Sister A.J. Cowles of Massachusetts sends us an account of her very remarkable cure in answer to prayer. This occurred in 1881. Since that time she has become deeply interested in the Scripture teaching relative to RESTITUTION, that it is due to the world and that physical healing can only be claimed consistently for such as have not consecrated the human nature even unto death. Were she in the same condition again she could only present her case before the Lord, saying, "Thy will be done." She could not with her present light make positive request for things and rights of the human nature she has sacrificed, to obtain the new nature and joint heirship with Christ. Nevertheless God is pleased to heal some of the consecrated ones even though they do not request such blessing.
"I received an injury to the nerves of the spinal cord while practicing gymnastics at Glenwood Ladies' Seminary. My physicians have given as their opinion, that "there was spinal weakness some years previous to this," and those who have studied the case most, say that this trouble existed from childhood and was probably a constitutional weakness from birth. They have also said that ultimately I "would have been a sufferer from spinal disease had this accident not occurred; but this hastened it, and caused a complication of diseases and greater suffering." My whole system rapidly became diseased in sympathy, and at last I was confined to my bed helpless. But scarce five months had passed ere I was seized with a severe attack of cerebro-spinal meningitis. I was taken to Boston for treatment. At Dr. Estabrook's Institute I received the tenderest treatment night and day, and Dr. Benjamin Codman being called in, fitted for me a spinal prop that supported the whole body. With the treatment and the aid of the prop, and a ten months' course of treatment at the Homoeopathic Hospital a year later, I was benefited so far as to be able to walk from room to room on the first floor, but was liable to fall at any moment. From the very commencement of my disease, the spine between the shoulders would suddenly give way, and I would fall to the floor without an instant's warning, and intense agony always followed. I was always suffering; never had one night's refreshing sleep, and severe attacks of neuralgia of the heart, alarmed my physicians and friends. I was shut in from all that made life dear, and the days, nights, months and years were one terrible great pain. O, those years of agony! No one but God can ever know what I suffered. One bitter trial came after another—everything seemed to slip from my grasp. No words can in the slightest degree, express what I suffered, with never one hour's freedom from pain. The doctors comforted me for years by telling me that if I did not get better I could not live long, but I lived on and on.
I prayed to be made willing to live God's time; and through all these years I tried faithfully, cheerfully, lovingly, to bear my heavy cross and not cast a shadow over the pathway of others, and I earnestly strove to keep my eye of faith fixed on Christ; and he did sustain me.
In April, the physicians decided that there was no earthly help for me, and told one of my former physicians and friends their decision, but he urged them to try again, and tried to think that they had made some mistake in the diagnosis of the case. Although he felt I could never be well, he had great sympathy with me and hoped that I could be a little relieved while I lived. The new attending physician, the 1st of May, finally decided to take up my case, and I was removed to a private room, forbidden to take one step or sit up for one moment. I was not allowed even to feed myself, but was given my food and drink like a babe—there remaining the hope that perfect rest might quiet the intense pain in my spine, but much to our disappointment the disease increased and I failed even more rapidly.
Through these years I have been under the care of the best physicians. They all spoke of my courage, and of trying with all my strength to be well, but all my courage and will-power could not conquer disease.
Through these years various kinds of treatment had been tried: electricity in its most approved forms, electro-magnetism, hydropathic treatment, the massage, plaster jackets, etc. My spine had been blistered over and over again, and burned with chemicals. The freezing process has been tried hundreds of times. Indeed it seems as if nearly every kind of torturing treatment had been tried, as I was willing to endure anything that held out the slightest hope of quieting that pain. After all those months at the Nervine, I was called to pass through the severe operation of having my spine burned with hot irons. Three times did I pass through that severe operation of having my spine cauterized with the thermo-cautery, and then the physicians thinking I was receiving injury, it was not tried further.
I shall always remember the day that the superintending physician entered my room, and kindly, tenderly, even sympathetically, tried to give me the physicians' opinion. He said, "Miss Cowles, the doctors of this institute have done everything in their power for you. You have been under the care of such men as Dr. Eades, Dr. Putnam and Dr. Webber, who [R783 : page 7] stand at the head of the medical profession throughout New England. Indeed you have had the best medical skill of the country, and you, by your courage, have aided us by being willing to endure anything that we suggested; but you have failed rapidly, and now it is hard for me to say it, and for you to hear it, but you must go home and never try to step again." I said, "Doctor, I shall try to step while I live," but he answered, "Do not try to step much—if you do not you may live for a time—we cannot say how long, but if you do step much, or catch a little cold, sudden congestion will set in and you will die, for you know whenever we have yielded to your entreaties and allowed you to step, those hard pains have increased." After a somewhat lengthy conversation, the doctor turned to leave my room, and I said, "Doctor, you have convinced me that you are right. I fully realize that there are diseases that you physicians cannot reach, but if human power cannot reach me, Divine power can."
Through these years the mystery of suffering had troubled me, not alone my own pain and sorrow, but the suffering of the world seemed a problem I could not solve. Gradually I was led to see that there was much in our Bible that was passed over at the present day, and that we did not receive all the blessings promised in God's word. As I look back now, I can see that several times I was very near my present belief, and then in conversation with others I found those far wiser than myself could not believe it, and fearing it was sin in me I was thrust back again into the darkness; but through those last terrible months at the Nervine, as I grew weaker my faith grew stronger, and more and more firmly I believed that this blessing which was in the world in Christ's time, was being brought back again. I did not at this time realize, that this was coming to me, but I felt sure, and said to others, "This light is in the world, and to those who live it will be revealed." You may ask what first led me to this belief; I can only answer, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, striving to live near to God and being guided by him, longing for a higher, purer spiritual life; for, although I had been a Christian all these years, there was something beyond my experience that I craved, and my most earnest supplications rose to God for spiritual blessing.
After a complete consecration to God and his service, those petitions were answered. That precious gift was mine. Then, God taught me that we must look to him for physical blessings, even as for spiritual, and I asked Jesus to take me where I should be under no doctor's authority, that I might discard all human aid and claim him as my physician.
August 25th, 1881, I was discharged from the Nervine as incurable. Dr. H. sent me to "St. Luke's Hospital" for a few days, until the papers were made out for me to go to Brooklyn to the "Home for Incurables."
When I reached St. Luke's, owing to a peculiar web of circumstances, I was under no doctor's care. Dr. H. had power to place me there, but the attending physician insisted on not admitting me regularly, as he had conversed with the doctors from the Nervine, and feared I would fail and die; he would not regard me as a patient. This at first tried me, but here was a link in God's chain to answer my prayer. I left off taking medicine, although I had it with me, and claimed Christ as my physician.
At this time I had never been under the influence of any faith people, indeed the influence had been all to the contrary. Never had I met one who understood this faith. God, through my Bible, had been my only teacher.
I gave up medicine on Thursday, and through the days following, in spite of the unbelief that surrounded me, I was trying to press through the crowd of doubts and fears to touch the hem of Christ's garment, but all was dark.
I earnestly requested Dr. Codman to bring me some faith people, and he very kindly came on Tuesday with Dr. George B. Peck and Miss Charlotte Hawes. When they reached St. Luke's, the matron, a noble woman and earnest loving Christian, objected to their being admitted, saying: "It is not right to believe that one with incurable diseases can be healed." Dr. Codman replied: "Miss Cowles has the faith, and it would be a great comfort to her to have these people pray for her. I have something at stake as a physician, but under the circumstances I will go up with them, and as a physician watch the case, and see that she is not injured or excited in any way. Can they pray with her?" The matron answered: "I really have no right to forbid your going to her room, as she is not our patient." If I had been a regular patient, these friends could not have prayed with me. They came to my room. After a preliminary conversation, Dr. Peck prayed that I should be given more faith. Throughout that prayer I had the most terrible battle, but Christ overcame the adversary for me when I was too weak to battle longer. Dr. Peck then said: "We will go now and come again;" but I begged them not to leave me. I cried out: "Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief!" The battle was over. I was calm then and ready for the second prayer. Dr. Peck anointed me with [R783 : page 8] oil in the name of the Lord, and claimed the promise in James 5:14,15. He then said: "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord," and bidding me good morning, he and Dr. Codman went down stairs. At my request Miss Hawes lingered for a moment, and knelt by my bedside. I said: "Would it be right for me to rise and dress and go down stairs?" She simply answered: "Ask the Lord." We remained in silent prayer a moment. I then arose. For years the cords in my limbs had hurt me intensely in stepping. When I placed my feet firmly on the floor those cords relaxed at once. I walked the length of the room without the pain. I lay no stress upon the words, "I walked," but I do emphasize decidedly the words without the pain, for I was free from that agony that had been my constant companion day and night all those thirteen years. You cannot realize that glorious freedom that was mine. I knelt, praised God for his wonderful gift, rose, dressed, stepping freely and naturally, without one indication of falling, and in God's strength walked down stairs, very much to the surprise of Dr. Codman, who was waiting for Miss Hawes in the room below. I refused to sit, wishing to glorify God by standing. After conversing for a time with these friends, and as they were leaving me, Miss Hawes said: "As this gift is given you, you must not be presumptuous. You had better lie down for awhile." I obeyed, and for an hour great strength came to me that I could feel to my finger-tips. O! such strength and power was poured into my body. One lady patient said to me afterwards: "Were you suffering intensely that hour? Your face was almost purple, but we did not dare speak to you." I found afterwards that they thought I had become suddenly insane, and went down stairs and came back, and was dying. As I look back now I do not think it strange that they should have thought so. Would it were in my power to describe the experience of that hour, for it was glorious. You may ask, "Did this pain ever return again?" Yes! twice; once as a temptation, and must I confess it? once for a sin. That afternoon as I thought, now I will rise again, the pain came back and seized me in its firm grasp from head to foot. If they had only told me what I always tell an invalid to-day, Satan may be allowed to place pain in your body just like the old pain, to test your faith, I should have been prepared, but that was not God's way for me, and it came to me like a terrible shock, "O! I am not healed after all!" Then the thought came, I have been down stairs; that alone was a miracle, and I looked to God for an explanation. He taught me that it was a temptation, and giving myself into God's hands, and trying to rise in his strength, the pain vanished in an instant. Two days after this I limited God—not willfully, but thoughtlessly—but it was a sin nevertheless. I was thinking, "How glorious it is to be free from this pain, to be well once more," and then I thought, "It is not possible all that tenderness in my spine is gone," and I placed my hand upon my spine to test it. The pain came back. In an instant I realized I had sinned; I had limited God's power. I prayed earnestly for forgiveness, and the pain went away never to return again.
The day after I was healed I received this message from Dr. C., "I am anxious about you, but cannot leave my office. Do send me a word." I obeyed him literally, and sent the one word, "Victory." Later, another message came, "Please write me a few lines on a card." I again obeyed, and wrote him, "Victory! Victory! Victory! through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Dr. C. came to me, and as a physician tested me, and the very tests that proved disease three weeks before, failed now. I was wholly healed, and gained in strength rapidly. The most precious gift of all was sleep. All these years I had never known what sweet sleep was, and in those months at the Nervine the physicians had ordered for me all kinds of medicine, chloral, etc., and the little sleep that they succeeded in giving me was filled with terrible dreams and agony; but now I slept like a little child.
By this time the papers were made out admitting me to the "Home for Incurables," but lo! Christ had healed me! I wrote to those who had obtained the permit, and said how wonderfully I was doing, but received word to wait until they had seen the Dr. H. who sent me to St. Luke's; and so I waited until they met, and he told them to allow me to go home, as I was perfectly able to do as I pleased. I was "now no case for any hospital," and three weeks from the day I was healed, I went home alone to surprise my friends. I had written them once, but they did not understand the [R784 : page 8] full extent, as my thoughts at that time were more on the spiritual blessing.
On that beautiful afternoon, as I crossed the threshold of my home, my friends looked upon me very much as Mary and Martha must have looked upon Lazarus, when he was risen from the dead. My dear father said, "Allie! Allie! if you had been brought in here in your coffin to-day I should not have been surprised, but what can I think now?" and a neighbor calling him outside, said, "Mr. Cowles, how is Allie?" and he answered, "O, don't ask me! she is so well that I do not dare to think or speak of it."
God has led me forward, and my faith has grown firmer and stronger as I have witnessed Christ's wonderful power in others. Often have I been told by even good people, "This was a wonderful gift to you, but do not tell others they can be healed." Ah! their eyes are blinded, and they do not see Christ as a perfect Saviour able to save to the uttermost.