The “Last Words” of Benjamin Mosby Smith to His Wife

In July, 1871, Benjamin Mosby Smith, an 19th century Southern Presbyterian pastor and seminary professor at Union Theological Seminary (he was a brother in law of Robert Lewis Dabney), became sick and thought he was going to die. He thus wrote this “Memorandum for My Dear Wife” (fortunately, he recovered from his illness and lived till 1893):

I am now sixty. My health is not good. I cannot expect in the course of nature to last long. I wish to put on record for you a few things.

1 – I desire you to submit with Christian temper to God’s ordering if I am taken from you. Remember your blessings. Be thankful for all of them connected with our union. Do not mourn over those things which have given us trouble. Thank God He has by His restraining grace withheld from us more sorrow than has befallen us.

2 – I do not derive any comfort in view of death, from looking at myself or the recollection of any thing in my heretofore. In a far more literal sense than many use the phrase, “I am a sinner.” My only proper epitaph is “A Sinner.” If of God’s mercy may be added, “saved by Grace,” it will be a most remarkable trophy of that Grace. I have been a communicant in the church for forty years and “My leanness, my leanness!” has ever been my lament.
While there is nothing in myself to encourage me, I can truly say I have for several years felt more and more my need of a Savior – a complete, sole Savior and I can and do now and then, find comfort in a simple resting on an all sufficient sacrifice, an all teaching Prophet, and an all interceding and ever prevalent mediator and an almighty King. This is all my Hope. I say not there is comfort in the past nor do I rest on my resolutions or endeavors for the future but my sole rest is in Christ’s finished work and in His daily hourly supply of grace. I have no raptures nor deep mournings or repentings on which to rest and would not rest on them if I had. Christ is all. If He rejects, I am rejected – if He accepts all is well. His infinite love encourages my trust while my infinite demerit discourages me and I fall back on a simple implicit unqualified trust. In that I daily seek to live and trust to die…

       “The meek will He guide in the judgment, the meek will He teach His way.” “Trust in the Lord and do good.” “Blessed are all they who put their trust in the King in Zion.” May the God of the widow and the fatherless be the God of those I love, for whom I have labored and to whom my heart will ever turn with ineffable fondness…


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