478 History of Wake Forest College
Another student of the time who wrote of Dr. Wingate's preaching
and influence was Professor L. R. Mills.”18 Coming as a mere lad to
Wake Forest College on January 19, 1857, Mills went to the house of
Professor W. T. Walters, where he found "a peculiar looking man,"
with head, neck, hair and shoulders of unusual appearance, who in the
short time he remained after Mills's arrival impressed him with his
gentleness as well as his physical peculiarities. This was President
Wingate. Mills was not long in learning of the influence of his
preaching on the students. He tells of it in these words:
On occupying my room I noticed that on the ceiling over my bed in letters two
feet long was written the word "Forever." The same word in smaller letters was
written on the side walls of the room, on the books left by the former occupant of
the room, on the walls of the hall-ways. Turn my eyes in any and every direction
and there stood out in bold relief the same work, "Forever." I walked over the
building, and everywhere on the side walls, over the door lintels, and on the doors,
in large, bold characters was the same word, "Forever." I found that the word
"forever" was written in all the students' rooms just as in mine. "Forever," "Forever"
was everywhere. It haunted me day and night. In my dreams it stood over me. I tried
to think out a solution of the mystery. At last I asked one of the old students what it
meant, and why it was written everywhere. He told me that in the preceding fall
term Dr. Wingate preached one of his great sermons and dwelt on the idea
contained in the word "Forever" until he so impressed the students that they wrote it
everywhere. They spoke of the sermon with bated breath and awe. Perhaps no
sermon that he ever preached made as deep and lasting impression as that one did
on the entire body of students.
It must not be inferred, however, that Wingate in his preaching
stormed the citadel of his hearers' hearts and took it by force. He
spoke in gentle and almost conversational tones and being tender
himself presented a tender and compassionate Saviour, and yet with
what one of his hearers called "the majestic march of his thought."
Another has said: "He had analysis, vocabulary,
18 North Carolina Baptist Historical Papers, III, 161 ff. "My Recollections of Dr.
W. M. Wingate."