Thomas Campbell Obituary of Jane Corneigle Campbell (1835)




Number VI.-----Volume VI.


Bethany, Va. June, 1835.



For the gratification of a numerous family connexion, and of an extensive circle of interested acquaintance, both in this and in the land of our nativity, whom we have not leisure to address particularly--we have consented to publish the following communication relative to the decease of our beloved mother.--EDITOR.

Bethany, Friday, May, 1st, A. D. 1835.      


      Dearly beloved Daughter--It becomes my painful duty to inform you of the decease of your worthy and beloved mother. She departed this life on Tuesday, the 28th ultimo, about 5 o'clock, P. M. aged 71 years and 8 months. She had been confined to her room, though not to her bed, for nearly two weeks. Last Sunday we had a meeting, as usual, in son M'Keever's; and she still felt able to come down stairs, and recline on bed in the adjoining apartment, though not to be present with us. She spent a very restless night--had complained much of a pain and soreness in her stomach and left side, for some two or three weeks previous; but was still able to dress and undress, to lie down and get up, without much or any assistance; till about 10 o'clock next day (Monday) the day prior to her decease; at which time she manifested a slight degree of mental confusion; but by means of a gentle opiate, seemed so far relieved of her pain as to produce a disposition to repose, which she much needed, having slept but little the night preceding. She continued thus to doze and awake, by intervals, without manifesting any disposition to speak, except to ask occasionally for a drink of water. On Tuesday morning, between 5 and 6 o'clock, she seemed to awake as out of a troublesome sleep, and seeing your brother Archibald and myself standing at the bedside, she asked us, with apparent difficulty, what we thought of her case. I said, My dear, you are going to your gracious heavenly Father. She replied, Yes, my keeper--my preserver--I want my keeper--my preserver; meaning, as we understood, her desire to be with him; for she spoke with labor and difficulty. I said, You are going to the blessed Saviour. She reiterated with a look and tone of expressive interest and resignation,--My salvation--my salvation--this great salvation! Thrice, at least, she distinctly uttered these soul-cheering, heart-consoling words. Pausing a little, I said, My love, the Lord Jesus will shortly receive your spirit. These words, with a most expressive look of deep-felt complacency, she attempted to reiterate; but apparently unable to repeat them all distinctly, she dwelt upon the last part of the sentence, which she repeated twice or thrice,--"Receive my spirit--my spirit;--he will receive my spirit." I said, My dear, you can say them in your heart, and the Lord will hear you. He will shortly give you a voice to praise him. Perceiving her unable to reply, we ceased to add. But--O! the meek, composed serenity!--the unanxious submissive resignation! which, she manifested; not only at the trying moment of these communications; but, indeed, all along, from the commencement of her illness, patient, uncomplaining submission, was the constant tenor of her deportment. She had labored, less or more, under the influence of a troublesome phlegmatic cough, from the beginning of winter, but with frequent intervals of relief. Even four weeks before her decease, she appeared for some time to be getting much better; nor, indeed, did we apprehend any thing seriously dangerous in her condition, till part of the last two weeks; nor even at the last, was she unable to assist herself, as far as necessary, but for a part of two days. For the last 24 hours she manifested little or no symptom of pain, but only a laborious breathing, occasioned by a collection of phlegm in the region of the lungs; and, for about fifteen minutes before she expired, she lay as tranquil as if asleep;--her eyes were close shut, without moving hand or foot, without the least struggle, she thus breathed her last.

      But, O my daughter, what a lesson has her decease taught me! I learned more of God, of Christ, and of myself, from the last twenty-four hours of her life, than I think I have done for the last twenty years--yes, in some sort, than I had ever learned in all my past life. I would not, for all the worldly [284] enjoyments of twenty years of the most healthful activity, have been deprived of the benefit of having been present with your dying mother, the last week of her precious life. What an inestimable benefit the Lord conferred upon me, in the days of my thoughtless, inexperienced levity, in putting such a jewel into my bosom. She had been trained up in the fear of the Lord from her early infancy,--the only and tenderly beloved daughter of a pious and early widowed mother, who brought her up with a tender and pious affection, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Sincere, affectionate, unaffected, and benevolent;--and, I may truly add, beneficent to the utmost of her ability, she took more pleasure in giving than in receiving--in serving, than in being served. Hers was truly, and without ostentation, what the ambitious aspiring heathen proudly assumed as a just ground of enrolment among the gods of his country--"Because he had endeavored to imitate them, in having as few wants as possible of his own; and in doing every thing in his power to supply the wants of others." Such, indeed, was her truly noble and independent spirit--her kind and generous disposition. Add to these obvious and predominant features of her character, the depth and sincerity of her conjugal and maternal affection--there could not be a more faithful, dutiful wife--a more tender and affectionate mother. Next to, and under Jesus Christ, I was the object of her constant and supreme attachment. We lived together nearly half a century; and I can truly say, she never once disappointed my confidence, in not carrying into effect, as far as possible, every injunction I laid upon her:--and you well know, my dear daughter, that I frequently placed her in very difficult and trying circumstances--not unfrequently with the sole tuition and management of a large rising family; especially at my coming to this country, when, for two long years and a half, the vast Atlantic was between us--and, that even for the last eight years, she was more than the three-fourths of the time deprived of my company. Yet (though with manifest reluctance) to these burdens and privations, for my sake, for her family's sake, and for the truth's sake, as the case might be, she meekly and resignedly submitted. But her hope and comfort was her keeper, her preserver. And, as having been long accustomed to this blessed hope, it was the first thought--the first word that occurred, upon the annunciation of her approaching dissolution. I shall never forget the meek, child-like, submissive look, with which she uttered these soothing, consoling words--My keeper--my preserver.

      It appears we can never learn any thing but by experience; especially to know God and ourselves. When I said above, that in being present with your pious mother, during the last week of her life, I learned more of God, of Christ, and of myself, than I had ever learned before; I did not mean that I had learned any new attribute divine or human, that I had not learned long ago; but only, that I had learned more affectingly the real import of the divine economy in the constitution and assumption of our nature, with its blissful effects and consequences, than I had ever done before.--I mean especially, the blissful and glorious display of the divine goodness and love; and still more especially of the latter. It had long been, with me, a favorite maxim, that as "God is love," so "all his works are works of love." But at this trying moment with what peculiar force did it appear! The constitution of the human family is a work of purest, reigning love. A thing most evident, not only from our sensitive and intellectual powers of enjoyment, and the means of gratification with which we were, and still are, surrounded; but more especially, and supremely, from the principle of love--the endearments of conjugal affection, in which the human family was constituted; and out of which it was to grow.--

"Hail, wedded love! mysterious law! true source
Of human offspring; sole property in
Paradise--a Paradise of all things
Common, else: in thee the tender charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known."

      In this heaven-born--love-born constitution, and law of our nature, has God laid, not only the strongest natural foundation of love among mankind; but [285] also the strongest bond of grateful love to draw and unite us to himself, for such a gift. This is that anchor of love and gratitude to God for his unspeakable gift of another--better self; for whose sake a man will cheerfully forsake all things, even life itself, as we see from the beginning; for Adam was not deceived, but his wife, being deceived, was the cause of his transgression;--he rather choosing to lose his life than his wife--to die with her--than to live without her.

      The last night I sat with your dear mother, beholding the restless tossings of dissolving nature, and realizing our intimate connexion--the endearing affectionate attachment of her soul to me, what were my feelings towards her, and what the grateful emotions of my heart towards God, the author of this attachment!--and towards our Lord Jesus Christ, by whose expiring agonies I realized her speedy, and ultimate triumphant deliverance from this last enemy, and our happy and eternal re-union in the divine presence. Here again we are presented with a still more transcendant manifestation of the divine love, the exuberant source of this most blissful consolation;--"God manifested in the flesh"--"Immanuel--God with us." Thus identifying himself with us, and redeeming us by his blood. Here is the consummation of his love--"God is love." In this, he has not only made himself forthcoming to us for our relief and personal enjoyment; but also to all his holy rational creatures: having thus taken a visible tangible form, and so made himself really accessible--an object of real personal intercourse; thus fulfilling the ultimate desire of the strongest personal attachment, that love and gratitude can effect; such as we have Job xxiii. 3.--"O that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat!"--and in Canticles viii. 1. "O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother; when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised." Both these ardent aspirations have been long since fully answered. And now he, whose pure abstract essence bears no relation to time nor place, being invested with humanity, is thus made truly accessible to the rapturous adorations and embraces of his saints. *   *   *   *   But alas! my dear, when I saw your affectionate mother draw her last breath, I felt as if my bond of attachment to the world was cut off, having now no longer any interest in it. And when I saw her laid in the grave, O how it reconciled me to that dreary mansion as to a peaceful home--a safe retreat from a busy, bustling, weary world. And now, henceforth realizing her intellectual existence in the unknown regions of the blessed, who, like her, departed this life in the exercise of a divine faith, I feel a drawing, reconciling interest in, and a consequent attachment to, that better country, which I never felt before; something like the sweet endearing thoughts of home. Something, I suppose, like what my beloved felt in relation to this country, during her detention in the land of her nativity after my departure thence, and safe arrival here:--A feeling strong enough to subdue her female timidity to such a degree, as to induce her, after having already suffered an appalling shipwreck, to commit herself, and her dear children, a second time, to the fearful hazards of a tremendous ocean. Such, indeed, are my present feelings towards the strange, unseen country, whither my beloved has gone. I now think of it in relation to her, as the only known object of an entire personal attachment there. When I think of her, I think of it; and of it, because she is there. There still remains, however, one spot upon earth, to which also, for her sake, I feel a strong and distinguishing attachment--the precious spot where her dear remains are deposited. There she lies in vicinity with our beloved Margaret, your brother Alexander's first beloved, in the same blissful hope of a glorious resurrection. And now, dear daughter, what remains for me, thus bereft of my endearing attached companion, from whose loving faithful heart, I am persuaded, I was not absent a single day of our fifty years connexion.--Yes, what now remains for me, without any worldly care, or particular object of worldly attachment,--but, with renewed energy--with redoubled diligence, as the Lord may be graciously pleased to enable, to sound abroad the word of life--the praises of him who has called us out of darkness, into his marvellous light, and has thus blessed us. And at last, if it [286] be the will of God, to have my mortal remains deposited alongside of your beloved mother's.

      O blessed word of life! Who--possessed of human sympathy,--that has tasted of thy sweets, but would wish all to partake of thy blissful consolations; especially in the trying season of unavoidable calamity, seeing "man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards." But, alas for infidelity! that blighting, woful, deadly evil!--which goes to rob us of thy benign, heart-cheering solace. O, my daughter, may it be your happy privilege and mine to live it, to enjoy it; and thus to diffuse among our acquaintance the balmy influence of its soothing, life-giving communications--And at last, filled with its blissful hopes, to depart in the lively exercise of a triumphant faith!

      I remain, my dear daughter, your affectionate father,


[The Millennial Harbinger (June 1835): 284-287.]


      Thomas Campbell's "Obituary" of Jane Corneigle Campbell (with introductory note by Alexander Campbell) was first published in The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 6, No. 6, June 1835. The electronic version of the essay has been produced from the College Press reprint (1976) of The Millennial Harbinger, ed. Alexander Campbell (Bethany, VA: A. Campbell, 1835), pp. 284-287. The first book publication of this letter was in "Some Thoughts Through the Years," in Restoration Readings, ed. Oram Jackson Swinney [Rosemead, CA: Old Paths Book Club,] 1949, pp. 16-22.

      Much of the content of this letter is substantially the same as that contained in Thomas Campbell's letter to his son, Alexander Campbell, written at Bethany, VA, on 29 April 1835.

      Pagination has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. I have let stand variations and inconsistencies in the author's (or editor's) use of italics, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in the essay. Emendations are as follows:

            Printed Text [ Electronic Text
 p. 285:    amongs the gods [ among the gods

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
Derry, PA

Created 10 December 1997.
Updated 9 July 2003.

Thomas Campbell Obituary of Jane Corneigle Campbell (1835)

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