Faith builds a bridge
across the gulf of death,
To break the shock blind nature
can not shun,
And lands thought smoothly on the further
During his visit in the
Kauffman home, Edwin learned what was meant not only by prayer
but by a life of true devotion, for Mrs. Kauffman was a very
spiritual woman. She was sorry for the decision of the
brethren to refuse Edwin even a trial for membership in the
church, but she endeavored to encourage him in the belief that
all would come out right in the end, and Edwin very
courageously said that he was sure it would. And the fact that
he was misunderstood by some did not lessen his confidence in
the brethren nor cool his intense love for humanity. Neither
did it dampen his desire to be a blessing to mankind, and so
great did the latter longing become that he began to seek for
opportunities of doing good.
By living in such sweet
communion with God he learned a great many lessons that were
very helpful to him in different ways; and with a little help
from his kind friends he learned to read in such a marvelously
short time that it was plain to all that God was truly his
One day while Edwin was
quietly meditating upon the wonderful things that he had read
within the Bible, he compared them with the experiences
through which he had passed, and he marveled at the manner in
which they corresponded. Then, while thinking of what had
taken place at the camp meeting, he remembered his mother and
his surprize at seeing her at such a place. "Could it be
possible," he said to Mrs. Kauffman, "that my mother's reason
for attending the meeting was that she was interested in
spiritual things?" His friends thought it was probable, and
then Edwin said that if such was the case he would like to
tell her about some of the wonderful things God had done for
him. In this Mrs. Kauffman encouraged him, and she helped him
to find several appropriate passages of Scripture that he
could read to his mother, and when he went she bade him
Edwin had not visited his
mother since the time when her proud heart was crushed because
of the shame and disgrace that had been forced upon her
through Elmer's actions. Since then many things had taken
place in her life that had caused her to change some of her
ways, but the "faith" that she claimed to have taken up and
that had encouraged her to attend the camp-meeting was only a
"try to do better" plan.
When Mrs. Fischer saw her
son approaching the house, she at once remembered his
ignorance at the camp-meeting, the ridicule created by his
queer actions, and the hard feelings that, in her
embarrassment, she had felt toward him; still, she endeavored
to treat him kindly, and at first she permitted him to talk
freely about his experiences before and after the meeting. But
when in conclusion, he said, "Mother, can't you see how
necessary it is for any one to be converted, or to be born
again into God's great family?" she exclaimed: "Oh, such
trash! I won't listen any longer! I've committed no sins that
I need to repent of. _My_ 'faith' is good enough for me, and I
don't expect to know everything about heaven in this life. The
church that I have joined teaches that if you do as well as
you can you'll go to heaven anyway, and after you have pledged
any church that you will stand by it and then you go and join
another and take up their 'faith,' you become a shame and
disgrace to the church to which you did belong."
"Yes, but you may not get
to heaven if you do not anxiously seek to know the right way,"
Edwin said, and the earnestness in his voice could be felt.
Then opening his Bible,
which was already well marked, he read: "Wisdom crieth
without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: she crieth in
the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in
the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple
ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in
their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my
reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will
make known my words unto you. Because I have called and ye
refused.... I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock
when your fear cometh.... Then shall they call upon me, but I
will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not
find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the
fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel: they despised
all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their
own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning
away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of
fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall
dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Prov.
That his mother was
surprized to hear Edwin reading the words was very plain to be
seen, but her spirit was still proud, and she cried: "No,
Edwin, I won't listen to any more. Those words are in the Old
Testament, I know, but they were written for the people who
lived at that time, and not for us. The New Testament is for
"Well, then, Mother,"
Edwin said, quickly turning to the third chapter of St. John,
"let me read to you something from the New Testament, some of
the words of God's own Son to all the world. Jesus was talking
to a man who was a teacher and very wise, but he told him that
the only way to get to heaven was to be born again, for he
said: 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that
which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said
unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it
listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not
tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one
that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto
him, How can these things be? Jesus answered.... God so loved
the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.' And now,
Mother," Edwin said, "here is the part that I want you to
listen to especially: 'He that believeth on him is not
condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten
Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come
into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds
should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the
light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are
wrought in God.'"
The reading of the last
scripture had been more difficult for Edwin, but he had
reviewed the words so often under the direction of Mr.
Kauffman, who had taken a keen interest and delight in the
manner in which Edwin was learning, that he was able to read
them both plainly and distinctly. But still his mother said:
"That, too, was long ago.
Things are different today. You needn't try to tell me that
what the people did and said at that time were anything like
what they say and do today."
Then as Edwin attempted to
explain, she said:
"No, Edwin, you must not
say anything more to me about these things. I'm satisfied to
let well enough alone; and if I'm contented, you ought to be."
Seeing that his mother was
determined to continue in her uncertainty, Edwin next thought
of his own brother and sister in the flesh, whom he had never
seen. Through his mother he had found out where they were
living, and although it was a long distance to their homes and
they were as strangers to him, he decided to visit them and at
once set out upon the journey.
The brother had heard
through the mother some things about Edwin's stupidity, as she
called his extreme ignorance (for which she was herself to
blame), and he had also heard of Edwin's willingness to suffer
cruel punishments and unjust blame. "But," the mother had also
said, "with all his block-headedness, he has never done
anything to compare with what Elmer, his cousin, has done to
make me ashamed."
It was therefore with real
interest and curiosity that the brother received him into his
home, and he was shown much kindness by his brother's wife.
When Edwin explained how wondrously he had been led and taught
of God, the brother was astonished, for he could see that all
Edwin had said was very reasonable and sensible, and he
wondered why he had never thought to search out some of the
things for himself. The brother's wife as well was greatly
interested, and when Edwin read and explained the verses from
his well-marked Bible, they were both convicted and exclaimed:
"O Edwin! what must we do
to get this great salvation?"
Immediately Edwin turned
to Acts 16: 30, 31, and read the jailer's words to Paul and
Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and Paul's answer,
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved,
and thy house." He then explained that Jesus came to seek and
save the people from their sins and that he went about
preaching the glad tidings of salvation, after which he gave
his life upon the cross that their salvation might be
Next he read Isa. 55: 6,
7: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him
while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the
Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he
will abundantly pardon."
"To forsake sin," Edwin
explained, "is to stop doing anything that one knows to be
wrong, like stealing, lying, swearing," and he named over a
number of other things. "By the power of the will it is
possible for any who have formed such habits to stop doing the
things that are wrong, but before a person can really be
delivered from sin, he must be very sorry for having disobeyed
God. That sorrow is repentance if the person is sorry enough
to ask God to forgive him and to cleanse him from all
Edwin did not tell them
that it had always been his desire to do to others as he would
be done by, for to him this had been only his privilege and
duty to mankind, and he fully realized that before he was
converted he was, with all the rest of humanity, in a sense
separated from God. Instead he said:
"You must think of God's
goodness," and he read: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and
are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon
you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye
shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light." And then he read Heb. 10:39: "But we are not
of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe
to the saving of the soul."
"O Edwin!" his brother
cried, "why is it that we have never heard of these things
before? Surely God has sent you to us."
As a large revival was
being held in the city at that time, they all decided to
attend, and at the meeting and with Edwin's help the brother
and his wife were gloriously saved.
When the meeting was over,
Edwin was urged to prolong his stay. This he did, and he spent
a few weeks very profitably in helping his relatives to become
established and to learn how to study the Bible that had so
long been only an ornament in their home.
His sister also was deeply
impressed with the wonderful things that God had done for
Edwin, but she was the mother of several small children, and
her life was such that she thought that she was unable to make
the necessary sacrifices. Edwin read to her from the seventh
chapter of Matthew these words of Jesus: "Whosoever heareth
these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a
wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain
descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat
upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a
rock." Then he explained to her about the house that fell, but
she only answered: "No, Edwin, it is of no use. I can not live
it now," and thus Edwin left her feeling her need but
unwilling to yield.
From his sister's home
Edwin returned to Mrs. Kauffman's, where he was again treated
with the greatest affection and respect. As he told of his
experiences, his kind friends were deeply interested as well
as astonished at the manner in which he had succeeded in his
brother's home, and Mrs. Kauffman thanked God for so
wonderfully answering prayer.
Learning that Edwin was
again in the neighborhood, the farmers with whom he was
acquainted did their best to engage him to work for them, but
to all he said: "No, not yet. I have not satisfied my mind. I
am still a guest in the home of Mrs. Kauffman, and since they
are satisfied to have me stay, I think that there must be more
things that God would teach me from his Word, so I will study
my Bible for a while longer."
Baptism was the next
subject that bothered him. During his recent visit with his
mother he had learned from her that, as an infant, before he
was taken to the poorhouse, he was baptized; but he had read
in his Bible, "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be
saved" (Mark 16:16). "No infant could believe or reason
anything about the Lord Jesus," he told Mrs. Kauffman, and he
asked her advice about having the work done again.
"You had better go to your
minister and ask him what he thinks," Mrs. Kauffman said.
Edwin improved the very first opportunity, which happened to
be the following Sunday immediately after the morning service.
Replying to him, the minister asked:
"Don't you think the
baptism in your infancy amounted to anything?"
"I don't know," Edwin
answered cautiously. "That is what I came to see you about.
The Bible says, 'He that believeth and is baptized,' and I'm
sure that I didn't know enough at that time to 'believe'
anything, and the way that I understand that verse is that I
am to be baptized after I am converted."
"Well, then," said the
minister, "if you do not feel satisfied, I will, at some
convenient season, attend to the matter." To Edwin it was a very solemn affair, for he was very
sincere. At the close of the ordinance the minister said,
"Now, whether you consider that your other baptism amounted to
anything or not, I hope that your doubts will be forever
gone." At the time Edwin thought they were, but later on when
he read, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are
risen with him through faith of the operation of God, who hath
raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:12), he thought that to be
really baptized meant more than merely to have a little water
sprinkled upon his head; and when he considered that John
baptized people in the river Jordan and that Jesus, his
example, walked down into the water, saying, "Suffer it to be
so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,"
and that when Jesus came up out of the water the voice from
heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased" (Matt. 3:15, 17), he felt that he should like to go
down into the water as though he had been buried from the
sight of the world just as his Savior had done.
As was his custom when
perplexed over such problems, he went to Mrs. Kauffman that he
might have the benefit of her judgment. She advised him to go
to a body of people that believed in immersion and be baptized
by their minister. Edwin followed her direction, and as soon
as possible he was put under the water as a testimony to the
world that he was dead to sin.
Thus, day by day God in
his wisdom continued to be Edwin's teacher in the deep as well
as in the simple things of life until the wisdom of the
poorhouse waif was in many things far beyond that of many who
professed to be leaders of men.
"For his God doth instruct
him to discretion and doth teach him" (Isa. 28: 26).
"Teach me, O Lord, the way
of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me
understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe
it with my whole heart." "Stablish thy word unto thy servant,
who is devoted to thy fear" (Psa. 119: 33, 34,