I OBEY THE GOSPEL
Time went on, and first one and then another would tell me something about the gospel. I heard preaching and attended prayer meetings, but did not take the interest in those meetings that I thought I could see others have, until one of the elders preached on the subject of "Probation after death." The elder said that inasmuch as the true gospel was taken from the earth, and no one had been left to preach it until it was restored again by the Almighty with all the gifts and blessings which were enjoyed by the ancient saints, the question would naturally arise, What became of all those who lived and died between the time it was lost and the time it was restored? God, being just and no respecter of persons, proposes that all who never had an opportunity to hear the gospel while they lived in the body should have an opportunity to hear it in the spirit, just as we have here in the flesh when it is preached to us.
The prophets said, "Every ear shall hear, and every tongue confess" (Isaiah 45: 23; Romans 14: 11), whether the spirit is here on earth in the flesh, or after it leaves the flesh and is in the spirit world—paradise or prison; that Christ himself preached unto the spirits in prison, who once lived in Noah's time, but were drowned at the time of the flood (1 Peter 3: 17-20). The reason he preached was "that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." (1 Peter 4: 5, 6.)
He gave many references of scripture to prove all he said. I had never heard the like of it in all my life, and did not know that there was anything like it in the Bible. I believed then that there was a chance for my mother and for all man-kind. My heart warmed toward God. I thought, "There is a God, and he is just, and I love him as I never could have loved him before."
Much was said about asking God for wisdom, and he would give us the knowledge we needed (using James 1: 5 as proof) ; that he would give it now as in olden times. I believed it and concluded 1 would ask him for light and knowledge of this restored ;gospel. So in the early part of February, 1872, one Sunday morning I went back in the woods where they had been cutting wood and walked back on the road they had made in hauling out the wood, to a place where I knew no one on earth would hear me. There I knelt and prayed earnestly that at their prayer meeting that evening, if God would speak to me in the gift of tongues through rough Elder Myron Haskins, and tell me this, gospel is true, if it is, and give me a manifestation of his Holy Spirit, sensibly, so I would feel and know that it was true, I would obey it and try to live up to it.
The longer I prayed the more I thought I would get the evidence. A peculiar feeling came over me (not unpleasant) which caused the tears to run down my cheeks. I did not know but that there might be some evidence of the Holy Spirit in it. With this good feeling I arose and went back to the house with the determination that not a soul on earth should know what I had done.
I went to the preaching meeting that morning, but Elder Haskins was not there. Elder Arthur Leverton did the preaching. I also went to the evening prayer meeting, which was held about two miles from Uncle John's place, in the home of old Brother and Sister Porter (father-in-law and mother-in-law to Arthur Leverton). Long boards were laid on chairs for seats. The room was pretty well filled. I sat in the second row of seats, between my cousins, Richard and Mary C. Taylor.In about ten minutes after the meeting was opened, when some songs had been sung, a prayer or two offered, and two or three had testified, Brother Haskins arose and began to speak in a language I did not know. He seemed to be talking to all the people present. Then turning to me, he pointed to me, looking in my face, and continued. A strange feeling came over me, a power that caused my entire being to trem-
ble—not with fear, but a power that I believed was in answer to prayer, as I had asked Him to give me his Holy Spirit as an evidence that this was the true gospel.
When Brother Haskins ceased speaking, he turned to go towards his seat and was in the act of sitting down when all at once he straightened up, turned to the congregation again, and began to speak in our own language: "A few words to all." Then, as in the tongue, he turned to me, and, pointing to mc, said (as I remember it), "Oh, thou son of man, inasmuch as you have inquired of me this day to know of the truthfulness of my gospel, I now reveal it unto you, and give you a manifestation of my Spirit by which you will know it is true. I require obedience at your hands, and I will bless you, and you will be the means of doing much good among men and of bringing many souls to the knowledge of the truth."
As these words came from the lips of that brother, in the power of the Holy Ghost by which he spoke, my body was again thrilled from head to foot, which caused the tears to flow, and a feeling of great joy came over me. To myself I said, "This is just what I prayed for; it came as I had asked. What can I say? It must be true!" As that power rested upon me, I felt like a new man. I thought, "Oh, may I never sin again!"
After the meeting was over and when all were ready to go to their homes, I said to my cousin Mary, "Don't ride; let us walk. I want you to talk to me." The team started; we walked, one in each track which the horses and sleighs had made, and neither said a word until we were nearly half way home.
Finally I broke the spell by saying, "That was a good meeting."
"Yes; did you pray today and ask God to reveal to you
as mentioned in that tongue, or the interpretation of that tongue?"
"No: only as I am telling it to you now."
Johnnie, what more evidence do you want?"
me with an ax on his shoulder. When we met, I said, "Good morning, Mr. Leverton."
"Good morning, Johnnie," he replied. Putting the ax on the snow, with both hands resting on the handle, he looked down at me as much as to say, "Well, what is it?"
Said I, "I was going up to your place. I want you to baptize me."
"You be baptized—a little mischief like you!"
"Oh," thought I, "he won't baptize me."
Said he, "What is baptism for?"
"For the remission of sins," I replied.
He then called my attention to times when I had been making fun, sometimes causing everyone to laugh.
I replied that it was my nature. Said I, "I have laughed and carried on a little fun before and after meetings, but you never saw me do so during meetings." This he admitted and, concluding our conversation, he said, "Well, Johnnie, I'll baptize you, but if you don't live right up to the gospel ordinances, we'll put you out again."
I did not say anything in reply, but I thought, "If I once get in, you'll have a job to get me out again."
Arrangements were made that same day, uncle with his team, Arthur with his, each with his family, starting for Myron Haskins's, seven miles away, by whose place the River Sydneyham ran. After all got warmed and began to feel more comfortable, some of the men went to cut a hole in the ice. Later, all of the others started to the place, telling me to remain by the fire until a little boy should come to tell me they were ready.
When the boy came, I arose and went with him, deter-mined that nothing should stop me from obeying the truth. We gathered around the place, Brother Arthur and I inside the circle. They sang and had prayer. After the prayer, Brother Leverton took me by the hand and said, "Do you covenant before God to take upon you the name of Christ, to obey his gospel, and live up to it to the best of your ability while life with you shall last, God being your helper?"
I answer, "yes."
He then added, "May God enable you to fulfill your covenant from henceforth and for ever. Amen." He then baptized me.
After the changing of our clothing and getting warm and comfortable, I was confirmed by Arthur Leverton, Myron Haskins, and (I think) Norman Blakeslee. Brother Leverton was spokesman, at which time the spirit of prophecy came upon him, and among the many things spoken was that God was well pleased in that I had obeyed the gospel, and that he would bless me and rebuke the disease that was upon me, and in time I would be made strong, and through faithfulness I would be clothed with authority to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, become a polished shaft in Israel in the presentation of the gospel, and be the means of bringing many into the kingdom. At the time of confirmation I received no evidence of the Spirit, yet I believed I had obeyed and was obeying the ordinances of the gospel, so left all in the hands of God.
The first and second days passed, and the third day came, and as yet I had not received any portion of the Spirit that I could recognize as the Spirit of God. When the fourth day came, I became very serious over the matter. I walked down by the edge of the woods and stood on a large maple log, still anxious that I should have some more evidence of the work. As I stood on that log, I thought, "What have I done that I should not receive the Holy Spirit as others say they receive it?" Again, "Have I left undone something I ought to have done? I have prayed night and morning and tried to do right; why do I not receive the influence of the Holy Spirit?"Finally I concluded that God would give me the Holy Spirit just when he saw fit, and with that I was about to step off the log, when suddenly I heard, up in the air, a sound like a strong rushing wind; also something like the rumbling of a railroad train in the distance, coming nearer and nearer, until it descended upon my head, and my entire being was thrilled through and through, very sensibly, which caused joy, peace, and happiness. the sensation was about as
when Brother Haskins spoke to me in the gift of tongues. I looked up and said audibly, "lord, is this a manifestation of the Holy Spirit?" It thrilled my body again! Again I asked, "Oh, Lord, if that is the Holy Spirit by which I may testify that I know this work is true, let it thrill through my body again!" It did so with much power. I jumped off the log, saying, "oh, God, I am satisfied; I thank thee for thy mercies and blessings; I'll serve thee while I live."
At the time I became a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, son of Joseph Smith the Martyr, was president of the church, and Williams Marks was his counselor; Israel Rogers was the bishop, and there were six member in the Quorumof Twelve; Jason W. Briggs, Zenos H. Gurley, William W. Blair, Samuel Powers, Edmunc C. Griggs, and Josiah Ells, all of whom have since passed to their resting place. The membership of the whole church at that time (1872) was about 8,300 only; and of that number, in all Canada there were about 160 members.
From the time of my baptism, I began to feel better in body and ceased to cough. I had felt sure at my confirmation that, as the Lord said, he would bless men; and I began to realize his blessings were being manifested in my behalf.