Salvation by Grace Alone

Primitive Monitor-November 1912

LIFE AND EXPERIENCE OF MRS. SARAH HAMILTON ...

Zion's Landmark -- Feb 1916

The following remarkable experience is an authentic narrative beyond a doubt. It has been printed many times, and at different places; and yet few persons have ever perused it, and such as have will be compensated for looking over it again. The rich display of the sovereign grace exhibited in the experience of the subject of narrative will interest every serious reader.—Editor. LIFE AND EXPERIENCE OF MRS. SARAH HAMILTON

     I was born in Frankfort, in Germany, in 1745 in the seventh year of my age my father came to Charleston, in South Carolina. His name was George Beckhouse, by profession a Roman Catholic. He lived at Charleston until I was about sixteen years of age, when I was married to Mr. Alexander Hamilton, an eminent merchant, who in the contest between Britain and America, was shot dead in his own house, which was consumed by fire. In this distressing situation, having no children except an adopted daughter, and contemplating on my mis­fortune, my best friend with all our substance snatched from me, as it were, in an instant, created in me a new and awful sensation, which is beyond my power to relate. I then fled to a rich uncle for an asylum, who treated me with the greatest respect and attention, and welcomed me to his house and servants, with all the accommodations that they could yield or afford. He offered to make me his heir, and directed his servants to treat me with all the kind­ness and respect as though they were really mine. I lived here with the enjoyment of all the comfort this world could afford, but was still disconsolate in consideration of my heavy loss, and dressed myself in mourning, and thus passed through some lone­some days and wearisome nights for a considerable time. At length, being desirous to obtain some re­lief, I went to a theater or play-house, where I saw divers plays acted on the stage, and one in particular exhibited General Washington and Lady Mont­gomery, whose husband was killed in battle in Canada and the agitation that she manifested in the scene brought the death of my husband to my mind with such powerful effects that I nearly fainted. The shortness of life, and certainty of death, the faded nature of all worldly enjoyments were then plain to my view, and my distress was inexpressible. I went home, took my bed with a heavy heart, drowned in melancholy, and with pensive mind and wearied limbs, I fell asleep and dreamed.

[Although some people may make light of all dreams, yet I would beg pardon for inserting this, for it was peculiarly interesting to me, however foolish it may look to others.]

     I thought I was in as beautiful a place as I ever saw; where there were all the most truly delightful and fashionable things in the world; also cards and dice, plays I had been familiar with in my younger days. We drank wine out of golden bowls, and had everything the world deems delightful. I sat at the card-table with an Episcopalian priest, and took a golden bowl, and drank a health to him, and then casting my eyes forward, I beheld a beautiful field adorned with flowers of various kinds and fine colors, and a great company of shining people, dressed in white robes, with white palms in their hands. They all sang with melodious harmony, such singing as I had never heard before. I saw also the angels from heaven joining their songs with them. The melody, union, and harmony of the scene was truly inex­pressible. I then looked on the before-mentioned priest, and he looked black and very disagreeable, and myself likewise. I then said to them, “I must be gone.” As soon as I rose up, I saw a great wall between me and the shining ones, the materials of which seemed to be of metal, stone, and glass. As I looked earnestly, I saw a place where I could get through, only I must take off an extravagant headdress which I had on. I was determined that no ornaments, in the world should hinder me from the enjoyment of so happy a situation as I saw at the other side of the wall, or to deliver me from my disa­greeable company. So I cast my headdress into the fire, and came to the wall; but I discovered a great sea before me, and must of necessity pass through it in order to get to that beautiful field. While I was meditating how I should get through the sea, a negro came and pushed me into it; and it was very boisterous, and the waves were so high that I was soon driven ashore on dry land again. The captain of these shining ones then came to me and said, “Lo, ye see a beautiful place?” I answered, “Yes.” It was as large as this globe, but it was still above this world, and had seats of solid gold all around it. And this beautiful man asked me if I saw the golden seats. I told him I did. He told me I should have one of these seats provided I con­quered my enemies. And I went with the greatest joy expressible, and there opened a bottomless pit immediately before me, and the mouth of the pit reached from wall to wall; and about three stories down there was a beam, and with grief I thought it was impossible for me to get to the palace. As I made a turn to go back the ground gave way from under me, and I fell into the dismal pit, but happened to hit upon this beam, and there I sat three days. Then came another man from these shining ones, and asked me what I was doing there. I told him the pit was deep, and I could not get out, and then he put his hand in his pocket and took out a small ball of thread, and told me to take hold of one end of it. I told him I was afraid the thread would break, and I should be entirely lost; but he told me to take hold, nevertheless, for this was Christ the Rock. I got hold of it with both hands, and to my inexpressible joy, was immediately out of the horrible pit. I then awoke, and behold, it was a dream.

     Alter some months’ meditation on my dream I fell asleep, and dreamed the same dream over again, and also a third time. This brought me to such serious reflections that I hardly dared to sleep at all, yet was at a loss for the interpretation of my dream. I arose very early one morning, and went to my uncle and aunt, and told them that. I saw my uncle and aunt, the priest, and the people, extremely black in a dream, and that I felt very much concerned about it; but not so much as to prevent my going to balls and other public places, where they asked me to tell my dream out of curiosity. I ac­cordingly told it to them frequently; and after a while my troubles entirely left me. But in about a year and nine months, there came a gentleman from Georgia to visit me. He was a very rich man and possessed wealth in abundance. The second time, he visited me he invited my uncle and aunt, and myself to visit him, and see his plantation. Accord­ingly we all went together, and beheld his situation, which was truly elegant. His house was very large, and ornamented inside and out; on the top there was a balcony, and a summer seat therein. As he led me to the summer seat, I thought of my dream. We returned home from our visit well suited with the place. The third time he came to visit me, he brought me just such a headdress as I dreamed about, and it pleased me. We concluded to marry, and appointed a certain time when the nuptial ceremony should be solemnized.

     But about that time there was a people called Baptists in that place, who were ridiculed and all manner of evil spoken against them. I confess that I hated the very sight of them, and had it been in my power, I would have soon banished them out of sight, and the country too. The aforesaid gentle­man took a walk one day, and when he returned he told my uncle that one of his slaves was going to be dipped by a man who looked more like a hangman than a priest. This much displeased me. I im­mediately replied, that I wondered gentlemen of note would suffer such fellows to go about the country cheating poor, ignorant people in such a manner. My uncle said he would go and flog the slave home, and not suffer the dirty wench to be so deluded, were it not that a gentleman had appointed that day to visit him. I told him I would go if he would furnish me with a carriage. Accordingly I went. I no sooner came to the place than I saw the minister, and knew immediately, although I had never seen him before, that it was the same man I saw in my dream that handed me the ball of thread and helped me out of the pit. The sight of this man so affected my mind that I was as one thunderstruck. He was the very one whom I saw among the shining throng of happy people, and I among the cursed black crew. I then thought I was cursed in every deed, which flung me immediately almost into despair, and in the greatest agony, I fell to the earth. Viewing myself undone forever, and eternally lost, I was in the most deplorable situation conceivable, and despaired of ever going from that place. I thought that the earth was just about to swallow me up alive into everlasting destruction, both soul and body, and really expected to fall straightway into the bottomless pit, where there was no recovery. My distress was so great that people discovered it, and sought means to recover me, but in vain, for my distress was of such a nature that medical assistance was entirely baffled: I fainted and fell to the ground. They lifted me into the coach again, and carried me home to my uncle’s house. A great company of people followed me. This situation of mine greatly exasperated the minds of the people. Some swore they would kill the minister, because they supposed he had bewitched me, and my uncle immediately sent for the Romish priest to dispel the witchcraft from me; but his presence was very disagreeable to me. I told him to be gone, for we were all going to hell together.

     Another minister then came to me, but I could not bear the sight of him neither, for it appeared to me he had helped me to commit the unpardonable sin. I told him to be gone quick, and that he was a wicked wretch, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing; that he would neither go to heaven himself nor let others, and as he was turning to go from me, my aunt told him not to mind what I said, for I was crazy. Then the minister began to weep to see me in such a condition, and advised my uncle to send for the Baptist minister to see if he could take the witchcraft from me. He accordingly sent for him seventy-five miles. The minister willingly came—they set victuals and drink on the table for him, but dared not let even a servant go into the room where he was, lest he should bewitch them also. At length he came to speak with me, and ask me how I was. I told him. I was a poor, miserable, lost creature. He told me if I was lost, I was one of those very persons whom Christ died for, and came to seek and to save. I told him that was impossible, for I had committed the unpardonable sin. He said he thought it was my mistake, for I did not know enough. After he had talked some time, he put his hand into his pocket, and took out the New Testament—the first I ever saw. He read the third chapter of Mark, and gave his mind concerning the unpardonable sin. He told me he was going to visit a gospel sinner, whose case he thought was much worse than mine, which frightened me very much indeed; for I thought be did not understand my case at all. He said God willing, he would see me again tomorrow. I said, “Pray, sir, don’t forget me!” and when he saw me so afflicted, he said, “Shall I pray for you before I go?” I answered, “Yes.” “What shall I pray for?” he asked. I told him to pray that the Lord might have mercy on me. With these words be seemed af­fected, which gave me to understand that he thought there was no mercy for me. But he knelt down and prayed. I knelt also, and when he spoke of the spotless purity of God, before whom sinless angels veiled their faces, crying, “Holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,” and that the holiness and purity of God filled immensity, I thought it was impossible that I could have mercy. And when he had finished his prayer he went away. After he was gone, I remembered that the man of God told me that Christ came to save even the worst of sinners, and I thought that I could not be worse than the vilest. I then considered that the spotless angels, of whom he spoke, rejoiced over one sinner that re­penteth, though ever so vile. I then imagined my­self in a great kings house who had an only son, and one of the kings servants committed a crime worthy of death, and the executioner was about to strike the fatal blow, when the king’s son came forward and offered to die that the servant might live, which he did, and set the servant at liberty, which circum­stance most readily applied to my case, I thought I was the very servant. Surprising astonishment filled my soul. I beheld the Son of God expiring in agonies unknown, to gratify the malicious rage of wicked men. I thought he died to save my life, and rose again for my justification. I also viewed him as having died for all, but was at first at a loss to see how he could die for so many. But when I saw and considered that the natural sun could shine on thousands, and each person have as great a share of the sun as though he were alone, I by this similitude understood the mystery, that, although Christ died for many, yet each one had a whole Savior. I then saw that God could be just, and justify him that believeth in Jesus, even such a wretch as I was. In this view no tongue can tell the ecstasy of joy that I was the subject of. My distress left me, and I could give glory to God with all my heart. I longed to praise him with every breath. My prayer was, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Lord, speak, for thy servant heareth.”
     Upon my uncle and aunt hearing this of me, they came to the door. I said to them, “Dear uncle and aunt, I shall not go to hell, for Christ died for me, and I have got a whole Savior. My uncle then shut the door, but my aunt burst into tears on hearing me talk on this subject. It then came into my mind that Christ was baptized of John in Jordan, and I must follow the example, and convince the world that I was not ashamed to own my Savior before men. The next day the minister came, as he told me, with the man whom he went to visit, and I told them that I had found comfort, that Jesus had ap­peared for my relief, and that I was now willing to take him for my prophet, priest, and king; that I felt determined to obey him in all things; that I thought his laws and commands were perfectly just and de­lightful to every obedient soul. This declaration from me came so unexpected to the minister that he was overjoyed, and told the other man that yester­day was the first time that ever I heard anything read from the Bible, “And now she is able to teach me,” he said. “Glory to God in the highest, for he teaches as never man taught; neither is heavenly in­struction dependent on human education.” I then asked if he was willing to baptize me. He told me he was glad of the opportunity if I desired it. I told him I longed to follow my Lord and Master down to the banks of Jordan, and that he would have to send for me, for I could not go to the place myself. He told me he would, and accordingly sent for me the next Lord’s Day morning. When I came down to the waterside I related the dealings of God with me, which account proved instrumental in God’s hands of awakening of fifteen souls. [Not to give eternal life-—ED.]

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