Articles, Tracts and Letters

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Rev John Willison's Dying Words

First published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue 26, April-June 2002.

Some of his Dying Ejaculations, as they were written by himself a few days before he died, and left with his Bible lying on his pillow, the ... day of May 1760.

O let me sleep in Jesus:

I would not live always in this evil world, that has little in it tempting, and seems still to grow worse, and where the torrent of sin and backsliding seems to grow stronger. I would desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better than to be here. I am willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee; for, though my heart strength, and flesh fail, yet the Lord will be the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee; I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord. O for Simeon's frame, to be saying, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."

When Christ says, "Surely, I come quickly," may my soul answer, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

I am living on the righteousness of Christ, yea, dying in the Lord. Even so, come. I am detained here, upon the shore, waiting for a fair wind to carry me over this Jordan. I have waited, and will wait for thy salvation, O Lord. The Lord is a rock, and his work is perfect: Lord, perfect what concerneth me.

O that I could say with Paul, "The time of my departure is at hand. I have kept the faith, I have fought the good fight, I have run my race, I have finished my course; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the righteous Lord will give me at his coming."

I am vile and polluted, O how shall I be cleansed! But that is a comfortable promise, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin." And so is that, "Though you have lien among the pots, ye shall be as doves whose wings are covered with silver, and their feathers with yellow gold."

I resolve to obey, to submit to the Lord's will, to die like Moses and Aaron, the one at mount Hor, the other at mount Abarim. They went up, and died there at the command of the Lord.

O that when my flesh and strength fail, God may be the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever! When now the keepers of the house do tremble, O that God may be the keeper! When the grinders cease, because they are few, O that God would feed my soul with manna, that will need none of these implements! When the daughters of music are brought low, O to be fitted for the heavenly music above! When the lookers out at the windows are darkened, O that my soul may be enlightened to see Jesus my Redeemer!

Lord, help the unbelief and infidelity of my heart; and help to more of the faith of a risen Jesus and ascended Redeemer. O let me believe and feel the sweetness of that word of Christ, "I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God."

O how shall such an unholy creature as I presume to enter into such a pure and holy place! But the apostle hath taught us, we may have boldness to enter into the holiest of all, by the blood of Jesus.

O that when the time of my last combat comes with my last enemy, death, I may be helped, above all, to take the shield of faith whereby I may be relieved from the sting of death, and may quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.

O that I may be helped to adore the sovereignty of God, kiss his rod, and humbly submit to it. Save me from both extremes, let me never despise the chastening of the Lord, or faint when I am rebuked of him.

Now the prince of darkness will study to raise tempests of temptations to shipwreck the poor weather-beaten vessel of my soul, when it would enter into the harbour of rest above; may Christ come to be pilot, steer the helm, and it shall be safe.

O for more faith! May my faith ripen to a full assurance, that I may go off the stage rejoicing, and that an abundant entrance may be ministered to me into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

O for more faith, that I may die like Simeon when he had Christ in his arms, saying, "Now let thy servant depart in peace, mine eyes have seen thy salvation."

Lord, one smile of thy countenance would banish away all my doubts and fears, and make me sing in pains.

Is my Redeemer gone to prepare a place for me? Why should I be slothful to follow his steps, when he is saying, "Come up hither, come up, dwell here; come up, reign here, come up, sing here?"

O Lord, deliver my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. O save me from the horrible pit, draw me out of the miry clay, set my feet upon a rock, and establish my goings, and put a new song in my mouth.

O give grace to strive by faith and prayer to enter in at the strait gate. Lord, thou hast bid me knock, and it shall be opened; ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find. Lord I knock, open unto me; Lord, I would be in, I must be in; let me but in over the threshold; let me within sight of my Redeemer's face, within sight of the smiles of his countenance; let me within hearing of the songs of the redeemed, let me get to the outside of that praising company; I will be well enough if I get in.