Extract from Frances Ridley Havergal’s MS., in answer to a remark: “Death, which we ALL dread.”
No, not “All !” One who has seen and accepted God’s way of salvation, does not dread death. Perhaps I shall best express myself by doing it very personally—just giving my own experience.
I do not fear death. Often I wake in the night and think of it, look forward to it, with a thrill of joyful expectation and anticipation, which would become impatience, were it not that Jesus is my Master, as well as my Saviour, and I feel I have work to do for Him that I would not shirk, and also that His time to call me home will be the best and right time; therefore I am content to wait.
One night I was conscious of certain symptoms preluding an all but fatal attack (of erysipelas) I had had once before on the brain.
I knew, if means failed, it was probably my last night on earth. I let my mother attend to me, but alarmed no one, and I was left alone in bed. Then, alone in the dark, I felt it might be my last conscious hour on earth, and that either sleep or fatal unconsciousness would set in. I never spent a calmer, sweeter hour than that. I had not one shadow of fear! only happy rest and confidence in Him “Whom I have believed.”
Was this delusion? Could it be so in the very face of death, that great unmasker of all uncertainties? I knew it was not delusion, for “I know Whom I have believed.”
It was not always thus. I know as well as any one, what it is to “dread death,” and to put away the thought of its absolute certainty, because I dare not look it in the face.
There was a time when I saw clearly I could not save myself—that I deserved hell in many ways, but in one most of all, this—that I owed the whole love of my heart to God, and had not given it to Him; that Jesus had so loved me as to die for me, and yet I had treated Him with daily, hourly ingratitude. I had broken the first commandment, and as I owed all my life—future and past—to God, I had literally “nothing to pay;” for living to Him, and keeping His commands for the future, would not atone for the past. I saw the sinfulness of my heart and life. I could not make my heart better. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” So, unless sin is taken away, my soul must die and go to hell.
Where then was my hope? In the same Word of God (1 John 5:10), it is written, “He that believeth on the Son hath the witness in himself,” and (John 3. 36), “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him.”
Believe what?—that He must keep His word and punish sin, and that He has punished it in the person of Jesus, our Substitute, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2. 24).
If Jesus has paid my debt, and borne the punishment of my sins, I simply accept this, and believe Him, and it is all a true and real transaction. I did this—I believed it, and cast myself, utterly hopeless and helpless in myself, at the feet of Jesus, took Him at His word, and accepted what He had done for me.
Result?—Joy, peace in believing, and a happy, FULL trust in Him, which death cannot touch.
Now it is a reality of realities to me—it is so intertwined with my life, that I know nothing could separate me from His love.
I could not do without Jesus. I cannot and I do not live without Him. It is a new and different life; and the life and light which takes away all fear of death, is what I want others to have and enjoy.
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15. 54).