing to understand, hastened to New York, fearing I had gone wrong. Nine months afterwards he became convinced my healing was not mere fancy, and seeing my isolation, he sent me to New York again; and whereas before he had been opposed to Mr. Simpson's work, now he arranged that on our arrival we should go to his new Berachah Home." Mrs. Brodie has since had a most fruitful ministry in Great Britain and has visited America several times, ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit in Berachah Home and at the Alliance conventions.
One year after the Home was begun, Mr. E. G. Selchow, who himself had been marvelously healed, donated a building at 328 West Twenty-third Street. On May 5th, 1884, it was formally dedicated to the Lord under the name of Berachah Home, meaning "The House of Blessing." It was moved to a larger house on Sixty-first Street and Park Avenue, and in March, 1890, to the six story building at 258-260 West Forty-fourth Street, adjoining the present Gospel Tabernacle. In 1897 Rev. Ross Taylor's beautiful residence on the Nyack hillside was purchased and enlarged. To this delightful spot Berachah Home was removed where for twenty years hungry hearts and broken bodies found refreshing and healing.
When Berachah was opened on Twenty-third Street, it was put in charge of Miss Ellen A. Griffin and Miss Sarah A. Lindenberger. Miss Griffin, who had been an active worker in city missions, had been wonderfully healed and devoted her remarkable gifts, until her death in 1887, to ministering in most practical ways to the suffering ones in the Home. Miss Lindenberger, a member of a wealthy and worldly Southern family, had been in Mr. Simpson's congregation in Louisville. She was led by the Spirit into the mysteries of grace and to the devotion of her culture and enduements to a life of ministry in Berachah Home, remaining in charge until, on account of age, she was unable to continue this exacting service and the Home was closed. It is now one of the dormitories of the Missionary Institute.
Dr. Simpson himself gave much time to Berachah Home, and nowhere was his graciousness, sympathy, and power in prayer more manifest. Dr. John Cookman, Dr. Henry Wilson, Rev. A. E. Funk, Rev. Stephen Merritt, Rev. F. W. Farr, Rev. W. T. MacArthur, Mrs. A. B. Simpson and her sister Mrs. E. J. McDonald, Mrs. Margaret Bottome, Mrs. C. deP. Field, Mrs. Bishop, Miss Harriet Waterbury, Miss Minnie T. Draper, Mrs. E. M. Whittemore, Miss Ella G. Warren, and Mrs. O. S. Schultz, were among those much used of the Lord in this Home and in the Friday Meetings. During the years it was located on Forty-fourth Street, the ministry of Josephus Pulis was blessed to thousands. Among the medical doctors who were in full sympathy and frequently took part in these ministrations were Dr. George B. Peck, and Dr. James B. Bell, of Boston, and Doctors Barnett, Stevenson, and Brown, of New York. Dr. Scudder of New York had an attack on Divine healing ready for the press when he became convicted that he should investigate for himself. He did so, was convinced of the truth, and became a warm friend of the work.
A number of other Homes were directly or indirectly connected with Mr. Simpson's ministry. Bethany Home, Toronto, was maintained for many years through the faith of Mrs. Fletcher and the Rev. John Salmon. Homes of rest and healing have been conducted by Miss S. M. C. Musgrove, of Troy, N. Y., and Mrs. J. P. Kellogg, of Utica, N. Y., and Mrs. Dora Dudley, of Grand Rapids, Mich. Kemuel House, Philadelphia, was under the personal care of Mrs. S. G. Beck, assisted by Dr. and Mrs. Cliff. In later years Hebron Home has been the center of the activities of Rev. and Mrs. F. H. Senft, and the headquarters of the Alliance in that city. In 1894, Rev. E. D. Whiteside, a Methodist Episcopal minister, whose prejudices had been overcome by hearing Mr. Simpson in the Twenty-third Street Tabernacle, and who had been marvelously healed, established a Branch of the Alliance and a Home in Pittsburgh, Pa. That successful business man, William Henry Conley, a member of the Alliance Board, was closely associated with Mr. Whiteside in that work.
Dr. Simpson's ministry as a teacher of the New Testament revelation of physical healing was far-reaching. More than any or all of its exponents he formulated this truth and by positive emphasis separated it from current fallacies. Even the secular press was impressed by his clear-cut presentation. The New York Sun of September 1 6th, 1888, contained a full page interview in which it stated that "The friends who are represented by A. B. Simpson never use the term 'faith healing' or 'faith cure.' They always say 'Divine healing' because they believe that faith has no power to cure anybody intrinsically, but that the real power in every case of true healing must be a personal God and not a mere subjective state of mind in the person concerned or anybody else." Dr. Simpson never was anointed for healing, and though he taught that ministers should pray for and anoint the sick, he emphasized the right of the believer to claim healing directly for himself. How simply he states that "the Lord Jesus has purchased and provided for His believing children physical strength, life, and healing as freely as the spiritual blessings of the Gospel. We do not need the intervention of any man or woman as our priest, for He is our Great High Priest, able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and it is still as true as ever, 'As many as touched him were made perfectly whole'." Thousands, who had no circle of believing prayer surrounding them, were thus encouraged to trust the Great Physician.
His philosophy of healing was not couched in meta- physical terms. What could be plainer than this statement: "There are three epochs in the revelation of Jesus Christ through Divine healing. The first is when we see it in the Bible and believe it as a Scriptural doctrine. The second is when we see it in the Blood and receive it as part of our redemption rights. But the third is when we see it in the risen life of Jesus Christ and take Him into vital union with all our being as the life of our life and the strength of our mortal frame." And again, "This, then, is the nature of Divine healing. It is not the mere restoration of ordinary health, but it is the impartation of the strength of Christ through the Holy Ghost, and it is often most marked alongside of the greatest physical weakness."
In a general way all devout Christians accept the first position. The second, that healing is a provision of the atonement, has been and is still bitterly opposed, even by some who pray for the sick. The third, or mystical view of participation with the living Christ in His resurrection life, taught by John and Paul and restated by A. B. Simpson, has been even less understood. Yet this became normal life to him and is interwoven in all of his writings. In this imparted life many a missionary "in deaths oft" has triumphed. It was the secret of the paradox of Dr. George P. Pardington's later ministry, who, though for years he had to be carried to and from his classes, never missed a lecture in the Missionary Institute. It made Henry Wilson's life radiant with buoyant, joyous health. It healed Rev. G. Verner Brown of spinal meningitis and sustains him in a strenuous ministry. It enabled "The little man from Chicago," as Rev. W. G. Meminger called himself, to rise from a consumptive's couch and startle audiences up and down the continent with his Hallelujahs. It is the distinctive testimony of the Alliance as to healing.
Most of the caustic criticism by well-meaning friends would be turned into prayer for those who take this position if the following quotations from Dr. Simpson were properly understood. The first reveals the secret source of this life. "We do not possess this strength in ourselves; it is the strength of Another, and we just appropriate it, and so Christ is our life. It is not self- contained strength, but strength derived each moment from One above us, beyond us, and yet within us."
Quite as essential are its terms. "The conditions of this great blessing are first that we are wholly yielded to Him, so that we should use the life He gives for His glory and service. Second, that we believe without doubt the promise of His word for our own physical healing. Third, that we abide in Him for our physical life and draw our strength moment by moment through personal dependence upon Him."
Both Dr. Gray and Mr. Mackenzie call attention to the sanity exhibited by A. B. Simpson in regard to the practical application of his theory of healing. He was no extremist, whatever follies or fanaticisms some of his followers may have fallen into. The great preservative was the central and dominant truth of his whole system -- Christ in you. He expected nothing from you, nor yet from himself, and was disappointed only with manifest rejection of Christ. How tender he was to those who failed! How considerate of those who had not seen the truth that to him was all in all!
Nothing that could be written would exhibit this so clearly as a leading editorial elicited by letters asking "Why are they not healed?" Dr. Simpson replied:
"First of all, we would say, we do not know, and probably you do not know, and will not know absolutely, until 'we know even as we are known'; and one of the first lessons that God wants you to learn is to be still and dumb with silence, suppressing every thought, trusting where you cannot see, and 'judging nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.'"
"It is quite shocking how some people get upon the throne and sit in judgment on God's providences, dealing His judgments upon the heads of their brethren, and explaining the mysteries of His will as though they were His special interpreters and viceregents."
"One of His supreme thoughts in many of His dealings is to teach us to 'be still, and know that He is God.' But, while this is true, there are many lessons which He would have us learn when we are ready to do it with intelligent and earnest faith, and it may be that some of these thoughts will be helpful to anxious, perplexed minds. Therefore, we would say:"
"I. That undoubtedly some persons have not been healed because their life-work was completed, and their Lord was calling them to Himself. There comes such an hour in every accomplished life."
"II. Sometimes, however, this is not fully understood by the suffering one or the surrounding friends, and there is the natural struggle and the earnest prayer, and the deep disappointment when it seems unanswered. But we believe that if we shall wait upon the Lord in a life of faith, obedience and communion, the heart will usually be able, with quietness, to understand enough of His will to triumph even in death itself."
"III. Sometimes, we believe, life is shortened by disobedience to God. Long life is promised to those who obey Him and follow Him; and of others it is said: For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.' This, undoubtedly, has reference to physical judgments, and the way they may be escaped is by self judging and holy, watchful obedience."
"IV. There is often a lack of real faith on the part of the sick even where the external conditions of faith have apparently been fulfilled, and others may suppose there has been real faith in God for healing."
"Faith for Divine healing is not mere abstinence from remedies, an act of intellect or will, or a submission to the ordinance of anointing, but it is the real, spiritual touch of Christ, and it is much more rare than many suppose."
"There is plenty of faith in the doctrine, plenty of readiness to give up remedies, plenty of faith in the prayers of others -- especially if they are eminent saints -- plenty of faith for healing in the future; but personal, real faith that takes Christ now, and, pressing through the crowd, touches His garment, is not much oftener found now than in the days when only one, struggling through the crowd that surrounded Him, really touched Him."
The Life of A. B. Simpson is the Official Authorised Edition by A. E. THOMPSON, M. A. with Special Chapters by Paul Rader James M. Gray, D. D. Kenneth Mackenzie, J. Gregory Mantle, D. D. F. H. Senft, B. A. R. H. Glover, M. D. W. M. Turnbull, D. D. Published by Christian Alliance Publishing Co. 318 West 39TH St., New York in 1920. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
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