Gerald B. Winrod, who was Editor of an American magazine, The Defender, related a remarkable story about an atheist who had been very bold, blatant and outspoken against God and the Bible. He had defied God by saying, `If there is a God, my grave will be infested with snakes.' At the funersal it was necessary to remove a snake from the grave before the coffin could be lowered, the sexton saying that he had killed four big snakes at one time, yet never saw a snake at any other grave.
Mr. Winrod's informant said he would ask a gentleman in Ohio to give him more details, and in due course he received a further word, together with a picture of the bronze monument of the atheist, Chester Beddell, who had died in 1908 at the age of 82. The letter said, `Mr. Beddell said while living there was no God, and he never did believe in one. He did not hesitate to speak of these things. . . . He built the monument years before his death. His statue is of bronze, and in his uplifted right hand there is a scroll with this inscription, "Universal Mental Liberty". Under his left foot is a scroll representing the Bible, with the inscription, "Superstition". Before his death he made this remark: "If there is a God, or any truth in the Bible, let my body be infested with snakes". Since his burial the family lot has been full of snake holes around the
curbing. Snakes can be seen any day you visit the graveyard. Last year twenty of us went out on the 30th October, and saw three snakes. The neighbors there say the more they kill, the thicker they seem to be.'
Later the opportunity came to Mr. Winrod to make an observation of his own. While engaged in a Conference in Youngstown, he was taken by car to North Benton. He asked an old man if he could tell him where the Beddell grave was. 'Sure, everybody around here knows where Chet Beddell was buried,' said the old-timer. 'You can't miss it—big monument in the graveyard. Looking for snakes?' Later, another man said, 'Well, if Beddell did ask for snakes, he sure got 'em.'
He and his companions came to the place in question where they saw the monument, the uplifted scroll, the other scroll under his foot, the stern bronze countenance. They approached the grave, camera in hand. Was it a hoax, or was it true? One of his companions was the first to see a snake. 'Look there,' he shouted. Yes! there it was. They walked round the grave and counted six snakes. His companion killed one. He photographed one. They also took other photographs. The sexton told them that he killed four that morning-he had killed as many as twenty snakes in a single day. Finally he said, 'I don't know, maybe the Lord did have something to do with it.'
It is a remarkable story, and only one of the many others that could be related of the danger of putting God out of the life.—E. Matheson in Gathered Gems (Ps. 14. 1; 53. 1)