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The New Heavens and Earth.
It may not be encroaching too much on the reader's time, nor altogether unedifying, by prefacing these Discourses with a brief outline or sketch of my life, and the dealings of my Heavenly Father with me; by the order of whose Providence I was born on the 15th of October, in the year of our Lord, 1805, in the county of Dauphin, one mile from Hummelstown and about ten from Harrisburg, the Capital of Pennsylvania. The farm-house stands about three-fourths of a mile from the romantic stream called the "Swatara," the land bordering on the same, on which is a cave, its spacious entrance or expanded mouth within a few yards of the flowing stream, which has been visited by many of the surrounding country, and travellers from distant climes, as one of the curiosities of nature, but formed probably by the Almighty for higher and more useful purposes, to the bodies and souls of men, than to be viewed as a mere show, as in former times it sheltered nature's children, the untutored heathen, from the ruthless wintry blasts and pelting storms, and may yet answer a similar purpose. It contains several apartments of various magnitude, thirty feet or upwards in height; a purling rill glides along the side of one of them, with many other things worthy of note to the admirers of our gracious God and his works, such as icicles or fluted columns of congealed water, many feet in height, and as hard as rock; others somewhat in the shape of a human being, &c. &c. A description may be found in one of the modern Geographies, published some years since.
My parents belenged to the Lutheran denomination: of my mother I know but little, as she was called hence when I was but about six years old; but I hope she ended her course with joy, and was received to the right hand of the Majesty on High, through our beloved Saviour, to sing with
the Angels and all the redeemed of the Lord, the song of Moses and the Lamb, forever and ever.
My Father was beloved by his neighbors as an honest and upright man; his removal to another place of residence a few years before his death, caused a general grief among his nearest neighbors, although of different persuasions, some of whom said they would never again have such a true friend to reside among them. He was a lover of and adhered strictly to the truth; his word was his bond in all matters of importance.
He was at church whenever there was preaching, nor scarcely ever missed; and I am induced to believe, had great refreshings from the presence of the Lord at sacramental communions, which he attended regularly, and always seemed to be renewed in the inner man; which that divine instituted feast of the dying love of our blessed Lord and Saviour will so eminently impart, when partook of worthily, in a proper state of heart, mind and soul, according to the words of our dear Redeemer, and his Apostles. My Father loved to read the bible and meditate on the word of God, and delighted to converse with his friends on the same subject; which I frequently listened to for hours with edifition. He was, doubtless, divinely supported under great personal and family afflictions, when laboring under partial blindness, and during two separate operations, confined in a dark room, which resulted, although nearly blind, in tolerable perfection of sight, under Divine Providence, by some skill of the physician as a means. Probably, however, more in answer to fervent prayer, as he was a man of prayer; and our blessed Father says, "when thou art in trouble call upon me and I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me."
Yes, he was a man of prayer, that blessed grace of the true christian, which wafts the soul aloft to hold sweet communion with our Holy Father, and brings his blessings down upon our heads; renovates the old man ; changes the heart; casts out the devil and his filthiness, and brings in Christ, with the Father and Spirit, according to St. John, 14th chapter
and 23d verse; and thus we become the temple of the Holy Ghost. I speak of true, upright, spiritual and well-directed prayer; it will do all this. "God is a spirit, and they that worship, must worship him in spirit and in truth."
1 often heard my deceased father pray aloud, wrestle with God on his knees in his chamber; "when ye pray enter into your closets and shut the door, and pray to your Father which is in secret, and your Father which seeth in secret will reward you openly;" which was also visibly fulfilled. At meals he would always lift up his heart to the bountiful giver of every good and perfect gift. He did not use family worship according to method, but instructed his children in Godliness; taught the oldest to pray, and made it their duty when retiring to rest, to instruct those younger in the same exercise. He unfolded to us the plan of salvation by repentance to God, and through faith in a crucified Redeemer, and the consequent joys to be shared with the Holy Angels in the kingdom of heaven.
He would suffer no sin upon any of his children, that is, to live in a habit contrary to the word of God, but would reprove, and his words had to be obeyed; there was firmness of character about him, blended with mildness and affection. His children were regularly schooled, according to the custom of the place, although he himself had but one month's schooling; yet he could write, cast up accounts, keep his own books, and read well; which shows what may be ac complished by application, in lieu of idling away the time in dissipation and wickedness, which an all-wise and gracious God measures out for higher and nobler purposes. In due time his children were disciplined in Godliness, according to the rules of the church to which he belonged, instructed in her catechism and according to scripture, to deny the world, the flesh, and the devil; and live godly, sober, righteous and holy lives; and to believe in Jesus the only Saviour and Mediator, and Name given whereby sinners can become reconciled to God, and finally live with him in all joy, glory, felicity, and happiness, forever and ever.
I have been thus lengthy in memorialising on the character of my father, for a good and virtuous man's life will bear examining, and is worthy of record, for the imitation of his fellow creatures sojourning in this vale of tears. If his children are not saved through Christ, the blame will not attach to him, for he was certainly an enemy to the devil and all his works, and dared to make his sentiments known for the benefit of his family, and others also. He might have had faults, but they were few, not living in any confirmed sin, to my knowledge. And above all, I am persuaded in my mind that he triumphed in the last scene, through redeeming love; 1 was not present when his spirit took flight, but had visited him at intervals during his combat with the enemy of the souls of men, and therefore have every reason to believe that he attained the victory; that he even triumphed through Jesus Christ our Lord; for I heard him say that our Heavenly Father permitted Satan to throw his fiery darts at him, but that his hope was good and his confidence sure; he was much refieshed during his trial, by having the scripture promises and similar hymns read to him, and which aided also in repelling the devil's artillery levelled against him. To the attending physicians he said, that he was not afraid to die, for he had hope of a better life beyond the grave; probably meditating on the words of our blessed Saviour, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me though he were dead yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." The evening before the told my brother to open
day his soul took its departure, he the shutters that he might behold the glory of the Sun for the last time, as though he had a presentiment that his departure was near-and was probably comparing his glory with the glory of the Greater Sun of Righteousness, and the lustre and effulgence of the Deity. The next day about one o'clock his soul took its departure to another and a better world, to sing with the holy hosts on high praises and Hallelujahs to our God and Saviour, through the countless ages of eternity.