Apostle of Faith, chapter 3.
“My soul followeth hard after thee” is the intense expression of the man after God’s own heart. This was ever the attitude of Smith Wigglesworth from the early days of his Christian experience. No wonder the enemy of souls sought so hard to cause the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches to choke the word in the two years mentioned in the last chapter.
Bunyan’s pilgrim learned many lessons in the house of the Interpreter. He saw a fire burning against the wall, and one standing by it to cast water on it to quench it, but yet the fire burned fiercer than ever. The interpreter told him the meaning: “This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart. He that casts water upon it to extinguish and put it out is the Devil; but in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt see the reason of that.” So he took Christian to the other side of the wall, and there was Christ continually pouring in the oil of his grace.
So it was with our Greatheart. Though the Devil had succeeded in quenching his zeal for a short while, the Lord’s oil was poured on the nearly quenched flame, in response to his wife’s prayers, so that he came forth from the trial a flame of fire that for the next 60 years became brighter and more intense every day. But we will let him continue his own story:
God gave me a great zeal in soul-winning. Every day I sought to bring someone to Christ. I was willing to wait an hour any day to have an interview with anyone about his soul’s salvation. At one place I waited an hour and a half, asking God to direct me to the one of his choice. The road was filled with people but I kept saying to the Lord, “I want the right man.” After awhile I was somewhat impatient in my spirit and I said, “Lord, I don’t have much time to waste.” But God did not call it wasted time. After an hour and a half a man came along with a horse and cart, and the Lord spoke to me just as he spoke to Philip when he told him to join himself to the chariot of the Ethiopian. I got up in the cart beside the man and was soon talking with him about his need of salvation. He growled, “Why don’t you go about your own business? Why should you pick me out and talk to me?”
I wondered whether I had made a mistake. I looked up to the Lord and said, “Is this the right man, Lord?” He said to me, “Yes, this is the right man.” And so I continued to talk to him and plead with him to yield his life to Christ. By and by I saw that he was shedding tears, and I knew that God had softened his heart and the seed of the word was entering. After I was sure a true work of grace had been wrought, I jumped down from his cart, and he went on his way.
Three weeks later my mother said to me, “Smith, have you been talking to someone about salvation?”
“I am always doing that, Mother.”
“Well, I visited a man last night. He was dying; he has been in bed for three weeks. I asked whether he would like someone to come and pray with him. He said, ‘The last time I was out, a young man got into my cart and spoke to me. I was very rough with him but he was very persistent. Anyhow, God convicted me of my sins, and saved me.’” My mother continued, “That was the last time that man was out. He passed away in the night. He described the young man who talked with him and I could tell from his description that you were the one.”
As I walked along, I would be always looking for someone to whom I could talk about the Lord. One time I went with a brother on a bicycle tour. Every day for ten days we had, on an average, three good cases of salvation. My experience in business life led me to a great many people whom I would not have contacted had I been a professional preacher. My whole business life was spent in communion with God. I sought to be his witness everywhere I went.
A man came to reside in Bradford and asked a businessman: “Can you introduce me to a good plumber?”
The businessman replied, “Yes, I can, if you can stand his religion. If you have him as plumber, you have to have his religion as well. He never goes out on a job but what he is preaching all the while he is doing his plumbing work.”
“Well,” this man said, “I’ll risk it.” He told me afterwards that he was pleased that he had me as a plumber because of my talks to him about the Lord.
I was very successful in my plumbing work, but I was very poor in collecting the debts on my books. But every Saturday I had to pay my men. One day I was in need of money. I have always believed it was God’s plan for me to be in need, because in the needy hour God opened the door to me and that strengthened my faith. At that particular time I went to the Lord and prayed, “Lord, I have not time to go out and seek money. Please tell me where I can get some.” He said, “Go to Bishop.” I had heard that he was a very bad payer and that everyone had to take him to the courts in order to get their money. But because the Lord had told me to go, I knew he could deal with him, so I went in faith.
As I went into the lodge gate, I met Mrs. Bishop coming out with another lady. I had been somewhat in hopes that I might see her and that she would pay me. So I said to myself, “There’s only one hope and that is to see Bishop.” But I hesitated for a moment because I knew that he paid nobody. Should I go? Well, I knew God had spoken to me, and so I went to the back door. The servant answered and I asked, “Is Mr. Bishop in?”
“No, and he will not be home for 3 weeks.”
“I cannot understand that,” I said.
“Why don’t you understand? You seem disturbed.”
“Yes, I am very disturbed. I have to have money to pay my men tomorrow, and as I have been praying the Lord directed me to come here; it is quite disturbing to know that Mr. Bishop is away and will not be back for 3 weeks.”
The servant asked, “How much is it that he owes you?” I said to her, “Just about 20 pounds.”
She said, “Come in.” She went upstairs, brought the money down, and settled the account.
I said to her, “Do you do this kind of thing often?” She answered, “No.”
Well, I knew the Lord had told me to go to that house at nine o’clock the night previous. She told me that at that very time the mistress had given her her wages and that she felt impressed to pay this account out of her wages. I said, “What makes you do it?” She answered, “I dare not let you go away without it. That is all I can say.” God showed me how he could make a human impossibility possible. Incidents like that helped in the creation of a living faith in my heart.
One morning the children were all gathered around the breakfast table and my wife said, “Harold and Ernest are very sick this morning. Before we have breakfast we will pray for them.” Immediately the power of God fell upon my wife and me, and as we laid our hands on these children they were both instantly healed. As we saw the miraculous healing wrought before our eyes, we were both filled with intense joy. The Lord was always so good in proving himself our family physician.
That day I went out to work at a house where a great many servants were employed, and I took an apprentice boy to work with me. I could see that the lady of the house was very restless. She came into the room where I was working, looked at me, and then walked out. Soon she came back and said, “Can’t you send your apprentice to your shop for something?”
I replied, “I was just going to send him to the shop because I am short of one piece of pipe.”
As soon as the boy was out of the door she said, “Tell me, oh, please tell me, what is the cause of your face showing such a wonderful expression of joy?”
I replied, “Well, this morning two of my children came to the breakfast table very sick. My wife and I prayed for them and God instantly healed them. I was filled with joy as I saw what he had wrought, and that joy is with me now.”
She said, “Please tell me how to get this joy. My house is full of trouble. My husband left me this morning after a big disturbance. Please tell me how I can get this peace and rest and joy that you have.”
I said to her, “The Lord has saved my wife and me, and we know what it is to have the power of God in our home, and for him to meet all our needs and to fill us with his peace and joy.”
She said, “Oh, please, can you help me?” I said, “I can help you now.”
She seemed afraid of the servants coming in, so she locked the door and kept her hand on the key, as if she was afraid she might be disturbed any moment; and while she had her hand on the key, the Lord saved her. She was filled with the joy of the assurance that all her sins were washed away. She said, “Oh, how can I keep this?”
I asked, “Do you have an ‘at home’ day when the ladies come to visit you?”
She answered, “I have one next Thursday.”
I said to her, “Tell all the ladies how the Lord has saved you and ask if you can pray with them.”
That was the ministry that the Lord gave me all through the years that I was in the plumbing business. I had the joy of leading so many men and women, and so many servant girls, to Christ as I worked at my trade and witnessed for my Christ. The Lord had a purpose in keeping me tied up financially. In some respects I had a flourishing business but I was always short of ready money.
I can remember one day I went to prayer as usual and asked the Lord, “Where shall I go for money this weekend?” He said to me: “Go and see the architect and ask him for a certificate.” I was working on a job under a certain architect, and so in obedience to the word of the Lord I went to see him.
As soon as I got to the office he said, “What do you want?” I explained I needed a certificate. “On what job?” he asked.
“The job you gave me to fix the furnaces in Osletgate.”
“Why,” he said, “you have only just got to work.”
I replied, “That makes no difference, the work is done.” The work was on a row of new houses.
He said, “You couldn’t have finished the work; I only gave it to you a week ago.”
I said, “When you gave it to me, you did so because you knew I would do it quickly.”
He asked, “How could you do it?”
“I brought all my men from other work and got down to business.”
He doubted my word. He picked up his hat and said, “I will go and see.” We went together and when he saw the work he was well satisfied. He said, “This is wonderful; it is just what we wanted.” And so he wrote out a certificate for the money.
It was one thing to get the certificate and another thing to get the money. I started to the office of the mill master to whom the property belonged, and as I went I noticed on a shop window a scripture text, “Trust in the Lord at all times.” I went forward, believing that since I had my trust in the Lord, everything would be all right. When I got to the office of the mill I handed the cashier the certificate. It was Saturday morning and he shouted louder than I could shout, “You’ll get no money here! You’ll get no money here! You’ll get no money here! We never pay out money except on certain days in the month; and I tell you, you’ll get no money here!”
He shouted so loudly that I thought there was something wrong with his mind. Behind him the door opened. The master appeared at the door and demanded, “Whatever is wrong?”
I said, “I don’t know, Sir, I have given this man a certificate for payment and I don’t know why he is shouting so.” I gathered that the Lord made the clerk shout so as to bring the master down from another building.
The mill master read the certificate and said to the cashier, “Pay this man his money. And if I hear of anything like this again, I’ll fire you.”
I came out of the office with the money and went down the street praising the Lord. When I came to the shop where I had seen that scripture text I went in and said, “How much do you want for that text?” I was told a shilling, so I bought it and it was a great blessing to me to remind me continually to “trust in the Lord at all times.”
Being in business for myself, I was able to devote much of my time to the sick and needy. I used to go to Leeds every week to a place where divine healing was taught. But I was very critical in my spirit and would judge people so harshly. I did not know why so many people who taught divine healing wore glasses. I questioned, “Why do you wear glasses if you believe in divine healing?” This stumbled me somewhat. Later I had to wear glasses to read my bible, and I was often criticized for this. However, I was very full of compassion towards the sick and needy folk, and being able to pay the expenses of the needy ones, I used to collect a number of them and take them to Leeds every Tuesday to the service. One day I had nine with me. The leaders of the Leeds Healing Home looked through the window and said, “Here is Wigglesworth coming again and bringing a lot more. If he only knew, he could get these people healed at Bradford just as easily as to get them healed in Leeds.”
These leaders knew that I had a compassion for the sick and needy, and one day they said to me: “We want to go to the Keswick convention and we have been thinking whom we should leave to do the work. We can only think of you.”
I said, “I couldn’t conduct a healing service.”
They said, “We have no one else. We trust you to take care of the work while we are away.”
A flash came into my mind: “Well, any number of people can talk. All I have to do is to take charge.”
The following week when I got there the place was full of people. Of course, the first thing I did was to look for someone who would do the speaking; but all whom I asked said, “No, you have been chosen and you must do it.” And so I had to begin. I do not remember what I said but I do know that when I had finished speaking 15 people came out for healing. One of these was a man from Scotland who hobbled on a pair of crutches. I prayed for him and he was instantly healed. There was no one so surprised as I was. He was jumping all over the place without his crutches. This encouraged the others to believe God for their healing and all the people were healed. I am sure it was not my faith, but it was God in his compassion coming to help me in that hour of need.
After this the Lord opened the door of faith for me more and more. I announced that I would have a divine healing meeting in Bradford on a certain evening. I can remember that there were 12 people who came that night and all of those 12 were miraculously healed. One had a tongue badly bitten in the center through a fall. This one was perfectly healed. Another was a woman with an ulcer on her ankle joint and a large sore that was constantly discharging. She was healed and there was only a scar the next day. The others were healed the same way.
One day a man asked me, “Does divine healing embrace seasickness?”
I answered, “Yes. It is a spirit of fear that causes your seasickness, and I command that spirit to go out of you in Jesus’s name.” He was never seasick again though he had to travel much.
One day a man came to the house. He was a very devoted brother. I said to him, “Mr. Clark, you seem downcast today. What’s up?”
He answered, “I left my wife dying. Two doctors have been with her right through the night and they say she cannot live long.”
I said to him, “Why don’t you believe God for your wife?”
He answered, “Brother Wigglesworth, I cannot believe for her.” He went out of the house broken-hearted.
I went to see a fellow named Howe who was opening a small mission in Bradford. I thought he was the right man to go with me, to assist me. When I said, “Will you go with me?” he answered, “No, indeed I won’t. Please do not ask me again. But I believe if you will go, God will heal.” I realize now that the Lord put those words in his mouth to encourage me.
Well I knew a man named Nichols who, if he got the opportunity to pray, would pray all around the world three times and then come back. So I went to him and said, “Will you come with me to pray for Sister Clark?” He answered, “Yes, I will be very glad.” We had a mile and a half to walk to that house. I told him when he began to pray not to stop until he was finished.
When we got to the house we saw that Mrs. Clark was nearly gone. I said to the one I had brought with me, “You see the dangerous condition of Sister Clark. Now don’t waste time but begin to pray.” Seeing he had an opportunity, he began. I had never suffered so much as I did when he was praying, and I cried to the Lord, “Stop him! Please, Lord, stop this man’s praying.” Why? Because he prayed for the dear husband who was going to be bereaved and for the children who were going to be motherless. He piled it on so thick that I had to cry out, “Stop him, Lord; I cannot stand this.” And thank God, he stopped.
Though I knew that neither Clark nor Nichols believed in Divine Healing, I had concealed a small bottle in my hip pocket that would hold about half a pint of oil. I put a long cork in it so that I could open the bottle easily. I took the bottle out of my pocket and held it behind me, and said: “Now you pray, Mr. Clark.” Brother Clark, being encouraged by Brother Nichols’s prayer, prayed also that he might be sustained in his great bereavement. I could not stand it all, and I cried, “Lord, stop him.” I was so earnest and so broken that they could hear me outside the house. Thank God, he stopped.
As soon as he stopped, I pulled the cork out of the bottle, and went over to the dying woman who was laid out on the bed. I was a novice at this time and did not know any better, so I poured all the contents of that bottle of oil over Mrs. Clark’s body in the name of Jesus!
I was standing beside her at the top of the bed and looking towards the foot, when suddenly the Lord Jesus appeared. I had my eyes open gazing at him. There he was at the foot of the bed. He gave me one of those gentle smiles. I see him just now as I tell this story to you. I have never lost that vision, the vision of that beautiful smile. After a few moments he vanished but something happened that day that changed my whole life. Mrs. Clark was raised up and filled with life, and lived to bring up a number of children; she outlived her husband many years.
Everybody has to have testings. If you believe in Divine Healing you will surely be tested on the faith line. God cannot bring anyone into blessing and into full cooperation with him except through testings and trials.
My wife and I saw that we could not go just half-measures with God. If we believed in divine healing we would have to be wholeheartedly in it; so we pledged ourselves to God and then to each other. This consecration to trust God seemed to bring a new order in our lives. We looked into each other’s faces and said, “From henceforth no medicine, no doctors, no drugs of any kind shall come into our house.” It is very easy when in health and strength to make pledges and utter vows, but it is being faithful when the time of testing comes that counts. Little did we know that shortly we were going to have such a test.
We were both very zealous for the Lord and spent a good deal of time in open-air meetings. One Sunday a violent pain gripped me and brought me down to earth. Two men supported me and brought me home. The same thing had happened before but the pain had not been so severe in previous times. We prayed all night. The next morning I said to my wife, “It seems to me that this is my home-call. We have been praying all night, and nothing has happened; I am worse. It does not seem as though anything can be done. You know our arrangement is that when we know we have received a home-call, only then to save each other the embarrassment of having an inquest and the condemnation of outsiders, would we call a physician. To protect yourself you should now call a physician. I leave it with you to do what you think should be done.”
Poor thing, she was in a sad plight, with all the little children around her and there seemed no hope whatever. She broke down and left me and went to see a physician—not for him to help me, for she did not think he could help me, but believing that the end had come.
When the doctor came he examined me, shook his head, and said, “There is no hope whatever. He has had appendicitis for the past six months and the organs are in such shape that he is beyond hope.” He turned to my wife and said, “I have a few calls to make, Mrs. Wigglesworth. I will come and see you again later. The only hope is for him to have an immediate operation, but I am somewhat afraid your husband is too weak for that.”
When he got out of the room, an elderly lady and a young man came in. She was a great woman to pray, and she believed that everything that was not health was of the Devil. While she prayed, the young man laid his hands on me and cried, “Come out, Devil, in the name of Jesus.”
To my surprise I felt as well as I had ever been in my life. I was absolutely free from pain. As soon as they had prayed for me they went downstairs, and I got up, believing that no one had a right to remain in bed when healed. When I got downstairs, my wife cried, “Oh!”
I said, “I am healed.” She said, “I hope it is true.”
I inquired, “Any work in?”
“Yes, there is a woman who is in a great hurry to get some plumbing done; if we could not take care of it, she would have to go somewhere else.” She gave me the address and I went out to do this work.
While I was working, the doctor returned. He put his silk hat on the table, went upstairs, got as far as the landing, when my wife shouted, “Doctor! Doctor! Doctor!” He asked, “Are you calling me?”
“Oh, Doctor, he’s out. He has gone out to work.”
The doctor answered, “They will bring him back a corpse, as sure as you live.”
Well, the “corpse” has been going up and down the world preaching the gospel these many years since that time!
I have laid hands on people with appendicitis in almost every part of the world and never knew of a case not instantly healed, even when doctors were on the premises.
Labels: Apostle of Faith