Phoebe Palmer


Testimony of a life-long acquaintance.

"We for Christ our Master stand,
Lights in a benighted land;
We our dying Lord confess;
We are Jesus' witnesses."

"Let the people be assembled; who among them can declare this, and show us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear and say, 'It is truth: Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.'"


THE witness we now present is one, the record of whose life has been minutely passing before the eye of our mind during the lapse of over a quarter of a century. We will only make such records for your eye as we shall wish to read, and be answerable for, when we meet the account on the pages of eternity. But could we bring up the testimony of this life before you, as you will see it in the other world, we do not doubt but you would see scores, if not hundreds, saved through her instrumentality. Happy for her, and thrice blessed for the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, that she has been placed under genial influences in regard to laboring for God. In the Christian assembly she is permitted to speak as the Spirit gives utterance. We do not doubt but hundreds of the most eminently pious would join us in giving thanks to the Triune Deity that they ever heard her voice in the public assembly, both in prayer and speaking.

Though we have many times heard her precious voice uplifted in the social assemblies of the pious, where both male and female disciples have convened for worship, never do we remember to have heard her once speak or pray, under such circumstances, but we have been impressed with the conviction that she was divinely aided. And we are confident that hundreds will to all eternity give glory to the God of all grace that she was permitted to open her mouth and speak as the Spirit gave utterance.

How disastrous would it have been for her, and for the glorious cause she represents, had she fallen under the trainings of a ministry or people who assume to themselves the authority to silence the spirit of prophecy in woman. We have observed her under almost every variety of circumstances, advantageous and disadvantageous, prosperous and adverse, abundant and singularly effective in labors. Through the gift of prophecy with which she has been so richly endowed, and her varied labors in season and out of season, the wilderness and solitary place have been made to bud and blossom as the rose, both in a religious and moral sense.

She was on one occasion called, in the order of Providence, to remove to a place where spiritual and moral desolation reigned.

"The sound of the church-going bell
Those valleys and rocks never heard."

There was neither church nor Sabbath school, and the Sabbath seemed only known to be desecrated. But God in the order of his providence, had placed her there, and she believed Christians were called to be a light in a dark place. She took within her range a circuit of three or four miles, and visited every family, gathering in all the children of the region, with scarcely an exception, to Sabbath school, and their parents to attend worship, which she established regularly at her own house.

And now that she had been enabled, through the aid of the Head of the church, to establish the means of grace, and the people came out largely, what would those who would prohibit the use of the gift of prophecy in woman advise, under such circumstances, in case a regularly ordained ministry could not be sustained? Would they say, Let the people perish for lack of knowledge? or would they close in with the order of God, and say, Let those Heaven-touched lips of that servant of the church at C____, minister to the people of the things that appertain to the kingdom, as the Spirit gives utterance? And thus did she minister to this little church in the wilderness, with such other help as she could obtain, as occasion required, for years in succession, till truly the solitary place was made glad, and the desert rejoiced and blossomed as the rose. Yet this, though characteristic of the sort of labors in which she has engaged, presents but a small part of her ministry for good.

In the church and in the prison, in the garret and the cellar, among the sick and the well, the rich and the poor, and as a visitor for various benevolent societies, sustained by public and private charities, and by various denominations, is she accomplishing her ministry as an angel of mercy. We heard of eighteen during one winter among the sick poor, who were, when she began to visit them, without God or Christ in the world, and who, through her ministrations under God, were brought to the Saviour, and departed this life expressing blissful hopes of immortality beyond the grave. Often have we thought, as we have seen her accomplishing her Christ-like mission early and late, proclaiming the gospel of salvation to the poor, and ministering the healing balm of grace to the broken-hearted, and presenting deliverance through Christ to the captive souls that she had received a divine anointing for her work, which neither men nor angels might question.

Of the hundreds who know her, we are disposed to believe that there are none but what will be ready to join us in saying that she has received an endowment of power beyond what many professed Christians enjoy, but which all may laudably covet, and all possess. "Covet earnestly the best gifts" is the command. Surely this was an excellent gift obtained by this beloved disciple, that has made her life such an embodiment of power. Do you ask how this gift was obtained? We can only answer that this witness also, as those before introduced, tarried at Jerusalem until endued with power from on high. That is, she made every earthly project subservient to the attainment of the grace. Soul and body, family, friends, reputation, estate, ease,
all was laid upon the altar of sacrifice, never to be resumed. We will not further anticipate her testimony, but will listen to hear her interesting recital of the manner in which she received this endowment from on high.


In compliance with the requisition of Him who hath said, "Ye are my witnesses," I will endeavor, briefly, to give in my testimony. One Monday morning, between thirty and forty years since, when but a feeble child, seeing a minister apparently very happy, I desired the same enjoyment, and was instantly prompted to secure it by Seeking to become a child of God. And on the Wednesday following, after an earnest struggle for pardon, I heard Jesus whisper,—

"'Thy sins are forgiven;
Accepted thou art!'
I listened, and heaven
Sprang up in my heart."

My transported soul, perfectly unconscious of earthly objects, was permitted, as if disembodied, to mingle with the heavenly choir in praise and adoration. The witness imparted that moment has never been questioned. For weeks my joys were uninterrupted; not even a temptation was permitted to cloud my sky.

About two years after, I was presented with Wesley's Views of Christian Perfection. My mind was peculiarly happy at the time, but I began to pray earnestly for all that it was my privilege to enjoy. For the first time I now heard the voice with power — "I am the Almighty: walk before me and be thou perfect." My desires were intense — my temptations powerful. But O, how often, in flying to Jesus for refuge, have I felt all the sweetness and security of a babe in its mother's arms! I was a babe, and felt as a babe. My soul was also frequently encouraged by the consideration — it is the "Almighty" who commands. Then, endeavoring to take hold of Omnipotence, I would be enabled for a season to rejoice in hope.


"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." — Paul to the Corinthians.

That any degree of the carnal mind may remain, after forgiveness and adoption, is a doctrine which many are not willing to receive. Yet, though open in their avowal of their belief, alas! it is too often the case that we find such among those whose lives do not furnish demonstration that the remains of the carnal mind are removed. We would earnestly entreat those who maintain this doctrine, and teach others so, that they lose no time in seeking the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit. If any degree of the old leaven of sin is in the heart, nothing is gained by permitting it to remain undiscovered. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Here we see in clear, scriptural light, the distinctness of the two states, as set forth by the testimony of this witness. We are not disposed to doubt the sincerity of some who hold that the body of sin is totally destroyed at the hour of conversion. But the comfort arising from a mistake, even though it be a sincere mistake, will be cause of great discomfort when viewed in the light of eternity. But let us not be unmindful that on condition that we
confess our sins, the faithfulness and justice of God stand pledged to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, through grace, our witness was enabled to do. And after she had complied with the condition, and became an experimental witness of the faithfulness of God in cleansing her from all sin, — what was her duty under such circumstances? Was it not to testify of it to his praise? Could she have retained the grace, had she not given to God the glory due to his name? She says,

It was not until 1824 the veil was lifted, that I might glance at the corruptions of my nature. Then I was almost overwhelmed at the sight, and while abhorring my. self, was perfectly astonished that even the infinite love of Jesus could look on one so impure. My views of sin, its awful demerit, and the anguish felt in consequence, were now much, much more clear and keen than before justification. It now seemed as if the enemy must be forced to surrender by continued resistance, and the conflict was sore. In the early part of 1825, I obtained the Christian's Manual, and through this means was led to expect deliverance through faith in the atonement.

While in this State of extreme anxiety, I dreamed one night of being alone in a large, beautiful field of snow, on a lovely moonlight evening. Nature looked so pure and heavenly, that I thought surely God is here. I will kneel, and ask him to purify my heart just now. I did so, and was immediately filled with light and inexpressible glory, and exclaimed, This is not holiness, but heaven: I awoke, filled with holy rapture, and said, if I had only been awake, I should have no doubt but that God had purified my heart. I immediately arose, and fell on my knees to ask the blessing; but prayer was lost in praise; yet I could not confidently claim the witness of holiness; but my soul was all athirst for the full impress of the image of the heavenly. My views of faith became more clear, and I often attempted to believe now. Thus I went forward for about three months, generally rejoicing, and sometimes believing that the blood of Jesus now cleanseth.


"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go except thou bless me. And he said, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for as a prince hast thou power with God and man, and hast prevailed."

One Saturday evening I resolved not to rise from my knees the whole night, or even the next day, without the witness of holiness. Earnestly did I plead. Several times the words were presented, "The blood of Jesus cleanseth — "Tremblingly faith would take hold, and say, I do believe; but impatient for further manifestations, I would again resume pleading. About one o'clock in the morning, I opened the precious Bible on "Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God ye might receive the promises. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith." I felt the reproof, also the encouragement, and calmly said, Lord, I will believe; I am wholly thine; help me to abide in thee. I then retired, resolving to live by faith.

At the dawn of day I awoke, desiring the Lord, almost as a condition of perseverance, to confirm my faith, by directing my eye to some special passage, and for that purpose reached to take a Bible. The suggestion came, "It will open on some passage you have marked." Indulging the impression, I withdrew my hand, and took another which I had not used, when the Holy Spirit, in infinite condescension, directed my eye to "Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." A thrilling sensation came over me; I felt to draw back would be death, and cried, Lord, keep me.

Throughout the day, a most profound solemnity rested on my mind. Holiness seemed written on every object. On Monday, the enemy said, "It is possible you may yet be deceived; you have not received this blessing as you expected." But my heavenly Father soon assured me, if an earthly parent would not give a stone for bread, or a scorpion for fish, neither would he. My soul was now sweetly and continually sustained by the precious promises. It was only to ask and receive. On Tuesday morning, a very powerful temptation being presented, I hastened to my closet, and pleading my youth and inexperience, felt encouraged to ask another and still more powerful assurance of purity. The answer was instantly given, by a most powerful application of "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." It was enough, and my enraptured soul could only adore such infinite condescension. For nearly a week, I was permitted, in a manner unknown before, to walk and talk with God, continually receiving repeated and powerful assurances of purity.

And here for a few moments we will pause over the testimony of this witness, and say, that subsequently for a time she lost the direct witness of purity which she had with so much prayerful intensity sought, and which was so inexpressibly precious to her. O, what a blessing is conscious purity! Blessed indeed to know that the fountain from which motive emanates is pure. And how can we assuredly know that our labor is in the Lord, unless we may know that the spring from whence action emanates is pure. But she lost that conscious nearness and repose in Christ which she once possessed, and a degree of power of faith which made her labors less effectual for good, and felt her spiritual energies variously incapacitated by the loss of this gift of power. Do you ask how she lost it? It was solely by yielding to a well-circumstanced temptation, not to testify explicitly of the grace she had received. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." Neither this nor any other gift can be retained otherwise than by obeying the order of God. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." But she felt that she could not live without this gift of power; and who that has once known the excellency of this grace but will feel that it is a pearl of infinite price, and will, with utterable longings, seek till they regain it? and thus it was with this precious disciple. Again we will listen to her testimony in relation to her regaining the witness of inward purity.


In the former part of May, 1835, an impression was felt so much like unhallowed emotion, that it caused extreme pain. I then again resolved, if it was possible to have the positive assurance of inward purity, I would have it. I immediately went to my room, and in the most solemn manner entered into covenant with God, to withdraw my mind from every object that might divert it from this point, and to leave no means unused to which he might direct, most earnestly imploring divine guidance. I now withdrew as much as possible from society, and with much fasting and reading the Scriptures, with continual prayer, waited before the Lord. Temptations over which the Lord had enabled me to triumph for months, were now presented with renewed force; each motive, purpose, and practice was required to undergo a renewed investigation, and the result was too clear for even Satan to question. My only desire was to walk in the narrowest part of the narrow way. I now waited, expecting an immediate baptism of the Holy Ghost. I had not once thought of claiming the blessing without it; but it did not come. It seemed as if my heart would break with desire to be filled with God.

One day, while thus breathing out my desires, too great for utterance, it was suggested, "Emptied, then filled:" this turned my attention, and instead of
fill, I now cried empty, thoroughly purify my heart. That moment, as if directed by God, I opened the Life of H. A. Rogers, and read, "Reckon thyself dead unto sin, and thou art alive unto God from this hour. O, begin, begin to reckon now; fear not; believe, believe, continue to believe; so shalt thou continue free." I fell on my knees, and cried, Lord, I will believe, I now believe. "Help thou my unbelief." I now believe the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin. Thou hast purchased pardon and holiness for me, even me. I will from this moment reckon myself "dead indeed unto sin."

Perfectly composed, I looked at the time, and continued to say, "Yes, Lord, from this hour, half past two, p. m., the twenty first of May, I dare reckon myself dead indeed unto sin." I waited speechless and motionless, expecting an instantaneous baptism, but felt no emotion except a sacred stillness. The word of life was lying before me; I cast my eye on it, and read, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me ye should have known the Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him."
A new and inexpressible consciousness of having come to the Father through the Son was now given; and I cried, O, fill me with the Holy Ghost; but all was calm and stillness; I had none of the expected emotion.


"Surely fighting in Canaan is far beyond journeying through the wilderness, and I should think comparatively few Christians come to that reality of conflict." — Adelaide Newton.

I arose from my knees, fully determined to rest in God, when the enemy immediately suggested, "You have no more evidence now than before; you might have believed long since; who ever heard of believing and continuing to believe without evidence?" Immediately the Spirit replied, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." For nearly a week, I do not think there was a joyous emotion, but an unceasing effort to believe. Presumption, enthusiasm, Antinomianism, were the constant cry of the enemy. But the sword of the Spirit prevailed, though the contest was very, very severe. To draw back, I knew, was death to the soul, and I resolved to endure the conflict while mortal life should last, if no other evidence was given. Just after forming this resolution the promise came with more power than ever, "Blessed is she that believeth, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." Thus nerved afresh, I was enabled to obey the oft-repeated exhortation,—

"Drooping soul, shake off thy fears;
Fearful soul, be strong, be bold;
Tarry till thy Lord appears;
Never, never quit thy hold;
Murmur not at his delay;
Dare not set thy God a time;
Calmly for his coming stay;
Leave it, leave it all to him."

The whole of that hymn was made a blessed means of sustaining my soul under this severe trial of faith. The next Wednesday afternoon, in a prayer meeting, I was sorely tried by having no liberty in prayer. This, for the enemy, was a powerful argument; but I could only reply, with the holy Fletcher,—

"Be it I myself deceive,
Yet I
must, I will believe."

On my return from this meeting, business required me to call on a beloved minister. Speaking of holiness, he said, "Sister, you know something of this by experience, do you not?" I was startled, and replied, "I am not prepared to answer that question;" but after a moment's hesitation said, "I have made a bold venture; I have dared, though perhaps presumptuously, to believe, and reckon myself dead indeed unto sin." He gave me much encouragement; said, "Never fear presumption in believing God; presumption lies in daring to doubt." All fears now vanished, and on leaving the door I began to glory in being
wholly the Lord's, and immediately my soul was filled,—

"Unutterably full—
Of glory and of God."

For a week my mortal powers could scarcely contain the weight of love. I had such a deep consciousness of
purity as is utterly inexpressible; nor do I think there has been an hour since but I have been enabled to rest in the atonement, and much of the time with the most indubitable assurance that the blood of Christ now cleanseth. And O, with what holy rapture, with what triumph, have I since been permitted to dwell in God!

"'Tis more than angel tongues can tell,
Or angel minds conceive."

Though, as before stated, the witness of the Spirit has not been withdrawn for an hour, yet there have been instances when sudden temptation has assumed so much the appearance of sinful emotion as to cause severe sensations; but I have been invariably enabled almost instantly to appropriate that blood which now cleanseth from all sin, known and unknown. These acts of faith have generally been immediately succeeded by a most joyous assurance of acceptance; and but a very short season has at any time intervened before the Comforter has come. There are also on record seasons when, almost positively convinced of yielding to temptation, I could

"Weep my life away, for having grieved his love."

But O infinite condescension! Glorious plan! My Advocate has prevailed; the fountain has been opened, and I have been permitted immediately to wash and be made clean.

My consciousness of the necessity of the momentary intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ is much more clear than ever; and never was the petition, "Forgive as our trespasses," presented with more fervor than it has been since I have been kept from voluntary transgression. There have also been seasons when, for days in succession, the arch enemy has seemed to rally all his forces to wrest from me the shield of faith; especially on one occasion recently, the powers of darkness were permitted so to prevail that I seemed almost constrained to cry out, "Hast thou forsaken me?" But deliverance came, Omnipotence prevailed, and his feeble one was enabled to rejoice in Him "who always causeth us to triumph."

Since I have been enabled to abide in Christ, I believe the language of my heart has been,

"No cross, no suffering, I decline,
Only let my whole heart be thine."

The honor of being an agent for God seems very,
very great; and yet I fear I often lose opportunities of acting for want of wisdom. Perhaps there is no grace of which I feel so much the need. I feel that I am nothing, I have nothing, I know nothing, and am therefore constrained to cry continually, "Teach me thy way; lead me in a plain path." And O, how precious I find the promise, "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee by mine eye"! The WORD OF GOD is increasingly precious. It is principally through this medium I am permitted to hold converse with Deity.