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SAM BRENGLE, Class of 1883

June 1, 1860 - May 19, 1936

SAMUEL 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.

 Through 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.

After 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 present day.

Into 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 about law?

He 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.

Among 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.

Another 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.

When 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 words.

Candor 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 church membership.

Between 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 appeal.

The 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.

It 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 and Providence.

He 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.

Heavily 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.

 Yet 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.

The 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.

Back 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 ministry!"

But the die was cast. God had kept His part of the contract made in the Providence hotel.

Brengle, too, would keep his.

With 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 months.

He 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.

Graduation 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.

Beveridge 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.

In 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.

At 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 Register!"

But 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

been 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."


* * * * * * *


Taken from:


Portrait Of A Prophet

By Clarence W. Hall

Published by The Salvation Army Supply and Purchasing Dept.

Chicago, IL.

Printed Book Copyright, 1933, by The Salvation Army Inc.



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