John Rusk

The Life And Testimony Of John Rusk

Gospel Standard 1849:

A Brief Account Of The Last Days Of The Late John Rusk

Sir,—The enclosed is a faithful account of our friend John Rusk, related by Mrs. Rusk and his daughter. I had this from the daughter herself, who was with him all his illness; and she is a God-fearing woman. Mrs. Rusk was a member with me at Mr. Hobbs’s, at Staining Lane. I shall enclose her last letter to her daughter, that she may speak for herself. I thought many of the Standard friends would like to see some account of John Rusk’s death. Yours sincerely,

T. W.



Tuesday, March 25, 1834. When I came home’ from chapel I found my poor husband very ill. I went no more to chapel while he lived. He continued to get worse every day. His bodily sufferings were very great; his throat was so sore and burning, that for weeks he was not able to swallow anything, but was constantly spitting, with a dreadful cough, fearing he would break a blood-vessel, or burst something in his head. He had shocking nights with bodily pain, and he suffered greatly in his soul. Satan was permitted sorely to try him; he suggested to him that all his experience was vain, only notional, that he never had a change of heart, that he was destitute of charity; that he had gifts and knowledge, but had no real love to God and his family. He felt much rebellion and self pity, and had hard thoughts of God at times. He said to me, “Oh, how hard do I feel! oh, that I could feel resignation and submission to the will of God; I am afraid that the hard and blasphemous thoughts that I feel against a good God will bring down his just judgment upon my head. Oh, what a long-suffering God is our God!” 

Wednesday, March 26. He said to me, “I certainly have had a good time, a great falling in spirit, and I confessed my wretched hardness to the Lord.”

Thursday. At night he spoke to me about his profession, and held fast his integrity in God’s truth; and had a sweet time again in the morning for a little while. I should have mentioned a joyful time he had on Friday, February 14th, at night after family prayer, which lasted, he said, from nine until past one. He said, “I have truly had sweet fellowship and communion with the Lord. I have had a heaven in my.soul; yet coughing all night, which drags me to pieces; but I was highly favoured indeed; I thought it might be a prelude to death or the latter rain. I sang at different times, in my whispering way, the following hymns: ‘How happy are we,’ &c.; ‘Exalted high;’ ‘Plunged in a gulph.’ ‘Now begin the heavenly,’ ‘Not with our mortal eyes;’ ‘Salvation, O! the joyful sound,’ ‘Why should the children;’ and my heart was in them.” Another time he said, “Blessed be God, I do feel a good hope.” Then again he said, “I do feel on the stretch for heavenly things. Oh! that I had voice and strength to tell what the Lord has done for me. I do believe I trust in the Almighty God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,.and that he is my eternal Portion.” After this he got rather dull, but said, “I do not feel condemnation, but peace, quietness, and rest, as it respects my eternal state.” I wish I could have put these things down at the time, but he continued noting things down himself in his daily experience-book as long as he was able. He continued gradually getting worse, every day, which I could clearly see, and mentioned it; but no one else believed it as I did. 

Thursday, April 10. He got up about noon, and was seized with a trembling all over, and was forced to go to bed again as soon as possible. While he was in that state, these words were in his mind: “Let death seize hold of them!” Oh, how he sank, afraid they came from God? After a while the trembling abated, but he continued very low in soul and full of fear. He never got up but once more, which was on Saturday, and then he was very ill, and cast down in soul. On Sunday morning he said to me, “Oh! I have had a blessed time in blessing and praising the dear Saviour for his condescending love to me a poor-vile sinner. I cannot describe how I see and feel myself; an incarnate devil never was such a wretch as I. Oh! the love of Christ, to think he should lay down his life for me. Yes, I do love him with all my heart; but he first loved me. Oh! the wonders of sovereign grace. I shall soon be with him and see him as he is, and bless and praise him for his unspeakable love to me to all eternity. Christ is the eternal Rock, and I am fixed on the foundation, the Rock of eternal ages.” He then blessed and praised God in three Persons—Father, Son, and Blessed Spirit distinctly, till he was quite spent. After this his appetite failed; he could take very little for fear of being choked. But now he had no desire for food, he longed to be gone, yet at times was much distressed. I read to him while he could bear it, but he got so weak that he could not bear me to read much. I read part of Tanner’s “Contemplations” in his life, and his own expe­rience-book, about his deliverance, by his own desire. On the Lord’s day before his death he was so low I did not read to him. He said to me in the afternoon, “I do feel much brokenness of spirit, and falling before the Lord, blessed be his precious name.” He was very low and in great pain with his throat, the fever also very high, and in danger of being choked.

Monday. He was very bad, and could not bear to hear me read or even speak to him.

Tuesday, April 22. After he had taken a little arrowroot I said, “Could you bear me to read a chapter?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Is there any particular place?” He said, “Awake, awake!” I read the 52nd chapter of Isaiah, then asked him if he heard it. He said, “Yes, that will do. Ah! I have no breath.” He lay still a while, and when I raised him a little higher, I perceived a change in his countenance. I asked him, “If he could take anything.” He said, “Yes,” and took some sago with a little wine, which was the last thing he took. This was about eleven o’clock; he breathed very short and hard, seemed perfectly sensible, but not able, to speak; his sufferings were very great, and he was much convulsed inwardly. About two o’clock the rattle was heard in his throat. Jane and I never left the bedside from the time he changed until he died. He had not power to speak; but when I asked him if he found peace, rest, and quietness, he nodded more than once. He seemed very much in prayer all day; we could see his lips move, but not hear what he said, except, “Blessed Lord! blessed Spirit!” Jane, in great agony, took hold of his hand and said, “Father, are you happy?” He squeezed her hand and said, “Yes.” Oh! it was truly afflicting to see him in that agony so many hours. We both earnestly prayed to the Lord to receive his spirit and release him. I was almost overcome. I do not think I could have stood it much longer. I was nearly fainting, but the Lord supported me, for I felt persuaded it was the last struggle, and he was entering into bliss. His breath got lower and lower; and just as he breathed his last, a pleasant smile came on his face, which continued. Thus he entered into peace, about half-past seven o’clock on Tuesday evening, April 22nd, 1834, aged sixty-two.


Mrs. Rusk’s Letter To Her Daughter

“My dear Jane,—I hope you are quite well. I am sure you will be sorry to hear I am much worse; the outward man perishes daily. Oh! that the inward man may he renewed day by day. Bless the Lord! he has granted me life and favour; and his visitations have preserved my spirit. O! Jane, seek after a knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of your sins. The Lord hath promised “they shall not he ashamed that wait for him.” (Isa. 49:23.) “Blessed is the soul that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors; for whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” (Prov. 8:34, 35.) I was kept waiting nearly nineteen years. Many times I thought I should never obtain what I had so earnestly sought after; but when my strength was all gone, and none shut up or left, the Lord appeared, and truly his reward was with him. The Lord Jesus opened the door of faith to my soul, and entered with all his saving benefits; and such love, joy, and peace flowed in as I never knew before. I could take all the unconditional promises in the Bible to myself. I found the work of righteousness to be peace, and the effect quietness and assurance for ever, and perfect love cast out all slavish fear and torment. The Lord put a new song into my mouth, even of praise to our God; a new song indeed! It will be fifteen years ago next March, but I can never forget it. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

Dear Jane, I am very ill, not able to do anything. John is very kind; but my breath is very bad; my head is also very bad and light. I am so very nervous, everything terrifies me. I am not able to walk in the street, my legs tremble; but, thank God! with all my complaints the cough is gone; indeed, I could not bear it now. I should be glad to see you as soon as you can come. Sometimes I think I shall not be long; and then, again, I may be weeks, but the Lord does all things well. There is a necessity for being pulled down and kept down. Dear Jane, God bless you!

I remain, your affectionate mother,

Mary Ann Rusk

January 16th,  1835


My dear father departed this mortal life on the 22nd ApriL 1834, and my dear mother survived him twelve months, and died in April, 1835. They have entered into that rest that remaineth for the people of God. Their life was one continued scene of trouble and affliction; but God who hears and answers prayer has relieved them, and to him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jane Rusk



Line Of The Death Of My Dear Father

Where is that aged one, who smiled 

On me with fond delight;

Whose venerable head was clothed 

With flowing, silvery white?

The icy hand of death was laid 

Upon that much-loved head;

He loved those who, weeping, stood 

Around his dying bed.

His eye was fix’d, his hand was cold; 

His spirit stole away,

In calm and silent happiness,

To everlasting day.

Jane Rusk

[Some of our readers have, we believe, an impression that John Rusk was a minister. This was not the case. His worldly calling was, we have heard, a sail-maker.—Editors.]

John Rusk (1772-1834) was a sovereign grace believer. Although he was not a preacher of the gospel, being a sail-maker by trade, yet he contributed many articles on biblical subjects, printed in magazines such as the Gospel Standard.