Benignity, kindness, keen humour, broad common sense and industry characterised my mother. The Reverend Dr. Chambers was for many years her pastor. He had fifty years of pastorate service, in Somerville, N.J., and the Collegiate Church, New York. He said, in an address at the dedication of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, that my mother was the most consecrated Christian person he had ever known. My mother worked very hard, and when we would come in and sit down at the table at noon, I remember how she used to look. There were beads of perspiration along the line of her grey hair, and sometimes she would sit down at the table, and put her head against her wrinkled hand and say, “Well, the fact is, I’m too tired to eat.”
My father was a religious, hard-working, honest man. Every day began and closed with family worship, led by my father, or, in case of his absence, by Mother. That which was evidently uppermost in the minds of my parents, and that which was the most pervading principle in their lives, was the Christian religion. The family Bible held a perfect fascination for me, not a page that was not discoloured either with time or tears. My parents read out of it as long as I can remember. When my brother Van Nest died in a foreign land, and the news came to our country home, that night they read the eternal consolations out of the old book. When my brother David died that book comforted the old people in their trouble. My father in mid-life, fifteen years an invalid, out of that book read of the ravens that fed Elijah all through the hard struggle for bread. When my mother died that book illumined the dark valley. In the years that followed of loneliness, it comforted my father with the thought of reunion, which took place afterward in Heaven.
To the wonderful conversion of my grandfather and grandmother, in those grand old days of our declaration of independence, I trace the whole purpose, trend, and energies of my life. I have told the story of the conversion of my grandfather and grandmother before. I repeat it here, for my children.
My grandfather and grandmother went from Somerville to Baskenridge to attend revival meetings under the ministry of Dr. Finney. They were so impressed with the meetings that when they came back to Somerville they were seized upon by a great desire for the salvation of their children. That evening the children were going off for a gay party, and my grandmother said to the children, “When you get all ready for the entertainment, come into my room; I have something very important to tell you.” After they were all ready they came into my grandmother’s room, and she said to them, “Go and have a good time, but while you are gone I want you to know I am praying for you and will do nothing but pray for you until you get back.” They did not enjoy the entertainment much because they thought all the time of the fact that Mother was praying for them. The evening passed. The next day my grandparents