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Among the different meetings and Bible readings, there was an early prayer meeting at 7.30 on Wednesday mornings, which he never missed whilst it continued, though it was attended by very few others.

I have lately met a lady who was once at a lecture given at Rathmines: she never heard my father before, or after; but his words made a strong impression on her. She said that she had never heard anything like it before. She only saw him once after; but her recollection of him was very vivid.

From time to time there were social gatherings for reading and conversation on Scripture, where he was always welcomed. Friends would sometimes bring questions about disputed or difficult points for him to answer. He had no taste for controversy, or mere intellectual reasoning; but his accuracy and clearness in explaining any passage was ever felt.

To speak to him about Holy Scripture, to get his thoughts on any passage; (and one always felt there was no part he had not thought about), seemed entirely to rest and satisfy the mind. Then his sweet deference to others, as well as his clear grasp of his subject and his bright and loving way of presenting it, gave a charm to all he said.

In a letter written when he was in the North of Ireland for a short time, he told me the subject on which he thought of speaking at a meeting, but at the close of the letter, written after the meeting he says: "We had a crowded room last evening, and I was happy; but my mind was turned to another subject, and you know, I like to be thus in God's hands".

His influence in social life must have been greater than he was at all aware of. At times difficulties arose which his wise counsel and careful allowance for difference of judgment, and above all his loving spirit and gentleness, smoothed over.

He was always anxious to encourage those who might be less favoured than others; and after seeing or hearing of any proof of faith and love in one who might have been under-rated, he would say with fervent pleasure, "The last are first". If anyone passed hasty judgment on another, he would say, "Remember, the law considers everyone innocent until he be proved guilty".

Simplicity of faith, leading to a spirit of constant praise, delighted him; he felt it to be a level of Christian experience higher than his own, and he would mention, with much pleasure, the reply once made to him by a friend, to whom he had said, "What is the character of your communion with God when in prayer? Mine is chiefly confession". With a beaming face, the answer was given, "Oh! mine is praise".

He delighted in the simplicity and naturalness of children, and often referred to those verses which tell of our blessed Lord taking a little child in His arms, a symbol, as he felt, of what the Church and each member of it ought to be "A cypher in the world's account (as a little child is), but in the arms of Christ".

My father never took in a daily paper; but if there were any special public events at any time, and a paper were lent to him, he read it with interest.

I think I used to notice that, whatever turn affairs might be taking in the world at large, it seemed to be just what he, from his prophetic point of view, expected. He did not, perhaps, take prophetic subjects as often as others for his expositions; but at times he clearly expressed his mind concerning prophecy.

All efforts merely to "elevate the masses" he regarded with fear, and used to say, "people do not know what they are doing".

A feature of the last days (as he fully believed these to be), of which he sometimes spoke, was the union of superstition and infidelity. He expected an increase of the former; and when the Pope's temporal power was taken away, he believed it would lead to further increase of spiritual power over the minds of men.

He expected the return of the Lord Jesus at any moment, to take all His redeemed to Himself; and believed that this event was in no wise dependent upon, or necessarily delayed by, anything here, except the gathering in of the people of the Lord.

With a strong feeling that the world is at enmity with the Church, and that the natural path of a Christian through this world is one of suffering like that of his divine Master, he used to say, "Martyrdom is the natural death of a Christian".

With thankfulness he would say that God's ways never end in judgment. In tracing, for instance, in Isaiah different "strains of judgment" he would notice how they all lead up to, and end in, mercy and praise. And so, whatever solemn thought of present evil or future judgment might present itself, he would remember the end, and dwell upon the thought of the world to come.

His strong conviction that "the Church is a heavenly stranger" in the world kept him apart from politics, while he yet carried out to the full the principle of subjection to the powers that be, and was thankful for the protection of our English laws.

The following extract from a letter written after the Crimean war is an index of his mind:

I will end this chapter by giving a few sentences, taken verbatim from lectures of my father, given at different times:

I have also a few notes which, though not strictly verbatim, are accurate, and give the true sense of my father's words.

4. LETTERS THOUGHTS ON PASSAGES
OF HOLY SCRIPTURE

THOSE who knew my dear father will not need to he reminded what his happy relations were with those who, for longer or shorter periods, were associated with him in ministry or service, as Mr. Mackintosh, Mr. Stoney, Mr. Alexander, and others. He was ever ready to welcome all such, and to esteem them "very highly in love for their work's sake".

I have now to make a few more extracts from letters, and in the first three there are references to the visit of Mr. Andrew Millar to Dublin:

The lines in which these last words occur, my father greatly enjoyed:-

The next extract is from a letter written when he was visiting in Galway and Mayo:

Writing from the neighbourhood of Yeovil, he mentioned his pleasure in visiting some poor cottagers.

Referring to a hymn he had much enjoyed, he wrote:

Perhaps it was because of having first known this hymn about the time that he was reading in "Hope deferred, not lost", about the Patagonian Mission, that my father seemed afterwards always to associate the fourth verse with the experience of Mr. Williams, the surgeon who joined that devoted band of missionaries, and who, while dying of starvation, wrote from day to day in his journal, of the rapture, that filled his heart in the prospect of so soon being with his Saviour.

It was always a happy time when my dear uncle came from Bridgnorth, where he was rector of St. Leonards for thirty-six years.

The following little hymn which my father wrote, may fitly find a place here, for it was composed for a tune which his very dear niece Annie used to play for him during her frequent visits to us (always a happiness to him), with or without her father:

The following letter is addressed to this niece:

In the year 1857, another dear niece was in failing health, and after my father had been visiting her in Devonshire, he wrote the following letter:

The next extracts are again from letters to myself:

In a letter from some place where there had been a large meeting, he wrote:

In another, which refers to the Indian Mutiny, 1857, he says

In a letter, written during some severe weather, I find the words:

In another letter he speaks of a lecture he had given -

Referring to the happy death of a young friend,

I may close this chapter with a few fragments gathered from lectures on passages in the Old Testament referred to in the New, and two verses written by my father will serve to introduce them.

5. INTEREST IN THE "REVIVAL" HYMNS

THE year 1860 was a time of widely spread religious awakening in Ireland. It began in the North, and was felt in all denominations.

My father's interest was quickly called forth. In the short extract which follows it is mentioned:

After some time the influence began to be felt in and around Dublin. The work was deep and real, but attended with less excitement than in other places. Clergymen and others who had longed for such an awakening amongst their people found it brought into their midst, and with more or less energy set themselves to help and teach those who now, perhaps for the first time, began to care for their souls.

My father wrote a short pamphlet at this time, entitled, "A few words on the Present Revival," some paragraphs of which I quote here. In it he refers to the "physical effects" which in some cases attended this remarkable movement.

It was about this time that my father wrote the following hymns, and they, with the long sacred poem to be given later, are the only ones he ever wrote, with the exception of those already mentioned, and some additional verses to another short one.

There was a hymn, which I think he heard for the first time at Mr. D. Smith's services, which he enjoyed, and to which he wrote two additional verses. It begins

Another hymn which became first known to us at this time, beginning -

My father also wrote the following hymn, as an answer to the well-known one

He also added the following verses to the children's hymn, beginning

My father was not specially fond of poetry, though he could at times enjoy it. He seldom read it aloud, and the hymns he most liked were remarkable rather for their simplicity than for their beauty of language. Some of Watts' hymns he much enjoyed, such as -

The dramatic poem, "The Martyrdom of Ignatius," by Gambold, he greatly admired, and among many favourite passages in it he frequently repeated the following:

On reading some of his own verses, thrown off from his pen, without effort, as they all were, one can understand my father so often saying that he liked "hymns about heaven".

6. LOOSENING OF EARTHLY TIES

THE state of my dear mother's health had from time to time made us anxious, but during the summer of 1863 she was not more feeble than usual, and was able to enjoy the prospect of a visit from my uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Richey. The very day they arrived, however, she had a fall, but as such an accident had often happened before without any serious consequences, we were not made unusually anxious.

I have one or two letters from him, written about this time, to my uncle and aunt in Devonshire:

In the spring of 1864 my father twice went to visit some of the Brethren in the country parts of Ireland, though he had been suffering from a slight attack on his chest. He went to Mr. Waller at Prior Park, to Mr. W. H. Darby [JND's older brother] and to other friends at Nenagh, Clonmel, Mount Mellick, Tullamore, Moate, and Buttevant.

From Tullamore he wrote:

The mention of dear Aunt Alice in these notes leads me to speak more particularly of her. She used often to tell me little things about her early days, and was filled with thankfulness for the gracious care that had watched over her in youth; for, being early left an orphan, she was under the care of guardians who did not trouble themselves much about her.

On one occasion I was much struck by her telling me of the great enjoyment she had had one Sunday morning. She had not been able to attend the meeting which was always such a pleasure to her; but she told me what a happy time she had had alone. I cannot recall her words; but the impression on my mind was that it had been a very blessed experience of the presence and nearness of God, and also of His love. She was then past eighty.

She had great delight in hymns; and when her sight failed so that she could scarcely read, she would walk up and down the room repeating one after another with great enjoyment. This continued almost to the last. She liked those best that were most full of praise, and longed for more expression of it in the generality of hymns.*

I think Aunt Alice was appreciated by all our friends, to whom she was always ready to give a hearty welcome. Her quaint little figure, in old-fashioned dress may still be remembered by some.

Two or three years before her death she had a sharp attack of illness, from which we did not think she could recover. She was in a very happy state of mind. One day when Robert, our old Roman Catholic servant, who had lived with my grandfather at North Lodge, came up to see her, we were surprised by the earnest way in which she spoke to him of her Saviour.

Aunt Alice had for years been free from any great sorrow until my dear mother was taken from us; and, truly as she felt this, I think her great age, perhaps, made the grief less acute.

Once she spoke of her father with tears, her remembrance of more than 80 years was so vivid: he died when she was about ten years old.

The end came sooner than we expected. One night after a painful gasping for breath she began to repeat her favourite hymn, "Oh, for a heart to praise my God", and laid, as she always did, special emphasis on the line, "So freely shed for me".

Some little time after we had left her, as we thought, comfortably settled for the night, in the care of the faithful servant, who had slept in her room for thirty years, we were summoned, and saw at once that a change had taken place. She soon became unconscious, and, after breathing quietly for a few moments, she was taken from us.

During my dear father's second visit to the country, he complained of not feeling well. In a note from Clonmel he wrote -

This "taking care" was the beginning of that service of love rendered by Mr. Cavenagh during the months that followed, especially during the time of greatest weakness, which called forth my own deep gratitude, and can never be forgotten.

My father did not leave home again, except when we went together to stay for a short time with our kind friends in the County of Wicklow. Nothing could exceed the thoughtful care and love shown him by Mr. and Mrs. Truell at Clonmannon, and by Mr. and Mrs. Synge at Glanmore. He sweetly appreciated it all, but his strength was gradually failing.

I cannot tell exactly when it was that our kind friend, Dr. Walter, began to feel my dear father's illness was becoming serious. In its early stages it took the form of pneumonia; and he was never quite free from cough; but there was more general weakness than any distinct disease.

The last passage on which he gave a short lecture was 2 Cor. 12.

Before writing some details of the weeks that followed, I wish to give some remembered words of my dear father's, uttered from day to day, the last few weeks of his life.

Most of the following sentences, which were put down at the time, were spoken as if he were thinking aloud, or were utterances of prayer and praise, as though none were present but his Lord:

Speaking at one time of how indefinitely we speak of that which lies beyond death, and saying that Scripture had not been so "indefinite," he added:-

One time he spoke of the gentle way in which he was dealt with he had often wished, and (he supposed) prayed for it, but added,

One would surely be surprised that in these utterances he never spoke of meeting with those gone before, but for the vivid remembrance that the thought of meeting his Lord absorbed every desire, and, as he said, "filled the whole vision" of his soul.

Some one spoke to him once about meeting my dear mother. He referred to this after, and we understood that he knew this would be in the resurrection, but the One presence was all that he looked for now.

His heart has spoken for itself in the letters written during my brother's illness, and his devoted love for my mother had shown itself every moment in the life of every day, yet neither of these "gone before" seemed to mingle with his heavenly longings.

During all those weeks I was continually reminded of the reaping that follows the spiritual sowing; for if there were one thing more than another that he seemed ever to desire, or that his ministry sought to lead others to enjoy, or that his prayers longed after,

7. CLOSING DAYS

EARLY in September my dear uncle proposed coming to us. His visit was eagerly looked forward to, and on his arrival, my dear father threw his arms round his neck, and they kissed each other as if they had been boys again.

One day before my uncle came my father was able to drive out and transact some business. On reaching Mr. B'.s office, the clerk kindly came to him, and saved him the fatigue of going in. He said that he was sorry to see my dear father looking so ill.

By degrees the weakness increased, until he could only move from his own room to the drawing-room, but he had very little suffering. He wished to see everyone that called, and it was graciously ordered that all who loved him in Dublin were able to see and hear him once more. It was very seldom that he was unable to see any friend.

For many of his sweet and happy words, as well as the circumstances of the last month, I must refer to a journal kept from day to day, and to some letters sent home by my uncle, and shown to me afterwards:

Every evening, Mr. Cavenagh came, with unfailing kindness, and remained to sit up for the night if my uncle were away or needed rest, and one morning my dear father said, "Francis talks of the possibility of my returning to the Brethren. How can he talk so? So to have looked at my Lord, and then to be withdrawn from seeing Him!"

"Sept. 13th. While he was resting today, Mr. Denham Smith called, but we thought it not well to bring him up. He begged just to come and look at him. While Mr. S. was there he awoke, and held out his hand. He said that they had met in a different scene (referring to the revival services), but not a happier one, and then spoke of how the Lord had been blessing his soul the last two months, and urged Mr. Smith to preach Christ personally".

He would sometimes beckon my uncle or me to come and sit near his easy chair, and he would rest his dear head on our shoulder.

"Sept. 15th. When feeling very weary, he said, 'Oh for a rest on my brother's shoulder!' He frequently calls uncle G., 'Georgie', the dear old name of childhood. I thought, as I looked at them thus together just now of the picture taken of them when they were boys of about eight and nine, with their faces close together.

"Sept. 12th. Uncle G. watched him tenderly, and reported a bad night. He saw different people through the day, amongst them young F. Cavenagh, who was entirely overcome when leaving.

"Sept. 16th. He called me to him when he first came into the drawing-room and folded me in his arms, and said, 'With what certainty I look at the Lord!'"

About this time I received a letter from Dr. Cronin, from which I quote his words about my dear father:

On September 18th he arrived. My dear father bore the meeting better than I feared. He spoke to Dr. Cronin about his unpublished MSS., as quietly as if he were packing up for a journey.*

"Sept. 19th. He talked a good deal to Dr. C., spoke of 'Brethren's Principles' and of the 'Social Character of the Day' hindering the apprehension of what he firmly believes to be required by the Word of God. He mentioned two or three persons whom they both knew, and sketched their characters.

"Sept. 20th. Mr. S- came to see him, and sobbed like a child before he came in, and after he left the room.

"Sept. 21. Dr. Cronin came home from an evening prayer-meeting just in time to draw his wheel-chair (which had been my mother's) into his room. He first asked about some one who had been a cause of trouble, and on hearing that he was 'softened' immediately said, 'Now push me in', as if he wanted nothing more.

"Sept. 22. He bore the parting with dear Dr. Cronin well, but it seemed after to make him feel poorly".

The book entitled, A Short Meditation on the Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, was the last written by my father; and he entrusted it to Sir E. Denny, who afterwards had it printed.

He was always able to have a short reading and prayer morning and evening; and sometimes spoke a little about the verses we read, and in prayer his words were as ever, the same simple and appropriate ones.

He would sometimes mention suitable portions of scripture to those who came to see him; and one day I said that he had not given one to me. He answered sweetly, "All my words are for you;" and after a short pause named Luke 12.

All books were by degrees laid aside, and at last even his Bible. It seemed strange to see the companion of every day and all day lying on the table unopened, and yet not strange when he was so near the actual presence of Him of whom it had so deeply taught him.

I have now to give some extracts from letters written to my dear aunt, Mrs. Bellett, whose love and sympathy were ever with us, and who afterwards showed me my uncle's letters:

One to whom for years he has been strongly attached, called; he gave many words of spiritual counsel; and then, in reference to himself, spoke as follows:

  • To Edward* he said with great emotion

    A few weeks before this my dear father had written his last letter to Mr. Darby in it he expressed the deep thankfulness he felt for ever having known him, and also his firm and ever-deepening conviction of the truth of Brethren's principles.

    When the first anniversary of my dear mother's death came, we rather dreaded lest he should be too much affected by it. He only alluded to it once, but we found that he had thought that he might be called away on that day

    "Sept. 24th. When Robert brought up his dinner, he held out his hand to him, and said, 'Thankfully wearing out'. Soon after, he looked up, and added, 'My Lord, am I moving towards Thee?' and then spoke of the ground of his hope.

    "Sept. 26th. He was anxious to see our very dear and long-valued friends, Mrs. Leader and Miss Herrick, though he had been having frequent visits from them all through his illness, and I found afterwards that his desire was to commit me specially to their loving care. Never, surely, was a trust fulfilled with more thoughtful love.*

    The sofa in the drawing-room was now made into a bed for him by day, and to the last he was helped, or wheeled in my mother's chair, from his own room, which was on the same floor.

    "Sept. 27th. His face has got back much of its old look, his colour is almost natural, and he speaks sometimes with his own sweet smile. We look at him with surprise. There is no distress, and he is able to lie with ease on his side, which he has not been able to do for some time.

    "Sept. 29th. For a few moments he spoke in a way quite like himself, expressing his mind, with beauty and accuracy, about 'the different worlds' that of business and self-seeking; that of domestic affection that of letters; and then turned to the thought of 'the world to come', where his blessed Lord would be all".

    "Oct. 1st. While Robert was waiting to help him into his room at night he said, 'I am on my way to the Lord, and I long to reach Him'.

    "Oct. 3rd. Mr. Cavenagh came early (Uncle G. is away for two days), and remained all day, generally sitting beside him holding his hand. Dr. Walter watched him through the night, which was disturbed by the cough".

    When my uncle returned my dear father seemed too much overpowered to notice him, except by squeezing his hand.

    On one occasion my dear father asked my uncle to tell him truly if he were "impatient", and this is referred to in the following extract from another letter.

    Another time he said, "I fear I am impatient with the Lord", and explained that he had turned for rest to lie on his side, though knowing it would make him cough, and he asked if that were "rebellion".

    One evening he called Mary Perrott, and expressed sorrow for having spoken crossly to her, and then he asked if we all forgave him. He said that he had been impatient with us all, and owned subjection to be his duty, but added that it did not make him afraid to meet the Lord. My dear uncle said, "Terror is not in Him. You know this better than we do". He raised his eyes and said, "My blessed, disobeyed Lord". To Dr. Walter and Mr. Cavenagh he also owned impatience, and in his little prayer after I noticed the petition that "submission" might be our "thanksgiving".

    I must here say that no trace of this impatience which he seemed to feel remains in my memory; except, indeed, it may have been at times when he had a remarkable intuition (quite unlike him at other times) of how things ought to be done for an invalid which we did not exactly understand.

    "Oct. 5th he said, 'I like to have you all near me today'. He repeated one or two verses of Hart's hymn, beginning, 'A Man there is, a real Man', and said, with tears, how he must have been overcome when writing it.

    "This evening he called us to him, and said he would not have us deceived, or think more of the desire he had so often expressed to depart than was strictly true. It would be swords and daggers to him for us to be deceived; and then he said that the fear of suffering, and the desire to escape from present weariness, were with him, as well as a longing to be with the Lord".

    A few days before this my dear father spoke to Dr. Walter as follows. I quote from another letter of my uncle's.

    Journal, "Oct. 6th. He has been anxious all the morning about sending off the box,* and told us to fill it up with biscuits, and was pleased, and looked on with his own sweet smile while we packed it with cakes for the children. He wished also to have two or three little books put in.

    At one time, lifting his finger and calling us all to hear, he said that the exultations of feeling he had expressed were not hypocrisy, but frames and feelings were little, and though he could say that his desire was to be with the Lord, he would not have us think him so 'heavenly-minded or spiritual' as not to be desiring rest from the suffering and weariness.

    "Oct. 7. When I went into his room this morning, after he had held me in his arms for a few moments, he said, 'Wondrous has been the thrust of Satan at me this night, and blessed the victory given, but it is as sure as you are my Letty'. I asked what he referred to; but he said he could not tell me then.

    Immediately after, he called my uncle and me to either side of the sofa-bed, and gave us the following account of what he had experienced:-

    "Oct. 7. Evening. He asked for the servants to come up, as he wanted to pay what would shortly be due to them himself. As he gave each little parcel of money, he said that they had been 'faithful,' and asked if he had been 'kind'. While Uncle G. sat beside him, he spoke of a fall he once had from a pony in early days, and reminded him of a battle he had once fought for him at school, saying that 'he was a cowardly fellow'.

    I have now come to the last entry in the little journal.

    Of the days that followed, I need not write. Each day brought fresh proofs of what the sorrow was to many hearts.

    One and another came, and asked to see him once more; and each one saw the face they had loved, with its sweetest expression of happiness and rest.

    Of all his friends in Dublin, none were willingly absent, and some came from a distance, when he was taken to his last resting-place in Harolds-Cross Cemetery, and there, by the hands of those only who loved him, he was laid by the side of my dear mother and Aunt Alice. The whole inscription on the headstone is given below, the beautiful verses which immediately follow my dear, father's name being suggested by my uncle:

    PEACE IN JESUS. ________ MARY BELLETT,
    OF UPPER PEMBROKE STRFET, DUBLIN.
    SEPTEMBER 23RD, 1863.
    AGED 67.
    ALICE DYER,
    OF UPPER PEMBROKE STREET.
    MAY 19TH, 1864.
    "WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD".
    JOHN GIFFORD BELLETT,
    UPPER PEMBROKE STREET, DUBLIN.
    OCT. 10TH, 1864.
    "THOU SHALT MAKE ME FULL OF JOY WITH THY COUNTENANCE.
    THOU HAST GIVEN HIM HIS HEART'S DESIRE."

    The love which my dear father was so ready to give, secured to him the love of others; but I think he was quite unconscious of the influence it gave him, as well as of the reverent affection with which so many regarded him. A few extracts from letters much prized by me shall close this little record. The first was written to my uncle by Rev. J. Hogan, whose visit on Oct. 3rd has been mentioned.

    The following is from Mr. Alexander, dated "1st November, 1864.

    From Mr. S : "18th October, 1864.

    Another friend wrote:

    From Dr. Cronin:

    From Sir E. Denny: "13th December, 1864.

    The next extracts are from later letters written by the friend whom I quoted in chapter two. He was never in connection with the Brethren. He is a clergyman of "moderate High-Church views"; and never heard my dear father in public further than by attending some Bible readings in early days. The impression, so deep and lasting, was made by himself and his writings, which were indeed the transcript of his mind.

    Again, in a letter of sympathy on the death of my dear uncle, he writes:

    And once again, in answer to my request to print these extracts:

    From Mr. C.:

    From another friend:

    The poem referred to already is as follows: (In 'the Evangelists' volume.)

    In closing these recollections, and feeling how very imperfect they are, I can but humbly hope that time, recalling my dear father's words and ways, may lead both myself and those who may read these pages to seek to know more fully the Blessed Lord, of whom he loved to speak and whom he sought to follow in humility and love.

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