The Love Letters of Samuel and Lily Brengle

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Samuel and Lily Brengle

The love story of Samuel Brengle and Lily Swift is one of the most charming among the many beautiful unions of the Army. Brengle, a theological student, first saw Miss Swift as she addressed a church meeting on the subject of holiness. He had already sought and found the blessing of holiness. Here, he felt, was the other half of his soul, the one who could strengthen him in his work for God. There was no one with whom she had such understanding spiritual fellowship, and he helped her in her own experience, showing her the privilege of friendship with God which is above that of servitude.

At first she hesitated to accept his proposal, but at last she accepted the fact that this was God’s great gift to her. After a simple Salvation Army wedding, he went to the International Training Home in London and began a career which after a few corps appointments was spent away from her in his travels as a spiritual special. When Mrs. Brengle’s increasingly frail health and delicate children made it impossible for her to travel with her husband, their letters over 28 years were the force which bound them together.

Mrs. Brengle’s experience is a shining example of the mighty power a wife may exert in great concerns by the weapon of prayer. Brengle wrote, “Nothing surprised me more than the marvelous way Lily used to sense the condition and needs of the people among whom I worked, but whom she had never seen – people at the ends of the earth. And her prayers and messages in her letters helped me and heartened me more than did those who were assisting me right on the spot.”

February 7, 1907
Your letters are like sunshine and cool air and living water and fragrant flowers to me, my darling. They are always so full of faith and hope and love and consequent good cheer that I laugh and cry and shout over them and pass sweet plums from them among my friends. (SB)

February 11, 1907
O, I love you, dearest Lily. You are a tower of strength to me, my darling. You are sane and strong and true and full of faith and patient and always pressing on after God and you cheer me and quicken me and provoke me to love and good works. (SB)

22 April 1907
…I love you! Does that sound old and trite and stale? Well, it isn’t. It is as fresh as the dew and sunshine and the north wind, you precious one of mine. I love and love and love you. (SB)

May 2, 1907
Was it not 20 years ago today that the Lord said to you, “Have faith in God”? I didn’t know how happy and blessed I was that day and I am not sure that I know now, though I know much more now than I did then. I guess it will take all eternity for me to discover how good God was to give me you, you precious one, you love-wifey, you darling of my heart and mate of my soul and human joy and peace and comfort and courage of my life. Words fail to express all that I feel in my heart toward you and all that I only dimly realize you to be to me. How poor I should have been without you, my darling, my darling. (SB)

…I got very hungry for you after supper, and I came off upstairs here to the sewing room, and found you in Jesus. There’s a philosophy in that. I know you are abiding in him and I just turn to him and realize his presence. It isn’t hard to find him, because he abides with me. Then it seems as if you were holding one of his blessed hands, and I the other, like two children by their mother’s knee, and we are both resting in his love looking to him, and letting the knowledge of his love sink into our hearts. I know that you are in him, and he is in my heart. So it is logical and sensible to find you in him. Bless God! (LB)

May 6, 1907
…I don’t think of your coming – or being away. When I do I feel like the little boy whose mother sent him to bed till he was willing to put on his scratchy flannels. “I shan’t ever get up anymore,” he said, mournfully. “I shall have to stay here just as long as I live.” That is the way your absences look to me. I can only hope for you to break your leg, or something cheerful like that. It’s well that you leave me such satisfying children. I love you, if I can’t have you. I love, and love you and shall keep on loving you, if you don’t have any vacations. (LB)

September 11, 1907
…I read today in the last chapter of Ephesians about the armor of God. Everything spiritual is mentioned in it but love and at first I wondered. But love is the life, and the armor is to guard the life. There’s a lot in that chapter about loving and reverencing one’s husband, but I don’t need to have Paul tell me to do that. I love you and reverence you because I can’t help it. But when I read such things I thank God over and over for the best husband in the world and one whom it is easy to regard as the Bible commands. (LB)

September 29, 1907
…You have been true to your marriage vow never to hinder me, but to help me always in my work. You are my comfort and joy next to the lord himself in all my labors and journeyings to and fro. Bless you, my darling. I love and love you with all my heart. You are “a good wife from the lord,” my love-wifey, my darling, my treasure…. (SB)

January 24, 1908
I love you devotedly. I could miss you dreadfully, but I am not going to. I shall find you daily, and hourly in that trysting place of blood-bought spirits, the mercy seat… (LB)

February 24, 1908
…I am the richest man in the world, only I am so far from my riches. It is awful to have the Atlantic rolling between us all the time. I long for home and you, my darling, these days, as never before. I hope I am not getting lazy, but I want to get you and George and Elizabeth and live with you in some cozy little home, far from the madding crowd, among trees and birds and flowers and books. (SB)

May 18, 1910
Twenty three years ago tomorrow you became mine, you precious, sweet little wifey of mine! I guess you were mine before, only we didn’t know it, so blind and in the dark are we mortals. How glad I am that God sent you to Boston.

And how I love you, my darling! There is the same freshness and sweetness in my love for you today that there was in those days so far away, but added to the freshness and sweetness is a maturity, a ripeness, of nearly a quarter of a century. So today is better and richer than that day. Then there are the darling children. Oh, we are multi-billionaires, or trillionaires. And all these years we have been enjoying and proving the love and faithfulness of God and not one of his words has failed. All have proved true. Bless his holy name! (SB)


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