INNES, Grace 1809-1863 (Wife of Jonathan)
Obituary Wesleyan Methodist Magazine 1864
MRS. INNES, late of New-Zealand, was a native of Ayr, North-Britain.
Her parents were members of the Church of Scotland; by whom she was trained from childhood to a scriptural and conscientious regard for the ordinances of religion. She was led thereby to place her entire reliance on the atonement of Christ for the blessings of a Gospel salvation; and, although the training did not at first lead her clearly and definitely to experience that “peace with God “which is the result of justifying faith, yet it was practically exemplified in a pious tone of feeling, and in blamelessness of life.
For some years before her marriage she and her sisters regularly attended the ministry of the word in the Wesleyan church on Sabbath evenings. In this way she became more thoroughly acquainted with the nature and advantages of experimental religion. Through faith in Christ, she realized a clear and happy consciousness of her personal interest in the Saviour, receiving the Spirit of adoption into her heart.
Now she no longer feared as a servant, but loved as a child. She felt that the love of God in the heart was the root of all cheerful and acceptable obedience to the Divine will, -in fine, the source of all holiness and happiness.
In this state of mind she began to feel a living interest in the spiritual welfare, not only of her own family, but also of her fellow-creatures generally. From her heart she could say, –
” O that the world might taste and see The riches of His grace !
The arms of love that compass me
Would all mankind embrace.”
Animated by the spirit of self-consecration, and sacrificing the endearing ties of kindred and friendship, she cheerfully embarked with her (now bereaved) husband, in the cause of Christian Mission, for a foreign land ; accounting it a privilege to suffer with and for Christ, whose great love to a lost world was the living and life-giving charm of her religious experience. When she had reached her destination, and entered into the sphere of Missionary toil, her natural diffidence was hard to be overcome, as she applied herself to duties which devolved upon her. But she aimed at nothing more than she was able to accomplish; relying upon God for wisdom and grace to fit her for active service. And her subsequent influence and usefulness may be traced to her simplicity of mind and motive ; for all she did she sought to do with a single eye.
To enter into a particular history of her religious life would be a task too elaborate. We shall therefore confine ourselves to a general outline of her religious character, as furnished by those who were in daily intercourse with her. And here we would remark, that, from the commencement of her course, her Christianity was settled, fixed, and clearly definite in the eyes of all.
Within the domestic circle, she was the upright Christian ; a faithful and affectionate wife, a loving and Christian mother. What she was in the eyes of the church, and of the world, she was within the comparative seclusion of her own family. Her home, as the seat and centre of sweetest and strongest endearments, was the scene of her most ardent Christian sympathies and efforts. Often has the voice of prayer, arising to the throne of God, been heard by the inmates, when she was engaged in secret intercourse with heaven. In closet devotion, punctually maintained, was the secret of her spiritual strength. She habitually prayed to her Father in secret, and He rewarded her openly.
She systematically read and studied the Holy Scriptures, daily seeking from thence wisdom, grace, and consolation. Thus her faith and love were fed and sustained by daily supplies from the source of spiritual life and peace. Her lamp was constantly replenished with the oil of Divine grace ; so that, while she enjoyed the privilege of walking in the light of God’s countenance, she ” held forth the word of life ” by letting her ” light Shine before men.” The word of the Lord was precious to her; “sweeter than honey, and the honeycomb.”
A tenderness of conscience, in view of her shortcomings and imperfections, often impaired her spiritual enjoyments ; having a tendency to produce doubt and depression. These were dissipated only by an active faith in the atonement. As in death, so in life, her humbling sense of unworthiness was coupled with an abiding conviction of the greatness of the Saviour’s merit. She felt that she lived in favour with God, and in the hope of the Gospel, only as Clirist dwelt in her heart by faith.
An amiable temper, sanctified by the religion of Christ, shone forth in her daily life; exhibiting a true charity, which ” doth not behave itself un-seemly; ” that adorning of the mind, which, in the sight of God and man, is of great price.
Zeal for the cause of Christ was not, in her, a desire to promote the interests of sect or party, but the love of the Gospel, and a yearning sympathy which embraced all who loved her Lord in sincerity. But it was not the fervour of religious sentimentality which expends itse-lf in mere admiration or profession, but a principle of spiritual life, which let! to active exertion. In the several Circuits in which her lot was cast, she was a leader, often of two classes.
She regularly visited the members of the church, and the afflicted. These duties she undertook, not as a task, but as affording her pleasure : for, not by constraint of duty, but by choice and religious sympathy, she was ever ready to weep with those that wept, and to rejoice with those who rejoiced.
By the Australasian Conference of January, 1863,her husband was appointed to New-Plymouth. The probability of a renewal of war with the Native rebels led him to go to that place alone, leaving his family in Nelson.
After a four months’ sojourn in his new sphere, during most of which time Mrs. limes was unwell, he received the afflictive intelligence of her more serious illness ; but, owing to circumstances over which he had no control, he was not able to reach home until death had closed the scene.
The following statement is furnished by the Kev. William Kirk, respecting her last illness and triumphant death :-
“During the former part of her illness her soul was much cast down. Satan took advantage of her weakness, insinuating that she had neither been earnest nor sincere in her Christian profession, and that she should finally become a castaway. Yet, though often thus tempted, and at first much troubled, she never lost her hold by faith of tho Saviour. She often expressed a firm resolve to cling to the cross, saying, ” If I perish, I perish at the feet of Jesus.”
I encouraged her to hope that these clouds would pass away, and the Sun of Righteousness again shine upon her. For this purpose I read to her a beautiful passage in Dr. Payson’s life, in which he represents himself as in the land of Beulah.
“Were I to adopt the language of Bunyan, I might date this letter from Beulah, of which for some weeks I have been a happy inhabitant. The celestial city is full in my view. Its glories beam upon me, its breezes fan me, its odours are wafted to me, its sounds strike upon my ears, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing separates me from it but the river of death ; which now appears as an insignificant rill, which may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission. The Sun of Righteousness has been drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approaches ; and now He fills the whole atmosphere, pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun, exulting, yet almost trembling, while I gaze on the excessive brightness, and wondering with unutterable wonder that God should thus deign to shine on a sinful worm.”
” Though she said little at the time, it is evident that this beautiful passage was blessed to her soul. For, if the Lord did not answer the prayers of His people in the restoration of her health, He so far answered them that she felt her distressing doubts and fears removed. One evening, while her friends were singing, she became very happy. She not only realized peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, but was filled unutterably with glory and with God. To one of her friends, she said with rapture, ” I am now in the land of Beulah ; and requested that anotherof her friends might be called to help to praise the Lord.
” Although, during the first stages of her illness, she had scarcely wished to see any but members of her own family, and those in immediate attendance, she now desired to converse with all who called. And most suitably and faithfully did she warn, caution, and counsel them, according to their condition and circumstances. It was, indeed, most delightful to see her so triumphant and happy in her Saviour. She often said, ” I am in a flood of glory.” A few days before her death,I found her rejoicing with joy unspeakable. “You told me,” she said, ” I should experience this : but I did not think it could be.” And again:- “Though I have always loved and adored Jesus Christ, yet I have never had such views of the beauty of His character as now.”
There were many circumstances to render life attractive, and to make it desirable that her stay on earth might be prolonged. She was in the prime of life, and had a wide sphere of usefulness. She had numerous personal friends, not only in our own church, but also in other churches ; for hers was eminently a catholic piety. There were othas, especially dear to her, for whose sake she would gladly- have lingered a little longer in this world, if it had been the Lord’s will. But her lore to the Saviour triumphed over her most endearing ties on earth ; and, for some time before her departure, she was perfectly resigned to the will of God, either to live or die.
” Perhaps,” said she, ” I have done wrong by wishing to have a quiet home here: I am not to have it, but I am going to a better home.”
” As she was nearing the close, Satan was again permitted to try her; bat she never for a moment lost the happiness which she enjoyed through faith in Christ alone. When anything was said about her past labours in the charth, she, jealous lest the Saviour should be robbed of His glory, would emphatically say of all such efforts of hers, ” Filthy rags ! filthy rags ! ” Her end was eminently peaceful, without a struggle She expressed her heart’s desire in the language of the apostle, ” Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better ; ” repeating again and again, – ” far better,” – ” far better.” She entered the heavenly rest on the 27th of August, 1863, aged fifty years.”