The watchman has found the biography of Mrs. Robinson very useful in training him to seek God and to listen to the Holy Spirit. Here is a sample of the book, which is free online for download.
(Radiant Glory - the life of Martha Wing Robinson)
Radiant Glory - chapter 22
IN GOD’S TRAINING SCHOOL
NOW THAT MRS. ROBINSON had no ministerial responsibilities she gave herself entirely to prayer and waiting on God. “I thank God for a good day today, the well of water springing up,” she notes in her journal for July 18. “O Lord, how blessed! Very quiet in my experience just now. In one of the still, waiting places.”
Then she goes on to review the work God has been doing in her soul since her baptism in the Spirit and the beginning of her time in Toronto:
“As I look over my experiences dating from first entry in this book, or rather date of its first writing, I realize that certain work has been done in me. I seem to have become quite—wholly—separated from the world. It seems to have dropped back somewhere down below me, and I am standing in a higher plane of God looking down at it, and it looks so small and eternity so great. The world has nothing to offer me. But I am not free from my old self-life. It seems sometimes as if there has been no death at all. I have been so rebellious under difficulty—my whole flesh protesting. O God, let me die faster.
“O God, get me down lower. O, I realize You have been answering my prayers for death to self by prunings and leadings hard to understand, and I have shrunk under the knife. God, help me stand still and let Thee cut off every thing. Perhaps I don’t realize what I ask, but that doesn’t matter; it is what I need and Thy grace is sufficient. Help me to appropriate Thy help. I know You could not trust me with much blessing or success in my work. O God, bring me to the place where You can trust me.
“If I record my failures, I would not fail to record God’s mercies. He provides for our needs steadily, quite outside of the hail work. Has sent us ten dollars twice lately from outside the city, also small amounts from unexpected sources in city.
“July 20. Yesterday, the 19th, was a blessed day. In the morning I awakened with pain in the part of the body where I have had so much weakness and so little victory for two or three years, but especially the last year. But this time for the first time I claimed healing, positive, complete, unconditional healing. I had assurance that it was to come and thought at first the victory was right there. Today I have had a severe and unusual testing in my body, but instead of making me question, I am able to stand quite still and am positive God has undertaken my perfect healing. This testing and symptoms is only a passing incident.
“In afternoon I went to East End, but first thought it best to go to buy a pair of shoes. Three months ago I said I must have some at once as these I have would soon be worn out; but they are today almost as good as then— (‘have waxed not old’)—and yesterday, first time I could buy any, I felt impressed to go then and found a shoe sale on and got them at extraordinarily low price. An incident of God’s care in little things.
“I then went down to East End, found them in the middle of prayer service. Praise God, Harry went under the power of God and lay for four hours, as he expressed it, ‘in the arms of the Lord.’ Oh, I am so thankful to see him coming through to blessing.
“And I am waiting on God to perfect His work in me, to make me meek and lowly in spirit, fill me with love and patience. I do fail so dreadfully; I am so full of myself. I sometimes seem to get worse instead of better. Again I see that it is that I see myself more plainly. Well, the work is in God’s hands.
“July 22. No chastening at present seemeth to be joyous. Verily, no, but may it yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness! It seems as if there has come on me a fixed sadness from the chastening God has permitted in my life, but I know ‘joy cometh in the morning.’ Perhaps this is to subdue and quiet me and get me in my place.
“Yesterday spent day with Harry at East End. Quite a wonderful day all day. In evening had odd experience. Mrs. Hebden asked me to speak. There was considerable emotionalism in room to begin with. As I spoke, I came under power of the Spirit and spoke in tongues and also shook, though I don’t know that I did so visibly; and it seemed to me as if the whole audience were in the midst of a rustling wind, and I were talking above the wind. All the time I was speaking I felt this way.
“Today came home and stopped at Marlatts’ and had dinner, and in afternoon Margie Davidson came in, and George was home and Mr. Marlatt, and we had a season of prayer and such blessing.
“O God, I am still before Thee, not yet of service, still under the pruning knife. I ask Thee to enable me to keep humble and keep sweet no matter what the circumstances are. I have a rebellious spirit against injustice along certain lines. I cannot bear to be blamed for well-doing or to be misunderstood, or misjudged. Oh, if I were dead to myself these things would not hurt. Make me dead, my Lord and my God.”
This conflict between the Spirit and her self-life Mrs. Robinson elucidated and elaborated upon in a letter to her sister Nettie, written sometime during July. In this epistle she explained the relation of this struggle to the heart-cleansing she had received the previous December:
“Looking back these ... months, since my baptism, I realize keenly that I have been in God’s training school, and I have been a slow pupil. ... God seems to give according to our capacity. My capacity to receive was limited, and the Holy Ghost came in as a teacher to enlarge and develop me. ...
“Now, there are two kinds of works of the flesh, the carnal nature or inbred sin to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and the self-life, which is a terrible enemy. In the third chapter of Philippians Paul says, ‘If any man might have confidence in the flesh,’ he could, and goes on to tell of his good birth, education, righteousness of the law, zeal in religion, etc. It is as if a man now boasted of a good, clean ancestry, education, abilities, moral, clean life, etc., and Paul calls these things of the flesh. And what does he say? He counted them as dung that he might win Christ.
“Oh, there is much of the flesh, of self, left in one when one is cleansed of sin. All the abilities, powers, independence, ‘righteousness,’ self-sufficiency, self-wisdom, stand in the way of the perfect work of the Spirit so long as we lean on them. It is these things that have to be ‘crucified,’ not our ‘sins.’ Our own opinions so wise, our own plans, our own ways—all so wise and sensible and better than anyone’s else have to be laid down. This is what Paul meant when he said ‘I die daily.’
“I do not mean that these things, good birth, etc., of themselves are wrong, but the self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-wisdom, that grow out of these good things have to be laid down, crucified. We have to become as little children. It is this teaching in the Bible that has led to the erroneous idea of slow cleansing from sin. No, the Holy Ghost wants a clean vessel to come into, but He will come into a most imperfect, warped, crooked, leaky old affair and begin to develop, carve, mould, and teach until we are vessels of honor.
“My self-life was, I believe, a worse enemy than my carnal nature. By God’s goodness, no dreadful heritage was upon me of immorality, or terribly bad disposition, etc., though I needed just as much the blood of Jesus to cleanse as any drunken sot who lives before I could become pleasing to God. But this very ‘tendency to righteousness,’ moral goodness, helped to develop in me a strong self-life,—a self-sufficiency, self-wisdom, self-pride, independence, self-confidence—what a mess for the Holy Ghost to get rid of. And until our self is out of the way, He never can work freely and fully.
“The first few weeks of His indwelling was a battle between the Spirit and this flesh until I could learn what was in the way and get my will on God’s side, to have this self-life die. And, oh, since the death has been a real crucifixion, what a pruning and cutting has had to take place! What humiliations and visions of myself! What emptiness and weakness and yet blessing and growth. And what a tremendously tenacious life there still is in my flesh!
“How this hydra-headed self seems to be quite conquered, dead, and I am passive in God’s hands, and He is working so sweetly and all is going His way, and there seems precious victory for Him, and then, alas, up pops in some unexpected place one of those awful heads of self, and there is, I discover, some of my own self-energy, or planning, or opinions, or pride, or desire, getting in the way of the Holy Spirit. And I needs must get down in the Valley of Humiliation and let God cut off this projection. The chief growth I see is the willingness to have the pruning knife upon me no matter how it hurts. I no longer ‘kick against the pricks.’
“Well, no doubt, if there were less self-life, the Holy Ghost would have been poured out in greater power. I have confidence in God that He will perfect that which concerneth me, and that the time will come that not only will I have the ‘well of water springing up into everlasting life’ (which I now have, praise His name), but the flow shall be so strong and the channel so free and unimpeded by self that ‘rivers of living waters’ shall flow out for the good of others. Sometimes I say, ‘O Lord, how long!’ but yet I know He is working as fast as I can receive.
“Another thing—I supposed when I was cleansed there would be restored my old passion for souls, love and joy and peace. Then, when I learned that this was not so, I supposed the Baptism of the Holy Ghost would mean an instantaneous life of love, of passion for souls, an outflowing in power to others. Not so in my case because of the reasons just given.
“Love, joy, peace, meekness, etc., are fruits of the Spirit, and they develop in our lives according to the workings of the power within us. It is a growth, a development at best, but some receive such a wonderful inpouring of the Spirit, and the fruit is more quickly manifest. Little by little my love for sinners has grown. Peace is beginning to ‘flow as a river.’ Love for others is beginning to manifest itself in me. I can feel my heart go out more and more for others. I am not very meek yet. I think that is my worst failing. And yet, I can see that God’s hand is upon me continuously, and in spite of failure and weakness there is growth. Oh, to become absolutely passive in His hands.
“And yet in the midst of it all, this well of water springing up is most wonderful. The wonderful, wonderful experiences I have alone with my Lord. The communion, the worship— I never grow weary of being alone. The speaking in tongues alone is such a wonderful self-edification, I would hardly know how to worship God without [it]. In fact, I never in my life truly ‘worshipped’ God until the Holy Ghost within me became my Teacher. I haven’t time to write now of some of the wonderful times I have, the singing in tongues, etc., when my soul goes right up to [the] gates of Heaven.
“But now, do you see the difference between cleansing and developing? ... I cannot say, as I do not know, that the only hindrance to a powerful, instantaneous work of the Spirit is the self-life, but it is one hindrance, that is certain.”
Then Mrs. Robinson adds a practical word of help for her sister’s personal experience:
“Yet don’t make the mistake of thinking there must be a long time of pruning and purging and cleansing and so forth before you can receive the Holy Spirit. All God wants is an undivided heart and perfectly surrendered life. Give Him that and trust Him to speedily give you the Holy Spirit, for until you have the Holy Spirit in you there is much of abandonment and development impossible to learn.
“And yet, to boil all this down, it is simply Jesus. Are you seeking righteousness, sanctification? He is our righteousness, our wisdom, our sanctification, our redemption. (See I Cor. 1:30 especially.) If we seek Jesus more and more, and more and more, a personal relation with Himself, we come into Him and He into us, and the cleansing, and purging, and pruning goes on almost unknown to ourselves.
“We do need to be definite in our consecration. But after that, don’t keep looking at yourself. Look at Jesus.
Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
So entranced my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.
All for Jesus, All for Jesus,
All for Jesus crucified.You know the song. It can become a living reality. 2 Corinthians, 3rd Chapter, verse 18 (R.V.) says, ‘But we all with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.’
“If we looked at Jesus more, and ourselves, and our friends, and our trials, and our failures, and conditions of life, and the world, and flesh, and devil, less, we would reflect His image more and more, and the hardness, and impurity, and temper, and selfishness would fade away, and there would be tenderness, and purity, and gentleness, and love just take their places—changing from glory to glory.
“This is why He requires closet prayer. This is why we need to get still before Him and listen to His voice, get into His presence. If we listened to Him more, looked to Him in stillness more, and chattered to Him less, we would get the sense of His presence better.
“Whenever you can, take a few minutes of just waiting on Jesus, not necessarily praying, but just waiting, looking into His face, desiring His presence. At first, you may not seem to receive much, but if you take every opportunity, presently your soul will hunger for Him, and the sweetness of Himself will come to you, and you will get like lovers—rather slip away with Him just for a minute or two than talk or read or rest or eat. And when you are tired, or rushed, or nervous, a few minutes with him in the stillness of His presence will rest you more than anything in the world. ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me,’ Jesus said. You are thirsty for righteousness, for a work to be done in you. But you must have the righteousness of Christ. See Phil. 3:9.
“Don’t bother your head as to the details of being so clothed upon. After a square look at yourself and a real consecration, you are a vessel in God’s hands and you can just enjoy Jesus. Take all the time you have, all the thought you have, all the energy you have to spare, and follow on to know Jesus, Jesus! He will supply all your need. In your hurrying life, you cannot split hairs. Let God have His way. Ask Him to make you hungry and thirsty for Jesus, and give Him the chance to answer by getting into His presence every opportunity you have, and He will give the victory along every line.
“I have learned in prayer to do less talking than I used [to]. We rush into God’s presence too boldly and irreverently. If, when we go to prayer, we would just take time in the beginning to get quiet in soul, to be still before Him, to seek to get into a sense of His presence, to reverence Him, and then, when we do speak, first thank and praise Him when we did offer our petitions, we would not so often have the feeling of their falling back on our heads unanswered, but we would pray ‘through.’
“Often when I have a burden on me until it seems as if I can hardly stand it until I get before the Lord alone, and I expect to just lay my difficulties before Him in detail and with earnest supplication, when I follow this method of prayer, by the time I have felt His presence and felt His touch, and praised Him, I have just a sweet time of worship, and when I get up, I think, ‘Why, I never told the Lord about that at all,’—and I just don’t need to; the burden is gone, the problem is solved, and I know He has undertaken for me.
“Not that we never need to supplicate, because we do, but not so often as we sometimes think. But we need far more waiting on God than we have.
Returning to her diary, under date of July 24, Mrs. Robinson writes of some personal ministry the Lord gave her at this time:
“Called yesterday at Mrs. L—’s. Found them in quandary over their little girl, Emily, thirteen years of age. She is under great spiritual conviction, and no one seems to be able to help her. Mrs. L— wanted to send for me, but Mr. L— was rather afraid of my teaching. Then Mrs. L— said she would pray that I would come if it was God’s will; so in I walked. This led them to present the child’s case very earnestly to me. Oh, may God use me for her.
“Last night, went to Elder Brooks’ meeting, and on way home had a long talk with George. Am holding him very earnestly before the throne.
“July 25. Lord, plant my feet on higher ground. God needs to do this indeed. Truly I am on a low plane. For some time I have asked God for discernment of spirits. Twice lately God has shown me an evil spirit in a person. The other day as I was seeking most earnestly for discernment—power to know spirits—the thought came suddenly to me: ‘Do you know what you are asking for? The power to discern demons must necessarily include the power to cast them out. That means taking unto one’s self an authority under embarrassing circumstances at times.’ I asked God to bring me up to my own prayer.
“Then this morning I prayed again along this line. I felt so greatly the need of being able to understand what things are prompted by God in the demonstrative meetings. We came down to prayer—we were at East End.
“While we were at prayer, a drunken man came in and fell down on his knees and went to weeping and begging God’s mercy. As we were praying for him, I was led to pray; and as I did so my prayer changed, and in tongues, as has happened once or twice before, I began to rebuke the evil spirit in him. A strong impression came over me to rise and command the demon to go out; but I wavered. I felt the words just coming out of me, and I felt so strong. But all sorts of things came into my mind, principally how H— would take it, also Mrs. H—. H— is very fearful of my presuming in any way, so I argued with the Lord. Finally I said, ‘I believe it is a demon.’
“Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke through me, ‘It is a demon.’ Then again I felt I should just rise and command the demon to depart; but I let the moments go by, and the power passed. Then I said, ‘Lord, what must I do? Is it really a demon?’ and the Spirit said through me over and over, ‘It is. It is. It is. It is,’ and I still wavered until great conviction came over me, and I could only weep. Then I prayed aloud and asked God to forgive my cowardice, and I was all broken up and would have then commanded the demon to go, but the power was gone by. And the man changed in his spirit.
“My handbag was lying there, and he must have caught sight of it—poor, weak, miserable sinner; and he took it and slipped out while I was weeping over my weakness. Served me right, too, that the demon got ahead of me so.
“Well, I am praying God to convict the sinner and to return the bag. God help us all to be more fit for God to use. I have asked God, instead of withdrawing His answer to my prayers, to strengthen me with a holy boldness until I am strong enough to bear and honor the answer to my prayers.
“In spite of the failure, I was wonderfully blessed all day and strengthened in the inner man. In evening, was doused with cold water and a cloud came, but God permits me to have this kind of chastening still.
“July 26. Cloud still hanging, but I see victory coming in my son1. I am better able than I was to be misunderstood and wrongfully accused and just keep silence. I do not have such a rebellious rising and resistance in me for sell-justification. ‘Love suffereth long and is kind.’
“O God, make me dead, not to care what anyone thinks. I find I have to live separated unto God, in everything. My great difficulty is in letting others press me into not following the exact leading of the Spirit by arguing with me that my leadings are mistaken, that I am presumptuous in assuming to have any clear leadings.
“I have not had the baptism of fire. Jesus was to baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. I don’t know what it all means but I want the whole promise, and I ask for the baptism of fire. I know I am cold, hard, stiff. I need burning, melting, softening, refining in God’s crucible. I need to be burned up. God, give me the fire, the fire. Why should I stop short of the fulfillment of the whole promise? I ask the baptism of fire. O God, work out in me Thy perfect will. O, make me what I ought to be. 0 Lord, I give up to Thee. Thou art too wonderful for me.
“July 27. Yesterday, a day of blessing. In the afternoon a rich anointing of praise and joy and laughter and songs in tongues. The blessed experience stayed with me into a time of great rest and peace in the evening. I seemed floating on billows of calm.
“Today God seems to have made the way open and plain for me to wait on Him. ‘Sitting at the feet of Jesus.’ Oh, how much we need to do that! God is working something out in me. I have that sense of being in His training school.
“Sometimes His workings seem so plain. Again I just have to stand still and trust. I am persistently holding before Him my plea to know His will. He is teaching me in many ways, letting me have strong impressions to do things that are not His will and then closing every door to show me I am wrong. I was puzzled at first, but I believe now that He is making me to measure the difference between impressions and leadings. As I go to school, I learn my lessons one by one.
“This is coming plain—to know the mind of God we must be free from our own mind. He literally has to think through us. In order to get the mind of God, we must get our thoughts off everything else that would influence. Conditions, advice, opinions, impressions, inclinations, desires, feelings, all laid down, emptied out; then with a blank mind get into a stillness before God and let Him either positively speak, which He does sometimes, or drive home a definite, steady, positive, clear-cut conviction.
“I also learn that one must be very wary of strong impressions. They may be from God; but when we have them we should stand still, get still before God, empty out before Him, get His mind. If the impression is from God, it will deepen, strengthen and grow into a clear, steady, unmistakable conviction. With such a leading one can stand fast in the face of all opposition.
“And this is the third lesson. One must stand fast. Deny a leading, falter, waver, or question, after having seen a thing clearly and positively, serves to throw us into confusion and doubt that hinders us from getting God’s will next time. He will not waste His blessing. If we receive clear leadings from Him, He will have us obey them, or He will not give them.
“Fourth, it takes great patience. God isn’t in a hurry. Eternity’s years are His. He will not let us hurry Him. The very first requisite for getting His voice is to get quiet, to be patient. All restlessness, anxiety, haste, uneasiness stand in the way. God moves in a great calm. He doesn’t speak to the inner ear of man by whirlwinds and earthquakes. He has His messages in these. But to the child of God He speaks gently, in a still, small voice. There must be stillness—stillness of the soul—to meet Him and hear that voice; there must be faithfulness, and obedient faithfulness, to get still and stand still until God does speak.
“Our God is a jealous God. If we don’t give Him all of our obedience, He will not give us of the priceless, deeper treasures that come to a perfectly surrendered life. And if there is an inclination on our part to run away from His presence and get weary of waiting for His voice, He withholds the blessing. Or rather, it is only by that patience and that waiting that our spirit gets in that touch with God that tunes the inner ear to His voice. God moves in great harmonies. This stillness and waiting and patience and submission tunes every discordant chord of our being into harmony with His; and when He touches us with His divine finger, whispers to us from His divine knowledge, the tuned chords respond, and we have His mind in us.
“O gracious Father, put me into harmony with Thee. Take away every discordant note of my own choice, and let Thy mind control mine—’every thought brought into captivity.’
“Sometimes in so waiting upon God, perhaps for days, for some clear leading as to our path of duty, we are confused by many impressions and even by doors opening in such an unexpected manner we take them to be of God. But this is our testing. Satan is always busy seeking whom he may devour and never more so perhaps than when a child of God is at the feet of Jesus asking for direction. God never works aimlessly. And Satan knows no matter how simple or personal a matter it is, God’s decision will be one that will hurt the kingdom of darkness. To deflect the child of God by any possible means from entering upon that path, therefore, is Satan’s aim. And knowing he cannot tempt to disobedience, he will, if possible, coming as an angel of light, draw the child of God by deceptive leadings, impressions, or conditions into the wrong paths.
“God high over all permits this testing. In His great eternal calm He, looking at the troubled soul, sees further than the present emergency. He knows if He is too merciful it will never learn the lesson of hearing His voice, that the battle will strengthen, not weaken. And even if there should be failure and temporary victory on the part of Satan, experience—painful though it may be—will be the teacher to bring that impatient soul to a better understanding of God’s dealings with His children. The lesson once learned, then God has an instrument in His hand to whom He can communicate His will,—to be worked out in the obedience of an absolutely yielded, human will.
“Oh, better to stand the testings and suffer the failure, even, than to give up and stand on the lower plane of a servant, walking in ignorance. As His friends we have a right to know what He doeth, and only to His friends, those who are in intimate, personal relation to Himself, can He give this knowledge.”