The Dying Jewess
This is a children's story, written in 1833, printed and published by Daniel Cooledge, New York, NY. This small pamphlet was designed to impress upon young people the importance of religion, and the importance of coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, before death came to remove them from the earth.
The story of this young woman is a classic conversion narrative of the nineteenth century, in which a Christian convert details how he or she came to be a Christian. The story involves the daughter of a Jew who, although raised in the doctrines of that religion, came to believe in the saving blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. On her dying bed she made such a confession as to drive her father, a practicing Jew, to a nearby Christian assembly.
This tale was designed to be morally uplifting for antebellum American children. As such it was an opportunity to pass on the truths held dear in the Christian tradition. This includes such elements as life after death, and the agency of the Divine in saving unconverted men and women.
Transcription of Primary Source
THE DYING JEWESS
A few years ago a gentleman in America related the following pleasing facts, which cannot but be interesting to the young.
Travelling lately through the western part of Virginia, I was much interested in hearing an old and highly respectable minister give a short account of a Jew, with whom he had lately become acquainted. He was preaching to a large and attentive audience, when his attention was arrested by seeing a man enter, having every mark and feature of a Jew. He was well dressed, his countenance was noble, and I thought it was evident his heart had lately been the seat of sorrow. He took his seat and was very attentive, while an unconscious tear was often seen to wet his manly cheek. After service, the minister fixed his eyes steadily upon him, and the stranger reciprocated the look. The good minister went up to him: “Sir, am I correct? am I not addressing one of the children of Abraham?” “You are.” “But how is it that I meet a Jew in a Christian assembly?” The substance of his reply was as follows: --He was a respectable man, of a superior education, who had lately come from London; and with his books, his riches, and a lovely daughter of seventeen, had found a charming retreat on the fertile banks of the Ohio. He had buried the companion of his cares before he left Europe, and he now knew no pleasure but the company of his endeared child. She was, indeed, worthy of a parent’s love. She was surrounded by beauty as a mantle; but her cultivated mind, and her amiable disposition, threw around her a charm superior to any one of the tinselled decorations of the body. No pains had been spared on her education. She could read and speak with fluency several languages; and her manner charmed every beholder. No wonder then that a doting father, whose head had now become sprinkled with grey, should place his whole affections on this only child of his love, especially as he knew no source of happiness beyond this world. Being a strict Jew, he educated her in the principles of that religion; and he thought he had presented it with an ornament.
It was not long ago that his daughter was taken sick. The rose faded from her cheek, her eye lost its fire, her strength decayed, and it was soon apparent that the worm of disease was rioting her at the core of her vitals. The father hung over the bed of his daughter with a heart ready to burst with anguish. He often attempted to converse with her, but seldom spoke but by the language of tears. He spared no trouble or expense in procuring medical assistance; but no human skill could extract the arrow of death now fixed in her heart. The father was walking in a small grove near his house, in great distress of mind, when he was sent for by the dying daughter; with a heavy heart he entered the door of the chamber, which he feared would soon be the entrance of death. He was now to take a last farewell of his child, and his religion gave but a feeble hope of meeting her hereafter.
The child grasped the hand of her parent with a death-cold hand: “My father, do you love me?” “My child, you know I love you - that you are more dear to me than the whole world beside?” “But, father, do you LOVE me?” “Why, my child, will you give me pain so exquisite? have I never given you any proofs of my love?” “But, my dearest father, DO you love me?” The father could not answer; the child added, “I know, my dear father, you have ever loved me - you have been the kindest of parents, and I tenderly love you. Will you grant me one request?- O, my father, it is the dying request of you daughter- will you grant it?” “My dearest child, ask what you will, though it take every cent of my property, whatever it may be, it shall be granted. I will grant it.” “My dear father, I beg you never again to speak against JESUS OF NAZARETH!” The father was dumb with astonishment. “I know,” continued the dying girl, “I know but little about this Jesus, for I was never taught. But I know that he is a Saviour, for he has manifested himself to me since I have been sick, even for the salvation of my soul. I believe he will save me. I feel that I am going to him - that I shall ever be with him. And now, my dear father, do not deny me; I beg that you will never again speak against this JESUS OF NAZARETH! I entreat you to obtain a Testament that tells of him, and when I am no more, you may bestow on him that love which was formerly mine!”
The exertion here overcame the weakness of her feeble body. She stopped; and her father’s heart was too full even for tears. He left the room in great distress; and, ere he could summon fortitude to return, the spirit of his accomplished daughter had taken its flight to the Saviour whom she loved, though she had not seen him. The first thing her parent did, after committing to the earth his last earthly joy, was to procure a New Testament. This he read; and he taught by the Holy Spirit, is now numbered among the meek and humble followers of the Lamb!
Humbly, dear Lord, we look to thee
Whose eye can every action see;
Whose ear can every whisper hear,
Th’ Almighty Lord is ever near.
Thou ever watchest all we do,
Thou know’st our thoughts and feelings too;
Thy presence is forever nigh,
Nor can we from thy notice fly.
And dare we sin before the Lord,
Who knows each secret thought and word;
O bid thy fear our hearts control,
And let thy love fill every soul.
Thine ear is open night and day,
And thou wilt pardon when we pray;
Early, dear Saviour, may we know
The pardoning love thou canst bestow.
Exact Title: The Dying Jewess
Probable Date: Between 1833 and 1837
Description: 8 pages, illustrated
Publisher: Daniel Cooledge
Place of Publication: New York
Dimensions: 11 cm.
Catalog Number: American Antiquarian Society CL-Pam D9965 J59 1833