Come heav’nly muse, inspire my heart,
Thy gracious agency impart,
And teach my pen to write;
Direct my pencil to proclaim
The life and death of the dear man,
In whom I took delight.
‘Tis no slain hear I bemoan,
No patriot of high renown,
Whose death I now lament;
When gen’rals fall – when statesmen die,
I often heave the solemn sigh,
And mourn the black event.
But when a bright and shining light,
A blazing star, a lamp of night
An envoy from the skies;
Commision’d from the throne above,
To treat with men, in terms of love,
And make the nations wise.
When such a friend of God and man,
Is called to quit his mortal stand,
And fill a higher post;
‘Tis then I feel the keenest pain,
My loss exceeds a hero slain –
‘Tis then I sorrow most.
Such is the anguish now I feel,
Waller is dead! what pointed steel
Cold would my heart as deep!
Waller, the friend of God and man,
Has left this needy, guilty land,
And I survive to weep.
Like Saul, he spent his youthful days,
In riot, oaths and wicked ways,
The leader of a pack –
His birth, and education good,
But sin did so effect his blood,
They called him swearing Jack.
When vengence, near the throne of God,
Impetuous drew the flaming sword,
All dreadful to employ!
Almighty goodness cried “forbear,
Wisdom shall better means prepare
To conquer – not destroy.”
“Waller is not ordain’d to wrath,
But to employ his vital breath
In the Redeemer’s praise;
His sins, thro’ Christ, shall be forgiv’n,
And he shall ever reign in heav’n,
Thro’ free and sov’reign grace.”
When persecution reign’d,
And magistrates were unrestrain’d
To punish in their borders;
When Lewis Craig was apprehended,
And to the county court presented.
For preaching without orders:
Waller was one of the grand-jury,
Yet no so fill’d with rage and fury,
But what he’d reason hear;
Craig’s meek defence and calm repose,
Disarm’d the fury of his foes,
And open’d Waller’s ear.
The meetings then he did attend,
Not as a foe, but as a friend,
And sought the Lord with tears;
The pardoning love of Christ he found,
Which prov’d a balsam for his would,
A cordial for his fears.
Soon he began to tell around,
What a dear Saviour he had found,
And call on all to fly;
“Sinners, repent and turn to God,
Trust in a mighty Saviour’s blood,
And you shall never die.”
How oft I’ve seen the envoy stand,
Imploring mercy for the land,
With eyes uplift to heav’n;
“Father, forgive the stubborn race –
Subdue their hearts to sov’reign grace,
That they may be forgiv’n.”
Then turning from the upper skies,
With glowing heart and wat’ry eyes,
Would eager gaze around;
The listening croud, like wandering sheep,
He’d warn and woo, embrace, intreat,
In heart affecting sound.
All round the land the herald ran,
Proclaiming life to dying man,
While heav’n his words apply’d;
Thousands obeyed the voice of God,
And found salvation in the blood
Of Jesus crucified. *
Waller, intrepid for his God,
Would ne’er confer with flesh and blood,
But put his all at stake;
Come life – come death – praise or disgrace,
Naught could impede him in his race;
He ran for Jesus’ sake.
But while superior to all fear,
He pushed his conquests far and near,
To conquer or to die;
By mobs and courts, and laws unjust,
The dragon made a deadly thrust,
With expectation high.
Four times to prison he was sent,
Where many days of grief were spent,
With ardent prayers and tears;
His wife alone was left to sigh;
His children had no father by,
To sooth their anxious fears.
But here behold his gracious mind,
While in the prison walls confin’d,
He’d pour his soul abroad;
Thro’ iron grates he’d sound aloud
The gospel to the listening crowd,
Who came to hear the word.
When Independence was declar’d,
Waller was a Whig – a valiant bard
To blow the trump of jubilee;
The change brought freedom to his cause
And banished all religious laws,
and set the sons of Zion free.
Language would fail to figure forth,
In equal shades, his real worth,
And all his virtues tell;
As husband, parent, friend and neighbour,
As preacher of incessant labor,
But few did o’er excel.
From house to house – from place to place,
He’d tell the wonders of that grace
Which ransomed dying men;
With melting heart and balmy tongue,
Kindly persuade both old and young,
To strive to enter in.
But nature’s laws will never fail,
The mortal powers of men are frail
And must dissolve and die;
Prophets and kings – heroes and saints,
Are subjects to the same complaints,
And in one ruin lie.
Sometimes death makes a sudden storm,
Sometimes the siege continues long,
But always gains the fight;
The strongest constitution fails –
Physics are vain, when death assails
The soul must take her flight.
Twelve months before he quit his clay,
Waller was lingering in decay
And sufferings did endure;
Preaching with all the strength he had,
Exorting all, both good and bad
To make salvation sure.
Seven weeks before he did expire,
He preach’d his last from Zechariah,
“Run speak to this young man,”
His soul glow’d high with heav’nly zeal,
His outward man began to reel,
He fell – he could not stand.
His friends conveyed him to a bed –
He lay as dying, or as dead
For sev’ral tedious hours;
But when his spirits rose again,
Redeeming love – his fav’rite theme,
He prais’d with all his powers.
Some days before he lost his breath,
When struggling in the war with death,
He raised his eyes to heav’n;
With smiling face and joyful eyes –
“O God of grace the sufferer cries,
My sins are all forgiv’n.
“Ready, my Lord, to come to thee,
Mine eyes do thy salvation see,
Oh! send thy chariot down;
If any angel can be spar’d,
O send a kind celestial guard
To bear my spirit home.
“But if I longer must remain,
To prove my patience in my pain,
Thy will, O God be done;
If angels cannot now attend,
When I on Jordan’s banks shall stand,
I’m sure they will come down.”
Some hours before his clay was dead,
His children knelt around his bed
And asked a benediction;
His hands upon their heads he laid,
And for his weeping offspring pray’d,
And gave his valediction.
“O God of mercy, God of truth,
The widow’s help – the guide of youth,
I die at thy command;
My wife and children stay behind –
O God, be merciful and kind,
And keep them in thy hand.
“May heav’nly grace on them be shed,
And earthly blessings crown their heads
Long as their lives remain;
When ripe for heav’n, may all remove,
And meet me in the world above
And never part again.
“Remember Zion, O my God,
The costly purchase of thy blood,
Her rights and cause defend;
May she awake, arise and shine
In robes and ornaments divine,
Enduring to the end.
“May all my neighbours hear thy word,
For this I pray, my gracious Lord,
With my last dying breath.”
This said, his mortal life expir’d,
His joyful soul to heav’n retir’d,
And left his clay in death.
So Jacob’s sons, at his bed-side
Receiv’d the blessing when he died,
Prophetic from the Lord;
So Moses, when his life deceas’d,
Bless’d the twelve tribes and was releas’d,
And charm’d to heav’n, by God.
Jesus, the Saviour of mankind,
When on the cross his head reclin’d
Pur’d out his soul to God;
He cried aloud for friends and foes,
“Lord visit these, and pardon those,
Since I have shed my blood.”
So Stephen, fill’d with faith and love,
Saw heaven open’d from above,
And Jesus on his seat;
“Jesus, receive my soul,” he cries,
“And pardon all mind enemies;”
Upon his knees, the martyr dies,
And joyful falls asleep.
* He baptized more than two thousand before he removed from Virginia, which was on or near 1794. A few years afterwards, he died in South Carolina.
Miscellaneous Essays, In Prose and Verse.
Elder John Leland
Published sometime since 1810 (precise year unknown)
The Writings Of The Late Elder John Leland
Pages 412 – 417