Jack Forbes - Third Speaker at Funeral Service for Willie Gill - West Hanney, England - Tuesday, June 5, 1951

It is not often one is called upon to take part in a service like this, although the passing of workers gets more frequent as the years go by and no doubt will in the coming years. Some of us here some years ago had the privilege of attending the funeral of Jennie Gill, several of us also attended that of Emma Gill, and I do not think any funeral we have attended has ever meant so much to us as this funeral today,

 

It won't be necessary for me to add anything much to what has been said, but I always feel that a service like this is largely conducted by the testimony of the one who has departed. We cannot add anything to it or take anything from it because it was very effective in his day, as those words that we have often heard, "He being dead yet speaketh", and his voice is the loudest in this meeting this afternoon. 

 

A number of us who are present here have often heard Willie speak and give his testimony, and the other day when I heard of his death or rather since then, that verse our brother spoke of has been on my mind continually, where Paul in writing to Timothy, referred to his departure, which was nigh at hand, and how he was then to be offered up and he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, and henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness that fadeth not away.”

 

It seems too wonderful, really, to read the words of such a faithful servant of God and it should apply so truthfully and so fittingly to our brother who has now departed from us. We refer to him an our brother, but to many of us he was a father, and I must say this, I count it a great privilege that for over forty years it has been my lot to be associated with him - many of us also in the preaching of the Gospel, I must say that I value very highly his sacrifice - that life of self denial, and the Godly counsel and the example he was to us as a servant of God.  I do not think those words have ever been brought home to me with such force as they have these days, "I have fought a good fight."

 

When we think of what our brother referred to those days in Rathmolyon and as we often heard him speak of that battle - the battle when he first heard the Gospel, turning from all this world offers. Practically all of you have heard him speak of that, but there are a few of us that come from that neighbourhood and country and have a more intimate knowledge of what that meant for him. Not only that, but you have heard him speak of those days when he attended that convention and got so very little from it, but in his bedroom when he thought of Elisha taking those oxen and sacri­ficing them, and he asked himself the question would he be willing to do that. I often marvel when I think of his sacrifice in turning away from every earthly prospect, when the future was assured, and starting forth to give his life for others. That day, he fought a good fight. It is often said, "A battle well begun is half won," but there are not so many of you standing here that know the struggle, the conflict, and the strivings that it has meant for him to keep up that fight to keep his life on the altar. I can look back on some days when in the agony of his soul, he strove to preserve that sacrifice on God’s altar, and even his tears.

 

We do not speak this to merely eulogize the dead, we think of it and speak of it as a great victory the grace of God and power of God in our day that has enabled him and others to sacrifice, and those words Paul used long ago are so fitting here today. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course." I think I am expressing the feelings of my fellow labourers that are present here, as well as those that are not pre­sent, when I say we feel deeply grateful for the testimony of our brother, or should say our father, in that he began, continued and finished and left us, as it were, an in­spiration to follow in his footsteps. "I have kept the faith, I have fought a good fight, and henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of life that fadeth not away." One can­not help but think of how different the scene would be had our brother continued to live for this world and had never forsaken his home, his kindred, and everything, to devote his life for the extension of the kingdom of God. How different it would have been but what­ever it might have been it would have faded away, but today he has a crown of righteous­ness that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven, and not only for him but for all that live righteously.

 

I do not want to prolong this service, but would like to say that in all my associations with our brother during the past 44 years there is not another person on this earth whom I would prefer if I could choose to live those years over again - there is not another person I have met on this earth that I would prefer to work and to cooperate with, and it has meant more to me, and I realise the debt of gratitude I owe today.

 

If you will pardon me prolonging this for just a moment or two, there is a portion of that 25th Matthew that to me this service would be incomplete if we did not refer to it. In that 25th chapter it says, "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founda­tion of the world; for I was hungered and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink, I was a stranger and ye took Me in, naked and ye clothed Me; I was sick and ye visited Me; I was in prison and ye came unto Me.' Then shall the righteous answer Him saying, 'Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered and fed Thee? Or thirsty and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger and took Thee in? Or naked and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick or in prison and came unto Thee?' And the King shall answer and say unto them, 'Verily I say unto you inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My ­brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'"

 

We were hearing only yesterday that it is 47 years since Willie entered this village homeless and poor, as a messenger of the Gospel, and I think it is only fitting for us that we feel deeply grateful today for those that have ministered to his needs all those years. Whilst we rejoice in the fact that we live in days when God has been able to raise up such men and days when there have been those like our brother, that have sacrificed everything, we also rejoice and are glad that there are those who gladly opened their homes and ministered to the needs of those that give their lives, and I think that is what makes up the Gospel, the homeless preacher, and those that with homes and substance minister, and their reward is sure.

 

One feels grateful to be here today and it seems necessary for us to gather on occasions like this to remind us of the reality of eternity. I think it was at the last meeting here at Christmas time I heard of our brother speaking those words of “binding the sacrifice with cords to the altar,” and I hope that today it will mean that for us that the life and testimony of our brother will speak and cause us to bind more closely our sacrifice on God’s altar.