Divine Healing

In the most simple definition of the term, divine healing is as a supernatural intervening in the natural course of a disease or physiological distress that restores the patient to a normal, healthy state.   Mr. Sandford taught that by calling on God to alleviate suffering and sickness, one could expect that God would intervene to assuage the malady.  This was not a new concept.   It was wholly in keeping with Sandford's attempt in recreating an apostolic movement in the latter days, and reflected those miracles performed by the disciples and their followers in the early church.  Simpson and Dowie, two of Sandford's earlier sources of influence, both adhered to the doctrine. 

Holman Day, who at that time was a reporter for the Lewiston Evening Journal, announced in the July 6, 1896 edition that forty one had testified to healing that same year.  At least two of these entailed relief from addiction.  One woman who gave up a twenty-five year laudanum habit (opium in wine, available without a prescription in pharmacies).  After one meeting at Shiloh, Day wrote of many who "testified on their honor that they had been healed of desease by Sandford, naming the complaint and calling on neighbors present to corroborate their statements." Day: "The Saints of Shiloh." Leslies p 686  from Fair Clear and Terrible by Shirley Nelson, unpublished page notes p. 448

With Sandford, however, there was a catch.  God, in essence, would be willing to perform the requested intervention only if the petitioner was "living right".  Disease and sickness were used of God to smite the unfaithful, the doubting, and the disloyal to the movement.  Mr. Sandford, because of his close relationship to God, could, sometimes with only a glance but always after conducting a thorough interview with the affected party, detect in the individual whether the party in need were up to par with respect to holy living.  In more modern times under Abram's leadership, divine healing was subtlely re-defined so that any member could ask for the prayer of healing without having to submit to an inquisition of the soul.  It would be more accurate during Abram's tenure to state that the inquisition was most usually left to the individual to conduct on themselves.  Only if results from the prayers were not forthcoming was any  investigation ever taken to the next level.  It is somewhat ironic there is no evidence to suggest that these same guidelines were evidently not exercised at the time of Abram's fatal bout with cancer in the 1970's.

Do we believe God is capable of healing the sick?  Most certainly.  Do we believe that Sandford had a special gift or ability to get through to God's throne at such times?  You may draw your own conclusions, for even though the evidence above suggests a positive response to the question, the episode below taken from Shirley Nelson's Fair, Clear and Terrible may illicit quite a different reaction. 

The Brown Baby Story

"One day Wendell [Wendell White, the author's grandfather, Ed.] rode home in a wagon to Bowie Hill after a meeting at Shiloh Proper, feeling discouraged and, as he put it, certain there was "no good" in himself.  Suddenly it occurred to him that "there were two worthy things" about him, after all.  "Why, Lord," he said with surprise, "I have stuck to Shiloh."

A voice "seemingly outside him" answered: "Ah, but you would have gone a dozen times if I had let you."

". . . Oh," said Wendell, recognizing the truth.  Then, turning to the "second thing," he added, "but Lord - I chose you."

"You did not choose me," came the answer. "I chose you"

One of those "dozen times" occurred in 1905 when Wendell's friend, Albert Field, the jeweler from Brunswick, disappeared from the hill with his family.  The decisive element in Field's defection, as he finally told the newspapers, was an episode earlier that winter, while Frank Sandford was still at Shiloh.

Sandford's sister Annie and her second husband, Nat Brown, had lost their one-year old son to what was thought to be cholera-infantum, a digestive problem not uncommon among infants.  Sandford apparently tried to revive the baby, remembering perhaps that the Elijah of the Old Testament had brought to life the young son of the widow Zerephath.  But the baby named Brown did not revive.  Its body was taken to one of the cold turrets and kept there for sixty days, while the Browns and Sandford and the ministers continued to pray for its restoration to life.  One night the child was finally buried, the funeral held in the dark.

The incident was kept a secret at Shiloh with only partial success.  Wendell if he knew it, may have classified it as an unfounded rumor.  Or did he, like Field, take it seriously and find himself almost smothered by the denial required to overlook it? If the resurrection of Olive Mills had been claimed as the seal of apostleship, did this failure then mean the unsealing?  Or did it throw the miracle of Olive Mills into the shadow (or light) of a completely natural event, without extraordinary overtones?"

                      from Fair Clear and Terrible by Shirley Nelson p. 277 See also Hiss p230

"Both Avis and Doris White remember the Browns coming and going from the direction of the Armory and David's Tower for many days in a row.   Doris thought the Browns must be living in the armory.  "Mr. S. had a room under the Armory which could be entered ... by a trap door." Doris White Hastings, letter, June 1985. 

                       from Fair Clear and Terrible  unpublished page notes p.464)

The Abram Libby Story

the following is reprinted from the September 15, 1897 issue of Tongues of Fire p149-150


Abram Libby of Auburn and his wondrous change


In the 73rd year of his life, after years of suffering from a complication of deseases, Mr. Abram Libby of Auburn says he has been healed.  This is no patent medicine advertisement.

"Mr. Libby claims to have been healed by the divine power applied through Rev. Mr. Gleason, the conductor of the Sandford gospel tent meetings in Auburn.  Mr. Libby is a neighbor of the writer who can testify to Mr. Libby's worth as a citizen abd a friend.  With his wife he lives in a cozy little house at the corner of Gamage Avenue and Dennison Street in Auburn.  He is an esteemed member of the Burnside Post, being a veteran of Co. K 17th Maine.  Since the war his health has been poor and for several yearshe has been an invalid, having as above stated a complication of troubles, including heart desease and acute rheumatism of the stomach.   His old age has been rather unpleasant by reason of his many infirmities.

But to the healing.  His wife has been attending the Sandford meetings and on Thursday evening one of the disciples, a lady, accompanied her home to tea.  She interested Mr. Libby in divine healing.  'Would you like to be a well man again, Mr. Libby?' she asked.  Now Mr. Libby, although 73 years old, has enough and to spare of this world's goods and if he could live a few years longer and be free from suffering; he would like to do it.  Mr. Libby's answer was emphatically in the affirmative.  He inquired how to go to wirk and the good sister, whom he now speaks of as 'the angel' told him to repent of his sins and get the Holy Ghost.  She prayed and he prayed and they had a long season of prayer and from that time he began feeling better.  On Wednesday forenoon Rev. Mr. Gleason and a party of disciples called at the house and anointed Mr. Libby according to the Sandford belief.

" 'And I have been gaining ever since,' says Mr. Libby.   'I'm a changed man.  I've taken medicine enough to float a sloop yacht, and the doctors have collected some large sized bills from me.  I've taken 60 bottles of one kind of medicine and I don't know how many kinds of liniment I've used.  But I've paid out my ast dollar for medicines.  I'm healed.  I know it as well as I know anything.  I've thrown away my cane, and I can walk and dance and shout; and if I keep on gaining as I have the past two days I shall soon be 'round among men again.   Mr. Gleason said I would be terribly tempted by the devil and so I have been.   When these heart attacks have come on I've been in the habit of taking a swallow of whiskey.  Today I had a spell and the devil coaxed me to get the whiskey bottle.   But I put the devil to flight and pretty soon I was all right again."   Mr. Libby wants all his friends to know that he is healed and how 'twas done.

and from the follow-up article in the next issue of Tongues of Fire ...



Two weeks ago the Journal told the story of Abram Libby's cure by divine healing.  Some said it was all nonesense and that Mr. Libby, who is 73 and who has benn an invalid for years, would be a prisoner in his chair again ina few days.  But two weeks have elapsed, and, according to Mr. Libby's own statement, he has been forging ahead in health ever since.  The way Mr. Libby takes his wife by the arm and walks over to the gospel tent in Auburn these chilly evenings is an eye opener.   He steps as lightly as a boy of twelve.

"A day or two after the demons had been cast out of me,"  says Libby, "I met my old friend John Otis.  I was coming out of the gospel teny and John happened to be going by.

" 'John,' said I, waving my hat, I'm cured.  I'm all well.  I'm a young man again!'

" 'Is that so, Abram?' said he.  'Well, I'm terrible glad to hear it.  But I notice your hair's white yet.'

"You see, John didn't take stock in my story.   It's hard to believe abd I can't blame him.  It was quite awhile before I could make myself believe it.  "I'm young again, remarks Mr. Libby, and there's no getting around it.'





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