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Darling Memorial Sketch Book
Through Death into Life


Some years before Mr Moody's return to Scotland, a cloud of great affliction had cast its dark shadow over that happy Christian home. Bella Darling, the youngest daughter, died in her twentieth year, 3rd November 1875. At the early age of twelve she had given her heart to the Saviour. She was a singularly bright, devoted, and happy young Christian, as the published "Memorials" of her brief life, which have been read by tens of thousands, have amply proved. Those years of her converted life were literally strewn with the golden fruits of her evangelism. We shall be forgiven if we quote some passages regarding her, from a prefatory note which it was our privilege to affix to those "Memorials." Those who knew her best can testify that the picture is not over-coloured:—

"Accepting present salvation as the free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, she walked in almost constant sunlight, and became herself a 'Sunbeam' wherever she was known. Old and young loved, and even venerated, the youthful believer. The joy of the Lord was her strength. It raised her above the entanglements and enticements of this world's insipid pleasures. 'The water which Christ had given her' made her thirst no more for streams of false delight, and it was in her a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. With the roll of Christian assurance in her hand, she felt Christ's 'yoke to be easy, and His burden to be light.'

"This again led to a cordial and unreserved consecration of herself to God. There was no hankering after what she had renounced. What does he who has received a crown care for the dead leaves beneath his feet? Nor did she wish to hold back anything from Him who had bought her with a price. Her rare gift of sweet song was laid on her Redeemer's altar, and in the prayer meeting, at the Sabbath morning breakfasts for the poor in the Drill Hall, in hospitals and infirmaries, at the bedsides of the sick and the dying, she was present with her radiant countenance and her Christ-loving heart, often drawing tears from 'eyes unwont to weep.'

The strength of her Christian faith and love made her bold and faithful in speaking and pleading for Christ. Her letters to her former school companions and the friends of her childhood show how intensely she yearned to win souls, and how strongly she felt that her truest act of friendship was to lead those whom she loved to the feet of Jesus.

"In her life of most active usefulness she never became erratic, or imagined that she could do good only in extraordinary services. She attended on her church duties with exemplary regularity and unfailing relish; and in her minister's class she was not only to the last a most diligent scholar, but by her singing in the class choir did much to make its exercises both edifying and attractive. The planet shed its light from its own disc. If we measure the length of her life merely by the number of years that she lived, it was indeed a short life—a very span; but if we measure it by the amount of good that she did in it, then it was a long life, and to her the 'early death became the earlier immortality.'"

The first company of Jubilee Singers who visited this country from America were men and women of intelligence and piety, and had come for the purpose of raising, by means of a series of musical entertainments, a fund which should help in founding a College that would provide for their coloured brethren in the United States the means of a higher education. They had lived for a few weeks in Mr Darling's hotel, a short time before Bella's fatal illness, and had enjoyed her sweet songs, but more than this her simple-minded devotedness and the elevating and purifying influence of her conversation. When the news of her death reached Dumfries, eighty-four miles distant, whither they had gone, they at once determined to be present at the funeral. It was a beautiful and spontaneous tribute to the character of the departed young maiden. I shall never forget the effect produced by their singing at the funeral service. Without any pre-arrangement, but gently gliding in with soft and solemn sound, they sang one or two hymns full of pathos, in which the sentiment was wonderfully interpreted by the music, and the whole company of mourners was moved to tears. Then followed a hymn of hope and victory, in which the refrain was repeated again and again, "She has laid down her cross, and taken up her crown, and gone home,"— the earliest notes which were scarcely audible gradually rising and swelling into the loudest notes of triumph, the hearts of all rising with the music and the sentiment of the hymn, until we seemed to enter into the joy of her who had died in the Lord. These interesting and sympathising strangers soon afterwards wrote thus worthily to the afflicted parents:—"God permitted us to enjoy her pure and sweet companionship for a few weeks, and then took her home to Himself, to give us a new incentive to faithfulness in our duties, and to add a new strand to the golden cord by which our hearts are drawn towards heaven."


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