Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2


Chapter 25—Nathaniel and Anna

After we returned from our eastern journey I was shown that we were in danger of taking burdens upon us that God did not require us to bear. We had a part to act in the cause of God, and should not add to our cares by increasing our family to gratify the wishes of any. That to save souls we should be willing to bear burdens; that we should open the way for my husband's brother Nathaniel and sister Anna to come and live with us. They were both invalids, yet we felt to extend to them a cordial invitation to come to our house. This they accepted. As soon as we saw Nathaniel we feared that consumption had marked him for the grave. The hectic flush was upon his cheek. Yet we hoped and prayed that the Lord would spare him, that his talent might be employed in the cause of God. But the Lord saw fit to order otherwise. Nathaniel and Anna came into the truth cautiously, yet understandingly. They weighed the evidences of our position, and conscientiously decided for the truth. 2SG 173.1

Nathaniel died May 6th, 1853, in the 22d year of his age. The following particulars of his sickness and death, are from a letter I wrote to our bereaved parents: 2SG 174.1

“Dear Nathaniel, we miss him much. It seems hard for us to realize that we are no more to have his society here. He bore up through his sickness with remarkable cheerfulness and fortitude. I never heard him groan but once, and that was the Tuesday before he died. I loved him when he first came because he was brother to my husband, and I felt that I could do anything for his comfort; but soon he seemed as near to me as a natural brother. I read some in the Bible to him Wednesday, and told him about my poor brother Robert, who, after six months of great suffering, died of consumption. Said he, ‘I should not wish to have such lingering sickness as he had.’ He enjoyed his mind well, and told us not to look sad when we came into his room. Said he, ‘I am happy; the Lord blesses me abundantly. I have obtained the victory over impatience, and have the evidence that the Lord loves and owns me as his child.’ That night he suffered much with wakefulness. 2SG 174.2

“Thursday morning he expressed his joy that the long night had passed, and day had finally come. As he walked out to breakfast in the large parlor that morning, he looked around the room, and said, ‘Any one cannot help but get well in such a beautiful house as this, with such large, airy rooms.’ 2SG 174.3

“Anna generally took his meals to him from choice, and then sat by his side while he ate; she did not wish to eat until after he had. Said he, ‘Ellen, I wish you would make Anna sit down and eat with the rest of the family, for there is no need of her sitting by me while I eat.’ 2SG 175.1

“He seemed to love Anna very much, and through his sickness often spoke of his coming to Rochester to accompany her, because she was so feeble, and now Anna was waiting upon him, and often said, ‘Anna, you did not know when you made up your mind to come to Rochester that you were coming to wait upon me.’ 2SG 175.2

“That night [Thursday] we went into his room and prayed with him, and Nathaniel was abundantly blessed. He praised the Lord aloud, while his face lighted up with the glory of God. We especially prayed that he might have sleep and rest that night. He rested very well through the night. 2SG 175.3

“Friday morning, the last morning that he lived, he called us into his room. He said that he wished us to pray there; but first, he had something to say. He then with remarkable clearness called up little things that had transpired while he had been with us, and every word that he thought he had spoken hastily or wrong, he confessed heartily. He confessed wherein he had distrusted God in times past, and asked forgiveness of the family. ‘I regret,’ said he, ‘that I have been unreconciled to my sickness. I have felt that I could not have it so, and that the Lord dealt hard with me. But I am now satisfied it is just; for nothing but this sickness could bring me where I am. God has blessed me much of late, and has forgiven me all my sins. It often seems that if I should reach out my hand I could embrace Jesus he is so near. I know I love God and he loves me.’ 2SG 175.4

“After he had said what he wished to, we united in prayer. It was a sweet season. He manifested great interest while we were praying, responding to our prayers, saying, ‘Amen! Praise the Lord! Glory to God! I will praise him, for he is worthy to be praised! His name is Jesus, and he will save us from our sins!’ 2SG 176.1

“He prayed earnestly, and in faith, for a full consecration to God's will, to be baptized with his Spirit, and purified by his blood. Said he, ‘Thou hast forgiven me all my sins. Thou hast sanctified me to thyself, and I will honor thee as long as I have breath.’ 2SG 176.2

“His face shone, and he looked very happy. He said that the room seemed light, and he loved us all. After we arose from prayer he said, ‘Anna, I love you, come here.’ She went to his bedside, and he embraced her, and said, ‘I am happy, the Lord has blessed me.’ 2SG 176.3

“Nathaniel was triumphant in God through the day, although he was very sick. I remained in his room and entertained him by reading the Bible and conversing with him. As I read he would say, ‘How appropriate that is! how beautiful! I must remember that!’ 2SG 177.1

“I then said, Nathaniel, you are very sick. You may die in two hours, and unless God interposes, you cannot live two days. He said, very calmly, ‘O, not so soon as that, I think.’ He immediately rose from the bed, sat in the rocking-chair, and commenced talking. He began back to the time when he was converted; told how much he enjoyed, and how afraid he was of sinning; and then when he began to forget God, and lose the blessing. Then how high his hopes were raised; he ‘meant to be a man in the world; to get an education and fill some high station.’ And then he told how his hopes had died, as afflictions had pressed heavily upon him; how hard it was for him to give up his expectations. He said he felt he could not have it so; he would be well; he would not yield to it. 2SG 177.2

“Then he spoke of his coming to Rochester. How trying it was to have us wait upon him, and to be dependent. ‘It seemed to me,’ said he, ‘that the kindness of you all, was more than I could bear; and I have desired to get well to pay you for all this.’ He then spoke of his embracing the Sabbath. Said he, ‘At first I was not willing to acknowledge the light I saw. I wished to conceal it; but the blessing of God was withheld from me until I acknowledged the Sabbath. Then I felt confidence towards God.’ Said he, ‘I love the Sabbath now; it is precious to me. I now feel reconciled to my sickness. I know that it is the only thing that will save me. I will praise the Lord, if he can save me through affliction.’ 2SG 177.3

“At our usual supper-time, we prepared poor Nathaniel's supper, but he soon said that he was faint, and did not know but he was going to die. He sent for me, and as soon as I entered the room, I knew that he was dying, and said to him, Nathaniel, dear, trust in God; he loves you, and you love him. Trust right in him as a child trusts in its parents. Don't be troubled. The Lord will not leave you. Said he, ‘Yes, yes.’ We prayed, and he responded, ‘Amen! Praise the Lord!’ He did not seem to suffer pain. He did not groan once, nor struggle, nor move a muscle of his face, but breathed shorter and shorter until he fell asleep.” 2SG 178.1

The following lines occasioned by his death, were written by Sr. Annie R. Smith: Gone to thy rest, brother! peaceful thy sleep; While o'er thy grave bending, in sorrow we weep, For the loved and the cherished, in life's early bloom, Borne from our number, to the cold, silent tomb. Sweet be thy slumber! in quiet repose; Beneath the green turf, and the blossoming rose; O, soft is thy pillow, and lowly thy bed; Mournful the cypress that waves o'er the dead. Dark though the opinion that shaded his brow, The truth which he followed illumined it now; In the arms of his Saviour he fell to his rest, Where woes that await us pervade not his breast. Weep not for the Christian whose labor is done; Who, faithful to duty, the treasure has won. The jewel was fitted forever to shine, A gem in the casket, immortal, divine. Not long will earth's bosom his precious form hide, And death's gloomy portals from kindred divide; For swiftly approaching, we see the bright day, That brings the glad summons, Arise! come away! 2SG 178.2