Dying Words of Miss Mary Willard


This devoted young lady was the sister of the well-known Frances E. Willard. She left this vale of tears June 8th, 1862. The record of her life is fully given in “Nineteen Beautiful Years.” We copy the following from “Glimpses of Fifty Years,” her sister’s autobiography. -- Editor.


On the last day of her life, she was lying with her head in father’s lap, and she asked to have the Bible read. He said: “Where shall I read?” She told him: “Oh, where it makes Christ seem beautiful!“ He read a psalm. She said: “Please read where it says, Christ was sorry for sick folks. ”Father read about the healing of the daughter of Jairus.” She liked it, but when he had finished, her plaintive voice cried out: “Please read where it says he is sorry now.”


After awhile she added: “We believe that God loves us better than our mothers; yet, mother would have liked me to get well, and God doesn’t seem to care. He doesn’t seem to see fit to make me well - yet He knows what is right.”


In the night she was worse. She wanted everything still; kept moving her hands in a soothing, caressing way, and muttering: “So quiet, so quiet, no noise, so quiet!” At 4 o’clock, on the morning of the 8th of June (Sabbath morning), we became greatly alarmed, and for the first time father and I decided that she could not get well. I went at his suggestion for Mrs. Bannister and Mary. Father said to our Mary, for the first time coming directly to the subject of her danger: “My child, if God should think it best to take you to Himself, should you be afraid to go?”


She looked quickly at him, with rather a pitiful face; she seemed to consider a moment, and then said, in her low, mournful tone: “I thought I should like to get well, for I am young; but if God wants me to go, I shouldn’t be much afraid, but should say: "Take me, God.”


We asked if there was anything we could do for her. “Pray,” she said, “pray thankful prayers.” Mother asked her if she saw Christ, if he was near her. “Yes, I see him,” she said; “but He is not very near; I wish he would come nearer.”



I asked her if we should pray; she said: “Yes;” and I prayed aloud, that Christ would come close to her, that she might see and feel him plainly; that since she had tried to love and obey Him, He would come right to her now in her great need. She clasped her hands together, and said, so joyfully: “He’s come, He’s come! He holds me by the hand. He died for me; He died for all this family-father, mother, Oliver, Frank,” (and Mary Bannister says she added,) “my dear sister.”


“I’ll have Him all to myself," she said; and then seemed to remember and added: “I’ll have Him, and everybody may have him, too-there is enough for everybody. He is talking to me. He says: ‘She tried to be good, but she wandered; but I will save her;’” and added: “I see Him on the cross; He died for the thief; He didn’t die for good people, but for bad people; He died for me.”

I said: “I want to ask you to forgive me for all my unkind actions to you, for everything bad I ever did to you.” She answered very earnestly: “Oh! I do, but you never did anything bad; you were always good.”


Mother asked her if she did not want to leave a message for Oliver. “Don’t you think he will be with us in heaven?” she said; “of course, he is working for God. Tell him to be good, and to make people good;” and when I asked for a message for her Sunday-school class, she said: “Tell them to be good;“ and then added, with great earnestness: “Tell everybody to be good.”


Almost at the last she said, with a bright smile on her face: “Oh! I’m getting more faith!" Mother questioned: "My darling, you will meet us, won’t you, at the Beautiful Gate?” “Oh, yes! And you will all come; and, father, Christ wants you right off!"


She moved her hand convulsively, and said: “I’ve got Christ -- He’s right here! "Then she said to me: “Oh, I’m in great misery; “ and then: “Dear God, take me quick!” She held out her hands and said: “Take me quick, God; take me on this side,” turning toward the right. She lay still, bolstered up by pillows; I asked her if she knew me, and she repeated my name. Father asked her often if Christ was still near her; she would nod, but did not speak.


She seemed troubled; after a few moments, father bent over her, and slowly and with difficulty, she told him of her dread of being buried alive; and he promised her over and over again that she should not be. Then she gave some little directions about preparing her bed, as she said: “For those who lay me out;” showing her perfect consciousness. She never spoke again, but opened her eyes and looked at us with such intentness; the pupils so wide, the iris so blue. I never saw such soul in human eyes before. She groaned a little, then, and for some time, she did not move. Her eyes closed slowly, her face grew white.


Father said: “Lord Jesus, receive her spirit; Lord, we give her back to Thee. She was a precious treasure; we give her back to Thee.” Mrs. Bannister closed Mary’s eyes. Father and mother went into the sitting-room, and cried aloud. I leaned on the railing at the foot of the bed, and looked at my sister -- my sister Mary, and knew that she was dead -- knew that she was alive! Everything was far off; I was benumbed, and am but waking to the tingling agony.


Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893

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