THE DARK VALLEY
D. A. Doudney
Tuesday Evening, March 9th, 1841Â—I am resting this night, without a single ray of other hope or comfort, upon the Lord. as “mighty to save,” and able to bring out of six and even out of seven troubles. All around is dark and gloomy. Not a single ray of temporal delight or comfort. Business distressingly bad; “Ichabod” apparently written upon the walls; my energy gone; my spirits failing; everything a burden; my dear wife apparently fast declining; two out of three dear children in dying circumstances. And yet the Lord is my stay! Thou art my own God; Thou hast appeared; Thou hast delivered, Thou dost deliver, and in whom my hope is that Thou wilt yet deliver. I have no other stayÂ—no other refugeÂ—no other prop to lean uponÂ—no other hiding-place. Wilt Thou fail me? Wilt Thou leave me, or forsake me? Wilt Thou be worse than Thy word? Wilt Thou fail to accomplish what Thou hast promised? Wilt Thou not do as Thou hast said? And hast Thou not promised blessings? Hast Thou not said, “I will not leave Thee, nor forsake Thee?” that “as my days so shall my strength be;” that “not one thing shall fail of all the good things that thou hast promised; that all shall come to pass,” that not a single jot or tittle of Thy word shall fail? Â— that Thou wilt “magnify Thy word above all thy name?” that Thou art jealous of Thine honour, of Thy glory, of Thy great name? Ah! Lord Â— dear Lord Â— Abba, dear Father Â— Thou canst not deny Thyself! Thou canst not be worse than Thy word! Hast Thou said it, and shall it not come to pass? And what hast Thou promised? Hast Thou not said that Thou wilt give grace and glory, and that Thou wilt not withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly? Lord, my uprightness is not in myself, but in Christ! He is my Surety Â— my Daysman Â— my
holiness, righteousness, and strength; my Strong Tower and Defence. Unto Him I look, and upon Him I depend! I am nothing myself but a mass of iniquity Â— fit fuel for the bottomless pit; but in Christ, my Surety, I am all that Thy law requires, all that Thy holiness looks for, all that justice demands! Jesus, Jesus is my Staff, Stay, Strength, Support, Comfort, and Hope! Be it so, precious Lord! Amen and amen.
Sunday Morning, April 18th.Â—Since my last memorandum, what painful conflict has my soul been called to endure. While my dear Jane was in the country, hoping thereby to derive benefit from change of air, our three dear children were taken ill, and soon showed symptoms of whooping cough. At first we were not apprehensive of danger; for two or three weeks, or more, all seemed to be going on well; but suddenly, a change manifested itself; and,
though the cough seemed gradually subsiding, fever increased. For several days, our sweet babe Â— the delight of all who knew her Â— our own Sarah Â— lay in a kind of stupor, taking little or no nourishment, until at length on the evening of the 11 th of March, death put and end to her very severe sufferings; for during the last two or three days, she had struggled much; her convulsions were strong; and on the last day, she had revived, conscience returned, and she was enabled to take much additional nourishment. Three days previous to the painful bereavement, our other dear children, Mary, Jane and David, had been removed to Woolwich, under medical advice, for the benefit of the change. The day after they left, I went to see them Â— found David better, but dear Mary Jane very ill; took them out that the air might revive them. Stayed upon the barrack field there, that my sweet girl might be cheered by the music which the soldiers were playing so delightfully, and which, in her taste for music, always afforded her so much gratification. I said to her, as we walked along by the side of the band Â— she in my arms Â— “In heaven there is always sweet music, should you not like to go there and hear it?” “O yes,” she said. “Then pray to Jesus to take you up to heaven;” “I will,” was her reply. She seemed lost to every thing around, and, though so young (5’1/2 years) such was the particular reserve which during life she manifested, and yet such her attachment to books Â— to music Â— and to the conversation of those who would talk to her of heaven, of God, of good children, and so forth, that I cannot but believe that she had “bread to eat which we knew not of.” We know not what the communications of the Lord are with children. The day but one following, I went again to see the dear children, taking with me the mournful intelligence of the death on the previous evening of dear baby. As I drew near to the house where they are staying, I looked up at the window, fully expecting to see one of them there waiting to welcome me; but, alas! the drawn blind, and the partially-opened sash, somewhat suddenly prepared me for the agonizing intelligence that my dear Mary Jane was no more! She had died a few hours previously to my arrival! Thus in a few hours, was my beloved little family reduced from the number of three to one! With these mournful tidings, I next morning set off to Southampton to communicate it to my dear wife. “This,” she said, “is my death-blow’!” Since then she has gradually got weaker and weaker, though I have removed her from place to place, in hope of benefit. I now write this by her side. A few days or weeks at most, will, in all human probability, end her course also. Thank the Lord, her mind, though not joyous, is calm and peaceful, stayed upon Himself! Last night she said to me, “Oh! how completely is the fear of death taken from me! When first He spoke pardon to my soul, I was not the least afraid to die. I thought I should soon be taken; my joy was so great. But, when
I seemed to return to the world again, and my love grew cold, the fear of death came upon me, and for the most part during all my life, I have been afraid of death. But now it is completely taken away. O! how wonderfully has He supported me under all my troubles.” she added. Ah! Lord! how I shall bear this stroke I know not! I am troubled on every hand. My business has fallen offÂ— all things temporally look very black Â— never so much so; and I know not what is coming upon me. I cannot Â— I dare not Â— contemplate it. I feel that I am not prepared or strengthened for what I have shortly to pass through. My heart at times seems as if it must break. Sometimes I think that perhaps the Lord is about to cut short His work with me also. This Â— this Â— affords me immeasurable comfort.
Thursday Morning, May 20th.Â—My soul, thou hast this morning to record a scene which I trust thou wilt never forget. Yesterday morning, at 20 minutes past 9 o’clock, my dear, dear Jane breathed her last. She had spent a somewhat restless night; and, when I awoke at seven o’clock, I thought she had the rattles in her throat; but her difficulty of breathing had of late been so great that it was almost impossible to decide whether such was the case or not. She requested that a little bread and milk might be brought to her; and, during the absence of her attendant, she asked me to pray with her; I did so, and was led to take a review of the way by which the Lord had led her, and his dealings with her; and then entreated that a calm, a peaceful dismissal might be afforded her. Upon rising from my knees, I said, “Is He precious to you? “O yes,” was her reply; and, clasping her hands together, and looking earnestly upward, she added, “I long to be gone!” When dear Sister Annie entered the room, she said, “Anne, how serious you look!” and sweetly smiled, which her parched mouth and lips, and thrushed tongue, have scarcely permitted her to do lately. Do you think this is death?” she continued. “Will it be long? Do you think I have much more to suffer? I am afraid I shall not go today.” Her deafness making it difficult and distracting to her to listen, I wrote several detached sentences, in large characters, and held them before her; she read them, and smiled assent. Shortly after she said, “There are two sweet hymns at the end of Denham’s Selection that I have turned down [Hymns 978 and 985], and in a box under the bed (where our correspondence was kept) she said, “There are some lines, very beautiful, each verse ends, “Weep not for me!” A few minutes after she looked earnestly and entreating, and said, “Come, Lord Jesus; come and take me home; I long to see Thee as Thou art in Thy glory!” I took my seat by her side, and her hand in mine; she had half closed her eyes, and I thought was evidently going home. She then again opened her eyes, and looking at me, said, “Good bye!” which was the last word she uttered. She then for a few minutes half closed her eyes. Presently she
opened them, and that look I shall never forget! it was the look of death! it thrilled through my very soul, and shook my confidence to the very centre. I could but groan in agony of spirit. I thought, “What shall I do in similar circumstances? How will it be with me in the swellings of Jordan? Surely my little hope and feeble confidence will give way then!Â—Â—Consciousness now evidently left her; a glaze came over her half-closed eyes; gradually her breathing became shorter; each breath was drawn with difficulty; at length no more seemed to answer the heave; after an interval of perhaps two minutes she drew another breath, and again ceased for about the same time. She drew another, and a solemn silence succeeded. All was hushed! The quietude I think I shall ever remember. Her happy spirit had departed without a struggle, a groan, or even the moving of a finger! Oh! my soul! Oh! my God! look Â— look, in tenderness and compassion, upon me; sanctify this affliction. I do not murmur. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”