Earthen Vessel 1894:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”—Ephesians 2:8
“The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”—1 Peter 3:4
“My mother!” These two words embody the feelings of her son’s heart, and possess all the mournful emphasis imparted by the sundering of a tie of upwards of forty years. Memory revives the tender recollections of a life-time; the gentle voice seems to be heard again, and the loving and patient face is seen:
“Thine own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solac’d me”;
But amidst all the sorrow there is a cause for joy, for our dear one has, through free and sovereign grace, joined the blood-washed throng in the homeland, and
“Where thou art gone
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown.”
Six short years have passed since my beloved father entered into rest, and now one grave contains all that is mortal of John and Jane Hazelton and an infant grandson, to rest for “a little while,” and then He that shall come will come, and “will not tarry.” Their son remains, the last member of that tiny family circle of a few years ago, but he trusts that he and his are following “them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
In a farmhouse in the little village of Stonea, near March, in Cambridgeshire, my mother first saw the light, on August 1st, 18009. She was the youngest child of a family of five; her brothers and sisters all pre-deceased her, unmarried, so she was the last representative of her race. Beyond occasional attendances at Church, there was no profession of religion in the household, and in those early years of the century vital godliness was at a low ebb that part of England. Occasionally a true minister of the Gospel preached in some local Church, attracting unusual congregations, but the neighboring clergy, with no message but a cold and vapid morality, generally contrived to secure his removal to a distant sphere.
Jane Johnson, a meek, quiet, deeply affectionate girl, grew up to womanhood among such surroundings in this little village in the fens. The stage coach journies of her father to London, and the wars and rumours of wars of the Napoleonic era, were often described by her in later days as affording themes for conversation around the blazing fire during the long winter evenings. Tenderness of conscience was always a feature in her character but no vital change took place until her parents removed to another farm at Murrow, near Wisbech, in the same county. The Primitive Methodists were at that time very useful in the rural districts of England, in sounding an alarm, and proclaiming in many cases with great power, salvation through the Lamb of God. The outward results of their labours were apparent in the decay of the rude license and brutality manifested by many villagers on the Lord’s-day; and above all, God the Holy Spirit sent His Word home to sinners’ hearts. Under a sermon from one of their preachers my mother was reproved “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” After worshipping for some time with the Methodists, she felt a want which they could not supply and became convinced that by believer’s baptism she should confess Christ. Then ensued one of the heaviest trials of her life, for upon her determination being known strenuous family opposition was manifested, but expostulations and unkind treatment were of no avail: she saw the path of duty and privilege clear before her, and was enabled by faith to lean hard on the word, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Many were her bitter tears of sorrow, but after taking counsel with some loving Christian friends she was baptized at Ely-place Chapel, Wisbech, in June, 1845, by the late Mr. Pike, author of several religious works, which attained a wide circulation. Her home being seven miles distant from the town she was precluded from joining the Church, but Mr. Pike’s earnest prayers on her behalf, and wise and tender counsel were much blessed to her. Upon her return, on the following day, from the baptismal service, she timidly entered the house, her heart fluttering with excitement at what she supposed awaited her. Remarkable to say, instead of frowns there was a smile and a kiss, and no further allusion was made to the matter. Not many weeks since, in gentle tones, she repeated the story of those days, saying with deep feeling, “It was all in answer to prayer.”
She subsequently joined the Church at Guyhirn, Cambridgeshire, of which my father became pastor in 1848, and where for more than three years he was enabled to exercise a ministry, fragrant memories of which still linger in the district. In 1852 he removed to London, recognizing the Lord’s leading and calling him to the pastorate of the Church, now worshipping at Chadwell-street; and on August 12th of the same year, he and my mother were married at the Baptist Chapel, Ely-place, Wisbech. Henceforth her life was bound up with the Church at Mount Zion, and for thirty-six years, as the pastor’s wife, she took the deepest interest in its progress and prosperity, and specially in the welfare of the poor. Tenderness and sympathy were prominent traits in her character, and she never spared personal trouble in ministering to any who stood in need.
A friend who knew her well writes:—“Hers was a sweet character. Her gentleness made one overlook its forcefulness, and he retiring disposition concealed a thoughtful and reflective mind. Her heart was very affectionate and she was a peace-loving, peace-making, and peace-maintaining Christian—one of those ‘holy women’ of whom Peter speaks so beautifully. That she is ‘where all God’s singers meet,’ you do not need to be assured; and may all spiritual solace be yours in the remembrance of her long and loving life and peaceful departure.”
On June 6th, 1872, the Church, on the occasion of the pastor’s Jubilee birthday, presented, among other tokens of their love, a valued memorial to his wife, the senior deacon (Richard Minton) speaking of her as “her husband’s caretaker, and the universal friend and peacemaker of the Church, always on the look-out for fallen sparks, and never resting till she had put her foot on them.”
Upon my father’s death on January 9th, 1888, she took up her abode under the roof of her son and his wife, and during the first three years was able frequently to go out, and on Lord’s-days to worship in the sanctuary hallowed to her by so many sacred associations. She felt much joy in the peaceful settlement of the Church under the pastoral care of her friend, Mr. E. Mitchell, whose visits and conversation she highly valued. Gradual failure of strength, however, made her attendance less frequent, and one Lord’s-day morning in October last proved to be her final visit to the lower courts of the Lord’s house; now she dwells “in the house of the Lord for ever.”
For a long time past she often expressed “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ,” but always cheerfully responded to the words, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” With the exception of her sight, which became very dim, all her faculties were unimpaired, her memory being so good, that during the last three months she learnt that beautiful little hymn of Toplady’s, commencing, “Supreme High Priest, the pilgrim’s light” (30 in Denham’s Supplement). This hymn was much blessed to her, and often during wakeful nights she would repeat it; but of all others, perhaps, her favourite was, “There is a fountain filled with blood”; this she asked might be sung at her funeral service. She was delivered from all fear of death, and not many weeks since she said to her son, “I do thank the Lord that He is taking my poor tabernacle down so gently.” She came downstairs till within a week of her departure: an attack of bronchitis proved too much for her small stock of strength, and she gradually and peacefully sank, sensible almost to the last hour. Late on Monday evening she asked her son to pray, and as was usual with her,· fervently responded from time to time. Then with her hand in his there came a time of solemn waiting, until in the early morning of Tuesday, January 16th, she entered into rest, in the 85th year of her age. The messenger had come, as to Christiana, and “the token was an arrow with a point sharpened with love, let easily into her heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her, that at the time appointed she must be gone.” A verse which she often repeated may fitly close this little sketch—
“Methinks I see her now at rest
In the bright mansion love ordained;
Her head reclines on Jesu’s breast
No more by sin or sorrow pained.”
John E. Hazelton
The funeral took place on Monday, January 22nd. The remains were taken to our dear old chapel, and a service conducted by our present beloved pastor, assisted by Mr. Reynolds, who read the Scriptures; and Mr. Burrell, of Watford (one of the founders of the Church, and for many years a member of its diaconate), who attended the funeral at the special request of the deceased.
Mr. Mitchell’s address made reference to the departure of our late pastor six years previously, and bore loving testimony to his godliness and usefulness in the Church of Christ, remarking that while it would be difficult to overrate the importance of Mr. Hazelton’s labours, it would be equally difficult to overrate the devotion, usefulness, and Christian influence of his beloved partner, who was in every way qualified by God for her difficult and honourable position as a faithful pastor’s wife. She was a mother in Israel, and the speaker himself felt as if he had lost a mother in her removal, whose interest in the affairs and the members of the Church, especially the afflicted and poor, remained unabated to the last. Death is indeed an enemy, and the grave is cruel, not to those who depart to be with Christ themselves, but to those who remain behind. Yet to believers death is only a dark shadow, that may terrify but cannot harm, as the shadow of a dog cannot bite, or the shadow of a lion injure anyone. Like the tunnel through which the traveller journeys to the sunny plains of Italy, so through the dark valley the promised land on high is reached. Absent from the body the spirit of our sister is present with the Lord, and the beloved remains which we are now about to lay in their last earthly resting-place are still in her Redeemer’s hands, and in a form more lovely that we can now conceive of they shall by-and-bye be raised to be for ever at home with all His ransomed family. He then affectionately commended the loving son to our sympathy and prayers, and concluded with the earnest aspiration that we might by Divine grace be as ready for our departure as our beloved sister was and that this dispensation might be sanctified to us all. Special reference was made to the event at the evening prayer meeting, Mr. Mitchell reading and commenting on a part of John 11, and dwelling on the human tenderness, as well as the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The funeral sermon on the following Sunday evening was based upon Revelation 7.
Jane Hazelton (1809-1894) was a Strict and Particular Baptist believer. She was a member of the church meeting at Mount Zion Chapel, Chadwell-street. Her husband was the pastor of this church, John Hazelton. Her son (John) and nephews (William and John) were also pastors of Strict Baptist churches.