Deathbed Vigil

IN NOVEMBER 1702, Cotton Mather’s first wife, Abigail, lay dying. These excerpts from his chary show the faith of this influential family.

I spent much Time, with my lovely Consort…. I endeavored her most consummate Preparation for the heavenly World, by suitable Questions and Proposals. I comtorted her, with lively Discourses upon the Glory of Heaven… I disposed her, and myself, all that I could, unto a glorious Resignation [acceptance of her death and of God’s will].

Two Hours before my lovely Consort expired I kneeled by her Bed-Side, and I took into my two Hands, a dear Hand, the dearest in the world. With her then in my Hands, I solemnly and sincerely gave her up unto the Lord; and in token of my real RESIGNATION, gently putt her out of my Hands, and laid away a most lovely Hand, resolving that I would never touch it any more!

This was the hardest and perhaps the bravest Action, that ever I did… And tho’ before that, she call’d for me, continually, she after this never asked for me any more.

She continued until near two a clock, in the Afternoon. And the last sensible Word, that she spoke, was to her weeping Father, Heaven, Heaven will make amends for all.

By Cotton Mather

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #41 in 1994]

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