Record of the Closing Days of Our Brother A.P. Cecil

Table of Contents

1. Record of the Closing Days of Our Brother Lord Adelbert P. Cecil

Record of the Closing Days of Our Brother Lord Adelbert P. Cecil

There are many who desire to know a true account of matters in connection with the departure of our beloved brother Lord Adelbert P. Cecil. I therefore purpose giving it here, as enabled to do so from those who were in immediate association with him at the time.
About the 4th of May, dear Lord Adelbert wrote to Mr. Alex. Smith, of Napanee, whose house he often visited, saying he was wearied in body and required rest, and that he would come to them if they could without inconvenience receive him. They were only too glad to have him, and on the 11th he went. He was indeed weak in body, and was much troubled with his throat disorder, but particularly bright and happy. He said on more than one occasion that he required a home or permanent resting-place, on account of the weakness be felt. He was constantly engaged in writing, except when he dropped asleep. This he did sometimes, which was remarked as being something uncommon for him. His habit was to sit all day in an easy chair with a table so arranged (Mrs. Smith’s work table) that he could write and have all his books and papers around him.
There he met all calling for information, or to be taught by him. If the weather and his strength permitted, he went visiting in the afternoon, and in the evening when he could not go to the meeting-room, a meeting was arranged for at the house, or some of the gathering came in. Sometimes he and Mr. Smith went out to visit those living near. After he had been a little more than three weeks with Mr. and Mrs. Smith he became restless, and frequently said he must be more actively engaged. His strength had not returned and both Mr. and Mrs. Smith pressed him to delay his purpose of camping from place to place. Before leaving Napanee he lectured on the coming of the Lord, his remarks being based on the 12th of Rev. The last hymn he gave out there was the 19th in the Appendix of the “Little Flock Hymn Book,” beginning; “In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear.” The third verse runs – “Green pastures are before me, where the dark clouds have been.” The last verse but one reads –
“Ere yet another morning my spirit may be free, as absent from the body, at home, O Lord with Thee.”
Blessed reality! so soon to be realized by the wearied and devoted servant of the Lord, who had indeed “counted all things down here loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
On the 8th of June he left for Brockville, where he broke bread last on the following day (Sunday), and in the evening took part in the meeting, giving out at the close hymn 55, – “Through waves, through clouds and storms, God gently clears the way; we wait His time; so shall the night soon end in blissful day.”
On Monday, the 10th, he wrote to Mr. Smith, asking him to have his camping things at the R.R. station next morning. Mr. Smith went to the station to meet him that he might see how he really was, and found him bright and apparently no worse, but on enquiry he admitted that he was unfit for camping. Mr. Smith pressed him again to remain, but he could only get the promise that if he found camping too much he would return to their house at Napanee the following week. He then went on to Belleville, where he procured a sail-boat, but of poor construction and with one sail. This he loaded with necessary camping provisions, intending to camp first at Adolphustown and hold meetings in the town hall. He was unable to hire the boat he wished to get, which was a better one in every way. That afternoon he sailed from Belleville with a brother in the Lord named Churchill, whom he took with him as an attendant. The latter is crippled in both feet, and has no knowledge whatever of the management of a boat. Tuesday night they spent near Deseronto at the house of an Indian brother named Isaac Powliss on an Indian Reserve.
Next morning before leaving Lord Adelbert read Psalm 121, said a few words on it, and had prayer. They sailed at 9 a.m., and about 4:30 p.m. they were opposite Pool’s house, near Adolphustown, and within sight of their destination. The wind was blowing half a gale, and Lord Adelbert went forward to adjust the sail which had become disorganized. This done, he was about to return to his seat, when his foot slipped and he fell into the water. Churchill heard the plunge and saw him in the water, but the boat sped forward to some distance, and he, being unskilled in its management, could neither turn it or in any way assist Lord Adelbert. The latter, evidently fearful for Churchill’s safety, struck out to swim for the boat, though had he aimed for the shore he could easily have reached it in safety, as he swam more than the required distance when seeking to reach the boat. Finally Churchill succeeded in turning the boat; which when Lord Adelbert observed, he turned and made for the shore. A Mrs. Cole saw this transpire, and gave the alarm. Mr. Pool was also quickly on the shore, but as Lord Adelbert appeared quite able to reach it, he did not put out the boat at hand. They saw him tread the wild water while he divested himself of coat and vest, first swimming upon his face, and at times turning upon his back to rest. He was encumbered by a heavy pair of laced shoes, which he could not get off, and the wind and waves were against him, added to his physical weakness. Mr. Pool called encouragingly to him about his making the shore all right, to which Churchill heard the response, “No,” uttered feebly as he went down. He was doubtless overtaken with cramp, the result of cold and severe exertion in his weakened physical condition. And thus he was taken into the rest he longed for! Not the imperfect rest of an earthly home, which would fain have opened to receive the beloved servant, but into that perfect home where his rest is as deep as is his joy in the presence of Him whom he loved and served here.
“There no stranger – God shall meet thee,
Stranger thou in courts above,
He who to His rest shall greet thee,
Greets thee with a well-known love.”
Mr. Smith received a telegram at 9 a.m. on the 13th and at once went over to Adolphustown, 18 miles distant from Napanee, where he found many willing hands assisting in dragging the Bay. This went on with no prospect of success until the afternoon. Finally a long piece of barbed wire was secured, and a number of hooks placed on it, which was made to circle the spot where he went down, drawing toward the shore. While this was being put down, the brethren present looked to the Lord in earnest prayer that he would give them the body, and at the first attempt He did so, causing a thankful acknowledgement from all who had waited upon Him for this. It came up head foremost with a smile upon the face, and a look of such profound peace and rest as can never pass out of the minds of those who gazed upon it. He looked most lifelike, but as though asleep, with no marks of discoloration whatever. This was at 4.30 p.m. on June 13th.
The Coroner, not thinking an inquest necessary, delivered the remains to Mr. Smith, who brought them that night to Napanee, arriving about 12:30, where the body was at once embalmed. It was placed in a strong oaken casket, and conveyed to Mr. Smith’s house. A cablegram was sent to Lord Adelbert’s friends in England, and the reply came asking that an authentic certificate of the death be made out. This request was complied with at once, and a good photograph was taken. The boat and other effects went delivered to the care of Mr. Parker Allan, a brother living at Adolphustown.
The burial took place on Saturday morning, June 15th, from Mr. Smith’s house, where a great many gathered to look upon the remains of the one they loved so well, and who had laboured among them for so long, untiringly seeking their best interests. Mr. Hayhoe gave an address on 2 Cor. 5, which was felt to come with power by those present. Mr. Smith also gave a word of much earnestness, with impressive remarks upon the hymn, “In heavenly love abiding,” &c.
Just before the body was deposited in the vault a second cablegram was received from England, requesting that the body be interred, so it was taken from the vault in the afternoon and buried in Mr. Smith’s plot in the Napanee cemetery, among the trees, on a slope overlooking the Napanee River. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” their bodies awaiting that assembling shout when “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven,” and when “death shall be swallowed up in victory.”
Meanwhile, as we wait here, “to depart and to be with Christ is far better.” Inexpressible gain indeed to our beloved brother, though such a deep loss to the many who knew him, and to the Church of God at large.
His sister, Lady Victoria, wrote to a brother in England, respecting the burial – “we all think Adelbert would have preferred this, as he has so many friends out there who love him so well. It matters not where his body rests in the world, as the Lord will watch over it there in Canada, and will raise it up at His coming, as surely there as here. . . . Meanwhile we give most hearty thanks for dear Adelbert’s life; there is so much to praise in his death, too, for he was spared a long illness, and it was just a translation, a sudden absence from the body to be present with, the Lord – caught up while in the act of going to speak for his Lord.”
We may be sure God means us to feel it, and, as another has said, to humble ourselves that He should thus take away such a faithful and devoted one from amongst us as he was; devoted to the Lord’s interests and to souls in whole-hearted godliness and separation from the world, and things of it. Yet God would have us rest quietly in His will concerning it. It was all arranged by Him whose “wisdom ever waketh, whose sight is never dim; who knows the way He taketh, with those who walk with Him!” No one on earth, however willing to help the dear departed one, could hinder His purpose in this. Our brother’s work was done, his ministry told out and stood for in the fore-front of the battle, and our ever-gracious God has called him into His eternal rest.
May it be ours while left down here a little longer “to cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart”; to run “not as uncertainly,” but as those who “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”; glad to serve and suffer for Him till He comes.
E. F. P.