« PreviousContinue »
live to occupy the places made vacant in this migsion, by the calling of one and another of us to himself.
“Your dying brother, P. Fisk." “When I read this letter,” says Mr. Temple, "I felt, as if I had heard the voice of one of the saints made perfect, speaking to me from his happy abode on Mount Zion above. Never in my life did the world seem to retire so far from me, and heaven approach so near. I could not help saying with the greatest emphasis,-Let me die as he died, and let my last end be like his.”
The letter which he addressed to his father was accompanied by one from Mr. Goodell, giving some account of the afflictive event.
"God leads us in a way that we know not; but it is a good way, and it is our happiness as Christians to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Whatever we may lose in this world, we cannot lose that which we esteem better than life. Though we may endure much affliction, and pass through many deep waters, yet this is our comfort, “The Lord is with us;'-and this is our triumph, All things shall work together for our good. Whatever tends to familiarize our minds with the hopes of immortality, whatever imparts to things unseen a greater reality than in our view they possessed before, and thus constrains us to extend our acquaintance with the other world, to look beyond this transitory scene for our felicities and our home; can be considered in no other light than desirable. Thus our very losses
enrich us an hundred fold, our privations prove real gains, and the sickness and exit of our friends be, as “angels sent on errands full of love.'
But why need I offer a word of consolation, or endeavor to prepare your mind to receive the intelligence of what God has done-God, your father, who loves you, who does nothing wantonly, but
always for some wise purpose, some benevolent design? 'He'll bear it,' said your dear son, our brother, in his last hours. Be not troubled, dear sir, for his end was peace. We sat by his pillow; we wiped away the cold sweat, that again and again gathered upon his brow; we caught the last words that trembled upon his tongue. Jesus was precious to his soul; heaven itself was present; all was peace.
“As the light of day returned on Thursday morning preceding his death, his reason also returned; and viewing himself to be on the confines of eternity, and not expecting even to behold the rising of another sun, he requested me to take pen and paper, and dictated to you the following letter:
Beyroot, October 20, 1825. "My beloved aged Father.-I compose a few lines for
you upon a sick, probably a dying bed. When you gave me up for this Mission, you gave me up for life, and death. You know to whom to look for consolation and support. The same God, who has comforted you so many years, under so many troubles, will comfort you under this. You know his consolations are neither few nor small. I leave these lines as a pledge to you, and my brothers and sisters, my nephews and nieces, that I love you all most dearly, though so long separated from you.
I hope all, or nearly all our number, have been enabled to give themselves to Christ, and that we shall meet with our departed mother in heaven.”
“Here,” says Mr. Goodell, "he was interrupted by company; and did not resume the subject. During the day he remarked, Soon, and Christ will love me, for I shall be like him. He will make me such, that he can take delight in me forever, and I shall sin no more.'
The following tribute of Christian affection is from a letter written by Rev. Mr. Jowett to the Assistant Secretary of the American Board of Missions.
“I can find no words to express my grief and my sympathy, with what I know will be the grief of thousands in America at the tidings of the death of our brother Fisk-my beloved fellow.pilgrim to Jerusalem. But the blow is from the hand of an allwise and all-gracious Father. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it. We have cause to praise him that our brother was spared to be so long useful, and that his dying hours were so edifying. Where one falls, may a hundred others be raised up! Let us lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees, and after having given vent to tears, which we cannot restrain, go on cheerfully in his steps, wearing out (as he said in the service of Christ, and desiring no rest till the Master calls us, as he has done him, to enter the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem.”
The following remarks of Mr. Bird show what progress Mr. Fisk was making in his work, and what some of his last designs were in reference to the mission.
“The breach his death has made in the mission, is one which years will not probably repair. The length of time, which our dear brother had spent in the missionary field, the extensive tours he had taken, the acquaintances and connexions he had formed, and the knowledge he had acquired of the state of men and things in all the Levant, had well qualified him to act as our counsellor and guide, while his personal endowments gave him a weight of character, sensibly felt by the natives. His knowledge of languages, considering his well known active habits, has often been to us a subject of surprise and thanksgiving. All
men who could comprehend French, Italian, or Greek, were accessible by his powerful admonitions. In the first mentioned language, he conversed with ease; and, in the two last, performed with perfect fluency, the common public services of a preacher of the Gospel. Even
the Arabic, with all its five years' difficulties, he had so far mastered, as to commence in it a regular Sabbath-day service with a few of the natives, nor could we observe, that in this he labored under any embarrassment for want of words to convey his meaning. At the time of his death, beside preaching weekly in Arabic, and in English in his turn, together with pursuing his grammatical studies under an Arabic master, he had just commenced a work, to which, with the advice of us all present, he was directing, for the time, his main attention. Having in a manner completed the tour of Palestine and Syria, and having become nearly master of what concerns the grammatical part of the Arabic language; he began to feel more sensibly than ever the want of a proper sized dictionary, that should introduce the English missionary to the common spoken language of the country:—We were of the unanimous opinion, that a lexicon like the one in contemplation by Mr. Fisk, was quite needed, not only by ourselves, but by those who might succeed us in the mission. Our dear brother had written the catalogue of English words according to Johnson, and had just finished writing the catalogue (incomplete of course) of the corresponding Arabic, when his disease arrested him. Had he lived, he had it in contemplation to visit his native country, and probably to prepare for publication some account of his Christian researches in the Levant.
“Such were some of the plans and employments of our brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, when he was called off from all his labors of love among men. He is gone, but his memory lives. Never till we shall be called to go and sleep by his side, shall we forget the noble example of patience, faith and zeal, which he has set us; and never will the churches at home forget him, till they shall have forgotten their duty to spread the Gospel.”
The American Board of Missions held Mr. Fisk in high estimation, and deeply felt his loss, regarding it as occasioning a breach, which it would take a long time to fill. As the result of intimate acquaintance with his missionary operations and acquisitions, they have left on the pages of one of their Annual Reports a respectful testimonial of his worth.
“The character and attainments of Mr. Fisk," says the Report, “were such, as to attract the respect and confidence of men to a very extraordinary degree. During the six years of his missionary life, he was indefatigable as a Christian traveller, and as a preacher of the Gospel in four languages besides his native tongue. He saw and conversed with men of different nations, of various habits, and diversified acquirements, from the accomplished merchant and the scientific traveller, to the prowl. ing Arab, the ferocious Turk, and the ignorant devotee of superstition under the name of a Christian. Individuals of all these classes, as they became acquainted with him, felt and acknowledged that he was a man of distinguished worth, whose conduct adorned his profession, and whose influence must be perceived by its salutary effects on any community, in which he should reside. In private conversation he accomplished much; and the last weeks of his life were rendered happy by his learning, that some labors of this kind, performed two or three years before, had been materially instrumental in converting souls to God.
“No missionary in the service of the Board had a more extensive personal acquaintance, than Mr. Fisk; and none has been more universally loved and honored. But the good opinion of his fellow men, and even of his fellow servants in Christ, was of small importance to him, in comparison with the approbation of his God.”