"During the Summer of 1862, I became acquainted with a Mr. A----, who professed infidelity, and who was, I think, as near an atheist as any I ever met. I held several conversations with him on the subject of religion, but could not seem to make any impression on his mind, and, when a point was pressed strongly, he would become angry.
"In the Fall, he was taken ill, and seemed to go into a rapid decline. I, with others, sought kindly and prayerfully to turn his mind to his need of a Saviour, but only met with rebuffs. As I saw that his end was drawing near, one day I pressed the importance of preparing to meet God, when he became angry and said I need not trouble myself any more about his soul, as there was no God, the Bible was a fable, and when we die that is the last of us, and was unwilling that I should pray with him. I left him, feeling very sad.
"Some four weeks after, on New Year's morning, I awoke with the impression that I should go and see Mr. A----, and I could not get rid of that impression; so, about nine o'clock, I went to see him, and, as I approached the house, I saw the two doctors, who had been holding a consultation, leaving. When I rang the bell, his sister-in-law opened the door for me, and exclaimed, 'Oh! I am so glad you have come; John is dying. The doctors say he cannot possibly live above two hours, and probably not one.' When I went up to his room, he sat bolstered up in a chair, and appeared to have fallen into a doze. I sat down, about five feet from him, and when, in about two minutes, he opened his eyes and saw me, he started up, with agony pictured on his face and in the tones of his voice, exclaimed, 'O! Mr. P----, I am not prepared to die; there is a God; the Bible is true! O, pray for me! pray God to spare me a few days, till I shall know I am saved.'
"These words were uttered with the intensest emotion, while his whole physical frame quivered through the intense agony of his soul. I replied in effect, that Jesus was a great Saviour, able and willing to save all who would come unto Him, even at the eleventh hour, as He did the thief on the cross.
"When I was about to pray with him, he again entreated me to pray especially that God would spare him a few days, till he might have the evidences of his salvation. In prayer, I seemed to have great assurance of his salvation, and asked God to give us the evidence of his salvation, by granting him a few days more in this world. Several others joined in praying God to spare him a few days, till he should give evidence of being saved.
"I called again in the evening; he seemed even stronger than in the morning, and his mind was seeking the truth. The next day, as I entered, his face expressed the fact that peace and joy had taken the place of fear and anxiety. He was spared some five days, giving very clear evidence that he had passed from death to life. His case was a great mystery to the doctors. They could not understand how he lived so long; but his friends, who had been praying for him, all believed it was in direct answer to prayer."