THE GIFT OF READING
A remarkable providence of God's love for me. After I received the blessing of God, I had a great desire to read the Bible. I am the only child of my mother that had not learning. And now, having the charge of my brother and his six children to see to, and my husband, and taking in sewing for a living, I saw no way that I could now get learning without my brother would give me one hour's lesson at night after supper or before he went to bed. His time was taken up as well as mine. So I spoke to him about it. He said he would give me one or two lessons, I being so desirous to learn. [BA 58-64; WR 33-361 [He was a tolerable scholar, so that he was able to teach his own children at home, without sending them to school. For a time, he fulfilled the offices of seven men in the Methodist church. And when he ceased from this, he worked hard and earned his bread by the sweat of his brow.] [WR 36 primary] And my brother so tired when he would come home that he had not power so to do, and it would grieve me. Then I would pray to God to give me power over my feelings that I might not think hard of my brother. Then I would be comforted.
So I went to get my brother to write my letters and to read them. So he was awriting a letter in answer to one he had just read. I told him what to put in. Then I asked him to read. He did. I said, "Thee has put in more than I told thee." This he done several times. I then said, "I don't want thee to word my letter. I only want thee to write it." Then he said, "Sister, thee is the hardest one I ever wrote for!" These words, together with the manner that he had wrote my letter, pierced my soul like a sword. [As there was nothing I could do for him or his children that I thought was too hard for me to do for their comfort, I felt hurt, when he refused me these little things. And at this time,] I could not keep from crying. And these words were spoken in my heart, "Be faithful, and the time shall come when you can write." These words were spoken in my heart as though a tender father spoke them. My tears were gone in a moment.
One day I was sitting finishing a dress in haste and in prayer. This word was spoken in my mind, "Who learned the first man on earth?" "Why, God." "He is unchangeable, and if He learned the first man to read, He can learn you." I laid down my dress, picked up my Bible, ran upstairs, opened it, and kneeled down with it pressed to my breast, prayed earnestly to Almighty God if it was consisting to His holy will, to learn me to read His holy word. And when I looked on the word, I began to read. And when I found I was reading, I was frightened-then I could not read one word. I closed my eyes again in prayer and then d my eyes, began to read. So I done, until I read the chapter. I =down. "Samuel, I can read the Bible." "Woman, you are agoing crazy!" "Praise the God of heaven and of earth, I can read His holy word!" Down i sat and read through. And it was in James So Samuel praised the Lord with me. When my brother came to dinner I told him, "I can read the Bible! I have read a whole chapter!" "One thee has heard the children read, till thee has got it by heart." What a wound that was to me, to think he would make so light of a gift of God! But I did not speak. Samuel reproved him and told him all about it. He sat down very sorrowful. I then told him, "I had a promise, the day thee wrote my letter to sister Diges, that if I was faithful I would see the day when I can write." I repeated this conditional promise to him at the time and said then "I will write thee a letter." He said, he had no doubt of it. This soon after took place.] So I tried, took my Bible daily and praying and read until I could read anywhere. The first chapter that I read I never could know it after that day. I only knowed it was in James, but what chapter I never can tell.
Oh how thankful I feel for this unspeakable gift of Almighty God to me! Oh may I make a good use of it all the days of my life!
From the Collections of the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts