Project Canterbury













Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012

MOTHER! dear mother!—turn your eyes from that pale form, which was just now mine, and which you loved; and still caress so tenderly; and listen for a moment, to the last words I shall be permitted to address to you, before I go hence "to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God."

[4] Mother!—God has called me and must I not obey that loving voice? Oh, if you knew with what surprise and delight it filled me, as I lay in the troubled slumbers of my disease, and how my spirit struggled, when the first tones of his invitation reached me, to hide myself in the bosom of my heavenly Father's pity, you would still shed tears, but they would no longer be tears of sadness; and as they fell upon my mortal body, you would rejoice that I had become immortal, and incorruptible. How gentle was the first approach of [4/5] the messengers that now wait to bear me hence! When I could no longer kneel at your side, and be guided by you in repeating my prayers, angels clasped my hands, as you saw them, in reverence upon my breast;—cherubim prompted my stammering tongue.—When you heard me lisp,—"Father, who art in heaven, bless my father and my mother,"—though I did not lift my eyes to his bright face, yet I felt that I was already kneeling before my Saviour's feet. When I pressed your hand then, it was not in agony, but [5/6] that I might draw you thither too. When I struggled, it was, that "having wings like a dove," I might escape from sorrow and change, and might be free.

And now I go;—whither, my companions have not yet told me: for until I have ceased to rest my spirit upon your panting bosom; until I no longer catch your sighs, which because they are earthly, are sorrowful, I cannot learn "the things which God has prepared for those that love him." But I already feel that my inheritance is bliss. Am not I the adopted child of heaven? [6/7] Was not I "bought with the price?" Are not all the promises of the faithful Jehovah mine? Am not I sealed upon my brow with the sacred emblem of redemption? Did not Christ himself declare, "of such is the kingdom of heaven?" What then shall separate your little * * * , from the perfection of his nature, and from the felicity of angels? Oh, how my spirit pants to reach it! Did you not teach me that there is a vast chamber, somewhere within the blessed dominions of God, into which have entered all the [7/8] holy men of old,—that there are assembled the prophets, who foretold the infant Messiah, the patriarchs who trusted him, the martyrs who bled for him,—that thither Christ went during that dark hour in which his body hung upon the cross, or was laid in the sealed chamber of Joseph,—and that to those expecting generations, in the safekeeping of that deep and secret receptacle, he announced the accomplishment of their redemption? What joy—what boundless hope—must possess that holy assembly! With what [8/9] transport would I mingle with them! Not only the infant Israelites, victims of Pharaoh's cruel decree, with the innocent martyrs to the bloody device of Herod;—not only that countless multitude which, age after age, have passed uncontaminated, from the lap of maternal tenderness, to the bosom of the green earth, may be there, to hail with cherub voices my escape from this world of tears; but my kindred who have gone before me—who loved me for your sake, or who hung upon the same breast and shared the same kiss, [9/10] —they also shall welcome me into that society of holy hope.

Or, it may be that a still nobler destiny awaits me. Called during my little span of days upon the earth to no duties—accountable for no wasted talents—liable to be judged for no works—conscious of no voluntary offence's—and washed in the layer of regeneration—it may be that the last dread tribunal will issue no summons for my already justified spirit. It may be, that from yonder bed, smoothed by your love, and guarded by your watchful care, [10/11] it is the privilege of my infant nature to be wafted upon the wings of cherubim, into the immediate presence of God and the Lamb. May not Christ himself have designed to intimate such a hope? "Their angels," said he, meaning perhaps their disembodied spirits, [* The original word does not appear to warrant this adaptation.] "their, angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." And can this be my destiny! Scarcely acquainted with sorrow, but by the sighs which I have seen you breathe over my [11/12] couch;—to cast off in an hour all that was mortal; to linger out no ages, even of triumphant hope, in the chamber of the dead; but to bow my infant head at once before the Eternal Throne, and in its thrilling chorus of praise, to mingle my happy voice;— "Mother; dear Mother!"—"to me to die is gain." "Let me go, for the day breaketh."

But I would not leave you sorrowing. Is there not mercy—richest compassion and mercy to me—in the decree, although it calls me thus early from your embrace? You remember when [12/13] my father sent out labourers into his vineyard; and his contract was, that not until the evening shades should fall, were they entitled to their wages. But before the sun had risen high in his burning path, calling one of the labourers from the field, he might have said to him;—You were destined to a long day of unrespited toil; you were bound to meet the withering sun, the changing wind, the driving storm, the jealous competition; and at night, wearied and sad, you only hoped to claim with your fellow labourers, an [13/14] equal retribution. But your task I will remit. And ere the sun has dried the dew upon the grass; while yet the fragrant breath of nature is exhaling its morning tribute to the heavens; while no care has clouded the serenity of your mind; and your affections, like the day, retain all their freshness and purity; you shall retire, and in some shady recess, beside still waters, shall repose from the task, whose reward notwithstanding I will freely bestow.—Mother! You would have taught me to esteem this an evidence of my father's [14/15] benignity. And would not a servant thus distinguished, owe to his Lord the most grateful affections? And such has been my lot. The dew was not off my flowery path. No rude sounds have yet alarmed or saddened me. I have not been called to labour, and have scarcely sighed under discipline. Gentleness and tenderness, sports and gladness were mine, through the bright and fresh morning hour of my existence. And now without extorting from me a task—just pressing for a moment to my lip, the cup of [15/16] human infirmity, which it is the destiny of manhood and age to drain, even, to its bitter dregs, my Father in heaven calls me to the rich, blood-bought inheritance of his Eternal Son. Oh, if your faith esteems them "blessed who die in the Lord, because they rest from their labours," how blessed is my transition, from a state which caused no weariness, into the perfection of privileges which shall demand no repose.

And, dear Mother, had it not been so, had the Sovereign Disposer of nature decreed for [16/17] me a lengthened probation—oh, it would sully my new-born bliss now to dwell upon the possible results. Through the mists which cover the various mazes of human condition, I can dimly descry what might have been my allotment. What austerities of climate, what storms upon the ocean, what fields of carnage, what harassing cares, how mournful disappointments, what years of thankless toil, do I not discern, giving to the earth the aspect of a wilderness, dreary and perplexed! I can see the diseases of childhood, or [17/18] disasters proceeding from negligence and violence, torturing some; and early—too early—bondage and labour afflicting others. I can see youthful passions triumphing over the restraints of friendship and education; and the snares of vice successfully spread for the innocent and the unwary. Here, I can see orphans, weeping under the buffetings of a heartless world; and—still more sad—there, I discover parents, who mourn that their offspring had not died in infancy. When I was yet in the body, I dreamt [18/19] that the earth was full of gladness; and that the seasons rolled only to bring us new festivals, or to vary our enjoyments. But now,—there rise to my ear, confused sounds of sorrow and terror, of violence and pain. Mother, "I would not live alway." I could not be guarded always by your watchful eye. I must have strayed, before long, from the paternal home. And whither I might have strayed; how the world might have dealt with me; whether I should have been faithful to your admonitions; and when at length the hour of stern [19/20] agony arrived,—(dear Mother, you might not have been there, with your soothing voice, and sustaining hand,)—whether I should have been found then, a soldier faithful to my trust, or a recreant in the sacred cause of redemption—it belongs only to HIM who traces infallibly secret causes to their effects, justly to determine. That he has not exposed me to this peril, warrants at least the idea that he has foreseen its severity.

My mother! no incident in my brief history has so appealed to you to rejoice with me, as this, [20/21] which is the happy consummation of all. When you heard my first plaintive cries, your friends pressed about you with their glad greetings; and yet, I was then made an heir of sin and sorrow, and destined to the tomb. Reason then, and experience, must have whispered to your heart, "rejoice with trembling."—Had it been rumoured abroad that an affluent friend had made me the child of his adoption, and that all which can dazzle the eye, and swell the bosom of ambition, was engaged to wait upon my future career, with what a cordial [21/22] spirit would the admiring world have approached to congratulate you! And yet, in such an event, the delusions of pride, the debasement of luxurious habits, the selfishness which prosperity engenders, the relaxed morals which so many snares are liable to produce; a heart gorged with the world, its vanities, its pomps, and its passions; a conscience deaf to the pleadings of religion, to the interests of ETERNITY;—these are among the consequences, probably—naturally—without the special grace of God, inevitably—flowing from a state of so much [22/23] peril to the soul. And now, "what has God wrought!"  What is the ultimate object of a christian parent's zeal for his offspring,—What the burden of his prayer, the aim of an elaborate education, the end of his paternal instructions, and self-denials, and watchings, and tears? Is it not that they may reach the home of the ransomed, an immortal crown, the adoption of the sons of God? And ALL THIS IS MINE; without risk, without conflict, without delay—mine everlastingly.—Mother! these to your heart, should be "glad tidings of great joy."

[24] Dear Mother! we shall still be together, beneath the same out-spread wing of a careful Providence. In a holy trust, consign to the Lord's treasure house—the tomb, that defaced casket. HE will bring it again, restored, and with renewed lustre, "in that day when he maketh up his jewels." Not more watchful were those guardian spirits, which minister to the heirs of salvation, in defending the peaceful slumbers of my couch, than they will be in hovering over my bed of dust. And HE whose ministers they are, "never sleepeth." His eye [24/25] is upon every atom that was ever called into existence. To his children he has said, "not a hair of your head shall perish." And Mother, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." "Sorrow not then as those that have no hope." The God of Abraham shall raise your Isaac from the altar, upon which he requires you in faith to lay him. And in that hour, when the murmuring sea, responding through all her [25/26] caverns to the voice of the Archangel, shall give up the dead that were in them; and when the graves, echoing through their secret chambers with the trump of God, shall send forth their myriads, starting into life,—in that hour, at least, if not long before, Mother, I shall again rush to your embrace. And where God is, and where you are, and where we may love each other without fear, in an ecstasy of rejoicing—Mother, that will be heaven. Give me, then, for a little moment to HIM, who yet "giveth you all things richly to enjoy." And as [26/27] you wrap me in the decent vestments of the tomb, reverently and affectionately adore the mysterious purposes of Him "who doeth all things well." Remember—"GOD LOVETH A CHEERFUL GIVER."

*          *            *            *            *

But this scene fades about me. My new companions at a distance, fluttering their snowy wings, chide my delay. What voices of melody fill the air! What an unearthly radiance beams upon my upward path!—Let me rest, once more, my spirit upon your [27/28] bosom. Hark! a voice.—"Here am I."—Mother, dearest Mother,—FOLLOW ME!—Adieu! Adieu!

Project Canterbury