Triumphant Death of a Japanese Student
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
JAPAN, seeing the advantage of the Western, over the Oriental civilization, years ago began sending some of her most brilliant young men to various universities in Europe and America, to learn the literature, laws, industries and customs of foreign nations, and to bring that knowledge back as practical information to their native land. I became acquainted with several of them, who attended the DePauw University in Indiana, twenty-five years ago. They were very keen in their intellectual apprehension, quick in their books and correct in their habits, and one or two of them were eloquent orators. One young man was instructed by his government to make American farming the subject of his special investigation. He was doing beautifully in his work, when he was attacked by consumption and wasted away to a mere shadow. I visited him frequently. I have seldom seen a rarer Christian character than he—so sweet in his contentment, so resigned to his lot, so happy in the hope of a blessed immortality. One day, on questioning him about the comforts of our religion, he replied : " The Holy Spirit is with me in my room all the time, and, better still, he is in my heart. I have not any word in your language, nor in mine, to express the sweetness which I have from that presence in my soul." Inquiring about his family, he answered : " My father is dead, but my mother is living. She had great hopes for me, and will be very sorry—will cry-when she hears that I cannot get well ; but I am glad to say she is also a Christian, and I believe our Heavenly Father will console her with the same spirit that comforts me. I wish I could have her by me now at the last, but I cannot, and I have given my final message to my Japanese companions to send to her. As I started away from home, mother said to me, ` My son, you are going far away, and are to be gone a long time ; you may not live to return, and if you should I may be dead when you get back. We will have this understanding: If I die first, I will look out of the window of heaven which opens toward America, and will watch for you ; and if you go first, you will stand at the window of heaven which opens on Japan, and watch for me. Christ, you know, my son, has destroyed death, and whatever may happen, you and I will live together forever.' " With face radiant with the upper glory, he said to me, " I am not far away from that Mansion, and I shall do as I promised my mother—watch at the window which looks out on Japan and welcome her when she shall come." His body rested in the same altar at which, years before, a student was converted who, being sent to Japan as a missionary, was instrumental in the conversion of the young man whose funeral service was being held.
From an earthly point of view, the death of this young man was peculiarly distressing. Possessing brilliant talent, with commission and pay from the government, with the splendid opportunities for contributing to the marvelous progress which the Japanese Empire has since made among nations, with the magnificent possibilities of Christian usefulness in his home-land, it seemed a pity for him to die so soon. But from a heavenly point of view the picture is not dark. Affliction developed in the young man and illustrated in his character the most admirable spiritual qualities ; and consumption, for such a soul, only opened the door of the cage and let the imprisoned spirit free. Instead of considering our dead as buried in the cemetery, how much more beautiful to regard them as inhabitants of the Mansion, watching from the window, waiting for us!