Marsden, John Benjamin (1818-1837)
MEMOIR OF JOHN BENJAMIN MARSDEN,
J. B. Marsden was born December 9, 1818, and from a child was a subject of serious impressions. His parents being partakers of the grace of God, laboured to instil the principles of religion into their children, and took them to the house of God from their infancy.
In June 1833, their daughter Catherine died of a fever; and John taking the disorder, was informed by his parents that he was of age to answer to God for himself; and they wished to know what hope he had of heaven. He said none, but if God spared him he would serve him. But this resolution vanished away.
In 1835 he began to attend the P. M. chapel, and at a prayer meeting obtained peace with God, and was enabled to shout victory through the blood of the Lamb. And the following week he and two of his sisters joined the P. M. society.
He now felt it his duty to do something in the service of the Lord; and he became a Sunday school teacher, in which office he took great delight.
In March 1837, his health began to decline; and being asked if he was afraid to die, he said, “No, that is what I have been living and serving God for, to prepare for death.” He was often troubled with fears when comparing his own unworthiness with the perfect law of God. But still he enjoyed peace, and a settled confidence in the Almighty.
About six weeks before his death, I administered unto him the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, in which he felt the presence of the Lord. His mother says, shortly after this his sister asking how he was, he said, “Very poorly. This is hard work.” “Yes,” said she, “the clay tenement begins to totter.” After a fit of coughing he said, “I wish — the Lord help me.” Being asked what he wished, he said, “It is wrong to wish to die.” We related an anecdote, we had read in Howard’s Journals of a young woman, who, for a trifling offence was cast into prison, where she had to languish out her life, in a consumption, on the floor. He exclaimed “Poor thing.” And eagerly seizing his mother’s hand, said, “O my dear mother, the Lord reward you for all your kindness to me.” And with tears running down his face, he said, “Glory be to God. Praise the Lord. Oh! may I, from this hour, bear my sufferings with more patience.”
Another time he said to his sister, “I feel no fear of death.” And wetting his parched lips he said, “poor rich man! Praise the Lord, I have still water. Oh! Sarah, I have often grieved thee with my backwardness to duty. But, praise the Lord, I shall soon gain my crown. Sarah, be faithful. I and my sister Catharine, will strike our harps anew to meet thee, and all the rest of the family. Oh! I could not bear to think that one of them should be left behind.”
On another occasion seeing him in tears, she asked the cause, and he said, “Sarah, they are not tears of grief, but of joy. When I think of the bright crown of glory which I so soon shall wear, bought with the blood of Christ, for me, a worm! Sometimes I have such precious views of heaven and heavenly things, that my heart leaps for joy, and tears of gladness flow.”
On Saturday December 9,1837, being his birthday, (nineteen years of age,) he said, “Mother, I have wished to see this day. The Lord has been very merciful to me, I am satisfied” On the Sunday morning be had a sore conflict with the enemy of souls, he called out, “Father, father, I am distressed.” His father quoting several precious promises; he said, “I know them all, but cannot feel their virtue.” His father said, “Let us pray.” And in prayer John found comfort.
On Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, 1837, he said, “Mother, feel at my forehead.” She said, “Yes, love, thou art in a cold sweat.” He said, “What is it?” She said, “Death, my dear, thou wilt soon be gone.” He said, “Praise the Lord. Glory be to God. May it come, and soon. May God help me. Where are my sisters and brother?” They were called in, and two went to prayer. He joined, saying, “Glory, glory,” &c. He then took an affectionate farewell of all present, and especially of his brother, who seemed to lie nearest his heart.
Concerning his death, his mother says, “After a struggle of four hours and a half, we all kneeled down, and sister Garner engaged in prayer, during which his happy spirit, under a powerful influence of the Divine presence, took its everlasting flight.”
On the Sunday following he was buried, and “according to his own wish, his funeral was conducted on temperance principles;” no intoxicating drink being used.
Jan. 28, 1838, I preached his funeral sermon to a large and deeply affected congregation. May the Lord make it an everlasting blessing. Amen.
(Approved by the Committee.)
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 427-428.