Revival in a Young Man's Life
Levi Young, 1863
Richard E. Taylor
Friday, June 5, 1863.
"This forenoon I was present at the funeral of Philip Spengler who died last Sunday in the hospital on the battle field. Rev. Mendsen preached on Isaiah 57:1-2. His age was 29 years 7 months 3 days. As I walked alone from the mourning house to the church, I felt very serious. I had thoughts that my dying hour was perhaps nigh for me."
Sunday, June 7, 1863.
"This morning I taught my Sunday School class in the Howertown S. School and was in church where Rev. C. Becker preached on John 14:23. In the afternoon we made the attempt to commence a Sunday School in the so called Snyder's School house. As there were books wanting we did not class the scholars but postponed it till next Sunday. I had a very serious time."
Whether feeling serious or having a serious time, Levi Young was a serious young man. He had been swept into the flow of revival and was experiencing something new and different as he began to respond to the hand of God in his life. During the year, 1863, he recorded his activities and many of his thoughts as revival ran through his life.
This paper will introduce you to Levi Young in three ways. You will hear about his background, his attachment to the Evangelical Mennonites, and his experience of revival.
1. The Background of Levi Young.
Levi was the first son of David and Barbara Jung, born to them on October 12, 1841. Jung was the German family name. Levi later adopted, as so many did, the anglicized version of his name. In 1850, the Jung family was living on a farm at an intersection called Jacksonville, in East Allen Township in Northampton County. The household was a large one, including father and mother Jung, and their five children, Levi, Susanna, Elizabeth, Samuel and Jonathan. They shared their residence with Peter Jung, Levi's grandfather who had been married to Susanna Hiestand who died in 1847. John Hiestand, the brother of Susanna, was also living with the Jungs. The family was joined by Mary Rohm and Charles Edelman who was a laborer helping on the farm.
The decade of the 1850's was a hard one for the Jung family. In November, 1851, the Jungs buried their son, Tilghman, who lived but five months. In May, 1855, Grandfather Peter breathed his last and was no more. Seven months later, eight year old Samuel was taken to the Settlement Cemetery to be claimed by the earth. In April, 1857, the Jung family left farm and friends behind and relocated.
New Year, 1863, found Levi once again at the farm. Now it was owned and operated by Stephen Trumbauer who lived there with his wife, daughter Laura and son John. He had allowed John Hiestand to continue to live on the farm until his death on April 3, 1863. Levi had returned to the farm to be a laborer for Mr. Trumbauer. Many of his days were taken up with the routines that come with the demands of farm life.
Levi had become a Christian or, as he might have said it, found Jesus precious to his soul. Levi never describes his conversion in his diary but he recorded the conversion experience of his friend from Saucon, John M. Yoder, who died shortly after his own conversion. In March, 1862, Levi was in attendance at protracted meetings at the home of Charles S. Gehman of Saucon, just east of Coopersburg. John said of Levi, "Levi Young spoke to father in going over to the meeting that noon he wished that I would get peace with my God for he had to say yet that he came so far or at least I gave him the start for I spoke to him about joining the church [and] he commenced then that gave him the start." Later Yoder said, "...I knew that my companions received peace and pardon of their sins through Jesus' blood and to join a church and be baptized, etc." (Young, page 55). These comments of John Yoder may indicate that it was in these meetings that Levi came to Jesus.
Levi's relationship with his parents had begun to deteriorate because of his new relationship with the Lord Jesus. Levi felt both grieved and frustrated because of his father's unbelief. In 1863, Levi would have occasion to visit with his parents who were now living near Center Valley. Levi remembered that on March 3 how the farm was sold, but he remembered even more how his father had respected him before he began to serve God (Young, page 14). On April 6, Levi had been encouraged to pray more earnestly for his father. A friend, John S., told him something which he had to promise to keep in confidence but which encouraged his praying for his father (Young, page 19). On a visit to his parents on May 16, Levi found that his father had been blinded in one eye. He also learned that this tragedy had not softened him one bit though Levi's hopes remained high (Young, page 23). Levi's mother cried when on November 3 he told of his intention to go to Canada (Young, page 41). Later in that month, Levi noted that he had been able to pray over a meal in a hotel but with frustration noted that "it is indeed singular that a hotel keeper gave me more liberty in this respect than my father who is a professor of religion" (Young, page 46).
Levi eventually had his own family. He married a woman named Susannah, two years his senior. According to the 1880 census records, they had four living children, Emma, Floyd, Palmer, and Mark. They settled in the village of Petersville. Levi came to be known as a preacher and was one of the number who kept alive the work at the Settlement Church in Allen Township. J. C. Wenger quotes John Baer Stoudt on the church, "In later years there were occasional services, among those preaching being Levi Young, Tilghman Seiple, C. J. Becker, Samuel Landis and J. Y. Schultz" (Wenger, page 230).
Levi's earthly journey ended in 1905. The Allentown Morning Call reported, "Levi Young, an old resident near this place, died on Monday morning and was buried on Thursday. Interment in Zion's Stone Church Cemetery. The following children survive: Palmer and Mark, of Allentown: Floyd, of Catasaqua, and Mrs. Rev. Frank Hartzel, of Lebanon."
Addendum - 2004
When I first published this diary, I was operating under information received from normally reliable sources that Levi Jung / Young had resided in the area described in this diary and had died in 1905. I have recently received a copy of his obituary which is copied below which indicates that he died in 1868. It was difficult to imagine that two Levi Jung’s lived in such proximity. It is clear at this time that the Levi Jung who penned this marvelous diary is the one who died in 1868.
Der Reformer and Pennsylvania Advertiser, Publisher John G. Stauffer Milford Square, Pa. August 20, 1868, No. 37
Am 14ten August, in Ober-Saucon, Lecha County, am Hause von John Yoder, an einer Gemüthskrankheit, Levi Jung (Prediger), Sohn von David und Barbara Jung, in einem Alter von 26 Jahren, 10 Monaten und 3 Tagen. Am Sonntag, den 16ten wurde sein entseelter Leichnam an dem Ober-Saucon Mennoniten Versammlungshaus unter einer sehr grossen Anzahl Leichenbegleiter dem Schoß der mütterlichen Erde übergeben, bei welcher Gelegenheit Jonas Y. Schultz und John Haldeman von Ohio predigten, Letzterer über die Worte Joh. 5, 25 – 28.
Abstract of Levi Young’s obituary
German Language Newspapers in Bucks County – Volume 2 (this is at the Spruance Library, Bucks County Historical Society, Doylestown, PA)
Deaths – German Language Newspapers in Bucks County
Der Reformer and Pennsylvania Advertiser
May 1868 – December 1868
Issue Died Age
8/20/1868 8/14/1868 26 years 10 months 3 days
Levi Jung, preacher, son of David and Barbara Jung. Died at the house of John Yoder of Upper Saucon, Lehigh Co. Died of severe depression. Interment at Upper Saucon Mennonite Meetinghouse. Officiated by Revs. Jonas Schultz and John Haldeman of Ohio.
II. Levi Young among the Evangelical Mennonites
New Year's Day, 1863, found Levi as a guest in the home of Jonas Musselman, one of the Evangelical Mennonite preachers. The names of other preachers of the Evangelical Mennonites are found often on the pages of his diary. He stayed at the homes of Musselman, William Gehman, William N. Shelly, Abel Strawn and others. He traveled with David Henning and ministered with Henry Diehl.
Of all of his contacts with the Evangelical Mennonites, none was so significant as that of Eusebius Hershey. Levi first met him on March 19, 1862, at the home of Charles S. Gehman in Upper Saucon, just outside of Coopersburg. Levi was mesmerized by Hershey. He not only remembered the date and place of their meeting, but he bought Hershey's book, Important Questions, in volume to give to people he met. Later,when Hershey asked him to join the mission, he would go with him to minister in Canada.
Eusebius Hershey had been smitten with the holy wanderlust of a revival preacher and was left a chronic peripatetic. Hershey came to the Evangelical Mennonites in June, 1861. His revivalist credentials were top drawer. He carried recommendations that crossed denominational boundaries. He was recommended by Brethren, Lutheran, Reformed, and Methodist alike. He found the Evangelical Mennonites to his liking and for the rest of his earthly ministry he had a home.
Hershey was a traveling preacher, an evangelist, commissioned to preach where he could find someone to listen. It mattered little whether it was church, school, rented hall or private home. The traveling preacher was ready to present the gospel whenever and wherever the opportunity arose. This was the day of protracted meetings when people gathered again and again and meetings went on and on. The word was preached and people were invited to come to Jesus.
It was just such an occasion which brought Hershey to the home of Charles S. Gehman. In March, 1862, Hershey had come to speak to people who wanted to hear what the traveling preacher would say. The 40 year old Hershey spoke to a gathering of young people in their late teens and early 20's. Among them were John M. Yoder and Levi Young.
There is no information at this time to tell what brought Charles Gehman and Hershey together. Gehman was a farmer living northeast of Coopersburg about 2 miles out on a road that led into the country. Gehman was married to Mary Gehman and together were parents of a daughter Rosa and a son Morris. Among Gehman's neighbors were John Yoder, the father of Levi's friend whose conversion story he recorded in his diary and Abel Strawn. Gehman appears to have no direct genealogical relationship to William Gehman, founder of the Evangelical Mennonites.
Charles Gehman spent time with the Evangelical Mennonites. The minutes of the Eleventh Semi-annual conference of the Evangelical Mennonites includes following item of business, "Acknowledged Charles Gehman, the ordained elder of the Upper Saucon congregation, as a conference member" (Verhandlungen, page 39.) This is the first reference to a work in the area of Coopersburg. This work predates the beginning of the current church which is said to have begun in the barn of Henry and John Musselman in 1869. The 1869 congregation put down its roots and constructed a meeting house on State Road beside the Saucon Creek. It is not possible to determine at this time what, if any, relationship exists between the 1864 congregation and 1869 congregation.
Charles Gehman was quickly given leadership responsibilities. At the first meeting Gehman attended, the constitution for a mission society was approved. Charles Gehman was elected the first president of the newly established Mission Society (Verhandlungen, page 40).
At the 12th Semi-annual conference in June, 1865, Gehman's name was not mentioned and since no roll was recorded, it is not possible to say whether he was present or not. At the 13th semi-annual conference, it was noted that Charles Gehman was absent (Verhandlungen, page 43). In June, 1866, Gehman is listed as a deacon and marked present among the men attending the conference (Verhandlungen, page 43). In November, 1866, Gehman is again missing and his absence noted (Verhandlungen, page 49).
At the conference held in the Flatlander Meeting House in Haycock on June 4, 1867, the news of the Saucon Congregation's withdrawal is noted. "Because the Saucon brothers and sisters withdrew themselves from the conference because of differing viewpoints, it was decided that we cross out their names from the Conference and Members Book and do not consider them members any more of our Conference" (Verhandlungen, page 51). What happened can only be a matter of speculation. At the previous meeting, in November, 1866, for which Gehman was absent, there is no hint of controversy. However, in the June, 1866, meeting, in which Gehman was present, the Confession of Faith for the Evangelical Mennonites was adopted. One can only speculate that the Saucon Congregation and Charles Gehman withdrew because of differences with this statement. Whether the withdrawal of the Saucon Congregation from the Evangelical Mennonites led to the formation of the 1869 congregation cannot be established because there is no way to compare membership rolls or lists to see if people appear in both. Charles Gehman died in 1884 and was buried at the Mennonite Church across the road from the Evangelical Mennonite meeting house.
Levi Young's association with Eusebius Hershey must have drawn him to seek contact with the Evangelical Mennonites. Denominational affiliation was certainly not a major issue for the revivalists in Levi's acquaintance. Levi notes attending the conference held at the Zionsville Church on June 2, 1863. Levi records his activities during the conference as follows:
Mon. - 1 This morning I left to go to Upper Milford to the Conference. I came to the house of Rev. Wm. Gehman at about 5 o'clock.
Tues. - 2 This forenoon Rev. Peffly of Lebanon Co. preached on 2 Tim. 4:2 which sermon I heard. At noon I was at the house of Rev. Jonas Musselman. In the afternoon the Conference commenced. Rev. E. Herschey Pres. D. Gehman Sec. At supper I was at the house of Widow Kaufman. In the evening I was in meeting where Rev. Henning preached on Math. 18:3. After meeting I went to the house of Rev. A. Kaufman.
Wed. - 3 This forenoon I was in the Con[ference] again which was closed at noon. Aft[er] dinner I was at the house of Rev. Gehman. In the afternoon I gave to Rev. Herschey 50 cents and Rev. Schultz and I went to the house of Jno. Backensto. In the evening I was in prayer meeting at the house of Widow Kaufman. After meeting I went to the house of Jonas Musselman.
Thurs. 4 - This morning I left the house of Rev. Jonas Musselman and went to Wm. Gehman's at 7 o'clock. Rev. Henning and I left for home. In Allentown we separated. I came home at 5 o'clock P. M. This afternoon as I walked from Allentown to Catasaqua I distributed tracts to several, tracts which I pray the Lord may bless to their souls (Young page 25).
Levi's activities tell us a little about what surrounded the conference meetings. Visits in homes, piles of hot food served with heaps of hospitality and lingering conversations are pictures that come quickly to mind.
Levi's presence at the conference was not noted in the minutes of June, 1863. Levi was there to listen to extended discussion about the work of the revival, sharing the gospel.
Then there was a long discussion with very earnest and warm feelings concerning traveling.
The Chairman [Eusebius Hershey] laid upon the hearts of every servant the urgent need at the present time for more traveling preachers, and that God would expect more from our small society since we have a reason to believe that souls are being lost, which other wise could be saved with the help of God and more willing itinerant preachers.
Brother Hershey gave a warm invitation to the brethren, suggesting if anyone present felt himself compelled by God's Spirit to do God's work as a traveling preacher (because it is not man's work) he should make himself known (Verhandlungen, page 32).
Levi probably leaned forward to listen so he would not miss a word when Hershey continued to talk about his experiences.
At the request of the Conference, Brother Hershey gave a short report about his mission work in Pennsylvania, New York State, Ohio and Canada since the last Conference. He was thanking God for the many blessings he had experienced and he expressed his appreciation toward the brethren and sisters for the many signs of love they have shown for him. Thereafter the Conference joined in praising God for such blessings. It was agreed that Brother Hershey, with God's help, should continue in this work (Verhandlungen, page 33).
Levi's contact with Evangelical Mennonite preachers and people continued through the next few months. When the conference was held on October 1, 1863, Levi was present. The meeting was filled with many of the ordinary tasks of organization. Some political issues came to the surface. The conference encouraged everyone to pay their taxes and went on record as supporting any attempts to end the practice of slavery. Hershey's assignment for the year was also approved. "Because Brother Hershey had received a call from Canada to serve there for at least one year as a missionary with the approval of the Canada Conference, permission was granted" (Verhandlungen, page 36). It wasn't a routine day or meeting for Levi. He records in his diary for Thursday, October 1,
This morning I went with Sam'l Landis to Flatland Meeting House where Rev. Herschey [preached] on 2 Cor. 2:11. It was a blessed time. At noon I was at the house of Jacob Basler. In the afternoon I attended the conference. I made a confession. In the evening I got supper at Chas. Frick's. In the evening we had the communion of the Lord's Supper after which Bro. Herschey spoke to me and urged me more or less to go to Canada the coming winter. He no doubt was inclined to do so through the influence of God's Spirit. May God in his wise providence give me grace to do however according to his will. I was during night at the house of Bro. Diehl (Young, page 38).
Levi's heart must have soared to receive such an invitation from a man he so obviously respected. The matter of his call to be inducted for service in the army needed to be settled. He hoped that somehow he would be unfit for service. However, his physical revealed that he was able. He paid his $300.00 fine, was excused, and the matter was settled. His plans to travel to Canada were made firm in his mind on November 6. On November 9, he stayed overnight at Charles Gehman's and departed the next morning on a train for Philadelphia from which he would leave for Buffalo and later Canada. He spent the rest of November and December with Hershey and Jonas Schultz preaching and ministering in Canada.
On June 7, 1864, Levi came with Hershey to the Zionsville Meeting House to the semi-annual conference being held there. The minutes tell of Hershey's report,
Brother Hershey gave a short but satisfying report about his six months of mission work in Canada, which included a report from Brother Levi Jung, who accompanied him. he reported about his income as well as his expenses. He also spoke about how God made their preaching effective, although he and his helper were only weak servants and that some souls were converted to God. Sometimes they had open air meetings where they proclaimed the word of the cross. Sometimes they had to endure abuse and insult, but to God be the glory. Brother Hershey intends in accord with his promise to go for six more months to do mission work in Canada, to proclaim the word of salvation and give out the Bread of Life (Verhandlungen, page 37).
Levi again returned the following November to the meeting house in Haycock Township where the Evangelical Mennonites met for their 11th meeting. It was at this meeting when Charles Gehman and the Saucon congregation was recognized. Levi was recognized as well.
At the desire of Levi Jung, who traveled with Brother Hershey for some time in Canada preaching the Gospel, he was asked by the Chairman to tell the assembly of his extraordinary calling by God to continue in this work. After examination of this matter and sympathetic discussion, consent was granted to have him ordained to be a servant of the Word of God (Verhandlungen, page 39).
The details of the extraordinary call are sadly lacking. It would certainly be interesting to know about this call. Unfortunately, Levi's later diaries have not yet been found and our desire to know the story goes unsatisfied at this time. It is clear that he pressed on in the work of preaching because of a sense of call based on the special experience mentioned here.
Levi's sojourn with the Evangelical Mennonites seemed to portend a fruitful and lasting relationship. But, unfortunately, it was not to be. Seven months after his recognition, the conference reined him in. On Wednesday, June 7, 1865, the conference dealt with Levi.
Whereas Brother Levi Jung in former times was among us as servant of the Word but now has withdrawn from our Conference, therefore
Resolved: That we wish him well physically and spiritually and advise him not to forget that the apostle says, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." We ask our brothers and sisters to treat him in a brotherly way if he desires to visit with us. We should not refuse if he desires to hold a meeting among us with the condition that our brethren too can participate in the worship service (Verhandlungen, page 42).
What happened to Levi Young? Were the Evangelical Mennonites too much for Levi Young or was Levi Young too much for the Evangelical Mennonites?
There's a temptation to put the story of Levi Young with the story of his friend Charles Gehman. This story can only be made by inference and as such may be pretty speculative. One of Levi's friends was another young man from the Quakertown area named Samuel Landis. Levi often corresponded with him and traveled to some meetings with him. Samuel Landis was a supporter and later caretaker of Jonas Schultz who for a time was closely connected to Levi. In fact, Levi's diary for 1863 was found among the papers of Jonas Schultz. In August of 1868, three years after Levi's censure by the Evangelical Mennonites, Jonas Schultz wrote concerning Levi Young,
After reading over the pages of this diary of 1863 I must bear testimony to my conviction of Levi's sincerity & humility of heart before God & man as far as these pages speak. Who can doubt but that he was sincerely interested in and earnestly desirous of the conversion of sinners? The Lord provided for his temporal wants, especially when drafted and when for conscience sake he could not enter the army and had to pay fine, $200 dollars were given to him... when he was deprived of other resources & means. J. Y. Schultz, Aug 1868 (Young, page 62).
Schultz wrote his commendation of Levi following his break with the Evangelical Mennonites. Their criticism of him seems to be limited and carefully measured in that contact with him was not denied. It may be that Levi offered criticisms that were not well received and were taken as expressions of pride. Were these criticisms shared by Charles Gehman and the Upper Saucon Congregation who at the following meeting were also removed? What was behind the breakdown of the relationship between the Evangelical Mennonites and Levi Young and the Saucon Congregation?
J. C. Wenger allows us to take up the story of Samuel Landis, Levi's friend from Quakertown. Wenger shares the story of the Godshall group, a splinter of the Franconia Conference which formed around a man named Charles Godshall. Wenger writes,
The first preacher for the new group of a few families was Samuel Landis of Quakertown. He first preached for the Evangelical Mennonites but, as the story is told, the Evangelical Mennonites displayed considerable emotionalism in their prayer meetings and on one occasion a stove was upset. William Gehman encouraged spiritual 'life' and 'fire.' But Landis reacted sharply to the disorder at some meetings and charged that this 'fire' had a questionable origin. He then forsook the Evangelical Mennonites and began to preach for the Godshall group....
The most distinguished minister claimed by the Godshall Group was Jonas Y. Schultz... [M]ost of his spiritual labors were carried on at Milford Square and Quakertown, in conjunction with the late Samuel Landis, and consisted principally of preaching in house gatherings. Thirty-four years of his life were spent in the home of Samuel Landis, at Quakertown...
If this line of conjecture is consistent with the events, then Levi withdrew from the Evangelical Mennonites because they were too enthusiastic in their worship and evangelism. These conjectures are offered because they may offer direction in our understanding of Levi Young but are offered with great hesitation because the connections need more corroboration.
Levi's journey with the Evangelical Mennonites continued for a short two years. During those years, he experienced a call to the ministry and probably developed his methodology for ministry. Did the Evangelical Mennonites lose or gain when Levi Young withdrew?
III. Levi Young's Experience in Revival.
Levi Young does not explain why he kept a diary. It seems clear that he wanted to record not simply his daily activities but also his thoughts and impressions that others might validate his experience with the Lord. His diary gives us a record of his thoughts about what was going on inside him, how his spiritual life was developing and what he was experiencing.
It is important remind ourselves that at 21 years of age Levi was a relatively young and immature man. The same might be said about him as a Christian. There are times when we might be tempted to chuckle at the good hearted sincerity of Levi as he makes contact with God. During his trip to Canada on December 10 he wrote, "I went upstairs and opened a Bible for consolation and opened Nahum 1:3 and then I prayed to the Lord and after that opened the Bible again and my finger pointed to a picture of Martha, Mary and Jesus but my finger was on Jesus. This was a great consolation to me" (Young, page 48). Using a randomly selected verse to find comfort or direction is not a rare occurrence among immature believers but being directed to a picture in the Bible may be rather less common.
Levi recorded some of the milestones of his spiritual journey. He tells of his Bible reading. On Sunday, March 29, he recorded, "This afternoon I also got done reading the Old Testament. I read it through from beginning to end. The New Tes[tament] I read through 3 times once before my conversion and twice after that. I intend by the grace of God to read more in God's word in future and less the work of uninspired men" (Young, page 16). On September 22 while substituting as a teacher, he prayed publicly for the first time in English (Young, page 36). On November 17, he began reading both the German and English New Testament with a determination to read both in the future (Young, page 44).
Concerning his approach to sinners, when a man died following one of the meetings in Canada, Levi said, "This occasion should and hope will always make me when speaking in public or private to sinners urge them to decision" Young, page 45).
Levi seems to have been a well liked man and presents the impression that he enjoyed peaceful relations with most people he met. There are two notable exceptions to this normally easy going pattern in the life of Levi. The first was Rev. A. Fuchs who had preached several times in the hearing of Levi. Fuchs preached at the funeral of his uncle John Hiestand. On Sunday, May 24, Levi told of his conflict. "After that I was in church where Rev. Fuchs preached on Acts 2:1-41. It was a sermon mixed up with truth and lies. On my way home I stopped Rev. Fuchs to converse with him about his sermon. Jos[eph] Weaver was present. He gave me no satisfaction. He seemed to be more or less in a passion. May the Lord have mercy on his soul" (Young, page 23). On June 21, Levi sat again for a sermon from Fuchs. He said on that occasion, "Then I was in church where Rev. A. Fuchs preached on Math 19:16. At the end of the sermon he called to by name about what I wrote him about his doctrine etc." (Young, page 26). On September 13, Levi crossed Fuchs' path again. "...Rev. Fuchs preached a miserable sermon on Luke 10:25. May the Lord enlighten him before it is eternally too late" (Young, page 34).
The second of Levi's rare encounters with trouble came while he was teaching. On Sunday, September 27, Levi describes the events,
Stephen Miller and John Heiney disbehaved in the School Room. Then I put them to shame and then with some others went out of the school room. After school they commenced to speak to me and I also spoke to them but they soon commenced to swear and I soon told them that in their present condition the[y] would soon go to hell. They said if it was not Sunday they would lick me. I was not the least afraid of them. I had the presence of my Savior. May the Lord open their blind eyes (Young, page 36).
Levi offers little insight into the formation of his doctrinal positions. Doctrinal discussions were not a high priority in such an evangelistically charged young disciple. From his controversy with Rev. Fuchs, we know that he was alert to what he thought was wrong and certainly willing to express himself about what he thought was wrong. On December 29, Levi spoke of a doctrinal conversation with a school teacher saying, "We also spoke with a school teacher who believes that man doth not receive reward or punishment till after judgment day and I had some temptations about this man's doctrine. May the Lord guide me into all truth by His Spirit" (Young, page 52).
There is much to say of Levi's experience of the spiritual life. Some aspects of Levi's descriptions of his experience are surprising in their absence. Levi says almost nothing of his own conversion. Levi was anniversary conscious. He remembered the date of his meeting with Eusebius Hershey. He remembered the date of the death of his grandfather and the date when the farm was sold. Yet, Levi makes no mention of either the date or the circumstances of his conversion. That such things were important to him can be seen in his taking the time to record the conversion experience of his friend John Yoder.
Levi expresses little in the way of personal repentance. For some, the experience of revival is a difficult time because of dealing with the effects of felt guilt. Levi speaks of expressions of repentance from those who listened to him but says nothing of himself. On one occasion, he speaks of his overeating. On Friday, March 27, he says, "Last night I felt very bad and vomit several times. The reason doubtless was I ate yesterday too freely wintergreen and drank maple [syrup] and also rather ate immoderately at the table. This morning I felt better again." The next day he reported, "I feel now again pretty well. I intend by the grace of God to live more moderate in eating as I am too well aware that I generally eat too much. May the Lord help me to overcome this passion" (Young, page 16). Perhaps Levi says little of his struggle with sin because his diary was intended to be read by others and it is difficult to repent when others might read about it.
Levi spoke of prayer. The revival that had been working its way around Eastern Pennsylvania was known to be connected with an emphasis on prayer. Levi attended many prayer meetings and told often of joining with others for prayer. For Levi, this was an almost weekly occurrence. His own prayer life is mentioned occasionally. On Sunday afternoon, February 15, he spent the afternoon in reading and prayer (Young, page 12). On November 2, He writes, "This evening in prayer before I went to bed I experienced much joy and felt the presence of my dear Jesus. To God be all the praise" (Young, page 41). Levi speaks of how God has answered his prayers when he says on November 6, "Thus I have since Tuesday received $13.60 in answer to prayer notwithstanding my fears" (Young, page 41).
Some activities were highly visible in Levi's experience. Levi's desire to share his faith and lead others to Jesus appears often. The pages of Levi's diary speak repeatedly of those to whom he spoke and of letters he wrote and tracts and books he distributed. On January 1, Levi made his first entry for the new year which included the following remarks, "From there I walked to Allentown and distributed some tracts on the way... May the Lord bless any labors in the conversion of souls. I will by the grace of God labor more earnestly for the salvation of souls this year than I did last year" On January 3 he noted, "In the evening I wrote a letter to Sarah Clemmer whom I lately saw in meeting weeping at H. Diehl." January 4 brought this comment, "May the Lord guide me by his Spirit and use me as an humble instrument in bringing some to Christ. Today I spoke to John T[rumbauer] about his salvation" (Young, page 7). On Saturday, January 10, Levi says, "In the evening I went to see Jacob Shelby who is sick and also distressed about his soul. I prayed with him and exhorted him by God's help and left again about 2 o'clock in Sun[day] morning." On Sunday the 11th, Levi writes, "In the afternoon I was at home and spoke to Laura T[rumbauer]. She was in tears and promised to give her heart to Christ. May God help her to keep her vow" (Young, page 8). These references are taken from the first few pages of his diary but they characterize the entire year.
Closely connected with his concern for the souls of those around him was Levi's practice of teaching in Sunday School. When the warm weather arrived, Levi could be found on Sunday morning in one of the Sunday Schools nearby. Howertown and Oxford were commonly his appointed teaching place. On March 19, Levi spoke of the new season. "I was this forenoon in Howertown in Sunday School which was the first for this spring. I got 4 children to teach. I feel this a responsible work to teach these young souls the way to heaven. May the Lord guide me and show me how to teach and give me zeal and more love to win immortal souls" (Young, page 20). On Sunday, June 7, he reports, "In the afternoon we made the attempt to commence a Sunday School in the so called Snyder's School house. As there were books wanting we did not class the scholars but postponed it till next Sunday. I had a very serious time. My intention is by the grace of God to lead young souls as well as teachers to Christ" (Young, page 25).
Levi's subjective concerns revealed a rather intense introspection. While he expressed little in personal repentance, Levi had a great agony over his mortality. On June 5, Levi attended the funeral of Philip Spengler who was a casualty of war. He comments, "As I walked alone from the mourning house to the church, I felt very serious. I had thoughts that my dying hour was perhaps nigh for me. God alone knows whether these thoughts may not be fulfilled. My intention is to serve the Lord faithfully to the end by the grace of God so that I can enter heaven and be forever at rest" (Young, page 25). In July, Levi received the news of the death of William H. Beaver, a neighbor of the Young family in Levi's younger days. He was a second lieutenant in the 153rd regiment of volunteers assigned to the 11th Corp at the battle of Gettysburg. Beaver paid the ultimate price during the opening moments of the battle. When the full story came to him, Levi felt the news deeply. He writes,
Thus another of my friends has gone to the land of spirits and left me here in the vale of tears. Whether he has gone to heaven God alone positively knows. It has been affecting to me during the few last days to think that Wm. Beaver is no more. This case reminds me of my own death which is perhaps nearer than I imagine. May God give grace to continue in His service till death calls me hence to the judgment seat of Christ that I may then receive an unfading crown in the mansions of heaven where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are forever at rest. Amen (Young, page 29).
Levi was quite sensitive to his spiritual "temperature." The probings inside his own heart were undertaken to find out the current climate of his spiritual feelings. In contemporary psychological terminology, Levi was in touch with his feelings. It was obviously very important that the right spiritual feelings be in place. Levi displayed the intensity of his feelings in his entry of September 10. "Today I sowed ten acres with timothy seed after the grain drill. I felt at times today very serious. It occurs frequently to my mind that my pilgrimage on earth is but a short one. Whatever this is God alone knows. It is not my prayer for length of days and riches and honor but only assistance from my Maker that I can faithfully serve Him till my dying hour" (Young, page 34).
Certainly, one of the most common feelings for Levi was that of being serious. Following the funeral of Philip Spengler, Levi speaks of his feelings when he says, "As I walked alone from the mourning house to the church, I felt very serious" (Young, page 25). After a time of visiting in Upper Milford, Levi tells us that he returned to the home of Owen S. Eisenhart. He writes, "Before we returned we sang and I read a few chapters in the New Testament and I prayed before and felt seriousness." On the next day, he says, "In the evening I was in prayer meeting and was called upon to open it. I read the 2nd chap[ter] of 2nd Timothy and made a few remarks and felt very serious while exhorting. I was greatly refreshed in prayer meeting this evening. To God be all the honor" (Young, page 31). On a Sunday night in Canada, Levi was the designated exhorter after a sermon by Eusebius Hershey. He said on that occasion, "In the afternoon Brother H[ershey] preached on 2 Tim[othy] 4:5 an interesting sermon and I closed by exhortation and prayer. I felt very serious and had God's assistance while speaking and to Him be all the glory" (Young, page 46).
Another feeling which Levi identified was happiness. He expressed that on November 4 when he wrote, "I went with Bro[ther] Diehl to meeting. Bro[ther] Shelly preached on John 3:36. I made also a few remarks. Sarah Hertzel felt deeply about her soul and wept and prayer to God for grace after meeting. I went home with Bro[ther] Shelly and slept with him during night. I felt very happy in the Lord during this evening" (Young, page 41). He describes a special prayer meeting on December 6 during his mission to Canada, "After dinner we were 12 in number all young in years who had a prayer meeting before the meeting in school house and had a very happy time and which I shall not soon forget" (Young, page 47).
Levi Young's diary offers the best available opportunity at this moment for members of the Bible Fellowship Church to look into the attitudes and activities that were characteristic when it began. Levi Young showed himself to be a warm hearted man who was devoted to the Lord Jesus and very earnest in his efforts to bring the gospel to the men and women who were part of his world.
Taylor, Richard E., editor. Verhandlungen (1859 - 1895). Translated by Frank Litty. Coopersburg, PA: The Historical Committee, 1989.
Wenger, John C. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. Telford, Pennsylvania, Franconia Mennonite Historical Society, 1937.
Young, Levi. Today I Felt Serious: The Diary of Levi Young, 1863. Richard E. Taylor, editor. The Historical Committee of the Bible Fellowship Church, 1996.