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NARRATIVE OF LIEUTENANT DANIEL MURRAY, IN A LETTER OF THE LATE FRANCIS S. KEY, ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF
COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. WHEN I arrived at the residence of our late friend, Mr. Daniel Murray, I found him apparently dying. He had arranged all his affairs, talked in the most cheerful, consoling manner to his family and friends, and sent messages of affectionate regard to those who were absent. He received me with great animation, and a smile that showed he was filled with “all joy and peace.” He expressed his thankfulness at my visit, spoke of his many and great comforts, the perfect peace and happiness he felt, and the sure hope which enabled him to welcome death, that he might be with his Saviour. He declared that it was to him alone he looked with this confident hope ; that he was himself unworthy, and trusted entirely to the merits of his Redeemer. Hours were passed in conversations like these.
Though weak, he seemed to gather strength from the exercise of holy thoughts and affections. " Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and passages of Scripture were continually, by his desire, read and repeated to him; and his countenance, lighted up by the emotions they awakened, showed the fulness of joy which his lips laboured to express. He wished all his domestics and labourers and his neighbours, and acquaintances to be present, each of whom was called to receive an affectionate farewell, with kind and solemn words of suitable admonition and encouragement.
These exertions, he said, did not weary or distress him, and he wished, in the short time he had left, to say and do everything in his power that might be useful. At one time he requested, in our prayers with him, that we should use the prayers for the dying, after one of which he told me he had hoped that he should have departed while we were using that prayer. He requested some psalms and hymns to be read to him. These all seemed to give him the greatest delight, but he was particularly excited by the one beginning, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,” etc.
At one time some apparent revival gave hopes of his restoration to others, but not to himself. He spoke of his death as near and certain ; and though willing to submit to a recovery, it was manifest that he neither expected nor desired it. He was right in his opinion—these hopes disappeared. His strength declined very gradually, till these interesting
communications with him could no longer be continued ; but the peace and joy of his soul, when they ceased to be uttered by his lips, were still radiant in his countenance to the last.
A few minutes before he expired he was told his departure was near, and asked if he still felt the hopes and happiness he had expressed. He expressed his assent by a smile and the pressure of his hand; and soon these, and all other indications of life, gently and almost imperceptibly disappeared.
And now permit me to say something of hiin who thus died. Upwards of thirty years ago he made profession of religion. From that time to his death, during a retired and domestic life, he was known as a warm, consistent Christian. | All this you know. But I knew him long before this. At eight or nine years of age, he being a year older, we became intimate, and were brought up together almost in the same family. We continued thus until he entered the navy, I think in the year 1798; and ever since we have been much together, and always on terms of the closest friendship.
From my earliest recollections of him, his character and conduct were so remarkable that he seemed to me without a fault. No temptations ever seemed to surprise him. No allurement or persuasion led him from his course. I remember well how strong his influence was over me, and how it was always used for my good. But I ascribed to natural causes altogether the peculiarity and excellence of his character, and did not see how religion could change him who seemed already as perfect as a human being could be. This was not only my thought; all who knew him well thus estimated him.
I remember being present at a conversation on the subject of religion between the late John Randolph and Commodore Decatur, who had known Mr. Murray while in the navy. The latter was expressing his difficulties about the universal sinfulness of man's nature. It surprised him that the very best people in the world should always speak of themselves as sinners. He mentioned his own mother as an instance; and then, turning to me, said, “ There, too, is our friend Murray, you know what a man he is: who ever saw anything wrong in him? Is it not absurd to think of such a man as a sinner? And yet he accounts himself such." I shall never forget Mr. Randolph's reply to this. He rose from his sofa, walked towards Decatur, stood before him, and in his emphatic manner said to this effect : “ I well know how dark and unintelligible this subject appears to you, and why it is so. But
I trust a time will come when you will know and feel it to be all true, true of all, true of yourself; when you will be selfarraigned and self-condemned ; found guilty of sin, not of the sin of cowardice, falsehood, or any mean and dishonourable act; but at least of this, that you have had conferred upon you great and innumerable favours, and have requited your Benefactor with ingratitude. This will be guilt enough to humble you, and you will feel and own that you are a sinner.”
The difficulties, however, that I had felt from this appreciation of his early character were all cleared up at the deathbed of my friend. On my first seeing him he said, “You witness my most comfortable and happy state. I cannot describe it to you. Now I owe it all to you, though I never told you, and you never knew it.” Shortly after this, when we were alone, he called to me and said, “Now I will tell you what I never told you or any one. When we first met, and you were a little boy, your good mother had taught you a hymn, which you used to repeat aloud every night on getting into bed. That hymn made a remarkable and deep impression on me, which was never effaced. Without your knowing it, I got it | by heart from hearing you repeat it, and from that time to this
I have never gone to my rest at night without repeating to myself that hymn, and praying. This had a most salutary effect upon me all my life. When at sea, I never, under any circumstances, omitted it; and under the influence produced by it, I remember that when I was once for a short time in command of a small brig we had captured from the French in the Mediterranean, one of the first orders I gave, was for the regular meeting of all hands for reading and prayer, which was well received and had a good effect.” He then repeated the hymn to me, and I took a pencil and wrote it down. I had forgotten every word of it.
Here, then, I saw the true source of all that had so charmed and surprised me in his life. What I had attributed to the impulse of a gentle and noble nature, were the “ fruits of the Spirit,” and the excellence that shone forth in his conduct and character was "the beauty of holiness.” This he acknowledged with all thankfulness and with the deepest humility; speaking of it as an infinite and undeserved mercy, which he had not improved as he ought. It now seems strange to me that I had never discovered this, but I was walking in darkness, and therefore perceived not the light by which he was directed.
Surely God has here shown us some of the doings of his
wonder-working hand. A pious mother teaches her child a hymn. It makes no impression upon his heart, and is soon effaced from his memory. But its work is done, and its fruits appear in the heart and life of another.
Shall she complain that the seed has been blown away from the soil over which she so carefully cast it, to take root in another? No. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts," Isa. lv. 9. "Who will say unto him, What doest thou?” That seed, thus blown away, produced its rich fruits, and they were then brought back to the spot which her prayers had desired they should bless. Her wayward child had forgotten her instructions, but they had made for him a friend, whose influence, and counsel, and example, restrained and strengthened him in the dangerous paths of youth, whose life had taught him how to live, and whose death hath now taught him how to die.
Well may he bless God, for this "his servant departed this life in faith and fear ;” and ask “his grace so to follow his good example, that with him he may be a partaker of the heavenly kingdom.”
SUNSHINE AND SHADE,
WILLIAM MOODY.. Joseph. Well, neighbour Blythe, you were going to give me some account of the lively old gentleman, whose piety and cheerfulness pleased you so much. You can sit down on this bench while you tell me all about it. And you, Master Moody, I see you are there. Come and help your neighbour, for you were near the old gentleman when he spoke. But begin, Master Blythe, begin.
Thomas. You must know then, that, at our market town, I was standing near two old gentlemen, who were talking together. One of them said a great deal to the other, in a way that led me to listen. I thought, perhaps I shall pick up something worth carrying home; so I hearkened well to his words. Oh, it was a pleasant thing to hear him talk so cheerfully as he did. If I could but remember half of what he said, it would be a comfort to me. You may, perhaps, think that I had no business to listen, but he was talking no secrets, and spoke up loud and clear. “We ought to be ashamed of ourselves,” says he, “that we are not always rejoicing. Here are we blessed with health of body and peace
of mind. By day the sun shines on us, and by night ten thousand stars light up the skies. We have food and raiment, peaceful sabbaths, and the word of God, the means of grace, and the hope of glory. Why, our heads are anointed with oil, and the cup of our consolation runs over.”
William. You are making out a pretty tale, Master Blythe, but you know that I was close by you all the time, and heard every word that was said. , Thomas. And what does that matter? have I said anything that is not true ?
William. I do not say you have, but you have not told all the truth. You are making it out that the old gentleman looked on the world as all sunshine, but it was no such thing.
Do not you remember, he said that his heart ached to see so much ignorance, so little knowledge of heavenly things, and so great a neglect of the sabbath.
Thomas. Yes! and I remember, too, that he said the prospect before him of Sunday schools, and faithful ministers of the gospel, and religious societies, and missionaries, cheered his very soul. If I make it out that he was all sunshine, you make it out that he was all shade.
William. Why you know as well as I do that he bemoaned the poverty of the poor, and expressed his pity for those who had such hard work to get the bits and drops necessary to support them.
Thomas. I know he did; but then he rejoiced that so many of the poor were, through God's mercy, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. “What is earthly poverty," said he, “if accompanied with heavenly riches? What are a few poor years of trial here below, if they are followed by ages of happiness above? You seem to have been hunting in dark holes, William, after cobwebs and spiders, instead of looking out for sunny spots, and cheerful prospects.
William. Cheerful prospects! You cannot call that very cheerful which he said about sicknesses, and diseases, and accidents, and such like things.
Thomas. Yes, but I can though; for he made it out as clear as the sun in the firmament that these things do far more good than harm to all that love God. “When sorrows are sanctified," said he, “ they bring about more humility, and peace, and comfort, and joy, and thanksgiving, than all our prosperity. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”