Leaves of Healing       The Life

The Life,Ministry, and Message of John Alexander Dowie

DOWIE   ANOINTED OF THE LORD  by Arthur Newcomb

 

 COPYRIGHT, 1930, BY ARTHUR NEWCOMB

 

  

TO

DR. KATHERINE M.H. BLACKFORD

WHO TAUGHT ME THAT EVERYTHING ABOUT A MAN

INDICATES HIS CHARACTER

 

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

 

The attempt here is to present an accurate – although abridged – account of the personality, words, acts, and experiences of John Alexander Dowie, and a true picture of his human and material environment.  Aside from the man himself, his family, and his successor, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, all characters in the story are fiction – as are also details of conversations and events.

 

 

PART ONE

 RISE

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

PANTING and hissing, a locomotive brought its string of yellow wooden cars to a stop in the old ‘Wells Street station. Herbert Renbrush was already on the bottom step of the day coach on which he had ridden from Ranosha. Although first to leave the train, he walked slowly along the board platform, up the steps, and out through the waiting-room, eyes and ears eager for everything around him.

Outside it was already dark and there was a chill drizzle of rain. Turning up his coat collar, he swung south across the bridge. Flags and bunting hung sodden and soot-stained as he turned east in Randolph Street. Chicago was celebrating the Peace of Paris following the Spanish-American War. His throat ached with emotion as he thought of McKinley, of Roosevelt the Rough Rider, of Dewey, of Sampson, of Schley, of Shafter, of his country, sacrificing “blood and treasure” to free Cuba from tyranny.

In Michigan Avenue Herbert turned south. He noted the progress made on the filling-in of Grant Park, covertly studied girls lifting their skirts out of the wet, stood and watched the first horseless carriage he had ever seen—a lumbering electric hansom cab— and thrilled to the clang of Illinois Central suburban trains rushing homeward in their groove next was then the lake shore.

Soon, he hoped, he would be a part of all this.

At Twelfth Street Herbert entered an ugly, rectangular, seven-story building on the east side of the avenue: a spick and span lobby, brilliantly lighted, big leather arm-chairs stood about; a leather divan lounged against one wall. At the rear was a hotel counter, with mail-boxes ranged behind. Through double doors on the left he could see a large corner store fitted up with platform, piano, and rows of chairs, like a chapel. On the right, glass doors show a book-store. In a corner of the front an office had been partitioned off with varnished oak and glass. People were sitting and standing in pairs and little groups. Most of them were middle-aged, neatly but plainly dressed—no style to them. Most of them carried Bibles, periodicals, and hymn-books. There was something about their faces that puzzled Herbert. Any one of them, seen alone, would have seemed ordinary; but taken together there was a similarity that baffled analysis.

 Some of the faces were wasted and discolored by disease; but in the big hollow eyes was the same uncanny something. Some were on crutches, some in wheel-chairs, and some in bandages.

A little group of young folks—these without Bibles and hymn-books—talked and laughed in a corner by the desk. Herbert watched them a few moments, trying to decide what it was in their manner that made them differ from a group of youngsters in Ranosha. Not exactly seriousness, he thought, nor restraint. More like watchfulness. They laughed as if they knew it might be well for them, at any moment, to pull their faces straight. Deliberately he studied these boys and girls—especially the girls. They were about his own age—in their early twenties. Most of them were more stylishly dressed than their elders, but none went to extremes. In imagination he could see them watching the clock in an office or shipping-room, but not in a college classroom.

His turn at the desk came, and he asked for Elder Renbrush.

“With all my heart,” answered the clerk cordially. “You’re the elder’s brother, I guess. He told me you was coming. I’m glad to see you. We think a lot of Elder Renbrush in Zion.” He shook hands warmly as he spoke. The man was tall, with military build and bearing, handsomely dressed. He had laughing blue eyes, light brown hair and mustache, and his skin, while coarse, was ruddy. His voice was slightly husky, but there was warmth and fun in it. Herbert was drawn to him.

“Your brother was here a few minutes ago, askin’ for you, and can’t be far off.” He struck a bell on the counter and a pimpled youth appeared.

“Eddie, look around, will you, and see if you can find Elder Renbrush. Tell ‘m his brother’s here.”

“Yes, Captain,” said the boy, and went.

“My name is Chris Erdman,” said the clerk, “but everybody calls me Captain. I’ve been Captain of Zion Guard ever since the General Overseer started it.” The bell-boy came up with Elder Ezra Renbrush, Herbert’s brother, ten years older than he.  Well Herbert,” he said, extending his hand, his shy, sympathetic face in smiles, “I’m glad you’ve come at last. The Lord has been leading you toward Zion for years.”

Ezra Renbrush was dark and heavily bearded. His voice was gentle, his brown eyes soft, but intelligent and kindly. He had been a country preacher. In this he had won success, because no one could doubt the sincerity of his sympathy, kindness, and faith in his religion. He had never won to any large or prosperous church, because he was as lacking in guile and political talent as a child. Now he and his rather numerous family were in “Zion”—had been for nearly two years.

Every preacher who came into the fold was “ordained” by the General Overseer, no matter how many ordinations he might have suffered before. If unmarried, he bore the title of evangelist; if married, elder. Some of the elders’ wives were also ordained. They were called evangelists. So Ezra was an elder. His wife Myra, however, was just plain Mrs. Renbrush. She had a mind and spirit of her own and shaped a number of events to her liking.

Strong but inarticulate affection and a family loyalty more potent than ordinary bound the brothers to each other. Both had more than the average human failing of believing what they wanted to believe, but Ezra was more unsophisticated than Herbert.

“I told the dear General Overseer you were coming this evening,” said Ezra, “and I’m so glad to say he wants to see you. Isn’t that wonderful? He arranged for me to take you to his private office at the tabernacle just before the regular meeting of Zion Seventies.”

“Well, that’s fine. I’m very curious to see Dr. Dowie.”

“Oh, Herbert, he is such a wonderful man of God, and is doing a great work, a very great work. I’m sure you’ll love him, as we all do in Zion, and you’ll want to give your life to the blessed full gospel of salvation, healing, and holy living.”

“Well, I’m willing to investigate. I want to see and hear for myself. But I’m not going off half-cocked about this or anything else.”

“All right, Herbert. I know you love the Lord and want to do His will, and He’ll lead you in His own way. C’mon, it’s time to go to the tabernacle.”

The brothers walked down Michigan Avenue to Sixteenth Street and entered Central Zion Tabernacle.

“This used to be an Episcopal church,” explained Ezra. “The General Overseer bought it a couple of years ago and completely rebuilt the inside. It was a miracle of God’s goodness the way the money came in to pay for the work. It will seat forty-five hundred.”

This tabernacle was an imposing stone structure, and when Herbert went inside he saw that it had been reconstructed by building two large galleries, one above the other. Swiftly counting seats and rows, however, he had his doubts about its capacity. He could not account for more than three thousand seats. “Who told you this would seat forty-five hundred?” he asked.

“Why, I’ve heard the General Overseer say so hundreds of times,” replied Ezra, mildly surprised.

“H’m,” said Herbert, “maybe I counted wrong.”

Behind the platform, on which were a pulpit and a row of ecclesiastical high-back chairs, was a choir-loft with banked seats for about three hundred and fifty. A big reed organ with two banks of keys stood in the lower midst. On the wall, above the choir-loft, were crutches, braces, plaster casts, high-sole shoes, trusses, medicine bottles, uniforms, and cocked hats. The crutches were arranged in the form of a huge crown. Painted above the crown there gleamed in gold-leaf, “Christ Is All and In All.” On the upper right-hand corner of the space appeared, in big block letters, “S. P.”

“All these crutches and surgical appliances were thrown aside by people who were healed by the Lord in answer to our dear General Overseer’s prayers. The uniforms were given up by members of secret societies. You know the General Overseer has exposed the diabolical and unchristian character of the lodges — and especially of the Masons. The S. P. is made of boxes of cigars, given up by a tobacco fiend, delivered from his habit in answer to the General Overseer s prayers. It stands for “Stink Pot.” That’s what he calls men who use tobacco, you know. There are jars up there, too, containing cancers which fell out when the General Overseer laid on hands according to the Scriptures. How any one can look at that wall and not believe in Jesus the Healer is more than I can understand. It is ocular demonstration. But ~there are none so blind as they who will not see.’”

While the brothers were looking about the inside of the tabernacle, people were coming in. They stood in groups, talking spiritedly. There were fervent greetings and much laughter. Yet Herbert, listening with one ear, heard many pious exclamations, of which “Praise the Lord!” was most frequent.

This was, in some respects, a more attractive-looking crowd than the one in the lobby of Zion Home. Nearly all seemed to be healthy and happy, and there was more spontaneity in their expression and manner. They looked and dressed like common laborers, skilled artisans, small retailers, salesmen for wholesale groceries, clerks, and dentists. A certain something in their appearance that Herbert could not interpret was not pleasant to him.

“We better get up by that door over there,” sug­gested Ezra. “The General Overseer should be here soon and he will want you to be handy.” They went over to a door at the right of the platform and sat in a front seat near-by. The lower floor and first gallery had filled rapidly and now the people sat chatting to­gether in low voices. Narrow-headed, futile-looking men, many of them bearded, moved importantly about. Ezra pointed some of them out and named them Elder This and Evangelist That. They had been denominational preachers in obscure churches.

It was past time for the meeting to begin, but these people showed no sign of impatience or wonder. Herbert, however, who hated waste of any kind and had all of “Poor Richard’s” reverence for minutes, had an uneasy feeling of hostility toward the man who thus flung away fifteen thousand minutes of other people’s time—including Herbert Renbrush’s.

Finally, the door at the left of the platform opened and Captain Erdman, smiling and nodding gaily to acquaintances here and there, came out and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, my boy. The General Overseer will see you now.”

They entered a small, irregular-shaped room under a stairway. It was simply furnished with ingrain carpet, small roll-top desk, a big swivel chair, and several straight-backed wooden ones. But it was dominated, blotted out by the man who rose swiftly to greet his callers.

Five feet four inches tall, with wide shoulders, deep chest, and big, round pot-belly, he was surprisingly agile. His short, bowed legs were thin, so that in his shirt-sleeves or a jacket he would have looked like the picture of Humpty-Dumpty. He wore, however, a Prince Albert coat of finest black broadcloth, a spotless collar, white lawn tie, round cuffs, black trousers, and tiny patent-leather shoes. But Herbert did not notice the little man’s clothing. His head and face were all-compelling. Except for a fringe of black wavy hair which fell over his collar, he was pinkly, gleamingly bald. A long crinkly white beard of the prophetic pattern covered his lower face and spread over his bosom. The somewhat narrow skull was roundly domed on top, long from the ears forward and comparatively short behind, but it looked big—brainy. His nose was concave, with heavy, blunt tip. In his purplish gray eyes, however, was found the force of the man, or, rather, the legion of mighty and fascinating men in his personality. When those eyes blazed and condemned, few could withstand their steady fire. When they plead and cajoled, few could resist their magnetism. In repose, they were intelligent and kindly, but they could sparkle with humor, melt with tenderness, darken with tragedy, weep and wring tears from thousands.

As Herbert Renbrush looked into this famous pair of eyes for the first time he saw a warmth of kindness that surprised him, and a quizzical penetration that seemed to strip him of disguises.

“Ah, Mister Renbrush, I’m glad to welcome you to Zion. Your good brother, the elder, has told me about you. Did they take good care of you at Zion Home?” He spoke with a suggestion of Scotch burr.

“Oh, yes, Captain Erdman kindly found my brother for me, thank you,” replied Herbert.

“Splendid fellow, Erdman,” said the General Overseer, complacently. “As you know, I was the instrument in God’s hands of saving his life, restoring him to health, and rescuing him from drunkenness and debauchery. He was dying of vile diseases when God’s Little White Dove, ‘Leaves of Healing,’ first brought him my message of Jesus the Healer. He’d been a race-track tout and then keeper of a dive in the slums of Chicago. When he came to old Zion Tabernacle Number Two, he could scarcely walk, could not bend his knees, using two canes. I laid hands on him and prayed for him. God healed him instantly. He threw away his sticks and, on his way home, ran up to the elevated station two steps at a time. You wouldn’t think, to look at him now, that he was once a dirty bum, with a nose like a ripe tomato.”

“That’s wonderful,” said Herbert.

“How long shall you remain with us?” asked the General Overseer.

“Oh, I’m going back to Ranosha on the midnight train. I expect to see a man about a job when I leave here, and hope to arrange something with him before train-time.”

“What kind of job?”

“Well, since I left college, I’ve been working in a small real-estate and insurance office in Ranosha, and I want to get into something better in Chicago. I’ve an old college friend in a big office in La Salle Street and I’m hoping he can help me find an opening.”

“Why don’t you stay a few days? Then you could spend more time with your brother, could see more of God’s work in Zion. You would have a chance to look over the real-estate field and make a desirable connection.”

“To tell you the truth, Dr. Dowie, I couldn’t feel right to go to the expense of several days in Chicago.”

“Your scruples do you credit, young man. However, you are welcome to stay with us at Zion Home as my guest, if that will help you.”

“That’s wonderfully kind of you, Doctor,” said Herbert, “but I couldn’t think of trespassing on your generosity. And besides, I don’t believe I ought to stay away from the office so long. We’re short-handed and I’m needed.”

“I’d like to help you, Mr. Renbrush, partly for your good brother’s sake. Zion is a very busy place and we have need of many workers. If you like to come back to us in a few days, I can find something here for you to do. I do not pay extravagant salaries, for it is God’s work, but I’ve no doubt I can find a few pennies for you. You can at least have bread—and perhaps some butter and jam. You could then use your spare time looking up the position you want. What salary do you get now?”

“Seven and a half a week—but I got two hundred dollars more last year, out of my five per cent of the commissions I earn for the office. Probably a little more this year.”

“Well, suppose we say fifteen dollars a week, then. That will be a bit better than you are doing now?”

“Oh, that would be generous,” said Herbert, delighted. “It would be a great help, Doctor. Thank you very much. I must be frank with you, though, and tell you while I’m interested in your work, I’m not a member of your church, and may never be.”

“Well, we won’t quarrel about that, young man. I want to do what I can for you for the dear elder’s sake. Are you a member of any church?”

“Yes, I’m nominally a member of the Congregational church in Ranosha; but I got so tired of going to meetings, leading meetings, serving on committees, chasing around begging for money, and all the rest of it, with no results, that not long ago I told the pastor I wouldn’t waste time on it any more.”

“And what did he say to that?” asked Dr. Dowie, his eyes twinkling, his mustache twitching.

“Oh, he said the work of the church was to build character, not to do the spectacular.”

“Yes, yes, I used to be a big-headed Congregationalist myself. And what did you tell him?”

“I told him I couldn’t see that the members of his church averaged any better-built characters than people of the same class outside the church.”

“Nor do they,” said the General Overseer, hotly. “The apostate churches have forsaken the Gospel of Christ. He preached salvation, healing, and holy living. And they preach ‘character-building’!”

After agreeing that he would take up his new duties on November first, Herbert bade the General Overseer good-by and went with his brother into the auditorium. The people still sat patiently waiting, although it was now nearly an hour past time for the meeting to begin.

The General Overseer raced out upon the platform as if he had just torn himself away from affairs of epochal importance. First dropping to his knees behind the pulpit a moment, he rose and began to speak in a harsh, disagreeable, but strangely carrying voice. Herbert was surprised to see that he looked tall and powerful.

Soon the preacher announced a hymn and the people sang.

“This crowd can sing!” whispered Herbert to his brother.

“Oh, yes,” was the answer, “they have the love and joy of the Lord in their hearts.”

This was a weekly meeting of the recently organized Zion Seventies. These people, said Ezra, went in pairs, from house to house, all over Chicago, selling “Leaves of Healing,” distributing tracts, testifying, caring for the sick when they could get an opportunity, doing housework for sick mothers, gathering information about families in distress.

At this meeting, after the General Overseer had preached for an hour, another hour was devoted to reports from members. Men and women related their experiences. Some had stories of people “brought into Zion,” of people healed in answer to the General Overseer’s prayer, of poverty and distress relieved. Others had been struck or kicked, had been cursed, threatened, ridiculed. These seemed prouder and happier than those who had come “bringing in the sheaves” of conversions and healings.

All this made Herbert uncomfortable. Happy abandonment to the faith that was in these people put him to shame. Compared to theirs, his religion seemed cold and perfunctory.

After the meeting, which closed at about eleven o’clock, the people seemed unwilling to leave. Standing or seated in groups, they talked religion as a crowd of undergraduates discusses a football game.

All the way up the avenue to Zion Home, Ezra talked.

“The thing that makes me so happy in Zion,” he said, “is that here the Bible means just what it says— all of it. We don’t need to try to explain away any of it. For us it is all up to date, all true, and all practicable. And we get actual, concrete results every day to prove it. Then it is a joy to work with people who are so whole-heartedly in accord. They’re too busy serving the Lord and their fellow-men to have any time for the jealousy, backbiting, scheming and conspiring you and I have seen so much of in the apostate churches. And there’s none of the indifference that used to discourage me so in my pastorates. Every one is too willing, if anything. We have to hold them back for their health’s sake.”

At Zion Home, Herbert told Ezra that he would not look up his friend that night. It was only three quarters of an hour to train time, and besides, since he had agreed to go to work for Dr. Dowie, there was no hurry about seeing Phil. So the brothers sat chatting in the lobby.

In a few minutes Captain Erdman came in, accompanied by a tall, athletic young man of about twenty-eight. His head was high but well-proportioned, his forehead intellectual. Level gray eyes looked at the world with intelligent, friendly interest. Dress and grooming bespoke cultivated tastes. He was, thought Herbert, easily superior to all the Zion folks he had seen. “He looks like a gentleman and a scholar,” he said to himself.

“Mr. Renbrush,” said the captain, “I want you to meet Mr. Harrow, the general manager of Zion Printing and Publishing House and general associate editor of ‘Leaves of Healing’ and Zion publications.

“That’s a whale’s mouthful of title, isn’t it?” laughed Harrow, easily, as he shook hands with Herbert. “I’m glad to meet you, Mr. Renbrush. I’d know you were a college man even if the captain hadn’t told me. You see, we’ve been talking about you. I hope to get better acquainted.”

Herbert was charmed. Here, he felt, was a man of his own class. Somehow, he was not quite so frightened and miserable, now that this splendid man, about his own age, had appeared.

“You’re a college man too, of course,” he said. “What’s your alma mater?”

“Oh, I’m Princeton, Ninety-one,” said Harrow, “and what’s yours?’’

“Berrence, Ninety-six.”

“Well, we’re too far apart on the map to fight about our football teams, so we ought to be peaceful enough. Did you play?”

“Yes, three years, right guard.”

“Good for you! Sounds like varsity. I didn’t get that far, but I did manage to lose some skin for dear old Ninety-one. The captain tells me you’re going to work here. Come in and see me as soon as you can. Publishing house is at the corner of Thirteenth and Michigan.”

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

On the first day of November, 1898, Herbert Renbrush arrived in Chicago. He went at once to his brother Ezra’s flat in Monroe Avenue near Sixty-first Street, where, for three dollars a week, he was to have the use of a folding bed in the living-room, and his breakfasts and suppers. Arriving in the morning, he visited with his brother, ate dinner with him, and then took a Cottage Grove Avenue cable car uptown to Zion Home.

Herbert’s welcome by Captain Erdman, at Zion Home, made him glow inside.

“I’ll telephone up to Murray, the General Overseer s secretary,” said the captain, picking up an instrument. “I think I can get you an interview this afternoon.”

The captain spoke briefly, banteringly, to someone he called Merry Christmas.

“Come along, my boy,” said he, setting down the telephone and coming out from behind the counter with long, graceful strides. “What’d I tell you? Merry worked you in ahead of a long line of elders and evangelists, but we’ve got to get there quick.”

They rounded the left end of the counter and found the building’s one elevator car waiting.

“Four times, Freddie,” sang Erdman to the grinning young saint on the wire rope. They rose to the fourth floor. Stepping into the corridor, Erdman led the way toward an open door at the western or front end. Beyond this door was a waiting-room, where Herbert could see about a dozen patient-looking elders, most of them bearded, lined up against the wall in wooden chairs. At a roll-top desk against the other wall sat a reedy youth with long, fleshy nose. Beside him was a girl with saucy face and mischievous brown eyes. They were cutting columns of clippings from newspapers and pasting them in huge scrap-books, thus combining functions of waiting-room attendants and clipping bureau.

Captain Erdman passed by quickly, turned to the right, opened a door, and slipped, with Herbert, inside a little foyer, about ten feet square, lighted only by a single incandescent. Four closed doors appeared. This had been a three-room deluxe suite in days when the building had been a profane hotel. Tradition asserted that John L. Sullivan had used for spirituous ceremonials the rooms now sacred to the office work of the spiritual head of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion Throughout the World.

Captain Erdman tapped lightly on one of the four doors and stood waiting. There was no response. He grinned and knocked again. Not a sound except the swift impact of typewriter keys inside. “The little shrimp—tryin’ to be mean,” whispered the captain, laughing silently, as he tapped again. Rattle of type on paper ceased—the door opened.

Lawrence Murray was small, with lady-like hands and feet. His hair, his nails, his linen, his clothing were as neat and compact as the works of a watch.

His dark eyes were smoldering, his brow drawn in a scowl which advertised itself as ferocious. But while his mouth was screwed tight shut, his lips were full and a ripe red. For all his fierce manner, he appeared sulky rather than angry, and Herbert had the impression it was all a mask for a shy but friendly soul.

“Hello yourself, Merry Christmas,” whispered the captain. “Glad to see you lookin’ so frivolous. This is Mr. Herbert Renbrush, the elder’s brother—and this, Mr. Renbrush, is the famous Merry Christmas you’ve heard of so often.”

Murray permitted a tight smile to dimple one smooth cheek, shook hands stiffly and murmured, “How do you do, Mr. Renbrush?”

“Stop and see me when you go out, my boy,” invited the captain as he left.

“Won’t you sit down, Mr. Renbrush,” said Murray precisely. “The General Overseer desired me to inform you that he would see you at his earliest opportunity, between appointments. He is very much occupied, but he desires to make you welcome and to induct you into your duties as early as possible.”

“All right,” answered Herbert, smiling with the secretary.

Murray’s office was neat, small, and compact, like himself. He had a mahogany roll-top desk, immaculately in order—everything in painfully exact, geometrical position—and a small typewriter desk of the same wood beside it. On the wall was but one picture - a life-sized head and shoulders of Dr. Dowie. The one window looked out upon Michigan Avenue, but from where Herbert sat, nothing but the Royal Tailors’ Building across the street was visible. From below came the incessant clop-clop of horses’ hoofs.

Murray returned to his typewriter without more conversation. Minutes slipped by, then slowed to a crawl. Murray went on typing, the tailors across the avenue went on cutting acres of cloth, the horses below went on weaving intricate patterns of rhythm. But Herbert only sat. He looked about for something to read - at least his time need not be wholly wasted — but everything in this office was so mathematically placed he dared not disturb a detail. He tried to think, to plan; but there was too much unknown in the future for him to make a beginning.

This was a fine way to treat a fellow, he thought. “Rush up! Right away! Hurry, or you’ll be too late! Then sit outside and waste hours of time! By jimmy, I won’t stand it! I don’t have to.”

“Guess I’d better come back later,” he finally told Murray. “Evidently Dr. Dowie doesn’t want to see me now.”

The secretary ceased typing long enough to say, coldly, “If you desire to converse with the General Overseer, you would do well to remain until he summons you.”

“Oh, well! But it’s a great waste of time.”

“It  is his time,” replied Murray, simply.

Herbert stared, mouth slack, while Murray went on at the typewriter.

“ ‘His time,’ ” he thought. “Does he mean the man’s God Almighty?”

Another hour passed. Occasionally there was a soft knock on the outer door and the bell-boy silently handed in one or more yellow-jacketed telegrams, a bundle of printed blanks fastened together with a clip, or an envelop containing one of the same kind of blanks. These blanks were written upon in many different hands, some in pencil, some in ink. A few were typewritten. All these Murray arranged, as they came, in a neat pile close to his typewriter.

A buzzer sounded on the wall above the secretary s sleek head. He rose solemnly, picked up the handful of telegrams and blanks he had collected, then silently opened a door at the left of his typewriter desk, disappeared through it, and as silently closed it. After fifteen minutes the door was opened wide, Murray came through, stood ceremoniously aside and stiffly pronounced:

“The General Overseer desires you to come in, Mr. Renbrush.”

 

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

HERBERT stepped into a large corner room with four windows, draped with clean, white Nottingham lace curtains—no easy achievement in Chicago. Against the south wall was a huge mahogany roll-top desk, open. A luxurious couch backed up to the east wall, a revolving bookcase filled with dictionaries, lexicons, atlases, and a morocco-bound set of the Encyclopedia Britannica stood between the windows on the north side, while a terrestrial globe two feet in diameter, elaborately mounted, occupied the northwest corner. A heavy Brussels carpet covered the entire floor. On the walls were life-size portraits of Dr. Dowie, Mrs. Jeanie Dowie, Gladstone Dowie, their son, and Esther Dowie, their daughter.

Dr. Dowie had risen from a big leather-upholstered swivel chair in front of the larger mahogany desk. He was dressed as he had been when Herbert first saw him, except that a black silk skull cap covered his baldness. Smiling genially, he extended his pudgy little hand.

“Ah, Renbrush, I’m delighted to see you again. Had you a pleasant journey?”

“Yes, Doctor, and I’m glad to be here.”

“And you are ready to begin your duties?”

“The sooner the better.”

“Ah, I am glad to hear it. Keeping close to God?”

“I hope so,” answered Herbert, slightly embarrassed.

“Sit down, do, and let us have a little talk.”

Herbert took the mahogany arm-chair indicated, at the left of the desk.

“Now, my dear young man,” said the General Overseer, leaning back in his chair and crossing his short legs with difficulty, holding an ankle in one hand to keep it from slipping off his knee, “you are going to work in an organization where conditions are different from those in the outside world. God called me to proclaim His full Gospel of Salvation, Healing, and Holy Living, so long lost to the world through the apostasy of the churches and the cowardice of those who called themselves His ministers. He led me to form the Christian Catholic Church in Zion Throughout the World. I am the head, the General Overseer, of that church by His authority—not by the vote of a majority. You are an American and you make much of your precious ‘rule of the majority.’ You forget that ‘one man, with God on his side, is a majority on any question.’

“God’s church, in the beginning, was never ruled by votes. The majority of people are weak and foolish. Therefore, the rule of the majority is a tyranny of fools. That is true in politics as well as in churches.”

Herbert was still young enough and democrat enough to believe that the voice of the people was the voice of God, and the United States of America the greatest and best nation in all history. A rush of hot protests jammed in his throat—so he said nothing. Dr. Dowie smiled.

“You find that a hard saying, do you not? I have no great liking for harsh language. My own taste is for the beautiful, the classical, the poetic. But I found, early in my ministry, that you cannot fight the devil with rose water and eau de cologne. I might tell a smoker in sweet, literary language about the harmfulness of nicotine poisoning. Would that knock the pipe and cigar out of his mouth? You know—you have read—that mild, lovely talk. How many does it affect?”

“Not many, I’m afraid,” admitted Herbert.

“But when I call smokers dirty stinkpots, they are shocked. I heap it up, pile on the disgust. That knocks the pipes and cigars out of their mouths.

“So there is no voting in Zion. I may as well tell you frankly, I am a despot. We have no committees—a lot of weak men sitting around a table talking, interminably talking. Passing resolutions! What has ever been done by resolutions? God does not work that way. He chooses one man—and gives that man full and final authority. And I am that man in Zion—make no mistake. I did not appoint myself—God put me here. He sets His seal upon my authority by the works He does through me. I would be a traitor to Him if I were to turn over to a committee, a presbytery, a board of trustees, or the votes of a congregation one shred of the authority for which He holds me responsible. Rather than yield my power to any one else or divide it with any man or body of men, I would smash the whole thing.

“So, absolute, instant, unquestioning obedience to the General Overseer is the rule in Zion. To disobey me is to rebel against the will of God.”

Herbert was having a bad time. He did not agree with his new employer. He instinctively rebelled against autocratic authority and a demand for unquestioning obedience. He began to wish himself well out of this scrape. He suspected, miserably, that he had been too impulsive. Yet he could think of nothing to say to fit the circumstances. He thought of that line of patient, bearded elders and evangelists on their hard chairs in the waiting-room. They had looked as if they belonged in an atmosphere of “complete, instant, and unquestioning obedience.” Meek preachers, they had always had to knuckle under to the leading members of their churches, had been bossed around by domineering women. Probably it was a relief to them to have only one boss—and that a man. But he wasn’t that kind.

Dr. Dowie went on:

“After all, Renbrush, I’m not such a terrible fellow. My people love me because they know I love them. I have gone down into the valley of the shadow of death with many of them, fought with the devil for their lives and won. I have prayed for their children. I have lifted many of them out of lives of sin and shame and made them clean, happy, prosperous, and healthy in Zion. I have prayed for thousands of mothers in the perilous hour of childbirth and God has delivered them of beautiful babies without doctors or drugs. Do you wonder they love me and find joy in obeying me?”

It was not clear to Herbert why a man should have despotic authority over people because he loved them, but he said nothing.

Dr. Dowie sprang up, took a few quick, springy steps about the office, then stood facing Herbert, feet apart, hands in trousers pockets.

“Now I want to do all I can for you. You have intelligence, you are well educated, you have had some good business experience. I made a notable success of business before I was ordained. Even now I handle many large business affairs. I am just a business man in the ministry. I want to give you the benefit of my business judgment. I want to see you make money. You should be a wealthy man.

“I have no patience with this chatter of fools about the blessings of poverty. Poverty is a curse. God wants His people to be rich, prosperous, powerful. As the leader of His people, I have plans for making them rich. Even now they are becoming rich. They work hard. They lose no time through drunkenness or sickness. Their brains are clear and their bodies strong. They save all the money other people spend on liquor, tobacco, theaters, cards, novels, dances, harlots, and other polluting abominations. Do you see what advantages they have at the start? And when, under wise guidance, they combine their capital, what a power they will have in business?”

The General Overseer strode about the office in growing excitement.

“You are a business man. You can appreciate these things. I can talk to you about them as I could not talk to many of those around me. They are dear, good, faithful people and useful in their way, but they would not understand a business man’s point of view. They do not, even now, appreciate the business ability that, in less than six years, has carried me from nothing to the possession of Zion Home, Central Zion Tabernacle, Zion Printing and Publishing House, Zion Home of Hope for Erring Women, and Zion College.

“Yes, we have a college. In the upper room at the publishing house I have the nucleus of what will one day be Zion University, with its colleges of theology, law, agriculture, engineering, classics, science, business, and finance. I want the children of Zion, born into clean homes, of clean parents, reared without contamination by the vices of the world, to be given the highest and best education. I want them to be a royal generation. And how they will shake this old world!

“Yes, Zion is already a brilliant success in business, but I am only beginning. If I have done some little during six years, starting with nothing, think what I, under God, can do in the next twenty or thirty! I am only fifty-one and I intend to live to be a hundred, at least, by God’s blessing. And there will be great rewards for those who assist me in Zion’s business enterprises. There should be. Jesus said, ‘The laborer is worthy of his hire,’ and I’m not niggardly with those who are faithful and able.”

Herbert felt his enthusiasm returning.

“Best of all, of course,” Dr. Dowie went on, “is the power for good of such an organization. Already there are branches of Zion in all lands and in the islands of the sea. With the power of millions of dollars behind them, these will grow and spread and multiply until the ‘knowledge of the goodness of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.’

“You told me you had given up your work in the Congregational church because you saw no results. And you did well. I have only this to say to you:

Walk around Zion, go into every department. Talk to her people. Get to know them. Read ‘Leaves of Healing.’ Attend our healing meetings. Everywhere you will see results—glorious results.”

The General Overseer’s eyes were glowing, his head flung back, his whole figure seemed to expand. Then lie resumed his seat, instantly dropping into a conversational tone.

“Now the opening I had in mind for you is not ready yet, and I am glad it is not. I want you to know Zion, to get a little understanding of the Zion spirit—before you begin your actual duties. So I am going to set you at what may seem to you an odd task. Come.”

Dr. Dowie rose, put his arm around Herbert’s shoulders and drew him toward a door in the east wall. Opening this, the two men passed into a long, narrow room, with thick Brussels carpet and two great leather arm-chairs. Against the walls were oak bookcases with glass doors, filled with books. Going to one of the cases, Dr. Dowie pointed to a row of big books, bound in black morocco and lettered in gold “Leaves of Healing Volume I,” “II,” “III,” and “IV.”

“This is my little nucleus of a library. Some day Zion will have the greatest library on earth. All the knowledge—and foolishness—of all the past and present will be at your disposal. But now I want you to come here five days a week, make yourself comfortable, and beginning at Volume One, Number One, read ‘Leaves of Healing,’ every word, in order. If you get tired of reading, you may attend the healing meetings Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, in the healing-room off the lobby on the main floor, and at the Tabernacle on Thursday afternoons. You will be on duty eight hours a day. Of course, you will want to attend the regular Sunday meetings at the Tabernacle.”

“But,” said Herbert, “isn’t there something I could do to earn my salary? I don’t like to take pay just for reading and attending meetings.”

“Now you are not to worry about that—I think I’ll call you Herbert. Don’t worry about that at all, Herbert. I am paying you for your time, and it is mine to do with as I wish. You must give me credit for knowing what I want.”

Dr. Dowie had seated himself in one of the big library chairs. Signing Herbert to sit in the other, he talked—and encouraged the young man to talk— about world affairs, Bryan, McKinley, the beginnings of recovery in business and finance, newspapers, Shakspere, Dr. Dowie’s early business experiences and political activities, Herbert’s business adventures, education, and other subjects. The young man was amazed to find how widely and deeply his new employer had read, at the breadth and variety of his interests and information. The charm, the geniality, the easy camaraderie of the man drew him. Serious attention given his ideas and opinions flattered him. Hours passed. Then Murray came in with a discreet clearing of his throat, bearing another sheaf of telegrams and filled-in printed blanks, which he placed on the padded arm of Dr. Dowie’s chair.

“Ah, Murray, my boy, what do you want, with your ahem?” asked the great man playfully.

“Mrs. Dowie telephones that it is time for your dinner, General Overseer,” said Murray, severely.

“Ah—dinner, Murray. Why do you lay the responsibility on Mistress Dowie? You know you tyrannize over me with your precious clock, your meal hours, and appointments. I suspect you want your own dinner, isn’t that it? Shocking! You make a god of your belly.”

The man laughed with terrifying gurgles and gasps, in the midst of which he caught sight of the papers on the arm of his chair. Suddenly he became grave, snatched off his skullcap, placed his right hand on the papers, closed his eyes, and rapidly and silently moved his lips for a few seconds. Replacing his cap, he said:

“Here is another evidence of Zion’s world-wide power. These are requests for prayer for the sick. They come in, every hour of the day and night, by cable, by telegraph, by telephone, by mail, and by messenger. See, here is a cable from Sydney, Australia:

‘Dowie, Chicago. Pray. Daughter dying. Cranston.’ This one is from Zurich: ‘Pray for me. Kettler.’ There are telegrams from many American cities. These blanks, you see, are headed ‘Request for Prayer.’ Those filled in in typewriting were taken over the telephone by clerks employed for that purpose. Here, Murray, stamp them. You see, when I have prayed, each one is stamped with the date, hour, and minute. Then, when the testimony to healing comes in, we are able to check up the time, making allowance for difference in longitude.”

Murray went into the General Overseer’s office and began banging away with an electrically operated time-stamp, almost as efficiently accurate as himself—but not so quiet.

“Well Herbert,” said the General Overseer, taking the young man’s hand, “I trust we understand each other. Are you comfortably located in Chicago?”

“Yes, Doctor, thank you. I’m staying with my brother on the South Side. I’m going to arrange to buy my lunches here at the Home.”

“My dear boy, you do not need to buy them. You are my guest. Murray, make a note to tell Jeffords that Mr. Renbrush is to have whatever meals he wants here and to charge them to my account. I want you to be well provided for, Herbert. You have probably had some extra expense moving down here. Take this as part payment, with my love.”

Herbert found himself rather sheepishly accepting a bright, new twenty-dollar gold piece and stumbling through a speech of gratitude. He was dazed.

“Now, off you go,” said Dr. Dowie, gently easing him through the door into the foyer.

In the waiting-room patient elders and evangelists still sat on their hard chairs.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

JOHN ALEXANDER DOWIE was born in Edinburgh, the son of John Murray Dowie, beeches-maker. When still a child, he had gone, with his father and mother, to Adelaide, South Australia, where the canny Scotch tailor had prospered modestly and had been made justice of the peace.

Little John was a rack of slender bones, with head much too large for his bandy-legged body. His hair was thick, wavy, and black as anthracite. His big eyes were so dark and strange a gray they looked purple in some moods, black in others. His digestion was treacherous but his appetite voracious, so he was often ill. Weakness of flesh, however, seemed only to add to the flames of mind and emotion that burned in him and lit up everything around him.

In school he seemed to drink in knowledge without effort—except arithmetic and science. Geography was a passion with him, spelling, grammar, literature, history, Latin, Greek, philosophy, he learned as if by contact rather than by study. And what he learned he remembered, not merely to recite, but forever.

Despite his scholarship and his physical frailty, he was not despised by his schoolmates. Some hated and feared him because of a temper which exalted him until, enthroned upon his rage, he seemed tall and massive, and because of a tongue like a whip of poison ivy. Others were drawn to him, almost against sober judgment, and accorded him leadership. But he led them in crusades of mind and heart, not in sports. Nor was the way he took easy for them. Even grown-up men and women seemed to feel the awful energies of his personality. An imitative politeness but sketchily screened the violent arrogance, and perhaps even more violent attractiveness, of his personality. He would not and could not be treated as a child. He communed with adults, if at all, as an adult.

When twenty-one years old he went to his native city to attend the University of Edinburgh. The sailing-ship which carried him from Australia across the Pacific and around Cape Horn spent three months playing upon his emotions. When becalmed in the doldrums he was feral in caged fury. Fair winds made him a prince in triumphal progress. He was all over the ship, talking, joking, laughing, teasing, preaching, boasting. But in a storm he was like flame on an altar. There was a calm joyousness about him that drew poor frightened folk and made them forget his youth. Once and again, when Death sat grinning horribly on the shoulders of the plumed seas, he held passengers and crew almost unafraid in the embrace of his courage. He could not promise them life, but he showed them the beauty and kindliness of Death.

Arrived at Edinburgh, he went to live with his father’s sister, widow of a saddler and mother of two sons grown, married, and working in Glasgow. Poor soul, she loved and admired her nephew but never understood him. He was kindly—except when crossed—but as aloof as the stars. She gave him a good home, darned his socks, fed him oatmeal, fish, orange marmalade, toast, mutton, and broth in quantity if not quality, and thanked her cross Scotch God that he was so releegious.

In his native city young Dowie distinguished himself for his fiery debates with astounded professors on doctrine and scriptural interpretations; for a plodding, relentless, timeless attention to detail amazing in one so impetuous; and for a passion to preach which would not be denied. Mission chapels, soap-boxes, country churches, university classrooms, debating clubs—all were his pulpits. Whether his congregation numbered two hundred or only two made no difference with what he said, how long he took to say it, or the dramatic fervor of his performance.

He made few friends. For social life and sport he cared nothing. Small talk was impossible to him, and in his religious passions people were but raw material.

After two years at the university he was suddenly called home to Australia. His father had guessed wrong about a chance to make a quick fortune, and John could have no more drafts from Adelaide. Many years afterward he said, “I could have gone on and become the head of my university but for the stupidity and selfishness of one who should have kept himself out of my path.”

There followed two years’ work for a wholesale ironmongery—or hardware store—as bookkeeper, correspondent, and collector—With much lay preaching as recreation. Finally, he was ordained a minister of the Congregational Church and went to Alma, a small country pastorate in South Australia. His eloquence and fire made a reputation for him and he was called to the Manly Congregational Church in Sydney, whence he went to Newton, a suburb. At this time, also, he married his first cousin, Jeanie Dowie of Adelaide.

It was during his pastorate here that he passed through an experience which changed the whole course of his life, as a result of which he deliberately turned his back upon the brilliant career opening be­fore him and set out upon that lonely path of fighting against the mighty forces of pulpit, press, society, government, and individual enemies.

He discovered Divine Healing.

At first the young preacher tried to tell of Jesus the Healer in his little suburban church. But it was not to be. Opposition drove him out and, at thirty-one, he opened a divine healing tabernacle in Sydney. Immediately storms began to beat down upon him and his little handful of followers. With seeming recklessness he attacked churches, physicians, newspapers, theaters, and the liquor traffic. They naturally struck back and he began to be persecuted and martyred. There being no stronger magnet than the martyr to certain human types, his following grew. At thirty five he transferred his headquarters to Melbourne, where he built a tabernacle and was quickly in the midst of half a dozen fights, always against overwhelming odds. On one occasion his private office at the tabernacle was wrecked by a bomb only a few minutes after he had left it for the night.

Early in 1888 he started on what he announced would be a trip around the world to organize the International Divine Healing Association. After a few weeks in New Zealand, preaching, praying for the sick, and fighting his enemies, he went on to San Francisco, where he began five years of wandering from city to city west of the Mississippi, holding meetings, proclaiming his “Full Gospel,” and making the welkin and the newspapers ring with his fights.

In the course of his wanderings he visited Salt Lake City. There he studied the Mormon Church and had an interview with its president.

Early in 1893 the little band of pilgrims reached Chicago, only four in number - “Dr.” Dowie, as he now permitted himself to be styled, though he had no degree; his wife, Jeanie, and his two children, Gladstone and Esther. Buildings of the World’s Columbian Exposition were being finished in Jackson Park. Between the park and the elevated Illinois Central tracks, in Sixty-second Street, on the north side of that short thoroughfare, the itinerant preacher bought a lot and built an ugly little wooden shack, which he called Zion Tabernacle. The building had an unusually high, partly rounded false front, similar to those seen on stores in raw western towns. On this front was painted in huge letters “Zion Tabernacle, Headquarters of the International Divine Healing Association, Rev. John Alex. Dowie, Founder and President. Christ Is All and in All.” Otherwise, the building was unpainted. Inside were seats for about 350 or400 people. Near-by he rented a two-story frame house which he called Zion Home. The word “Zion,” so much used by the Mormons in Salt Lake City, had made a deep impression upon him. All conceivable glories are promised to Zion in the Bible.

One day during the World’s Fair, Herbert Renbrush, on his way to work as rolling-chair pusher in the fair grounds, passed through Sixty-second Street, using a narrow foot-passenger tunnel under the Illinois Central tracks. His eye fell on Zion Tabernacle. Curiously, he read the flamboyant sign. “Humph,” he thought, “some faker trying to catch a few suckers, letting the fair draw the crowds for him, like a shell-game man at a circus!” He went on and gave the little hut no further thought.

But “Dr.” Dowie was giving it much thought. Although, at first, he preached to mere handfuls of less than ten hearers, his fire was undimmed. Meetings were held at almost every hour of the day and evening. More and more people came. Many professed conversion, many others, members of churches, claimed to have been healed. Going to their homes in Chicago and all over the world, they carried the story. In the churches and out, they “testified” with an invincible enthusiasm. It was a compelling message. When a man says, “I was dying of cancer of the tongue. I could take only liquid food. I couldn’t talk. Doctor Dowie laid hands on me and prayed, God heard his prayer, according to His promise, and the cancer fell out. It is now preserved in a jar on the walls of Zion Tabernacle, praise the Lord,” you can’t call him a liar, however incredulous you may be. If you profess to believe the Bible, which teaches that disease is to be healed in answer to prayer and the laying on of hands, the logic of the case is all with the man who says he was so healed.

Pulpits began to thunder against the new “ism.”

Thus more and more people heard about that “bit of kindling-wood,” Zion Tabernacle. A University of Chicago professor called it that, much to “Dr.” Dowie’s delight, who worked the epithet for all it was worth. He would use that bit of kindling-wood to start a fire which would sweep all over the world.

All these forces, for and against, brought people flocking to Zion Tabernacle after the World’s Fair ended and some of its palaces went up in fire and smoke. All through that dread winter of 1893, when emaciated men slept by thousands under sidewalks, in doorways, in the corridors of City Hall, and in the flimsy lath and stucco buildings in Jackson Park, the tabernacle was packed day and night, and people stood for hours on snow-drifts, outside the windows to hear the preaching and the “testimony” of “God’s Witnesses to Divine Healing.”

People came from far. Many of them remained for weeks. To shelter and feed them other houses in the neighborhood were rented, until there were Zion Homes Nos. 2, 3, and 4. Money began to pour in, not only from the free-will offerings in the tabernacle, but also from the twenty-five dollars a week paid by each guest in the Zion Homes (many who could not pay were entertained free of charge) and from gifts of gratitude given by those who had been healed.

Still another building was rented, this one a two-story brick in Stony Island Avenue, which runs along the western side of Jackson Park.

The first floor was fitted up with second-hand printing presses and other equipment and became Zion Printing and Publishing House. Here began “Leaves of Healing,” a weekly paper. The second floor was equipped with platform and seats, and became Zion Tabernacle No. 2. The growing design of wall decoration, made of crutches, canes, braces, high-sole shoes, and other trophies of the healing-rooms, was removed from the old “bit of kindling-wood” and nailed to the walls of the new tabernacle, and Zion Tabernacle No. 1 was torn down.

Newspapers in Chicago began to see good copy in the strange community clinging to the flank of the dead and burned World’s Fair. Reporters with sensational pens were sent. Their stories were copied in newspapers all over the world. In these stories “Dr.” Dowie was called a mountebank, a charlatan, a quack, a lunatic. His followers were all dupes or accomplices. Many sick people came from distant places, were robbed of their money, and died in agony, being denied medical attendance. Those who lived in the Zion Homes were starved and bullied. Many of Dowie’s accomplices were dissolute thieves and prostitutes, who preyed on the dupes and shared their plunder with the head of the cult.

Dr. Dowie’s attempts to have the worst of these errors corrected met with ridicule or abuse, or were ignored. Ethics of the press in Chicago in those days were not as high as now and this “healer” was despised and rejected of men. It was perfectly safe to lie about him.

But Dowie flourished on this publicity. Zion Tabernacle No. 2 was crowded and circulation of “Leaves of Healing” and of a constantly growing list of tracts boomed.

An ordinance was prepared and passed by the Chicago City Council, providing that every hospital must procure a license annually. Fines and imprisonment would follow any attempt to conduct a hospital without one. And a hospital was defined as any place or building where the sick were cared for. Dowie and his wife were arrested while he was in the midst of a sermon, were taken to a police station in a wagon used to transport smallpox patients to the pest-house, and were locked up in a cell on a Sunday evening. No magistrate’s office was open. They could not get bail. It was a telling blow, and Monday morning’s papers were jubilant. But they had not counted on the loyalty and energy of Dowie’s people. Within an hour a reluctant and cursing magistrate had been run to cover, ten times the required bail had been provided, and the martyrs had returned in loud triumph to the still-crowded tabernacle.

When the case came to trial Dowie pointed out that any home in Chicago where a baby had the colic became a hospital, according to their precious ordinance, and the child’s father and mother liable to arrest unless they either got the baby out or paid twenty-five dollars for a license. That killed the ordinance, and the healer’s crowing derision was loud, long, merciless—and galling.

The fight was on and Zion’s leader did not wait to be attacked. Often he was arrested, sometimes on a charge of practicing medicine without a license, at other times, paradoxically, on a charge of manslaughter—because he had let one of his patients die without medical assistance. But he was never convicted on any of these charges. No matter how much you hated a man because his prayers seemed to be answered, you really couldn’t send him to jail for praying for the sick. All the ministers and all the relatives and friends of all the sick did that.

About this time Dr. James Michael Darling, a former practising physician, became a member of Dowie’s staff. For many years he was Dowie’s chief assistant, doing everything from preaching to keeping books and buying groceries.

In 1896 Dowie organized what he called “The Christian Catholic Church in Zion Throughout the ‘World,” and appointed himself General Overseer. That same year he moved out of his Zion Homes Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 and took up quarters in Zion Home, a seven-story hotel building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Twelfth Street. This building he purchased, a remarkable bit of financing for one who had arrived in Chicago penniless only four years before. A few months later he had bought and begun alterations on Central Zion Tabernacle, at Sixteenth Street and Michigan Avenue, a far cry from the ugly little bit of kindling-wood just outside the World’s Fair gates.

At the time when Herbert Renbrush met him, “Dr.” Dowie was General Overseer of a church of about 3,000 members. Many of these lived in Chicago and its suburbs, but others were indeed scattered “throughout the world.”

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

WHEN Herbert’s long talk with Dr. Dowie was ended by Murray’s appearance, it was too late to go out to the South Side for supper. At Captain Erdman’s invitation, Herbert ate with him in the dining-room of Zion Home. At the same table he was glad to see John Harrow.

“Hello Renbrush, glad to see you again. Mrs. Harrow, may I present Mr. Renbrush? He’s a Berrence, Ninety-six, ex-right guard, and, as you can see, a welcome addition. Mrs. Harrow, if I may say so, is a product of Oberlin, but fell a victim to matrimony before taking her degree. So we have here the nucleus of a Zion University Club.”

Mrs. Harrow responded with a firm hand-clasp, a friendly smile, and, “I don’t admit it, Mr. Renbrush, but John says I’ve been excited and thrilled ever since he told me you were coming. But I will own that you keep his promises about you beautifully. Now, wasn’t that a nice speech?”

Nancy Harrow was undeniably pretty—just missed being a beauty. She was a vivacious brunette of nineteen or twenty. Her mouth, perhaps a little too wide, was warmly red, her teeth even and white, and her square little chin piquant in its implications of independence, love of physical activity, and determination. Leg-of-mutton sleeves and stiff hour-glass stays of the late nineties could not wholly mask the slim allure of her figure, which seemed to pulsate with the same eager life that shone from her eyes.

If Herbert had been glad to meet John Harrow and pleased that he should be in Zion, he was doubly delighted to find with him this frank and charming girl.

Next day Herbert began his reading of “Leaves of Healing.” Dr. Dowie’s library was comfortable and quiet. Herbert was a rapid reader. He found the paper unusually well printed, illustrated with many excellent half-tone engravings from photographs of Dr. Dowie, Jeanie Dowie, their two children, the various tabernacles and Zion Homes, and hundreds of men, women, and children who wrote letters telling how they had been “saved, healed, and blessed in answer to our dear Dr. Dowie’s prayers.” There were sermons by Dr. Dowie, editorials—usually several pages of them in each issue—by Dr. Dowie, special articles by Dr. Dowie, and letters in praise of Dr. Dowie. Except for a short article by Mrs. Dowie, which appeared again and again, no one else seemed to write for the publication. All of Dr. Dowie’s statements were positive. There was no perhaps, no qualification, no hedging. He backed up what he said by liberal quotations from the Bible and by hundreds of living witnesses. Dr. Dowie did not argue about his authority. He did not even assume it. He accepted and used it. All this in short, pungent, Anglo-Saxon words. As Herbert read on, these statements, testimonies, and Bible texts were repeated endlessly. It was like being hammered on one spot hour after hour. Assault on the young reader’s mind went on eight hours a day, five days a week. But, lest even this should not be enough, the astute head of Zion piled on more. Every day he spent some time with Herbert—some days only a few minutes, on other days several hours. Often luncheon was brought up from Dr. Dowie’s private kitchen, on the third floor, and served in the library. Sometimes Herbert was invited down to the third floor dining room, where he lunched with the General Overseer and his family. Mrs. Jeanie Dowie, herself a preacher, was a bit taller than her husband, with clear, blue eyes, generous figure, rosy cheeks, and softly waving reddish-gold hair. Though friendly, she never lost a self-possessed exclusiveness of manner left over from her girlhood as daughter of a wealthy, prominent family. She loved fine apparel and diamonds.

Miss Esther, her father’s idol, was only seventeen but a fully developed, fine-looking woman—well-modeled features, masses of dark glossy hair, unforgettable eyes like her father’s, and a clear, fair skin. She had inherited also a swift and sure intellect.

A. J. Gladstone, the only son, a bearded youth of twenty-one, student in the University of Chicago, master of handball, tennis, bowling, cricket, and chess, brought up in hotels and divine healing homes, hid genuine friendliness under a mask of boredom. Herbert grew increasingly fond of him as the years passed.

In his talks with Herbert the preacher said little about his mission and beliefs. Instead, he was scholarly, playful, genial, generous, charming.

But Dr. Dowie was also humble. He was only a lowly instrument in God’s hands, after all. He had to do many things and say many things much against his personal taste. He was, at times, depressed and even terrified by the magnitude of the task which God had laid upon him. Not for him was the freedom to go his own way and enjoy a quiet life other men enjoyed. He must go through fire and even bloodshed. Martyrdom surely awaited him. “Even now,” he said, his eyes and voice tragic, the secret, unknown head of the Masonic order, who is also the Black Pope, head of the infamous Jesuits, has ordered my murder. As soon as they dare, there will be an ‘accident,’ and, in the confusion, a Masonic bullet will still my heart. But,” and the eyes suddenly flashed and glowed, “they can never kill me. I’ll come back, with Christ my King, and destroy them—set my world free from their foul, atheistic thralldom.”

 

 

CHAPTER VI

 

ONE day, when Herbert had been reading for two weeks, Dr. Dowie came into the library and said, “I’m having luncheon sent up to us here. Afterward, I have a healing meeting downstairs. How would you like to attend?”

“I’d be glad to,” said Herbert, but he did not tell all the truth. He was glad of the opportunity to see and hear what occurred at one of these meetings— but he was also a little frightened. He had all his Anglo-Saxon fear of an emotional scene.

The room at the northwest corner of the ground floor was the one Herbert had noticed through double doors from the lobby on his first visit to Zion Home. It was filled with its little audience of about a hundred drab invalids when he and Dr. Dowie arrived.

Dr. Dowie mounted the platform and began at once to lead his audience in repeating the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah.

All repeated the prophet’s promises in unison. It was plain that their leader took them literally as addressed to him and applying to his Zion. His pleasure in them was rapturous, almost voluptuous.

As always, this was followed by singing, “We’re Marching to Zion.”

Then the General Overseer, seating himself in a comfortable chair, began to talk: “Let me speak to you of Jesus. In simple, honest words, with tenderness and love, I want to tell you glad, good news.

“Christ changes never, and as He was on earth in ages long gone by, He is unchangeably the same even here and now. The Word which never dies is true, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’

The speaker leaned forward, smiling tenderly upon the sufferers before him.

“All His life and ministry were beautifully described by Peter thus: ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the Devil.’

“Teaching patiently, preaching boldly, He went about with constant sympathy, ‘healing all manner of diseases and all manner of sickness among the people.’

“Oh, wherefore doubt, and wherefore seek at other hands, from surgeon’s knife or poison draft, the healing which He died to bring to thee, to me, to all mankind, in every age, in every land, in every clime? Christ changes never.”

Pausing a moment, Dr. Dowie leaned back in his chair. In a more intimate tone he went on, “At noon-tide, twenty-two years ago, I sat in my study in the parsonage of the Congregational church at Newton, a suburb of the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia. My heart was very heavy, for I had been visiting the sick and dying beds of more than thirty of my flock, and I had cast the dust to its kindred dust into more than forty graves within a few weeks.

“And there I sat with sorrow-bowed head for my afflicted people, until the bitter tears came to relieve my burning heart. Then I prayed for some message, and oh, how I longed to hear some words from Him who wept and sorrowed for the suffering long ago.”

The preacher’s voice trembled, sobbed. Upon his uplifted imploring face were tears. He waited a few moments for control, then, with glowing eyes, he resumed.

“And then the words of the Holy Spirit inspired in Acts ten, thirty-eight stood before me all radiant with light, revealing Satan as the defiler and Christ as the Healer.”

Springing from his chair, the speaker began to enact the next scene.

“A loud ring and several loud raps at the outer door, a rush of feet, and then at my door two panting messengers, who said, ‘Oh, come at once. Mary is dying; come and pray.’ I rushed from my house, ran hatless down the street, and entered the room of the dying maiden. I looked at her and then my anger burned.

“‘Oh,’ I thought, ‘for some sharp sword of heavenly temper keen to slay this cruel foe!’”

Standing there with upraised arm, his fringe of black curls flying, defiance blazing from his eyes, he seemed almost to wield a sword.

“In a strange way it came to pass; I found the sword I needed in my hands, and in my hands I hold it still, and never will I lay it down. The doctor, a good Christian man, was quietly walking up and down the room, sharing the mother’s pain and grief. Presently he stood at my side and said, ‘Sir, are not God’s ways mysterious?’

“Instantly the sword was flashing in my hands— the Spirit’s sword, the Word of God. ‘God’s way?’ I said, pointing to the scene of conflict. ‘How dare you, Dr. K—, call that God’s way of bringing His children home from earth to heaven? No, sir, that is the Devil’s work, and it is time we called on Him who came to destroy the work of the Devil to slay the deadly, foul destroyer, and to save the child.’

“At once, offended at my words, my friend was changed and saying, ‘You are too much excited, sir; ‘tis best to say God’s Will be done,’ he left the room.

“‘It is not so,’ I exclaimed; ‘no Will of God sends such cruelty, and I shall never say God’s Will be done to Satan’s works, which God’s own Son came to destroy, and this is one of them.’

“And so we prayed.

“And, lo! the maid lay still in sleep, so deep and sweet that the mother said in a low whisper, ‘Is she dead?’ ‘No,’ I answered in a whisper lower still, ‘Mary will live; the fever has gone. She is perfectly well, and sleeping as an infant sleeps.’

“As I went away from the home where Christ as the Healer had been victorious, I could not but have somewhat in my heart the triumphant song that rang through heaven, and yet I was not a little amazed at my own strange doings, and still more at my discovery that He is just the same today.

“And this is the story of how I came to preach the Gospel of Healing through faith in Jesus.”

Seating himself again, the General Overseer resumed his more intimate manner.

“Let the words abide in your hearts: He is just the same today. And if you will believe Him, first for Salvation and then for Healing, you will go onward in the King’s Highway of Holiness.

“Now read with me from the sixteenth chapter of Saint Luke, the seventeenth and eighteenth verses. Now listen carefully, for I may make mistakes.

“And these signs may follow them that believe—”

Audience: “Shall follow?”

General Overseer: “Sure of that?”

Audience: “Yes, shall follow.”

General Overseer: “In My Name they may perhaps cast out devils—”

Audience: Shall cast out devils!”

General Overseer: “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they may recover.”

Audience: “Shall recover!”

General Overseer: “Do you believe it?”

Audience: “Yes.”

While the General Overseer talked, Herbert, who had seated himself at the side of the room, near the door, began to look around at the people. He did not want to—did not like to—but some dreadful fascination dragged his eyes from face to face. Startled, he found himself almost hating these sufferers for their ugliness, their pains, their pallor and discoloration, their deformities.

In the rear he saw a woman lying on a wheeled stretcher. Her face was emaciated, her skin coarse and blotched; the little that remained of her hair was harsh and dry, her hands, lying on the gray shawl which covered her, were stained a dark, purplish brown by inner poisons. So slight was her figure that it hardly lifted the shawl from a level plane. By her side sat a big, red-faced man with the gentle, wondering eyes of a child. As Herbert looked, the big man turned, smiled affectionately at the woman, and took her hand tenderly in his own. The invalid gave him scarcely a glance in return. Her eyes were fastened upon the General Overseer. She joined the others in correcting his reading of the Scripture, saying shall recover” with burning vehemence.

Suddenly the preacher leaped to his feet, pointed a finger at the woman on the wheeled stretcher, and demanded:

“Mrs. Garrish, do you believe that Jesus heals?”

“Yes, Doctor,” answered the woman.

“Do you believe that He is just as able and just as willing to heal to-day as He was when He said to the man at the pool, ‘Arise and walk’?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

Dr. Dowie left his little platform and trotted down the aisle to her side. Holding her eyes with his he asked:

“Do you believe that God has called me as His minister?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“Then, do you believe that my command, in His name, is God’s command?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“And are you prepared to obey me—to do what I tell you?”

“Yes, Doctor, God helping me.”

He now looked at her with mingled sternness and exaltation – mysterious - compelling.

Placing his hands upon her shoulders, her chest, her thighs, her knees, her ankles, and feet, but still looking into her eyes he said, sotto voce, “Breathe deep.”

Then, in low tones: “In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and in accordance with the Will of God, of our Heavenly Father, I command you to rise and walk!”

As he spoke the closing words of his command, he grasped her hands and slowly but firmly pulled her into a sitting position. Swinging her legs over the side of the stretcher and then, tremblingly and feebly at first but with more and more confidence and vigor, she stood on her feet. Her face shone.

“Walk, Mrs. Garrish, walk!” urged the preacher, pulling her forward. Timidly, she took a halting step, tottered, almost wilted.

“Fear not. God has healed you. He gives you strength. In Jesus’ Name, walk!”

She took another step, a little more firmly.

Already tears were streaming down the faces of the other invalids. Some were laughing almost hysterically. Many exclaimed: “Praise the Lord! Glory to God! Thank God! Yes, Lord, You are just the same today.”

Dr. Dowie continued to back up the aisle, holding both Mrs. Garrish’s hands in his own, encouraging her, never taking his eyes from hers. More and more strongly she walked, now laughing and saying, “Praise God, I’m healed,” over and over. By the time they had reached the platform she was walking erect and with confidence. Dr. Dowie, now smiling, almost capering, released her hands.

“Now walk back to your husband,” he commanded.

She obeyed, still laughing.

“Now let the people see you run,” he said. “You’re a girl again. Run up to me.”

 She ran.

“Now up these steps!”

Up the steps she went, vigorously.

“Now tell these dear people about yourself. How long had you been ill?”

His smile, his attitude were now all tenderness and sympathy.

“I was thrown out of a wagon and had my spine broken thirteen years ago last August,” she said, “and have not sat up a moment, much less stood on my feet or walked, until this blessed afternoon, praise the Lord!”

“Did you have doctors?”

“Dozens of ‘em, and treatments and operations, but I got worse and worse.”

“And did you suffer pain?”

“Only God knows what I have endured these thirteen years and more, every hour, every minute, day and night. But now I feel no pain. I feel so well, so light, so strong, I don’t know myself. Oh, I do thank God for His wonderful goodness to me. And I can never thank you enough for your teaching and prayers, Doctor Dowie. May God bless you!”

“Mr. Garrish, is this all true?” asked Dr. Dowie of the big, red-faced man.

“Every word of it, Doctor, praise the Lord. Her poor back was quite broke and she couldn’t even sit up against pillows these thirteen years. It’s God’s miracle my eyes have seen this day, glory to His Name!”

Tears were running down the wide, red cheeks, but the once so-patient eyes were joyous.

“See you don’t work her too hard, now she’s healed,” laughed Dr. Dowie, shaking a finger at him.

“Oh, Doctor, no work will be too hard,” exclaimed Mrs. Garrish. “It will be God’s own joy to work again. Oh, I’m so happy! Praise God! Praise God!”

“Yes, dear woman, of course you’re happy,” crooned the General Overseer. And he gallantly kissed her.

Then he continued, “And how have you been eating, all these years?”

“Mostly I’ve eaten gruel, milk toast, and beef-tea. Sometimes I couldn’t keep even water on my stomach for days together.”

With such pathetic grace as his tubby, bow-legged figure could encompass, he gaily bowed and extended his bent elbow. “You’re going to have a feast to-day,” he said, laughing. “Come, I’ll feed you myself.”

They walked out, followed by Edward Garrish, leaving a happy buzz and cackle among the invalids remaining.

Herbert went for a long walk down Michigan Avenue. As he walked he wondered much, believed and doubted and believed again. Afterward his watchful eye followed the woman he had seen rise and walk that day. But, year after year, she went on walking, carrying “Leaves of Healing” about Chicago as a member of Zion Seventies, doing her own housework and looking twenty years younger than when he first saw her. He had half anticipated this, but occasionally he wondered, guiltily, whether her spine had not, all unbeknown to her, mended itself while she lay, with a habit of helplessness, on her wheeled stretcher.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

“HERBERT,” said Captain Erdman—the two had become friends— I’m short a guard at the Printing and Publishing House tonight. It’s Otto Harbush’s night on, but he phoned me he had to leave today for a week’s work in Peoria. He’s a plumber, you know, and his firm has a contract down there. How’d you like to have a go at it? Andy MacLachlan is the other guard for tonight (we always watch in pairs), and you’ll find him good company.”

“Sure, I’ll be glad to,” agreed Herbert.

“All right, you stay and have dinner with me, and I’ll take you over.”

Dinner with Captain Erdman meant dinner also with John and Nancy Harrow. When he had his lunches in the big dining-room he always sat with them, and their friendship had grown. More and more Herbert had enjoyed and sought their company. They had been hiking and skating together on Saturday afternoons. An occasional hour was spent with them at their office in the evening. Their talk was of their school and college days, of their work since leaving college, of books and authors, economics, politics, business, and international topics. Religion—and especially the religion of Zion—they avoided by unspoken consent.

That evening at dinner they all four talked and laughed until bearded elders and their meek wives, at other tables, scowled at them. This was one of their lively times.

Herbert walked down the avenue to the publishing house with John and Nancy and Chris Erdman. The captain found his guard, Andy MacLachlan, waiting for them, and introduced Herbert.

Zion Guard was a volunteer organization. Its members took turns in watching the various Zion properties. So many had joined that, in ordinary times, each member spent but one night a month on duty. He had, in addition, his regular trick at the Tabernacle on Sunday, when practically the whole force was mobilized as body-guard to the General Overseer and his family and to keep the crowds in order. Their leader, Captain Erdman, was also personal attendant upon Dr. Dowie, private and confidential messenger for him upon important errands, and, between times, night clerk at the desk of Zion Home. Another of his duties was supervision of attendants at the waiting-room where Herbert had seen elders and evangelists patiently lined up on their hard chairs. These attendants filled in their spare time by going over newspapers and magazines, clipping out every reference to Zion and Zion’s head, and pasting them in scrap-books. Captain Erdman rode as footman on the General Overseer’s carriage.

Andy MacLachlan was a tall, solemn-looking Scot, with a crackling burr. During the long night, perched on a compositor’s stool, Andy told Herbert his story.

“Aye,” he said, “I was a r-reckless lad. I ran away tae sea when I was thirrrteen and lairnt the weekedness of the ships and porrrts of the wurrrld. Befure I was twenty, I was, ye micht say, a har-r-r-dened crreeminal. I could drrink, and gamble, and blaspheme the Name o’ God, and run with bad women, and fight, and smuggle, and rob, and smoke opium, and do things I canna even name to ye, laddie, with the dr-r-egs and scum o’ all races. I’ve been in jail, monny’s the time, and desairvedly too, in seaports on both sides of the line.”

Andy got down and walked to the front door. In a moment he returned. “‘Twas only the wind,” he said. Then, climbing back on his stool, he went on: A chance sailin’ on a lake schooner brought me tae Chicago twenty year ago. ‘Twas so monny ways of excitin’ and siller-makin’ evil I found here that I thocht I’d bide a while. ‘Twas a gay life, laddie, a gay life, but, I’m ashamed to tell ye, awfu’ bad. At one time I was runnin’ a saloon, with gamin’ tables and a bawdy house on the side. But drrink and drrugs and women did for me and I lost everythin’. Lower and lower they dragged me down until I slept in saloons or in the gutter or in jails and workhouses, tryin’— but barely succeedin’—to live by my evil wits. I was a r-ragged, dir-rty, diseased, drrunken, dopey bum— an outcast, ye understand.

“Then the guid God, in His mysteerious maircy, sent pur-r-ty Jean Hamilton down into the dir-rt and muck to me with a copy of ‘Leaves of Healin’.’ In it I read of how He had made a new mon of yon guid Captain Airdman, in answer to Doctor Dowie’s prayers.

“Bein’ sober, fur a wonder, and not muckle dr-rugged, I went down to Jackson Park and Sixty-second Street, to old Zion Tabernacle Number Two, and had the boldness to ask for the captain.

“Aye, I mind the noo what an awfu’ sicht I must ha’ been, like summat swept up out of the gutter. My guid Lord, I must ha’ stunk! But did the dear Captain—or dear Doctor Dowie, either, when he took me to him—despise me for a’ that? Nay, you’d a thoucht I was their ain blood brrrother come home at last. Why, mon, the dear doctor took me in his ain blessed arrrms when he prayed for me!

“An’ I felt all the sin, all the wildness, all the dirrt, all the seeckness, all the evil cravings go out of me as if swept away by God’s clean Highland winds. They never come back, God be prrraised!”

Tears stood in Andy’s eyes and he gulped. Then he smiled. “Purrty little Jean Hamilton is Meestress MacLachlan the noo, we have two bonnie bairns, I’m a boss stone-mason, and the guid Lord has prrrospered me. We’ve a fine home of our ain on the South Side, with rent comin’ in from other prrroperty besides, and siller in the bank. Ah, laddie, ye canna deny this Zion is the guid God’s wurrk—and where can ye find its like anywhere else in the whole rround wurruld?”

Herbert’s eyes stung with tears and his throat hurt, as always when he was deeply moved with joy. Almost he decided, then and there, to let himself go— to throw overboard all his doubts and questions and hesitation and to cast his lot with Zion.

Then Andy began to tell of his work, as a member of Zion Seventies, among those still festering in the pit whence he, himself, had been digged. Night after night, his day’s work done, Andy and his wife went into the depths of Chicago’s underworld, carrying their message. Often they were jeered at, cursed, and even kicked and beaten. But now and then they rescued some derelict, some fragment of what had once been man or woman. And this more than paid them for all their pains.

Again Herbert was more wrought upon than he dared admit, even to himself.

“That is what these people are doing with their evenings,” he thought, “while the members of other churches are dancing, playing cards, going to the theater, or, at best, sitting in on a dreary prayer meeting, where they have to be begged and urged to stand up and speak a few words for Jesus’! Gosh, what a farce! If a man believes the Bible at all, here’s where he belongs. These people live the Bible, while others have to be clubbed into talking about it.”

He walked over to the Home for breakfast with a whirling head.

Every Sunday there were meetings in Central Zion Tabernacle, which began at half past six in the morning and ran on, with brief interruptions, until ten or eleven at night, many of the people taking all three meals of the day at a Zion refectory in the basement of the Tabernacle.

On his first Sunday in Zion Herbert attended all the meetings. The General Overseer frowned on the fleshly indulgence of breakfast before early meeting, so he and every one else in Ezra’s family rose at half past five, got into Sunday clothes, and took the South Side Alley El, carrying a cold lunch. Ezra could not afford to feed his family at the refectory.

They found the place well filled. Some had come from far-away suburbs.

The General Overseer preached for an hour and a half.

At eleven o’clock came a children’s service, conducted by Elder Connaton and Evangelist Howells, who had come into Zion after many years of touring among rural Sunday schools with a folding melodeon.

At three o’clock came the big public meeting, with the tabernacle crowded. Herbert sat in a front seat of the first gallery with Myra. It began with a procession of Zion White Robed Choir. This was led by the littlest girls in their black cassocks, white surplices, and black mortar-board caps. Their sweet treble voices were the first heard. From this tiny tinkle of sound the music swelled and mounted until the full choir of three hundred and fifty filled the building with a volume of melody.

When the processional was hushed in a chanted amen, the General Overseer bounded upon the platform. He wore a black silk robe, tied about his shoulders with broad, purple ribbons, and ballooning grotesquely from neck to heels. When he raced across the broad platform, as he did most of the time while speaking, this robe, which was open in front, flapped out behind, like a cloud of smoke from a tugboat’s funnel.

Zion children liked to play church and thrilled to rush about with a black cloth tied to their shoulders, looking back to see it stream out behind.

Mrs. Jeanie Dowie, Elder James Michael Darling (unofficial assistant General Overseer) and one or two other elders sat on the platform in high-backed ecclesiastical chairs.

On mounting the platform the General Overseer knelt behind his pulpit for a moment of silent prayer, while the audience stood waiting. Then, rising and lifting his hands, he invoked Divine blessing.

“Now we are going to sing number two seventy-nine,” the General Overseer’s steel-file voice cut the silence:

“Oh, Wondrous Name, by prophet heard,

Long years before His birth;

They saw Him coming from afar,

The Prince of Peace on earth.

“Stupid people held a ‘Peace Jubilee’ here in Chicago a few weeks ago. But there is no peace. American soldiers are killing Filipinos to-day. All Europe groans under the weight of huge armies and navies. Peasants, workers, and women carry on their bowed backs millions of young men who produce nothing and are being taught to kill and to destroy.”

He continued for twenty minutes to talk about the crime and folly of war.

“Now let us sing, ‘Oh, Wondrous Name!’”

When the hymn had been sung the General Overseer began again.

“I shall read from the inspired Word of God in

the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the eighth chapter.

“‘When Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed—’ the Apostle Peter?”

Audience: “Followed Him.”

General Overseer: “Followed Martin Luther?”

Audience: “Followed Him.”

General Overseer: “Followed John Wesley?”

Audience: “Followed Him.”

General Overseer: “Followed the Masonic Methodist Episcopal Church?”

Audience: “Followed Him.”

General Overseer: “Whom did they follow?”

Audience: “Jesus.”

General Overseer: “I know many people who say they are Methodists first, last, and all the time. What are you? Do you follow Jesus first, last, and all the time?”

Audience: “Yes.”

General Overseer: “Are you willing to follow Jesus if He leads you out of the Methodist Church?”

Audience: “Yes.”

General Overseer: “Are you willing to follow Him wherever He leads you?”

Audience: “Yes.”

General Overseer: “All right. You remember you promised me that at the start, and I will hold you to it.”

Proceeding to the end of the seventeenth verse, the General Overseer closed his Bible, saying, “May God bless the reading of His Word.”

The choir chanted Gloria Patri to music from Sullivan’s “Lost Chord.”

The choir sang an anthem while an offering was being taken.

Again a hymn was announced, Dr. Dowie com­menting vigorously upon some of its lines. When it had been sung, he rose, lifted his hand, and, looking up reverently, recited:

 

Let the words of my mouth,

And the meditations of my heart,

Be acceptable in Thy sight,

            Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

 

Then he began his sermon.

Herbert furtively looked at his watch. It was half past five. He had been sitting there for more than two hours and a half and marveled that he was not tired. Looking about, he saw that the audience was fresh and interested. Every seat was occupied. The people were eager, expectant.

The preacher’s text was from Isaiah, “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples.”

“The latter days have come,” he said, “All God’s old leaders—Moses, David, Isaiah, Saint Paul, and others have passed away. The dead cannot rule us, whether they were theologians, politicians, scientists, philosophers, or preachers.

“A living God rules us—and He must have a living church. Every age must have God’s living witnesses to date.

“Zion stands for the rule of God in everything.

“Zion’s Gospel is not fashionable. It was not fashionable when Jesus brought it to Palestine—or when I brought it to Chicago. It is not fashionable now.

“As we witness to that gospel we lead men and women to deliverance from sin, disease, death, and hell. And so leading, we command.

“This is not a time for advice—I do not give it. It is a time for command. What would soldiers think of a commander who gently advised them to arm themselves, form in ranks and attack a vague objective?”

He made this ridiculous by aping the circumlocution and hesitant courtesy of such an officer.

“Would you want to be in that army a single day? Tell me!” he shouted, in the midst of his hearers’laughter.

“No,” they shouted back at him, still laughing.

“Would you want to have a general who would command?”

“Yes.”

“Well, now, you have got him. If I obey the Commander-in-Chief, have I not a right to command?”

“Yes.”

“Does He command you to repent?”

“Yes.”

“Then repent, you sinners, of your stinkpot business, of your liquor. Repent, you sinners, of your sins, your adulteries, your fornications—”

A high, full-throated scream cut like a saber through the preacher’s eloquence, the people’s tense absorption. For a long moment it held, while Herbert’s heart seemed to die in his chest, breath to be snatched from his throat. Then slowly the sound dropped lower and lower in pitch. It had begun an ecstasy of fear—it ended a howl of agony.

Herbert, sitting on a front seat of the balcony, gradually recovering his breath and senses, saw that the sufferer was a well-dressed young woman sitting just below him on the ground floor. Her head was turned sharply to her right and bent back at a sickening angle, as if wrenched by unseen hands. Her face was thus turned toward him and he saw that it was knotted with pain and terror. As he averted his eyes he heard the General Overseer shout:

“Come out of her, you dirty Devil!”

He was leaning far over the edge of the platform, stamping and bellowing, his eyes blazing, his face turgid.

“Leave her, in God’s Name, you foul fiend!”

Again Herbert looked at the young woman. Jerking convulsively, her body was hurled from side to side, backward and forward, thrashing against those around her.

Guards and ushers had gathered, by this time, and her now seemingly lifeless form was carried out.

Resuming his discourse, he reiterated the divine authority of his ministry.

“But,” he said, “my place of command is no bed of roses. I will quickly change places with any of you who will show me that you hold a commission from God.

“Are you willing to surrender your individual liberty that the army of God may smite the Devil hip and thigh?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what you are promising? The battle will wax hotter and hotter. Some of you will lose your lives for His sake.

“Will you enlist with me—for a year?”

Audience: “For life!” “For two years?” “Forever: for life.”

“May God grant it,” said the preacher.

And then he made them rise and repeat after him, sentence by sentence, a prayer of consecration that bound them to him more strongly than ever.

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

ABOUT a week before Christmas, one day at their luncheon, Dr. Dowie handed Herbert a long list of Chicago names and addresses.

“These,” he said, “are members of Zion who own business and residence property in Chicago.

“You have had experience in this business. I want a complete list of all the property owned by Zion people, not only in Chicago, but all over the world. We can do a great deal for our people when they want to buy or sell property. I have even more important things in mind, which I cannot talk about now. As a beginning, we can get our Chicago list in proper shape. So I want you to call on all these people, and get full information about their holdings.”

A maid entered with a fresh pot of tea, and Dr.Dowie poured his third cup. Herbert declined a second.

“Now take plenty of time—what I want is a good list, not a quick job.”

Whatever the economic value of this work, it accomplished something for young Mr. Herbert Renbrush. Meeting and talking with hundreds of the healthiest, most intelligent, most prosperous, and happiest of Zion people in Chicago crumbled the last defenses of his mind against this “new” religion.

On New Year’s Eve came the great “All Night with God in Central Zion Tabernacle.” This was one of the big occasions in every Zion year.

People gathered at half past seven in the evening for a complete, characteristic Dowie service:  processional, chants, responses, anthems, Bible reading and comment, a long prayer, and a two-and-a-half-hour sermon by the General Overseer, followed by the Lord’s Supper.

Herbert had never before attended such a celebration of this ancient ceremonial of the church. In it the General Overseer’s uncanny gift of eloquence and dramatic power was at its best. Crudities, vulgarities, rages, rantings, and bombast were forgotten. At the communion-table he was humble, reverent, poetic, devout. In this he was supported by a well-trained corps of elders, evangelists, and deacons, his great Zion White Robed Choir, and a responsive congregation. Here, as nowhere else in public, he made himself lovable.

Herbert’s love of beauty, religious training, and his sensitive sympathies responded to the power of this scene. It gripped and held him. His decision to join Zion had been intellectual. He had procrastinated in taking the actual step because his emotions balked. This service overwhelmed opposing emotions in a flood of solemn enthusiasm. Reasons why he ought to join Zion were swept away by feelings that he wanted to.

Midnight approached—the last moments of a dying year. Dr. Dowie and his aids knelt beside the Lord’s table. Moved by music, ritual, and eloquence in the solemnity of that hour, the people were receptive, suggestible. In hushed tones their leader began to speak:

“Friends, I am not living for to-day.

“I am not living for to-morrow.

“I am not living for the passing year.

“My eyes are looking away from Zion’s watchtower over the darkness around, and the light has come: the morning has dawned, and the Sun of Righteousness is rising with Healing in His Wings. Amen.

“Listen, ye poor toilers! The days are coming when ‘ye shall not sow and another reap; when ye shall not build and another inhabit.’ The days are coming when ‘ye shall sow and reap together, when ye shall build and inhabit together.’

“O ye weary toilers, lift up your eyes.

“O ye weary toilers, it is the Christ who fed the hungry; whose hand touched the leper’s sores and cleansed their impurity; who bade the widowed mother weep no more, and gave her back her dead son from the grave.

“O ye toilers, brokenhearted, widowed ones, Redemption draweth nigh: for the Christ has come in power once more, and you can find Him here today. Amen. And He is just the same in Zion.

“‘We present you no creed but ‘Christ is All.’”

The whole audience knelt.

Without organ accompaniment, the General Overseer sang:

Pray, brethren, pray! The sands are falling;

Pray, brethren, pray! God’s voice is calling,

Yon turret strikes the dying chime;

We kneel upon the verge of time.

After each stanza, choir and audience joined softly in the refrain:

Eternity is drawing nigh!

Eternity is drawing nigh!

For a moment silence reigned, broken only by sounds of sobbing.

The kneeling people, even those who had been sobbing and praying, scarcely breathed. Their emotions at the breaking-point, three thousand souls were as one—and that one wholly in their leader’s hands. With his merest whisper he could have sent them, cheering, into the jaws of certain death.

Thus they waited.

As the first faint notes of bells and whistles outside told of the Great Moment, the man rose, brought his audience to its feet.

“A glad New Year to you and to all of Zion everywhere! Turn each of you and salute those near you, wishing them a glad New Year. Husbands, kiss your wives, you wretches, you’ve been neglecting them.”

The audience relaxed, laughed, broke into a happy bedlam of greetings.

How could these people help loving a man who carried them to such utter self-forgetfulness—and then gave them back their souls with a happy laugh?

Herbert had shaken hands with Ezra, kissed his sister-in-law Myra, and greeted John and Nancy Harrow. Now he hurried out to the vestibule. There, he knew, he would find printed blank applications for membership in the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. People all around him were laughing, exchanging New Year’s greetings, making up parties for supper. He neither saw nor heard them. Taking out his fountain pen, he sat down at a little table and wrote out his application. Doing so, he signed the creed of the Church:

“First—That we recognize the infallible inspiration and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith and practice.

“Second—That we recognize that no persons can be members of the Church who have not repented of their sins and have not trusted in Christ for Salvation.

“Third—That such persons must also be able to make a good profession, and declare that they do know, in their own hearts, that they have truly repented, and are truly trusting Christ, and have the witness, in a measure, of the Holy Spirit.

“Fourth—That all other questions of every kind shall be held to be matters of opinion and not matters that are essential to church unity.”

Having signed, he turned, made his way as quickly as he could through the crowded aisles, and knocked on the door leading into Dr. Dowie’s office. It was opened by Captain Erdman, who almost hugged him. “Chris, I want to see the General Overseer.”

“Well, I don’t know,” doubtfully. “He’s with his family and doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

“Do you think this would disturb him?” asked

Herbert, showing his signature to the fateful application.

Then the captain did hug his young friend.

“Thank God, thank God,” he said, tears in his eyes.

“God bless you, Herbert, my boy! I knew you’d come.”

With these words he threw open the door into Dr. Dowie’s private room, where the great man sat with his family at an exquisite supper. The doctor looked up with a glance of annoyance. Before he could speak, the captain crowed, “Look what I’ve got, General Overseer!” and with his left arm around Herbert’s shoulders drew him into the room, his right hand extending the application.

Was it mere whim or impulse, or knowledge of psychology, that made the General Overseer receive this exuberant announcement coldly? Or was it a feeling that, now Herbert was committed, it was bad judgment to flatter him by attaching great importance to his step? Whatever his motive, Dr. Dowie succeeded in making Herbert feel that he had been egotistically melodramatic. The snub, gentle though it was, cooled the young man’s overwrought feelings, gave him a saner view of his own relative size, and bound him to his master more firmly than any adulation.

People were leaving the refectory and gathering again in the auditorium. Already the choir leader was conducting a song service. Herbert, John, Nancy, Ezra, Myra, and the children found seats together in the balcony. There they joined in the singing. Herbert had a lusty baritone, not always quite on the key, that sounded well enough in a chorus. He loved to sing. John and Nancy were both trained vocalists. Ezra and Myra had led country congregations in singing for years and their voices were natural and sweet. An emotional thrill in singing together caught them up. People looked around at them and smiled in sympathy.

It was nearly two o’clock when Dr. Dowie came swiftly on the platform. There was fire and vigor in him. The crowd, which had grown listless, came alive. His harsh voice rang out with virile force. His face radiated joy, confidence, kindliness.

“God was good to Zion in eighteen ninety-eight,” he cried. “We have seen thousands saved and healed. We have gone forward in proclaiming the Full Gospel throughout the world. Our message has been blessed and God has been glorified. Zion has grown in numbers, in riches, and power. And this growth is but a small beginning in Zion’s progress. In God’s Name and as His people, we shall go forward until His divine plan for us is fulfilled. Let the heathen rage and the Devil’s people imagine vain things. No power on earth or in hell can stop Zion as long as we are faithful to the trust God has imposed upon us. Zion’s enemies on the outside cannot harm her. If she is ever harmed, it will be by enemies on the inside. Help me to find all the grumblers and traitors in Zion. I will not permit any one—not even my own wife or my own son or daughter—to jeopardize the great and glorious work God has called me to do in these times of the end of all things.

“Now let us spend the remaining minutes of this All Night with God in praising and glorifying Him with our testimonies to His goodness in saving and healing.”

There followed a long tale of testimonies, with which Herbert was becoming familiar. He marveled not so much at the stories these people told as at the irrepressible gusto of the General Overseer, who had heard most of them dozens of times. Occasionally, at the close of a testimony, he would burst out in some triumphant hymn. Within a phrase or two the organist would find the key, strike up, and the choir and congregation would join their leader.

Although the services had been going on for hours and it was nearly daylight, there was no letting down. Air in the Tabernacle was hot and close, eyes and ears had been assailed with sensations without pause, feelings had been roused and shaken again and again, yet Dr. Dowie played upon his favorite instrument, an audience, and the instrument responded, apparently without weariness.

This was Sunday morning, and at half past six the All Night with God swung, without intermission, into the regular early morning meeting of praise and prayer, the General Overseer preaching for another hour.

At three that afternoon the great service opened with all seats filled. After the sermon, Herbert joined about fifty others in receiving the right hand of fellowship in the Church.

 

 

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