For the latest news on Judith Sargent Murray, please "Friend" her on Facebook!
This essay appeared in the August 1794 edition of the Massachusetts Magazine
under the name "Constantia." In it, Judith tries to convince a dying friend of God's universal salvation.
The Repository. No. XXIII.
What abundant thanks are due to the Redeemer for the manifestations of his tender love! How doth the assurance that his regards are universal, and his benignity to the creature he hath made, exhaustless and unbounded, smooth the bed of pain, and remove the thorn from the pillow of the dying! How dreadful, to behold a fellow creature standing upon the borders of our world, and shrinking from that leap, which, however, must inevitably, and probably with the coming moment, be taken! Impotent is every effort; no hand can rescue, and unavailing pity can only pour its fruitless lamentations. She is gone; but oh with what reluctance she relinquished life! I beheld the last breath quiver upon her lips, and I saw the agonies of her parting soul. I entered her chamber; I approached her bed; I found that the king of terrors was indeed making swift advances; the cold dews of death diffused itself over the whole expiring frame, and not a vestige of hope remained! She lifted up her languid eyes, examining, alternately, with heart affecting earnestness, the faces which surrounded her. At length, with a voice of inconceivable terror, she exclaimed, Am I dying? am I dying? Oh speak, and ease my bursting heart! She was made to understand that it was conceived she was. Oh then, the rejoined, I cannot die, I have no God, no Christ, no Saviour! Her accents still sound terrific in my ear. I was inexpressibly shocked. For some moments she remained silent, until once more lifting up her dying eyes, she addressed herself to me: What shall I do? I have no Saviour, to whom in this tremendous moment, to make application! I took this reference for permission to speak; it was with difficulty that I refrained. Why, my friend, give place to such shocking apprehensions? Why conceive that you have no Saviour? Tell me, is the arm of the Lord shortened? Is his ear heavy that he cannot hear? And doth not salvation still belong to him? O yes, I know that all power indeed belongeth unto God; but I have no proof of my interest in a Redeemer, no manifestation that I am the purchase of Emmanuel's sufferings! What proof, I returned, do you require? Are you not a sinner? Were you not lost? And is not Jesus Christ the Saviour, the benign, the compassionate Redeemer of sinners? Did he not come to seek that which was lost? And shall he seek in vain? Shall he not find? Is your spirit the breath of God? And will God doom to eternal misery his own breath, especially when it has cost him so many pangs to rescue it from destruction? I am sensible, I added, that you will suspect me entangled, wrapped about in clouds of error. But, my dear friend, in the word of our God there can be no deception: The declarations of Jehovah are surely worthy of all acceptation; and his records proclaim the universality of his love, and his power; the restitution of all things, and the wiping of every tear from off every face.
The surrounding individuals remained silent; they were willing to let the heretic, if in her power, soothe the agonizing mind of her departing friend; nay, their countenances were descriptive of approbation; a gleam of hope seemed also to light up the face of the dying; but it was only the meteor of the moment, her fears returned, and despair enwrapped her soul. -- Yet few persons were more worthy. In life she was useful, benevolent, and amiable. How important is an acquaintance with the great and consolatory truths of our most holy religion!
Penetrated with the goodness of my God, and wrapped in the robe of Emmanuel's righteousness, I prostrate at the feet of the Most High.
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.