Page images
PDF
EPUB

departure, the value of a life of walking with God. The following description of the closing period of his life is presented, not to gratify a morbid curiosity, but to exemplify the value of religion in a dying hour, and for the sake of raising another monument to the honor of divine grace.

“ As Mr. Evarts walked with God during his life, so when he found himself near the grave, and already entering the valley of death, he was assured that his Lord and Saviour was with him still. There was nothing in the prospect dark or alarming. He viewed the scene around him and watched the approaches of death with entire calmness and selfcontrol. On Friday, the 6th of May, four days before his departure, a number of ministers, at his request, met him in his chamber, when, though exceedingly weak and prostrate, he addressed them, and remarked that he knew his case to be extremely critical—that he found it pleasant to be in the hands of God, who would do all things welland that he had no painful solicitude as to the results of his sickness, but thought it his duty to use every means for the preservation of life. He then requested an interest in their special and united prayers :1st, That if consistent with God's will, he might recover; 2ndly, That he might have a sweet sense of pardoned sin, and unshaken confidence in the Saviour ; 3dly, That if God should spare his life, he might be wholly and entirely the Lord's, consecrated to his service ; and 4thly, That, if it should please God to remove him by this sickness, he might be able to glorify him on a bed of languishing and pain, and that his precious cause might be promoted by his death. He then expressed a firm and abiding hope in the Lord Jesus, and seemed like a little child sweetly reclining on the arms of its faithful protector. By this effort he was so much exhausted that, at his request, the persons present retired to another apartment for special prayer.

During Saturday, there was no material change in his symptoms. Still, however, he was more feeble, and his pains returned with violence. On Saturday evening he remarked : • To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath. I may be in eternity before it arrives. My mind is so weak that I cannot pursue a train of thought; but I bless God, it is tranquil. Not my will, but thine, O God, be done!' To one who remarked—We hardly know how to spare you from the missionary cause, he said, • Don't mention it, don't mention it; the Lord knows best.' After taking a little food, he said : 'I shall require but little more nourishment in this world. My work is almost done-Jesus reigns-blessed be he. I wish to lie as a penitent sinner at the foot of the cross.' About nine o'clock he breathed out a short but comprehensive prayer, in interrupted and broken petitions, making at its close a full and entire surrender of body and soul into the Redeemer's hands; and said : O dear Saviour, if this be the last night I have to pray on earth, let my unworthy prayer be exchanged for praise in thy kingdom above. Amen, amen.' Speaking of his family, he said: “I pity them; but God is a faithful God, he will take care of them-he will take care of them—that is enough.' On being asked if he had any

To a

particular message to send them, he said : Give them my love-my dying love-the Lord reigns.'

“On Sabbath morning his appearance was greatly changed, and during the day he was gradually sinking, yet able to converse. young professor of religion who was in attendance, he said : “ You have professed religion while young; so did I. I rejoice in it. All I have to say to you is, endeavor to aim at high attainments. The present age demands great things of Christians. Be not satisfied with being half a Christian. Be entirely consecrated to his service. There are some things that I could do, if Providence wills that I should get better ; but I have no will of my own. I can rejoice that I am in the hands of the Lord. My mind is perfectly clear. To several young Christians he said :— I feel a great interest in young Christians. i want to exhort you to help each other. Live near to God. Be bold in his service. It is the only thing worth being bold in. Do not be afraid. The Lord be with you.' In the evening, he again mentioned his family with much emotion, but added, 'I am willing to go. I have committed them all to God. He has been good to them.' “On the morning of the 10th, when told,

in answer to his inquiry, that death seemed to be near, he said :— The will of the Lord be done. Attend now to what I say, as to the words of a dying man.' Then naming the several members of his family and other relatives, he added :-* To all my relations and friends, grace, mercy, and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom alone they and I can hope to be saved. And I wish in these dying words to recognize the great Redeemer as the Saviour from sin and hell ; able and willing to save all that come unto God by him. To him I commend my spirit, as to an all sufficient Saviour. He is the great champion and conqueror of death and hell. And I recognize the great Spirit of God as the renovator of God's elect; and herein, if I gather strength, I wish to recognize and acknowledge the church of God, containing all who have truly dedicated themselves to him in a true and everlasting covenant. And here permit me, a poor unworthy worm of the dust, to give thanks to many of the children of God, from whom I have received confidence, kindness, and favor, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. And one more duty ; if in any respect I have offended the children of God, I ask their forgiveness. If I have grieved them by impatience, or any other way, I ask their forgiveness.”

“A few hours after, when his thoughts were evidently fixed on the Saviour and the heavenly world, he was asked, -Have you any thing to say to the missionaries—any message? He said : Oh yes, oh yes; but I am afraid I shall make distinctions—don't let me make distinctions.' No, was the replyall the missionaries. Does the missionary cause appear more precious and important than ever ? After a considerable pause, and with much expression of countenance and emphasis of manner, he said : “You have called me back to the world!'

“During the day, he had seasons of pain and very laborious breathing. About nine o'clock in the evening, expecting that his time was come, he requested to be laid in a position suitable for the occasion.

But in about a quarter of an hour he had a return of violent pain, and when nearly exhausted he said, • Dear Jesus. It was added :

While on his breast I lean my head,
And breathe my life out sweetly there.'

Immediately he burst forth with expressions of rapture which cannot be described :- Praise him, praise him, praise him in a way which you know not of. It was said, you will soon see Jesus as he is, and you will then know how to praise him. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful glory. We cannot understand—we cannot comprehend—wonderful glory-I will praise him, I will praise him.-Who are in the room? Call all in-call all—let a great many come-I wish to give directions -wonderful-glory-Jesus reigns.' All the members of the family were called ; but before they could be assembled, he sank down exhausted, and scarcely spoke again. He continued to breathe, free from any paroxysm of pain, until a quarter before eleven o'clock, when he fell asleep in Jesus.”

We embrace the present occasion to make a few remarks on the topic which this Memoir has introduced to our notice. We have seen with what untiring diligence Mr. Evarts devoted himself to the cause of missions. He engaged in the enterprise in its early stages,-in "the day of small things.” He felt the pressure of its discouragements. He was sustained by faith in the promises of God. He saw, in the dim future, the gospel covering " the whole earth, as the waters cover the sea.” And he indulged not the shadow of a doubt, that this result would ultimately come to pass. Yet the developments which he had witnessed of the providence of God were comparatively slow. The last fifteen years have produced changes in respect to the prospects of the conversion of the world, which his foresight could not detect. He saw only the early dawn and the first beams of day; since his departure, the sun has pursued his steady course towards the meridian. And, if to him there was cause for hope, to us there is cause for strong confidence and expectation, and for grateful joy.

To those who pray for the conversion of the world, it is interesting to contemplate, occasionally, the reasons they have to hope for its accomplishment." Is it a consummation which will be brought to pass ? - Is the course of events tending towards it? Have we evidence that it is drawing near? If such questions can be answered in the affirmative, we shall be encouraged to pray the more earnestly and to give the more liberally. We shall look upon our various endeavors as “bread cast upon the waters, which we shall find again after many days.”

Our confidence in the conversion of the heathen rests on the promise of God. God has said that it shall take place. " It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Is. 2: 2-4. “And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all fiesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Is. 66: 23. “All shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” Heb. 8: 11. What God has promised will, without doubt, come to pass. His simple word is a sufficient guaranty that it will. But he has confirmed it, also, by an oath. The promise and the oath of God cannot fail. The course of events tends towards the fulfilment of the promise. Heaven and earth look on, as deeply interested spectators. The veracity of God and his glory demand that the heathen should be converted, therefore, because God has promised it.

The conversion of the world is a matter of prophecy, as well as of promise. From the beginning of God's communications to mankind, this has formed one of the most glowing themes of prophetic revelation. The patriarch Jacob, on his dying bed, looked down the long vista of ages, till Shiloh should come. David tuned his lyre to celebrate a King greater than Solomon, whose dominion shall last " as long as the sun and the moon endure." Isaiah, with his lips touched by a coal from the heavenly altar, foretold in seraphic strains the conquests of Immanuel. Daniel saw, in solemn splendor, “one like the VOL. XI. —NO. XLI.

5

Son of Man,” coming “with the clouds of heaven," to whom was given “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. His vision was definite, full, and clear. Its grasp embraced the whole earth. “ And," he says, "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven. shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." The prophet Micah reflected the brilliant picture of Isaiah; he echoed the melody of his prophetic music; he sung the chorus of the song, and closed it by his joyful Amen. He, also, foresaw the mountain of the Lord's house established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and people flowing unto it. After a long interval, Christ appeared, and often foretold the triumphs of his cross. And last of all, a celestial radiance streamed forth over the waste of the Egean, and lighted up the rock of Patmos, where the apocalyptic prophet was confined, when the messengers of God came down to spread before him the vision of the period, in which the kingdoms of this world should be the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The promises, in this respect, are prophecies; and the prophecies, promises. Other prophecies of the word of God have been fulfilled in their season; at the appointed time, we may infer from analogy, these will be fulfilled also. “God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent. Hath he said, and will he not do it? Hath he spoken, and will he not make it good ?”

The Scriptures teach that it is the purpose of God to subdue the hearts of men, ultimately, to the spiritual sway of Jesus Christ. Promise and prophecy are no more than the expressions of his purpose. We understand the purpose of God in respect to future events, only through such expressions of it. Because God is unchangeable, whatsoever he has promised to do, that he will do. Because he is almighty, nothing can effectually resist the execution of his will. The attempt has, often enough, been made, to stay the progress of his empire. But the arm of man has found itself too weak for so

« PreviousContinue »