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in the homes of any of my playmates. If I heard at of "infidels," and of "rationalists," I heard of them "wicked people," or as "atheists" to be abhorred a shunned. For years afterwards, even when I might ha freely become possessed of rationalistic books, as was on possible at my being offered Paine's "Age of Reason," avoided even contact with what I was confident was th work of Satan.
Conversion and Choice of the Ministry as Vocation.
a. My "Conversion."-During the extraordinary "R vival of Religion" which occurred through a large part the country in 1857, the religious convictions which ha been inwrought into the very fabric of my growing li and had often more or less strongly affected me, aroused sense of responsibility for my welfare as a human sou and of the exceptional privileges which I had for years bee taught were mine, as a "baptized child of the covenant. "Salvation" became a most serious personal concern and, boy though I was, I began in earnest to pray for th new life that could be mine as a conscious "child of God.
After a time of wretched inner struggle, there came great uplift of emotion, and I rejoiced in the belief tha I had really received the "Divine forgiveness;" and "th witness of the Spirit with my spirit that I had been bor of God;" and had been exalted to a place among thos who are "saved."
I then became, as said before, a member of my ancestra Church; joining the historic "Congregation of the Falling Spring" in Chambersburg. Thereupon, I entered specific.
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imaginings and purposes concerning "What I should be when I became a man." My sympathetic temperament; my natural idealism, and, largely, my sense of gratitude for "the goodness of God" to me, took an overmastering possession of thought and feeling. Belief in the "ruin and doom of mankind" was intensified for me to so great a degree that it became the dominating force in my mood. Then, decisively, under the urging, especially of one relative, himself a minister in the Old School Presbyterian Church, I was overcome by the conviction that, because of my personal, social and religious privileges, I was "called," more than most others, to the mission of bearing to "doomed mankind" the message of their possible "salvation."
For a while, too, I felt that upon me, especially, the duty was laid of consecration to the preaching of the Gospel to "far away heathen," who were " blindly perishing in sin." This is last named conviction was at the time a most solemn and a most potent mental and emotional reality, only to be seriously discouraged by those who were nearest to me, then and later.
My future having been thus determined, so far as desire and will could go at the time, I began special preparation for a course of education which would lead me at length directly into the Christian ministry as a clergyman of the Presbyterian Church.
The first move made was into intimate association with a retired minister who had been connected with my home-church, a scholar and educator of high local, and wide denominational, reputation. He had been one of my teachers in the Chambersburg Academy, and was fully entitled to the reverent affection I gladly gave him. He had been stricken with total blindness, and needed a
reader. I was his reader through most of the succeeding two years; the immediate years of my preparation for College; he giving me in turn his help as instructor. He had an extraordinary verbal memory for most of the Latin and Greek classics;-almost perfect for the writings. of Caesar and of Vergil, and of Xenophon and of Homer, which it was necessary for me to "master" for my coming College entrance examinations. Our work was a "labor of love" mutually given.
During this association with the Rev. James F. Kennedy, I had to do, for the first time, with a theological book in which there was a semblance of divergence from Orthodoxy, as I knew it, or which ventured upon some intellectual independence. The title of the work was "Yahweh." The discussion, naturally, was carried on well within the bounds of allowable thinking; but the author argued that the true reading of the familiar Biblical name "Jehovah " is that of the title name of his book, "Yahweh."
For the most part, my reading for Mr. Kennedy was beyond my comprehension; but this claim concerning the true name of the "Jehovah God" impressed me as a wonderful discovery.
Entrance into College.
My fifteenth and sixteenth years were passed, in the main, in this very happy and helpful service to my revered friend; and, in the autumn of 1859, I was fortunate enough to enter the Sophomore Class of Dickinson College, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. My father's intention had been to send me to Princeton; but the mother, on the plea that it was too soon to send her only child to a college so far
from home, prevailed upon the father to start my college career at this excellent Methodist institution, which is only an hour's ride from Chambersburg.
With entrance into College, however, a new epoch in my life was begun. Leaving my native town, I soon realized that I had left my childhood's home; and, ere long, I knew that childhood, as well as the home of childhood, had become but a treasured memory.