Acts America

New Covenant Youth Ministry

Elizabeth Baxter

On December 16, 1837, the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth, gladdened the hearts of Thomas and Edith Foster. Little could they realize, as they looked at this small bundle of life, that she was destined to affect multitudes. For Elizabeth Foster Baxter became co-editor of the “Christian Herald” and, through her devoted Christian life and ministry in pen and word, brought salvation, holiness and healing to many.

Elizabeth had much to be grateful for in her father’s Quaker background of sturdy faith and principle. Her mother was an ardent member of the Church of England and, in its atmosphere, the child was reared and trained. Into the home on High Street, in times of election, would come the Liberal Candidate. The little lass would silently repose under the table listening to the fortunes of parliamentary battle.

Of the religious influences of her home she said, “Born of God-fearing parents, who strictly observed the Lord’s Day and family prayers, I was nevertheless very ignorant of divine things. Like any other children belonging to the Church of England, I was taught the Church Catechism; and again and again I pondered over the words that in baptism I was ‘made a member of Christ, a child of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven.’ I could not tell what that meant, but I knew, if it meant anything, it must mean having to do with God, that there was a real something which I was sure had not taken place in me.

“Then I became much occupied with the promises made to God in my name by my godfather and godmother that I should ‘renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of this world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them.’

“What did this mean? It was a matter of supreme moment to me to know that I was let in for; how far was I personally responsible?”

After a confirmation class, Elizabeth remained behind to ask the Vicar if before she was confirmed, she was responsible for these promises. A hurried “Good morning”, as the “Vicar of Christ” took his leave, left her half bitter. The same question was put to two other clergymen, neither of whom gave a satisfactory answer. She said, “The question remained unsolved, and I remained unsaved.”

A governess was employed to instruct Elizabeth until she was eleven years of age. Then, for five years, she attended a boarding school at Woucester. During this time, she made good resolutions and practiced much self-control. She read her Bible, but it did not speak to her as she would have liked. Nor did she ever meet with anyone who could tell her how the boundless grace of God can swallow up her sin.

Her own words describe this difficult period in her life:

“To the world, I was a gay, thoughtless girl; but often I would get alone for hours together and cry to God to help me, with no clear idea of how help was to come. It was not sorrow for sin. I had not any particular sins on my conscience, but a general sense of being all wrong, more like a ‘fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.’ On the other hand, I had a certain faith that God is love.’ If I could only have seen how His just wrath for sin could be reconciled with His love, I could have been at peace. My only idea of the sacrifice of Christ was that He died a martyr of His own holy life of love, which was misunderstood of men.”

The passing of her father, when she was only eighteen, affected her deeply. She had loved him as she had loved no one else on earth. At his grave, she vowed she would gladly yield up her seeing or hearing, if she could only know how sin could be put away. After his death, she spent some time with an uncle who was a vicar, in Suffolk. While there, she visited a dying girl who asked, “Miss Foster, do you know the way?”

She could only answer, “I would give all the world if I had it, to know the way. But, if I may shut the door, I think I can pray to God for both of us, that He will show us the way.” She then prayed, asking that they both might be shown the path to God’s salvation.

Within a short time, the dying girl sent her friend the message, “Tell Miss Foster that I have found the way.” Elizabeth’s unsatisfied heart experienced something akin to jealousy, and gladly would she have changed places with her. As she watched the funeral procession from the window, her aching heart caused her to sigh, “Oh, God, show me also the way to find Thee!”

Her prayer was answered through a former school friend, Caroline Smith, who recently had lost her father and wished to comfort Elizabeth in her loss. She herself had been shown the way to Christ through Rev. Robert Aitken of Pendeen. Caroline opened the Bible at Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray … and the Lord hath laid upon him the inquity of us all.”

Elizabeth later said of this momentous and never-to-be-forgotten time:

“The words were familiar to me; but, as she spoke them, the Holy Spirit’s light came unto them. I saw all my sins were laid on Jesus; and my whole soul bowed in unutterable worship . . . Without a word, without a formal prayer, Jesus stood revealed to me as ‘just, and the justifier of him which believeth.’ I had what I had longed for – communion with God, in which Jesus would speak to me and I to Him.

“And for many nights I could not spare the time for sleep. He made it no difficulty to me to give up all for Him; it came quite natural. Dancing, acting, novels, fashionable dress, jewels, caricaturing, etc., died out of my life by the absorbing power of the new life within. It made me feel I possessed a knowledge which would save men from Hell, and almost all my time was spent in speaking with individuals and seeking to win them to Christ.”

She suffered misunderstandings from her family, and former friends passed her on the streets, as though she had committed a crime. But she clung to her Savior and witnessed everywhere for and to Him. Her heart, now bound in love to Christ, hungered for more and more of His grace.

God sends both books and people into our lives to help us discover greater heights and depths in the provisions of grace. Both came into Elizabeth’s life at this time of trial.

Of the books she said,

“Some months later, more than half a year later after my conversion, although I saw souls continually saved, yet I felt a need for a deeper work of grace. A number of the ‘Guide to Holiness’ was put into my hands, in which was an article by the late Mrs. Phoebe Palmer. I took it to the Lord and, then and there, was led to yield up myself a living sacrifice, and to accept the cleansing from all sin as far as I then understood it; and, in some way, accepted the Holy Ghost to possess me.”

An acquaintance with Rev. Mr. Aitken of Pendeen, a mighty man of God, proved to be an untold blessing, and Elizabeth wrote of him to this effect:

“He was a very great uplift in my spiritual life … I have in my day heard many blessed preachers of the Gospel, but none with the power from on high which was upon him. His great prayerfulness, his intensity, his knowledge of scripture and the presence of God, which was always with him, opened indeed a new vista in my spiritual life. There was a greater God-consciousness, a better understanding of the Bible and a deeper consecration to God and His service.

“For eight years after this time, my life seemed to be a going on from strength to strength. It was but a small sphere of labor which God gave me, in a little town and the surrounding villages, but He worked blessedly and gave me, through correspondence and through notes on the Scriptures, an increasing influence.”

In 1856, after the family home at Evesham had been broken up, she was asked by Rev. and Mrs. Pennefather to come to Mildmay. As a result of their invitation, she took charge of the deaconesses, devising the well-known Mildmay bonnet and deaconess dress, which she herself adopted from that time on. This work at Mildmay led her to the poor of East London, where, during the raging cholera epidemic, she ministered ceaselessly and sacrificially to the sick and the dying.

After two years at Mildmay, circumstances arose which brought about her resignation. As she fervently waited upon God to know the next step of her life, an offer of marriage from Mr. Michael Baxter surprised the thirty-one year old deaconess. He had written a book entitled “Louis Napoleon, the Destined Monarch of the World”, which created a sensation among Christians. Elizabeth had read it and had corresponded with its author. But it was at a Mildmay Conference, where she first met him. He always remembered his first glimpse of her, clad in black, carving at the dinner table, with the fair curls hanging about her shoulders.

The marriage was both happy and useful. We catch a glimpse of Michael Baxter in his biography, written by his son,

“Naturally affectionate, the enthusiastic evangelist longed for a wife sharing his hopes and interests, who would cooperate with him in his mission. For, even in love, his vocation was paramount and, while he craved a helpmeet, he much more desired one who, like himself, put God first, subordinating personal considerations, such as ease or wealth, to the great business of seeking to save the lost.

“His choice of a wife was thus decided by his longing for one who felt as he did about the search for the banished and the helpless lost. He was not one to choose lightly, nor apt to be deceived by less than real affection, and he waited until his fore-ordained bride was brought to him. But he looked out a while for his counterpart. Hence, when he met at Mildmay the lady who was to become his wife, it was with him a case of love, of all his love, at first sight, a grateful surrender of himself to the gift of God.”

On their honeymoon, the bride was attracted to the window of their apartment by a familiar voice speaking from outside. The bridegroom was holding an open-air service announcing a woman speaker for the evening. And so Elizabeth was enlisted early as a partner in his evangelistic efforts.

There were two children of this marriage. Rachel, a daughter, brought joy and gladness for only four brief months and then faded away, in spite of all that loving care could do. Michael Paget Baxter, a son, who was born the following year, survived his parents, carrying on the work of his father.

After five years of married life, another important development of God’s purpose in their lives was made apparent. Mr. Baxter, a great exponent of the second coming of Christ, had been publishing a small monthly magazine entitled, “Signs of our Times.”

When D. L. Moody campaigned in London, the Baxters decided to make the paper a weekly one in which they would keep the public informed of his evangelistic efforts. To the wife fell the business end of the new venture – reporting, proof-reading and book-keeping.
This, along with every-night dealing with anxious souls, resulted in over-strain and, that she might recuperate, necessitated a trip to Switzerland. And so a yet wider ministry was opened up for her in Europe. While holding services in Switzerland with effect, she met Baroness Von Gemmingen from Gernsbach, Germany. An invitation from that lady for a friendly visit was extended.

Although calls from pastors for further evangelism in Switzerland were forthcoming, after a day of fasting and prayer, Mrs. Baxter’s impression deepened that God was leading to Germany. The words, “Go to Gernsbach” kept sounding in her soul.

“But, Lord,” she inquired, “how about the language? Thou knowest I cannot speak German.”
“Never can I forget the answer,” she wrote. “It was not in an audible voice, but in the depths of my soul came the answer, ‘I can, and I am going with thee.’”

The next morning, she told her husband how her soul had been exercised about the divine call to Germany. “You must do as God tells you,” was his reply.

Friends tried to dissuade her from this venture. “But, God, and my husband being one about it, simplified the matter to me,” she explained, “and I decided to go to Gernsbach.”
Nor did God fail His messenger in the problem of the language barrier, as Mrs. Baxter so remarkably records:

“I went downstairs to Frau Von Gemmingen and told her that I believed God would have me go to Schauern that evening, and say a few words to the people there. For a long time she used argument after argument to dissuade me from going, and failing, she took me to her husband, who told me that if I went, I should only make a fool of myself, to which I replied that it did not matter to me how foolish I appeared so long as I did the will of God.

“He seemed not to understand or believe that God could thus lead me. Then the Baroness said: “There is the deaconess downstairs who teaches the infant school. You shall come to her, and if you can make her understand that you have a meeting in her schoolroom, I shall then believe God has sent you.’ A holy quiet came upon my spirit, and on reaching the room where the deaconess sat, enough German came to my lips to make my request, and she eagerly assented, and said she would gather the women together at the appointed hour.

“With a polyglot French and German Bible, God enabled me in the evening to give a little Bible teaching, which I was told, was understood by most. This was indeed truly of the Lord, as the Badische German is a special dialect which I had never before heard spoken; but surely it is as possible to trust the Lord to make people understand what He impels one to speak as it is to trust Him to enable one to teach or preach. He did both that evening, and one soul professed to find peace, and not one only, for her entire family followed her in course of time, turning unto the Lord with full purpose of heart.

“Two or three times during the half hour or more that I was speaking I turned to a friend who was with me to obtain a word; but this hesitation was only for a moment; the speech came, although I was not always acquainted with the full memory of the words which came to me. But the faces of the people showed me that they understood what was being uttered. This was the beginning of blessing; and several more meetings were held, all like the first. The Baron himself attended the second meeting, and was much surprised at what he saw. Yet at table, in the shops, or in any reading other than the Word of God, I could carry on no conversation in German.”

But God was fitting His instrument for an even greater field of service. To comfort others and bring healing, she herself must know the depths of pain and suffering. Stricken with a violent form of neuralgia, she spent whole nights in an agony of pain.

Letters to her husband at this time reveal the fact that she understood God’s purpose in this particular trial.

“March, 1880: I believe I am near the end of this time of suffering humiliation, for God is making more and more clear where I have been willful in my way of serving Him. He knows I only live to serve Him, but it must be in His way, His time, as well as His strength, bless Him.”

A few days later: “God is humbling me as never before. He is so faithful. Oh, that every vestige of self may be done away from me, and then God can have all His will with me. He cannot trust us with power according to the light we have while anything of self remains. I believe I shall praise Him to all eternity for this time of suffering. He would have taught me by other means, but I was not little enough, so He was obliged to use the rod. ‘Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’”

Another entry, “Oh pray that my life may be all Gethsemane from henceforth. It gives me a sense of awe to be at ease from pain, as though my life must be more His than ever, and such intense sympathy with those who suffer that I seem to understand Christ.”

Those who have had a deeper experience of grace often make the mistake of enshrining it, instead of accepting God’s discipline, which is designed to reveal our nothingness and His Almightiness. Mrs. Baxter’s writings never could have helped countless perplexed Christians, had she not known this divine reduction.

In article written in March, 1887, she said,

“I did not know how much I was occupied at that time with myself and my own holiness. I fell into spiritual pride. This opened the way for other sins of temper, etc. I was sorely disappointed with myself; I felt as though God had failed me. I had conceived a very high and ascetic standard, and I had fallen miserably below it; and though I cried to God for hours by day and hours by night, my old joy and peace did not return.

“In the year, 1873, I first saw ‘Gladness in Jesus,’ by the Rev. W. E. Boardman and, in reading it, my eyes were opened to see that I had been all this time dealing with myself, instead of acting truly to my first consecration of myself to God and letting Him deal with me. All my confidence in my own experience as a savior was gone. My old experience lived again, it is true, but I was on the divine side of it, seeing Jesus as my sanctification, Jesus dwelling in me to be patience in me, love in me, and all else I needed.

“From this time, God has been closely educating my conscience. While He keeps me from sinning as I trust Him, He teaches me from time to time His own views of sin, so that things which a year ago were not sin to me, are so now. But the conflict is transferred; the battle is the Lord’s. He cleanses, He helps, He fights. I trust and praise Him. He has taught me the same blessed faith for the body as the soul.”

An account of Mrs. Baxter’s life message would be incomplete without a few words concerning “Bethshan”, a home opened for healing and holiness. This Heaven-blessed establishment was a portion of the fruit of a concern among evangelicals regarding the part that healing plays in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Mrs. Baxter earlier had become acquainted with Pastor Stockmayer’s ministry at Hauptweil, Samuel Seller’s at Mannedorf and that of others in Europe. As a result, she became exercised about a testimony in England, showing God’s faithfulness to all who trust Him for the needs of the body, soul and spirit.

Meanwhile, in America, Dr. Cullis of Boston, grief-stricken at the sudden loss of his young wife, had entered into a deeper union with God. In consequence, he was led to establish a home to prove God’s power to cure patients pronounced hopeless by the medical profession.

Rev. W. E. Boardman in England had likewise had a new infusion of grace and he could say; “I seem to float in God and in His will like a bird floats in the air, or a fish in the sea.” Often engaged in evangelistic work in America, he visited Dr. Cullis and observed the methods used in his work. Returning to London, he commenced a similar effort in rented premises in the Metropolis, which eventually resulted in “Bethshan.”

Mrs. Baxter, as God’s versatile handmaid, became involved and eventually was the prime mover of this refuge for the sick. She and her husband poured in financial aid, and Bible studies were daily conducted for those desiring to know more of God’s purposes in each difficulty. The deeper life of abiding in Jesus was opened to the sufferers, and great was the rejoicing of those who found healing of body as the greater need of the soul was met through the indwelling Comforter. Holiness and healing were dependent upon each other.
Writing about the work at “Bethshan”, she recounted, “Many were the healings which took place here, and many were the souls blest … The Rev. Andrew Murray of Cape Town was there as one of the guests. He went into the subject of the Lord’s healing very fully and was so convinced that he trusted the Lord himself for healing, helped many and afterwards wrote a book on the subject.”

When several valued associates were called to higher service, Mrs. Baxter realized that this type of ministry had fulfilled its purpose. Its testimony had been borne to the ends of the earth through the pages of the “Christian Herald” and personal witness, as well.
The perishing multitudes at home and abroad then became her deepest concern, which culminated in the opening of a Training Home where many young people received Christian education before obeying God’s call to the mission fields.

Accompanied by Pastor and Mrs. Stockmayer, Mrs. Baxter made a world tour, abundantly fulfilling the promise, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me …unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Her deep spiritual life also flowed out into forty books on Christian experience, besides numerous booklets and weekly commitments in articles and Bible studies for the “Christian Herald” and other papers.

Mrs. Baxter closed her useful life at the age of eighty-nine years. She had been widowed sixteen years when God took her on December 19, 1926, but her influence lives on in her writings. Before her death, she had voiced the words by which she wished to be remembered, and which were quoted in the special service book prepared for her funeral: “Whenever I may be called away from this world, I should like to have as my testimony, ‘God is faithful.’”

Quotation by Elizabeth Baxter

God reveals Himself as the great “I Am”, and the Lord Jesus, again and again, during the time of His ministry on earth, spake of Himself as “I Am”. Now, people almost always tell us what they are and how they feel. Some say, “I am ignorant!”; some, “I am so sinful”; some, “I am so stupid”; some “I am so timid.” But when the Holy Spirit takes possession of us, He shuts up all the “I am” of our nature and turns us to the one great “I Am” of God.
It is a glorious life in which God is the “I Am”, and in which we take our place by the side of Paul, and say, “I am nothing”; or go down even lower to Him Who was “meek and lowly in heart”, and say, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). It is a life in which we expect nothing from ourselves, and in which we know that God expects nothing from us, and if our fellow creatures do, it does not matter to us, because our “life is hid with Christ in God.”

The greatest hindrance is your trying to help God to do it, for there is one thing God will never do – He will never mix His work with yours. Yield yourself unreservedly to Him. You say, “I am weak”; and you are; but the true “I Am” joins on to that name of His, “the Almighty God.”

Where is He almighty? Where He dwells. Just let the Holy Spirit come into you and dwell within you, then His Almightiness walks about with you wherever you go. If Satan tempts you to the old sin, there is almightiness dwelling in Him Who dwells in you, and surely you need not doubt whether the temptation shall be overcome or not. God is equal to it, through you are not.

Shall the “I am” of our self-life be that of Paul, “I am crucified with Christ”? There is an end of me, an end of all my complaining of myself, an end of that old song of what I am – “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.”

From: They Knew Their God, Volume One