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E--, the subject of the following brief memorial, when little anticipating an event fraught with interests so vast and solemn, was suddenly called to resign his immortal spirit to God who gave it, at the early age of twenty-three, just when he had completed his university course of study at Cambridge, and had taken his degree. The fatal disease, which ultimately laid him low in death, had indeed already appeared. His examination, in consequence, was a private one; and therefore his degree an ægrotat. In fact, on the day it was conferred, in January of the present year, it was not a little affecting to some of his college friends to meet him in the Senate House, giving indications of a state of health which excited their worst apprehensions. After this interesting and important day was over, he took a hurried farewell of those dear college friends, with whom for three years he had maintained the closest and most endearing intimacy, and hastened to London, to place himself under the first surgical treatment, an operation for the disease having been judged necessary. This operation, which proved a formidable and protracted one, he bore with the utmost fortitude; and endured the subsequent weakness and sufferings with astonishing patience and cheerfulness. A fortnight after the operation, it was deemed expedient that he should be removed to his home in the country; accordingly he was removed thither in an invalid carriage, when it was quickly discovered that his case was beyond hope, and that he had now but a short time to live. The solemn change that awaited him was first intimated to him by his sister, the Monday morning previous to his death. Perceiving him to be in great pain, she alluded, feelingly, to a “ land where there is no more pain nor sorrow.”
To this remark he assented; but seemed to ponder awhile on the words she had uttered. He said, after a moment's pause, “Mr. P., then, sent me home to die ?” alluding to his principal medical attendant in London.
This question, he afterwards stated, he put on that occasion merely to see how the idea would be repelled, for he entertained no thought of death himself. To his unutterable amazement his sister replied, sadly but firmly, “It is indeed very uncertain, dear; Mr. P. felt he could do no more for you in London.”
He exclaimed, in accents of deep alarm, "Why did they not tell me before ? What! only a few short hours to prepare to meet my Maker ?” and clasping his hands in a sudden agony of soul, added, “Oh, let me pray !"
He was then asked if he would like to see Mr. W., a pious young clergyman in the neighbourhood, whose pastoral duties in some measure comprehended the family.
Yes, at once," was his earnest and emphatic reply. No time was lost in sending for this minister.
Meanwhile his cousin entered his room, to whom he said, with the same keenly aroused vividness of manner and language, “ Dear Katie, do you know that I am going to die ?"
She replied, with deep emotion, “I fear we must part with you; but God in his abundant goodness has mercifully granted you this time for preparation."
He answered, “I cannot collect my thoughts to pray; they all tend earthwards; my heart is full of Cambridge, and all my dear friends there."
But though the poor sufferer felt his affections to be still earth-bound, death was now the supremely absorbing, anxious thought-the all-momentous subject to which he was continually adverting; and no sooner did his medical attendant enter, than he exclaimed, “Oh, doctor! why did you not tell me that I was dying ?” He was answe
wered, “ that his case had been a doubtful one.” “ Then you should have told me the doubt.”
Those who were present on that occasion will never forget the impressive manner in which he now spoke of the dread solemnities of death and eternity. He emphatically declared, in reference to divine truth, that no one in the solemn condition in which he now found himself placed could, for a moment, doubt the existence of the eternal state. asked his physician some questions on the nature of his complaint, evidently with a view to ascertain if he might indulge a shadow of hope. The replies seemed to convince his own mind that there was no hope; and after this he completely resigned himself to his approaching end, which he thought very near, and bade the doctor an affecting farewell, saying, “We shall probably never meet again on earth, but I trust we may meet in heaven.”
The Rev. Mr. W., to whom we have referred, on his first interview with the dying youth, found him in an awakened and alarmed state of mind, and in great alarm lest he should not have “time to repent," observing that, “after a life of sin he had but a few hours for repentance.” He at once made a full and voluntary avowal of all the sins and follies of his past life; and, oh! what a blessing, indeed, to this now afflicted and tempesttossed spirit, that he was favoured, in his dying moments, with a faithful guide and comforter, who, while he spoke to him of
his soul's disease, assured him at the same time that it was his privilege to point him to a blessed cure ever available, even at the eleventh hour, and that that cure was in Christ, whom he must seek at once, and who was infinitely able and willing to save him. After this interview he appeared less excited, and frequently prayed that he might more deeply feel and earnestly repent of his aggravated sins. While alone with his sister, he repeatedly spoke of his dear Cambridge friends, wishing much that he could address, were it but one word of effectual warning to them; and then directed a few lines to be sent to some whom he named, as his last message to them, imploring them to attend to the things that concerned their eternal welfare. After remaining quiet for some time, he exclaimed, “If I should go to heaven, I shall see my dear father there;" and then, with a beaming countenance, added, “Oh, how blessed !" But as yet, his was not a sure and certain hope, for he continued to bewail the magnitude of his sins; and when reminded that the dying thief found the riches of divine mercy to be commensurate with his deepest sin, he replied, “For three and twenty years I have been Satan's willing slave, and now to turn to God when I have but a few hours to live, seems like rushing to him from fear of judgment rather than being drawn by love to a tender Father." Upon his sister endeavouring to bring his distressed mind to a fuller sense of God's willingness to forgive, he remarked, “I do not sufficiently feel the weight of my sins; you do not, L. dear, dwell enough on repentance.”
It was in this state of mind, while endeavouring to work out a state of repentance in his own mind, as something to prepare him for coming to Christ, that Mr. W. told him, in much simplicity and godly sincerity, that though repentance was most necessary, Christ was exalted to give it to him, and that he must seek that, as all else, from him, and go to him at once with his sins. This was evidently greatly blessed to him. From this moment he appeared to cast himself unreservedly upon his Saviour; and felt happiness and peace in having done so. He said to Mr. W., “It gave me unspeakable comfort when you told me I might go to Christ just as I was-with my sins;" and added, “ I seem now to have a glimpse of my Saviour.” From the moment that this beam of heavenly light fell upon his soul his faith in Christ increased. Looking to Jesus, he appeared to behold him as both able and willing to save him. Like all those who are taught by the Spirit of God to feel the value of their own souls, he now showed the greatest concern for the spiritual interests of those near and dear to him. Calling his youngest brother to his bedside, he took him by the hand and
He then gave
told him there was one thing he intreated him to promise, and
After he had once given up all hope of life, he seemed only to count time by hours. Twice during the night he saw his kind spiritual guide, Mr. W.; and on the Tuesday morning he was in a much more composed state of mind, saying, that he had had “
one little glimpse of the love of Jesus;" and, upon his eldest sister entering the room, he remarked that the day before his heart was a heart of stone, but as morning drew on, God's Holy Spirit had made an entrance there; and now, he added, sweetly and tenderly, “it is a heart of flesh.”
During the day he was enabled to pour out his soul, very earnestly, in prayer. He prayed for sincerity, that his petitions might come from the heart. More than once he desired Mr. W. to offer up with him the following prayer in the Communion service,—“ Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name; through Christ our Lord.” Though still keenly alive to the necessity of repentance, arising from his now enlightened and exalted views of the character of God, and his deeply humbling conceptions of his own character, condition, and misery, as a sinner in His holy sight, yet he had ceased to speak of it as a work to be performed in his own strength. He had now experienced the nature of true repentance in a saving change of mind in the new heart and right spirit—in the
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
acting of the new mind in the way of holy penitence, and in the embodying of the new mind in holy practice. The latter result was signally manifested in his concern for the souls of others, and in his fervent desire to be useful by his dying exhortations. But though he ceased to speak of repentance, he prayed that he might be made to feel the greatness of his sins; at the same time joining with this the request that Christ would stretch out his hand and save him. All this Mr. W. felt was truly repentance unto life ; and as he knelt by his bedside, and heard the pleading of promise after promise, his devout and delightful impression was, that this was indeed the
doing of the Lord, and marvellous in our eyes.” After having committed his soul to Christ, a holy calm came over his mind, which a short time before had been so tossed and agitated. The dying youth now.spake in sweet and fervent language of the wondrous love of Christ, and prayed that the Holy Spirit might be given him to keep his thoughts fixed upon heaven. He told his family, he preferred being quite alone in his interviews with Mr. W., stating that it was more like a formal service when any one was present; “ but when we are quite alone,” he added, “ sometimes he prays, and sometimes I pray, and we pour out our whole souls before God;" thus exemplifying that beautiful passage of Scripture,—“It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will pour upon them the spirit of grace and of supplications."
He always spoke of his mother with much affection and tenderness. “My dear mother is grieved to part with me; but life is but a span at best; we cannot long be separated, and we shall meet in glory.” To his youngest sister he said, “Go on serving God as you have begun.”
He earnestly intreated all not to defer repentance, saying it was hard to be making peace with God when racked with pain, and that though he himself had found mercy at the eleventh hour, none dare presume upon it, as none could be sure that time and opportunity would be granted them at last. His mind appeared to be directed much to thoughts regarding the shortness and uncertainty of life.* He addressed his brothers on the things of eternity with astonishing force and energy, so that all were deeply affected. His youngest brother he frequently besought never to forget his promise
* It might be well here to state, that two very promising young men, sons of gentlemen in the immediate neighbourhood, had been drowned the previous summer, while bathing together; and a third had just lost his life in a shipwreck. This latter fact had not been communicated to the poor dying sufferer.