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death of the two latter, she became the object of Mr. N.'s naturally affectionate disposition. She also became quite necessary to him by her administrations in his latter years; she watched him, walked with him, visited wherever he went; when his sight failed she read to him, divided his food, and was unto him all that a dutiful daughter could be.
But, in the year 1801, a nervous disorder seized her, by which Mr. N. was obliged to submit to her being separated from him. During the twelvemonth it lasted, the weight of the affliction, added to his weight of years, seemed to overwhelm him. I extracted a few of his reflections on the occasion, written on some blank leaves in an edition of his Letters to a Wife, which he lent me on my undertaking these Memoirs, and subjoin them in a note. It may give the reader pleasure to be informed, that Miss Catlett returned home; gradually recovered; and afterwards married a worthy man of the name of Smith.
It was with a mixture of delight and surprise, that
* " August 1st, 1801. I now enter my 77th year. I have been exercised this year with a trying and unexpected change; but it is by thy appointment, my gracious Lord; and thou art unchangeably wise, good, and merciful. Thou gavest me my dear adopted child. Thou didst own my endeavours to bring her up for thee. I have no doubt that thou hast called her by thy grace. I thank thee for the many years comfort (ten) I have had in her, and for the attention and affection she has always shown me, exceeding that of most daughters to their own parents. Thou hast now tried me, as thou didst Abraham, in my old age; when my eyes are failing, and my strength declines. Thou hast called for my Isaac, who had so long been my chief stay and staff, but it was thy blessing that made her so. A nervous disorder has seized her, and I desire to leave her under thy care; and chiefly pray for myself, that I may be enabled to wait thy time and will, without betraying any signs of impatience or despondency unbecoming my profession and character. Hitherto thou hast helped me; and to thee I look for help in future. Let all issue in thy glory, that my friends and hearers may be encouraged by seeing how I am supported: let thy strength be manifested in my weakness, and thy grace be sufficient for me, and let all finally work together for our good. Amen. I aim to say from my heart, not my will, but thine be done. But though thou hast in a measure made my spirit willing, thou knowest, and I feel, that the flesh is weak. Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. Lord, I submit, subdue every rebellious thought that dares arise against thy will. Spare my eyes, if it please thee; but, above all, strengthen my faith and love."
the friends and hearers of this eminent servant of God beheld him bringing forth such a measure of fruit in extreme age. Though then almost eighty years old, his sight nearly gone, and incapable, through deafness, of joining in conversation; yet his public ministry was regularly continued, and maintained with a considerable degree of his former animation. His memory, indeed, was observed to fail, but his judgment in divine things still remained; and though some depression of spirits was observed, which he used to account for from his advanced age, his perception, taste, and zeal for the truths he had long received and taught, were evident. Like Simeon, having seen the salvation of the Lord, he now only waited and prayed to depart in peace.
After Mr. N. was turned of eighty, some of his friends feared he might continue his public ministrations too long; they marked not only his infirmities in the pulpit, but felt much on account of the decrease of his strength and of his occasional depressions. Conversing with him in January 1806 on the latter, he observed, that he had experienced nothing which in the least affected the principles he had felt and taught; that his depressions were the natural result of fourscore years, and that, at any age, we can only enjoy that comfort from our principles which God is pleased to send. "But," replied I," in the article of public preaching, might it not be best to consider your work as done, and stop before you evidently discover you can speak no longer ?" I cannot stop," said he, raising his voice, "What, shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?"
In every future visit I perceived old age making rapid strides. At length his friends found some difficulty in making themselves known to him: his sight, his hearing, and his recollection exceedingly failed; but, being mercifully kept from pain, he generally appeared easy and cheerful. Whatever he uttered was perfectly consistent with the principles he had so long and so honourably maintained. Calling to see him a few days before he died, with one of his most intimate friends, we could not make him recollect either of us; but seeing him afterwards, when sitting up in his chair, I found so much intellect remaining as produced a short and affectionate reply, though he was utterly incapable of conversation.
Mr. N. declined in this very gradual way, till at length
it was painful to ask him a question, or attempt to rouse faculties almost gone; still his friends were anxious to get a word from him, and those friends who survive him will be as anxious to learn the state of his mind in his latest hours. It is quite natural thus to inquire, though it is not important how such a decided character left this world. I have heard Mr. N. say, when he has heard particular inquiry made about the last expressions of an eminent believer, "Tell me not how the man died, but how he lived."
Still I say it is natural to inquire, and I will meet the desire (not by trying to expand uninteresting particulars, but) as far as I can collect encouraging facts; and I learn from a paper, kindly sent me by his family, all that is interesting and authentic.
About a month before Mr. N.'s death, Mr. Smith's niece was sitting by him, to whom he said, "It is a great thing to die; and when flesh and heart fail, to have God for the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever: I know whom I have believed, and he is able to keep that which I have committed, against that great day. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day."
When Mrs. Smith came into the room, he said, " I have been meditating on a subject, 'Come, and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.'
At another time he said, "More light, more love, more liberty-Hereafter I hope, when I shut my eyes on the things of time, I shall open them in a better world. What a thing it is to live under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty! I am going the way of all flesh." And when one replied, "The Lord is gracious," he answered, "If it were not so, how could I dare to stand before him?"
The Wednesday before he died, Mrs. G asked him if his mind was comfortable? he replied, “I am satisfied with the Lord's will."
Mr. N. seemed sensible to his last hour, but expressed nothing remarkable after these words. He departed on the 21st, and was buried in the vault of his church the 31st of December 1807, having left the following injunction, in a letter for the direction of his executors.
"I propose writing an epitaph for myself, if it may be put up, on a plain marble tablet, near the vestry door, to the following purport :
JOHN NEWTON, CLERK,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour
Preserved, restored, pardoned,
Daughter of the late George Catlett,
He resigned her to the Lord who gave her,
"And I earnestly desire, that no other monument, and no inscription but to this purport, may be attempted for me.
The following is a copy of the exordium of Mr. Newton's will, dated June 13, 1803:
"In the name of God, Amen. I JOHN NEWTON, of Coleman Street Buildings in the parish of St. Stephen Coleman Street, in the city of London, Clerk, being through mercy in good health and of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding, although in the seventy-eighth year of my age, do, for the settling of my temporal concerns, and for the disposal of all the worldly estate which it hath pleased the Lord in his good providence to give me, make this my last Will and Testament as follows. I commit my soul to my gracious God and Saviour, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer, and an infidel, and delivered me from that state of misery on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me; and who has been pleased to admit me (though most unworthy) to preach his glorious Gospel. I rely with humble confidence upon the atonement and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, which I have often proposed to others as the only foundation whereon a sinner can build his hope; trust
ing that he will guard and guide me through the uncertain remainder of my life, and that he will then admit me into his presence in his heavenly kingdom. I would have my body deposited in the vault under the parish church of Saint Mary Woolnoth, close to the coffins of my late dear wife and my dear niece Elizabeth Cunningham; and it is my desire, that my funeral may be performed with as little expense as possible, consistent with decency."