Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa
Chapter XV. Two Years of Silence and the Question of Faith Healing

When, the Church understands that the body also shares in the redemption effected by Christ, by which it may be restored to its original destiny, and become the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, to serve as His fit instrument and to be sanctified by His presence,—then the Church will also recognize the place which Divine Healing has in the Bible and in the counsels of God.—Andrew Murray.

IT may have been in consequence of the heavy strain cast upon him by the continuous travelling and preaching of the evangelistic tour, that Mr. Murray began, towards the end of 1879, to suffer from a relaxed throat, which interrupted his regular ministrations and imposed upon him a silence lasting, with occasional recoveries, for more than two years. Early in 1880 we find him under the roof of his brother-in-law, Mr. F. F. Rutherfoord, at Mowbray, seeking to escape from the kind enquiries of visitors and friends, and to shield his throat from the unkind westerly breezes. All through the year his throat seems to have continued in an unsatisfactory condition. Important conferences were held at Montagu and at Worcester, where, though present in spirit, he could only deliver his message through the medium of papers which were read to the assembled brethren. In October the Synod met in Cape Town, but though the duty of formally opening the gathering fell to him as retiring Moderator, he was unable to officiate, and the inaugural ceremony was performed by Dr. Philip Faure, the Assessor. The minutes, however, inform us that on the motion of the minister of Cradock the whole gathering by rising expressed its gratitude to the retiring Moderator, and its sincere regret that a weakness of the throat prevented him from taking active part, as heretofore, in its proceedings.

During the early months of 1881 Mr. Murray spent several weeks in the Karroo, in the hope that the dry climate, and treatment at the hands of a doctor of special qualifications, might effect a cure. It was in many respects an anxious time. The Transvaal War of Independence had just broken out, and the eldest daughter, Emmie, was teaching in Pretoria, while a sister, Eliza, the wife of the Rev. Hendrik Neethling, and a brother, James, were residing in the Transvaal, within thirty miles of Majuba Mountain.1 In spite of all anxieties Mr. Murray employed his time in writing diligently for De Christen, the journal which from the commencement of 1880 (though only for a short period) supplanted the Kerkbode, and in issuing tracts and booklets of a devotional nature. A few extracts from letters dating from this period will give some idea of the direction of his thoughts and of the tasks which occupied his time of enforced leisure—

To his Wife.

Murraysburg, 28th January, 1881.—On my arrival here I saw the doctor at once. He says he can say nothing positive. He must try for a fortnight and see what effect his applications have, and then he will be able to give an opinion as to what he thinks of a cure. I have to see him once every day to have the throat washed, and morning and evening I have to inhale for ten minutes the steam from boiling water, with something mixed into it. I am to take a regular walk in the morning before breakfast, and to speak as little as possible. This last injunction has been made known to all friends, so that I can keep quite quiet. I spend the greater part of the day alone, either in my room or in the garden. . . .

As I have brought no work with me I have begun making notes on the daily readings of our Union.2 Whether I ever use them or not, they are profitable to myself. In reading I feel how difficult it must be for people of little intelligence to understand and profit by what is found in the prophets. So I have commenced these notes, which with the co-operation of others may perhaps some day come to something. . . .

Murraysburg, 15th February, 1881.—Mima [his sister, wife of the Rev. A. A. Louw] is very much concerned about my being so solitary in my room, but I enjoy the quiet and have not yet found time hanging heavy upon me. I have not done very much reading, but a good deal of study. For practical reading I have taken up again some old books, McCheyne’s Life and Tersteegen—both very beautiful and profitable. A letter in the former has led my thoughts a good deal to the question of God’s purpose with this long silence. You know what I have said about the two views of affliction, the one always seeing in it chastisement for sin, the other regarding it in the light of kindness and love. And you know what very great kindness I have felt it, to have such a time for the renewal of bodily strength, and of mental quiet and refreshment for the work before me. The thought has come whether I might not be in danger of overlooking the former aspect. I have been asking the Lord to show me what specially there is that He wants changed. The general answer is a very easy one, and yet it is difficult to realize at once distinctly where and how the change is to come. What is needed is a more spiritual life, more of the power of the Holy Ghost, in the life first and then in the preaching. And yet it looks as if one’s life is very much of a settled thing, and as if there is not much prospect of one’s being lifted to a difierent platform. If the Holy Spirit were to come in great power to search out and expose either individual failings or the general low state of devotion in the soul, this would be the first step towards forsaking what is behind. Let us pray earnestly that our gracious God would search and try us and see whether there be any evil way in us. . . .

From Murraysburg he paid a visit to the old home at Graaff-Reinet, and greatly enjoyed the stay with his brother Charles. The latter sent a paragraph to De Christen which caused considerable uneasiness and anxiety to the Wellington circles. It ran as follows: “The minister of Wellington is at Graaff-Reinet at present. The condition of his throat shows no improvement. He speaks as little as possible and that little as softly as possible.” Mrs. Murray evidently voiced the concern of the congregation at this doleful report, and received the following lines in reply—

To his Wife.

Murraysburg, 12th March, 1881.—I am so sorry that you should have been troubled by Charles’ notice in De Christen. I cannot say that it struck me, for it just said what is the fact. I am under orders to use the voice as little as possible, and therefore I speak little and in a low voice. When people here ask me if I feel better I never say Yes, for I feel no difference. You know I have never written anything about being or feeling better. I have only said that the doctor gives hopes of complete restoration in three months, though not to full work again. I do not like to tease him with questions, and therefore have not asked, since returning from Graaff-Reinet, what he thinks of the probable time still needed. In the course of next week I may do so. Because I said the doctor has good hopes, people say I am better, but a little reflection shows the difference. Be restful, whatever you hear; and be sure I write you all there is to say.

Murraysburg, 13th March, 1881.—There is nothing very special to report from here. I only saw a notice of four lines about Manus [Rev. H. S. Bosman of Pretoria] and Emmie in the Zuid Afrikaan. If you have no news when this reaches you, I would write to Mrs. Faure. I think that if she has no letters herself, she will have enquired where that notice came from. By this time the decision has taken place as to the result of the armistice. God grant it may be peace. Did you read, in the Zuid Afrikaan of the 8th or 10th instant, a piece of Dutch poetry by Ter Haar—an appeal to Gladstone? I think it was well done. . . .

I am enjoying my time for writing. I think I told you of a little book I am engaged on, concerning following Christ, and in between another tract for our Scripture Union. If the Union is to be kept up, there must be communication between the members mutually: they must feel that they are not forgotten. The former subject interests me deeply. May God give me the right words, "words which the Holy Ghost teachetk,” to set forth as a living picture the Christ we are to be dke. If we could only study it as we study the pictures of the Masters, until we see the beauty of every trait of His character ! This would make us long to be like Him.

Murraysburg, 16th March, 1881.—When I saw the doctor to-day, I was a little bit surprised to hear him say that by the end of next week the treatment would be at an end. It would not be advisable, he said, to continue the application of the silver nitrate, and after that there was nothing needed but care and the gentle and gradual exercise of the voice. I almost feel as if I would prefer waiting a couple of months longer to have a complete cure before beginning again. But he does not appear to encourage this idea. He says I must begin preaching by reading or speaking aloud in a room, and so go on to short addresses slowly uttered. All the same I want very much to stay here a week or two longer, to see how the throat gets on when I begin to speak.

We are longing for confirmation of the news of peace. The Lord grant it may be true and a sure peace. I have offered myself to Him if ever He sees fit to use me for the Transvaal (once they have quieted down), to take them the special message of His saving love. But that cannot be soon, both for their sakes and mine. . . .

Murraysburg, 26th March, 1881.—We have just received the tidings of peace. I do bless God for it. I had begun to fear it would be difficult to agree on terms which both parties would think would satisfy their honour. I do pray God the arrangements may be permanent. Now of course Emmie can come away. But there will be the new difficulty of whether they will be willing to leave just as they can commence their work again. I would not wonder if Manus persuaded them to stay. At all events, there is every prospect of our hearing soon now. Dear child ! I long to know what this three months’ imprisonment and inactivity will have been to her.

I have just read a little tract, Ons Land en ores Volk, published at the Paarl. I should not wonder if Mr. J. de Villiers were the writer. It is worth reading to see how strongly the feeling of nationality is asserting itself and mingling with the religious sentiment of the people. One hardly knows what to say of it. That there has been much that is unholy and evil in the anti-English sentiments which helped to stir up this movement is true. And yet there are in it elements of good which must be nourished. A more strongly developed national life in our half-slumbering Dutch population will afford a more vigorous stock for the Christian life to be grafted on. If we cannot influence the movement directly, we must try and put in abundantly the salt which can save it from corruption.

I have been getting on quite nicely with my writing. Strange that I marked out, in that manuscript book you sent me, the plan of a book some ten or twelve years ago, and that it should all at once flow from the pen so easily. Writing makes me wonder at our slowness of growth. How little the example of Christ is our real law and rule. Even the question hanging above the mantelpiece in our bedroom, “ What would Jesus do ? " does not give the real help. It requires spiritual insight to be able to answer that question. His own Spirit alone, working in fellowship with Himself, can give such an answer as will really influence us, so that the thought of what Jesus would do becomes a power compelling us to do it.

Murraysburg, 12th April, 1881.—I preached yesterday for twenty-five minutes, and the doctor says it has done me no harm. There is still a huskiness about the throat, which he says will wear off with the use of the voice. My text was 1 John ii. 6, “Abiding in Him, walking like Him.” Let us bless the Lord for again permitting me to preach Christ, and pray that it may henceforth be in the power of the Hdy Ghost. . . .

Mr. Murray’s strong sense of duty is apparent from his letters to his daughter Emmie, who, after having been confined in Pretoria during the war, was at length free to return home. He had assured himself that she was quite well and had suffered no privations during her incarceration, and his sympathy was at once aroused for Mr. Bosman and the school, which would suffer by her departure. He writes on this and cognate matters as follows—

To his daughter Emmie.

We were delighted to hear from you from Heilbron. Do send us your journals at once—we surely can pay the postage—we are longing to know all about your long confinement. Now that peace is arranged and school has begun again, I think it far best you should return at once [to Pretoria]. We are deeply grateful to hear you are so well, and hope you may still long feel the benefit of the enforced holiday. At whose expense were you kept in the fort? Did Government provide all who were there with rations ? And had your party still to do their own cooking?

From your last I see that your heart begins to long for home, and that you find it difficult, amid all the rumours that surround you, to look brightly towards your work at Pretoria. As far as I can see, you need not trouble yourself about the rumours. I have a strong hope that the God who so unexpectedly intervened to give peace will perfect what He has begun and give a lasting settlement of what now appears so difficult. You must not forget that all the English, who want the British Government to stay, will do their utmost to agitate and stir up strong feeling, so as to make it appear impossible for the Government to leave the country. Do not be too much disturbed by the rumours, and if the school be really going on, go back to it by all means at the earliest opportunity that can be found. The place of our work is to us the safest and the best. And if once you could get back to that, I think you would find it more easy to forgo the pleasant thoughts of visiting home again. You say you do not know whether Manus needs you, because he has the two Misses Faure. But Catherine said positively that she was not going to teach: her health was not good, and she was only going for a year to rest. At all events there will be work enough waiting for you, even should they be partially engaged. . . .

Towards the end of April Mr. Murray returned to Wellington with health somewhat improved, after an absence of three months. The services of Pentecost gave him the opportunity of pleading a cause which lay near to his heart—that of missions—and of appealing to the congregation to show its gratitude for his restoration by gifts for the work in general and for the Institute at which future missionaries were being trained. The result of his appeal, as we saw in the former chapter, was that the sum of £2,000 was subscribed, and that the trustees were encouraged to undertake the erection of permanent buildings for the Training Institute. During the latter hqlf of 1881 Mr. Murray’s throat seemed to be making gradual progress towards complete recovery. He preached continually, and his discourses, to judge by those which were published at frequent intervals in De Christen, were by no means brief. He was also busily engaged during these months in completing his new Dutch book, Gelijk Jezus (the original of Like Christ), and in issuing his first venture in the English language. Abide in Christ, which had already seen the light in Dutch dress, under the title Blijf in Jezus.

His brother John had been spending several months in Europe in the quest of health, and Andrew writes to him under date 5th December, 1881—

To Professor John Murray.

I was glad to hear from Margaret [the Professor's daughter] last week that you were the better for an operation. I shall be glad of a line some time to get an idea of your whereabouts—medically. What do the doctors say of the time that may be needed for your restoration and the prospects of an entire return of health? You know that many are anxious to hear, and we have hitherto only just said that you were getting on well.

Margaret says you all enjoyed Aberdeen. If writing be not a burden, I should be glad to have your impressions of the place where we spent so much time together, and of the cousins. I wrote you a letter a couple of months ago addressed to their care, but I do not know if you ever received it. In it I told you that Nisbets were to publish my Abide in Christ, and that I had said that, as you knew my handwriting, they might let you have a last revise. If you did not receive it, could you please place yourself into communication with them, saying if you can do it. By all means say so, only let them know, as they may be delaying publication until they hear from you.

You must be sure and go to Holland. Huet would like to have your address. Write to him at Goes, stating where you are. All the Church news from here I suppose you already know from De Christen. Retief has accepted Moorreesburg and Marais, Goudini. I fear the more distant congregations are waiting to call until it will be too late. S. J. du Toit goes to the Transvaal, and this day week a call is to be issued by the Consistory of North Paarl. It is said the one party wants Chari du Toit. The other appears hardly to know where to turn. A. A. Louw and A. D. Liickhoff are mentioned.

I have begun a rather large undertaking in issuing a prospectus for subscribers to Ddchsels Bijbelverklaring in eight volumes at £5. I hardly know how it will take, though some of our ministers are heartily in favour of the scheme. My throat is decidedly improving. The last three Sundays I have been preaching in good tone and length, and have not suffered. We have unusually moist westerly winds, which I think keep me back somewhat.

Some weeks later he writes again as follows—

To Professor John Murray.

I ought ere this to have written to say. Welcome back! And though the reception the Cape has given you has not been a very friendly one,1 the delay will make your restoration to us all the more acceptable when it does come. And the stay at Saldanha Bay may possibly be what was needed to give you a little more rest before beginning your work again. I trust the heat will not be such as it is here, and that the visit may have so much of a pleasant picnic life as not to be quite unbearable.

My throat was improving, but got put back, partly by a cold taken at Moorreesburg on the occasion of the induction of Retief, and partly owing to the strain of the New Year and prayer-week services.

Thanks for your hints on my English style in Abide in Christ, of which I have now received a parcel from Nisbets. There are a good many misprints still—e.g., strangulation for stagnation—but this cannot now be helped. I feel a little nervous about my debut in English.

Mahan’s Baptism of the Spirit I have read with profit. It is a pity that he insists so on his extraordinary exegesis "after that ye believed ye were sealed”; which the Revised Version could have taught him to be entirely wrong—“having believed ye were sealed.” But the book does one good. It is strange how deep-seated our feeling is that to be full of the Holy Ghost is something extraordinary, and how little we accept what is surely true—to live well-pleasing to God day by day.

The set-back in the condition of his throat to which Mr. Murray refers proved to be a somewhat serious relapse, so serious, indeed, that his consistory threw out the suggestion that he should undertake a tour to Europe for a complete change of air and scene, and in order to consult the best medical opinion. Mr. Murray at once fell in with the suggestionf arrangements were made for an absence extending over some months, and in May of 1882, he sailed from Table Bay, accompanied by Mrs. Murray. A few days before their departure an interesting ceremony took place at Wellington, namely, the laying of the foundation-stone of the new Training Institute. The part taken by Mr. Murray in the proceedings was little more than formal. The stone was laid by Professor Hofmeyr, who also delivered the address of the day, laying stress on the meaning of this new departure, and of the blessing which the Institute was destined to be for the Church and the Kingdom.

Before his departure for Europe Mr. Murray’s attention had been already drawn to the question of healing by faith. He had perused, though without any decided conviction, a book on the subject by an American, Dr. Boardman, entitled The Lord thy Healer. Teachings concerning faith healing had also been spread at the Cape by a certain Rev. Willem Hazen-berg, who after having passed through a course of theology at Kampen, the seminary of the Separatist Dutch Reformed Church in Holland, had found his way to America, and from there to South Africa. Hazenberg had interested himself in work among the Mohammedans in Cape Town, but disheartened by the indifferent success achieved, had turned his attention to the cure of disease by the exercise of faith. In two letters to De Christen he propounded the following four theses, for which he professed to find Scriptural ground: (1) the diseases of believers must be regarded as judgments of God, (2) God desires to remove instantly the diseases from which believers suffer, (3) this removal of disease is secured by believing prayer, and (4) the prayer which is efficacious in removing such diseases may be that of believing intercessors. These positions of Hazenberg were not left unchallenged, and exception was taken in particular to the first statement that disease in the believer was necessarily a judgment on sin; but the new doctrines found their way to many homes, and Hazenberg was in great demand in all parts of the country to lay his hands upon the sick and pray for their recovery.

The attitude which Mr. Murray adopted towards faith healing is best set forth in his own words. From Europe he addressed to his congregation a series of letters, two of which treat directly of the subject, and explain the steps by which he was led to adopt for himself this method of dealing with disease. On the 20th September, 1882, he writes— To his Congregation at Wellington.

Let me now relate to you a few of my experiences in Europe. Let me begin with the restoration of my health, since that was the chief object with which you sent me hither. I wish to tell you something about the way by which the Lord has led me in this matter.

At the Cape I had already frequently given thought to James v. 14-16, —“the prayer of faith Shall heal the sick "—and in union with others I had already made this matter of faith healing a subject of intercession. What I had read concerning the work of Dorothea Triidel and Dr. Cullis had removed from my mind all doubts but that the Lord even yet bestows healing on the prayer of faith. And yet it was as though I could not reach that faith. When I resolved upon the trip to Europe I felt that it would be a serious question for me whether I should place myself under the treatment of a physician, or should turn to those who appear to have received this gift of healing from the Lord. I thought that I would have time on board to think over this question and come to a decision.

How it happened I do not know, but on the voyage my attention was not directed to the matter in any especial degree : I could only beseech the Lord to guide me. The man whom I desired particularly to see was Pastor Stockmaier, whom I had learnt to know in Switzerland five „ years earlier as a truly spiritual man, of strong faith, and who now stood at the head of an institute for faith healing. But I did not expect to meet him before I goi fb Switzerland. And so it happened that, having received no clear guidance, I placed myself the day after my arrival in the hands of a famous London physician, Dr. Kidd. He prescribed a few medicines for me to use and sent me to a cold-water establishment in the vicinity of London, with directions that I should call on him from time to time. The following week was appointed for the Mildmay Conference, which was to last for three days, and I obtained permission to attend it.

At this Conference, just a week after our arrival in London, I heard„ that Mr. Stockmaier was also present. I called on him and discussed my throat trouble with him. In the course of our discussion I said that I, too, had wanted to make use of James v. 14, but that it seemed to me that I could not reach that faith. Perhaps that was due to the secret doubt I cherished that it was certainly God’s will that I should be healed. Would it not conduce in greater measure to His glory if I remained silent, and served God in some other capacity? Surely suffering and trial are means of grace which God employs to sanctify His people.

Mr. Stockmaier replied: “You are still fettered by the customary views of Christians about suffering. Observe how carefully James distinguishes in verses 13 and 14 between suffering and disease. Of suffering he says, Is any among you afflicted (or suffering), let him pray—for patience (Jas. i. 2-5, 12). But then again, Is any sick among you . . . the prayer of faith shall save the sick. There is no unconditional promise that suffering, arising from the many temptations and trials of life, will be taken away; but there is such a promise in the case of sickness.” I was obliged to admit this, and subsequently I thought that I understood the matter still better. There is no promise of complete deliverance from that suffering that comes upon the Christian from the world without—it must serve to bless and sanctify him. But it is different with disease, which has its seat within the body, and not outside of it. The body has been redeemed ; the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; and, for the believer who can accept it, the Lord is ready to reveal even in the case of the body His mighty power to deliver from the dominion of sin.

Mr. Stockmaier invited me to attend, in the course of the following week, the meetings of Dr. Boardman, writer of The Higher Christian ijiLife, on the subject of faith healing. Shortly before my departure from the Cape I had perused Dr. Boardman’s other work The Lord thy Healer. but it left no special impreillon, perhaps because in my opinion he built too exclusively upon the Old Testament. I now learnt that only a few months before an institute for faith healing had been opened in London under his supervision. This institute I visited in the following week, when everything became clearer to me and I decided to ask if I could not be received as an inmate. The reply was that there would be a vacancy in the course of a few days, when I would be welcome.

I entered the institute three weeks after our arrival in London, and remained in it for another three weeks. It would be difficult to describe how much instruction and blessing I obtained during those weeks. The matron was of the same name as ourselves—Miss Murray. Morning by morning the sixteen or eighteen inmates were assembled around the Word of God, and instructed as to what there still remained in themselves to prevent them from appropriating the promise, and what there was in Scripture to encourage them to faith and to complete surrender.

I cannot remember that I have ever listened to expositions of the Word of God in which greater simplicity and a more glorious spirit of faith were revealed, combined with heart-searching application of God demand to surrender everything to Him.

But why was it necessary to enter a Home, and to remain there for so long a time ? Is not the prayer of faith the matter of a moment, just like the imposition of hands or the anointing with oil of which James speaks? Quite true. Yet in most cases time is needful in order to leam what God's Word promises, and rightly to understand what the cause and purpose of the disease really are, and which are the conditions and what the meaning of healing. The stay in such a Home, with all its surroundings, helps to make this matter plain, and to strengthen faith.

When Mr. Stockmaier prayed with me the first time, he made use of the expression which occurs in x Corinthians xi. 31, 32, saying, "Lord, teach him to judge himself, that he may no longer be judged or chastened.” In that whole passage we find the main thoughts concerning sickness and cure. Disease is a chastisement, because God judges us in love so that we may not be condemned with the world. If we judge ourselves in such manner as to discover the reason for which we are being chastised, then, so soon as the reason for chastisement is removed, the chastisement itself is no longer necessary. The disease was designed to bring us to complete severance from what God disapproved of in our life, and when the Lord has attained this purpose, the disease itself may be removed. It is not necessary for me to say that God judges us sometimes (though not always) for some definite sin. This may be lack of complete consecration, the assertion of one’s own will, confidence in one’s own strength in performing the Lord’s work, a forsaking of the first love and tenderness in the walk with God, or the absence of that gentleness which desires to follow only the leading of the Spirit of God.

It is difficult to express what a sight we sometimes obtain of the unutterable tenderness and sanctity of the surrender to which we are called when we beseech the Lord for healing by faith. It fills the soul with holy fear and reverence when we ask the Lord truly to impart to the body the eternal youth of His heavenly life, and when we express our readiness to receive the Holy Spirit in order to infuse health into the body which He inhabits, and our readiness to live every day in complete dependence upon the Lord for our bodily welfare. We learn to understand how complete the surrender of the body to the Lord must be, down to the very smallest particulars, and how the Lord, in thus giving and preserving health by faith, is really effecting the most intimate union with Himself.

When faith healing is regarded from this point of view, one of the chief objections against it is removed. We are so apt to think that the disease and the chastisement bring us the blessing, that the thought hardly finds an entrance that the recovery from disease may bring even greater blessing. And if the recovery consists in nothing but the removal of the disease, our view of the matter would be justified. But if the disease is only removable after its cause has been discovered and removed, and after a closer contact with the living Lord, and a more complete union of the body with Him, then we can understand that such a recovery brings infinitely greater blessing to the soul than the disease could convey.

I must bring this letter to a close. I write from the home of our brother Faure at Doesburg [Holland]. We think of remaining here another fortnight, and still adhere to the intention of leaving for the Cape on the 19th of October next.

The following was Mr. Murray’s second letter on the subject of faith healing —

To his Congregation at Wellington.

I was obliged to end my former letter on faith healing without having said everything I wanted to, and therefore I write again on the same matter.

One of the first things that struck me as being in conflict with my expectations was that in most cases slow progress is made with the healing process. I thought, and others have expressed the same opinion, that if healing is an act of God’s almighty power, there can be no reason why it should not be perfected at once. This point I discussed with Dr. Boardman and others, whose reply was somewhat as follows—

“First of all, experience has taught that at the present time most cases of healing are subject to this rule ; so that, even though we cannot understand why it should be so, we have merely to observe what God actually does. Then, too, we have to notice that this gradual recovery stands in close connexion with learning to trust in the Lord and to continue in constant dependence upon Him. It is as though the Lord, by this slow and gradual process, is educating His child to the increasing exercise of faith, and to a continuance in communion with Himself.”

This leads me to tell of one of the most important lessons which have learnt. When I arrived at the Home my mind was chiefly set on the healing : faith was a secondary consideration, which was to be employed simply as a means to healing. But I soon discovered that God’s first purpose was to develop faith, and that healing was a secondary question. God’s purpose with us, as with Abraham, is first of all to make us true believers. Disease and cure, to His mind, derive their importance from the fact that they can awaken in us a stronger faith. Faith, again, is of value in His eyes, not merely as the means by which we obtain a blessing, but especially as the pathway to a fuller fellowship with Himself and a fuller dependence upon His power. And if there be simple souls, who with child-like faith cast themselves wholly upon the Lord, recovery sometimes comes to them at once. But if there be those whose minds must be .brought to believe by the way of reason and conviction, the Spirit of God must, as it were, bear patiently with their needs and take time to teach them fully the lesson of faith, so that they may obtain not only the blessing of healing by faith, but the much greater blessing of a closer union by faith with their Lord.

I subsequently discussed this subject with Mr. Stockmaier, who stands at the head of a faith healing establishment at Hauptwal in Switzerland, He told me how at one time he was wholly incapacitated from preaching by an affection of the head, and that even after he had accepted the truth of healing by the exercise of faith, the trouble in no wise disappeared immediately. For more than two years the head affection continued, and yet he was always able to perform his work m the power of fellowship with the Lord by faith. He was led at this time, as though in leading-strings (he also used the expression, like a dog at the end of a chain), and he assured me that he would not for all the world have lost what he learnt during those two years. An immediate cure would never have brought him the same blessing. He counted it a great privilege that God took him so completely in hand, in order to preserve him in continual fellowship with Himself by means of the body, and the daily bestowal upon it of supernatural power.

At first I could not entirely assent to this view of the matter. I asked Dr. Boardman if it would not be a much more powerful proof, both for His children and for the world at large, that God hears and answers prayer, if the cure of disease were instantaneous and complete. I said that if I could write to my congregation that I had wholly recovered my voice as at the first, the thanksgiving would be more abundant to the glory of God. Would it not also be for the greater glory of God if I desired of Him this instantaneous restoration? His answer was, “The Lord knows better than you or your congregation what is for His greater glory. Leave it to Him to care for His own glory. Your duty is to hold fast to Him as your Healer, in whom you already have the healing of your malady, and He will enable you, in such manner as He sees fit, to perform all your work.” In this point of view I was able, ultimately, wholly to acquiesce.

So we see that in faith healing there is the same contrast as in the spiritual life between feeling and believing. The body must be brought under the same law of faith as the mind : it has been redeemed, and it is now possessed by the Holy Ghost, in quite the same way as our spiritual man. This idea is founded upon the expression which Matthew the evangelist quotes from Isaiah, “He healed all that were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses ” (Matt. viii. 17). In the well-known fifty-third of Isaiah sins and sicknesses are placed alongside of each other in a very remarkable way, and are borne together by Him in the suffering of which the chapter speaks. By bearing both He overcame them both, and received power to deliver from their sway. We have severed the one from the other, and have accepted the redemption of the soul from sin as the fruit of Christ’s sufferings, but without regarding the deliverance of the body from disease as in like manner the fruit of His sufferings. The faith which says, “He has borne my sins to free me from them,” must also learn to say, “He has carried my sicknesses in order to deliver me from them also.” In the world there will be trial and affliction and temptation in abundance, from which the believer must expect no deliverance; but from the disease of the body there can be deliverance through the Spirit who dwells in the body as His temple.

Very noteworthy was the manner in which faith in the words quoted from Isaiah effected the cure of a sick girl a few weeks before I visited the Bethshan Home. She had suffered for years from a variety of diseases, epilepsy among the rest. Several doctors declared that nothing could be done for her. She was carried into the prayer-meeting, and lay half unconscious on a sofa. Prayer was offered on her behalf. Shortly afterwards she suddenly rose and said, "If He has borne my sicknesses, I need not carry them any longer.” And within a short time she was completely cured. She subsequently related how it seemed to her that she heard a command to rise. The thought then intruded, "But I can’t rise: I shall fall.” In answer she seemed to hear, “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses,” and she accordingly arose and advanced to the table standing in the midst. On subsequent occasions I more than once heard her bear witness, with great joy depicted on her countenance, to what the Lord had done for her.

Only yesterday I heard from a brother who has just arrived from Switzerland of a similar case,—that of a girl who was so weak with consumption that she could not be moved to a warmer climate for the winter, as the doctor desired. She heard from Mr. Stockmaier of the possibility of being cured by faith. One night she seemed to see very clearly how the Lord had given His body for her body, just as for her soul He had poured out His soul unto death. It seemed to her that she actually beheld the Lord giving His body for her health and cure. Next morning, to the amazement of every one, she got up out of bed, and now is spreading great blessing by holding women’s meetings.

From these brief accounts you will perceive that faith healing has a much higher aim than the mere deliverance of the body from certain maladies: it points the road of holiness and full consecration which God would have us follow. The question has arisen in my mind whether I may not perhaps possess the gift, and have the vocation, to devote myself, for a time at least, to this work. I notice in those who are engaged in this labour that they must give almost all their time and strength to it. In this manner only does faith acquire sufficient vitality and strength to enable them to wrestle courageously with all the doubts and difficulties of their patients. I spent last Sunday week at M&nne-dorf, where Dorothea Triidel laboured-with so much-blessing. Her successor is Samuel Zeller, and I found the opportunity of discussing this point with him. He acknowledged that it was not the vocation of every one who had been cured by faith to devote himself to the task of healing others. In this matter he said that one must wait for God’s guidance, who would assign to each his work according to his ability. For some he acknowledged that the ordinary ministry of the Gospel might be a higher vocation. But he expressed the opinion that, if the Church were to flourish as in the earliest ages, and the leaders in the congregation were again to be characterized by true spirituality, the gift of healing would be found very much more frequently ; and that this would be the case especially in the ministers of the Gospel, who would thus find a powerful recommendation for their work in rescuing the lost and in securing the sanctification of the children of God. May the Lord in His own good time grant this ! Help me to pray that He would give me grace to preserve faithfully and use rightly the blessing which He has entrusted to me.

I close with the prayer for God’s richest blessings upon my congregation, and upon our approaching reunion, as well as upon His whole Church in South Africa.

The subject of faith healing continued to engross Mr. Murray’s attention for several yeirs after his return to South Africa. In 1884 he published, in Dutch, a small duodecimo volume of 183 pages, entitled Jezus de Geneesheer der Kranken (Jesus the Physician of the Sick), in which he developed his teachings concerning healing by faith, and endeavoured to show their Scriptural basis. He described his booklet as “a personal testimony of my faith,” and reminded his readers that, after having been unable to perform his ordinary duties for more than two years, he obtained the healing of his affection through the divine mercy, and in answer to the prayers of those who recognized that God is the healer of His people. He acknowledges in his preface that many objections may be levelled at the doctrine of faith healing to which no satisfactory answer can at present be found. But he states that his aim is not so much to meet objections as to attempt an exposition of what Scripture teaches on the subject. “ I do not expect as much blessing from the removal of difficulties as from the power of the Word itself. There are upright Christians who are willing, even though these truths conflict with all their views, to submit themselves implicitly to the instruction of God’s Word ; and it is my firm hope that the indication of what Scripture teaches will bring light and blessing to such souls.” In an introductory chapter he outlines the contents of the little volume as follows—


Are not these glad tidings that reach us from different quarters, that the Lord is again making Himself known to His people, as of old, by the name The Lord thy Healer ? The number of witnesses daily increases who can affirm from their own experience that there is still truth in the promise, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” Hearts are filled withthe glad expectation that this is merely a sign that the Lord is in the midst of His people, in order to bless them with His presence and with the fulness of His Spirit.

The Church has grown so unaccustomed to this action of the Spirit in curing the body, she has for so long ascribed the loss of this gift to the counsel of God rather than to her own unfaith, she has so persistently overlooked all the utterances of Scripture on the subject, or has explained them from the viewpoint of her own feeble life, that the truth has remained hidden even from the eyes of many pious expositors and theologians. It is the purpose of this little book to enquire what Scripture has to say on this matter . . . and in this introduction are adduced from the Bible the chief reasons why we believe in Jesus as the Physician of the sick, and then the main conditions upon which a sick person may obtain health from the Lord.

I. The Grounds for Faith in Jesus as the Physician of the Sick.

1. Because God’s Word expressly promises the cure of the sick by faith. "The prayer of faith shall save the sick ” (Jas. v. 15). “ They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover ” (Mark xvi. 18).

2. Because the Lord Jesus, our Surety, has borne our sicknesses as well as our sins in His body. "Surely He hath borne our griefs” (margin sicknesses) (Isa. liii. 4). "Himself bare our sicknesses ” (Matt. viii. 17).

3. Because Jesus has shown that it is His work no less than His desire to heal diseases as well as to forgive sins. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, preaching the gospel . . . and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease ” (Matt. iv. 23). “Jesus said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee . . . arise, take up thy bed and go into thine house ” (Matt. ix. 2, 6).

4. Because Jesus commanded and empowered His disciples both to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick. “Then called He His twelve disciples together . . . and sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick ” (Luke ix. 1,2). See also Luke x. 9 and Mark xvi. 15,18.

5. Because this is part of the work for which the Holy Spirit was given and has come down from heaven. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit ... to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit " (1 Cor. xii. 4, 9). See also Acts iv. 30, 31 ; v. 15 ; xiv. 3 ; xix. 11, 12 ; xxviii. 8, 9.

6. Because the apostles preached healing as a part of the salvation by faith in Jesus. "By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth doth this man stand here before you whole . . . neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved ” (Acts iv. 10, 12. See also Acts iii. 16).

7. Because our body also is delivered from the power of Satan, and because the Holy Spirit reveals His power even in the body. " Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor. vi. 19).

8. Because the healing of the body and the hallowing of the soul are very closely connected, and because in union with each other they enable us fully to know and glorify Jesus. “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God I will put none of these diseases upon thee, for I am the Lord that healeth thee ” (Exod. xv. 26). See also Psalm cii. 3; John ix. 38.

9. Because the Church must expect great outpourings of the Spirit in these days, and may reckon upon this gift likewise. “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed and my blessing upon thine offspring ” (Isa. xliv. 3). Pentecost was but a commencement; the promise is “over all flesh." Now that the Lord is beginning to bestow His Spirit, we may certainly expect a new manifestation of His wondrous power.

What has here been touched upon may seem strange to many readers, hut it is further explained in this little book. To each one, however, who is ready to accept these promises of God, we now give brief indications of the manner in which the believing sick may obtain healing from their Lord.

II. The Rules for Faith Healing.

1. Let the Word of God be your guide in this matter. Faith can build upon nothing other than the Word of the living God. The instruction and the encouragement which God’s children give are of great value, but if you found upon the word of men, men may also soon cause you to doubt. God’s Word commands us to seek the imposition of hands or the intercessory prayer of His believing people : this is needful and brings a great blessing. But our confidence is not to be built upon them, but upon the Word of God. In that case, too, we will betake ourselves to the Lord straightway, if there should be no true believers at hand. Seek to know what God Himself speaks to you in His Word. You have here to do with God Himself, who says, I am the Lord thy Healer.

2. Understand that sickness, is a chastisement on account of sin. God makes use of the disease as a rod of correction, in order to discover to us our sin and to draw us to Himself (1 Cor. xi. 30—32). In times of sickness we must suffer the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, and so we must discover, confess and renounce our sins. When sin has been confessed and forsaken, the Lord is able to remove the chastisement. He chastises only until His purpose has been attained. When sin has been confessed and renounced, forgiveness and the cure of the disease can follow at the same time.

3. Be assured, upon the strength of God’s Word and God’s promises that it is the will of God to heal you. Unless I am firmly persuaded that something is the will of God, I cannot pray for it in full assurance of faith. I may indeed trust that God will do what is good and right, but I cannot pray the prayer of faith. We are so accustomed to think that we cannot know the will of God with reference to the removal of disease, that we do not believe His promise concerning it. Seek to obtain an insight into what the Word promises—what it says about the work and the person of Jesus as Physician, and about the new life of the Holy Spirit as affecting the body not less than the soul—and you will obtain the assurance that the healing power of Jesus will restore health to your body.

4. Accept by an act of faith the Lord fesus as your Physician, submit your body to Him, and claim healing for yourself. Everything is as much a matter of faith as with the forgiveness of sins. The sinner accepts Jesus, surrenders his soul and all his sins to Him, and, upon the ground of God’s Word, claims by faith the forgiveness of sins. Just so with faith healing. Though the sinner feels no change and finds no light in his heart, he says, Upon God’s Word I know that forgiveness is mine. So, too, the sick one says, I have confessed and renounced my sin ; Jesus has pardoned me ; He who pardons is also He who heals; believing in Him I say, I have the healing; by faith I see that healing granted me in heaven in my Jesus, and commence to sing "Bless the Lord, O my soul, who healeth all thy diseases.”

5. Exercise your faith. "Stretch forth thine hand.” "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” So Jesus commanded the sick. He who believes that he is healed, even though he may feel no better, must exercise his will and commence to act as one who realizes that health is beginning to return. Do this in confidence in Christ’s word, with the eye of faith upon Him, to His glory, and you will not be disappointed.

6. Do not be surprised if your faith is tested. Health by faith is an inseparable part of the life of faith, and therefore here, too, faith must be strengthened by being tested. Do not be astonished if the disease does not immediately take a turn for the better. And if after some improvement the disease grows worse, do not imagine that it is all a mistake. If restoration to health is longer in coming than you expect, do not be discouraged. These trials are indications that Satan is unwilling to relinquish his power over your body (see Mark ix. 26), but also a proof that God is willing to strengthen you to be healed wholly and solely by faith in Jesus.

7. Dedicate yourself now, in the power of your Lord, to a new life of faith.—This health, this new power, is something exceedingly sacred, This new life is none other than the Holy Spirit in the body. Your body is not your own any longer. You have no rights over it. Walk in tender obedience to the voice of the Spirit. Healing and sanctification are closely united. Let your motto for every day be, with quite new emphasis, " The body for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

8. Be a witness for Him who heals you. Do not speak much to those who do not understand you. Do not argue with those who have no longing for the Physician. Rather offer yourself to the Lord to acquaint those whom He may bring to you with His glory. Be not ashamed to testify, as a witness to the faith who knows what he says. Above all, work for Jesus with your renewed strength, and bring poor sinners to the Saviour. Follow Jesus as one who has been healed, and glorify God.

These are the main outlines of the doctrine of faith healing, as we have attempted to explain them from Scripture. May it please the Lord to open the eyes of His believing people, by His Holy Spirit, that they may see His glory and by the Spirit’s quiet power to reveal in their hearts His great name. The Lord thy Healer.

Mr. Murray apparently never receded from the position which he took up towards faith healing in Jezus de Geneesheer der Kranken. The book was circulated in America under the title Divine Healing, and a translation in French, Jesus guerit les malades, also saw the light, but the Dutch version, after the first edition was exhausted, was never reprinted. He no doubt felt with increasing force the difficulties urged against the doctrine. Several cases occurred in which faith was exercised and all the conditions of healing seemed to be completely fulfilled, where yet the disease refused to yield to prayer, and the death of the sick one ensued. The earliest case of this nature was that of the Rev. Pieter F. Hugo, who was married to a niece of Mr. Murray, and was therefore the object of especial sympathy and prayer. Mr. Hugo developed symptoms of consumption, which compelled him to suspend his pastoral labours and threatened to terminate fatally. Leaving his congregation in the Eastern Province he proceeded to Paarl, where he could enjoy the rest and comfort of his mother's home and also be within easy reach of Mr. Murray’s influence. For a time there appeared to be clear improvement, and Mr. Hugo, who was a truly pious and devoted man, was firm in the faith that he would recover. Acting iu accordance with the principle of considering himself as already healed, he undertook a long journey to Middelburg in the Central Karroo, in order to attend a ministerial conference, at which Mr. Murray was also to be present.

Mr. Murray’s bulletins on the state of the patient’s health show how carefully he was watching the case. “P. Hugo did not cough as much as at home, so he says, and was not overtired.” “P. H. is still wonderfully well, considering the distance travelled. The Lord be praised.” “P. Hugo stood the two days’ hard driving—over ten hours [sixty miles] yesterday—better than I thought, as far as fatigue is concerned. He slept very well the last two nights, though he coughs a good deal. I think this may be owing to the dust in travelling ’’ Mr. Hugo accomplished the return journey to Paarl in safety, and then began rapidly to weaken. One evening he complained of a feeling of utter weariness, retired to his room, and shortly afterwards breathed his last. His death occurred within a month of his visit to Middelburg, and on the very day when the new building of the Training Institute was opened at Wellington. His decease was a great blow to Mr. Murray, who had cherished the most confident expectation of his nephew’s recovery.

A similar instance occurred more than twenty years later. An exceedingly earnest and capable young missionary, Rev. Pieter Stofberg, was seized with an internal malady which three doctors declared must prove fatal. A general request was issued for intercession, and by many individual friends and Christian circles prayer was made without ceasing unto God for him. Mr. Murray himself, accompanied by his colleague, Rev. J. R. Albertyn, proceeded to Robertson, where the sick man lay, in order to lay his hands on him and pray for him. A distinct improvement was at first noticeable. A few days later the following message was received from Robertson and made public : “As the Lord has laid the condition of our sick brother on the hearts of His people elsewhere, so, to, the spirit of prayer has been shed upon many at this place. Though matters seem to be, humanly speaking, wholly unfavourable, we have laid hold on God in prayer, and expect a complete recovery. With marvellous calmness, rest and peace, and in childlike faith Brother Stofberg rests assured that the Lord is engaged in healing him. May God’s great name be at this time more and more glorified by His children ! ” Yet notwithstanding the fervent prayers which ascended to heaven on his behalf Mr. Stofberg died within three weeks, and the faith of many who were awaiting news of his restoration was grievously staggered. Mr. Murray ascribed this failure of faith and prayer to effect the recovery of the sick man to the low state of the Church, which had neither truly apprehended the truth nor exercised the faith that is able to save and to heal.

Nearer home Mr. Murray’s application of the doctrine of faith healing to individual cases was followed by much blessing and success. When he and Mrs. Murray sailed for Europe in 1882, they left their younger children under the charge of an old friend of the family, Miss McGill. On their return they found this lady seriously ill. She met them with the words, “I have lived just long enough to deliver up my charge to you again.” Mr. Murray immediately replied, “By no means : though doctors despair, there is hope and recovery in the Lord who heals us.” He then explained to her the principles of faith healing, and offered earnest prayer for her restoration. Miss McGill rapidly recovered strength, rose up from her sick-bed, and was spared to labour for many years in connexion with the Young Women’s Christian Association in Cape Town.

In the case of his own bodily health Mr. Murray continued for many years to follow the principles of faith healing. In 1893, when travelling in Natal on one of his evangelistic' tours, the cart in which he was journeying was upset, and he sustained severe injuries to his arm and his back. But in spite of this accident he determined to carry out his programme, and in this determination he succeeded, though at first he had to be assisted into the pulpit. On these prolonged tours his throat still caused him occasional trouble, but he insisted on fulfilling all his engagements, “looking to the Lord for healing,” and when he reached home his throat was generally better rather than worse. When peace was declared at the close of the Anglo-Boer War in 1902, he found himself very much in need of rest after the continuous strain of three years of toil and anxiety, and undertook another trip to Europe, where he consulted medical men both in London and in Switzerland. After the death of Mrs. Murray, who was like himself strongly convinced of the truth of faith healing, he regularly consulted a doctor, mainly in order to please his children ; and when confined, as he sometimes was, to a sick-bed, no patient could be more obedient to instructions, more cheerful in demeanour, or more grateful for the least attention.

These facts prove clearly that towards the end of his life.

Mr. Murray did not give the same prominence to faith healing as in the years immediately following his stay at the Bethshan Institute of Healing. It cannot be said that he relinquished the views he held in 1883, but he came to acknowledge that faith healing was not for every one, but only for those choice spirits who are so simple and steadfast in faith, and so completely detached from the world, as to be able sincerely and unreservedly to place themselves in God’s hands. Some of the views set forth on this question of faith healing, as for example the assertion that suffering, even in the believer, is due to some special sin, can hardly be regarded as true to Scripture or to experience, and were probably not insisted on by Mr. Murray in later years. In the fervency with which he both preached and practised the doctrines of healing by faith, we have an instance of that intensity of conviction which characterized him, and led him at times to lay such exclusive stress on certain aspects of the truth as almost to overbear, without removing, the doubts which other minds expressed and the difficulties which weaker wills encountered.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus