The Gospel 24/7
---------------REV. HENRY WATSON FOX
From An Antique Book in Webmaster's Library - Editor Unknown
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The touch of death is life."
"I hold a middle rank 'twixt heaven and earth.
On the last verge of mortal being stand,
Close to the realms where angels have their birth;
Just on the boundary of the spirit land. -RUSSIAN ODE.
"Oh what glorious songs are pealing
From that chosen, spotless throng;
O'er the plains of heaven stealing,
'Holy, holy,' still their song."
The second Sunday before he died, upon my remarking, 'It was the close of the Sabbath, and there remaineth a Sabbath (rest) for the people of God,' he said, 'And what a Sabbath! perfect rest! when shall I get there? It is that little stream which divides us and makes us shrink. Earth has such hold of us.' This was on his thirty-first birth-day, the first of October. He had felt too ill for several days to see his children, but now begged they might come. They came, bringing him nosegays of flowers, gathered from their own little gardens, wishing him in child-like glee, 'many happy returns of the day.' 'Perhaps,' said he, it will be the last.' I did not think it: hope still predominated with us. After the children left him, (and he could only bear their presence a few minutes,) he said, 'Dear little things, how they wind themselves round one's heart.' His affection for his children was very deep and tender, which made his readiness to leave them and commit them with faith to the God of the fatherless, more striking.
"Reading to him Jeremiah 31:3, he repeated, 'an everlasting love. I have drawn thee! Yes, drawn against our wills.'
"One morning the medical man reminding him of the many mercies he enjoyed in his present illness, compared with what he had had in India, he said, 'Yes, God is indeed good to me. He sends me innumerable mercies. His love is indeed wonderful! wonderful! wonderful! To send his Son to die for such creatures as we are! Surpassing love!' Then in a low tone, his eyes shut and a pause between, 'Love! love! love!'
This is a specimen, I may say, of his general tone of mind. Innumerable times did he express himself in a similar manner, respecting the love of God and his great goodness to himself and to all men. His heart seemed literally filled with the love of God shed abroad in it by the Holy Ghost. 'I now regret,' continues his sister Isabella, 'that I was unable to note down more of his sweet expressions of love and faith; those I give you I put down at the time, and are his own words.
On my saying, "We shall see Him as He is," he said, "See Him! I see Him! Oh! it will be glorious!" He then went on to speak of the blessedness of heaven: "No crying, no curse, no sin!'" We then spoke of the happiness of being there. Surely even then he had a foretaste of its glory! His heart seemed filled with joyful anticipations, and the poor, suffering body could not keep it from mounting into the third heaven, into which he almost seemed to carry me along with him.
"A doubt of his interest in Christ never arose, nor did a cloud for a moment ever come between him and his clear view of his Saviour. I had in my own mind fears, whether in the hours of nature's greatest extremity Satan might not be allowed to try him, as he often does God's children; -- but no, blessed be God! all was bright to the end. Once when he seemed much distressed and oppressed by suffering and weakness, I said, 'In going through the dark valley, Satan often distresses God's people.' He quickly replied, 'Thank God, he has never been allowed to distress me.'
"This was the day before he died, and I feel assured the same peace continued to the end.
* * * "His faith was never shaken, but it was tried. Deeply did he feel those seasons, when from extreme weakness, he could hold no sensible communion with God. He seemed to reckon his nights good or bad, in proportion to the degree in which he enjoyed the light of God's countenance . . . Once he said, 'Sometimes I can lift up my heart to God, at other times it is so dead. To look to Christ on the cross, that is the way to get comfort and help from the Saviour of sinners. Never was there a word, or sign, or look, which betrayed a failing of perfect patience.
" 'God sends many alleviations to your sufferings'-- 'Oh, yes! tender mercies, wonderful mercies. He makes all my bed in my sickness. He gives me all the comforts I need!'
"If you had seen the happy, grateful, heavenly countenance with which he uttered all his praiseful, grateful sentences, it would have engraven your soul.
"God was glorified greatly in his servant, for it was manifest to all, that it was his power which shone forth so brightly in him.
"Speaking of the conclusion of the eighth of Romans, and that love of Christ from which nothing can separate us, he said 'I seemed to have got deeper into this -- this wonderful love of Christ.'
"'This is the one thing God has shown me more in this illness. This wonderful love of Christ to sinners -- such love!' I spoke of the shortness of time, the length of eternity. 'Oh, such an eternity, too,' he exclaimed -- 'and such brightness, and such glory -- we cannot reach it -- we cannot comprehend it now -- it will be far, far above our present powers of conception.'. . . His whole heart seemed fixed upon the joys to which be was going, the prospect looked to him inexpressibly bright.
"When I went into his room the next morning, be said to me, 'I am very weak, can scarcely speak, but Oh, happy! happy! happy!' He now thought his time must be short, and desired to see his children. They got on the bed and kissed him; he said, 'That is your last kiss. God bless you; if you wish to see papa again, you must come to heaven where you will find him and dear mamma and little Johnny; now good bye.
He was calm and not overcome. I remembered his deep emotion when he parted from them to return to India, two years before. The struggle, and it was a bitter one -- was gone through at that time -- the sacrifice had been made, and God spared him the pain of a second.
"I may here mention his dying testimony to the cause to which he had sacrificed his life. After reading to him the first three verses of Isaiah 40, I remarked, 'it was a privilege to have been called even in a small measure, to prepare the way of the Lord.' He replied, 'Yes, there seems a special blessing rests on it; I often thank God that he called me to be a missionary to go abroad.' On his mother asking him whether he repented having given his life to missionary work, he said, 'No, never! if I had to live over again, I would do the same.' This he said only a day or two before he died, when he knew he was, humanly speaking, losing his life in consequence of his labors abroad and at home in that cause -- a cause so glorious, even the ransoming of immortal souls from sin and Satan, that it was dearer to him than life itself, through love to his Redeemer.
"I asked, 'have you peace?' 'Yes, peace, the only anxiety is to be gone; but God's will is best, that is the best thing, perfect submission to his will.' As the outer man decayed, the inner man grew stronger; it was love and faith made perfect, which had cast out fear. To his dear mother he said, 'In due time we shall meet 'in Jesus; we shall see him as he is, very beautiful! very beautiful!'
"Speaking of Christ, he said, 'It would be ten thousand times better to be with him; perhaps I may see him tomorrow.' The happy calmness of tone and look with which he expressed himself throughout, was striking; it was the result of a firm conviction of the certainty and reality of the truths he believed and the glory he anticipated. It was as if he were speaking of soon joining a loved parent or brother on earth, only his feelings were holier, higher, more blessed.
* * * "During this last day, he frequently exclaimed, 'Lord, why tarriest thou? come, Lord,' but always adding, 'God's will be done,' or, 'God's time is best.' Whilst sitting quietly by him, he exclaimed, 'How happy! If it please God I may sink away thus, it will be a great mercy!' At three o'clock of this last day, he said, 'Oh Lord! gracious Lord! loving Jesus! how gracious he is. Oh, let me go today. 0 Lord, thou knowest best. Are there two or three hours yet before God comes? Pray that he will come.'
* * " He had for the last two days and nights, frequently seemed near going, so that even now I scarcely knew whether he might not linger for a while, though my prayers were joined with his, that if it were God's will his happy soul might speedily be released. I heard him faintly saying to himself, 'Jesus, Jesus must be first in the heart.' 'He is first in yours.' 'Yes, he is.' They were his last words. I felt his firm grasp of my hand relaxing, his pulse was gone; his breathing became slow and more faint; I sent for you and my brother, and soon after your arrival, he gently ceased to breathe, and was with the Saviour."