Compiled by Solomon Shaw (1854-1941)
The great Bohemian reformer and martyr, John Hus, was born in 1369. He was burned at the stake as a heretic in Constance, Germany, July 6, 1415. When arriving at the place of execution, he prayed, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, do I commit my spirit. Thou hast redeemed me, O most good and faithful God. Lord Jesus Christ, assist and help me, that, with a firm and present mind, by Thy most powerful graces I may undergo this most cruel and ignominious death, to which I am condemned for preaching the truth of Thy most holy gospel."
When the wood was piled up to his very neck, the Duke of Bavaria asked him to recant. "No," said Hus, "I never preached any doctrine of an evil tendency, and what I taught with my lips, I now seal with my blood." The fagots were then lighted and the martyr sung a hymn so loud as to be heard through the crackling of the flames.
Augustus M. Toplady died in London, August 11th, 1778, at the age of thirty-eight. He was the author of that good old hymn,
He had everything before him to make life desirable, yet when death drew near, his soul exulted in gladness. He said, "It is my dying avowal that these great and glorious truths which the Lord in rich mercy has given me to believe and enabled me to preach, are now brought into practical and heartfelt experience. They are the very joy and support of my soul. The consolations flowing from them carry me far above the things of time and sense. So far as I know my own heart, I have no desire but to be entirely passive." Frequently he called himself a dying man, and yet the happiest man in the world; adding, "Sickness is no affliction, pain no curse, death itself no dissolution; and yet how this soul of mine longs to be gone; like a bird imprisoned in its cage, it longs to take its flight. Had I wings like a doves then would I fly away to the bosom of God, and be at rest forever."
Within an hour before he expired he seemed to awake from a gentle slumber, when he exclaimed, "O, what delights! Who can fathom the joys of the third heaven? What a bright sunshine has been spread around me! I have not words to express it. I know it cannot be long now till my Savior will come for me, for surely no mortal man can live," bursting as he said it into a flood of tears, "after glories that God has manifested to my soul. All is light, light, light - the brightness of His own glory. O come, Lord Jesus, come; come quickly." Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep, to be awakened with others of like precious faith on that great day "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, to be glorified with His saints and admired in all them that believe." - The Contrast .Between Infidelity and Christianity.
The subject of this sketch, Mary J. Whitaker Wiggins, was born in VanBuren Co., Iowa, February 5th, 1853, and died at Weaubleau, Mo., September 4th, 1897.
She united with the Christian Church when a little girl of thirteen summers. She was ever noted for her continuous piety and faithful attendance at all of her church services and duties, though she was of a quiet, retiring disposition. If Mary was ever absent from her church-meeting, the inquiry went around, "Is she sick?" or else, "Who in the neighborhood is sick?"
When she lay dying, her family, husband and eight children, besides her brothers and other sympathizing friends, stood by her bedside. She had ever taught them by her exemplary, godly life how Christians should live; and now she showed them how triumphantly a Christian may die. All that evening as her life was fading away her faith in Christ showed forth so vividly that it seemed to those standing around to be more like an entering into life than a departing from it. She conversed freely and rationally of her final change. She was so ready and so confident that she would soon be with a sainted mother and child and others, that the weeping ones were consoled in their grief by her prospective joy. She assured us all that no cloud of doubt existed. She said to her pastor and brother, "I will be absent from our next church meeting on earth, but I will be in heaven." Her parting words to her husband and weeping children were, "Be good and meet me in heaven."
After she could speak no more, while those around her, at her request, were singing the words, " I am going home, to die no more," she raised her feeble hands and clapped them two or three times.
Thus she died! Her triumphant death was a fitting close to the devoted Christian life which this loving sister and wife and godly mother had lived. Let me too die the death of the righteous. - J. Whitaker, D. D.
The attending physician, G. B. Viles, deposes that he was present at her death and that she was not delirious but remarkably rational up to her death.
The following account of an affecting, mournful exit, and the reflections that accompany it, are solemn and impressive. We shall present them to the reader in the words of Doctor Young, who was present at the melancholy scene:
Is not the death-bed of a profligate a prime school of wisdom? Are we not obliged, when we are invited to it? for what else should reclaim us? The pulpit? We are prejudiced against it. Besides, an agonizing profligate, though silent, out-preaches the most celebrated the pulpit ever knew. But, if he speaks, his words might instruct the best instructors of mankind. Mixed in the warm converse of life, we think with men; on a death-bed, with God.
There are two lessons of this school written, as it were, in capitals, which they who run may read. First, he that, in this his minority, this field of discipline and conflict, instead of grasping the weapons of his warfare, is forever gathering flowers, and catching at butterflies, with his unarmed hand, ever making idle pleasure his pursuit; must pay for it his last reversion: and on opening his final account (of which a death-bed breaks the seal), shall find himself a beggar, a beggar past beggary; and shall passionately wish that his very being were added to the rest of his loss. Secondly, he shall find that truth, divine truth, however, through life, injured, wounded, suppressed, is victorious, immortal: that, though with mountains overwhelmed, it will, one day, burst out like the fires of Etna; visible, bright and tormenting, as the most raging flame. This now (oh, my friend!) I shall too plainly prove.
The sad evening before the death of the noble youth, whose last hours suggested these thoughts, I was with him. No one was present but his physician and an intimate friend whom he loved and whom he had ruined. At my coming in he said, "You and the physician are come too late. I have neither life nor hope. You both aim at miracles. You would raise the dead!" "I-leaven," I said, "was merciful - " "Or," exclaimed he, "I could not have been thus guilty. What has it not done to bless and to save me! I have been too strong for omnipotence! I have plucked down ruin!" I said, "The blessed Redeemer - " "Hold! hold! you wound me! That is the rock on which I split - I denied His name!"
Refusing to hear anything from me or take anything from the physician he lay silent, as far as sudden darts of pain would permit, till the clock struck, then with vehemence he exclaimed, "Oh! time! time! it is fit thou shouldst thus strike thy murderer to the heart! How art thou fled forever! A month! Oh, for a single week - I do not ask for years; though an age were too little for the much I have to do." On my saying we could not do too much, that heaven was a blessed place - "So much the worse. 'Tis lost! 'Tis lost! Heaven is to me the severest place of hell!"
Soon after, I proposed prayer - "Pray, you that can. I never prayed. I cannot pray - nor need I. Is not heaven on my side already? It closes with my conscience. Its severest strokes but second my own." Observing that his friend was much touched at this, even to tears (who could forbear? I could not), with a most affectionate look he said, "Keep those tears for thyself. I have undone thee - dost thou weep for me? That is cruel What can pain me more?"
Here his friend, too much affected, would have left him. "No, stay - that thou mayst hope; therefore hear me. How madly I have talked! How madly hast thou listened and believed. But look on my present state, as a full answer to thee, and to myself. This body is all weakness and pain; but my soul, as if stung up by torment to greater strength and spirit, is full powerful to reason; full mighty to suffer. And that which thus triumphs within the jaws of immortality, is, doubtless, immortal. And as for a Deity, nothing less than an Almighty could inflict what I feel."
I was about to congratulate this passive, involuntary confessor, on his asserting the two prime articles of his creed, extorted by the rack of nature, when he thus very passionately exclaimed, "No, no[ let me speak on. I have not long to speak. My much injured friend, my soul, as my body, lies in ruins; in scattered fragments of broken thought. Remorse for the past throws my thought on the future. Worse dread of the future strikes it back on the past. I turn and turn and find no ray. Didst thou feel half the mountain that is on me thou wouldst struggle with the martyr for his stake, and bless heaven for the flames; that is not an everlasting flame; that is not an unquenchable fire."
How were we struck! Yet, soon after, still more. With what an eye of distraction, what a face of despair, he cried out, "My principles have poisoned my friend; my extravagance has beggared my boy; my unkindness has murdered my wife! And is there another hell? Oh! thou blasphemed, yet indulgent, Lord God, hell itself is a refuge, if it hide me from Thy frown!" Soon after his understanding failed. His terrified imagination uttered horrors not to be repeated, or ever forgotten. And ere the sun (which, I hope, has seen few like him) arose, the gay, young, noble, ingenious, accomplished and most wretched Altamont expired.
If this is a man of pleasure, what is a man of pain? How quick, how total, is the transit of such persons! In what a dismal gloom they set forever! How short, alas, the day of their rejoicing. For a moment they glitter, they dazzle. In a moment, where are they? Oblivion covers their memories. Ah, would it did! Infamy snatches them from oblivion. In the long-living annals of infamy their triumphs are recorded. Thy sufferings, poor Altamont, still bleed in the bosom of the heart-stricken friend - for Altamont had a friend. He might have had many. His transient morning might have been the dawn of an immortal day. His name might have been gloriously enrolled in the records of eternity. His memory might have left a sweet fragrance behind it, grateful to the surviving friend, salutary to the succeeding generation. With what capacity was he endowed, with what advantages for being greatly good. But with the talents of an angel a man may be a fool. If he judges amiss in the supreme point, judging right in all else but aggravates his folly; as it shows him wrong, though blessed with the best capacity of being right. - Power of Religion.
A consumptive disease seized the eldest son and heir of the Duke of Hamilton, which ended in his death. A little before his departure from the world, he lay ill at the family seat near Glasgow. Two ministers came to see him, one of them at his request prayed with him. After the minister had prayed, the dying youth put his hand back and took his Bible from under his pillow and opened it at the passage, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." "This, sirs," said he, "is all my comfort." As he was lying one day on the sofa, his tutor was conversing with him on some astronomical subject, and about the nature of the fixed stars. "Ah," said he, "in a little while I shall know more of this than all of you together." When his death approached, he called his brother to his bedside, and addressing him with the greatest affection and seriousness, he closed with these remarkable words, "And now, Douglas, in a little time you'll be a duke, but I shall be a king." - Cheever.
Miss Maggie Shaw, of Ida, Ill., sends us a clipping from the Earnest Christian giving a brief sketch of the life and death of Rev. J. M. Morris, from which we take the following:
Father Morris was born in Campbell Co., Virginia, Feb. 15, 1807, died at Mores Creek, Cal., Feb. 4, 1891. He was eighty-four years old, lacking eleven days.
When twelve years old his father died. He was left the main support of his mother. He got only thirty days schooling all told. By the aid of shell bark hickory as a substitute when out of candles, he devoted his evenings to study. He went through English grammar, arithmetic and part way through an advanced algebra without a teacher. When a man he was rarely surpassed in sound biblical learning and doctrine.
In early life he was deprived of attending church and Sunday school, but he was impressed with the necessity of a change of heart.
We give in his own words his experience:
"When a lone boy, having hardly ever heard any one pray or preach, while all alone in the cotton field with my hoe in hand, I became powerfully convicted that I was a sinner. I tried to pray as best I could, when the Lord came down in mighty power and blessed my soul. I did not know what to do or say, but God put it into my mind to praise His name, and there, with hoe in hand, both arms outstretched, I shouted 'Glory to God!' All looked beautiful; the sun and sky never looked so bright as when I was alone in that cotton patch with no one near but God."
As he would get shouting happy in relating this experience in meetings the holy fire would spread, and all would go home saying, "We had a good meeting; Morris was in the cotton patch today."
He crossed the plains in 1857 with ox teams to Trinity County, California. Going into a hotel in the mines, he demolished the bar where the grog was sold and preached in the bar room, as it was called, for two years, where a class of twenty-five or thirty was formed.
Leaving the Trinity mines, he, with the family, removed to Napa County, California, where he ever after made, to a great extent, his home, being absent from time to time a few years east, on account of ill health of some of the family. He preached and labored as colporteur in California, more or less, for thirty years.
He crossed the plains three times with ox teams and four times by rail. He preached in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, at intervals after coming to California. In the winter of 1867, on the Delaware reserve in Kansas, he preached through a month's revival for the Missionary Baptists when they were not able to obtain a minister of their own, and there were thirty or forty gloriously converted to God. The greater part of those converted under his ministry had gone on to glory to welcome him to the immortal shores, and how oft have we heard him say, "My company has gone on before."
Disposing of all his little earthly effects in his last sickness; and giving the most minute orders about his burial, he said, "I die in peace with all men, I shall soon be with the angels. All I want is to be a little twinkling star." On calling Mother Morris, he said, "The other day you came to my bed and said, 'I want you to get well and pray as you used to once.' I have not been able to pray since, and I shall never be any better, but I want you to write to all the grandchildren and tell them I'd rather leave this request of their grandmother as a legacy to them than all the gold of Ophir." He made us promise him that we would bury him on the farm he had lived on for twelve years, in a plain coffin, no flowers or parade.
For thirty days we had watched day and night, taking four persons each night. All agreed that they did not know that anyone was capable of suffering so muck as he did, but his patience and resignation were so great, he would say, "I am in the hands of the great God of the universe, He knows best." Then he would say, "Oh, help me to be patient. The will of the Lord be done." After suffering thus for thirty days from asthma, lung trouble and something like la grippe he drew his last breath like he was going to sleep, in his right mind, without a struggle or a groan.
David Hume, the deistical philosopher and historian, was born at Edinburgh in 1711. In 1762 he published his work, Natural Religion. Much of his time was spent in France, where he found many kindred spirits, as vile and depraved as himself. He died in Edinburgh in 1776, aged sixty-five years. Rev. E. P. Goodwin, in his work on Christianity and Infidelity, shows Hume to be dishonest, indecent and a teacher of immorality. Rev. Robert Hall, in his Modern Infidelity, says:
"Infidelity is the joint offspring of an irreligious temper and unholy speculation, employed, not in examining the evidences of Christianity, but in detecting the vices and imperfections of confessing Christians. It has passed through various stages, each distinguished by higher gradations of impiety; for when men arrogantly abandon their guide, and willfully shut their eyes on the light of heaven, it is wisely ordained that their errors shall multiply at every step, until their extravagance confutes itself, and the mischief of their principles works its own antidote.
"Hume, the most subtle, if not the most philosophical, of the deists; who, by perplexing the relations of cause and effect, boldly aimed to introduce a universal skepticism and to pour a more than Egyptian darkness into the whole region of morals."
Again in McIlvaine's Evidences:
"The nature and majesty of God are denied by Hume's argument against the miracles. It is Atheism. There is no stopping place for consistency between the first principle of the essay of Hume, and the last step in the denial of God with the abyss of darkness forever. Hume, accordingly, had no belief in the being of God. If he did not positively deny it, he could not assert that he believed it. He was a poor, blind, groping compound of contradictions. He was literally 'without God and without hope,' 'doting about questions and strifes of words,' and rejecting life and immortality out of deference to a paltry quibble, of which common-sense is ashamed.
"There is reason to believe that however unconcerned Hume may have seemed in the presence of his infidel friends, there were times when, being diverted neither by companions, nor cards, nor his works, nor books of amusements, but left to himself, and the contemplation of eternity, he was anything but composed and satisfied.
"The following account was published many years ago in Edinburgh, where he died. It is not known to have been ever contradicted. About the end of 1776, a few months after the historian's death, a respectable-looking woman, dressed in black, came into the Haddington stage-coach while passing through Edinburgh. The conversation among the passengers, which had been interrupted for a few minutes, was speedily resumed, which the lady soon found to be regarding the state of mind persons were in at the prospect of death. An appeal was made, in defense of infidelity, to the death of Hume as not only happy and tranquil, but mingled even with gaiety and humor. To this the lady said, 'Sir, you know nothing about it; I could tell you another tale.' 'Madam,' replied the gentleman, 'I presume I have as good information as you can have on this subject, and I believe what I have asserted regarding Mr. Hume has never been called in question.' The lady continued, 'Sir, I was Mr. Hume's housekeeper for many years, I was with him in his last moments; and the mourning I now wear is a present from his relatives for my attention to him on his death bed; and happy would I have been if I could have borne my testimony to the mistaken opinion that has gone abroad of his peaceful and composed end. I have, sir, never till this hour opened my mouth on this subject, but I think it a pity the world should be kept in the dark on so interesting a topic. It is true, sir, that when Mr. Hume's friends were with him he was cheerful and seemed quite unconcerned about his approaching fate; nay, frequently spoke of it to them in a jocular and playful way; but when he was alone, the scene was very different; he was anything but composed, his mental agitation was so great at times as to occasion his whole bed to shake. And he would not allow the candles to be put out during the night, nor would he be left alone for a minute, as I had always to ring the bell for one of the servants to be in the room before he would allow me to leave it. He struggled hard to appear composed, even before me. But to one who attended his bedside for so many days and nights and witnessed his disturbed sleeps and still more disturbed wakings - who frequently heard his involuntary breathings of remorse and frightful startings, it was no difficult matter to determine that all was not right within. This continued and increased until he became insensible.
I hope to God I shall never witness a similar scene.
Calvin's unremitting labors favored the inroads of a variety of distressing diseases, which he suffered from for many years, but bravely battled against or disregarded, hating nothing so much as idleness. On February 6, 1564, he preached, with difficulty, his last sermon. After that he left his house but a few times, when he was carried on a litter to the council-hall and the church. Once a deputation from the council visited him on his sick-bed and received his exhortation to use their authority to the glory of God. And several times the clergy of the city and neighborhood gathered around him. In the midst of intense sufferings his spirit was calm and peaceful, and he occupied himself with the Bible and in prayer. When Farel, in his eightieth year, heard of his sickness, he wrote from Neufchatel that he would visit him, to which Calvin replied, in a letter dated May 2, "Farewell, my best and most right-hearted brother, and since God is pleased that you should survive me in this world, live mindful of our friendship, of which, as it was useful to the church of God, the fruit still awaits us in heaven. I would not have you fatigue yourself on my account. I draw my breath with difficulty, and am daily waiting till I altogether cease to breathe. It is enough that to Christ I live and die; to His people He is gain in life and death. Farewell again, not forgetting the brethren." Such words show that love as well as zeal had a place in Calvin's heart.
On the 27th of May, as the sun was setting, he fell asleep in Jesus. He was buried on the banks of the Rhone, outside of the city where he had so long labored in behalf of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. He asked that no monument might be placed upon his grave; and the spot where, some thirty years ago, the black stone was erected, is only conjectured to be his burial-place.
Prof. Tulloch well says of Calvin, "He was a great, intense and energetic character, who more than any other even of that great age has left his impress on the history of Protestantism."
His clear intellect and his logical acumen, together with his concise and crisp diction, make his works, even in the present day, a power in the church of God. He was needed in the church just as truly as Luther, Knox or Wesley, and we thank God for the gift of such a man. - Heroes and Heroines.
We turn now to the remarkable story of the conversion of Fiji. This name is given to a group of islands, some two hundred and twenty-five in number, scattered over an area of two hundred and fifty by three hundred and seventy miles, of which about one hundred and forty are inhabited. The population in 1893 was 125,442. The largest of these islands, Vitu Levu, is about the same size as Jamaica. The story of this fair and fertile group, long the habitation of cruelty, is one of intense interest. That a Lincolnshire plowboy, who grew up to manhood with no educational advantages, should, before his thirty-sixth year, be the chief instrument in the conversion to Christianity and civilization of one of the most barbarous races of cannibals on the face of the earth is one of the most remarkable events in the annals of Christian missions. . . .
Such devotion, however, could not fail of its glorious reward. A great religious awakening took place. Among the converts was the Queen of Vitu. "Her heart," says Mr. Hunt, "seemed literally to be broken, and, though a very strong woman, she fainted twice under the weight of a wounded spirit. She revived only to renew her strong cries and tears, so that it was all that we could do to proceed with the service. The effect soon became more general. Several of the women and some of the men literally roared for the disquietude of their hearts. As many as could chanted the Te Deum. It was very affecting to see upward of a hundred Fijians, many of whom were a few years ago some of the worst cannibals in the group, and even in the world, chanting, 'We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord,' while their voices were almost drowned by the cries of broken-hearted penitents." * *
Mr. Hunt's continuous toil at length told seriously upon his health. The man of iron strength, who had come up to London from the fields of Lincolnshire only twelve years before, was evidently dying. Of him, too, might it be truly said, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." The converts from heathenism, with sad faces, flocked to the chapel and prayed earnestly for the missionary. "O Lord," Elijah Verant cried aloud, "we know we are very bad, but spare Thy servant. If one must die, take me! take ten of us! but spare Thy servant to preach Christ to the people!"
As he neared his end the missionary confidently committed his wife and babes to Gods but was sorely distressed for Fiji. Sobbing as though in acute distress, he cried out, "Lord, bless Fiji! save Fiji! Thou knowest my soul has loved Fiji; my heart has travailed for Fiji!" Then, grasping his friend Calvert by the hand, he exclaimed again, "O, let me pray once more for Fiji! Lord, for Christ's sake, bless Fiji! save Fiji!" Turning to his mourning wife, he said, "If this be dying, praise the Lord!" Presently, as his eyes looked up with a bright joy that defied death, he exclaimed, "I want strength to praise Him abundantly!" and with the note of triumph, "Hallelujah!" on his lips, he joined the worship of the skies. - The Picket Line of Missions.
At one time during a prayer-meeting in about the year 1890, my attention was directed towards an unsaved lady who was present, who appeared to be trifling. The pastor in charge of the meeting made the remark that as a watchman upon the walls of Zion, he felt that there was danger for someone there; he could not understand why he was impressed with this thought, and repeated that he felt drawn out to say that there was danger and someone there ought to get saved, then and there.
This irreligious lady appeared unconcerned and oblivious to his remarks, and laughed when the minister shook hands with her at the close of the meeting. Just as she was preparing to leave the church she was taken very ill, so ill that she could not go home, neither could she be taken home by friends. Everything that could be done for her relief was done, but in less than one short hour she passed into eternity. Before she died, she tore her hair, cast aside the trashy gew-gaws that adorned her person and of which heretofore she had been very fond, and throwing up her hands she cried aloud for mercy, exclaiming "Oh, Lord, have mercy on me! Oh, Lord, help me!" In this distress of body and soul she passed into the great eternity without leaving any hope to those that stood round her dying bed. This sad experience shows the danger of putting off the day and hour of salvation. "For in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh. " - Written for this book by Julia E. Strait, Portlandville, N. Y.
This great preacher and reformer was born in Somersetshire, in 1495, and died at the stake Feb. 9, 1555, in Gloucester. He was a great scholar and writer, and a diligent study of the scriptures and the works of Zwingli and Bullinger on the Pauline epistles convinced him of the errors of the papal church and made him an ardent advocate of the reformation.
Foxe says of him, "In his sermons he corrected sin and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world and the corrupt abuses of the church. The people in great flocks and companies came daily to hear him, insomuch that the church would oftentimes be so full that none could enter further than the doors."..
Hooper and Rogers were the first to be cited under Mary. On Aug. 29, 1553, the former was thrown into prison, where he received harsh treatment, and contracted sciatica. In January, 1555, he was condemned on three charges - for maintaining the lawfulness of clerical marriage, for defending divorce and for denying transubstantiation. He called the mass "the iniquity of the devil." He was sentenced to die at the stake in Gloucester, whither he was conveyed. He met his death firmly and cheerfully. To a friend bewailing his lot, the martyr replied in the oft-quoted words, "Death is bitter and life is sweet, but alas! consider that death to come is more bitter, and life to come is more sweet." In another conversation he said, "I am well, thank God; and death to me for Christ's sake is welcome." His martyrdom was witnessed by a large throng of people. The martyr was forbidden to address the crowd. A real or pretended pardon being promised if he would recant, he spurned it away, saying, "If you love my soul, away with it." His agony was greatly prolonged and increased by the slow progress of the fire on account of the green fagots, which had to be rekindled three times before they did their work. - Religious Encyclopedia.
Matthew Henry, a distinguished non-conformist divine and biblical commentator, born Oct. 28, 1662, at Broad Oak, Flintshire, England; died June 22, 1714, at Nantwich, England. He received his education under his father's (Rev. Philip Henry) roof, and in an academy at Islington. On the return journey from a visit to Chester he was seized with apoplexy and died. His old intimate friend, Mr. Illidge, was present, who had been desired by Sir Thomas Delves and his lady to invite him to their house, at Doddington, whither their steward was sent to conduct him. But he was not able to proceed any further, and went to bed at Mr. Mottershed's house, where he felt himself so ill that he said to his friends, "Pray for me, for now I cannot pray for myself." While they were putting him to bed, he spoke of the excellence of spiritual comforts in a time of affliction, and blessed God that he enjoyed them. To his friend, Mr. Illidge, he addressed himself in these memorable words: "You have been used to take notice of the sayings of dying men - this is mine: That a life spent in the service of God, and communion with Him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that one can live in the present world." He had a restless night, and about five o'clock on Tuesday morning he was seized with a fit, which his medical attendants agreed to be an apoplexy. He lay speechless, with his eyes fixed, till about eight o'clock, June 22, 1714, and then expired. - Memoirs of the Rev. Matthew Henry.
Mrs. Phoebe Palmer, the noted and devoted holiness evangelist, is the authority for the following:
E____ had a friend who did not believe that the injunctions, "Come out from among them and be ye separate," "Be not conformed to the world," and kindred passages, have anything to do with the external appearance of the Christian. She was united in church fellowship with a denomination which does not recognize these things as important, and she had been heard to speak contemptuously of those contracted views that would induce one, in coming out in a religious profession, to make such a change in external appearance as to excite observation.
We should be far from favoring an intimation that E 's friend was hypocritical; she was only what would be termed a liberal-minded professor, and was no more insincere than thousands who stand on what would be termed an ordinary eminence in religious profession. The wasting consumption gradually preyed upon the vitals of this friend, and E____, who lives in a distant city, went to see her. E____, though not at the time as fully devoted as she might have been, was concerned to find her friend as much engaged with the vanities of the world and as much interested about conforming to its customs as ever, and she ventured to say, "I did not suppose you would think so much about these things now."
Her friend felt somewhat indignant at the remark, and observed, "I do not know that I am more conformed to the world than yourself, and the denomination to which you belong regards these things as wrong, but our people do not think that religion has anything to do with these little matters."
The hand of withering disease continued relentlessly laid on E 's friend, and as she drew nearer eternity her blissful hopes of immortality and eternal life seemed to gather yet greater brightness. Her friends felt that her piety was more elevated than that of ordinary attainment. Again and yet again her friends gathered around her dying couch to hear her last glowing expressions and to witness her peaceful departure. Such was her composure that she desired her shroud might be in readiness so that she might, before the mirror, behold her body arrayed for its peaceful resting place.
Her friend E____ was forced to leave the city a day or two before her dissolution, and called to take her final farewell. "We shall not meet again on earth," said the dying one, "but doubtless we shall meet in heaven. On my own part I have no more doubt than if I were already there, and I cannot but hope that you will be faithful unto death. We shall then meet." They then bade each other a last adieu.
The moment at last came when death was permitted to do his fearful work. The devoted friends had again gathered around the bed of the dying fair one to witness her peaceful exit. Respiration grew shorter and shorter and at last ceased, and they deemed the spirit already in the embrace of blissful messengers who were winging it to paradise. A fearful shriek! and in a moment they beheld her that they had looked upon as the departed sitting upright before them with every feature distorted.
Horror and disappointment had transformed that placid countenance so that it exhibited an expression indescribably fiendish. "I can't die!" vociferated the terrified, disappointed one. "I won't die!" At that moment the door opened and her minister entered. "Out of the door, thou deceiver of men!" she again vociferated, fell back and was no more.
"Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Mat. 7:21.)
The sainted Eunice Cobb, better known as "Mother Cobb," was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, Feb. 13, 1793.
Mother Cobb was converted in the twenty-fourth year of her earthly life. After walking with God on earth for sixty years, He took her to Himself, to reign with Him forever in the courts above, on the 3rd of January, 1877, in the eighty-fourth year of her age.
We select the following from an account of her life and death published in the "Marengo Republican":
"Died, at the residence of Mrs. M. T. Johnson, Jan. 3, 1877, Mrs. Eunice Cobb.
"During a pilgrimage of forty years with this people she ever exhibited an earnest zeal in the service of her Lord and Master. To her, religion was more than a name - a profession; it was a reality, a power revealed in the heart, that led, controlled and adorned her whole life and being. She stopped at the Fountain, not only to drink, but to wash and be made whiter than snow. She avoided everything that had the appearance of conformity to the world, and deemed it an honor to be called 'singular' for Christ's sake. Filled with a holy enthusiasm for the salvation of souls, she devoted a large portion of her time to this work, visiting from house to house, and talking and praying with all with whom she came in contact - instant in season and out of season. No work was so pressing but what there was time for prayer, and no public worship so imposing but that at its close she would earnestly, and with the most tender and thrilling appeals, exhort the unconverted to accept Christ, the believer to a higher, holier life.
"She was truly a godly woman, abundant in labors and in fruits.
"Mother Cobb, as she was known, was loved and respected by everybody, for she loved everybody, regardless of name or sect. Though fallen asleep, she yet lives in the hearts of those who have been saved by her instrumentality or blessed by her counsel. We have no words that can do full justice to the eminently devoted Christian life and character of this mother in Israel. It has been fittingly said of her, that her life is a grand commentary on the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and this, to those who knew her, will be the most appropriate testimony of her Christian worth - the best epitaph that can be inscribed to her memory.
"Many friends called to see her, and to all she testified to her perfect faith in Christ, and of His grace, not only to sustain but to cheer in a dying hour. Heaven itself seemed open to her, and a holy ecstasy filled her soul. Her last words were 'Victory! Victory! Eternal victory? - Sixty Years' Walk With God.
The noted evangelist, Mrs. Grace Weiser Davis, writes of her mother's translation, to The Christian Standard, for July 10, 1898, as follows:
For five months past I have canceled all engagements and been a witness of the triumphs of the power of God to save amid suffering and to cast out all fear that hath torment. My mother left us July 20, aged fifty-nine years and seven months. She was born in York, Pa. She was converted at the same time as my father, just previous to my birth, in a revival that continued almost one year. Our home was always hospitably thrown open to ministers of the gospel. Mother would give them the best she could get and then apologize because it was no better. Hundreds can testify to the ministrations of this combination of Mary and Martha.
After father's death, mother retained her homestead in York, Pa., but spent her time largely between my sister and myself, at least eight months of the year being in my home.
We brought mother to Bradley Beach, hoping for a prolongation of the precious life. She was cheerful and planning for a continued life here. We Shrank from telling her the truth, but God Himself gloriously revealed it to her. The doctor and ministers bore testimony to my own that it was the most glorious death bed we ever witnessed.
One day my mother prayed, "Dear Lord, prepare me for the country to which I am going:" Before the close of the day she was shouting the praises of God. From that time on she talked of her coming translation and her faith so gloriously triumphant.
On Sabbath, June 27, she had a day of wonderful exaltation. She said, "I have always hoped and trusted in God, but now I have a fuller realization than ever before." As we all wept, she said, "I don't realize that this is death. It is His will, and is all right." To the doctor she said, "Just think, doctor, to be forever with the Lord." No one could come into my mother's room thereafter without being spoken to by her upon this glory that was filling her soul. To me she said, "Grace, God has given you gifts that few others possess; let us pray that God will make you a weight of glory in the world. God has blest you, and will still more." One afternoon she said, "I am homesick for heaven." To the doctor, "Sometimes my way has seemed dark', but it was like the Ferris wheel - it always came round to a point of light." Again she said, "I believe I will get awake sometime and find myself in a strange country, to which I shall be translated!' "Mother, it will not be so strange. Your father and mother and husband and little boy are there, and we are on the way," I answered.
To one lately married she said, "You are just beginning life; it pays to begin right. Everything you do for God is on compound interest - compound interest. It will be doubly repaid you. I commenced to serve Him in early life, and consecrated my children to Him in infancy, and they are all Christians, and I am so happy."
As I kissed her one day she said, "We will rejoice together in Jesus in heaven." Her favorite words were, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me," etc.; her favorite hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." The night previous to her death she said, "There is light all around me."
Until the last she gave evidence of hearing, seeing and understanding. I knelt within fifteen minutes of her translation and said, "Mother, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need fear no evil, for God is with you. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you, and you are going to dwell in the house of the Lord forever." There came a responsive smile. In a few minutes she drew a gentle breath and was translated.
Several years ago, a gentleman, apparently in great haste, entered a certain city in one of the southern states on horseback, rode up to the hotel, alighted, and introduced himself as follows:
"I have been trying to run away from the Spirit of God, but it has followed me all of these many miles that I have traveled, and it is with me now. I had Christian training, and as I heard the gospel proclaimed from time to time I became deeply convicted of sin; but I was very rebellious and determined not to yield. The Spirit said, 'You must be born again,' but I said, 'I will not be born again.' I purchased this horse, a good, strong beast at the time, and I have worn it down poor, as you see; but I have not succeeded in outrunning the Spirit of God. I feel that I am about to die, and I have a request to make. I want you to sell this horse and bury me here in the street by this sign post, and put up a slab by my grave bearing this inscription, 'You cannot run away from the Spirit of God.' "
The man soon died. Physicians examined him and said there was no disease about him, but that he died of mental agony.
His strange request was granted, and the slab bearing this silent warning preached many a sermon to passers-by, and resulted in a revival of religion in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. - Written for this book by Mary E. Jenks, McBain, Mich.
This holy man of God went to heaven March 2, 1791, in the eighty-eighth year of his life. He had preached the gospel sixty-five years. Shortly before his death, Mr. Wesley said, "I will get up"; and whilst they arranged his clothes, he broke out singing in a manner which astonished all about him,
Once more seated in his chair, he said in a weak voice, "Lord, Thou givest strength to those who can speak and to those who cannot. Speak, Lord, to all our hearts, and let them know that Thou loosest tongues." And then he sang,
Here his voice failed. After gasping for breath he said, "Now, we have done all." He was then laid on the bed from whence he rose no more. After resting a little, he called to those who were with him to "Pray and praise." Soon after this he said, "Let me be buried in nothing but what is woolen, and let my corpse be carried in my coffin into the chapel." Again calling upon them to pray and praise, he took each by the hand, and, affectionately saluting them, bade them farewell. After attempting to say something which they could not understand, he paused a little, and then, with all the remaining strength he had, said, "The best of all is, God is with us." And again, lifting his hand, he repeated the same words in holy triumph, "The best of all is, God is with us." Being told that his brother's widow had come, he said, "He giveth His servants rest," thanked her as she pressed his hand, and affectionately tried to kiss her. After they had moistened his lips he repeated his usual grace after a meal - "We thank Thee, O Lord, for these and all Thy mercies; bless the church and king, grant us truth and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord." And, after a little pause, "The clouds drop fatness. The Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." He then called to them to pray, and seemed to join fervently in their petitions. Most of the following night he repeatedly tried to repeat the hymn he had sung, but could only say, "I'll praise, I'll praise." On Wednesday morning his end was near. Joseph Bradford prayed with him about ten o'clock in the morning, whilst eleven friends knelt round the bed. "Farewell," said the dying man, and it was the last word he spoke. Immediately after, without a groan or a sigh, he passed away. His friends stood round his bed and sang, "Waiting to receive thy spirit, Lo! the Savior stands above; Shows the purchase of His merit, Reaches out the crown of love." - Kenyon's Life of John Wesley
The following account of the death of Willie Leonard, aged only six years, will be of added interest to many who have read the little book One Year With Jesus, written a few years ago by Mrs. Anna Leonard, of Manton, Michigan, and in which she speaks of Willie. It is taken from a letter written by his mother at the time, seventeen years ago, to a friend who is glad to share it with others.
One day, about two weeks before Willie died, he came in from his play and said, "Mamma, seems to me I wouldn't want to die." When asked why, he said, "O, I wouldn't want to leave you folks here; but then I suppose I would be very happy in heaven, and, mamma, I would watch over you." His mamma clasped him in her arms; she loved him, oh! so much. She felt that the angels were beckoning to him while she talked with him of the joys that awaited him in heaven and that they would meet him there. He then said, "Mamma, I don't want any little lamb on my tomb stone, but I want a little boy lying on the grass as you have seen me lie in the summer time when I was tired out with play." (He never saw nor heard of anything of the kind; but such a stone now marks his grave.) He was taken sick with scarlet fever, of a diphtherial form, and lived but two days. He was such a patient little sufferer through it all! When asked if he was not a pretty sick little boy, he replied, "No, not very sick; but I think Jesus is going to take me to heaven to live," and an angelic look of holy rapture came over his face, with such a radiant smile. His papa was called and as he talked with him about it, that same glorious smile again illuminated his face. He then talked about the disposal of his toys, books, Sabbath school cards and papers (even remembering the writer, so many miles away, "For," said he, "I love her," and the memory is precious as she writes of him today).
He then spoke of anew hat, which he said he would not need now, and his mamma talked with him of the beautiful crown awaiting him in heaven, although her heart seemed bursting with grief. "Willie," said she, "no one can see Jesus when He comes except the one He comes after, so when you see Him will you tell me?" "Yes," he replied, "if I can talk, and if not I will point to Him." He then said be wanted them all to come to heaven. When his little brother told him that his papa had gone after the doctor he said, "O, I would rather that Jesus would take me to heaven than for Dr. Taplin to make me well!" In a few hours he was quite restless and delirious.
I now quote from the letter verbatim: "As we laid him back on his pillow, his eyes remained wide-open and fixed. We felt his feet and found them cold. I hastened and warmed flannels and wrapped them. We chafed his hands, although his finger-nails were blue. How could we believe that our Willie was dying-Willie our hope, our pride, the joy of our home, yes, our very idol! But so it was, and as we gathered round his bed we wept as only parents can weep at such times, and talked loving words to his inanimate form. He was lying very still, when all at once one little hand was raised and he pointed upward for a moment as his dear lips moved in an effort to speak. 'Willie,' I cried aloud, 'do you see Jesus?' His hand was laid again by his side, he breathed shorter and less frequently a few times and then ceased forever. In his last moments he remembered the signal agreed upon between him and me, and pointed me to Jesus.
"When the body that was so beautiful and dear to us was lowered into the silent grave and the earth fell with a hollow sound upon the box below, it seemed as if I could not rise above the shock, when I felt as it were a light breath fan my cheek and a sweet voice seemed to say, 'Mamma, I am not there; don't cry. I am happy.' My tears dried in an instant, and I cannot now think of him as anywhere but in that beautiful heaven where he longed to go. " - Furnished for this work by Mrs. Eva Simkins, Lester, Mich.
This hero of faith met and vanquished the last foe early on the morning of October 13, 1868. He was a member of Pennsylvania Conference, and spent thirteen years in itinerant work.
When his physician visited him the last time he inquired, "Doctor, what do you think of me?" "You are very ill, sir," was the reply. "Well, I did not expect that," said Mr. Humelbaugh, "but it is all right. I have tried to live a religious life, and now I can say, 'Saved by grace; saved by the grace of God.'" When asked if the gospel he had preached to others comforted his own heart, he quickly answered, "Oh, yes; oh, yes. I was afraid if I did get well I would have to give up preaching, but the Lord has arranged all that now." As the shadows thickened his faith seemed to lay hold of the Redeemer with an all-conquering grasp, and he exclaimed, "O Jesus, receive my spirit. Glory to God for a religion that saves in the dying hour." A friend, approaching his bedside, said, "Well, Brother Humelbaugh, you are going home." "Home! yes; blessed be God, I'm in the old ship sailing for - glory to God! Glory to God for experimental religion." Lifting both hands, he continued, "Let people say what they choose against experimental religion, thank God it saves in a dying hour." Then, turning to his grief-stricken wife, he sought most tenderly to console her. "Oh, Fanny, weep not for me; I will soon rest, forever rest, from all my troubles. Oh, lead a holy life; train up our children in the fear of the Lord - in experimental religion - and tell them to be humble." Addressing his physician again, he said, "Oh, doctor, what a beautiful land lies just before my eyes." Then in holy ecstasy he cried out: "O King of terrors! end of time! Oh, all is bright! I'll soon be at home. Farewell, pulpit; this is the end of my preaching." Kissing his little son, he said, "God bless you, my boy." With the confidence of Israel's sweet singer, he repeated to himself, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." So nearly exhausted was he that he omitted the last sentence, but when some one finished it he replied, "They comfort me; yes, bless God, they comfort me." A few minutes later his pulse was still. He had passed from life to life. - From Life to Life.
This wicked king died May 30, 1574. His character was a compound of passion, acuteness, heartlessness and cunning. (He was, of course, a Roman Catholic.) The massacre of St. Bartholomew, August 24, 1572, was the culmination of a series of treacheries towards the Huguenots which greatly disgraced his reign. He died a young man. During his last hours he said, "Oh, my nurse, my nurse! What blood, what murders, what evil counsels have I followed! Oh, my God, pardon me and have mercy on me if Thou canst. I know not what I am! What shall I do? I am lost; I see it well."
Sister Sarah A. Cook, known to many of our readers by her writings and evangelistic work, gives an account of the last days of her sister, who died in England during the spring of 1864. She says in her book, Wayside Sketches:
I was called to the sick bed of my eldest sister, Eliza, living in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. I found her suffering from intermittent fever and general prostration. Always delicate, with a mind too active for the frail tenement in which it dwelt, during the first stage of the sickness there seemed a strong clinging to life. Very happy in her marriage relationship - with many interests - a circle of loving friends, and an earnest worker in the cause of the Redeemer, life was full of attraction. Then the thought would come of her husband's loneliness without her, and she said, "I would be quite willing to go, but Harry would miss me so much"; but faith triumphed over nature and a little later she said, "The Lord could make Harry a happy home if He should take me."
Day by day the attraction heavenward became stronger. Once, when all was fixed for the night, and I was about leaving the room, she called me to her, and looking earnestly into my face she said, "Sarah, don't you pray for my recovery." Reminding her how much we all loved her and how glad we should be to keep her with us, she answered, "And I love you all very much; but it is so much better to depart and be with Jesus." While with her through the day, and listening to the doctor's cheery and hopeful words, I would think she might recover; but in prayer I could never take hold for her health - could only breathe out, "Thy will, O Lord, not mine, be done."
The prayer of faith, in which at times our Father enables His children to take hold for the healing of the body, was never given. In His infinite love and wisdom He was calling her home, "Where no storms ever beat on that beautiful strand, While the years of eternity roll."
Every afternoon she liked for about an hour to be left entirely alone. The fever would then be off, and she chose it as the best time for secret communion with the Lord. Opening the door one day, after the hour had passed, she sat upright in bed, her face radiant with joy as she exclaimed, "O, I have had such a view of God's love!" Stretching out her hands, she said. "It seems to me like a boundless ocean, and as though I were lost in that boundless ocean of love!" When suffering from extreme prostration, her favorite lines would be:
"Do you," said a dear friend to her one day, "have any fear of death?" "Oh, no," she answered, "I don't know that I have ever thought of it." The word death was never on her lips. The "valley of the shadow" was all bridged over. She did not see it, for the eye of faith swept over it, and was on Him who is the resurrection and the life. "To be with Jesus" was her oft-repeated expression; repeating on Friday, with tenderest, deepest joy, the whole of that beautiful hymn:
The Sabbath dawned, her last day on earth. Seeing the end was very near, I hesitated about leaving her to meet her Bible-Class at the chapel, a large class of young women. I had been teaching them every Sabbath afternoon. "Would you like me, dear, to take your class this afternoon?" I asked. "Yes," she answered with some surprise in her voice, "why not? And tell them all I have loved and prayed for them very much." It was a melting time as we all together realized how near the parting was.
Our lesson that day was the words of comfort our Savior had spoken to His disciples, recorded in the 14th of John Returning from the school with the class, they all passed by the open door to take a last look at their loved teacher. Wonderfully all through the day these words were applied to my heart, "If ye loved me ye would rejoice, because I go unto my father"; until the thought of her exceeding blessedness in being so near the presence of Jesus swallowed up all thoughts of sorrow at losing her. Hour after hour passed as the "silver cord was loosening."
An aunt, Mrs. Tuxford, remarked, "You have had seven weeks of peace." "I have had seven weeks of perfect peace," she answered. Her peace flowed like a river all through the day; at times she spoke words of fullest trust. With her head leaning on the bosom of her husband, the last words that our listening ears caught were, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." - Wayside Sketches.
Through the kindness of L. B. Balliett, M. D., we furnish our readers with this touching incident:
A boy dying of his wounds in one of our hospitals during the rebellion was asked by the lady nurse, "Are you ready to meet your God, my dear boy?" The large dark eyes opened slowly, and a smile passed over the young soldier's face as he answered, "I am ready, dear lady, for this has been His kingdom," and as he spoke he placed his hand upon his heart. "Do you mean," questioned the lady gently, "that God rules and reigns in your heart?" "Yes," he whispered, then passed away. His hand still lay over his heart after it had ceased to beat.
Miss - was the name of an amiable young lady of my acquaintance who died at the age of sixteen. She was the daughter of respectable and pious parents in one of the New England States. On the cultivation of her mind considerable attention had been bestowed. . . . To what extent her mind had been imbued with religious truth in childhood, I have not been able fully to learn. It is certain that, from her earliest years, she had regarded religion with respect and had entertained the expectation of becoming a Christian before she died . . . One morning, especially, the first impression she had when she awoke was that she must embrace religion then; and that her soul was in imminent danger of being lost if she delayed. . . . She deliberated, she reasoned, she prayed, and finally made up her mind to the deliberate resolution that she would repent and accept the offer of salvation before the close of that day. She did not actually repent then, but resolved that she would do it that day. . . . But the day had its cares and pleasures; business and company filled up its hours, and the night found her as thoughtless, almost, as she had been for months.
The next morning her religious impressions were renewed and deepened. . . . The violated vows of the previous morning gave her some uneasiness; she felt not quite the same confidence in herself that she did before; but she had now formed her resolution so firmly, she was so fixed in her purpose, that she considered the issue could hardly be any longer doubtful; and the agony of her soul gave way to the soothing reflection that she should soon be a Christian. She had now taken, as she imagined, "one step" - had formed a solemn purpose and had given a pledge to repent that day. She felt, as she expressed it, committed, and hardly had a doubt as to the accomplishment of her purpose. This day also passed as before. She did, indeed, several times during the day think of her resolution, but not with that overwhelming interest she had felt in the morning, and nothing decisive was done.
The next morning her impressions were again renewed, and she again renewed her resolution, and it was dissipated as before; and thus she went on resolving and breaking her resolutions, until at length her anxiety entirely subsided and she entirely relapsed into her former state of unconcern. She was not, however, absolutely indifferent; she still expected and resolved to be a Christian; but her resolutions now looked to a more distant period for their accomplishment, and she returned to the cares and pleasures of the world with the same interest as before.
About this time she went to reside in a neighboring village, and I did not see her again for about three months, when I was called at an early hour one morning to visit her on the bed of death. . . . About daybreak, on the morning of the day she died, she was informed that her symptoms had become alarming, and that her sickness would probably be fatal. The intelligence was awfully surprising. . . . At one time her distress became so intense and her energies so exhausted that she was forced to conclude her soul lost - that nothing could now be done for it; and for a moment she seemed as if in a horrid struggle to adjust her mind to her anticipated doom. But oh that word Lost. Her whole frame shuddered at the thought.
It was now nearly noon. Most of the morning had been employed either in prayer at her bedside or in attempting to guide her to the Savior; but all seemed ineffectual; her strength was now nearly gone; vital action was no longer perceptible at the extremities, the cold death-sweat was gathering on her brow, and dread despair seemed ready to possess her soul. She saw, and we all saw, that the fatal moment was at hand, and her future prospect one of unmingled horror. She shrank from it. She turned her eyes to me, and called on all who stood around her to beseech once more the God of mercy in her behalf.
We all knelt again at her bedside, and having once more commended her to God, I tried again to direct her to the Savior, and was beginning to repeat some promises which I thought appropriate, when she interrupted me, saying with emphasis, "I can not be pardoned; it i8 too late, too late!" And again alluding to that fatal resolution, she begged of me to charge all the youth of my congregation not to neglect religion as she had done; not to stifle their conviction by a mere resolution to repent. "Warn them, warn them," she said, "by my case" - and again she attempted to pray, and swooned again.
She continued thus alternately to struggle and faint, every succeeding effort becoming feebler, until the last convulsive struggle closed the scene, and her spirit took its everlasting flight. - Rev. E. Phelps, D. D.
"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." (Isa. 55:6.)
We quote the following experience from A Woman's Life Work, written by the sainted Laura S. Haviland, whose life was full of good works. She says:
I met on the street a sister White, who was much distressed about her son, who was almost gone with consumption, and yet was unwilling to see any minister or religious person, to say anything to him about a preparation for the change. "Do, please, go with me now to see my dying son Harvey. May be he'll listen to you."
I went to her house and found him too weak to talk much. The mother introduced me as her friend who had called on her. I took his emaciated hand and said, "I see you are very low and weak, and I do not wish to worry you with talking, but you have but little hope of being restored to health I should judge from your appearance."
He turned his head on his pillow as he said, "I can never be any better - I can't live."
"Then your mind has been turned toward the future, and may the enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit lead you to the Great Physician of souls, who knows every desire of the heart, and is able to save to the uttermost, even at the eleventh hour." I saw the starting tear as he looked earnestly at me, while I was still holding his feverish hand in mine. "Will it be too much for you, in your weak condition, if I should read to you a few of the words of our Lord and Savior?"
"O no, I'd like to hear you."
I opened to the fourteenth of John, and upon reading a few verses I saw that the impression made was deepening, and asked if it would worry him too much if l should spend a few moments in prayer. "O no, I'd like to hear you pray."
Placing my hand on his forehead, I implored divine aid in leading this precious soul to the cleansing fountain, and that his faith might increase, and in its exercise be enabled to secure the pearl of great price.
As I arose from his bedside, he reached out both hands for mine and said, "I want you to come tomorrow." He wept freely; and I left with the burden of that precious soul upon my heart.
The mother and sister, who were both professors of religion, stood near the door weeping for joy over the consent of the dear son and brother to listen to the few words of reading and prayer.
The day following I met the sick man again, and as soon as I entered his mother's room she said, "Oh, how thankful to God we are for this visit to my poor boy! He seems in almost constant prayer for mercy. Early this morning he spoke of your coming today."
As I entered his room he threw up both hands, saying, "God will have mercy on poor me, won't He?"
"Most certainly," I responded; "His word is nigh thee, even in thy heart, and in thy mouth."
"Do pray for me," he requested.
I read a few words from the Bible, and followed with prayer, in which he joined with a few ejaculations. I left him much more hopeful than on the previous day.
The next morning his sister came for me in great haste, saying, "Brother Harvey wants to see you, quick."
It was not yet sunrise; but I hastened to obey the message, as I supposed he .was dying. Not a word passed between us until we reached her brother's room. Upon opening his door he exclaimed, "Glory, glory to God, Mrs. Haviland! Come to me quick, I want to kiss you; for God brought me out of darkness this morning about the break of day. O hallelujah! Glory to Jesus! He shed His blood for poor me; and I shouted louder than I could talk for a good many days. O, how I wish f had strength to tell everybody that I am happier in one minute than I ever was in all my life put together!"
He became quite exhausted in shouting and talking and I advised him to rest now in the arms of the beloved Savior.
"Yes, I am in His arms. Glory to His name for what He has done for me! I want you to see my cousin George; he is sick and not able to come to see me today."
I told him I would within a few days, and left him, with his cup of salvation overflowing.
About two hours before he died he looked at his mother, smiling, and said, "There's Mary; don't you see her, standing at the foot of my bed?"
"No, my son, mother don't see her."
"O, how beautiful she looks! It seems as if you must see her," and he looked very earnestly at the object. "There, she's gone now." Fifteen minutes before he breathed his last, he said, "Here she is again, and so beautiful! Mother, can't you see her?" "No, son, I can't see her."
"Beautiful, beautiful she is. There, she's gone again." Just as the soul took its flight, he upraised both hands, with a smile, and said, "Here she is, with two angels with her. They've come for me"; and the hands dropped as the breath left him, with the smile retained on his countenance.
The sister Mary, that died a number of years previously, was about four years old; and his mother told me she had not heard her name mentioned in the family for months before Harvey's death.
Beulah Blackman was a girl of unusual loveliness of person and character. As a school teacher, she held up the light of a pure and holy life, often bringing persecution upon herself by her unyielding adherence to the principles of Christianity and righteousness. The writer has seen her while under the pressure of severe criticism with tears streaming down her face as with a smile she said, "This is good for me!" Her aim in living was to do good, to "rescue the perishing" and uplift the downcast.
She was married in the summer of 1897 to Lewis Leonard, but on the following Easter Sunday - the resurrection day - her pure spirit took its flight to be forever with the Lord.
For months before she died, she was unable to get to the house of God, but she had her "Dethel"; her little red Bible was always near her, and the young girls who aided her in her housework received advice and admonitions which they will remember while life lasts.
We were called to her home on Saturday evening, and as we entered the room she held up her hands for loving greeting as she said, "O, ma, the Lord is here and I have the victory." As the Spirit came upon her, she laughed and cried as we praised God together.
Upon the arrival of the doctor, she told him that a greater Physician than he had been there and encouraged her so much. As he was not a Christian, she said to him, "You don't understand it."
All through the long night she manifested such patient endurance, with now and then a word for Jesus, in Whom we all knew she trusted. As her strength failed, she said again, "I am so glad I have the Lord."
As morning broke bright and beautiful, she welcomed her infant son into the world, "with only time for one long kiss and then to leave him motherless."
Her heart, naturally weak, failed, and she appeared to be paralyzed. An effort was made to arouse her so that she could look again at her babe, but she could neither move nor speak. Her husband begged of her to speak once more, and failing to do that, he asked her to smile if she still knew him, which she did, and as he kissed the dear pale lips they parted in an effort to return the demonstration of love. Then, like a weary child going to sleep in its mother's arms, she leaned her head on Jesus' breast and breathed her life out sweetly there.
While we wept she lifted her eyes upward and gazed an instant as if surprised, then smile after smile illuminated her face, showing plainly that fullness of joy was certain. A holy influence filled the room. There was no terror there. There seemed to be angelic visitors waiting to conduct her home. Tears were dried. It seemed as if the gates of heaven were ajar and a glimpse of the glory which awaits the faithful was given to mortals. A moment more and all was over. A look of peaceful victory rested on the lovely features. Truly God is our Father. He is love. - Written For this work by Mrs. Anna M. Leonard, Manton, Mich..
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