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Robert and Louisa Stewart: In Life and in Death

By Mary E. Watson

London: Marshall Brothers, 1895.

Chapter IX. Strong Consolation

Lord, Thou hast loved me, and henceforth to me
Earth's noonday is but gloom;
My soul sails forth on the eternal sea,
And leaves the shore of doom.

I pass within the glory even now,
Where shapes and words are not,
For joy that passeth words, O Lord, art Thou,
A bliss that passeth thought.

I enter there, for Thou hast borne away
The burden of my sin;
With conscience clear as heaven's unclouded day
Thy courts I enter in.

Heaven now for me--for ever Christ and heaven--
The endless NOW begun--No promise--but a gift eternal given,
Because the work is done.

H. Suso.
[In "Hymns of Tersteegen, Suso and Others."]

WHILE all this was happening in China, Mrs. Stewart's mother and sisters, two of her sons, and other relatives, were enjoying the sea breezes at Peel, Isle of Man.

There they received the telegram that told of sudden glory and a martyr's crown.

From the very first God so comforted, by giving such vivid realization of the joy and glory of those He had taken, the survivors could not grieve.

"Thou wilt show me the path of life. In Thy presence is fulness of joy, and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore," was given by God to one of them.

"Of whom the world was not worthy," was whispered by God's Spirit to the hearts of two of the company about the same time, and other messages equally beautiful but too many to enumerate here.

How blessed is it, in times like these, to have learnt to hear the Shepherd's voice!

Well might David pray, "Be not silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me I become like those that go down to the pit."

And He has many ways in which this "mother-comforting "comes. The angels, we are told, are "all ministering spirits sent forth to minister on behalf of those who shall be heirs of salvation."

Elisha saw the horses and chariots of fire round about him, therefore he could not fear, though a host of mortal men had encamped against him.

When John fell down to worship at the feet of the angel he refused divine honours, telling him he was his fellow-servant, and one of those that had the testimony of Jesus.

And a second time when John again tried to worship, he was told, "I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God."

And God hath other ways--how many and how varied we know not.

He comes through angel messengers who still abide in houses of clay, and through them He sends sweet messages of love and cheer. We quote some extracts from the many loving helpful letters received.

"Mr. Williams was with us yesterday (son of the martyr John Williams). He was touched in reading the news from China. He said he was at school in England when the dreadful news came to him, and he could recall something of what his feelings were."

"How wonderful it seems, in God's providence, that they who were so trusted and so needed should be the ones to be called like this! "

"Truly they were His chosen ones to suffer in such a way as He honours few by asking, and what glory is theirs too."

"Your hearts must be bleeding indeed, and every heart is touched and deeply affected."

"You will have the consolation that not only our dear Lord is bearing your sorrow, but that all Christian people, the wide world over, are sharing in it, and praying for you and for those others who have lost friends in this awful riot."

"Ten thousand hearts are bleeding for you and yours to-day. But I know the Saviour is pouring in His loving sympathy and tender consolation."

"My eyes seem to rest on dear Mrs. Stewart's face, so full of Heaven as we last saw it--how full of heaven will it be when we see it again!"

"My heart has just been full of you one and all. Even for myself it has been a greater sorrow and loss than I can tell you; few I loved and valued and admired so well as Robert and Louisa; very few I prayed for so constantly. I had such a precious half-hour with him at our C.M.S. anniversary, April, 1893, and I do feel it an honour to have dear cousin among 'the Noble Army of Martyrs.'"

"Is not John xii. 24 very precious just now? We may watch with certainty for the much fruit."

From Switzerland:--

"We well remember Mr. Stewart's visit to Torquay in 1884, when he stayed at------and spoke at the C.M.S. meeting. What specially impressed us about him at that meeting was the utter absence of self. He never even alluded to the danger and persecutions through which they had passed, and spoke at table with such genuine love and devotion to his work."

"Dear ------ was so fond of your clear sister, and used to speak of her unworldly, saintly character.

"May we not pray and hope and believe that even these things may fall out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel, for which they have indeed laid down their lives?"

"The blood of the martyrs may be the seed of a glorious harvest, to rejoice their hearts and yours in the day of His appearing."

"Your precious ones are crowned with 'the ruby crown '; the noble army of martyrs praise Thee."

"Think of them there,"

"For them sudden glory and a martyr's crown and great eternal reward."

"They can say with a smile 'Fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.' . . . The Lord knows whom He can trust with the heaviest trials. He knows whose faith will stand it, and He puts a high honour upon you in sending you this."

"I loved dear Mr. and Mrs. Stewart very much, and looked forward to meeting them below, but now it must be above. Have they not been faithful unto death, and theirs is the crown of life?"

"They must have been preaching the Gospel in power so to have roused the devil."

"They will have their reward in the glory which shall be revealed in them, and in seeing China really opened to the Gospel."

"What a difference it makes to one's life to be connected with those who have been sent the martyr's crown--the highest of the heavenly awards!''

"It takes us right back to the days of the early persecutions, and forward into the glory-land at a stroke!"

"How they must rejoice! and now also, as ministering angels, must they not be engaged in comforting us with the comfort wherewith they themselves are comforted of God?"

"I am certain God and China will have great victory out of this tremendous sorrow."

"One cannot realize that those saintly Stewarts are no longer in the fight, but in the very presence of our Lord. Their very name is a blessing . . ."

"Now they have leisure to talk together of all that has happened on the way."

"Perfect divine love must have its own perfect reasons for not interfering and preventing. . . . Let our tears be praises, and let our sighs and moans turn into triumphant songs of victory before the Lamb of God, who was slain and was the self-sacrifice, and who by this has overcome. . . . Let us comfort one another with the thought 'The Lord is at hand.' Let us be patient. Stablish our hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth near."

"It was not what it seems to us! There iaas a presence with them so bright, so encircling that they were shielded from so much we see; and, or ever they were aware, the glory burst upon them."

"He redeemeth their soul from deceit and ATiolence, and precious shall their blood be in His sight."

"Surely a blessing must follow, and the name of Jesus will be glorified. They are among the great 'cloud of witnesses.' "

From Bedford, where they lived for a short time:--

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Stewart! we truly loved them, as did every one who knew them. We all feel their martyrdom as a real personal sorrow. To know them was to love them. They were indeed saints on earth, ready ever to do and suffer God's will. The last conversation I think I ever had with your dear sister here in this drawing-room was on the subject of God's will. I was so struck with the bright way she spoke! I wish I could remember what she said, but she spoke of loving it.

"She said, If we continually brought ourselves to say to Him, 'I love Thy will, O Lord,' we would come really to love it. Now they have been counted worthy to suffer for the Saviour's sake.

"I so often think of her words; and we may be sure that He was with them in their short passage from this world."

"Miss W. wrote (from China) that my niece (Miss Codrington) said she felt no pain from her dreadful wounds that awful day. ... It comforts us in thinking of the others."

"It is very touching to hear of the four who lived together, locking their bedroom door and praying together, led by Hessie Newcombe, just before the men entered their room."

From Canada:--

"Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were ideal missionaries, so very lovely in their lives and characters, so wholly given up to the Holy Spirit's guiding, and so used of God. The very brightness of their faces brought glory to God. And though their great love for each other was so apparent, and their love for their children and for all of you so intense, the first thought was always the Master's will and the Master's work. The good they did out here will never be known in this life. Surely the Lord has some very good thing in store for them, when He called them so quickly above, and gave to them the honour of following so closely in His footsteps."

From Japan:--

"The news of the awful events of last week will have reached you before they reached us, and all the world over Christian people will be holding the bereaved ones in prayerful sympathy before God."

"When I told my teacher the cause of my sorrow, he immediately said, 'Let us pray'; and when a few nights after I was talking to one of our catechists and his wife about the dear children, he also said, 'Let us pray for them.' Surely this seed will bring forth a hundredfold."

"God has chosen thy children for the rare distinction of martyrdom, for the crown that but few of our generation shall ever wear."

A prelate of the Church of Ireland writes:--

"I was preaching in a country church yesterday on John xiv. 15, and at the close I alluded to Mark xvi. 15 as an instance of a commandment, and to the death of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart. If Mrs. Smyly had seen the tears of the rough farmers present, she would have felt at all events that there is deep sympathy, and I trust there is also much prayer."

Another writes:--

"Oh! God is getting great glory out of all this, and we do praise Him. May we be taught just now to pray for you all, and for those 'afar off' in the widest sense of that expression."

"A friend had this text given for us the night before he heard the news--' Why seek ye the living among the dead?'"

"It almost seems an intrusion to write just now, and yet I must, just to tell you how our prayers are with you.....God knew when His servants had finished His work; and if He took them home by a shorter way than they expected, the rest and joy of home will more than make up for the roughness of the way.

"May I tell you a little scrap from Mr. Stewart's address at our C.M.S. meeting in 1891? He was speaking of suffering for Christ's sake, and telling of the persecution of two native converts. 'Remember,' he said, 'we must be ready to die. . . . Think of Jesus. Keep your eye on Him. How He suffered on the Cross for us. Though no human hand may be there to close your eyes, there will be One there always "all the days." "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."'

"'If those words are yours, your end is to be envied.'"

"We have prayed much for you all, and feel quite sure that in the midst of it all you are praising God.

"He never makes a mistake."

"Truly it is when we are passing through the waters that we really understand the Presence and the wondrous upholding."

"'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die. . . . If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit,' which is even already showing in the quickened interest in Missions everywhere showing itself through their suffering."

"God will lift you up far, very far above earth and all earthly things to where Christ crowns His peculiarly honoured servants and handmaids. May such an excess of faith be yours as shall enable you to see your beloved one clearly in her new martyr joy and glory."

Mrs. E. C. Millard tells of a letter from Australia: that many friends there said they had seen in Mr. Stewart's life the reality of what they had heard about in meetings and services held the year before by Rev. George Grubb and his Mission party.

From India:--

"Who ever heard her plead for China that was not touched by her spirit and enthusiasm? That, whether by life or death, to witness for Christ amongst the heathen was the highest privilege in the world? And now the joy of the Lord is theirs for evermore."

From Ceylon:--

"I shrank from putting first my first thought, which was of the heartiest congratulations that the precious Saviour should so honour you and yours as to enable them to fill up the measure of 'the sufferings of Christ for His body's sake'--the poor Chinese who shall believe on Him through their life's testimony! He must love those poor cruel people very much when He allows such a precious sacrifice 'to be offered on the service of their faith.' I keep thinking God so loved the people of Kucheng that He gave His own loved ones to prove by their lives the sincerity of their faith. Since the first telegram, which I hardly believed, I have been praying, 'Father, forgive them,' for the poor Chinese 'know not what they do.' "

From Australia:--

"We are deeply interested in the work, as Mrs. Saunders' daughters were from Kew. At first it seemed hard to think of so many useful lives sacrificed, but already it seems as if the fruit is appearing. God's ways are not our ways, but they are best, for He knows all things. There are a great many Chinese in "Melbourne, and those who attend classes and meetings are in a very softened state and much impressed by this sad news. Christians are busy working among them, and the Chinese profess to be very much ashamed of their countrymen.

"A lady who went to see Mrs. Saunders found her seated between two Chinese ladies, and she was comforting them, so great was their grief. Some of the Chinese students attending a class held in connection with Kew Church, sent a message that they were too ashamed and distressed to come, but Mrs. Saunders sent back a message begging them to come as usual, as her daughters loved their people, and had given their lives for them.

"I believe what has happened will spread worldwide, and cause a great revival. We attended the memorial service held at St. Hilary's, to which the Misses Saunders belonged. It was a very solemn time, but it was a time too of rejoicing. The service was a very impressive one, but full of deep calm joy.

"'Faithful unto death,' was written in white flowers and palms. Great beautiful ones waved gently in the light breeze coming in at the open windows, symbols of victory and triumph.

"'Faithful unto death,' in white flowers and palms in Australia.

"'Faithful unto death,' on 'Lena's 'coffin in China. Yes, and the Lord has fulfilled His promise. 'I will give thee the crown of life.'

"'Through faith they obtained promises . . . they, out of weakness, were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.'

"To the eye of faith, this was no mere attack of Chinese people upon English missionaries.

"But the great war that is being waged all over this earth is in reality in the spiritual kingdom. The victories are spiritual, the enemies--'hosts of wicked spirits' (Eph. 6), sometimes in human beings.

"The members of this fanatical sect have taken ascetic vows of abstinence from liquors, opium, tobacco, and flesh meat; hence they are sometimes called 'Vegetarians.'

"They have vowed to stamp out the name and religion of Jesus from China, and to exterminate those who worship Him. On their banner they wrote, 'The Dragon will conquer the foreigners' God.'

"In this holy war these pioneer missionaries fell, and yet they conquered.

"God's greatest victories look to the natural eye like defeat.

"When our Saviour Jesus Christ was left, deserted by His disciples, seemingly forsaken by God; when He cried that bitter cry, 'Why hast Thou forsaken me?' and at last poured out His soul unto death, did it not seem to common sense as if He had been defeated, as if the devil had gained the day?

"But our defeats are God's victories. And as the Cross of Jesus will ever stand, the centre of all time, the example of pure, unselfish love, so is it the greatest example of God's triumph, in and through weakness.

"The One who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

"We know God has gained a great victory in China, that from these precious lives laid down will spring up an innumerable company in China, who, together with these blessed martyrs, will praise the Lamb. Can we not say, with John, 'And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders:

"'And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands:

"'Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

"'And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honour and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

"'And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty ciders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.' "

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