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expressed by them during his illness, and by the many thousands of true mourners who followed his remains to the tomb."
It was in the spring of 1848 that the first symptoms of disease made their appearance.
As the summer advanced he became gradually weaker and more emaciated. In the beginning of September he went with his family to Harrogate, in the hope that change of air and scene might prove advantageous; but the benefit was only transitory. On the 27th, whilst returning from seeing a patient in Lincolnshire, he was seized with such alarming symptoms that his speedy removal was apprehended. He rallied, however, so as to be able to pay a visit to his brother-in-law, Sir W. Lowthrop, at Scarborough; and after that, though amidst much weakness and suffering, to continue his professional avocations till the close of the year. From the 7th of January, 1849, he never left his room; and in the course of another month from that time he breathed his last.
The rest of these pages will be occupied with a brief sketch of the closing scenes of Dr. Gordon's life, for the materials of which we acknowledge our obligation to the excellent memoir from which we have already quoted, written by his friend and son-in-law, and entitled, “ The Christian Philosopher triumphing over Death.”
The fears of those who were best acquainted with Dr. Gordon, respecting his religious interests, did not arise from any idea that he doubted the truth of Christianity. They knew that his medical investigations had brought directly before him the question of materialism, and that he had studied deeply the philosophical objections urged against Christianity. They were aware that his love of truth rendered it absolutely indispensable that he should have clear and tangible evidence for everything; and they knew well that minds accustomed, like his, to demonstration in physical science, too frequently expect it in moral subjects, where, from the nature of the case, it is impossible. It was, besides, not at all uncommon for him to ask questions which did in some quarters engender the suspicion that he was not a believer in Christianity, but which were only the questions of an inquiring spirit grappling with the difficulties which frequently occur to the thoughtful student of revelation. His nearest friends had not the slightest uneasiness on these points. Their fear was that he “ did not understand and experience the true spirit of evangelical religion self-renunciation and sole dependence upon Christ. And there was ground for this anxiety." It is a comparatively easy thing to convince a man who has been extremely wicked that he needs a Saviour, although at the same time he may
refuse to relinquish his vices. The thing is palpable; and the accusations of his own conscience are often powerfully enforced by the reprobation of society. It is very different, however, with people whose moral character is unexceptionable. They cannot but see that their conduct is superior to that of multitudes, and they are conscious of much which they find commended in God's own word; but they lose sight of the great truth, that God takes account of the state of the heart, and that the requirement of this law is, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and strength;" they do not seem to have the slightest idea that, unless the excellencies of the character proceed from the great principle of love to God, however greatly they may be admired by men, they are of no avail with Him. On these accounts “it was feared that the very excellencies of Dr. Gordon's character might be a hindrance to his simple reliance on Christ. Speaking after the manner of men, he was perfect. Distinguished by an undeviating course of uprightness, benevolence, self-sacrifice, scrupulous honour, and ardent love of truth, such as are exhibited by those who have made the highest attainments in piety; having no relish for the pleasures of the world, and finding his happiness only in his studies, in his benevolent enterprises, and in the midst of his family, was it not to be feared that he might find it difficult to acknowledge himself worthless in the sight of God, to come as a little child to the feet of Jesus to be taught, and as a hell-deserving sinner to rely solely on his atoning sacrifice? These two anxieties were more than removed.”
The conversion of Dr. Gordon was ņot, in any proper sense of the term, a death-bed conversion. A considerable change had taken place in his views more than seven years before his death. He often expressed the greatest satisfaction in those discourses which enforced most strongly the insufficiency of merely human virtues, and the necessity of a change in heart, and of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was frequently alone in his private room, occupied, there was little doubt, in the study of the Scriptures and prayer, though he took the utmost care to conceal the nature of his engagement. Still, although a disciple secretly, previous to his illness, that affliction was undoubtedly instrumental in nourishing and developing his spiritual life.
A few words which escaped him at Scarborough, in the autumn, showed the direction of his thoughts: “I'm very ill, but not afraid to die.” His wife having quoted the verse, “ The sting of death is sin," &c., he replied with emphasis,
“ And He has given me the victory. My views on these subjects have been changed, though I do not talk about it.” The account of the brazen serpent having been referred to as illustrative of faith in Christ, he said, “I've had my eye on that brazen serpent a long time."
On various occasions after his return to Hull he spoke of death as a journey the prospects of which, far from distressing him, occasioned him the greatest happiness.
On Saturday, the 14th of January, his family were alarmed by what they thought the symptoms of approaching dissolution; but whilst they stood anxiously around him, animation gradually returned. After taking a little food, he said to his brother-in-law, Sir W. Lowthrop, “If consciousness of my own unworthiness and reliance on Christ alone, be a proper ground of peace, I have it, and have long had it. But you must not think that, because I have not talked of these things, therefore I have not thought of them. I have long been feel. ing my way after the truth.” When, just after that hymn was repeated, « Jesus, lover of my soul,” &c., a hymn at once expressive of the sinner's helplessness and of the power and grace of Christ, he responded with much feeling, "I reiterate all that."
Alluding to his past life and the ground of his present hope, he said, "My natural disposition led me to do many things of a benevolent character, but this was not love to God. Mere natural disposition will not do. There needs something better for a holy God. I am quite unworthy, corrupt, corrupt.”
The hymn which had long been a favourite with him haring been repeated, “ There is a happy land," &c., he said, "I think I see it as it were before me! I am going to Jesus. I have embraced him, and he will receive me. Our best actions are filthy rags. There is pride and selfishness mixed with them all. I have thought, and written, and done a great deal ; but it's nothing. I feel the need of a better righteousness. It is in Christ, and so easily obtained ! I have found it."
To his brother-in-law, the Rev. Wm. Knight, Incumbent of St. James's Church, Hull, who had just been delivering a course of lectures to young men on Infidelity, he said, “ There is a great deal of infidelity in young men. You have
of them about you. Tell them from me, I have read a great many sceptical books, ancient and modern, of all sorts. It is all very fine, but very fallacious. They are very plausible, but can give no consolation in a dying hour. The New Testament is the book. We must fall back on that. We can only obtain peace by casting ourselves on Jesus, putting reasoning aside,
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
and asking him to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.""
Dr. Gordon was spared for more than three weeks after the attack which occasioned such serious alarm; and during the whole of that time his faculties retained their full vigour. The violence of his pain abated, so that he was enabled to enjoy constant intercourse with his friends. The privilege of conversing with him on his dying bed was shared by many besides his immediate connections. “ He saw all who desired an interview, delighting in the opportunity thus given him of commending that Saviour, who had in so remarkable a degree given him the peace which passeth all understanding.' He received nearly three hundred visits during the last three weeks of his life, from persons of all ranks; but, whether rich or poor, he welcomed them with equal courtesy, saying something appropriate and kind to each, and pointing to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. The writer need not fear the charge of exaggeration, when there are so many persons who can testify that no description can convey an adequate idea of the calm serenity, the vigorous intellect, the affectionate manner, and the joyful hope manifested by the sufferer.”
On Sunday, the 14th, he suffered from extreme exhaustion, so that, as far as his own feelings and those of his friends were concerned, it was still a dying scene. He sent kind farewell messages to many of his friends. Amongst others, he sent to the writer of the well-known tract, “ The Sinner's Friend,” this salutation,—“ Assure him of my strong affection ; tell him I'm the sinner, and that I've found the Friend."
On Tuesday, the 16th, he said to a pious working man, who had always manifested great respect for him, and who had called to bid him farewell, “ You see me better than you ever saw me before, Mr. W- I have sought the same Saviour you serve. I have asked him to forgive my sins, and he has
He will present me to the Almighty. I am going a very delightful journey, to a very happy home, where I shall meet only with the wise and the good. And to be with Jesus ! I would not change my condition for all the wealth in the world! This has been a gradual thing with me, though I have not had such great joy till now. It is brighter to-day than ever. I have not had a cloud all through my illness. How great is the goodness of God! And all to be had for asking! Nothing to do for ourselves—but to take what God gives us ! All made ready for us.” On Saturday, the 20th, he said, “What a glorious week it
has been ! the happiest I ever spent.
The world cannot comprehend it. I now understand the meaning of the passage, • Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.'" One of his friends, on bidding him good-night, expressed a wish that he might have pleasant thoughts. He replied, “ Those I am sure to have. I am never afraid of the nights."
On the 25th, he said to his family, who were sitting around his bed, “What joy I have had ! No one can describe it. I have often told you, when in great pain, that I could not have conceived any human being could suffer so much. sure I may now say, I could not conceive any human being could enjoy so much! And to compare these pleasures with the pleasures of the world ! ( how foolish! I have seen all grades of life, but I never found full satisfaction, because I had not got the pearl. I honoured Christianity, thinking it a great and noble thing ; but I did not feel it. What a difference! Now I feel God is my friend; Christ has covered my sins; I am fit for heaven. But this is not to be had by reasoning. How true that saying is, 'Except ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven !' But directly we come as little children, we obtain everything we need."
On the 28th, his son-in-law and biographer said to him,“ You have told us that had it pleased God you
should recover, it would have been your delight to preach Christ. I have been thinking that you could do this very emphatically at your funeral. Many people of all descriptions will be gathered together, and your dying testimony would be very impressive. If you would like to say anything, I will write it down." “Oh,” he replied, “I cannot find words sufficient ! afraid I cannot convey the thing sufficiently. I should be doing injustice to my Saviour.” He then, after a brief pause, very solemnly and emphatically spoke as follows: “ All human learning is of no avail. Reason must be put out of the question. I reasoned, and debated, and investigated, but I found no peace
till I came to the gospel as a little child, till I received it as a babe. Then such a light was shed abroad in my
heart, that I saw the whole scheme at once, and I found pleasure the most indescribable. I saw there was no good deed in myself. Though I had spent hours in examining my conduct, I found nothing I had done would give me real satisfaction. It was always mixed up with something selfish. But when I came to the gospel as a child, the Holy Spirit seemed to fill my heart.