Nearly a year has elapsed since Murphy’s attempt to lecture at Whitehaven ended with his being pushed down a flight of stairs and beaten and kicked violently by an angry mob. The violence and brutality of the assault has left his body “mangled”.
The past 11 months have been spent preaching at the church he founded in Wrottersly Street (1) and on a return visit to Whitehaven (by invitation) to preach two sermons there on the 3rd of December 1871. Those proved to be his last, however, as he was by then losing his voice altogether.(2)
His general attitude throughout this time is reported to be one of acceptance of his lot reflected by both his choice of texts for the Whitehaven sermons (Acts 4 vs 12) and the reported content of the sermons themselves:
“I am speaking to them as a dying man to dying men and women and if I were to preach to you for years, I could not preach a better sermon than the words of this text.”
“I am prepared, in God’s name, to go on, ready to conquer or to die! Not in the name of man but in the name of God the saviour of my soul, and I pray for strength to bear witness for the truth.”
Even in private he has remained unrepentant.. The occasional outbursts of rage against his assailants being tempered by his praying for them to be forgiven. He has told his friends:
“All things are ordered by the Lord; you would not wish to take me out of his hands would you? I am immortal till my work is done.”
Now, lying on a bed in a friend’s house, he is “possessed of a heavenly countenance” and is still declaring his in the hereafter.
Last night he told one of his friends that he had seen four angels at his bedside, and later that evening, he held his blackening fingernails aloft and said:
“There. That’s the sign I am going home to be with Christ which will be much better.”
A number of favorite hymns were then sung around him and he raised his hands at various points saying :”Dear Lord, remember me.”
Tonight, however, he is getting progressively weaker. He is read the last chapter of Revelations and more prayers are said. Shortly before the very end he turns to his wife with tears in his eyes. he asks to kiss her and tells her that he has nothing to leave her but that the Lord will provide. Then held by two friends and in his wife’s presence, he dies.
(1) His last sermons at Wrottersly were given on July 9th 1871. The morning sermon was based around the text : “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, as much as ye know your labour is not in van in the Lord”. The evening one was based on “Being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
(2) According to the autopsy report, Murphy’s death was largely related to the beatn he had received but it was also noted that his throat was very ulcerated. There were also traces of Tuberculosis in his lungs, and the ulceration appeared to indicate that the impacts on his chest had distributed the infection into his windpipe. From this evidence it seems pretty clear that Murphy had already caught TB and that his beating had only accelerated the spread of the disease.