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10.) Thus, though a son of earth, a creature of unclean lips, the vilest of the vile, I was permitted to enjoy such intercourse with my Maker, to experience such a sense of the divine love, and to feel so full an assurance of the covenant mercies of Jehovah, that I would not have exchanged my humble state for all the united glories of the present world; no, not even could they have been secured to me through all eternity.
“And now, my good Sir,” proceeded the venerable man, “I began to discover that all nature was filled with emblems and symbols of holy things, and that characters of heavenly import were graven on every creature around me; insomuch that when I had studied awhile the sacred Scriptures, and the language of types and shadows there so frequently used, my eye scarcely met a beautiful object below in which I could not recognize the pattern of something which I trust to enjoy above. In the balmy breezes which blew over the orchards and flowery pasture grounds in the mornings of springtide, I seemed to feel the influences of the Holy Spirit, while in the voice of the ring-dove I seemed to hear its sacred whisperings. The beautiful light of day, as well as the shadows of the night, involved also a mystical meaning; in the one I saw the emblem of death, not of that death which acknowledges no morning, but rather of that state of safety for the saints, in which the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest; while in the purple light of dawning day I beheld the renovated hopes of the just, and anticipated the glories of the first resurrection. In the course of the sun through the heavens, I saw an illustrious type of the heavenly Bridegroom; while in the waxing and waning moon I beheld that of the Church, whose splendours are ever changing with her ever-varying faith. I beheld, too, a beautiful emblem of the Trinity in the celestial bow, as it shed its mild lustre over the dark woods, through some gently falling shower. Neither did I think myself presumptuous in thus applying it, since we are told in Holy Writ, when the father of mankind had descended from the ark after the destruction of the old world by water, that the Lord established a covenant with him, and gave him the rainbow as a token of that covenant. Comparing this passage with another in Revelations, I found in the rainbow, the type of Christ, the angel of the new covenant. So far the eye of my mind was, I thought, plainly directed by Scripture to discover in the heavenly bow a figure of the second Person in the Blessed Trinity. It next occurred to me, that it might perhaps be possible to discover in the same beautiful natural object, the emblems of the first and third Persons. I pondered on this a long time; till somewhere reading that the rainbow is the effect of the rays of light falling in a certain direction upon the descending drops of rain, I recollected that there were passages without end in Scripture wherein the graces and influences of the Holy Spirit are compared to gentle showers and distilling dews, which water the earth, and soften the parched ground, as the influences of the Spirit soften the hard heart of man; and at the same time remembering the words of St. John, God is light, I was satisfied that I had discovered the probable meaning of this threefold emblem, and almost wondered how it could have escaped me so long.
6 Thus,” said Henry Hart, “have many of the latter days of my pilgrimage on earth been blessed ; so that I seem to have been travelling a long time through the land of Beulah. I do not however build any merit on these happy frames, though I would fain lead my fellow-pilgrims to seek happiness in the same way, seeing that there is no presumption in seeking after this divine communion, because the Lord repeatedly invites his people to partake of it, as in John, (xiv. 18, 23, 26.)—I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.—Jesus answered and said, If a man love me he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.-But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said unto you. But to leave these subjects, on which I could expatiate for ever with delight.
" I lost my beloved minister nearly ten years after I first became acquainted with him. He died of some lingering disease, which many say was brought upon him by hard study. This however I never believed; but ra. ther thought, that being ripe for glory, the Lord in mercy removed him from this present evil world to that happier world after which he had so long and so ardently aspired. I had by his advice some time before renewed my intercourse with my brother's family, in which I found pious and affectionate friends, until they removed out of the country to a more promising situation. And thus I was left alone in the world, as to any earthly connexions; yet not alone with respect to my God, with whom I had long been enabled to hold such communion as I have now, in my simple manner, endeavoured to describe.
“At length, the sense of my happiness became such, that I felt I could keep it no longer to myself. It seemed quite to overcome my natural disposition, which was that of great reserve. I looked about for some to whom I might impart my joy, but was several times checked by persons who appeared unable to comprehend the nature of it, and who treated me as one that from a solitary life had acquired certain wild and romantic notions, which amounted to little less than absolute derangement. Finding that such was in general the opinion of my neighbours respecting me, I withdrew again into my former retirement, in which I continued to live till the Sundayschool seemed to open to me a mode in which I might evidence my love for Him who had so long formed my happiness.
About the same time,” continued the old man, “finding myself getting infirm, I took a good old woman into my family, who has proved to me a quiet and inoffensive help-meet, though I never could by any means succeed in opening her eyes upon the subject of religion; for while she quietly assents to all I say, as far as I can perceive she still remains in ignorance. This was long a source of peculiar trouble to me; but I have now committed her to the Lord, and trust that he will carry on his own blessed work upon her without my interference.
“And now,good Sir, I am come to the end of my history, having shown you all that the Lord has done for me; the mighty sum of which I have not power to calculate, neither shall I through all eternity be able justly to con:
ceive the height, the breadth, and depth, of that redeeming love, from which I derive my richest consolations."
Here the lady of the manor having finished the history of Henry Hart, called her young people to prayer; after which they withdrew for the evening.
A Prayer for a lively Communion with God.
"O ALMIGHTY FATHER, who in thine infinite mercy hast permitted thy redeemed ones to hold communion with thee in prayer, in meditation, and by a participation of all those blessings which thou hast promised to those that are in covenant with thee, pour down upon us, we beseech thee, those inestimable gifts of thy Holy Spirit, by which alone we can be enabled rightly to appreciate this glorious privilege, as well as to receive benefit and consolation from all our approaches to thy throne, and our contemplation of divine things. O Almighty Father, we are assured that thy saints have found such delight in these exercises as no earthly enjoyment is capable of imparting: nevertheless, we feel a backwardness to all communion with thee, which we cannot too deeply lament, nor too humbly acknowledge; since we feel a painful conviction that this reluctance arises from the depravity of our nature, and from that evil heart of unbelief in us which is ever prone to wander from God. We have hitherto considered prayer as a task, and almost every written work of man has been more acceptable to us than thy holy word, even when convinced that no real happiness is reasonably to be expected but that which proceeds from a heart truly devoted to thee. We gladly admit any excuse by which we may absent ourselves from thy service; our thoughts are far from thee; we even associate gloomy ideas with the worship of the Creator of heaven and earth; and seek to divert ourselves with any trifle, rather than be occupied with the wonders of redeeming love. Yea, in what a total state of estrangement from thee have we hitherto lived! How alive are we to our worldly concerns! how dead and lifeless in all spiritual matters!
Though thou art ever near to us, we are generally far from thee. Our hearts are hard, our affections cold; and thus does our disinclination to divine things form á wall of separation between thee and us, even after we have had some experience of thy regenerating power and sanctifying grace. We beseech thee, 0 heavenly Father, have mercy upon us; cast us not away from thy presence; leave us not to ourselves, and to the power of our sins; but compel us to come unto thee, and rather deprive us of all earthly consolations than permit us to rest exclusively in them : for what should we be profited, were we to gain the whole world, and be separated for ever from thee? Whom have we in heaven, o our God, but thee? and there is none on earth we should desire but thee. All that is excellent in thy saints, is but the faint and polluted image of thy glory. And all which is beautiful on earth, is but the imperfect emblem of that which thou hast prepared for thy redeemed ones in the world to come. Instruct us to look through all temporal things to those which are eternal. The heavens declare thy glory, O Lord, and the earth is full of the works of thy hand! Permit them not to exist in vain with regard to us: but enable us to discern in all these surrounding objects the evidence of things not seen; that, with the patriarchs and prophets of old, we may live by faith in the promises of God, and finally be numbered with those who through the exercise of that mighty grace subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions; and of whom the world was not worthy. And now, O blessed Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, though creatures of unclean lips, we earnestly supplicate thy mercy, in humble assurance that thou wilt hearken to our imperfect prayers, for the sake of him who condescended to visit us in our low estate, that he might raise us from the ruins of our fall, and finally present us before the throne of his grace without spot or blemish, being clothed in his own righteousness, and washed from our sin in his own blood, and thus rendered meet for that perfect communion with himself which will form the highest enjoyment of the saints through a blissful eternity.
"Now to God the Father,” &c.