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WHEN our last issue went to press we had not received any details of his death. He was an excellent Brother in Christ and, as one of his members, an "able minister (servant) of the New Covenant," faithful in his sacrifice to the last. While it is not ours to judge, we express freely our convictions respecting him. We believe that of him it could be said, as of St. Paul, that he fought a good fight, kept the faith, and finished his course with joy. We doubt not that as a "member" of the Body of Christ, the great Prophet, Priest, Mediator and King of the world, he has passed beyond the vail and heard the Master's "Well done! good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord."
Last August, at the time father had the severe attack from which we thought he might not rally, he expressed the wish that he might leave you some token of his love, and said, "Perhaps I might leave him a little letter; don't you think so?" He then dictated the letter which follows, down as far as the Scripture quotation, when he felt too weak to go on, expecting to take it up later. As you know, he soon began to improve so that the matter as a "farewell message" was not taken up again. When he did go there was no opportunity. While we knew he was in a critical condition, we rather expected that he would be with us for some time, and did not until the day he died really feel that "the time of his departure was at hand." His mind was clear Saturday, Sunday and Monday, though he was very weak; but on Tuesday it wandered, the poison having gone to his head.
That last afternoon I was alone with him, having asked mother to lie down and try to get some sleep, when all at once he began deliberately and in a full voice, as if addressing an audience, "Have you ever considered that Scripture, Though he were rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through him might be rich?" He paused as if realizing there was a mistake, and then, without comment, repeated it from the first, this time correctly"that ye through his poverty might be rich." With no further hesitation he went on with a discourse from the text, speaking about ten or perhaps fifteen minutes without a break and the thought in as logical order and in as good language as in any of his public addresses.
If I had thought of his saying more than a few disconnected sentences, I would have tried to take it down, and rather regretted afterward that I did not, especially as it was just what he was going to give in the letter to you when he stopped on account of weakness. I will give it in the letter as well as I can remember it. It was no doubt due to the thoughts having at some previous time passed through his mind in that order that he reproduced them that afternoon a few hours before he passed away, even when unconscious of his surroundings. I know from the way he spoke of the passage during his sickness that he had not used the words as a text, but that their beauty and depth of meaning had been more forcibly impressed upon him the morning he mentions in the letter.
"The Lord has been very good to me in that he has permitted me to have some share in the harvest work of the age. I have rejoiced in these privileges and grown strong in the faith while in the exercise of the privilege of helping others.
"I thought I had everything tucked away in the will of God so that I could say with the blessed Master, "Thy will, not mine, be done,' but when it became a known fact that I must for the second time within a few months cease from the active pilgrim service, I found some spirit of rebellion in my heart. My great desire to continue the work became manifest, and I found it necessary to take myself vigorously in hand and adjust matters so that perfect harmony might exist between the Father's will and my will.
"Since the adjustment of this matter, perfect peace and joy and gladness have been my portion, and while confined to my room with much time for reflection and meditation, my experiences have been very sweet. I would like to give you an example of one of my experiences in the early morning before the family were up. I was awake and, as was my custom, began some meditations.
"'Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.' Though he were richhow rich? [He spoke of the riches he had in his prehuman state, of his nearness to the Fatherhis Only Begotten One in whom the Father delighted, the Father's Agent in the creation of all things, etc.] Though he were rich, yet for our sakes he became poorhow poor? He divested himself and took a bondman's form! How poor was he? 'Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head!'
"That was poverty, was it not? Would not you and I think it poverty? But he not only had nowhere to lay his head, but there was none to fully sympathize with him. As a New Creature he was alone in the world. It is written, 'Of the people there was none with him.' Did all forsake him? Yes; in the garden he was alone. 'No,' some one may say, 'he had with him Peter and James and John.' Not so; they were asleep and no man can properly be said to be with another in sympathy and support when he is asleep. But was this the depth of his poverty? No; hitherto he had had the Father's smile of approval, but there came a time when the gate of earth and the door of heaven were both closed to him. There, as he hung suspended between earth and heavenan outcasthe tasted the depths of poverty for us. Having given up at consecration his earthly rights, he now had no share in them; but not only so, the door of heaven was also closed: 'Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree.'
"Oh, the depths of that poverty'of the people there was none with him'! And as he hangs there the Father, too, withdraws himself and hides, as it were, his face from him and in his utter loneliness of soul our Lord cries out, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'
There was nothing new, of course, in what was said, but he spoke in a very impressive manner, as though he had come to appreciate more than ever the Savior's sacrifice. Some points he enlarged on, of course, more than I have done.