Memorial of Mrs. Jeanie L. Liveston Ritchie
by John Ritchie
BRIEF REMEMBRANCES AND LOVING MEMORIALS OF
Mrs. Jeanie L. Liveston Ritchie,
BELOVED WIFE OF THE EDITOR OF "THE BELIEVER'S MAGAZINE."
Who entered on her Rest with Christ, on Lord's Day,
March 9, 1924, at 11:45 p.m.
WHILE yet the dew of early youth was on her brow, she was converted to God, and took her stand as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus for 58 years, she continued humbly, stedfastly, walking in the ways of the Lord, until the hour of her home-call, to be with Him in that land, upon which her heart had so long been set.
It was during a remarkable season of ingathering in her native town of Forfar, that her great life-choice was made, and her heart was won to the Lord Jesus. An evangelical and earnest minister of the Gospel, Mr. Simeon R. Macphail, was then minister in the Free Church, of which she was then a member. And Mr Macphail not only preached a full, and clear Gospel himself, but brought to his help, men who were well known as honoured soulwinners and faithful preachers of the Word. It was in the autumn of 1866, that Duncan Mathieson, the Scottish evangelist, with Harrison Ord, an English witness for God of that time, came to Forfar to evangelize, followed shortly by two younger earnest soulwinners, John Albert Boswell and Rice T. Hopkins. These four preached for several weeks, with great power, the truths that sinners need to hear, to awaken them out of careless indifference to the realities of Eternity; on the street, at the factory gates, and in the Free Church, nightly. And many who had only a form if godliness, without spiritual life, discovered that they lacked the "one thing needful," and were brought to Christ at this time. At the close of a solemn and searching address from Duncan Mathieson, the preacher took his stand at the door of the church, and as Miss Liveston passed out, he asked her the pointed question, "Are YOU saved?" She was unable to say she was, and replied, "I hope so." Hope so won't do; you should be sure about it," said Mr. Mathieson, bluntly. And as she rose to go, and was stepping out into the street, Mr. Hopkins laid his hand on her arm, asking, "Are YOU a Christion?" She felt as if her hour of visitation by God had come, and that personal question, repeated the second time by these two servants of God within a few minutes, hedged her up to face the fact, and to open her mind and tell what seemed to hinder her. "I think I am too bad for God to have me, as I am," she said fearingly. "Would you dare to make God a liar?" said Mr. Hopkins. "Just listen to what He says in His Word." And opening his Bible, he read aloud the words of Isa. i. 18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." That moment the entrance of God's words gave "light" (Psa. cxix. 130), and the doubts that had hindered her from seeing God's simple way of salvation, passed away. She claimed God's promise, took Him at His Word, and then and there she had peace with God (Rom. v. 1), with the assurance that her soul rested on Christ, and that He would not let her perish (John iii. 16). But for a time, she hesitated to make an open confession of her faith, lest she might falter and fail to live, as a Christian should. She had read the story of the conversion of eminent saints, and their wonderful experiences at conversion, and fearing hers being so simple, it was not up to the standard, she kept it to herself for a day or two. But as the Word became to her the sure ground of her confidence, and Christ Himself the One she had to look to, and not to changing experiences, as the ground of her salvation, her peace flowed like a river, and the love of Christ for her, rather than her love TO Him, became the joy and the strength of her life. A favourite verse with her in these early years was—
"Not the shadow of a turning
Knows the eternal love Divine,
Pity in Thy bosom burning,
Made me—keeps me ever thine."
The following year, 1867, Donald Ross, from Aberdeen, came to have meetings, and his plain and faithful testimony greatly strengthened those converted the previous year, and set them on the rock-fast foundation of the Word of God. Shortly after, she went to fill an appointment in Kirriemuir, and there she had the godly fellowship of Mrs. Harkins and her daughter, whose home she shared for a number of years. And this friendship continued throughout her lifetime, unmarred and unchanged.
Light from the Word was followed as it came to them, and they were led on in the ways of the Lord. A small assembly of believers, on simple Scriptural lines, was begun in Burnside Cottage, and continued for a number of years. She found a happy and congenial sphere of lowly service, visiting the homes of a number of aged women in the town, and had the joy of leading quite a number of them to the Saviour.
"We were married on 27th June, 1877, by Mr. John Rae, of Sew Deer, later of Estevan, Canada, and our first home was in the village of Dalmellington, in Ayrshire, where, in the early Springtime of that year, the Lord had wrought a gracious work of salvation, and about sixty young believers had been brought out from the world, and into the assembly of believers there. Here also, she found a lowly but very happy sphere of service in visiting the wives of the villagers, who gladly opened their kitchens for cottage meetings, and came to have the Word read and spoken to them, in the afternoons. And there were many tokens of the Lord's handiwork among these simple souls, who were thus brought into the light and liberty of God's salvation. In 1878, there had been a fruitful Gospel work carried on in a tent by Mr. Rice T. Hopkins (who was used in her conversion in Forfar), Mr. Alexander Marshall, and others, and a large number of young believers had been brought into the assembly in Kilmarnock then, as the result. With the desire to help on in the Word these young people, and to have our home in a place of easy access to other parts, we removed our home to Kilmarnock in 1879. Here Mrs. Ritchie had a weekly class for servant maids, factory workers, and others lately converted, held in our home on a week night convenient to them. The Bible Readings she gave at these simple gatherings were greatly prized, and at the desire of those who shared them, were published in a small volume, entitled "Christ, and His People," which many young believers in all parts of the world have read. In those early years of our married life, I was much away from home, while engaged in Gospel work, and the guiding of the house, with the care of the children, fell to her. But she never complained, or even hinted that I should be more at home, for she believed her work was there, and she was happy in it, while always my ready and willing helper, in all my service for the Lord's Name throughout the years.
Strong and healthy, throughout her busy years, she began to show signs of failing health a few years ago. Chiefly for her sake, we removed our home to Troon, which for a time seemed to benefit her. But for the last two years, she was a sufferer, but never despondent, always cheerful and bright, with a word of good cheer for everybody. Heart weakness, hastened the end. And at midnight on Lord's Day, March 9, 1924, she quietly passed into the presence of the Lord, whom she had loved and proved so long and well, after forty-six and a half years of happy companionship and fellowship with me, in the things of God. Our married life was peaceful and happy. We were of one mind in all that pertained to the kingdom of God and to the service of that kingdom, and sought to acknowledge the Lord in all phases of our married life, through all the years of it. Our pilgrim tent is now empty of its choicest Israelite, and of her who, ever was the light and joy of all its inmates. And her absence is the more keenly felt, as the days go by. Her children rise to call her "blessed." And amid our sorrow, we thank God for giving us such a wife and mother.
On March 12, she was laid to rest amid the flowers of early Springtime, in a lovely spot chosen by herself, under the shade of the trees of Fullarton Wood, where in many a quiet evening hour, we had walked together. The simple service at the grave was conducted by Mr. John Gray, of Glasgow—a personal friend of Kilmarnock years. And Mr. James M'Culloch, of Dalmellington, who had welcomed us to our first home, and had been a true personal friend all the years through, was among the company gathered around the grave in which we laid her to rest, until the fair morn of resurrection, when we shall meet her again, in the full image of the Lord.
At Rest with Christ.
"They shall rest from their labours" (Rev. xiv. 13).
THE strong, brave, loving heart, lies still at last,
Its throbbing o'er;
Folded the busy hands: the willing feet
Now serve no more.
The ceaseless round, the daily life of toil,
For ever done;
Ended the conflict, trod the pilgrim path,
The victory won.
Calmly, without a cloud, the sun went down,
Gilding the wave;
And Christ's own Hand was stretched across the Bar,
"Mighty to save."
John Ritchie, Editor of "The Believer's Magazine" April 1924