LOGAN BRENGLE had not gone far with his studies in the arts of speech
before rewards, one by one, began to fall into his lap. By the time he
completed his freshman year at Indiana Asbury University, he could look
back with pride upon a long list of achievements on the platform.
his public speaking he attracted attention to himself, became popular
and widely-known among the undergraduates. He was voted into the
university's chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which
counted among its members then, no less than now, many distinguished and
yet-to-be distinguished men of affairs.
winning so consistently in inter-class oratorical contests that there
was scarcely a chance for any other student to take a prize, Brengle
represented his university with honor and success in various state
competitions, being pitted against some of the ablest men of the
Midwest. Oratory being what it then was, this activity brought him into
the limelight much as is the case with college gridiron stars in the
what vocation oratory might eventually lead him, he had not seriously
thought. He had settled that public speaking was the vehicle of his
destiny. The vehicle was the thing; the road down which it was to travel
and the terminus it would reach were but incidental. As he approached
twenty-one, however, he began to look at possible vocational roads. How
had observed that most of the great prizes of life -- political prizes,
prizes of statecraft – came to lawyers. He had noted that in the
places where the names of the mighty were carved there seldom appeared
the name of a businessman, no matter how successful he might be. The
majority of the molders of public opinion and makers of nations whose
names were given high place in national esteem had come up through
politics, no few beginning as lawyers.
Brengle's intimates in the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity were men who
in the course of years were destined to write their names large in world
affairs. One of these chums
was a Japanese student named Sutemi Chinda. Quiet, mysterious, holding
behind his almond-shaped eyes more wisdom than he spoke, the man from
the Orient captured from the first the interest and friendship of the
man from the prairie. Brengle engineered Chinda's acceptance into the
fraternity, taught him to play chess, introduced him to the ins and outs
of college politics.
friend and fraternity brother was a nervous, ambitious youth, Albert
Jeremiah Beveridge, but whom his fellow "Dekes" hailed as
"Bev." Popular and friendly with all, there was none with whom
he was more fraternal than Brengle. They had a great deal in common.
Both had become widely-known; both were almost inordinately ambitious;
both were looking forward to political careers.
Beveridge first came to the university, eyes sparkling with aspirations,
and saying, "I would be willing to go to hell if I could make a
reputation as great as that of Napoleon," Brengle
"spiked" him for the fraternity, recognizing in Beveridge a
nature affined to his own. On many afternoons, these two could be seen
in the fraternity hall, Brengle, the senior in age and class, drilling
Beveridge in oratory, telling him his voice had wonderful possibilities
once a certain harshness and lack of refinement of tone was overcome,
correcting his gestures, making him put force and unction behind his
of thought and feeling on all subjects was a hallmark of their
companionship. One day, in discussing religion, Brengle told how he had
gone to the mourners' bench five times, and had experienced nothing; and
how one night, when coming across the lonely prairie, a Witness at
length had spoken to him, giving him evidence which, though perhaps it
would not be allowed in courts, had satisfied all questionings in his
soul, and forever silenced the "prosecuting attorney" within.
That was language that embryonic lawyers could understand, and the
result of this talk was that one night, at a revival meeting being held
near the university, Brengle led Beveridge to the altar, and later to
classes, these two strolled the campus together, talking of oratory,
politics, their law ambitions. Perhaps, they confided, when both were
graduated they would together practice law, together seek the prizes of
statecraft, remain pals with one goal. Now and then, however, Brengle
would shake the foundations of these air castles by telling Beveridge of
the peculiar leanings and drawings toward the ministry which he felt at
times. Somehow, he would say, he could not get away from the haunting
thought of his father having been called to preach, but having drawn
back; of his parents having dedicated him to the ministry when he was
only a babe; of the fact that whenever now he heard a preacher
expounding the Word, it rang in his ears with almost irresistible
days passed. Brengle was in his last term at DePauw. To this point in
life, the idea of preaching had followed him, flitting across every
horizon, intruding itself in his dreams, sounding like a distant echo in
his vision. Then, in the
fall of 1882, the Call stepped out of its obscurity, blocked his path,
demanded a decision.
happened in Providence, Rhode Island, where Delta Kappa Epsilon was
having its annual convention. An important matter -- one involving the
very life of the DePauw chapter – had to be brought before the
convention, and Brengle, as the chosen delegate from his university, had
come half way across the country to attend. In order to solicit the
support of other chapters, he had spent considerable time on the way,
stopping off to visit many of the leading colleges between Greencastle
was met at his destination by the delegates from a chapter particularly
opposed to his, who informed him flatly, "We will fight you to the
death." Going to his room in the Narragansett Hotel, Brengle felt
the weight of his mission. Never before, he told himself, had he
undertaken a task so responsible. His own destiny, the destiny of his
fraternity chapter, the very honor of his university, depended, he felt,
upon his being able to carry the convention.
burdened and scarcely able to collect his thoughts for the attempt he
had to make to save his chapter, he went out into the street, walked
awhile, and then came back to his room where, exasperated by this
inexplicable depression, he threw himself upon his knees and besought
God to help him win. He seemed, however, to gain nothing by the
exercise; his soul was lonely, and within all was dark as night. He
rose, went out on the street again, returned, knelt again, prayed again.
Still the loneliness, the depression, the darkness.
a third time he went out on the street, returned, prayed. While praying
this time, the thought of preaching was suddenly presented to his mind.
Considering the idea irrelevant, he sought impatiently to shake it off
-- but without success. A tremendous inner battle occupied the following
minutes, but when at length he exclaimed aloud, "O Lord, if Thou
wilt help me to win this case, I will preach!", the whole room
seemed instantly to flame with light.
next day, his soul bathed in a peculiarly comforting feeling, he went to
the convention hall, delivered his speech from the floor, offered his
motion, and to his intense surprise the very men who had sworn they
would fight him "to the death" rose to support the motion that
meant reinstatement and recognition for his chapter. His victory was
sweeping and entire. Furthermore, after the session many crowded about
him to say that if the convention had not already been organized, that
speech would have ensured his being elected its president.
at the university, he told Beveridge of his experience, winding up with:
"So you see, Bev old boy, I've got to preach!" Beveridge,
notwithstanding the evident force of his friend's conviction, did not
prove tractable. For an hour he argued, reminded Brengle of their dreams
and ambitions, created new visions of fascinating brilliance, and said
again and again, "Sam, you'll be a fool to go into the
the die was cast. God had kept His part of the contract made in the
too, would keep his.
his life's work now clear before him, almost feverishly Brengle devoted
his time to preparation for the ministry. The careful studying and
teaching of his Sunday school lessons during the past four years had
helped him. With others of the students, he established a noonday prayer
meeting; some of the professors came in to take part; and a tangible and
satisfying result was that a revival -- later to be appraised as one of
the greatest ever to shake the university -- was born and flourished for
began now to take preaching engagements, spending no little time
preparing his sermons. These he wrote out in full and committed to
memory, as he did his orations. Preaching once in the university church,
and several times in various other places, he soon attracted attention.
day arrived, and Brengle was duly presented with the sheepskin stating
he was a Bachelor of Arts. Packing his trunk, putting his written-out
sermons in his Bible, and shaking hands with the faculty and the
students, he bade farewell to the university.
accompanied him to the train, paced the station platform with him while
they talked over their respective ambitions, and as the train was
pulling out, shouted, "I'd give a fortune if I could be as sure of
being in the United States Senate as I am that you will be a
bishop!" Beveridge did
go on to serve in the U.S. Senate and toy with the idea of running for
President of the United States. Brengle
went on to become one of the founders of the Salvation Army in America.
later years, to whatever city in America Brengle might go to conduct a
campaign, he met with former college chums, fraternity brothers,
seminary classmates. The mere mention of DePauw University as his Alma
Mater, and the theological school of Boston University as his place of
study for the ministry, was sure to bring out college men from his own
and all other schools to see him, hear him, and offer to him the hand of
fellowship. It had become, in fact, a matter occasioning surprise to him
to meet with so many who claimed to have known him at Greencastle, among
the "Dekes," or at Boston.
DePauw University, of course, Brengle was always well received. He never
quite got over his wonder at the way his name became written across
DePauw's sky. Going to his diary in 1909, he expressed his surprise that
"In a nice letter from Dr. Gobin, vice-president of DePauw, I am
told the university is proud of me as a Salvationist. Why, when I joined
The Army I thought they would almost want to blot my name off the Alumni
his surprise reached even greater heights when, on June 10, 1914, DePauw
called him to her chapel to receive the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
Again, upon hearing that at a reunion of the class of 1883, which
numbered many who had attained eminence in almost every field, it had
the consensus that "Sam Brengle is the greatest success of our
class," he had only smiled his incredulity. But when he was
apprised of the fact that on one Founders and Benefactors Day at DePauw
a renowned speaker had stated to ringing applause that "the two
alumni of DePauw who are most outstanding in what they have accomplished
for the world's good are Count Chinda (Psi Phi '81), and Commissioner
Brengle (Psi Phi '83)--he refused to believe that anyone "could
make such a mistake."
* * * * * *
Of A Prophet
Clarence W. Hall
by The Salvation Army Supply and Purchasing Dept.
Book Copyright, 1933, by The Salvation Army Inc.