The dear servant of the Lord fell asleep at 11.05 am on Saturday, April 29th 1882, with the quietness and peace which had characterised him in his long and devoted life at the ? home of our beloved brother Mr. Hammond at Bournemouth whom God graciously allowed to minister comfort and care to His ministering one in his closing days.
He had scarcely said anything for the previous 36 hours except a word recognising his attendant (Bro. ---): He took a little nourishment at 4.00 pm on Friday and three or four times during the night as usual: in the morning he was thought to be sinking very rapidly:-
Brothers Hammond, Stuart, Lowe, A. Burton, L. Hewer and Guillaume were gathered round his bedside when his spirit passed away to be with the Lord.
He had said on the Thursday: “I feel just like a bird ready to fly away!” He was also said to have remarked to his attendant and Brother?: “If you see anything in me that is not Christ-like, rebuke me for it.”
On the morning of the funeral we arrived at the house for a prayer meeting at 11.45 am. I suppose quite a hundred of us were closely packed in the large room at our brother's house. As we entered, in the hall was the coffin containing the precious remains: - on the brass plate was engraved:
JOHN NELSON DARBY
BORN NOVEMBER 18TH 1800
DIED IN THE LORD
29TH APRIL 1882
In passing, the solemn, sad fact for us was: He was gone! A great one had fallen asleep: God's chosen vessel who had toiled and laboured to feed His flock and unfold the truths and glories of His word and His Christ was gone to his well-earned rest:- his work was done!
The bereaved saints gathered in the room (where his last words in a Reading Meeting were heard on the closing verses of Ephesians 3 - “Christ dwelling in the heart by faith”.) waiting on God in silence, with much manifest sorrow and a blessed sense of the Lord's presence:
Our dear Bro.C. S. gave out Hymn 79 “Rest of the saints above” - this was followed by Mr.McAdam leading the saints in thanksgiving to God first: for that bright glory before us and which cannot be taken from us; then: for the all-sufficiency of Christ and the certainty of His blessed presence all the way through the wilderness.
Next: Prayer by H. H. S. that the removal of our beloved brother might be used to our blessing in leading us to more occupation with Christ and devotedness to Him.
Next: Prayer by Mr. Lowe, very touchingly thanking God for His gift to the Church: for his faithful stewardship and his devoted and consistent life ... ... (our dear brother was so much affected that He was unable to continue in prayer).
Next: Prayer by C. S. Thanksgiving for the blessing that he had been to the whole Church of God: supplication that his death might be used to speak to the hearts of His saints, not only in our fellowship, but at large to those who knew him; and that his writings might continue to be largely blessed to the Church of God.
Next: Prayer by Mr. Kingscote Senior. Mr. McAdam then gave out hymn 284 “Thou hidden source of calm repose”.
At the suggestion of a brother, Mr. Darby's last written words to his brethren were then read.
The funeral was arranged for 3.30 at the cemetery - the departed one's great desire was: that there should be no demonstration:- To avoid it brethren gathered at the cemetery:- eight or nine hundred (some say over a thousand) were thought to be present:- some who loved him from Ireland, Scotland as well as from far and near parts of England came: from London perhaps three or four hundred were present.