After an illness extending through four years, departed this life on the morning of November 29th, 1869. Our deceased friend and fellow-laborer was born of Christian parents in Fulton county, Pa., Feb. 15, 1833.
He received an academic education at Cassville Seminary. In his eighteenth year he was converted to God--the Lord appearing to him as the artist represents Him appearing to Bunyan's Pilgrim--in a stream of light from the Cross. Having been reared in the lap of Methodism, he promptly united with the church, and immediately commenced work for the Master. He was licensed to exhort, June 13th, 1853, and received license to preach, August 6th, 1855.
In the summer of 1856 he was called to fill a vacancy on the York Springs circuit, and at the ensuing session of the Baltimore Annual Conference was received on trial in that body, with which he remained connected till its division, when he became identified with the East Baltimore Conference, and so remained till the formation of the Central Penna. Conference.
The charges filled by him during his ministry and connection with the Conference were, successively, as follows: 1857, York Springs circuit; '58, New Bloomfield circuit; '59, Newport circuit; '60, Shippensburg circuit; '61, Mount Holly Springs; '62, Mount Vernon Station; '63, East Baltimore Station; '64 and '65, Hanover Station.
It was at this latter place, while engaged in superintending the building of a new church edifice--to which he devoted himself with marked assiduity--that he contracted or developed the dreaded disease which, shortly after the completion of the church and its dedication to the worship of Almighty God, compelled him to resign his charge. From this period the health of our beloved brother gradually declined, until the early morn of Nov. 29, when, in response to the call of God, his generous, noble and pure spirit took its triumphant flight to the realms of endless day. His crown is not a starless one. His various fields of toil will contribute numerous gems to deck his diadem of glory.
During his long and at times painful illness, there was no repining, no murmur escaped his lips. Patient, cheerful submission to the divine will characterized him at all times. He was accustomed to say, "I am in God's hands,"--"Not my will, but thine, be done."
Our sainted brother was modest and unassuming, and only those who enjoyed an intimate acquaintance with him could know how true a man and how excellent a Christian he was. All who knew him loved him, but those who knew him best loved him most. He was truly a good man--a man of deep and earnest piety. His religion was not an impulse from without, but an inspiration from within--an all-pervading life and power, beautifully uniform and consistent.
In a letter to a cherished friend, written about two months before his decease, he referred to his religious experience during the past year as one of "uninterrupted peace--no doubt arising to hide or even obscure the light of God's countenance."
These references to his spiritual condition for a twelvemonth, were introductory to a detailed account of a more recent and more gracious experience--that of perfect love--which he obtained, just previous to writing this letter, in the following manner. He speaks of approaching God in prayer. After confessing, in language simple and earnest, his past errors and limited attainments, he fervently prayed for those rich and satisfying blessings promised in God's precious Word to all who ask in faith.
He adds: "As I asked, my Saviour sweetly responded. These responses tallied with each successive petition. What an unspeakable blessing welled up in my soul! My heart was filled with love divine!" As he continued to pray his blessing was greatly enlarged. He describes it thus: "At His feet I lay, under an inexpressibly holy influence. Pressed down by such an exceeding weight of love, I dared not look up. I was simply filled with that peace and joy which the heart possesses when freed from every vestige of doubt, resting upon the naked promises of God. Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost!"
He continued in this blissful experience till summoned from the church militant to the church triumphant. A few days before his death, when asked by his brother what his prospects were, he responded: "For a long time there has not been a cloud to dim my sky," and added: "If it be the will of the Lord, I desire to go soon." When asked what intelligence he should bear to his brethren of the Conference, he answered: "Tell the brethren of the Conference that I have gone to Jesus, where sweet will be my rest." Just before he died, when asked how he felt, "Very weak," he said, "but, best of all, the Lord is with me."
Thus lived and died Isaac Collins Stevens. As a man, he was dignified and gentlemanly; as a friend, sweet-spirited and confiding; as a son, dutiful and loving; as a brother, affectionate and devoted; as a Pastor, attentive and sympathetic; as a Minister, faithful and successful; as a Christian, peculiarly ripe in all the graces of the Spirit.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them."
[From the 2nd? Annual Minutes of the Central Pennsylvania Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church (1870), Pages 61-62]