Searching For Truth – The Experience of Henrietta Gilpin
My impatient expectation of finding great things all at once was disappointed. Especially I found that the earnest spiritual violence, with which I made sure of taking the kingdom of heaven by force, was not at my command, so that I too often felt as dead, hard and indifferent to all spiritual things as possible. All this, in my ignorance, I had not laid my account for, and did not understand. Therefore it disheartened me, and filled me at times with doubts as to the truth of those things which I had lately heard and believed. Though I had found such sweet union with my friends when with them, yet after I had parted from them, and the savour of my visit was over, I could not recall to mind what I had felt with any power. Our Saviour said that when the Holy Spirit should come He should bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them; and it is only He that can do so.
I had felt very confident that I should henceforth be proof against all that I might continue to hear laid to the charge of those against all that I might continue to hear laid to the charge of those whom I now so highly valued. But in my dark and bewildered state, I found this was by no means the case. The enemy did not fail to help forward my calamity, and often succeeded in filling my mind with suspicions and prejudices, more especially as someone informed me that certain among my friends were actuated by a very bad spirit. The enemy took this advantage to “come in like a flood”, and crowded in his proofs with such force that I was quite carried away. He made made it seem clear as possible that they were walking in a false light, inasmuch that I resolved to renounce all further fellowship with them, and inwardly trembled at the narrow escape I had had of being entangled in a dreadful snare.
All this seemed certain, but still the question would intrude itself: “What then will you do?” I could not answer, for I could not bear the thought of religion again where, like Baal’s priests, I found “neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.”
“What is true religion?” I cried. “Where is it? Who is right? Is any one right? There is a heaven, but as far as I can see, there is no way to it in all the world. As for men, they are all deceivers, all.” I do not think I ever felt such anguish as filled my soul while I uttered these words, under the pressure of deep temptation. Never did I feel more hopeless or further from the possibility of help. At last I cried out in misery, “There’s no way – all men are liars, all, all.” At this moment, these words were spoken to my heart with indescribable power: “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH.” In an instant I was delivered from all my trouble, and the discovery of this way was as new to me as if I had never heard it before. Well may the LORD say, “Behold, I make all things new,” even in this sense; for I am sure that the very oldest and most well-known truth, when revealed by the Spirit to the soul, is more indeed; yea, again and again, as often as it is revived.
Mrs. Henrietta Gilpin (1807-1841)