Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820
The Repository. No. XV.
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This essay appeared in the December 1793 edition of the Massachusetts Magazine under the name "Constantia." It examines the freedom of living things and immortality.

The Repository. No. XV.
WHEN the storms of adversity arise, and we are borne down by the torrent, with a kind of melancholy resignation we yield to necessity -- hope we relinquish -- and we are ready to say, that it shall never again reanimate our bosoms -- but some flattering prospect dawns -- our hearts beat high with expectation, and once more we assay the various scenes. So have I seen some pretty feathered prisoner -- he is detained a captive within the narrow limits of a wired cage -- what a contrast to that space which he was born to inhabit, and which with eagerness he struggles to regain! See with what rapid speed he flies to every opening -- but hope is still delusive: -- O'ercome by toil he is at length reclined -- and he seems insensible to pain or to pleasure. A steady kind of despair hath enwrapped his faculties -- every sweet note is suspended -- and he is resolved to brave, as it should seem, with an equal disposition, the horrors of his fate -- indifference uninterruptedly presides, and even the wish for his native skies is apparently dormant. But let your avenue be made a little wider -- break down that enclosure. -- It is done -- Now mark the little sufferer -- instantly he quits his melancholy corner -- hope again beams radiant -- he skips with ecstacy to the spot; he looks -- then doubts -- a second look, lest he should be deceived -- he'll wait no longer -- he is gone! Once more, he becomes a tenant of yon azure sky -- again he expands his wings, and prepares to encounter each vicissitude.

God was proclaimed the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- Yet, God is not the God of the dead -- but the God of the living. At the burning bush this proclamation was issued -- those venerable patriarchs had then, all of them, long before, slept in their dust: Hence, we may not infer thus much, as the promise of bruising upon the serpent's head immediately succeeded Adam's transgression, our nature is not, strictly speaking, subject to death. We only pass from one mode of existence to another. Observe the bush -- it burns, but it is not consumed. We are dying -- yet we are immortal -- and though sin pervades, we are not destroyed -- Why? -- because the omnipotent arm of the Lord is strong.



2007 © Bonnie Hurd Smith

Independent scholar and author Bonnie Hurd Smith is the president and CEO of History Smiths, a marketing company that works with businesses to incorporate history -- their own and their community's -- into their branding, marketing, and community outreach to attract customers, boost customer loyalty, and secure a high status reputation in the communities they serve.