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The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England$
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Sarah Rivett

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807835241

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838709_Rivett

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Deathbeds: Tokenography and the Science of Dying Well

Deathbeds: Tokenography and the Science of Dying Well

(p.173) 4 Deathbeds: Tokenography and the Science of Dying Well
The Science of the Soul in Colonial New England

Sarah Rivett

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter presents deathbed testimonies containing evidence of faith. Ministers and laypeople tried to capture the essence of divine revelation in the moment before death, especially those of women, of divine transition from death to life, from the visible to the invisible world, from the dark glass of limited perception to unfiltered revelation—and the promise of redemption that it held for the “meanest and lowest earthen vessels.” During this time, Richard Saunders's View of the Soul and Thomas Willis's Two Discourses concerning the Soul unearth the observational capacities needed to watch the actions of the spirit recorded in the dying person's optic nerve.

Keywords:   deathbed confessions, divine grace, ministers, laypeople, Richard Saunders, Thomas Willis

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