LYDIA SARAH KNIGHT
From An Old Diary
The following is an account of the last days of a young Christian:
Now we had to turn to the Lord in our trouble; to look unto the hills from whence cometh our help, for “Vain was the help of man”. On Tuesday evening, she went upstairs for the last time. Mr. Cox came to tea. She enjoyed hearing her father and him converse, but her weakness was great and she was troubled to bear even the fatigue of listening. I began to feel very conscious that our precious one should know the Dr’s opinion and I wanted her to introduce the subject herself for I knew I must approach her very cautiously or I should not get at the real state of her feelings. After the Dr. was gone, she looked at me and said, “Mother, you do not look cheerful what is the matter?” I told her I felt very anxious about her, she said, “What does the Dr. think of me?”
I said, “Do you really wish to know?”
Â“Yes, I do.”
Â“Well then, he thinks very seriously of you.”
Â“Does he think I shall die?”
Â“He thinks there is no hope of your getting better.”
Â“Well I feel quite willing if I am ready but I am afraid I am not ready.”
“Well dear, the Lord can make you both ready and willing in the day of His power, and I think he will do so.”
“Oh. I hope He will, I thought last Sunday when Father bid me goodnight that he thought I should die for he said we all do fade as a leaf.”
She said to her sister Mary she was very glad her Mother had told her the Dr’s opinion for how we indeed loved each other. “You don’t think I shall live, do you Mary? I hope I do love Jesus. Mother says she thinks I should not love the Bible and Kent’s Hymns if I did not love Jesus.”
Then speaking of Heaven, she said, “I shall have no pain there Oh! how nice. I wonder if I shall know you all and if I shall know little Thomas” (a brother who died in infancy).
At another time she said to her sister, “I have been cross and disagreeable to you and jealous too, will you forgive me?”
Â“Mary told her she needed her forgiveness also.”
“And now.” she said. “I hope God will forgive me” She was always very anxious for Father to pray with her, morning and evening. One night she was afraid she should be obliged to ask him to leave off reading as she was in great pain but the pain subsided and she said it was the best medicine she had had. She thought it so wonderful. One morning her Aunt Sarah read that sweet hymn of dear Hart’s, “Ye Lambs of Christ’s fold.” She enjoyed it very much especially the third verse. She said she could
say she desired to love Jesus and to fear His name. I reminded her of the blessing pronounced upon those that desired to fear His name and quoted Malachi, 3. 16. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon His name.”
“What does, the Book of Remembrance mean, Mother?”
“It means if your name is written there, it is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
After suffering intensely one morning, she had an interval of ease and her Mother said, “I hope you thank God for the ease you enjoy.”
“Oh yes I have”, she replied and many times afterwards, she would desire me to do so. On one occasion she called me to read the Psalm 51 which was quite her favourite. She said she so much desired a broken and a contrite heart and I believe the Lord gave it her for we saw a great change in her on her return home. She seemed so humbled; so softened and subdued and she was blessed with such sweet resignation to the Lord’s will, such humble childlike confidence in God. Truly these fruits did not grow in nature’s garden. Truly it was the Lord’s work from first to last and He shall have all the praise. We can but think the soft bedewings of the Holy Spirit had made her a new creature for she had to say sometimes, “I am not the Lydia of old.” One evening when she was sitting by the fire in her easy chair, she said, “Mother what does election mean?”
“It means that they only are precious in God’s sight who are elected.”
“Well,” she said, “I do not understand much about it, but this I do knowÂ—that I want to touch the hem of Christ’s Garment.”
“Then dear, you are one of the elect or you would not desire it.”
To please her dear Grandfather, she had learnt a long hymn on this subject of Kent’s and she often repeated it in the night. I reminded her of Esther’s desire to go in before the King. I asked her if she met with a repulse.
“No,” she said, “he encouraged her and held out the golden sceptre.”
What a blessing this dear child found with being so conversant with the Scriptures. She loved and reverenced the Word of God. She had for years past read a chapter morning and evening in her own room and she was reading the Bible through the second time. She had got as far as the second chapter of Matthew. She had the sympathy and prayers of many of the Lord’s people which she prized. She anxiously watched for the arrival of the postman. He often brought her some soothing message. About this time her dear aged Grandfather, who dearly loved this afflicted child, wrote a most encouraging letter to her which quite rejoiced her heart. He spoke of the blessedness of enduring to the end which she
found very comforting. It was beautiful to see the aged saint and the young believer in Christ could both feed on the same heavenly manna. She kept this precious epistle in her hand and frequently kissed it. She hoped one day it would be published.
One Sunday afternoon a valued old workman of ours, who loved God and who had known her from her childhood, went up to see her. She was very pleased to see him. He told her she rather reminded him of our Saviour for he bore all His afflictions so uncomplainingly.
“Oh, Master Barton,” she said, “I am not a bit like Him. You don’t know how impatient I am sometimes.”
He reminded her of the beautiful text, “He shall gather the Iambs with His arm etc.” It was a singular coincidence how many of our friends mentioned this text as so suitable for her. She thought it very encouraging. Our dear Minister went up to see her one evening but she was suffering great pain at the time. He prayed very earnestly for her but he was brief on account of her intense weakness. She said she wished he had kept on praying for it seemed to strengthen her. He saw her again the Friday before her death. He read the Psalm 23 and explained beautifully the 4th verse “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”. She thanked him and asked him how she might know that she belonged to the Lord. He told her she would not desire Him if she did not love Him.
One evening after making her comfortable for the night, she said, “Oh, Mother, I feel so distressed. I have so many fears. I have been wishing I had not gone to Tunbridge Wells and that if I had been at home under Mr. Holman’s care, I might have got better.”
I told her all things were ordered by the Lord. It was His will that she should go. It was done for the best. In the morning, I paid her an early visit.
She said, “I hope you have slept well. Mother.”
“Yes, thank you. How have you been?”
“After you were gone. Mother, I was so unhappy. I had such doubts and fears and all at once I thought I must put myself in the arms of Jesus, get Him to do just as He liked with me. I felt quite content to live or die just as He thought best and I felt so comfortable, too comfortable I am afraid. I went to sleep and slept five hours. When I awoke, I felt so comfortable.”
I told her how pleased I was to hear the good news that she had been enabled by a true and living faith to lay hold of Him as faith is the gift of God.
He must have enabled her to cast herself in His arms, and she said, “I hope I am not a hypocrite. Do you think I have repented enough?” The next time her Father read and prayed with her, he returned humble and hearty thanks for the Lord’s goodness to her in giving her a good hope.
She said, “Father, you pray for me as if I were a regenerated character. I am not so sure.”
He said, “I have great hopes that you are, by your fruits.”
“I have no fruits.”
He explained to her where we looked for fruits and told her of his own exercise of mind when going, and what a comfort this text was to himÂ—”He that hath began a good work, etc.”
One morning she said, “Do you know. Mother, in the night I pictured myself in my coffin and I did not feel at all afraid, but this morning I feel afraid. How I wish you could die with me.”
I told her Father and the children wanted me a little longer but I hoped I should go to her in the Lord’s own time.
“Where shall I be buried, Mother?”
“Most likely in Chalvington Churchyard.”
“Come and see my grave often. I should very much like you to put on my tombstone this verse, ‘He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom’ and if there is room, this verse of Hart’s underneath ‘Ye Lambs of Christ’s fold etc.”
She spoke of her approaching end with the greatest calmness. The fear of death was entirely taken away. One morning she said, “Father, shall I have to wait for the judgement Day?” Her Father told her, her spirit would ascend at once to Heaven.
“I am glad of that,” she said, “for I should not like to wait in my grave so long”.
On the twenty-fourth of December, her Aunt, Susan Knight, came to stay a few days. She was very pleased to see her. They communed sweetly together. In the night she wished her aunt to read, “Come ye sinners poor and wretched” to her which well expressed her feelings.
One afternoon a few days before she died, she said to me, “Oh Mother, I do love you so much.”
“I know you do my darling and you are very dear to me.”
“I hope you will forgive me for all I have done wrong. I have often spoken very improperly to you. Oh will you forgive me?” and the tears rolled down her cheeks, almost the only time I had seen her shed tears through the whole of her severe illness.
“Yes, my precious one, I will forgive you heartily.”
“Oh! thank you. Mother; but do you think God will forgive me?”
“Yes, I think He will, for He has promised to forgive and pardon if we confess and forsake our sins.”
“Come and sit on my bed and take my hand. Lay your head down on my pillow.”
I took up the Bible and read Psalm 51. I said David felt sorry for his sins and this was his prayer: “Have mercy upon me, oh God.”
She said, “Oh yes. I remember,” and repeated so fervently, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God; renew a right Spirit within me.”
After I had read the two last verses, I said. “We have great
hope that you belong to the Lord for as a tree bends it falls and you have bent towards the Lord’s people. You love Mr. Cox,” her minster.
“Oh yes, I do.”
“You love little Dicker.”
“Oh yes that reminds me that I have a little money in the bank and I have been thinking I should like to give it to the Sunday School you might buy a small library with it, it is not much.”
I promised her I would speak to Father about it and she never again alluded to the subject. One night when I left her she was laying very prostrate having had great suffering through the day. I whispered softly in her ear, “Sweet to lie passive in His hands and know no other will but thine.”
She said, “That is just how I feel.”
“I love you very much, but Jesus loves you much better and He has promised ‘As one whom His mother comforteth, so will I comfort you’.”
I reminded her that these sweet promises were the stepping stones across the brook. Her patience under great suffering was very wonderful. One morning after a severe attack of pain she said, “Oh Mother, why doesn’t He come and take me? Come Lord Jesus come quickly. How long dear Lord, how long deliverence must I seek? and fight with foes so very strong, myself so very weak; not more than others I deserve, yet God has given me more,” and she desired me to give God thanks for giving her a little ease. One Sunday morning she complained of feeling much hardness of heart, such coldness, such dull love. She wanted to love Him more so I read to her Hart’s dialogue between the believer and his soul.
I told her I thought she would see her own likeness. She was very much struck to find he made use of the same expressions she did herself. This comforted her. She said she would rather feel miserable than hard. Her Bible with Hart’s and Kent’s hymns were her favourite books. She would have them beside her and she tried to learn this hymn:Â—”The soul that with sincere desires,” but was grieved to find her mental powers failed her. Sometimes she said she felt almost too weak to pray. I told her the Lord would hear a cry or a groan. He looked at the heart and He knew the weakness and as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him for He knoweth their frame and remembereth that they are dust. On Saturday, her dear Aunt Aylwin came unexpectedly. She was pleased to see her and said she was afraid to ask her how long she was going to stay. During the day she quite revived. Her Aunt said, “I think perhaps, dear you will not leave us just yet.”
She said, “Oh, Aunt, do not say that for I do not want to live”.
Her sufferings now were very great up to the hour of her departure. In the evening we heard her praying. She said “Lord, I am a sinner, help, oh help!” We could not catch the rest as her voice was so weak. Her Aunt heard her say, “Come, Lord Jesus, come
quickly.” Although her sufferings were very great no murmuring had escaped her lips but she was grateful for all that was done for her. On Monday morning when her Father went into the room, she threw her dear dying arms round his neck and kissed him and said, “Ask Him Father.” He did ask Him to take her to Himself speedily if it was His will. Soon after she embraced him again and said, “Thank Him.” Father thanked Him for all His goodness to her through her severe sufferings for supporting and sustaining her. She said to her Aunt, “I wonder if I shall hold out to the end.” I told her she was passing through Jordan and would soon be in the promised land.
“Soon?” she said.
Her countenance was most heavenly. Her beautiful eyes so soft and mild. Her Aunt Sarah pointed upwards which she quite understood. She was sensible to the last but the restlessness of death was very distressing but when the end came she died without struggleÂ—so quietly did she pass away that we hardly knew she was gone. At 4.15 on Monday afternoon, January 4th, 1875 this dear child sweetly fell asleep in Jesus at the age of 16. May we be followers of her who through faith and patience now inherits the promises.