The Gospel 24/7
------------------------REV. MR. HEWITSON
From An Antique Book in Webmaster's Library - Editor Unknown
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Fearless to his presence fly;
Thine the merit of his blood,
Thine the righteousness of God!
Angels joyful to attend,
Hovering round thy pillow bend;
Wait to catch the signal given,
And escort thee quick to heaven!
Shudder not to pass the stream,
See the haven full in view,
Such the prospects that arise,
There is a vast and vital difference betwixt the Christian and the mere religionist, though the two are so often confounded. Each revolves around his own centre. The religionist's centre is self; hence his cheerless gloom. The Christian's centre is Christ; hence his light and genial warmth. In these two circles Mr. Hewitson successively moved.
Dr. Payson has supposed the various classes of Christians to be ranged in different concentric circles round Christ as their common centre, "Some," he says, "value the presence of their Saviour so highly that they cannot bear to be at any remove from him. Even their work they will bring up and do it in the light of his countenance, and while engaged in it, will be seen constantly raising their eyes to him, as if fearful of losing one beam of his light. Others, who, to be sure, would not be content to live out of his presence, are yet less wholly absorbed by it than these, and may be seen a little further off, engaged here and there in their various callings, their eyes generally upon their work, but often looking up for the light which they love. A third class beyond these, but yet within the life-giving rays, includes a doubtful multitude, many of whom are so much engaged in their worldly schemes that they may be seen standing sideways to Christ, looking mostly the other way, and only now and then turning their faces towards the light. In the innermost concentric circle Mr. Hewitson now took his stand."
"From the time," writes his earliest friend, "that he was brought clearly to see Christ as his, 'all in all,' his soul was filled with his glory as a present Saviour and ever-loving Friend; his communion with him became more like that of one friend with another, Who are personally near, than of a distant correspondence. His holy ambition was to follow the Lord fully. 'A blessing it is beyond every other,' are his own expressive words at this period; 'to have an ear deaf to the world's music, but all awake to the voice of Him who "is chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely."'
His ministry was now drawing near a close. There is an affecting pathos in the following notes. He was preparing for what proved to be his last communion.
Dirleton, February 18, 1850.
11 My DEAR BROTHER:-- My health seems to be speedily declining. Sometimes my heart bounds with joy at the thought of being soon present with the Lord. Nevertheless, I should rather labor on earth amidst hardship and trial for a while longer, if only the Lord had any end to serve by me here still. . . .
* * "Like a wounded soldier in the camp of Jesus, I must retire, at least for the time mentioned, from the field. The cold of this winter seems to have helped me well forward on my way to the valley, which, though dark is not dreary or dreadful to the disciples of Jesus.
"Yours very affectionately,
Our visit that week to Dirleton we shall not soon forget. The reader may gather the impression left by it from the following jottings taken clown at the time.
"March 6.-- We went to Dirleton at four; found clear Hewitson very feeble indeed--more so than he has ever been; seems to anticipate the possibility of his departure within a month; is quite happy in the Lord.
"March 7.-- Had much conversation to-day; our dear brother very animated and all his words fragrant. Spoke again and again on the necessity of looking, not at our faith, but at Christ--at the person of Christ; this gave peace and joy, but faith is a very poor thing to look at; nothing but a broken reed piercing him who leans on it. * *
" 'Who am I,' exclaimed Luther on witnessing the unmurmuring patience of one of the Reformation worthies under the endurance of intense physical agony. 'Who am I, a wordy preacher, in comparison with this great doer?' The calm triumph of a deeply tried sufferer is now to be witnessed in Mr. Hewitson.
" 'I am better acquainted,' he said, 'with Jesus than with any friend I have on earth.' The words convey the very impression made by his whole conversation and appearance. He looked like one sitting at the feet, and listening to the words of a tender and compassionate human friend. And yet there was no unholy familiarity.
* * * "He speaks with quiet, peaceable assurance of his departure. Truly he seems filled with the Holy Ghost, and already is enjoying immediate communion. with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
Ere we follow him to Dirleton, we linger a moment over the scene at Bruntsfield.
Rajahgopaul, whose memory is so fragrant in Scotland, because of his gifts and his graces, had during these two months sojourned under the same hospitable roof. In a letter to India dated a day after their separation the youthful missionary thus wrote.
"Edinburg, May 22,1850.
"Lady F. is away today on an errand of mercy, on the work of a ministering angel, to watch over poor, dying Mr. Hewitson at Dirleton. He stayed with us at Bruntsfield Lodge for more than nine weeks. The doctors gave up all hope of his recovery; so he returned to his parish to testify of Christ in his last hours. He has lived much, very much to God and near God. The truth of the prophet was never perhaps more fully exemplified than in him: 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.' He looked to all of us inore like one that had stepped clown from the mansions of our Father in heaven, than one going to them."
We visited Dirleton on Thursday, 23d of May. He was I on the sofa, with his Bible. "I have learned one lesson," said he, "by reading the Word in my illness. I see that even when I preached with what I felt to be some measure of tenderness, I scarcely knew what Christ's tenderness was. The Bible," he added, "gives not only the mind of God, but his heart. It is the latter exhibited to men which draws and wins. If I could preach now, I think I should be far more tender."
This is a remarkable testimony from such a man. His tenderness had been all along his most marked characteristic. And yet now he felt as if he had never known what it is to weep over souls.
Left, like Payson, whom in many respects he so much resembled, "a mere wreck of being," he endured for a period of two months the most distressing bodily suffering. Like Payson he suffered in silence. But he was not silent in telling of the Lord's abiding faithfulness: his "tongue sang aloud of his righteousness."
"Meditate much on the love of Christ," he was often saying to those about him. "It is a wonderful love. I love him with my whole heart. I long to be with my Beloved."
On another occasion he remarked, "I have seen further down the late into the depths of His amazing love than I ever saw before. It is surely a grievous thing to doubt; it is most dishonoring to the Lord."
One day at table, after drinking a tumbler of cold water, he said, "What a beautiful emblem." Then dwelling upon each word with evident delight, he slowly repeated "He showed me a pure river of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb." "When we reach that river," said a friend who was present, "there will be an end of all our weariness and languor." "And what is far better," rejoined Mr. Hewitson, "an end of the possibility of sinning."
"The righteousness of Christ is my stay. That sustained me in Madeira, in the midst of persecution and difficulties; it has sustained me through all my ministry, and it sustains me now." "It is a great privilege," remarked his friend, "to be enabled to bear the testimony you now do." "And a humbling thing," replied Mr. Hewitson; "the more grace, the more self-emptying."
"I fear you are much weaker to-day," said one of his elders who came in to see him, "Yes," he replied, "but I can lean on the Everlasting Arm. I find it the same now, when entering the dark valley, that I saidit was in the pulpit. It is on that Arm that I long to see every member of the congregation resting. I loved my Portuguese in Madeira so much," he proceeded to say, "that I thought I could never be equally attached to another congregation, but I feel now that I am as much attached to Dirleton."
The biographer of Payson observes, that, "prayer was eminently the business of his life." The same may be said of Hewitson. "My heart," was his meek testimony one day in the midst of severe bodily suffering, "is ever above with Jesus." At frequent intervals in conversation, his soul seemed to be lifting itself up in silent prayer. The effect was that peculiar heavenliness which sat upon him continually.
"Once I overheard him in prayer," writes Theodorus of Martin Luther, "but oh! with what life and spirit did he pray! It was with as much reverence as if he were in the felt presence of God, yet with as much confidence as if he had been speaking to a friend." Such it may be gathered was Mr. Hewitson's secret praying.
The expectation of success he continued to the last to regard as not the least weighty element in his own successful ministry. President Edwards observes, in his life of Brainerd, that his history shows us the right way to success in the work of the ministry. "He sought it as a resolute soldier seeks a victory in a siege or battle, or as a man that runs a race for a great prize."
* * * "I shall soon be in the presence of Jesus." "What a change it will be from this sad struggle," rejoined his friend. "Yes, yes," he said quickly, as if anxious to correct a false impression, "but it is not for that I wish it. I am willing to bear all this from my Father. It is working for good. I long to be with Jesus-- to be holy as God is holy; that is what I long for."
At three o'clock in the morning of Monday, the 29th of July, he became suddenly worse. A paroxysm more severe than any he had yet suffered, seemed to threaten almost immediate dissolution. The paroxysm after a few hours passed, but left him so oppressed that he could no longer lie in bed, but was obliged to sit up in it almost in a direct position.
During the rest of the week he lingered on in the same exhausted state, suffering at intervals great agony, but waiting patiently for his change. One morning, about two, he said to his sister, " Oh ! was not that a wonderful thing, the agony which Jesus suffered in his body for our sins. ns. And that agony was only an index of what he suffered in his soul." The dying love of Christ seemed to be filling his whole heart.
At the end of the week, as a friend was taking leave, and was referring to his great sufferings, he said, "The Lord has never forsaken me, and he never will-- never. It is the best, the kindest, the most fatherly way. Faith receives it now; sight shall soon behold it."
The next three clays his sufferings continued unabated. On the Tuesday afternoon they were agonizing. But the Lord gave him grace to endure. Towards evening the pain was relieved. At length, about midnight, lifting himself up in bed, he raised his hands and eyes in prayer: Oh, my people!" he cried. These were his last words. A few minutes afterwards he calmly fell asleep. It was on the 7th of August, 185O. --Extracts from "Hewitson's Life." -Rev. John Baillie.