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Ambrose Dudley's Impression on a Young Girl at a Funeral
      The first serious impressions made on my mind that I have any recollections of were produced by hearing old Father Ambrose Dudley preach the funeral sermon of Aunt Sally, Uncle James Clarkson's first wife, and upon examining the date of her death, I find that I was then in my eighth year [ca. 1816]. This sermon must have made a deep impression on my young mind, for though so many years have elapsed, I have a perfect recollection of his appearance, the solemnity of his manner, the place where he stood in my Grandfather's house. It seems I can almost hear the sound of his pleasant voice this quiet morning, as he repeated his text, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." I remember he exalted the character of God, and one expression of his I shall not forget until memory becomes extinct. It was this, "Oh, Eternity, Eternity, awful, solemn thought! If a little bird was to come once a year and take one grain of sand away until every grain on earth was gone, eternity would be just begun." So great was the awe inspired in my mind by those solemn words that I trembled from head to foot. Nor was the impression lost for years, but often when I would find myself alone, if that solemn word, eternity, came into my mind, I would immediately run to find company. From that time I was subject to deeply serious impressions, particularly if I heard of the death of anyone near my own age.

[From the Diary of Mary Beckley Bristow - 1857, on the internet via Neil Allen Bristow @ Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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