Chapter 28


STATEMENT BY NOYES IN The Spiritual Magazine

IF I have failed in my previous remarks to draw the distinction between actual salvation and that credit system of religion which consists principally in hope, I will do so now by presenting a few clear and positive tests from the Bible. I believe that all hopes and pretensions of salvation will at last stand or fall by these tests:

1. Whosoever abideth in Christ sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. I John 3 : 6.

2. If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? Col. 2 :20.

3. These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark i6: 17-18.


Putney, Vermont, September 28, 1847.

Mr. Editor:
In your paper of September 1st a few passages are quoted by your contributor, J. H. N., and laid down as the test by


which all professed Christians are to be tried. . . Are modern Perfectionists willing to be tried by this standard?

Passing by other points, Have they the gift of healing? If so, then diseases of every description, whether chronic or acute, whether in an incipient or advanced stage, are subject to their control. And the person diseased must be made every whit whole to prove a real miracle. And if all the signs mentioned are to follow, or rather accompany every true believer in all ages, then no person can justly lay claim to evangelical faith who cannot perform these wonderful works. . . . Can Perfectionists do these works?

NOYES IN The Spiritual Magazine OCTOBER 15, 1847

To the question whether "modern Perfectionists are willing to be tried by this standard," we answer on behalf of all with whom we are connected, yes. But let it here be premised that the truth of the standard does not depend on the issue of our trial. If we should fail to substantiate our claim to miraculous endowments, still the word of Christ will stand and will condemn the faith of all churches not endowed with miraculous power. "Let God be true and every man a liar."

It must also he premised that we do not accept our inquisitor's rule of interpreting and applying the test of Christ. He says, "The language of the passage under consideration is plain and unequivocal." So say we. But that language by no means authorizes the inferences which he has drawn from it, and which enable him to set before us such a hopeless job of proof. "These signs shall follow them that believe." Here is no specification or fair ground of inference that all the signs shall attend every in(livi(1nal believer at all times. The plain, unequivocal meaning is that the various signs of miraculous power shall follow the body of true believers, and the specific distribution of those signs both with reference to persons and


times is left undetermined. The intent of the rule, so far as this distribution is concerned, is to be ascertained by reference to the facts in the Primitive Church. That church was a gennine enibodiment of the faith of Christ. The signs promised to "them that believe" followed it; and its history is a fair commentary on the rule. We accept that commentary, and hold ourselves bound to make out a case substantially like that of the Primitive Church or surrender all pretensions of being a true Christian church. But our inquisitor requires us to make out a case which the Primitive Church could not, nor even Christ himself.

In the first place Mr. Eastman's requirement that the test apply separately to each individual believer is at variance with the facts in the Primitive Church. In I Cor. 12 :4-30 we have a sketch of the actual distribution of the several gifts of the Spirit in that church. Paul Says : "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another faith; to another gifts of healing; to another working of miracles; to another prophecy;" and he asks, "Are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues?" Paul's general theory. as set forth in that chapter and elsewhere, is that the church is a unit, and that the gifts or signs belong to it as such and not to each separate member. To every fair mind this interpretation commends itself as entirely accordant with the language of Christ~s promise.

But to come to particulars, Mr. Eastman asks whether Perfectionists can drink deadly poison without injury. If this power must be substantiated by specific facts before we can admit a church within the rule, then the Primitive Church and Christ himself must be cut off; for there is no evidence that Christ or any of his followers in the apostolic age ever made the experiment of drinking deadly poisons.


Again, Mr. Eastman asks whether Perfectionists are "proof against the poisonous fangs of the venomous serpent." Now every one who is familiar with the Bible knows that there is but one instance in which this power was substantiated in the Primitive Church, namely, that of Paul. Previous to that instance Christ and all his followers might have been challenged to prove their faith by this sign as triumphantly as Perfectionists are challenged now. When Perfectionism has lived thirty years (the length of time from the ministry of Christ to the sign in the case of Paul), if a single instance of victory over serpent-poison cannot be found among us, it will be time to think of setting us aside as being out of the primitive rule of faith.

It is apparent then that Mr. Eastman's screw of rigorous interpretation has been turned upon us too far, and must fly back or the Primitive Church will be pinched with us. Two of the signs mentioned in Christ's promise were certainly rare in the apostolic age, and that simply because there were few proper occasions for them. If primitive believers had been under the necessity of drinking poisons or suffering the bite of serpents daily, doubtless the instances of miraculous impunity would have been as frequent as the instances of the other signs. But God did not go out of his way to make occasions for the sake of gratifying sign-seekers.

The principle thus established that signs are not to be expected without regard to occasions, must be applied to the gift of tongues. Christ never spoke in an unknown tongue. Why? Because his ministry was confined to a single nation, and he had no occasion. When there were proper occasions, as on the day of Pentecost when strangers were gathered at Jerusalem from many nations, and in the foreign missions of the apostles, this sign attended the church. Our answer then to


the call for this gift is that we are not in circumstances which make occasion for it.

As to the power of casting out devils, inasmuch as devils according to the Bible are the cause of all maladies both of body and soul, this gift may manifest itself either in healing disease or in saving from sin. We are sure in our own minds that we have this power in both its forms. But since the healing of disease is more palpable than a change of character we shall for the purpose of proof confine the argument to the question of our power to cure disease.

But before going to trial on this issue we must still further correct Mr. Eastman's theory of miracles by appeal to reason. He says, "If Perfectionists have the gift of healing, then diseases of every description, whether chronic or acute, incipient or advanced are subject to their control." This statement certainly needs some modification. It is clear that God has entire control of all diseases in all stages. But the power of God is one thing and his will to exert it another. If we forget this, we shall not be able to account for the fact that deaths occurred in the Primitive Church. . . . Again, the power of those who have the gift of healing is limited not only by the discretion of God, but also by the degree of their own faith, and by the degree of faith it~ the patient and those around him.

To complete our criticism of Mr. Eastman's philosophy of miracles we must now put his concluding dogma into the Bible-crucible. "The person diseased," he says, "must be made every whit whole to prove a real miracle." This assertion is not supported by reason. If God apportions the gift of healing according to his own discretion, he may give power sufficient for relief in cases where faith is insufficient for a perfect cure. . .

We will now proceed to the trial of Perfectionists. Facts which properly belong to the evidence have been occurring


among these people in great numbers during the last fourteen Years. A few only of those facts have been recorded, but we can furnish the patient inquirer with a number of appropriate references. [Here follow a dozen references to the Perfectionist publications ]

With regard to the Perfectionist Association in this town, numbering about forty persons, it is to be noted that during the nine years of its existence not a single death of an adult has occurred among them. During the same period the average population of the town has been about fourteen hundred, and the average number of adult deaths about twenty-four per year. We have paid no part of this tax to the king of terrors, though our due proportion would have been six or seven deaths. .

Instances of healing by faith have been numerous among us. My own case deserves to be recorded. In consequence of long and loud speaking and the wear and tear of a laborious life I contracted in 1842 a disease of the throat and lungs which deprived me of the use of my voice in public and rendered ordinary conversation painful. At first I listened to friends and physicians so far as to make some slight experiments of medication But I obtained no help in this way, and finally, in the face of Dr. John Campbell's warning, I gave up my case to the sole treatment of Christ. I grew worse till September 1845, and at that time had abundant external reason to expect a spee4y death. When the symptoms were at the worst, Christ advised me to neglect my disease I did so, and entered upon a course of new and severe labor with my voice in meetings and in conversation. From that time I have been substantially well. The case of Mrs. Fanny Leonard is well known. About a year ago after the birth of a child she began to decline. Her friends had little hope of her recovery. In March of the pres-


ent year there was a general persuasion in our Community that she would be healed by the power of God. As that persuasion rose she still sank. At length the crisis of faith and of her disease came together. She received strength at the very time when our faith predicted it, and she received it by the laying on of hands. She has been visibly improving ever since, and is now a healthy woman.

The case of Mrs. Mary E. Cragin has already been described.

John R. Miller has long been subject to severe attacks of hcadache. On one of these occasions last summer I went into his room and found him in great suffering. I laid my hand on his head, and told him to shake off the Devil. He arose at once perfectly free from pain, and has not been troubled with this disease since.

These are examples of a great mass of experience which has been accumulating among us without attracting much notice from the world around. We will now take up two cases which have stood forth more directly before the public eye.

The cure of Mrs Harriet Hall is as unimpeachable as any of the miracles of the Primitive Church. It is notorious that she had been sick eight years, that at the time of the miracle she was completely bed-ridden and almost blind, lying in nearly total darkness From this state she was raised instantly by the laying on of hands and by the word of command into strength which enabled her to walk, to face the sun, to ride miles without inconvenience but with excessive pleasure. The afterthought of unbelief, that her sickness was a sham, is a gross abuse not only of her but of her family and the physicians who had attended her. The ascription of her cure to animal magnetism is a shift by which any of the miracles of Christ might be explained away with equal plausibility. These subterfuges were hardly thought of when the case was fresh


in the public mind. How many said, "If Harriet Hall only holds out, we will believe!" She has held out, and is daily walking your streets How many of you have kept your promise? Mr. Hall, her husband, is the only man (to his honor be it said) who has redeemed his pledge by acknowledging the power of God and embracing Perfectionism.

A conversation in Miller's store shows the strength of the facts that pressed at first on all minds. Mr. Baker said, that he could not understand how Mrs. Hall after having been so long in a dark room, to say nothing of the disease in her eyes, could at once face the light of open day without suffering. "For," said he, "after being a short time in her room I could not myself go out into the light without trouble." lie put the case to Dr. Campbell. The Doctor hummed. Mr. Baker set the problem before him again and again and pressed for a solution. At last the Doctor answered: "Why don't you sur-render then?" A few moments later he added in my presence:

"It is time for us old sinners to surrender."

"But," say the scorners, "Mary Knight died on your hands, and her death outweighs all your other facts." Men and brethren, Mary Knight's case has not gone to the jury yet. You have heard the pleadings on one side. Let the other side now speak.

Suppose this case to have been as complete a failure as it has been represcntcd It was no worse a failure than that described in Mark 9:17, when the disciples undertook to cast out the arch-devil; and that failure did not nullify their commission nor discredit the cures which they had previously performed.

But a simple statement of facts will place this affair in a still niore favorable light. Mary Knight a young woman not connected with the Perfectionists, not professing religion, surrounded by unbelieving friends, was in the last agonies of


consumption, given up by her physicians. Her father in these circumstances requested me once and again to call upon her. I went with him to her bedside, and said at the outset that I did not profess to be a physician, and couldl not take the responsibility of her case, but that I could recommend her to Christ as a successful physician of the body as well as the soul Soon afterward John R. Miller took her to ride, and contrary to the forebodings of her friends his faith sustained her and she returned invigorated. The next day, Seeing that her father was disposed to place her under our care, I said to her in the presence of her friends : "Your room is small and near the street. We have a room in our 'hospital,' a retired house, where you will be much more comfortable than here. That room is at your service. You will certainly have as good a chance to live there as here, and if you cannot live it will be a pleasant place to die in. We will nurse you and do our best to save you." I made this offer after deliberately counting the cost. I had no special confidence that she would live, and I knew, if she should die on our hands, we would be disgraced as we have been. But I said in my heart : "No fear of the cruel mockings of those who watch for evil shall hinder me from doing a simple act of kindness which is fairly set before me. Let the consequences be what they may, I will do as I would be done by." She was conveyed to the "hospital," and Mrs. Achsah Campbell, the widow of a physician and an unusually successful nurse, undertook the care of her. I visited her frequently during the ensuing ten days. My spirit was brought into several severe contests with her disease, and the presence of the power of God was manifest in the results. Mrs. Campbell is not inclined to fanatical faith, and is certainly sagacious in regard to the symptoms of the sick. She says that she saw in that time a miracle which no subsequent reverse can efface from her mind, that every symptom of Mary's dis-


ease was subdued. Dr. Campbell sent word at one time, that if her pulse was between eighty and ninety beats per minute, she was getting better I counted her pulse, and found it eighty-six. After witnessing a distressing drawback caused, as Mary herself declared, by a protracted visit from an unbelieving friend, I said to Mr. Knight the day before I left town : "The success of our treatment depends entirely on the faith of the patient and those around, and if we are not at liberty to shut her off from unbelieving friends, you might as well take her home to die, for die she will." He gave us the liberty we demanded. The next day at the time of my departure her pulse was eighty and she was riding abroad meeting her friends with a joyful smile and declaring herself well. While on my way to New York I wrote that her case was like a tie in Congress, where the Speaker has the casting vote, that she would live or die according to her own faith and testimony. So much for my agency in the case.

Of what took place after I left it is sufficient to say, that Mary soon began to decline from her confidence, that her worldly friends closed around her, that the believers who had charge of her fought the king of terrors heroically, desperately, even fanatically, that she failed in spite of them and on the eighth day from my departure died.

The court has now before it the materials for judgment. We have argued the question of law, and presented the facts. It only remains for us to advert in conclusion to the spiritual condition of the village in the midst of which the facts have occurred. In Mark 6:1-6 we are informed that Christ on a certain occasion went into his own country, and his countrymen were offended at him. 'And he could there do no mighty work, save that lie laid his hand upon a few sick folk and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief " We too are in our own country, subject to the derogatory thoughts


of those who look upon us merely as neighbors and men of this world. In this respect we are as badly situated as Christ was in Nazareth. But in another our case is even worse. In Nazareth there was no such doctrine as is taught in all the meetinghouses of Putney, that the age of miracles is past. What wonder if we have not thus far been able to heal more than a few sick folk" at Putney Though charity may be denied us by the world, we expect it from him who "could do no mighty works" at Nazareth.


Chapter 29: The Arrest | Contents