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“The Savior appears to me now, in my daily walk, glorious."
" After all,” said Mr. Curtis, “ would you rather get to heaven through your own righteousness ? '
“No, I would not. I know there is no righteousness, in any man, to carry him to heaven. It must be by the righteousness of Christ."
Mr. Curtis said, “We read of Christ's coming to judgment. Do you never feel afraid that he will overlook poor Jack?"
"I have often felt so," he replied; "but I do not feel so now. He has opened his arms, and received me; and, I have no doubt, I am one of his poor servants. I have awaked in the night, and found my Savior in my arms."
Mr. Curtis said, “Is it any comfort to you to carry your fellow-prisoners to the throne of grace ?”
“Yes,” said Jack, “a great comfort. It appears to me that I could grasp them all in my arms, and fly to a bleeding Savior."
“ Have you any desire that he should bring them all to him, and not let any one go out, and go back to his wickedness?"
" It is my prayer, morning and evening,” said Jack, " that I may hold on, and hold out. If I die here, let me die, O Lord, in thine arms! I have great reason to bless this institution, and every stone in it."
In the autumn of 1837, as I was travelling in the Western District of New York, in company with some family friends, and two young gentlemen from Boston, we lodged in Canandaigua. I think I had not seen Jack Hodges since my conversation with him, in the Auburn Prison, on the 31st of March, 1828 ; but I had heard that he lived in Canandaigua. In the morning, before sunrise, I inquired at the inn if any such man lived in the place. They told me yes, and the place where. I sought the residence of the lady with whom he lived, and found it a beautiful place, on the hill, overlooking the fine country around, just as the morning sun was coming out of his chambers. I met Jacob at the gate, with his hoe and spade. He did not know me at first, for I did not appear to know him ; but when I smiled for joy to meet my venerable friend, he grasped my hand like a giant, and said,
“Mr. Doit! Thank God, my friends will come to see me ! And where is Master Curtis ?”
"I saw him three weeks ago, and he was well.”' "I never goes on my knees,” said Jacob, “ before my heav
enly Father, but what I see that man standing before me just like that tree; ” raising his arm from his shoulder, and pointing to a tall elm standing near us. Mr. Curtis is a tall man, somewhat like it.
We were glad to meet again. I said, “ Where is that Bible, Jacob?" He said, " It is on my pillow.” I told him I had some friends with me, who had heard me speak of him, and we all wished to see him. He said, "My mistress has gone from home, into the western country ; but the whole house is left open, in my care. Will you come, with your friends, and see me?" I went for them, and in a few minutes returned with a company of six. He received us at the front door, and gave my friends a hearty welcome. He opened for us a beautiful parlor, into which we entered; and, when we had taken our seats, I asked Jacob to bring that old Prison Bible from his chamber. When he had done so, I asked him to read the Fifty-first Psalm. He did so; and I would give more to hear him read it again, than to hear Garrick or Whitefield. I have never heard such reading of the Scriptures from any man.
When he came to the words, Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God!” it seemed, as it always did, when he came to those words, that he would sink beneath the heavy weight of his transgressions. After he had done reading, I asked him if he would pray with us. He fell upon his knees; and such an offering of thankfulness, that his friends would come to see him, such a poor old sinner; that God had spared his life, and had mercy on his soul ; such fervent petitions for his friends, - it is not the common lot of travellers to meet with on a journey. A prayer was offered for him. After prayer, I told him I had one favor to ask, - that he would give me that Bible, and I would give him, for it, a new one, of larger print, for his old eyes.
“O, no, master ! I can never part with that Bible.'
“ But I can make great use of it, as the Bible which has done you so much good.”
“No, master, I cannot part with it ; you must not ask me. It is my Prison Bible. It has always been with me." I think he said, “I always sleep with it on my pillow. I can never part with that Bible, while I live."
“Well, Jacob, if you cannot part with it while you live, if I live longer than you, will you give it to me when you are dead ?"
“O, yes, master ! I will write your name in it, and it shall be yours when I am gone."
We bade him farewell with great affection, and returned to
our breakfast at the inn, while the old man followed us to the gate, and kept his eyes upon us as long as he could. Blessed man !
In the autumn of 1839, as I was travelling, with my family, in the Western District of New York, we reached Canandaigua about 12 o'clock at noon, stopped at the inn, and I went immediately to see my old friend Jacob. The lady with whom he lived met me at the door, and told me he had gone into the woods for a load of chips; but he would soon be home, and asked me to walk in, and wait till he came. I told her my
wife and children were with me, and I must return to them, but would call again. When I mentioned my name and object, she insisted on my coming there, and making that my home while we remained in the place, that we might see her servant Jacob as much as we desired. Mrs. M. not only urged it, but went herself to the inn to effect it.
After we had been at the house a short time, we saw Jacob coming with his wagon-load of chips. He was walking in all his gravity, dignity, and humbleness of mind, by his horse's side. As he came up to the back door, I went with my little child to meet hiin. The child was full of play. Jacob was very serious and devout. I approached him, and took his hand without appearing to know him. He was old, his eye was dim, and he did not know me. After a respectful salutation, he was about leaving me to resume his work, when I smiled with joy to meet him, and he recognized his old friend, took my hand, and uttered himself in a strain of thought which I had no means of catching or preserving, indicative of a heavenly mind and great communion with God. I told him I had seen his mistress, and she had invited us to spend the day there, and in the evening I wanted an opportunity to sit down with him and have a good long talk. "Well, master," he said, and went to unload his chips, while we went to dinner. After dinner, he came to the door of the dining-room, with his broad-brimmed hat, having changed his dress, and put on his Sunday clothes, and his clean calf-skin shoes, and signified that he was ready to walk with me.
CANANDAIGUA, October 2, 1839. My Last Conversation with Jacob Hodges. I visited the Jail in this place, in company with my aged and venerable friend from the Auburn Prison, who is a wonderful monument of redeeming love. His Christian character and example are much admired by all who know him. The testimony of the pious lady with whom he lives, and has lived for seven years, is most decidedly in favor of his faithfulness and piety. My interview with him, a record of which was made at the time, in my note-book, will be found below, and will speak for itself.
As we proceeded to the Jail, from the house where he lived, and came upon the sidewalk in that beautiful village, and every thing above and below appeared bright and lovely, and our hearts burned within us towards the God of providence and grace, Jacob said, "O, Mr. Doit, little did I think, when I saw you at my cell in the Auburn Prison, that I should ever walk by your side in the streets of Canandaigua."
After we returned from the Prison, and had taken tea, and he had attended to his duties in the garden and at the barn, and had eaten his supper, and every thing was set in order at the fireside, in his comfortable apartment, where he spent his evenings at home, Jacob came to the parlor door, and said, “Mr. Doit, will you come and see Jacob now.” I gladly accepted the invitation, and took my seat by his side, and made the following record of his conversation :
Well, Jacob, do you think you love the Lord Jesus Christ?"
“I do, sir. I think I have no other object, in this world or in the world to come, but my blessed Lord and Savior.”
“How does he appear to you, Jacob ? "
" He appears to me, in my daily walk and conversation, the chief among ten thousands, and the one altogether lovely."
Why does he appear so to you?” “Because he plucked me as a brand from the burning, as I hope.” “What do you mean by that?”
Why, sir, I mean that I was a very great sinner, and he appeared to me as a deliverer from sin. O the mercy!”
“How could he be a deliverer?”
“It is because he was the Son of God, that came into the world to seek and save that which was lost."
Here he drew nigh to me, and rested his arm upon my knee. “Do you ever have any affecting views of his character ?”
“Very often, very often. And it is my daily desire and striving, to know more and more of his character.'
“What are the views that you have of him ?”
“ He appears to me daily as the Savior of the world, and he appears to me able and willing to save all who come to God by him.”
“How do others appear to you in comparison with him?"
“Nothing but chaff before the wind; and the things of the earth appear as dust compared with the glory of the Son of God."
6 How can he bear to be seen by such a sinner as you are, and I?"
“Because he bears with us a long time. He is long-suffering, and not willing that any should perish. He came to seek and save that which was lost."
6 Where is he?"
“ He is in heaven, and every where present. He is omniscient, and every where."
“How do you know?"
“I feel his Spirit moving upon my soul, every once in a while, especially when I forget him."
“When you forget him?"
“When I let the things of the world get between my soul and him, it is not long before I miss him, and strive to find him again."
“ Did you ever form any conception of his appearance ?" “His appearance ?” “Yes, of his person."
"No, sir. He appears to me sometimes, by an eye of faith, as the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. This I saw this day."
“Where were you when you saw it this day?"
“Why, sir, I am always thinking of him; but the thoughts have been stronger lately. I was stooping down, picking up chips, and I thought, by an eye of faith, that I could see him as a lamb. And, all at once, he appeared like a man, dressed in white, beautiful and glorious.'
6 What did you do ?”
“ The first that I knew, tears came into my eyes, and I went and fell down on my knees, and every thing appeared joyful and glorious, even the trees of the field.”
“ Then what next?”
“Why, sir, I got my load, and came home, and it appeared to me that I was comforted all the way home, till I got into the gate here, and saw you.”
“ Well, how did you feel after you saw me?”
“ After I saw you, the thoughts of my Savior vanished from my mind, and I did not know you ; but your countenance seemed to be familiar. When I came to find you out, I went