Charles A. McConnell


I realized that, while I was a truly regenerated Christian, there was in my nature a dangerous foe. My very dear friend, the Baptist pastor, explained that this was the condition of all believers — this was the “Christian warfare.” I was not satisfied. I argued that if God could change an utterly hardened infidel into a lover of His Christ, He could fix up a Christian so that he would be a Christian all the time. I had no one to teach me, to show me the way, but I began, definitely and earnestly, to pray that God would give me a clean heart-take out of me that thing which had exploded-to my shame, in the courtroom.

On the night of June 18, 1897, my wife being away from home nursing a neighbor’s sick baby, I determined to put God to the test. I knew nothing of the doctrine or terminology of sanctification, but I was facing the cleansing baptism with the Spirit-or a relapse into my old atheism. How wonderfully God led me as I prayed throughout the long night, even as the enemy contested every inch of the way!

The enemy: “Does not your Bible warn against being too religious? Don’t be a fanatic. You will lose what you have.”

The seeker: “I want more of God. I want to be like Him all the time.”

The enemy: “Your friends will all despise you and leave you.”

The seeker: “If God will only give me the desire of my heart, I’ll be willing to walk alone.”

(One time the devil told the truth. It came to pass later, as my sister came home from the University, she cried, “Charlie has disgraced the family forever.” My artist brother wrote me from France, “Never write me again;” and for sixteen years he cut me off. But just before his death he wrote me, “Charlie, you chose the better way. I have received the highest recognition that can be accorded an American painter, but it is as dead sea apples in my mouth.” My father declared publicly that his son had gone insane. The county paper gave my case a whole column, saying that this editor had gone crazy over a fad called holiness, and was on the way to the state asylum. My pastor turned me out of the church without trial.)

The enemy: “You are ambitious. Your feet are on the ladder. You have every opportunity for political honor. Do you want to lose all that, and never be known outside the county?”

The seeker: “Oh God, I am willing to be nothing, if only you will make me like yourself all the time.”

In college I had found it so difficult to earn all my expenses while carrying a full classical course, that I had vowed if I should ever have children I would do my part in helping them to get an education.

The enemy: “If you go this way, your children will never have an education. Are you willing for that? How about your wife? Her deprivations on the frontier will be as nothing compared with what she will find.”

One may accept any degree of privation or suffering for himself, but it is another thing to condemn one’s wife and children to martyrdom.

The seeker, finally: “Even that, even that, O God, if you’ll give me a clean heart.”

The long night of struggle was over. I was stripped of every plan, every ambition, choosing only the full will of God. Then, He came in! His coming was not in a flood of ecstasy (I have known that experience since), but in a peace that passeth understanding, and a sense of utter cleanness. As I looked out upon the rising sun, it seemed that God had created the world afresh.

Source: “The Potter’s Vessel” by C. A. McConnell