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MEMOIR OF MR. JOHN HARE,
BY THE REV. JOSEPH FOWLER.
TAE late Mr. John Hare was born in Hull, in the year 1825. From a child he was distinguished by a most amiable and obliging disposition ; dutiful and obedient to his parents; and of habits so winning and agreeable as to secure the respect of all his acquaintance. But, notwithstanding these estimable qualities, he was early convinced by the Holy Spirit that “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The circumstances by which he was brought to the knowledge of the truth are very minutely recorded with his own pen :-At the close of the year 1841, during the watch-night services, his mind was more powerfully affected with spiritual and eternal things than at any former period; and these impressions were deepened under a sermon which he soon after heard from the Rev. James Laycock. This discourse, addressed to the young, was founded on the passage,
“ Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the Guide of my youth ?” (Jer. iii. 4.) The following remark, which he made in his journal, is indicative of the manner in which he was affected while hearing the word :-“I was gently drawn by the Spirit of God. My heart gradually opened to the light and influence of truth. I felt inclined to yield to the love of God, as set before me in that attractive sentence.” On the evening of this Sabbath, he expressed a wish to become a Teacher in the Sunday-school, a request with which his parents readily complied. No time was lost in signifying his intention to one of the superintendents of the school, who was so much pleased with the offer of his services, and especially with the spirit in which the offer was made, that he invited him to attend his class, and become a member of the church of Christ. The answer returned was, “I will think about it.” The reply was not given, as is too frequently the case, with a view to dismiss the question. Mr. Hare gave the subject the serious attention which he promised ; and the result was, that in about ten days he presented himself in the class, and sought the instructions and helps to devotion which that meeting
VOL. VI.FOURTH SERIES.
is eminently calculated to administer. The reference to this occasion, in his journal, is as follows :—“My mind was wrought upon in a very pleasant manner: I received a foretaste of the communion of saints, and said in my heart, This people shall be my people, and their God my God.'”
Though our brother had now become a member of the church, he was too much enlightened to consider this as implying union with Christ, or as a substitute for that vital privilege. His papers show how earnestly he sought after the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sin. The following sentence is very expressive of his spiritual state and progress :—“I set apart an hour a day for the purpose of reading and prayer; and, as I regularly continued this practice, my mind became daily more enlightened. My judgment and understanding were convinced. I obtained a clearer knowledge of my state. My heart was oppressed with a deeper sense of my condition ; and I resolved, in the strength of grace, to press forward till I obtained a clearer sense of the favour of God.” About this time a course of sermons, delivered by the Rev. William Hurt, on Romans viii. 6, was rendered a great blessing to his soul; especially the last of the series, soon after hearing wbich, be sought a personal interview with the Minister. He has recorded, with gratitude to God and to His servant, the benefit which he derived from the pastoral counsels and instructions then obtained. It was while engaged in the devotional exercises of his closet, that he obtained peace and joy through believing. “I felt,” he writes, “such a heavenly influence to rest on my soul, as, I think, I never before experienced. Heaven appeared almost open to my view. I could not repress the deep, calm, unutterable joy and happiness which filled my soul. I rejoiced in God with joy unspeakable. I was happy, truly and unspeakably happy; and from that time I felt fully assured I had an interest in the blood of Christ.” His subsequent life supplied the most satisfactory evidence of the reality of his conversion. A more exemplary and consistent Christian I have never known; and this is the uniform testimony of all who knew him.
He was most conscientious and faithful in the discharge of all his duties; as much so in reference to those which pertained to the present life, as to those which had respect to the life which is to come. Order and punctuality governed all his proceedings ; so that no person could ever charge him with a violated promise, or an unfulfilled engagement. Like Demetrius, mentioned in St. John's Epistle, he had “ good report of all men, and of the truth itself.”
His early connexion with the Sabbath-school has been mentioned. In that sphere of Christian duty he continued to labour, with unwearied diligence, until compelled by illness to resign an office which no individual had ever held with more credit to himself, or more benefit to the institution. The children under his instruction were strongly attached to him ; and there is good reason to believe, that through his instrumentality some were brought to seek after personal religion. His attendance in the sanctuary of God was very regular, and his
demeanour was most becoming. It was his uniform practice to be in his pew a few minutes before the service commenced. This orderly habit was indeed manifest in his whole conduct, whether relating to devotional exercises, or to commercial transactions. He attended public worship for the last time on the first Sunday in January, 1847. The feeble state of his health would have justified his absence; but he felt a strong wish to be present at the Covenantservice, and to partake of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The occasion was, to him, peculiarly ballowing and edifying. From this period his affliction rapidly increased. The best medical skill failed to arrest the disease, or to avert the stroke. He expressed a wish to know the medical opinion as to the probable issue of his illness, but betrayed no fear on learning that the prospect of his recovery was very doubtful. He was entirely resigned to the will of God. On one occasion, after a somewhat lengthened conversation on topics which had an immediate relation to death and eternity, he intimated a wish to take part in family-worship ; and, after a portion of the holy Scriptures had been read, and prayer had been offered by his father, he commenced an address to the mercy-seat, which breathed the tenderest sentiments of affection to his parents, and of love to the Saviour. The exertion was too much for his feeble frame. Shortly after, he had an alarming attack of hemorrhage; and his friends now thought his hour was come. By the blessing of God on medical skill, he revived a little. On seeing his mother weeping, he said to her, "Don't be distressed, my dear mother : I have no pain. This is one step over Jordan, and it will not be to pass again.” When his affectionate parent expressed sorrow at seeing his extreme weakness, he said, “You know, my dear mother, I shall not get better, but must grow worse every day, till it shall please the Lord to take me to Himself.” A few days before his death, he was informed that it was not likely he could continue long. Soon after receiving this information, he called his father to his bed-side, and said, “ This is really what I desired : I do not wish to continue long, as it would be distressing to my friends to see me languish.” He added, “It is also desirable on my own account, if it be the will of God.” In this peaceful frame he continued to the end. Early in the morning of February 26th, 1847, he requested that his parents might be called up, saying at the same moment,—“I am dying : tell them to be quick ; I should like them to see me die.” After a short pause, he said, “ Praise the Lord! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” A few minutes passed in silence,—his eyes and hands uplifted,—and he then exclaimed, “ How sweet it is to die ! Follow me! Glory be to God!” These were his last words. He immediately entered into the joy of his Lord. Who would not say, “Let my last end be like his "?