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THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX




REV. FELIX POWELL



THE TRANSFORMATION
OF FELIX



BY

REV. FELIX POWELL



PORTLAND, MAINE
1915



COPYRIGHT BY

FELIX POWELL

I 9 I 5






DEDICATION

" I "0 my wife and children ; to the mem-
bers and worshippers of the Peoples'
Methodist Episcopal Church in South
Portland; to the preachers of the Maine
Conference, and to all my friends who
constantly prayed and helped me in my
life struggle, making it possible for me to
reach my present standing in the work
of Jesus Christ, is this little book lov-
ingly dedicated.



C ONTENTS



DEDICATION ^

PREFACE 9

INTRODUCTION 11

CHAPTER I

FELIX AND HIS PARENTS 17

CHAPTER H
FELIX AND THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER . . 29

CHAPTER HI
FELIX SOLD AS A SLAVE 39

CHAPTER IV
FELIX'S RETURN HOME .... 51

CHAPTER V
FELIX AND HIS VISION 61

CHAPTER VI
FELIX IGNORING HIS MAKER .... 75

CHAPTER VII
FELIX FINDING HIS LOST CHRIST ... 85

CHAPTER VIII
FELIX AND THE EXPANSION OF A SOUL . . 99

CHAPTER IX
FELIX'S CALL TO THE MINISTRY . . . .111

CHAPTER X

FELIX TACKLING HIS JOB 123

CHAPTER XI
FELIX AND HIS HELPERS 135

CHAPTER XII
FELIX AND THE FULFILMENT OF THE PROMISE 145



THE PREFACE

'T^HIS little book purports to give a rev-
^ elation of the Author's inner life.
The method is rather singular and unique.
The object for so doing is to appeal to the
reader from another angle than most bio-
graphies do, thus making it doubly inter-
esting.

The reason for closing each chapter
with an application is that all these ad-
dresses were delivered during a series
of revival meetings held at the Peoples'
Methodist Episcopal Church, South
Portland, Maine, in the year 1914.

There is no attempt at literary style or
form of expression, but there is much of
heart-throbbing experience and a kaleido-
scopic presentation of life to compensate
for it.

It is with heart-felt thanks that the
Author acknowledges the wise counsels

9



THE PREFACE

and timely suggestions received from Rev-
erends Raymond H. Huse, James M, Pot-
ter and last but not least, Gay Charles
White, A.M., S.T.B. As a scholar, inde-
fatigable toiler and Christian gentleman,
Mr. White has very few equals. Many of
his invaluable hours were spent in helping
the Author in putting these pages into
readable shape.

REV. FELIX POWELL

South Portland, Maine
October 6, 1915



10



INTRODUCTION

\ 1 /iTHOUT Europe, what were America?
^^ We who were born here, if we
have only provincial minds and notions,
clannish tastes and associations, may
speak slightingly of our neighbors of
foreign birth, but in so doing we only
betray how ignorantly and selfishly we
would bring the brink of the waters near
to our own doors. Little folk try to build
big protections about themselves. This
country was discovered not for itself but
for the world — not the New World, not the
Old World, but both worlds. If rational
therefore, the nation will make "itself lord
and master of everything contingent" and
constituent. Without Greece what were
Rome? If no one had ever come here of
those who had been born elsewhere, every
babe would yet be a papoose, and the
men would paint and wear feathers yet,
instead of the women.

We are what we are because we are,
Egyptian and Assyrian, Grecian and



11



INTRODUCTION

Roman, German and Russian, French
and English. "We all came over." But
we are only a microcosm of the colossal
world we should be. Just as when the
silver is dissolved in nitric acid, the solu-
tion becomes one of silver-nitrate, so
when the rest of the world is dissolved
in this Continent the solution becomes
World-American — after that there is no
room here for either the silver or the acid;
it is the nitrate we are after.

Now, this chemical solution is the
Christian solution; the only solidarity
of countries and races is in the Christian
Church, it is not I say, merely a mechani-
cal solution but a chemical one. The
mere physical mixture is not enough,
it must be a spiritual one. If races only
mingle, caste is the product; if they mix,
the product is the family, father, mother,
brother, sister. To this end the nations
must be regenerated. When the Italian
or the Frenchman sets about making
Americans by making them Christians,
he is contributing to the normal world-



12



INTRODUCTION

process of making us all one, even as the
Father and the Son are one.

Felix Powell, a product of the process,
is giving us in his book an example and
trying to induce his clansmen and kins-
men out of every kindred and tongue and
people and nation to follow his example.
His experience will interest every reader
whose longings are respected and whose
motives are sincere. He has moved multi-
tudes profoundly with the story of his
life, and he has simply substituted for
his voice, the printed page. His labora-
tory is a good one, if in the use of a foreign
language, he may occasionally misplace
a vessel or two.

Let me introduce him please, to the
American who welcomes into his fellow-
ship his brothers gathered out of the lands
from the East, and from the West and
from the North and from the South.

BISHOP JOHN W. HAMILTON
October 6, 1915



13



FELIX AND HIS PARENTS



THE TRANSFORMATION
OF FELIX

CHAPTER I
FELIX AND HIS PARENTS

HENRY WARD Beecher once said, "I am
thankful for a hundred things but above all
else for two things, first, for parents that gave
me a sound constitution and a noble example.
I never can repay what I got from them. If
I were to raise a monument of gold as high as
the heavens it would be no expression of the
debt of gratitude which I owe to them for that
which they unceasingly gave me by heritage
of body and by heritage of soul. Secondly,
I am thankful that I was brought up in cir-
cumstances where I never became acquainted
with wickedness."

As I read this beautiful tribute which long
since fell from the lips of America's peerless
preacher, I thought how clearly it expressed
the experience of Felix's life which we are to
relate in this address to-night.

Two souls, diametrically opposite in general
characteristics, met one day. The man was
short, chubby, well framed, strong physically,
never had a sickness, ache or personal infirmity,
had no vocation in life other than that of being a

17



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

common laborer. Because school privileges
had been denied him, he could neither read nor
write. However, he was as clean a man morally
as any in the community.

The young lady was slender, of normal height,
not very beautiful, but gracious and amiable.
She was as sweet as a rose, as fragrant as a lily,
fresh as the morning dew, gentle as a dove and
pure as an angel. These two coming together
in a pasture, where sheep fed by the side of still
water, fell in love with each other at first sight.

Having gone through the form of proposal,
according to custom, and having passed three
years of an ideal courtship, they were united
in holy matrimony by the law of the land and
the law of God. Happy they were. Home they
had none.

The young husband being a member of a
large family, found no room for them in his
father's house. The bride coming from a home
where ten others were numbered among her
brothers and sisters thought it impossible to
seek for shelter in their midst.

A farmer, who needed help, asked Felix's
parents if they would not be willing to make
their home with him. The proposal was
accepted, and without any contract or under-
standing for wages or the length of time they
were to stay, they began their married life
here. Both of them were sent into the field

18



FELIX AND HIS PARENTS

to till the soil from early dawn to the dusk of
the evening.

To this young couple, in course of time, is
given the privilege of becoming parents. I
say privilege, for such it is. For who is more
highly honored than that young couple receiving
their first and best gift, the care and nursing of
a Heaven-sent child?

Little children are God's greatest gift to men
because it is through them that we get the
first conception of what Heaven really is. The
Christ did say, "Of such is the kingdom of
Heaven." Greatest gift I say, because they
are most potent in accomplishing what priest,
preacher, governor, president, or king fails to do.
No power in this world can keep an alienated
couple together until a child is born to them,
and behold what a transformation in a few
weeks' or months' time. A man may defy the
power demanding his service in time of war
and succeed in staying away, but you touch
the man's child and he will fight to the death.

To this young couple, then, God gives the
trust of children. There is joy in the home so
that all the friends and relatives are invited
and a feast is celebrated. My friends, listen to
me when I say that if a little bit of this spirit
could be introduced into some of our American
families to-day, it would do us all good and our
on-coming generation would be different in

19



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

raising larger families. What a great oppor-
tunity this country has in giving to the world
the noblest and highest race that Heaven has
ever canopied!

Felix says that he had the best bringing up
that any boy could wish, even if it was mingled
with a few drops of superstition. On the day
of his arrival the mother sends for the priest,
and the time for his baptism is appointed.

On that day the parents with the child,
accompanied by two others known as sponsors,
enter the church. A sponsor, in the Roman
Catholic Church, is a person who at the baptism
of the infant, professes the Christian faith in its
name and guarantees its religious education.
In the tongue of Felix's country they are known
as comparo and commare, which translated
into the English, means, godfather and god-
mother. From the hour of its baptism, the
child is under the watchful care of its parents
and these sponsors and the priest of the parish.
How different this seems to be in the Protestant
Church! We seem to embue our children with
a spirit of independence and freedom from
matter of choice and we had better let them
grow up: when they come to the age of under-
standing let them cast their own lot with the
church of their preference. When we take
into consideration that in other matters we do
not allow them to act according to their lean-

20



FELIX AND HIS PARENTS

ing, the inconsistency of this attitude is evident
to any unprejudiced mind. I do not say that
the placing of children within the church's care
will make them Christians, but I do say that
we have a greater chance in leading them
toward becoming such.

A most excellent book, called "The Soul of
a Child" written by Rev. Raymond H. Huse,
may be obtained from the Methodist Book
Concern, and a close perusal of this volume
will be of inestimable worth to Christian workers
and parents.

Listen to Felix's story and learn. He said
that as soon as he was old enough to under-
stand anything he found himself in the hands
of the priest, learning what was essential for
him to know at that time. There was no excuse
for being absent. If this happened, something
else would happen also. That is, Felix says,
that at one time he failed to put in an appear-
ance at the hour appointed and failing to furnish
a good excuse he was commanded to kneel,
not on a velvet floor, nor a bare one, but on a
handful of walnut shells, and at the end of
ten minutes was told to rise only to see blood
oozing from his bare little knees. You cry out,
"That is cruel; that is inhuman." Perhaps so,
but Felix has this to say about it, he learned
a lesson then which he has never been able to
forget, namely, that the Roman Catholic

21



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

Church speaks with authority, which element
is greatly lacking among us, much to our loss.
This priest made doubly sure that before Felix
was left alone he knew the principal teaching
of his church.

Another part is done by the mother. Felix
says that as soon as he got home from the church
his mother would question him upon what he
had there learned, and more than once was made
to repeat the same until he was perfectly sure
of his knowledge.

How refreshing it is to read such a passage
as the following from Ruskin's tribute to his
mother, "Though I have picked up elements of
little further knowledge in mathematics, in
meteorology and Latin, and owe not a little to
the teaching of others, this maternal instil-
lation of Scripture into my mind I count very
confidently the most essential of all my educa-
tion." The great Webster said in substance:
If I have been of any use to the world and met
with any degree of success it is due to the Scrip-
ture which I learned at my mother's knee.

Felix says that he shall never forget as the
evening hour approached how his mother would
take him to his httle bed of straw, and kneeling
beside him would commend him to the Father
of us all, and to this day he can see that tear-
stained countenance looking God-ward invoking
His Heavenly protection.

22



FELIX AND HIS PARENTS

I think it is Lamartine who tells that at one
time he saw a branch torn from the trunk of
a willow tree, floating down on the surges of
the mighty river Saona. On it a female night-
ingale covered her nest as it drifted down the
flowing stream and the male on the wing fol-
lowed the wreck, which was carrying the object
of his love.

Ha! friends, though Felix is many thousand
miles away from his mother, yet her love
follows him on to the end of time. My people,
especially you precious mothers, have you done,
and are you doing, your uttermost for your
jewels?

A mother was sweeping one day, using her
little Bessie's broom. The child seeing it
became very indignant and demanded the
surrendering of her property. The mother
said, "Bessie, go out into the yard for a little
while and play like a good little girl!" But
the child insisted on having her broom before
she went out, for she claimed that her prop-
erty was being worn. By this time her mother
became irritated, and ordered the child out or
she would punish her. The child refusing to
go out unless her broom was first given lo her,
was taken by the mother upstairs and after
having given her a good whipping she left her
alone. Dinner time came, the father returned
and asked for Bessie. The mother in the

23



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

midst of her toil had forgotten about her child.
Together they went to her room only to find
the child tossing on her little bed and mutter-
ing certain peculiar sounds mingled with a few
words which her mother recognized to be
"Please, mamma, please don't use my broom."
Then she would pause a minute and again
murmur, "It's mine, mother; it's mine, don't
you use it, please." The best medical skill
was sought, money was not spared to obtain
the best, but it was of no use. The child was
going fast. Just before she passed away she
stretched forth her tiny hands and said "Mam-
ma, good-bye, you may take the little broom
now, you may keep it forever, and please,
mamma, forgive Bessie for being a naughty
girl." And away she passed into the hands
of her Saviour who said, "Suffer little children
to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of
such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

Listen, that mother was never herself after
that. But if you will pardon me for coming
home to ourselves I will say that there are
scores and scores of mothers in my presence
to-night who are just as cruel as this lady, be-
cause you are denying your children what really
belongs to them. Your prayers, your reading
to them from God's Book, your reading from
good wholesome hterature, your leading them
to the church on Sunday, your remaining with

24



FELIX AND HIS PARENTS

them in the Sunday School, your setting a
fine Christian example before them in uniting
with the church of Jesus Christ, your teaching
them day after day that it is right, just and
their everlasting duty to place themselves
within the bounds and influence of the mightiest
force for righteousness in the world to-day,
namely, the Church of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ. These and all these you are
denying your children and some day, if you do
not rise to-night and resolve to live for God,
you will reap what you are sowing with large
interest.



25



FELIX AND THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER



CHAPTER II

FELIX AND THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER

A GENTLEMAN entered a railway carriage
in Liverpool to go far north in Scotland,
and there sat beside him a pale, weak and worn
young mother and she had upon the bend of
her arm a strong but restless baby. Surely, he
thought, "This mother is not able to carry this
child all these hundreds of miles." After a little
he put the question to her, "Are you going far?"
"Yes, I am." "Are you going to carry that
child all the way?" "Yes, I am." "Will you
not get tired? You look tired now." "I am not
well, and I am tired, and I do feel that it is a long
way to go;" and the tears stole down her cheek,
"I do not mind; for my father will meet me
there."

Felix, whose story is told in these pages, has
many loads to carry, many sins to weep over,
many long weary days of struggle in the battles
of hfe; has met, and perhaps will continue to
meet, many disappointments and perhaps with
but little strength to bear them; however, he
is cheered with the thought that soon the fight
will be over, and he will meet both his Heavenly
and his earthly father.

Pathetic indeed is the story which he, in his

29



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

rather broken English, tells. His father had
now a large family to support. There were ten
in the home who looked to him for a living.
His daily wages on the farm averaged eighteen
cents per day. Therefore, he must seek for
other kinds of work which would bring larger
remuneration. In the northern part of Felix's
country a railroad was being built and it was
there that the father went in search for work.
For three months or more he made thirty-five
cents per day, and after having subtracted his
daily existence from it the remainder was sent to
his wife. One day the boy Felix gathered his
sheep from the pasture (for he was now a
shepherd) and returned home. Entering his
one-roomed house he was confronted with sad
faces, evidently experiencing profound grief.
To him this was all mystery. Nor did anyone
tell him what it all meant. All he can remember
now is that there came a neighbor lady, placing
her motherly hands upon his shoulders and
asked him if he would not go with her and
spend the night with her children. Without
asking any questions Felix acquiesced. After
the supper was served, a few games were
played and bedtime called him to rest. But
Felix could not go to sleep very well; those
sad faces and tearful eyes, the deep groanings
and loud crying, kept coming up before him
and his eyelids refused to fold together.

30



FELIX AND THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER

When morning arrived, breakfast eaten,
Felix had to start for his home again in order
to gather his sheep from the neighbor's sheep-
fold and lead them out by the mountain side
for the day. For he was even at this tender
age getting four cents a day, and thus helping
his parents to support the large family. When
he reached home he found his eldest brother
crying bitterly and to him Felix appealed for an
explanation as to what all this meant. At first
he was refused, but within a few moments Felix
was taken by the hand and led to the corner of
the single-roomed house and there was shown
the cold form of him whom he loved more
than anyone else on earth, excepting his
precious mother. For a moment he seemed
to have lost his senses and could hardly breathe,
but being taken away from his dead father's side
he began to weep, and to this day he cannot
think about the tragedy without shedding hot
tears. And why? Because when Felix lost his
father, he lost something from his life that
nothing in this world has ever been found
to take its place. Further, Felix says that all
the members of the family grew up, and each
able to earn a fair wage, they were enabled to
provide a piece of land with a pretty little home
for their dear mother, and almost every com-
fort for her, and the rest of the family was well
looked after and yet the sense of an absent

31



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

father, who was never to return, took away all
the joy that should abide in an ideal home.

When Felix told me this, I said to myself,
here is a fine chance for me to preach a sermon
on "The Lost Father." Nothing could take the
place of the father in Felix's life. Games of all
sorts were given to him, a little money placed
in his hand, amusements were provided; and
since he has grown up, his career has changed,
education has been his aim, to serve Jesus
Christ has been his supreme passion, a beau-
tiful family has been entrusted to his care, a
degree of success has rewarded his feeble efforts,
many kind words have been spoken in com-
mendation upon his earnest toil, and yet there
is a vacant place in Felix's life. Father was
taken away from him when he was but a
child.

This poor dying world is much in need of a
Father, not so much of an earthly, but the
Heavenly Father. Man is never and can never
really be satisfied until that Father has come
to make His abode in the heart. The highest
good in one's life is the supremacy of Jesus
Christ in the soul. For this is the world cry-
ing. God help me to bring to them the Bread
of Life!

In the days of Nero there was a great short-
age of food in Rome, although there was a
great abundance in Alexandria. A certain man,

32



FELIX AND THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER

who owned a vessel, went down to the sea-
coast, and there he noticed many hungry
people, watching for the vessels that were to
come from Egypt. When these vessels came to
the shore there was nothing but sand in them
which Nero had compelled them to bring for
use in the arena. The merchant said to the
shipmaster, "Take thou heed that thou bring
nothing with thee from Alexandria but wheat
and corn, for these people are dying, and now
we must keep our vessel for this one business of
bringing food for them." "Alas, alas" said
Spurgeon, who related the above, "I have seen
many mighty galleys of late loaded with the
sand of human philosophy and speculation and
have said: nay, I will bear nothing in my ship
but revealed truth of God and the mere Bread
of Life which people need so much."

My people, what each is crying for to-night
is the real Bread of Life. We will never be
fully satisfied until that Bread is partaken of. A
saint who had learned of this once cried out,
"I have no good beside Thee." St. Augustine
exclaims, "Lord, give me Thyself." "He has
all who has Him that has all," murmurs
another dying hero.

Break Thou the Bread of Life,

Dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves

Beside the sea:

33



THE TRANSFORMATION OF FELIX

Beyond the sacred page

I seek Thee, Lord:
My spirit pants for Thee,

living Word.

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord,

To me, to me.
As Thou didst bless the bread

By Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease,

All fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace.

My all-in-all.

A legend tells this of Empress Helena. At
one time she sought for the true cross of Jesus
Christ. In search her men found three crosses
of Calvary buried in the soil. Which one of
the three was the veritable cross of Christ they
could not tell except by certain tests, A dead
man was sought for and placed on the first
cross. But there was no life or motion in him.
Then he was placed on the second and there was
no stir in the dead man. Then they placed
him on the third cross and life was imparted
to his dead form.

This, of course, was the cross of Christ.
But they wanted to make doubly sure of it,
and so they brought a man who was rich in
things of this world but poor in the possession
of the things belonging to the spiritual world.
He was hungry for the real Bread of Life and was

34



FELIX AND THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER

told to pray to the first cross for pardon and
peace, but no answer came. Then he was told
to pray to the second and there was no pardon
found. Finally he prayed to the third, and lo
and behold, the burden of sin rolled away and
he went home rejoicing. This experience will
be yours and mine if we will but come just as
we are, for God is no respecter of persons.



35



FELIX SOLD AS A SLAVE



CHAPTER III

FELIX SOLD AS A SLAVE

A SLAVE, on hearing that an Englishman had
purchased him, gnashed his teeth, knit
his brows, and declared, with true pathos and


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