The Joy of Faith in the Shadow of Death
by WILLIAM HUNTINGTON
ADDRESSED TO THE RESPECTABLE FAMILY OF THE BLAKERS, OF BOLNEY, IN SUSSEX, UPON THE DEATH OF AN INDULGENT HUSBAND, A TENDER FATHER, AND AN HONEST BELIEVER IN CHRIST.
TO W.H., S.S.
Bolney, Dec. 9, 1804.
I HAVE just now received my kind friend's affectionate and supporting epistle, for which I beg you to accept a thousand thanks from me. For these three days past (besides my other troubles) something has been suggested to my mind, that, if my poor father is taken away, you will then favour us no more with your summer visits, and that we shall no more hear from you, or be favoured with the comfort of your acquaintance. But I desire to be thankful to God that this is only a suggestion from the enemy. I much fear, my dear friend, that you will no more see my dear father's face in the flesh; for it is not expected that he will be alive when you receive this.
On Wednesday evening last he seemed to grow much worse. In the same night I went from Worth to Bolney; and on the next day, from one o'clock till three, we all thought he was going off. But even in those moments, when he was upon the verge of death, he looked round upon us all, three or four different times, and gave us such an heavenly smile as appeared wonderful; and really the tranquility, peace, and consolations, that he seems to enjoy, are beyond expression. I was up with him alone the greatest part of the ensuing night, after he had been so exceedingly ill, and was then a little recovered; at which time he spoke very freely, and a good deal, to me. I said to him, "You was very ill yesterday?" "Yes," said he," I was; but what I felt nobody knows, the rays of light upon me were as the glory of Lebanon," Isaiah, 35:2. "I cannot describe," said he, "the glory that shone upon me." And he added, "In my worst moments I have always found it so. But some little time back, when I seemed to get a little better in body, then I felt bondage and darkness come upon me." The words in one of your former letters were brought fresh to my mind, by a speech of my poor father's to my sister Mary. She was standing by him, apparently very low, and filled with grief. He looked up at her and said, "My dear, we should not sorrow as others which have no hope," 1 Thess. 4:13. Poor dear man! I am much cast down at the thoughts and fears of losing him. But I hope God will enable me to submit to his sovereign will. Never, no never, since I have been upon earth, have I found myself so completely crucified to this world, and to all things beneath the sun, as I do at this time. There is not one thing upon earth that I feel alive to, or have any desire after. But, from heart-felt experience, I can say that my soul thirsteth after God, and my soul is stirred up to seek him with my whole heart. And at times I am enabled to pour out my soul before him, and to show him my trouble, and to cast all my cares and burdens upon him, and that with a secret persuasion that he careth for me. What you say in yours is true; that nothing but the Son of God, and faith in him, can stay the mind, or fix the heart, in times of trial. Many of the poor souls round about us seem sorely cut at the thoughts of losing my poor father; and I believe they have put up many petitions for his recovery; but I much fear that their request will not be granted. My poor sister is almost overwhelmed. I was in hopes that you would have come to see my father, and am sorry you did not; but having heard that your health was poorly, I thought you might not be able to come. If he should revive again, and get a little better, I hope you will endeavour to see him once more. In his present state he is scarcely able to speak.
I shall comply with your request; and you may depend upon it that I will write from day to day, informing you how he goes on: indeed, I should have written before now, but was afraid of being troublesome to you, knowing that you have much on your hands. My poor father continues very sensible; but takes little notice of any body, or of any thing. His breath is very bad, and he can take no sustenance but a little liquid in a tea-spoon.
Farewell. All the family unite in kind love to you; and believe me to remain,
Yours very affectionately,
TO MISS E. B.
Dearly beloved in the Lord,
GRACE and peace be multiplied through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yours came safe to hand, and I thank you for it; and my soul blesses the almighty and eternal God for his undeserved kindness to your poor father, now in dying circumstances.
But all the children of God are not thus favoured. God Almighty has immutably fixed every thing belonging to his chosen household of faith, even their residence while in this world. The appointed days of their life, and the glorious end they shall make in death.
First, he has fixed their residence during their stay in this life, which is called his determination. He hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. (Acts 17:26)
The time of their life is unalterably appointed also. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die." (Eccles. 3:1,2) When this day comes, go men must, for it is so appointed of God; and so says Jehovah himself. Nor can all the men upon earth deprive a saint of one single day, "The number of thy days I will fulfil." (Exo. 23:26) And the Lord said unto Moses, "Behold, thy days approach that thou must die." (Deut. (31:14) No man under heaven can ever pass over this appointed day of his death. "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds, that he cannot pass." (Job 14:5) The determined measure of him days, and the number of his months, are so irrevocably fixed, that he cannot pass these bounds: just as a servant, who engages to serve for a time, and expects his hire and deliverance at the Period of his appointment; so man accomplishes, "as an hireling, his day." (Job 14:6) Nor has the greatest favourite of God, and those who are most prevalent with him in prayer, any power to retain the soul one day, or one moment, in the body, when once the appointed time of death comes. "There is no man that hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death, and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it." (Eccles. 8:8)
As soon as I received your first letter, informing me of your father's illness, I went to lay it before God, and to entreat the Almighty to spare his useful life; but I felt a bar on my heart, so that I could not; nor did I dare, nor did I once pray for his life; and from that moment I was fully persuaded that he would never rise again. I told Lady Sanderson, the same day, that ho would surely die. And, when you sent a few lines to Miss Lavender, informing her that he was better, Lady S - - told me of it. I replied to her ladyship, "He will relapse again, for he will never rise any more."
I shall now show my dear friend the promises of God intended for a death-bed comfort, and of the different experiences of God's children in their dying hours.
There are some who yield the obedience of faith, and yet have but little of the light of God's countenance; as you read; "Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light; let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God." (Isa. 50:10) Such souls are said to have bands in their death. (Ps. 73:4) And yet these souls are safe, because they obey the voice of God's servant, which is believing in Christ. Christ came to destroy him that had the power of death, which is the devil; and to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14)
There are also very precious promises to those believers who have paid a tender regard and attention to other poor believers when they have been sick and afflicted; strengthening, comforting, encouraging them: and Christ himself will take notice of this in the great day. "I was sick, and ye visited me." (Matt. 25:36) And again," For as much as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:40) Hence, the promise, "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness." (Ps. 41:1-8) There are four things premised in this passage:
1. He shall be delivered from his enemies, the worst of whom is Satan, and the second death.
2. That God will keep him alive; for "He that liveth and believeth in me," says Christ, "shall never die;" that is, he shall never die the second death; (John 11:26) for "on such the second death hath no power." (Rev. 20:6) 3. God promises to strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; that is, inwardly to support him by his grace and Holy Spirit, so that the heavier his pains are, the more support he shall have. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." (Deut. 33:25) Where this is the case, the soul thrives in grace the faster as the body droops and declines. "But, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Cor. 4:16)
4. God makes his bed in his sickness; that is, he is blessed with meekness, composure of mind, and submission to the will of God, which comforts his soul under bodily pains. A healthy soul will bear up under an infirm body, but a sin-sick soul is sure to sink. A man's spirit will sustain the infirmities of the body, "but a wounded spirit who can bear?" (Prov. 18:14) God gives all his children a good hope through grace. (2 Thess. 2:16) And wherever God gives the grace of hope, there salvation is sure. "For we are saved by hope." (Rom. 8:24) This hope has eternal life in it, and hence it is called a lively hope, (1 Pet. 1:3) in opposition to all dead hope, which perisheth at death; for "the hope of unjust men perisheth." (Prov. 11:7) The hope that God gives is called the anchor of the soul, which keeps it from sinking in despondency, and from drowning in destruction and perdition. "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast." (Heb 6:19) This hope is firm even in death itself. "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death." (Prov. 14:32)
Those who have had an experience of the love of God, and who are said to be made perfect in love, and have been brought to exercise patience towards God under a daily cross, so as for patience (as James expresses it) to have had its perfect work, and who have come to some degree of perfection in the knowledge of Christ, are called perfect men; and such as love Christ are called upright men. (Song 1:4) Now God bids you attend the sick beds of such, and to observe and watch the end of them; and to take notice if God is not faithful to them, and to the promises that he has made to them. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." (Ps. 37:37)
Nothing short of faith in the Son of God can secure eternal life to men. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth On him." (John 3:36) "As many as are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Gal. 3:9) And God's blessing is life for evermore. (Ps. 133:3) Hence believers are said to be blessed in death, for they do not die in their sins; nor do they die in their flesh, trusting in themselves that they are righteous; but they die in the Lord, and the blessing of life attends them in death. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." (Rev. 14:13) I have showed my dear friend the promises God hath made to his children on a death-bed; all of which you have seen and heard from the mouth of your father, yea, and much more; for what I have taken notice of amounts to hope, peace, and the blessing of life: but your father has had the light of God's countenance with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And thus to die is to end one's days in the possession of the noblest wish, and the most capacious desire, in all the book of God; and this is the most expanded hope of the Apostle Paul. "The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me: but none of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy." (Acts 20:23,24) This is rising higher than internal support on the bed of languishing; it is more than simply the steadfastness of hope, which is an anchor of the soul, that counteracts despondency and keeps the vessel of mercy steady. It is more than dying in peace and friendship with God and conscience; for it is shouting victory in the jaws of death, and triumphing over the king of terrors, (Job 18:14) while in the field of action. It is finishing the warfare and fight of faith in the highest pitch of militant glory; and in the enjoyment of the most consummate felicity, promised, expected, or desired, in all the book of God. But there is no one thing in all this account that is strange to you. You, yourself have, at times (though but young), for some years experimentally known, felt, and enjoyed every one of them.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Ps. 116:15) And, as the death of the saints is precious in the sight of God, it should not be grievous in ours. We are forbidden to give way to immoderate sorrow, because God has made an infinite difference between dying in sin and dying in the Lord; between the believer and the infidel. The believer dies in faith; this is the revealed end of all. The pious patriarchs, prophets, and saints of old time, "all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Heb. 11:13) And it is the eternal decree of God, which was made known to Adam as soon as he fell, and exercised by Abel the protomartyr as soon as he approached to God, that the just man should live by his faith. (Heb. 10:38) Hence it is said that "by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." (Heb 11:4; Gen. 4:4) And we are told, in the New Testament, that faith, whether weak or strong, and whether exercised under the Old Testament, or under the New, comes to the same glorious end; namely, salvation from sin, from Satan, from death, from the grave, and from hell itself�: "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of the soul," (1 Pet. 1:9) which is not a temporal, but a spiritual and an eternal one; "for Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end." (Isa. 45:17)
The way to heaven is to follow Christ in the regeneration. (Matt. 19:28) Fear begins it, and love perfects and ends it "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." (Prov. 1:7) And "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned." (1 Tim. 1:5) Those who begin with fear will soon rise in hope; and where God gives hope there he gives an expectation of glory. "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jer. 29:11) The wise man asserts the same�: "My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul when thou hast found it; then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off." (Prov. 24:13,14) To die in peace, my dear friend, proclaims us in friendship with God: to die in hope is to die in expectation of glory: to be blessed in death, and to die in the Lord, is to have the spring of endless life in the soul when the body is dying: to die in the enjoyment of love is to die stronger than death, and in union with God; (Rev. 12:11; 1 John 4:16) But to die in joy is above all: joy is the quintessence of love; joy is the overflowings of a loving heart; and this is the highest bliss promised to a dying saint. "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their head: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isa. 35:10) The returning there meant is not coming to the militant church below; for all sorrow and sighing are not banished from her in this life: but Zion above is free from both these, and will never be exercised with them again: for "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:4)
Tender my love and duty to mother; my kind respects to your brother and sister; the same to your aunt Hannah, and to your aunt and uncle Mathews; and accept the same yourself. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you all through our Lord Jesus Christ. So prays
Your willing servant in the gospel of God, W.H., S.S.
TO W.H., S. S.
Bolney, Tuesday evening, Dec. 11.ALAS! alas! my dear friend, my poor dear father is no more: he expired yesterday morning about a quarter before eleven of the clock. This to me, my dear friend, is one of the severest strokes that has ever befallen me since I have been in this world. But one thing, at times, assuages my grief, and in some measure composes my mind, which is this: I am sure that he departed out of this world in peace.
Poor dear man, I was one that sat up with him during the last night of his abode with us. When in the agonies of death he looked and smiled twice, and once he endeavoured to speak, and got out these words, "How beautiful!" Isaiah 52:7 But he then dropped short; his strength was too far gone to say more. He expired without a struggle; and to his last moments there was peace, composure, and resignation, to be read in his very countenance. O, my dear friend, we have lost a most tender and affectionate father; and I think my poor sister and I are left almost alone in a sinful world. The cross of Christ is not ceased where the power of God appears; and I know that there are none around these parts that will care for us, except the poor despised few that favour the Lord's righteous cause. My aunts and my uncle are remarkably kind to us, and much lament the loss of my venerable parent. It is impossible for me to describe the grief and sorrow of my poor sister; dismayed and cast down she is with a witness, and quite inconsolable. She said to me yesterday, "I think I have lost the only friend I have had in the world;" adding, "There is another thing which distresses me above measure: which is, that the Doctor, whom I sincerely love, feels his mind at a distance from me: for he has not so much as mentioned my name in any one letter sent to my father or you since the beginning of his illness." I hope my dear friend will favour us with his acquaintance, his correspondence, and his summer visits, as long as it shall please God to spare your life. If you can find it in your heart, pray remember us in your petitions: for I am sure, if we were both destitute of faith in Christ, we could never bear up under this calamity which is now fallen upon us. It has been our most anxious desire and earnest prayer to God, that our poor father might be spared a few years longer: but this request is not granted, this comfort is denied; but we hope still to share in your prayers.
Pray, sir, excuse my writing so freely, for it is out of the abundance of my heart that my mouth speaketh. I should esteem it an unspeakable favour if you would drop us a few lines. Sometimes I thought that I would not write, for I could put down nothing in my paper but the grief and feelings of my heart: but I felt a secret persuasion that you would feel for us, and bear a part of our burdens. Excuse, my dear friend, what is amiss, and believe me to remain, with the highest esteem and regard,
Yours very affectionately,
TO E. B - - .
Cricklewood, Dec. 14, 1804.
My dear Friend in the Lord Jesus Christ,
I HAVE now received what I fully expected, and what I knew before the coming of yours. For, when you sent me the first account of your father's illness, I spread the matter before the Lord in prayer, but felt a bar upon my heart, as I mentioned to you in my former letter. The Spirit of grace and supplication maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, and always according to the will of God, (Rom. 8:26,27) but never against it.
It is now many years since he and I set out for Bolney (post), and we left London about nine o'clock in the evening. On the road I was determined to pump his heart, and to draw out all that was in it. "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out." Prov. 20:5) I begun with him, and soon the spring appeared to rise, and to flow out rapidly. "The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the well-spring of wisdom as a flowing brook." (Prov. 18:4) After some time he stopped. I then asked another question, such as agreed with the chain of discourse, and off he went again, filled with love and heavenly joy. It was quite dark, so that he could not see my countenance, nor did I speak one word all the time he went on; but when he stopped, then I mentioned to him how this and the other passage of scripture was fulfilled in this and in the other part of his experience; and then asked another question or two, agreeing with the end of the thread where he left off; and that set him going again, till I got him to the time when the Lord turned his captivity: and then his mouth was filled with laughter. (Ps. 126:2)
He informed me of the soul-trouble which came gradually upon him; of his sinking deeper and deeper under it; of some friends of the Baptist persuasion getting hold of him, and persuading him of the goodness of his state, and how this lifted him up into vain and presumptuous confidence, until sin got the mastery of him, and the contraction of fresh guilt pulled him down again into all his former horrors and terrors. About this time a book of mine fell into his hands, which pointed out his presumptuous confidence, and helped forward his calamity, till he came over to Lewes to hear me: and after that his determination to speak to me, and of his coming one evening to Mr. Jenkins's door where I was, but his heart failed him; so he returned and went home. Afterwards of his getting more of my writings, which encouraged him to hope, and of his coming up to Paddington to see and hear me; and of the Lord's blessing the reading of one of my pamphlets to him; and of God's shining into his heart, ( Cor. 4:6) in one of the meadows at Gassons; at which time he kindly invited me to preach in his barn at Bolney; which I believe to be now about nine or ten years ago. From that night I found a heart-felt union with him, and was fully persuaded that he was fixed upon the foundation which God has laid in Zion. (Isa. 28:16) Nor did that union ever dissolve, nor did I ever once doubt after that of the goodness of his state. He always styled and acknowledged me his father in Christ. My coal-sack was no bar to his acknowledgment of this relationship; and, as he acknowledged me in part, (2 Cor. 1:13,14) so he acknowledged to the end; that the gospel of Christ will do to die by as well as to live by, and give Possession as well as profession.
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) Faith, in its different exercises, brings into the soul every needful grace from the Saviour's fullness; and the graces of the Spirit are called the first fruits. (Rom. 8:23) And the first fruits of the Spirit of grace are an earnest of the harvest of glory. (Eph. 1:14) It differs nothing in quality, but in the quantity. Nor is there any one blessing promised, or one promise either of grace here or glory hereafter, but what faith embraces and hope expects. Hence the many confident claims, positive assertions, and firm expectations, left upon record by those "who through faith and patience now inherit the promises." (Heb. 6:12) "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." (Ps. 73:24) "The elders which are among you I exhort, who also am an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." (1 Pet. 5:1) "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." (Luke 2:29,30) "O that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book; that they were graven with an iron pen and laid in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth. And, though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another." (Job 19:22�25) And the apostle Paul also, "For I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. 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." (2 Tim. 4:6-8) You see, by these few quotations, how their faith grew and their hope abounded. They trod upon the heels of the promises, embraced with faith and affection what God promised to them, and called the glories of heaven their own before they received the inheritance.
On Tuesday last, the 11th of December, I set off from London early, and was at Crawley soon after nine o'clock, where I stopped to change horses; and upon asking the waiter if any of their post-lads knew the way to Bolney, he replied, "Yes; you are going to Mr. Blaker's. He is dead." I replied, "Dead!" "Yes," said he, "he died yesterday; the doctor of this parish attended him." Being but poorly, and the cross-country roads not passable by carriage, I immediately returned, and breakfasted at Ryegate.
You never informed me, in any one of your letters, that your father expressed any desire to see me, nor was he, in the whole course of his illness, under any sharp soul-exercises, which require the elders of the church to pray over him, and to anoint him with fresh oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14) The Almighty anointed him himself, and gave him, according to his own promise, "the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isai. (61:3) I guessed that your desire of my coming was in hopes that the united prayers of many might prevail with God to spare him a little longer; but I had early intimation that this would not be granted, and against faith and conscience none can prevail. It was not so with me when your mother was so ill as to be given over by the doctor for three months. I told you and your sister both, before I set out for Bolney, that I believed God would do more for her in answer to prayer, than by all the medicine she had taken; and you saw the truth of this in less than three days, and she is still alive. What faith credits, hope expects, and the promises of God are sure to both. There is not one of you that have any just ground to conclude that an eternal separation has now taken place between you and your father. The unity of faith, meeting and centering in Christ, makes us all one in him. The bond of peace is one in God's family, whether above or below. Love, which is the bond of all perfectness, is neither broken nor dissolved by death. It goes from God the Father, by the Holy Spirit, through Christ to all the family, and through the whole family itself, whether in grace or in glory. And for this Christ prayed. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us." (John 17:21) Some divine graces will not be exercised or wanted in the world to come; as faith, which will not be wanted when we see as we are seen. Hope, when in full possession, we shall not want "for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" (Rom. 8:24) Patience, meekness, contrition, godly sorrow, and repentance: these will not be wanted nor exercised in the world to come. But light, life, love, peace, rest, joy, and humility, will abide with us, and pass with us into the other world. Humility is ascribed to God himself, Psalm 113:6, and will be found and exercised by all the saints in heaven, as may be seen by their disclaiming any one good work done by them, even in a glorified state. "Lord, when saw we thee an hungry and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink?" &c., (Matt. 25:37) Seeing these bends are not dissolved by death, it is to us an evident token of meeting again in Christ; for all are one among themselves, and all are one in Christ the head. The same faith that dwelt in your father dwells also in you, and in the rest of the family. I have never yet seen a family, as far as I am able to judge, so highly favoured of God as yours. "I will," says God, "take you one of a city, and two of a family," or tribe, "and I will bring you to Zion," (Jer. 3:14) But to take a whole family is going out of his usual way. You are not destitute nor ignorant of the life and power of godliness. You have confessed many experiences of it; you have seen it in your father; and you have been both eye and ear witnesses of the end of his conversation; and, if after all this any of you should turn apostates, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and for Lot's wife, in the day of judgment, than for you. But I hope better things of you, though I thus speak, and things that accompany salvation; and subscribe myself ever yours to serve in Christ Jesus,
W.H. S. S.
TO W. H.
LAST Saturday, according to his desire, I accompanied our beloved friend and old companion to his long home, and was a witness of what remained here of him being laid in the earth. Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes, in a sure and most certain hope of his resurrection to eternal life. His departure was most glorious, and the leave we took of him most sweet and comfortable; out at the same time I could not help lamenting his loss, for I have not such a friend left behind him in all Sussex. "A faithful man who can find?" It seems Solomon found it a rare thing. His soul was kept in a most happy and comfortable frame, throughout his last illness, after his bands had been loosed; winch he felt pretty strong when his illness began to come on, but did not continue long before the Almighty was pleased to shine into his soul; and from that time forth the light was brighter and brighter, so true is the word of the Lord, "The path of the just shall shine more and more unto the perfect day." He appeared not to have the least concern that gave him any pain or emotion for his loving family, and you well know how affectionately he loved them, which plainly shows that he had resigned them all to the care of his Redeemer. He had not only hope in his death, but he had likewise peace in his death, and he entered into peace, and now rests on his bed, and walks with God in his uprightness. Solid peace he had through his illness; quietness and a comfortable assurance to the last; and he breathed his soul forth into the hands of his Redeemer in prayer, for his lips were seen moving when he could speak no more.
He told Mrs. B one morning, a few days before his departure, "O! what has been the work of this last night!" said he. "What work, my dear?" was her reply. "O," said he, "such glories have been revealed this night, that I shall never be able to utter in this world," and words to the same effect.
Truly the memory of the just is blessed! for I can neither talk or write of him but what I find a sweetness descending on my spirit. "O! that I might die the death of the righteous, and that my last end may be like his." And though, perhaps, there may be but few that come to their end so comfortable, yet I believe that precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of all his family. But, as most likely you will have more particulars from Betsy, I shall refrain from saying any more. A young man at Lewes lately departed and left a comfortable testimony after him. I believe these things have stirred the spirits of the contrary party, who make a fair show in the flesh. They have published the death of two or three in the newspapers, with a fulsome account of their departure. The visions one had on his deathbed were published, and witnessed, but this will not do, for it is well known that they are of no credit among the spiritual. Nevertheless they acted a wise part, for they knew if they had published it in Zion, that the children there would not believe a word of it, therefore they put it in the newspaper, supposing their brethren would not object to it; for of the world they are, and of the world they speak, and the world hears them. My hand is ready to freeze. God bless my dear friend; I hope he will soon favour me with a few lines. Peace be with you. Amen.