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[373] met him at the door. He was a stranger to me. As I took his hand he said, ‘My name is Polk,’ and could say no more. Perceiving that some great trouble was in his mind, I led him to a chair; he was still silent, as if he feared to try to speak lest he should not control his feelings. Supposing he had gotten into trouble with the authorities of the institution, I asked him to trust me as a friend, and freely tell me all his burden; then he could contain himself no longer, but with a burst of feeling and intense expression of a mind convinced of sin, and literally and earnestly begging to be told what he must do for salvation. I will not take space to relate the particulars of that part of the conversation. I was amazed at the depth and power of his convictions and anxieties, and his readiness for whatever might be required of him as a servant of Christ.

Picked up a tract.

The hand of God was manifestly there. He had conversed with nobody. There was no one there but his minister who could have comprehended his state of mind. I asked him how it came. ‘I picked up a tract in my room; who put it there I do not know.’ I asked, ‘What tract?’ He gave the title; it was the tract sent at a venture the previous Saturday. Then he said the discourses on the Evidences of Christianity had made a certain measure of impression on his mind, which had been in a degree skeptical. That having heard I had caused a number of copies of Dr. Olenthus Gregory's letters on the Evidences, Doctrines and Duties to be brought to West Point and deposited with the quartermaster, he obtained a copy. That book had strengthened his impressions, but he was not aware to what extent the truth had taken hold of him till he read that tract; then he gave up, and the next thing was that visit to us. I have never conversed with one thus seeking the way of life in whom the feeling of His need of light and grace, the sense of all spiritual necessity was deeper, or in whom the single anxiety to get to Christ and be His, and have the hope of His salvation, was more thoroughly absorbing. His docility and humbleness of spirit in receiving instruction, his literal thirst after it, were very striking.

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