Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, , at sacred-texts.com
Colonel James Gardiner.
Born January 10, 1688. Is said to have fought three duels before he was grown up. Entered the army young and fought with great bravery. His relations with women said to have been free, even licentious. Was not religious, even the reverse of that, but at times suffered "inexpressible remorse," on account of his life, which seemed to him evil. In the middle of July, 1719, when he was thirty-one and a half years of age, occurred the event which gives him a place in this volume: "He had spent the evening in some gay company and had an unhappy assignation with a married woman, whom he was to attend exactly at twelve. The company broke up at eleven, and, not judging it convenient to anticipate
the time appointed, he went into his chamber to kill the tedious hour, perhaps with some amusing book, or some other way. But it very accidentally happened that he took up a religious book, which his good mother or aunt had, without his knowledge, slipped into his portmanteau. It was called, if I remember the title exactly, 'The Christian Soldier, or Heaven Taken by Storm,' and it was written by Mr. Thomas Watson. Guessing by the title of it that he would find some phrases of his own profession spiritualized in a manner which he thought might afford him some diversion, he resolved to dip into it; but he took no serious notice of anything it had in it. * And yet while this book was in his hand an impression was made upon his mind (perhaps God only knows how) which drew after it a train of the most important and happy consequences. He thought he saw an unusual blaze of light fall upon the book which he was reading, which he at first imagined might happen by some accident in the candle; but lifting up his eyes, he apprehended, to his extreme amazement, that there was before him, as it were suspended in the air, a visible representation of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, surrounded upon all sides with a glory, and was impressed as if a voice, or something equivalent to a voice, † had come to him to this effect (for he was not confident as to the words): 'Oh, sinner, did I suffer this for thee, and are these thy returns?' Struck with so amazing a phenomenon as this, there remained hardly any life in him, ‡ so that he sank down in the armchair in which he sat and continued, he knew not how long, insensible" [107:286]. The immediate effect of Gardiner's experience is said to have been a knowledge, or rather a sight, of the "majesty and goodness of God," and his after life (a period of twenty-six years) was of distinguished excellence. The "new man" was as virtuous and pure and godly as the "old" had been licentious and profane [107: 71].
283:* He was wide awake—probably extra wide awake—and at the same time his mind (for the moment) was a blank. This is the condition which we are told by all the authorities from Gautama to the present is sine qua non for the oncoming of illumination.
283:† As to the objectivity or subjectivity of the "voice" in such cases see remarks under head of "Moses"—what the person sees comes, of course, under the same category.
283:‡ "Less than a drachm of blood remains in me that does not tremble," says Dante, under similar circumstances [71: 192].