O, how shall I fully set forth the wonderful revelation that the loving Father was pleased to give me just then? For when I was about to write that I could not go to the church because I was not a believer, that moment I did believe! Yea, Jesus was revealed to me, the Lord, my righteousness! and with the eyes of my understanding I beheld Him in His holiness and exaltation as my altogether lovely Savior! Sweet peace then filled my entire being and my heart went out in love to God, my adored Father in heaven! O, it was so unlooked for, and so wondrous strange and new and heavenly! God, in Christ, had reconciled me to Himself, and my peace was perfect. Unto me the Sun of righteousness had risen with healing in His wings of life and light, and the long night of darkness was past. His perfect love had cast out all fear. The chief One among ten thousand was my Beloved, and He had loved me and owned me as His. How blessed! Jesus had died on the cross for me, and now He lived in me and I in Him. The salvation that was of Him was complete and glorious.
My loving heart at once went out to His brethren, the dear children of God, and the church that Christ loved and gave Himself for. And so I soon went on with my letter and told my now dear Brother McQueary of this divinely-given faith in Jesus, and that in Him I was justified and saved, for He had covered me with the robe of righteousness and clothed me with the garments of salvation. So, I told him that I was now more than willing to comply with his kind appeal to come home to the church, and would be at their May meeting, if it was the will of the Lord. Then I also wrote to my sister and wife of my sweet peace and joy in the Lord, who had saved me from the horrible pit of everlasting destruction. I now felt as a little child in my Father's kingdom, and that it would be my delight to do His righteous will. To Elder McQueary I said, "I am humble enough and willing to be anything or nothing, just as God will."
The ensuing Thursday night, as we were all silently occupied with our class work, Dr. Bland (a student) came in with an old man, and to my glad surprise Elder McQueary stood before me! It had been years since I had seen him – and, O, what years they had been to me! He was on his way to a church some miles from the city, and had sought me out. The next morning we found the business place of Brother Howell, and in the evening we rode out home with him to attend the meetings on Saturday and Sunday. As Elder McQueary had not received my letter, I told him of my happy faith in Jesus, and he rejoiced with me.
This was the first time I had been in the country since spring had adorned nature in beauty and loveliness, and when I walked out the next morning at sunrise it seemed that I was in a bright, new world of charming beauty and praise, and my spirit was in a transport of delight and love. Under the preaching that day and the next my faith in the Lord Jesus was made to abound, and my heart was full of comfort, for it was the first time I had ever known the joyful sound of the gospel, the glad tidings of salvation.
But the dear old Elder cast a shadow over the sunlight of my soul by saying to a company of Baptists at Brother Howell's: "I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, yet mark my words, the next time you hear of our young friend David he will be preaching the gospel."
When I returned to the college on Monday and tried to resume my studies it soon became evident to me that my mind and heart and interests were no longer there; that "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." In vain I tried to keep up with my class as before, for I could not. The Bible had now become my text-book and the word of God was my meat and drink. So, after a few days' trial and failure, I gave it up and returned home to Illinois. My controlling desire now was to go home to my friends and tell them what great things the Lord had done for me, and how He had had compassion on me when I was ready to perish. But on account of the overflowed Wabash river we could not go until late in May, when I and my wife and little daughter Mary arrived at the home of my sister Sophia, near the dear old home of our departed parents and the church that they loved so well, which our father served as minister many, many years.
Elder McQueary came to see us soon; and he arranged to take me with him in his carriage to the Fayette church the first Saturday in June to attend the ordination of four ministers – brethren Wright, Millspaugh, Carter and Conner. At that wonderful meeting I again met the eminent Elders Wilson Thompson, Benjamin Jones and others, my father's companions in the gospel, whom I had known in my boyhood. The meeting was large and was held in a pleasant grove or woodland. One after another the young preachers were called to go upon the platform and relate their religious experience, ministerial call, and views of the doctrine of the gospel. In doing so Brother Millspaugh (long since called to his blessed reward), who was the third speaker, said that he had been much perplexed about faith, as in some sense a condition, or having saving merit; and, notwithstanding the brethren had labored to get him to see it more clearly, as the gift of God and a fruit of the Spirit, and as embracing Christ as our only righteousness and salvation, in whom faith found all its merit and glory; yet, so dull was his mind and hard his heart, he had told them that, unless it pleased the Lord to open it to his understanding, eh could not see it as they did. When he said this I at once felt that he had expressed the state of my own mind relative to the mysterious union between Christ and the church – about which Elder McQueary had talked much to me since we had been together. I not only had no understanding of it, but no special interest in it; but now my mind was so impressed with the earnest desire to understand this sacred union that I could not think of anything else and my heart was burdened with the unspoken prayer that the Lord might show it to me. While the last of the four, Brother Harvey Wright, talked to us, it was given me to see this blessed union between the heavenly Bridegroom and His bride – Jesus the Holy Head and the church His redeemed and sanctified body. My spirit now rejoiced in this enrapturing covenant-union, which had its rise in the everlasting love of God, and the dear Redeemer was more precious to me than ever.
The large Council of Elders and Deacons soon withdrew some distance, leaving a large congregation at the stand. My soul was so filled with the precious name of Jesus and my heart so burned with love to Him that I wondered why some one was not left at the stand to talk to us of Him; and it was with difficulty that I resisted the strong impression to go upon the stand and talk to them of the preciousness and glory of the beloved Son of God as our Savior; but as I was not a member of the church and a youthful stranger I thought it would not do to yield, and fearing to trust myself there, I walked away and sat down on a log, my heart feeling as if it would almost burst with its pent up emotions. Presently a still voice in my soul said: "Go, preach Jesus and His righteousness." This word was with such power that I could no longer remain silent, so I arose and went up a little valley, behind a hill, where I praised the Lord aloud, and the green trees and blue skies seemed to help me praise Him.
At sunrise the next morning I walked down to the river (Whitewater) at Brother Millspaugh's, and stood in sweet awe beholding the beauties and wonders of nature, when the words of Paul came into my soul with power: "Unto me who am lest than the least of all saints is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."