The last three days of William Kelly's life
And is it that I shall be like Thy Son?
Is this the grace which He for me has won?
Father of glory, thought beyond all thought,
In glory to His own blest likeness brought?
O Jesus Lord, who loved me like to Thee?
Fruit of Thy work, with Thee too there to see
Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
Myself the prize and travail of Thy soul.
Yet it must be: Thy love had not its rest,
Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest,
The love that gives not as the world but shares
All it possesses with its loved co-heirs.
Nor I alone, Thy loved ones all complete
In glory round Thee there with joy shall meet,
All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,
Object supreme of all, by all adored.
J. N. Darby.
Sunday, March 25
MR. KELLY awoke at 4 this morning and exclaimed in a loud clear voice: "The Lord bless His truth in every way through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”
While he was having breakfast given him he said:
“God is everything in love and power, and man is everything in sin and wickedness.”
He spoke to his daughters for some time about various things concerning his funeral, etc.
He said to my wife:
“Jesus is always with us.”
At 11 o'clock I moistened his lips. He said:
“The absolutely good One... Life, love, truth, all in Him, Who is all life....”
“All His love, all His love.”
"All is good, all is infinite.”
“It is His to work according to His goodness as He only can. What man did to Jesus showed what man was capable of-all iniquity. But God, the Father, and the Son, spring and source of blessing... to blot out the stain of this terrible evil.”
Softly, he said:
“That lowly life-suffering in all its perfection.”
Lifting up his hands he said, with much feeling and fervor: "Oh, the mercy of Jesus! The mercy of Jesus! The love of Jesus! Poured upon poor guilty man! Jesus shows fully what man is and what God is. There is no perfection but in Jesus... in Jesus.”
“Jesus has glorified God.”
And then in a loud voice:
“It is Jesus that glorifies God. It is Jesus therefore that could make everything most sweet, and holy, and true, and good... but where is it otherwise?...Where is it otherwise? Where is it otherwise, except in Jesus. In Him—the Infinite God,... every perfection.... Suffering for poor lost man... and causing man to see in Him his life, his eternal life, his life for evermore.”
"What is any life compared with His life.”
"Oh the blessing! Oh the life in all its nature!... Life eternal... Life of its own infinite life.”
Then with great pathos: "Suffering, suffering as He alone could—suffering according to the Light—the Light—Himself.”
"The true God is One that loves, and Who, when man was unworthy, deigned to become man and die for man's sin. The Son: He proves the truth and is it.”
"It is Jesus that blesses; it is Jesus that glorifies God.”
We heard him say loudly:
“Light of Light Thou art! Creator of infinity! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.... Infinite Being! beyond all others-in power, and grace, beyond all others....”
"Jesus and Jehovah are one person, the denial is a false god.”
"We give love in our little measure, not much, but still we give. The Father knows it and delights in it.”
He said emphatically:
“Deny the lie, believe the truth, affirm the word of God Himself. God is the Highest. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
This morning, as already related, dear Mr. Kelly wished to remember the Lord in His death. During the afternoon several brothers came to see him. Later on we sang a few hymns together, one of them being "Forever with the Lord." How deeply were our hearts stirred as we thought of the one upstairs, so near the presence of his Lord.
Monday, March 26
This morning he was very weak indeed and we could not catch much that he said. There was the constant uplifting of his hands in prayer and praise, and broken remarks were heard occasionally.
To his daughters who helped to nurse him night and day, he gave many messages, and spoke of those to whom he wished to be remembered after he was gone.
“All the lies will pass away, and all the truth of God in Christ abide forever.”
"By grace we hold the truth. Thou hast given it to us and wrought it in us.”
He wandered at times, and we could hear him preaching the gospel. He said loudly: "Be in earnest, be in earnest, be in earnest, pray be in earnest now, or you will perish in your sins.”
At another time he was speaking, and as he spoke he gave that little shrug of his shoulders we knew so well—it seemed so pathetic to see him do it lying helpless in his bed.
Again we heard:
"All has come ... ..real truth in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the glory with Thee without an end, without a doubt. Christ's and with Christ forever.”
How blessed to hear these words of undaunted faith—"with Thee, without an end, without a doubt." God's servant was nearing home, and the light of the coming glory shone on his heart. The faith he had preached to others filled his soul—his one theme now, the Father and the Son.
Tuesday, March 27
And now the last day of his life had come, and soon we were to hear that loved voice no more, nor be permitted much longer to perform those ministrations of love for one we valued so highly, and loved so dearly. His patience had been beautiful to witness all through his illness, his thankfulness for little things done for him so touching. He was very quiet all day, and spoke very little.
He said: "He is all, He is above all, and better than all. Infinitely better than all.”
"Nothing but love.”
“Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Infinite God, infinite life, infinite love, infinite grace, infinite being ... ”
He was spoken to about the Bible Treasury and asked if he wished it to be continued. He said: "Yes, if possible; if not, it had better be discontinued.”
He was then asked who he wished to edit it. He gave the name of the one he thought most fitting.
About one o'clock we were all standing around his bed when he suddenly opened his eyes. He looked from one to the other and nodded to each, while a beautiful smile broke over his face as he recognized each one, and its light fell on us all as he intended it should. It was like the last beams of the sun shedding glory on the earth, before the sunset. We shall never forget the recognition of that radiant smile.
And then he slept, or seemed to sleep awhile; but ever and anon the lips were moving in prayer, and then, there was the uplifting of the hands again. For a few days he had had difficulty in speaking, and his words were less distinct. About three o'clock he awoke and said: "Where have I been, where am I?" His daughter said: "You are still here in H-'s house, with all those you love around you, Mrs. W-and all.”
He looked up and said, "Thank God.”
He was very quiet all the rest of the afternoon. Feeling the preciousness of each moment as the end drew near, we watched and waited around the bed—Mr. Kelly's daughters, Miss W-, Mr. R-, my wife and I, and S. W-.
Just before passing away we heard him say:
“Oh! my Savior. Oh! my God.”
Then a period of unconsciousness came on—and then a short sharp struggle with death—and he was gone to be with Christ. The time was a quarter to seven.
The long warfare was over now, and as we gazed upon him, with eyes well nigh blinded with tears, a sense of irreparable loss seemed to fill our souls. The mystery of dissolution was written on that quiet face. There lay the saint of God who had been untiring in his service for Christ; and nothing now can bring him back to us; neither our tears, nor prayers, nor loving words; nor the want and weakness of saints; nor false doctrine to be combated; nor evil to be judged, and truth maintained. His day of earth is over—his eternal day with God, and Christ, begun.
Let us close with two of his own verses:
Father, Thy love has made us one -
One in Thyself and in the Son:
Proof to the world that Thou didst send
Him who accomplished such an end.
And glory will to all make known,
When We are perfected in one.
That Thou didst love us as Thy Son,
Sharing with Him the victory won.
by Hayman Wreford
Mr. Kelly was interred at Charlton Cemetery (near to his gifted wife) on March 31, in the presence of some 500 mourners. Dr. Wreford having prayed, two hymns were sung—"Forever with the Lord" and "Savior, before Thy face we fall." Brief remarks by Dr. Wreford on Acts 20:25, emphasized gratitude for God's rich gift to the Church in "W.K.," and sorrow to see him here no more; but joy for the hope of the Lord's return: reading 1 Thess. 4:13-18. Mr. Moore read Psa. 91:1, applying also, "the beauty of the Lord," from 90:16, 17; dwelt on "W. K.'s" love and work for the Lord, and how at the last he spoke of "realities"; as with emphasis he said, "the cross is a real thing; the hatred of the world is a real thing; and, [beloved brethren,] the love of God is a real thing!" The brief, solemn, yet appropriate and comforting service was closed in prayer by Colonel Binney, and all was over—"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.”