“My friends,” said the pastor, rising soon afterwards, “when our Lord was on earth, He once raised His eyes to heaven and said, ’I thank thee, Father, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.’ I confess to you that I never was able to understand the full meaning of this expression; but, as I have become more and more acquainted with our friend who has just spoken to you, and have learned how fully his faith is grounded, and how entirely his life has been changed by what seems to us the mere beginnings of a religious belief, I am constrained to feel that I have yet a great deal to learn about my own profession and my own duty as a minister. What has just been said to you contains the essence of everything which I have tried to preach from my pulpit in twenty years. I wish it were in my power to re-state it all as clearly as you have heard it this evening, but I confess it is not. I fear to add anything to what you have already heard, for I do not see how in any way I could make this important subject any more clear to your comprehension. I will therefore say no more, but ask, as is the custom, that anyone here present who desires to change his life and wishes the assistance of the prayers of God’s people will please rise.”
As is usual in all such meetings, there was a general turning of heads from one side to the other. In an instant a single figure in the midst of the little congregation arose, and a second later a hoarse voice from one of the back seats, a voice which most persons present could identify as that of Sam Kimper’s son Tom, exclaimed,—
“Great Lord! it’s Reynolds Bartram!”
The story that Reynolds Bartram had “stood up for prayers” went through Bruceton and the surrounding country like wildfire. Scarcely anyone believed it, no matter by whom he was told: the informer might be a person of undoubted character, but the information was simply incredible. People would not believe such a thing unless they could see it with their own eyes and hear it with their own ears: so the special meetings became at once so largely attended that they were held in the body of the church instead of the little basement called the “lecture-room.”
The most entirely amazed person in the town was Deacon Quickset. Never before had he been absent, unless sick, from any special effort of his church to persuade the sinners to flee from the wrath to come; but when Dr. Guide announced that he should ask Sam Kimper to assist him in the special meetings, the deacon’s conscience bade him halt and consider. Dr. Guide was wrong,—there could be no doubt of that: would it be right, then, merely for the sake of apparent peace and unity, for him, the deacon, to seem to agree with his pastor’s peculiar views? The deacon made it a matter of prayer, and the result was that he remained at home.