PETER MELVILLE, from the commencement of his illness, received much satisfaction from reading the Bible and other serious books; and after the first month or six weeks, was not known to read any other. The short history of Jesus Christ, by Mason, afforded him great satisfaction. In prayer he joined most heartily, and his eyes, while his friends were engaged in this exercise, were always raised toward heaven. During his painful illness, which lasted four months, he was remarkably patient, and much distressed at the idea of giving trouble. From these circumstances it was concluded that his mind was seriously disposed. Fourteen days, however, before his death, being much worse and unable to leave his bed, his anxious parents, desirous to know his real state, asked him if his mind was easy? At first he appeared inclined to evade the question; but the question being repeated he burst into tears and cried out, |I have been a very great sinner, I do not feel a love for my Saviour, nor see him with an eye of faith.| Different texts of Scripture were mentioned which directed him to cast all his care on the Lord. These appeared to comfort him in a degree, and he then said, |What a charming place heaven is.| It being observed that great advantages frequently resulted from a long illness, he expressed his sense of it by exclaiming, |What a dreadful place must I have gone to had I been cut off at once.|
The next morning he was asked if he wished to converse with a minister? on his answering in the affirmative, the Rev. Mr. W. was requested to visit him; and was the instrument, in the hands of God, of composing his mind. The next day he requested that Watts' Psalms and Hymns, which he was very fond of reading, might be brought to him; and when his father came to his bedside he pointed to the 23d psalm, and asked if it was not a very sweet one?
On Saturday following he expressed a wish to have a Bible and prayer book purchased for him, in which, together with his hymn book, he wrote his name.
On Thursday, the 7th of April, being much worse, he was again asked if his mind was comfortable, to which he replied, |No; I am the greatest of sinners, and Satan tempts me to sin.| Everything was said that could be thought of to compose him, and soon after he became more tranquil, and appeared delighted with the idea of heaven, requesting to have a description of that blessed place read to him. This had been done some time before, and had made a lasting impression on his mind. But when he made the request he added in a low voice, |I am afraid I shall never get there, because I do not love my Saviour as I ought.| Being asked again how he found his mind, he answered, |A little better; but I wish to love my Lord and Saviour; and I hope to be able to do it more and more.|
On being reminded that it was Good Friday, he talked much of our Lord's great sufferings for his people; and while speaking of the blessed Lamb that had been crucified on that day, he desired the 25th hymn of the third book of Watts to be read to him.
|All mortal vanities, begone.|
On the evening of this day he appeared to feel much of what had been said to him by the Rev. Mr. H., who had visited him frequently.
Saturday night was spent in great pain -- he had but few intervals of ease. When he was told |such things were from the Lord,| he replied, |The Lord is good, yes, the Lord is good to them who put their trust in him.| When he expressed his gratitude to his weeping parents for their attention to him, and his mother had told him that it was the Lord who enabled them to do any thing for him, and mentioned his glorious Saviour as the blessed object of all his gratitude, he turned his thoughts to heaven and said, |Then I hope to love him now; and what rapture will it afford me to meet all my dear friends with him in glory.| He spoke for some time on the subject with great energy; and on being told that he would fatigue himself, he replied, |It is not fatiguing, it is rapturous;| and particularly expressed a hope that not one of his family would be wanting; adding, |What a disappointment shall I feel if you are not there.| He seemed much refreshed by this conversation, and went to sleep with a sweet smile on his countenance.
In the afternoon he was still more composed, and told his mother he would talk a little; when he again dwelt most sweetly on the goodness of the Lord to his soul, and the happiness of meeting his parents and friends in glory. In the night, being asked if he did not love the sinner's friend, he replied, |I wish to do it, and in heaven I shall do it more,| adding, |No one ever loved him one part in a thousand so much as they ought to do.| He frequently prayed for patience, being subject to great pain. Seeing his mother weep, he asked her why she cried. She replied, |That she could not help it.| |I hope,| said he, |the Lord will give you strength.|
On the Monday, being again frequently asked if Jesus was precious, he at times nodded his head, and at others said, |I hope he is, and that he will be more so by and by.| But soon after that he said, |I am a great sinner, and am afraid I shall be disappointed in all my hopes of heaven.| But being exhorted to cast all his unbelieving thoughts away, and put his entire trust in his blessed Redeemer, whose arms were underneath him, he replied, |Then I am safe.| Again he thanked his parents for their care of him, and when it was repeated that it was all the Lord's doing, |Then,| said he, |you are the instruments, and what a blessed thing it is to have parents who guide and instruct us in the way;| and added, |O what will become of those children who idle about on the Sabbath day, who swear and steal. O shocking! shocking! O what a blessing to have good parents.| On requesting to see his brothers, they came to him; and taking them by the hand, he asked them how they did. To his little brother Henry he said, |Be a good boy, do not run about with idle children, and tell Philip what I say, learn your catechism, also read your Bible.| Perceiving that his eldest brother cried, he said, |Why is John weeping? Weep not for me, weep for yourselves.| |What a blessed change,| said a friend, |will it be, from such a sick bed as this to the joys of heaven!| to which he added, |To be in the arms of my Redeemer, to see him face to face, and behold his glories in heaven: O how admirable! O what are the glories of an earthly kingdom when compared to this: but as the drop of a bucket to the ocean; yea, no mortal can describe the joys of heaven.| When he again sweetly dwelt on the happiness of meeting all his friends there, |Where,| said he, |we shall meet to part no more for ever; and there shall be no more death;| which he twice repeated. In the night he was much buffeted by Satan. About four o'clock in the morning, he appeared to be dying, and in a low voice, said, |May you all keep the commandments, and love God evermore. Weep not for me, I am not worth weeping for.| Being in an agony of pain he was directed to the source of all good. Soon after he appeared easier, and said, |Truly the heart is willing, but the flesh is weak, and if the heart is willing, never mind the voice.| Being reminded of the joy he would feel at hearing his Lord say, |Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;| he exclaimed, |Amen, so be it,| and spoke no more. |Great are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth out of them all,| was the last text repeated to him, to which he nodded his head, and then calmly fell asleep in Jesus, aged twelve years and three months.
Farewell, dear babe, with all thy sacred store,
In triumph landed on the heavenly shore;
Sure nature form'd thee in her softest mould,
And grace, from nature's dross, refund the gold.