A Brief Account of The Last Days of John Rusk
Tuesday, March 25, 1834.
When I came home from chapel I found my poor husband very ill. I went no more to chapel while he lived. He continued to get worse every day. His bodily sufferings were very great; his throat was so sore and burning, that for weeks he was not able to swallow anything, but was constantly spitting, with a dreadful cough, fearing he would break a blood-vessel, or burst something in his head. He had shocking nights with bodily pain, and something I suffered greatly in his soul. Satan was permitted sorely to try him; he suggested to him that all his experience was vain, only notional, that he never had a change of heart, that he was destitute of charity that he had gifts and knowledge, but had no real love to God and his family. He felt much rebellion and self pity, and had hard thoughts of God at times. He said to me, “Oh, how hard do I feel! oh, that I could feel resignation and submission to the will of God; I am afraid that the hard and blasphemous thoughts that I feel against a good God will bring down his just judgment upon my head. Oh, what a long-suffering God is our God!”
Wednesday, March 26.
He said to me, “I certainly have had a good time, a great falling in spirit, and I confessed my wretched hardness to the Lord.”
Thursday. At night he spoke to me about his profession, and held fast his integrity in God’s truth; and had a sweet time again in the morning for a little while. I should have mentioned a joyful time he had on Friday, February 14th, at night after family prayer, which lasted, he said, from nine until past one. He said, “I have truly had sweet fellowship and communion with the Lord. I have had a heaven in my soul; yet coughing all night, which drags me to pieces; but I was highly favoured indeed; I thought it might be a prelude to death or the latter rain. I sang at different times, in my whispering way, the following hymns: ‘How happy are we,’ &c.; ‘Exalted high;’ ‘Plunged in a gulph.’ ‘Now begin the heavenly,’ ‘Not with our mortal eyes;’ ‘Salvation, 0! the joyful sound,’ ‘Why should the children;’ and my heart was in them.” Another time he said, “Blessed be God, I do feel a good hope.”
Then again he said, “I do feel on the stretch for heavenly things. Oh! that I had voice and strength to tell what the Lord has done for me. I do believe I trust in the Almighty God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that he is my eternal Portion.”
After this he got rather dull, but said, “I do not feel condemnation, but peace, quietness, and rest, as it respects my eternal state.” I wish I could have put these things down at the time, but he continued noting things down himself in his daily experience-book as long as he was able. He continued gradually getting worse every day, which I could clearly see, and mentioned it; but no one else believed it as I did.
Thursday, April 10.
He got up about noon, and was seized with a trembling all over, and was forced to go to bed again as soon as possible. While he was in that state, these words were in his mind: “Let death seize hold of them!” Oh, how he sank, afraid they came from God! After a while the trembling abated, but he continued very low in soul and full of fear. He never got up but once more, which was on Saturday, and then he was very ill, and cast down in soul. On Sunday morning he said to me, “Oh! I have had a blessed time in blessing and praising the dear Saviour for his condescending love to me a poor vile sinner. I cannot describe how I see and feel myself; an incarnate devil never was such a wretch as I. Oh! the love of Christ, to think he should lay down his life for me. Yes, I do love him with all my heart; but he first loved me. Oh! the wonders of sovereign grace. I shall soon be with him and see him as he is, and bless and praise him for his unspeakable love to me to all eternity. Christ is the eternaI Rock, and I am fixed on the foundation, the Rock of eternal ages.”
He then blessed and praised God in three Persons – Father, Son, and Blessed Spirit distinctly, till he was quite spent. After this his appetite failed; he could take very little for fear of being choked. But now he had no desire for food, he longed to be gone, yet at times was much distressed. I read to him while he could bear it, but he got so weak that he could not bear me to read much. I read part of Tanner’s “Contemplations” in his life, and his own experience-book, about his deliverance, by his own desire. On the Lord’s day before his death he was so low I did not read to him. He said to me in the afternoon, “I do feel much brokenness of spirit, and falling before the Lord, blessed be his precious name.” He was very low and in great pain with his throat, the fever also very high, and in danger of being choked.
Monday. He was very bad; and could not bear to hear me read or even speak to him.
Tuesday, April 22.
After he had taken a little arrowroot I said, “Could you bear me to read a chapter?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Is there any particular place?” He said, “Awake, awake!” I read the 52nd chapter of Isaiah, then asked him if he heard it. He said, “Yes, that will do. Ah! I have no breath.” He lay still a while, and when I raised him a little higher, I perceived a change in his countenance. I asked him, “If he could take anything.” He said, “Yes,” and took some sago with a little wine, which was the last thing he took. This was about eleven o’clock; he breathed very short and hard, seemed perfectly sensible, but not able to speak; his sufferings were very great, and he was much convulsed inwardly. About two o’clock the rattle was heard in his throat. Jane and I never left the bedside from the time he changed until he died. He had not power to speak; but when I asked him if he found peace, rest, and quietness, he nodded more than once. He seemed very much in prayer all day; we could see his lips move, but not hear what he said, except, “Blessed Lord! blessed Spirit!” Jane, in great agony, took hold of his hand and said, “Father, are you happy?” He squeezed her hand and said, “Yes.” Oh! it was truly afflicting to see him in that agony so many hours. We both earnestly prayed to the Lord to receive his spirit and release him. I was almost overcome. I do not think I could have stood it much longer. I was nearly fainting, but the Lord supported me, for I felt persuaded it was the last struggle, and he was entering into bliss. His breath got lower and lower; and just as he breathed his last, a pleasant smile came on his face, which continued. Thus he entered into peace, about half-past seven o’clock on Tuesday, evening, April 22nd, 1834, aged sixty-two.