Louis went to the University of Gottingen with barely enough money for his journey and his college dues, and a gold coin; our parents could give him nothing more. The college called “Georgia Augusta," having been founded by George August—Elector of Hanover and King of England—received him, poor in purse, but rich in gifts of intellect and a firm determination to improve his time. Sound in body and mind he went there, and sound in body and mind he returned. His old acquaintances and former school companions wished to win him to join their amusements, but a dissolute student life was repulsive to him. He would not pass the time his parents had given him there in beer drinking, and his love and reverence for our dear mother would not allow him to listen to an obscene jest or song; and if any student persisted in this, either they must leave the room or he would. Once he threw six students, who persisted in this offense, one after another out of the room, and so quickly was it done that it seemed as if they ran into his hands. ...
"Louis, who had gone to the university with no fixed belief, and found nothing there to foster one, lapsed into infidelity, even doubting the existence of God."
Our parents could not allow him but $200 yearly for all his expenses while at Gottingen, and at that time the rents were double what they were during my sojourn there; but he managed to live without debt, for as debt was something he did not and would not incur, so he brought his expenses within his means, saving in every possible way. While others ate dinner he went walking, and none suspected that he was stinted. He tried for a time to live upon bread and apples, and when nature rebelled he added cheap, very cheap fare, and remained healthy.
At that time there were 1700 students in Gottingen. Louis excelled in study, but the professors taught nothing that could give peace.... The miserable doctrine of rationalism was taking the place of God's Word, and Louis, who had gone to the university with no fixed belief, and found nothing there to foster one, lapsed into infidelity, even doubting the existence of God. ...
“My son, I have gone through much in my life, and you are but an undisciplined and inexperienced boy, although God has endowed you with great gifts. But this I have learned, and in it have steadfast belief, that the Bible is God's Word; that much therein stands which is over and above that rationalism which cannot lessen truth. Let not rationalism become master of the Scriptures."
Thinking thus, he came home on a holiday, and declared to father he could never be a minister of the gospel, because he did not believe in God, nor in the Bible, nor in the divinity of Christ. Father had a gentle, kindly way of speaking, but when his feelings were mightily stirred his large gray eyes would flash, and his deep bass voice made us tremble. He drew himself to his great height and spoke: “My son, I have gone through much in my life, and you are but an undisciplined and inexperienced boy, although God has endowed you with great gifts. But this I have learned, and in it have steadfast belief, that the Bible is God's Word; that much therein stands which is over and above that rationalism which cannot lessen truth. Let not rationalism become master of the Scriptures. I have counted much upon you, have denied myself that you might become a minister of the gospel, and will you give up this glorious service for an error?”
"He had made science his god, and, having no Saviour, he had no rest in his soul."
Louis had imbibed much of his rationalism from books, and now resolved that the whole domain of man's knowledge upon the subject should be his so far as possible. He had made science his god, and, having no Saviour, he had no rest in his soul. Wonderful now were the researches he made. Latin was to him as his mother-tongue, and he could put into Greek what was spoken to him in Hebrew. He learned Italian that he might read Dante in the original, Spanish that he might read Cervantes, understanding the modern Greek that he might compare it with the ancient Greek, Sanskrit that he might read the early books of East India. English and French he knew. He studied botany, and the whole region was traversed by him, and the botanical gardens was his loved place of sojourn. With eager zeal he studied astronomy, and was as much at home with the stars as upon earth. With special interest he gave himself to the study of the old German, and the Nibelungenlied filled him with enthusiasm. Theology, philosophy, philology, natural science, nothing remained foreign to him, but his heart remained empty.
"He realized for the first time that Christ alone can give peace to the soul."
The three years' study in Gottingen was nearly over, when one evening in his little room he read from chapter xvii. of John, "And this is life eternal; that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." These words overpowered him, as the words “The just shall live by faith” had overpowered Luther. He realized for the first time that Christ alone can give peace to the soul.