Farewell Address of Mrs. Margaret Campbell,
To her daughters, spoken to them in the immediate prospect of death
[First published December 3, 1827.]
MY DEARLY BELOVED CHILDREN, - It appears to be the will of our Heavenly Father to separate me from you by death. The only desire I have had to live for some time past was for the good of my family. For myself I could expect to enjoy nothing more on this earth than I have already enjoyed, and, therefore, for my own enjoyment, it is much better for me to be taken away than to continue with you. But I am reconciled to leave you, when I consider that if I continued with you I could not preserve you from evil. I might, indeed, advise you and instruct you; but if you hear not Moses and the prophets, Christ and the apostles, neither would you be persuaded by me. And as to natural evils, ‘tis God alone who can defend; you from these. You are all able to read the oracles of God, and these are your wisest and safest instructors in every thing. But I am reconciled to leave you from another consideration. I was left without a mother when I was younger than any of you; and when I reflect how kindly and how mercifully our Heavenly Father has dealt by me; how he watched over my childhood, and guarded my youth, and guided me until now, I am taught to commit you without a fear or an anxiety into his hands. The experience I have had of his abundant goodness towards me emboldens me to commend you to him. But you must remember that you can only enjoy his favor, and I can hope for his blessing upon you, only so far as you believe in, and obey him. I have said you can all read the holy scriptures. This is what I much desired to be able to say of the youngest of you, and it is with great pleasure I repeat it. You can all read that blessed book, from which I have derived more happiness than from any other source under the skies. The happiest circumstance in all my life I consider to be that which gave me a taste for reading and a desire for understanding the New Testament. This I have considered, and do now consider to be one of the greatest blessings which has resulted to me from my acquaintance with your father. Although I have had a religious education from my father, and was early taught the necessity and importance of religion, yet it was not until I became acquainted with the contents of this book, which you have seen me so often read, that I came to understand the character of God, and to enjoy a firm and unbounded confidence in all his promises. And now I tell you, my dear children, that all of your comfort and happiness in this life, and in that to come, must be deduced from an intimate acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ. I have found his character, as delineated by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in their testimonies, exceedingly precious; and the more familiarly I am acquainted with it the more confidence, love, peace, and joy, I have; and the more I desire to be with him. I say to you, then, with all the affection of a mother, and now about to leave you, I entreat you, as you love me, and your own lives, study and meditate upon the words and actions of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember how kindly he has spoken to, and of, little children and that there is no good thing which he will withhold from them who love him and walk uprightly.
With regard to your father, I need only, I trust, tell you that in obeying him, you obey God. For God has commanded you to honor him, and in honoring your father, you honor him that bade you so to do. It is my greatest joy in leaving you, that I leave you under the parental care of one who can instruct you in all the important concerns of life, and who I know will teach you to choose the good part, and to place your affections upon the only object supremely worthy of them. Consider him as your best earthly friend, and next to your Heavenly Father, your wisest and most competent instructor, guardian, and guide. While he is over you, or you under him, never commence, nor undertake, nor prosecute any important object without advising with him. Make him your counsellor, and still remember the first commandment with a promise.
As to your conversation with one another, when it is not upon the ordinary business of life, let it be on subjects of importance, improving to your minds. I beseech you to avoid that light, foolish, and vain conversation about dress, and fashion, so common among females. Neither let the subject of apparel fill your hearts, nor dwell upon your tongues. You have never heard me do so. Let your apparel be sober, clean, and modest; but every thing vain and fantastic avoid. If persons wish to recommend themselves to the vain and the giddy, they will dress and adorn themselves to please such persons; but as I would deplore the idea of your either choosing or approving such companions, I would caution you, and entreat you to avoid the conversation, manners, and apparel, which would attract the attentions of such persons- They are poor companions in sickness and death; they are no help-meets in the toils and sorrows of life, and therefore, we ought not to study to please them in the days of youth and health. I never desired to please such persons; if I had, my lot might have been, and, no doubt, would have been far different. No, my dear children, I chose the course which I now approve, and which, when leaving the world, I recommend to you. And I am sure you can never be more happy in any other course, than I have been in that which I recommend to you. Persons of discernment, men and women of good understanding, and of good education, will approve you; and it is amongst these, in the society of these, with such company, I wish you to live and die. I have often told you and instanced to you, when in health-the vain pursuits, and improfitable vanities of some females who have sent the prime and vigor of their lives in the servile pursuits of fashion, some of them have grown grey in the service, and where and what are they now! Let these be as beacons to you. I, therefore, entreat you neither to think of, nor pursue, nor talk, upon such subjects. Strive only to approve yourselves to God, and to commend yourselves to the discerning, the intelligent, the pious- Seek their society, consult their taste; and endeavor to make yourselves worth of their esteem.
But there is one thing which is necessary to all goodness, which is essential to all virtue, godliness, and happiness; I mean, necessary to the daily and constant exhibition of every Christian accomplishment, and that is, to keep in mind the words that Hagar uttered in her solitude, “Thou God seest me.” You must know and feel, my dear children, that my affection for you, and my desires for your present and future happiness cannot be surpassed by any human being. The God that made me your mother, has, with his own finger, planted this in my breast, and his Holy Spirit has written it upon my heart. Love you I must, feel for you I must, and I once more say to you, Remember these words, and not the words only, but the truth contained in them- “Thou God seest me.” This will be a guard against a thousand follies, and against every temptation.
I must, however, tell you that I have great confidence in the Lord, that you will remember and set upon, and according to the instructions given you. I feel grateful to you for your kind attention to me during my long illness: although it was your duty, still I must thank you for it; and I pray the Lord to bless, and indeed I know that he will bless you for it.
I cannot speak to you much more upon this subject; I have already, and upon various occasions, suggested to you other instructions, which I need not, as, indeed, I cannot, now repeat. As the Savior, when last addressing his disciples, commanded and entreated them to love on another, so I beseech you to love one another. It is scarcely necessary, I hope, to exhort you to this; nevertheless, I will mention it to you, and beg of you, all your lives through, to love one another, and to seek to make one another happy by all the means in your power. But I must have done, and once more commend you to God and to the word of his grace; even to him who is able to edify you, and to give you an inheritance among all that are sanctified. That we may all meet together in the heavenly kingdom is my last prayer for you; and as you desire it, remember the words of him who is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen!
Alexander Campbell, ed. The Christian Baptist.
Seven Volumes in One. 1835. Cincinnati: Central Book, 1880: 400-401
Margaret Brown Campbell (Jan. 29, 1791- Oct. 22, 1827), was the first wife of Alexander Campbell. They were married March 12, 1811.