« FöregåendeFortsätt »
mony for affirming that he was a happy Christian. And this made him delight especially in pointing out to others the easy yoke of Christ, and dwelling with such rapture on the enjoyments which are to be found in his service, contrasting them so quaintly and yet so forcibly with what the world has to bestow, that those who heard him, were they ever so indifferent, could not but feel that there was something in his religion which made up for all the wants and sufferings which he was called upon to endure. From the time of which I have been speaking, when living near Lancaster, down to the latter years of his life, I have never heard him speak much. Crosses and conflicts, temptations and trials, mingled with mercies, would no doubt mark their course, as they are more or less the portion of every child of God. Once indeed, when we were alone together, he referred to a severe trial he had to bear in the removal by early death of one on whom his affections had been placed; one who loved the same Saviour, and was blest with the same desires and hopes as himself; and one with whom he looked forward to the prospect of going through this wilderness, united together by a solemn bond, helpers of each other's faith, and partakers of each other's joy; and when she was taken away, so deeply did he feel his loss, that he formed the deliberate resolution of never changing his condition of life, nor did he, according to his own account, ever feel the slightest inclination to alter this resolution. Perhaps it was this circumstance which was a means of weaning him so utterly from the world, and making it so evident to all around him that his whole heart and affections and desires were in heaven. At the time I first visited him, , he had been confined to his bed a year and a half, and never can I forget the impression made upon my mind by that first visit. His suffering state, and the poor appearance of his lowly abode, destitute as it seemed of all the comforts of life, led one to think that the poor tenant must be unhappy; but oh! how far otherwise was it. Often have I heard him exclaim, “I cannot tell you how happy I am;" and then would have followed, "Glory be to God," or "Praise the Lord.” During the length of time that I knew him, even in his severest moments of suffering, I never remember to have heard a murmur escape his lips, or a thought that his heavenly Father was dealing hardly with him; but often has he said, in allusion to his afflictions, “there is a needs-be for them all; I know there is a needs-be”—and throughout all his illness his constant desire seemed to be to glorify the God of his salvation. To those who went to see him, he was ever anxious to address a word that might be of profit to their souls, and to make known to others the riches of that grace of which he had been made a partaker. Sometimes he enjoyed a considerable respite from severe pain, and then it was that his conversation was the most lively, and his company really a valuable treat. Oh! how many delightful hours have I and many others passed by his bed-side, sometimes reading to him,
and sometimes listening to his animated and lively rei marks on what had been read, or conversing together on
the endless theme of divine love, and the best means of promoting the divine life in the soul. For the last six or eight months I had remarked that his worst fits of illness had come more frequently, though not more severely than formerly, and accompanied by a low and rather desponding state of mind, not as to his acceptance, but as to the supply of his bodily wants; he thinking that he had been burdensome so long that all his friends would
grow weary, and at length hold their hands. This temptation only a few weeks before his death oppressed him so much, that in great distress he sent for a lady who lived near him, and who had been very attentive to him, visiting him almost every day, and asked her with the greatest earnestness if Mr. La Trobe had ever said any thing which led her to think that he was tired of administering to his wants and of visiting him, since he had been troublesome so long. She assured him that, so far from that, he always expressed the pleasure it gave him to do so; and by a variety of arguments tried to convince him how utterly groundless were all his fears, and had the satisfaction before leaving him to see the
dark cloud pass away, and all again become peace and joy; nor did he ever express the same anxiety again. Thus Satan, where he cannot shake the believer's faith in his Lord, will harass and distress his mind by fears respecting outward things; but Christopher passed through darker clouds than these, and lost sight for a time of the presence of his God, and though he never doubted his loving-kindness or faithfulness, yet he felt the hidings of his countenance, and was sorely troubled. But this was not often. His most general state was that of rejoicing in the Lord, and holding communion with him in praise and thanksgiving.
I also remarked during the last few months of his life, that there was a growing desire to be “taken home," as he expressed it. I never remember hearing or reading of one in whom there was so little of the fear of death. His strongest desire was to depart, and be with Christ, which was far better. But of late this desire had waxed stronger and stronger. His frequent answer when I called and asked him how he was, was, “been toiling and tugging away at the oars, but oh! I long to be at home, I long to be at home; I long to reach the haven of rest.” And yet he was not impatient. He would again remark, “I know that God's time must be my time, and that his time is the best ; but whenever it is his will, I am willing to go." “Pray for me," he would sometimes add, “that I may have patience till he comes, and that I may wait the appointed time.” When I had not seen him for a few days, he would sometimes observe “I have been very poorly, but I am nearer home than the last time you were here; every day advances me on my journey. O Lord Jesus, come quickly," he would add; and oft he would quote the first verse of one of his favourite hymns, “Jerusalem my happy home," &c., especially the two latter lines, on which he laid great emphasis,
• When shall my labours have an end,
In joy and peace and thee.” The last sabbath that he spent on earth I saw him in the evening. He was in his worse way (but not worse
than I had often seen him), very bad at breathing, and could not talk much. A friend who was present prayed with him ; to many of the petitions he gave a fervent response, and added, in his own energetic manner, “Praise the Lord.” He enquired particularly after some of his friends who were ill, and added, that if he did not see them again on earth, he should meet them in heaven. On going, he said, “Come to see me again as often as you can; I perhaps sha'n't be in the land of the living long, come while I am here.” The next evening I saw him again. He told me he had had Mr. La Trobe during the day, and how much cheered he
“But I am very poorly,” he said, “and in great pain.” I repeated him a passage of Scripture or two, and being obliged to go, he held out his hand, saying, “God bless you, don't forget to pray for me.” They were the last words I heard him speak, for ere I could see him again, the happy spirit had taken flight. He had bid farewell to the sufferings of this present state, and to use one of his own quaint expressions, "he had read eternity,” and no doubt is now entered into rest.
After I last saw him on Monday evening, I suppose he had continued much the same till Wednesday, when his breathing grew still more difficult, so much so that the perspiration trickled down his face; after which he seemed to grow easier, but was evidently in a state of unconsciousness, as he never moved nor opened his eyes, but in that state passed gently out of the world about twelve o'clock on Thursday. His body was committed to the ground in St. Thomas's Church-yard, by Mr. L. in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life; and never did I feel so much the solemnity of our beautiful Burial Service, as when it was read over the remains of Christopher Procter. .
Close to his grave I noticed a small rose-tree, with a great many buds upon it, just bursting into bloom and beauty; and I could not but think it was sweetly emblematical of his state, who had been transplanted from this thorny wilderness, to flourish in the courts of the Lord's Paradise above. What a transition, I could not but think as I attended church that day, must our friend have experienced between this Sabbath and the last. How often did he long to join us in the service of the Sanctuary, and to mingle his voice in praise and thanksgivings to the God of his life. And how many years was he prevented from ever entering the temple of God's house. But now he is admitted to the heavenly Temple above, to the presence of his God and King
In the evening Mr. La Trobe took for his text Isaiah xlvi. 4. “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you ;” and referred particularly to Christopher. He described him as an old and tried believer, of above forty years standing-one of the most valuable members of our congregation-who, though not permitted to join us for a great length of time, was always with us in spirit and who, though an unlettered man, yet from the simplicity and strength of his faith, the soundness of his judgment, and the depth of his acquaintance with experimental religion, was well calculated to instruct and help forward the youthful disciple, as well as to afford instruction and encouragement to the more advanced-and whose prayers had, he believed, been a real blessing. And I doubt not but many who were there would be animated afresh to run with patience the race set before them. At the close we sang that hymn of Watts's,
“ This life's a dream, an empty shew,
But the bright world to which I go," &c. And long will it be, I hope, ere the savour of his holy example, and the remembrance of his cheerful piety, connected as they were with the services of that Sabbath evening, will be forgotten.
Oh! may all who had the privilege of knowing him, strive more earnestly after the same attainments which he possessed so eminently, the same simplicity of faith, the same sincerity of heart, the same love of the word,