OBITUARY OF MR CHARLES NORTON, OF CAULDWELL
On Wednesday Aug. 6, 1800, Mr Charles Norton, minister of the General Baptist Church at Cauldwell, in the County of Derby, departed this life, after a long and painful affliction, which he bore with great christian patience and resignation. He has left a wife and six small children to deplore his loss; as well as an affectionate people, who were strongly attached to him in the sacred bonds of christian fellowship. A sermon was preached at his interment, Aug the 9th, by Mr Deacon, of Barton, from Heb. vi. 12, "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience, inherit the promises."
At about seventeen years of age he gave proof of conversion, and joined the church soon after. At about twenty-five he was called to preach, which was just on the death of our late minister, Mr Joseph Burditt. At about twenty-eight he was ordained over us as pastor, Sept 16, 1788, and continued in that office near twelve years. In a little time after his ordination, his sight began to fail, and in about four years he was quite dark. He was also much afflicted with violent pains in his head, which attended him almost continuously until his death, though not always to the same degree. He was sorely afflicted the last three months, excepting a few days about two months ago, when he preached his last sermon from Titus ii 13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ". Soon after he was taken very ill indeed, and continued so till the day above mentioned, when he fell asleep in the arms of his beloved Saviour.
It was happy for him, yea, it was happy for us, that he remembered his Creator in the days of his youth. It gave him the opportunity to be well established in the truth, before his afflictions and darkness came on; whereby he was much better prepared to receive and to bear them. It also fitted him for the important work of the ministry, in a high degree. For though he was deprived of the common means of improvement, yet he was so seasoned with grace, that his discourses and conversation were very experimental, spiritual and edifying.
He was favoured with a happy temper, which being much improved by the grace of God, rendered him truly exemplary. Few men, perhaps few ministers, manifested so much of the lamb-like spirit of the Redeemer. He was truly a pattern of piety, patience and humility, both in health and in sickness. In all his afflictions, which were very great, complicated, and of long continuance, he was never heard to speak one murmuring word. He would say, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. He is so gracious, I dare not complain. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and staff they comfort me. I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness. I shall see Jesus as he is, soon; where there will be no clouds, nor darkness, nor pain, nor feeble body; where every note will be in the highest key, praising the lamb that was slain, and has redeemed us to God by his blood."
"See Salem's golden spires,
In beauteous prospect rise;
And brighter crowns than mortals wear,
Which sparkle through the skies."
He was very partial to the Barton Hymns, and would often repeat one passage or other out of them; particularly the following lines.
"Though justice frowning stood,
With his tremendous look;
And thund'red like a god,
At ev'ry word he spoke:
I'd look to Christ in all my need;
Jesus I know my cause can plead.
Jesus my precious friend,
Has shed his precious blood;
By precious faith I stand,
And see my precious God;
Who says I'm precious in his sight,
Which gives my precious soul delight.
Jesus, my soul's desire,
Whom now by faith I see;
May I each day acquire,
Sublimer views of thee;
Till I arise to realms of bliss,
And see my Saviour as he is"
The day before his death, he was taken very ill; and had several violent fits of pain. One in particular, about six in the evening. When he was recovered, he said, "I have been thinking of the words of the poet:-
"We are the poor, the blind, the lame
And help was far, and death was nigh;
But at the gospel call we came,
And every want receiv'd supply."
He paused and said, "My dear friends, dying is the best of it". - Early, the next morning he was seized with another fit, and - sweetly fell asleep in Jesus.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints". Ps cxvi. 15
W.B. & J.N.
"The General Baptist Magazine"
Vol III - 1800
Pages 380 - 382