I am busy reading the journal of someone who visited South Africa in the early 1800’s to care for the missionaries his church had sent out. Obviously, the trip to South Africa itself took a long time back then, and he had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time in reflection.
I was touched and encouraged by what he writes about his father in one particular journal entry.
“At home or abroad, by sea or land, wherever I am, I can never forget the mournful event of this day, when our family and church were bereft of that excellent man, my father, in the year 1786.
Though now nearly thirty years are gone by, yet, when the return of this day brings his death to my recollection, I feel some recurrence of the pangs, which then seized my heart. But I remember, that once in his last illness, calling me to his bed-side, he expressed himself to the following effect, in consequence of the lamentations of a friend, who had just left the room:
“There is nothing, my dear son, that grieves me more, than to hear such complaints; not because, far from flattering me, they only remind me the more forcibly of my defects, but because they evince a deplorable want of knowledge of, and confidence in, the dealings of God with His Church and servants. He wants none of us; but if He is pleased to use us, surely He knows best, when to put down one tool and take up another. And will He suffer any part of his work to stand still, for want of instruments to work with? No! He will find such as are suited to His hand, and to the times and circumstances, when they are to be employed.”
This is indeed true, but I yet believe, that the concurrent testimony of all who knew my late father, will permit me to say, that, taking his character in a general sense, and viewing him as a man and as a christian, we shall not soon look on his like again.”