DISCOVERS THE EXISTENCE OF GOD'S WORD
O precious volume! only in thy pages
We read the
duty of all our race;
Only thy sunbeams, shining through
Reveal the wonders of saving grace.
--Daniel S. Warner.
Edwin had heard that there was such a book as the Bible,
but that the Bible was a good book or of any more value in the
world than the almanac or the "Book of Black Arts," that had
been in the home of Mrs. Fitch, had never been suggested to
his mind. So of course he did not know that the Bible was
God's great message to the world. It was therefore a wonderful
thought when the truth first dawned upon his mind.
The little group that had been present at the time of his
conversion were the first to explain the matter to him, and
when Mrs. Kauffman added, in words that he could understand,
that the Bible contained the story of Jesus, she found that he
had never heard that there had ever been any one on the earth
by that name. It was a long story, but after hearing a little,
Edwin was anxious to hear the remainder, and when his kind
friend had finished speaking, he asked simply, "Was Jesus
God's son and yet a man just as I am?"
"Yes," Mrs. Kauffman replied; "God made man in the first
place, good and pure like himself, and he was made master of
all that was in the world. In return for all these blessings,
God demanded obedience and said that death to all the human
race would be the penalty for his disobedience."
Then she related that man yielded to sin and fell from the
holy state in which he was created, receiving as his penalty
eternal banishment from God's presence, and she went on to
tell of the provision that had been promised at the time of
"For more than four thousand years," she said, "this awful
blight of sin continued; then Jesus, the provision that God
had promised, came into the world to live a life of perfect
obedience to God. And God sent to all the world by his Son the
message that any and all who would follow Christ's example and
live as he had told them at the first to live, would be
forgiven and with his Son would become a part of his own great
family (Heb. 5: 8,9). God in this way formed a bridge across
the gulf that had been fixed between the sinner and his Maker.
Now it is possible for any one who will, to cross the bridge
and to enter heaven, but they must prepare for the journey
before they die."
"Is all that in the Bible?" Edwin asked in astonishment;
"and is it so that God's Son once lived upon this earth?"
"Yes, Edwin, it is true," Mrs. Kauffman answered. Then she
read and explained Heb. 1:1-3 and 5:8, 9: "God, who at sundry
times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the
fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto
us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by
whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his
glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all
things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged
our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things
which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the
author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
She then told him that the place where Jesus had lived was
far away from there, but that it was a country similar to our
own. As she continued to talk about Jesus' home, Edwin
exclaimed, "Oh, if only I could some time go and see that
place for myself!" But when he thought of what such a trip
would cost, his hope of ever getting there was destroyed. As
Edwin considered the wonderful love that had prompted God and
his Son to make so great a sacrifice for men and women who had
been disobedient to his laws and commands, his heart was
flooded with love for his Creator, and he cried:
"I knew that God must have made some way for man to know
where he was going to land in eternity! Jesus is that
provision. I can see it all now, and the assurance that we are
going aright is that we are obedient to God?" he added with a
"Yes, it is obedience to God," Mrs. Kauffman explained.
"But there is more to his plan than that. God wants us to love
and reverence his Son for all that he has done. To do this we
must ask God to forgive and to receive us back into his family
for Jesus' sake. This is a true prayer when it comes from the
"Is that the prayer that I prayed when I was converted?"
Edwin asked, remembering the three little words that he had
selected from one of the prayers in Mr. Meyer's tent.
"No," Mrs. Kauffman replied; "your prayer was different. It
was really no prayer at all, but you see you did not
understand these things or know how to pray. God knew what you
wanted, because he understands the heart, and he knew that you
would have asked for it in proper words if you could have
Both Mr. and Mrs. Kauffman were very good to Edwin; for
after he had left their neighborhood, they had learned
something of his worth. Every day during the meeting they
endeavored in some way to help him to understand what it means
to be a Christian, and some of the wonderful things that are
in the Bible. Much of their effort was lost, however, because
of his ignorance, but it seemed that each time he was able to
grasp a new thought that would correspond and link on to his
When the last day of the camp-meeting arrived, Edwin was
sorry, for he felt that it had been a good place to be; but
since he had received the benefit for which he had come, he
was ready to return to the farm and fulfil his agreement with
Mr. Miller and do all that he could to make up for the time
that he had been away at the meeting. The Kauffmans, Itterlys,
and Meyers had all given him pressing invitations to visit
them in their homes, and with many happy remembrances of the
meeting in his mind he was soon well on his way down the dusty
road in the direction of his employer's home.
Again he noted the sweet songs of the little birds, and
nature seemed all aglow with her beauty and grandeur; but as
before, when he was on his way to the meeting, his mind was
too full of weightier things to give outside things much
thought or attention.
As he passed in through the open gate, he remembered that
Mrs. Kauffman had said that in a certain city not more than
ten miles away a Bible could be purchased, and, knowing that
Mr. Miller occasionally went to that city to do his trading,
he decided to ask him to get him a copy while there.
When he reached the summer-kitchen, he found the old couple
partaking of their evening meal, and when Edwin had taken his
accustomed place on the end of the bench, he was asked to give
an account of the meeting and to tell how he had enjoyed
himself while there. It was in glowing terms that Edwin
described each little detail and the effect that the entire
meeting had produced in his life. When he had finished, Mrs.
"I'm glad, Edwin, that you have at last found out what it
means to be converted. But of course you will have to join the
church. You can go with us to our church every Sunday if you
want to, and after you go a while they will tell you whether
they want you to become a member."
Edwin gladly accepted the invitation, and then after
telling what Mrs. Kauffman had said about the Bible, he asked
Mr. Miller if he would buy him a copy the next time he went to
the city. The latter said that he would do the best that he
could. When the smoking-hour arrived, Edwin remained, but to
visit, not to smoke. He cared no longer for his pipe, for the
appetite for tobacco was all gone.
Although Edwin was disappointed a number of times because
of his employer's forgetfulness to do his errand, a few weeks
after the camp-meeting had closed, a little red leather pocket
Testament in both the German and English languages was placed
in his hand, and what a treasure it was! The price that Edwin
had paid for it seemed very small indeed, but he did not know
that the little volume was only a part of the wonderful book
of which he had heard such thrilling accounts.
In the days that followed a great longing to read the
sacred pages of his little Testament came into his heart, but
even to have the little book in his possession was a great
comfort, and very often he drew it from his pocket and pressed
it to his heart while he was at his work.
On Sunday, Edwin never failed to go with Mr. and Mrs.
Miller to the little church that was on the corner where the
roads met and crossed, and he was still as earnest and anxious
to learn as he had been at the camp-meeting; but the
difficulty of the language was ever before him, and his
extreme ignorance concerning the Bible was very noticeable.
At last when the subject concerning whether he should be
accepted as a candidate for a member of their denomination
arose, a lengthy discussion among the most prominent brethren
followed, and it was decided in Edwin's hearing that he was
far too ignorant on Bible lines ever to amount to anything
among them. It would therefore, they said, be best to drop the
matter at once.
"Think of it!" said one, "it doesn't stand to reason that
any one with so little education and knowledge concerning the
Bible could be so easily converted. He will be like a wave of
the sea--lost and forgotten, in a very short time. Why, he
can't even understand the preaching yet or the things that you
try to explain to him! To my mind his case isn't worth
After Edwin had heard this man's reasoning and had found
that it was the decision of all, he was given an opportunity
to speak for himself. He said:
"I'm sure that you are mistaken when you say that I will
not stand. I know that I am very ignorant about what is in the
Bible, but if you will just give me ten years, I will prove to
you that God, who has brought me through all my past
difficulties, and in spite of all my ignorance has directed me
always in the right way, will never fail to teach me the next
best thing to do."
After Edwin's speech it was decided that it would be all
right for him to attend the meetings, but that they could not
accept his name even on probation.
It was with a sad heart the following day that Edwin went
about his work upon the farm. He could not understand why the
brethren had doubted his ability to stand nor their reason for
not allowing him the same privilege that was given to others,
simply because he was ignorant and his conversion had not
required so long a time as they were in the habit of allowing
their more enlightened members. "God surely knew what he was
doing," he reasoned, "and I believe that my life is as
precious to him as that of any other man, though he may know a
great deal more than I do."
All day long he was burdened and sad, and when night came,
instead of resorting to the summer-kitchen as had been his
habit for so long, he went to his room immediately after the
evening chores were done. Falling upon his knees and taking
from his pocket his little red Testament, he opened it and
laid it upon the chair before him. Then as tears blinded his
eyes, he buried his face in his hands and, bending reverently
over the little volume, made his request known to God.
"O God!" he cried, not caring by whom he was heard, "you
who have been so faithful to me in the past, in helping me out
of all my difficulties, help me now! I have learned that this
little book is to make me know what you want me to do, so help
me to be able to read what is in it."
To Edwin this task was no greater for him than others had
been that he had mastered, and with perfect faith, believing
that God would open his understanding sufficiently for him to
comprehend the meaning of all that he needed to know, he began
the work of learning what he should have known many years
With his finger Edwin carefully traced in several words the
outline of the letters, until suddenly a few of the characters
that he had learned from the school-teacher when, in his early
childhood days, he was sent to school as protector of his
younger cousins, returned to his mind, and although they had
been meaningless then and had been long since forgotten, they
corresponded perfectly with those before him. Thus he
continued to labor long into the night, and during the days
and evenings that followed, whenever there was a moment to
spare, a moment that he could feel was his own, he endeavored
to locate the same letters in other words. But although he
could locate several of the letters, he did not know their
Later on, after the corn-husking was done, Mr. Miller
decided that he could get along with the work by himself, and
Edwin began looking for another place. When the word became
circulated that Edwin was wanting a job, several opportunities
to get into good families were offered him, but he would
decide on none of them until he had spent a few weeks in
visiting the kind friends whom he had met at the camp-meeting.
During Edwin's stay with Mr. and Mrs. Miller, Edwin had
learned to respect them very highly, and their kindness and
sympathy meant very much to him, but he felt that he was sadly
misunderstood by them both and that their judgment was not
altogether good. He was sad, too, because of the attitude of
the church-members toward him, but his only thought was to
prove to all that he was sincere, and although so coldly held
off by some he continued to attend the meetings regularly.
On the morning of his departure, Mrs. Miller in her
motherly way invited him to visit them occasionally, and after
thanking them kindly for all their interest in him, Edwin left
for the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kauffman. Frank Kauffman was at
his mother's home when Edwin arrived, and when he saw the
welcome that she gave to the one whom she had so severely
condemned, because of the influence she was afraid he might
have upon her son, he could not help smiling. He had heard
that Edwin had given up the use of tobacco, and it was not
long until he learned from Edwin himself his reasons for doing
so. Frank was much impressed by the story and felt that
perhaps Edwin was right about the matter, and he would have
been glad to give up the use of tobacco himself, but the power
of habit was great, and the poisonous nicotine was so working
in his system that his strength of decision was limited.
Edwin's stay with the Kauffman's was prolonged to several
months; for these people, finding that Edwin was so anxious to
learn to read his Bible, began at the foundation and taught
him both the English and the German alphabets and instructed
him how to use them in forming words. Until then Edwin had not
understood the difference in the languages, and, finding that
the words used in prayer and preaching, were not a heavenly
language as he had supposed, but were meant for any one to
speak, he decided at once to master them both. He reasoned
that what he could not comprehend in the one language he might
in the other, and his progress in the undertaking was so rapid
that it was marvelous.
When he learned that the Bible was in two parts--a New and
an Old Testament--and that his little red-covered book was
only the New, he longed for the complete volume and was soon
in possession of one.
"Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy
face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the
pit. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for
in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should
walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee" (Psa. 143: 7,