Hannah Whitall Smith’s Testimony

Hannah Whitall Smith published the book The Unselfishness of God And How I Discovered It in 1903. As Wikipedia points out, many editions of the book omit three chapters in which Smith explains how she came to believe God saves all.

Here is a post from Dr. Stephen Jones’s blog that includes an excerpt from one of these “lost” chapters.


This testimony is the partial text of chapter 27 of her book, The Unselfishness of God, in the original publication. It was edited out of later editions when published by Littlebrook Publishing, Inc. in Princeton, N. J., because they did not agree with her discovery that, in the end, God had made provision to save all mankind.

One day I was riding on a tram-car along Market Street, Philadelphia, when I saw two men come in and seat themselves opposite to me. I saw them dimly through my veil, but congratulated myself that it was only dimly, as I was thus spared the wave of anguish that had so often swept over me at the full sight of a strange face.

The conductor came for his fare, and I was obliged to raise my veil in order to count it out. As I raised it, I got a sight of the faces of those two men, and with an overwhelming flood of anguish, I seemed to catch a fresh and clearer revelation of the misery that had been caused to human beings by sin. It was more than I could bear. I clenched my hands and cried out in my soul, “Oh God! How canst Thou bear it? Thou mightest have prevented it, but Thou didst not. Thou mightest even now change it, but Thou dost not. I do not see how Thou canst go on living and endure it.” I upbraided God. And I felt justified in doing so.

Then suddenly God seemed to answer me. An inward voice said, in tones of infinite love and tenderness, “He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” “Satisfied!” I cried in my heart. “Christ is to be satisfied! He will be able to look at the world’s misery and then at the travail through which He has passed because of it, and will be satisfied with the result! If I were Christ, nothing could satisfy me but that every human being should in the end be saved, and therefore I am sure that nothing less will satisfy Him!”

With this, a veil seemed to be withdrawn from before the plans of the universe, and I saw that it was true, as the Bible says, that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ should all be made alive.” As was the first, even so was the second. The “all” in one case could not in fairness mean less than the “all” in the other. I saw therefore that the remedy must necessarily be equal to the disease, the salvation must be as universal as the fall.

I saw all this that day on the tram-car on Market Street, Philadelphia — not only thought it, or hoped it, or even believed it, but knew it! It was a Divine fact. And from that moment I have never had one questing thought as to the final destiny of the human race. God is the Creator of every human being; therefore He is the Father of each one and they are all His children; and Christ died for every one, and is declared to be “the propitiation not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). However great the ignorance, therefore, or however grievous the sin, the promise of salvation is positive and without limitations.

It is true that “by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation,” it is equally true that, “by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” To limit the last “all men” is also to limit the first. The salvation is absolutely equal to the fall. There is to be a final “Restitution of all things, when, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Every knee, every tongue — words could not be more all-embracing.

The how and the when I could not see; but the one essential fact was all I needed — somewhere, and somehow God was going to make everything right for all the creatures He had created. My heart was at rest about it forever.

I hurried home to get hold of my Bible to see if the magnificent fact I had discovered could possibly have been all this time in the Bible and I had not seen it, and the moment I entered the house, I did not wait to take off my bonnet, but rushed at once to the table where I always kept my Bible and Concordance ready for use, and began my search.

Immediately the whole Book seemed to be illuminated. On every page the truth concerning the “times of restitution of all things,” of which the Apostle Peter says “God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began,” shone forth and no room was left for questioning. I turned greedily from page to page of my Bible, fairly laughing aloud for joy at the blaze of light that illuminated it all. It became a new Book. Another skin seemed to have been peeled off every text, and my Bible fairly shone with new meaning. I do not say with a different meaning, for in no sense did the new meaning contradict the old, but a deeper meaning, the true meaning hidden behind the outward form of words. The words did not need to be changed; they only needed to be understood; and now at last I began to understand them.

About Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance writer. He's been a Christian most of his life, but did not discover that God would save all people until age 23. When he asked too many questions about the Bible, he was told he could no longer participate in his Sunday school's social activities. After that experience, Ryan left the church and has been studying The Restoration of All Things ever since.
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8 Responses to Hannah Whitall Smith’s Testimony

  1. Michael says:

    Smith – “An inward voice…the salvation must be as universal as the fall.”

    Jesus – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who sdoes the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

    “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

    “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness” indicating indeed that at least those who commit this sin will not be saved.

    • John Thomas says:

      Michael,

      As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace that calls men to repentance and that all are enemies of God and cannot come to God until they are called by the Spirit, then aren’t all men guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (in the way most people interpret that) in that their actions deny Him while they are in an unrepentant state?

      I am not suggesting that the Bible is wrong; on the contrary, I firmly believe it to be right, though I would advocate going back to the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. What I am asking is if our interpretation of these verses of judgment is wrong and colored by the cultural we grew up in and live in and the way that culture uses the English words that the Bible is often translated into. Maybe we have interpreted the passages you reference incorrectly.

      Something to consider.

      • Michael says:

        John,

        The original Greek is correctly translated here. IF you take your interpretation that all have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, then we have run up against a problem because Jesus said that this sin “never has forgiveness

        It’s best to interpret this “blasphemy” as one of clearly seeing the acts of the Holy Spirit in the miracles of Christ, but claiming they are the acts of Satan. This is the very thing that the Pharisees did right before Jesus said this, in Matt. 12:25-28.

        So we have Pharisees committing this sin which can not be forgiven. Without forgiveness one cannot not get into heaven.

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Michael,

      As you already know, I respectfully disagree with your conclusions.

      If your interpretation of Mark 3:29 is true, then Jesus clearly did not die for everyone, but only those who avoid the “unforgivable sin” and repent in this lifetime. Either Jesus cannot cause all to repent or he simply chooses not to.

      And how did Paul become converted? As a zealous Pharisee, a self-described “Jew of Jews,” and murder of Christians, surely he committed “the unpardonable sin!” Paul said, of all sinners, he was the greatest! Why then was he given grace? And if he was given grace, then why can’t this grace also cover lesser sinners?

      Speaking of Paul, I must also assume he was mistaken when he compared the one offense to the free gift.

      Maybe what he meant to say was the free gift is not like the offense at all: the offense brought death to all men, but the free gift brought life only to a portion whom Jesus caused to repent. The free gift therefore does not fully remedy the man’s one offense.

      Adam’s one offense was greater than Jesus’ death on the cross.

      The Second Adam was not quite as thorough as the first.

      Of course, this is what most Christians believe, although they’ll never say this — at least not they way I’ve said it.

      But wait, there’s more!

      Mark 3:29 and Matthew 12:32 say essentially the same thing. And this passage says that whoever commits this sin, blasphemy against the holy spirit, will not be forgiven IN THIS AGE OR THE NEXT.

      This is a critical part of the text.

      Believe it or not, even the NIV (a particularly bad translation) says “either in this age or the age to come.”

      Jesus’ teaching on blasphemy against the holy spirit cannot be properly understood without an understanding of the ages. (Of course, if you deny the ages, it is then impossible to understand them.)

      There is no divinely mandated deadline that says repentance must happen prior to death. In the end, Jesus will save ALL people just as he said he would (John 12:32). Through Jesus’ one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men (Romans 5).

      Jesus will fully accomplish exactly what he said — no matter what Christian churches, seminaries, and preachers continue to teach.

      Ryan

      • John says:

        Ryan,

        I would like for you to have gone further in your explanation of Matthew 12: 32 in regards to the meaning of the ages. You said” if you deny the ages, it is them impossible to understand them”. Look at my explanation and let me know if we are on the same page. Present age. (age we are living in)
        Next age. (thousand year rein with Christ) Those who are chosen as God’s elect in this age will be Kings and Priest teaching for a thousnad years. And last we have the Greart White Throne Judgement. All who ever lived will be Judge, chastize (some more then others) and all will come unto the knowledge of the truth.

        Just came across your web page. I AM searching for TRUTH! Hope to talk more.
        John Martin

  2. Are We Still Burning Our Children Alive At BOHEMIAN GROVE? Wait, Never mind, we are… 🙁 NO WONDER ALL ARE UNDER A GENERAL GLOBAL CURSE. WELCOME TO THE END OF DAYS BITCHES HA HA HA HA HA HA LET THE UNITED NATIONS MAKE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL AND SPILLED THE BLOOD ON YOU KIDS HEADS 🙁 ITS WRITTEN ALREADY IN ANCIENT HOLY BOOKS. REPENT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND!

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Josh – I’m familiar with what happens at Bohemian Grove. I believe we stand at the threshold of the Kingdom of God. I believe it will be preceded by a great move of the Holy Spirit and widespread repentance.

      But keep in mind, true repentance cannot come apart from God. Between now and then, things will get worse in the U.S., but it is ultimately for our good, not for our destruction.

      Ryan

      P.S. I removed the f-bomb from your comment, as well as the URL pointing to your site. People can still visit your site by clicking on your name.

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