From the Charleston Observer
THE LATE JEREMIAH EVARTS, ESQ.
Something more is due to the memory of the late Corresponding Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, than a mere notice of his death. The space which he occupied in the confidence of the churches- the zeal with which he had devoted his time, his talents, and his possessions to the cause of Missions,--and the success which crowned his efforts, and exhibited the results of a disciplined penetrating and practical mind, together whatever other strong, lovely and interesting traits of character for which he was distinguished--all unite in calling for a Biographical Sketch embracing the principal incidents of his life, especially as it has been, for more than twenty years, intimately interwoven with the history of Christian Missions.
Mr. Evarts was a graduate of Yale College, and held a rank for scholarship inferior to none in his class. He then pursued the study of the law-was admitted to the bar, and bade fair to take the lead in his lucrative and honorable profession. But having early given himself to Christ, he was led often to enquire, as did the Apostle, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me do?' Nor was it long before he was shown that God had chosen him for a different employment. If we mistake not, it was very soon after the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, that Mr. Evarts was invited to remove from New Haven to Boston to manage the fiscal concerns of that infant institution, and for this work his talents were admirably adapted. He gave up the honor that cometh from men, and he relinquished the prospect of worldly advancement for the cause of Christ. After the death of Dr. Worcester, the Corresponding Secretary of the Board, in 1821, Mr. Evarts was elected to succeed him; in this situation, he has done more, perhaps, than any other man in the country, daring the same time, in promoting the kingdom of the Redeemer. But the principal object which we have in view, is to give a brief sketch of his Christian character, as exhibited to the last trying crisis.
Mr. Evarts arrived in this city on Tuesday, the 3d of May, in one of the steamboats from Savannah, and was cordially welcomed at the house of the Rev. Dr. Palmer. He appeared very much exhausted, and retired immediately to rest. Medical attendance was soon procured; but nothing could be done in his case, except to mitigate the violence of his disease. On Wednesday night his rest was composed; but on Thursday his debility increased and became alarming; and on Friday, as there was no improvement, another physician was called in for consultation. That day had been set apart by the Circular Church for fasting, humiliation, and prayer, in view of an approaching Sacramental Sabbath. Immediately after morning service, at the request of Mr. E. several Ministers met in his chamber, when though exceedingly weak and prostrate, he addressed them, and remarked that he knew his case to be extremely critical--that he found it pleasant to be in the hands of God, who would do all things well--that he had no painful solicitude as to the result of his sickness, but thought it his duty to use every means for his recovery. He then requested an interest in their special and united prayers:- 1st. That if consistent with God's will he might recover: 2dly. That he might have a sweet sense of pardoned sin and an unshaken confidence in the Saviour. 3dly That if God should spare his life, he might be wholly
and entirely the Lord's-consecrated to his service- and 4thly. That if it should please God to remove him by this sickness, he might be able to glorify him on a bed of languishing and pain, and that His precious cause might be promoted by his death. He then expressed a firm and abiding hope in the Lord Jesus, and seemed like a little child, sweetly reclining on the arm of its faithful protector. By this effort, he was so much exhausted, that, at his request, the Ministers retired to another apartment for special prayer. An anodyne was administered, and he spent a comfortable night.
Saturday, there was no material change in his symptoms. Still, however, he was more feeble, and his pains returned with violence. Saturday evening, he remarked, 'tomorrow is the rest of the Holy Sabbath. I may be in eternity before it arrives. My mind is so weak, I cannot pursue a train of thought, but I bless God, it is tranquil. Not my will, but thine, O God, be done.' To one who remarked, we hardly know how to spare you from the Missionary cause: he said, 'don't mention it, don't mention it-the Lord knows best.' After taking a little gruel, he said, 'I shall require but little more nourishment in this world. My work is almost done-Jesus reigns-Blessed be he-I wish to lie as a penitent sinner at the foot of the cross.' About nine o'clock breathed out a short but comprehensive prayer in interrupted and broken petitions, making, at its close, a full and entire surrender of body and soul into the Redeemer's hands, and said, 'O dear Saviour, if this is the last night I have to pray on earth, let my unworthy prayer be exchanged for praise in thy kingdom above, Amen. Amen.' Speaking of his family, he said, 'I pity them, but God is a faithful God, he will take care of them-He will take care of them, that is enough.' On being asked if he had any particular message to send them, he said, 'Give them my love, my dying love ' the Lord reigns.' Anodyne was again administered, and his rest was composed.
In the morning his appearance was greatly changed, and during the day he was gradually sinking, yet he conversed considerably. To a young professor of religion who was in attendance, he said,'You have professed religion while young; so did I. I rejoice in it. All I have to say to you is, endeavor to aim at great attainments. The present age demands great things of Christians. Be not satisfied with being half a Christian. Be entirely consecrated to His service. There are some things I could do if Providence wills that I should get better, but I have no will of my own. I can rejoice that I am in the hands of the Lord. My mind is perfectly clear.' To several young Christians, he said, 'I feel a great interest in young Christians. I want to exhort you to help each other. Live near to God. Be bold in His service. It is the only thing worth being bold in. Do not be afraid. He then laid his head back upon the pillow and gave them his hand. At 6 in the evening, was free from pain, conversed with his nurse. He then called for his Testament, selected the 13th chapter of the 1st Corinthians, and requested a friend to read it. After which he spent some time in silent meditation. Dr. Leland came in, and Mr. E. conversed with him with great interest, and in the course of his remarks, said 'I have given myself all away.' This is the land of Beulah, said Dr. L. is it not? 'I think it would be,' he replied, 'if I had strength to contemplate it. I cannot converse much; but although I feel for my family, I am waiting to go. I have committed them all to God. He spoke with strong feeling of his son John, said, 'he rejoiced that he had come boldly and decidedly for the Lord.'
The next morning, the 10th, his symptoms of approaching dissolution appeared to increase. Dr. Palmer asked him, if he felt that he was near home; 'Yes, yes' was his reply. Is your mind comfortable? He bowed assent. After a little while, he requested some nourishment-then called the family together, mentioned M--in particular, who had been sick the night before, and asked a female friend, how long she thought he had to live. She replied that the question could not be determined; but that death appeared to be near. He said in reply, 'The will of the Lord be done. Attend now to what I say, as to the words of a dying man. To my dearly beloved wife, to my beloved daughter Mary, to my beloved son-in-law Green, to my beloved daughter Martha, to my beloved son John, to my beloved son William, to my beloved sister Washburn, to my beloved brother in Vermont, to my other beloved sister in Vermont, to all my relations and friends, grace, mercy and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom alone they and I can hope to be saved; and I wish, in these dying words to recognize the great Redeemer as the Saviour from sin and hell; able and willing to save all that come unto God by Him. To Him I commend my spirit, as to an all sufficient Saviour. He is the great champion and conqueror of death and hell. And I recognize the Great Spirit of God, as the renovator of God's elect, and herein, if I gather strength, I wish to recognize, and acknowledge the Church of God, containing all who have truly dedicated themselves to Him, in a new and everlasting covenant, and here permit me a poor unworthy worm of the dust, to give thanks to many of the children of God from whom I have received confidence, kindness and favor, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ;-And one more duty;- Brother P. if any respect I have offended the children of God, I ask their forgiveness. If I have grieved them by impatience, or in any other way, I ask their forgiveness. And what I shall say now? If you think of anything, tell me. Have I spoken intelligibly' giving his hand to Mrs. Wright of the Choctaw Mission who was present;-he said- 'Sister Harriet, have I spoken intelligibly' If I have not, I am ready to give any explanation.' Being then exhausted, he said, 'If the Lord give me more strength, I will speak again.'
About two hours after the Rev. Mr. Osborn, asked him if he recognized him. 'I think I do,- brother Osborn' Mr. O. asked, is your mind in a happy state? With great emphasis, he replied, 'It is.' Is Christ precious to you? 'He is.' He does not fail you? 'He does not fail me?' Jesus can make a dying bed feel, 'c.--do you realize this to be true? 'Yes, Yes.' Have you anything to say to the Missionaries-any message? He said, 'O yes, O yes; but I am afraid, I shall make distinction-don't let me make distinctions.' No, was the reply--all Missionaries. Does not the Missionary cause appear more precious and important than ever? After a considerable pause, and with much expression of countenance, and emphasis of manner, he said, 'You have called me back to the world.' With the view of again fixing his thoughts on heaven. Mr. said, you can say 'for me to die is gain.' 'Yes, yes.' That subject suits you better, does it? 'Oh yes, O yes' Can you realize the following words-
'The world recedes, it disappears,
'Heaven opens to my view.'
'Not strongly'- but heavenly things are in your mind? 'Yes'--but added he with characteristic energy and force, 'Look here, see here, if I am required to give intelligible answers, I must be prepared; I am in great pain.'
About one in the afternoon, a female friend said to him, if you feel Jesus near in this trying moment, raise your hand--and he raised it; do you know me? Yes, and called her by name. ' What o'clock is it?' It is one. 'One o'clock, on Tuesday,' he replied--After this he requested to be alone., He had seasons of pain, and very laborious breathing--was restless and required to be moved frequently. About nine o'clock in the evening, expecting that his time was come, he requested to be laid in the position suitable for that occasion. But in about quarter of an hour, he had a short return of violent pain, and when nearly exhausted, he said, 'dear, dear, dear'--a friend said Jesus-- Yes, yes, dear Jesus.' It was added--while on his breast I lean my head, and breathe my life out sweetly there. When he burst forth with expressions of rapture which cannot be described- 'Praise him, praise him, praise him in a way which you know not of.' It was said, you will soon see Jesus, as he is, and you will then know how to praise Him. 'Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful glory. I will praise him, I will praise him. Who are in the room?' Dr. and Mrs P. and a Christian brother. 'Call all in--call all--let a great many come--I wish to give directions--wonderful--glory--Jesus reigns.' All the members of the family were called, but before they could be assembled, he sank down exhausted, and scarcely spoke again. He continued to breath free from any further paroxysm of pain until a quarter before eleven o'clock, when he fell asleep in Jesus.
Such is an imperfect sketch of an eminent servant of Christ, as he approached the gate of death. He referred everything to the will of heaven, and as he bade adieu to this world of trial and of sin, he reposed upon the arm of a covenant keeping God, with a hope full of immortality.
The body of Mr.E. at his request, was examined by his attending physician, and the result proved that his disease was a chronic pulmonary consumption. All the viscera, except the lungs, were perfectly sound. The lungs were almost completely decayed.
His funeral service was attended the following afternoon, and addresses were delivered by Drs. Palmer, and McDowell. His remains are sent to his family in Boston.