The Life and Writings of Mrs. Harriet Newell
Originally published by the American Sunday School Union
Reprinted and Republished by:
Sowers Seed Reprints
Birth and parentage of Mrs. Newell - Her attendance upon Bradford Academy - Conversion - Extracts from her letters and journal - Death of her father - Public profession of religion.
The highest excellence, exhibited in the life of a female, usually receives, after her death, not her tribute than the remembrance and the tears of the grateful circle, which she adorned and blessed. The poor may mourn their benefactor, relatives their affectionate mother, wife, or sister; and companions their counsellor, helper, and friend: but no memorial, except perhaps upon her tomb, publishes to others the virtues which made her thus beloved and thus lamented.
But Providence has called some females to more public duties, and connected their names with events of general interest. The history of the hearts and lives of such, is the just property of all. And when an offering of precious value, and of rich perfume, has been publicly poured upon the Saviour's fee, - "wheresoever this gospel shall be preached, there shall also this that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."
HARRIETT ATWOOD, afterwards MRS. NEWELL, was born at Haverhill, Massachusetts, October 10, 1793. her father, Mr. Moses Atwood, was a merchant, extensively and honourably known by his enterprize, benevolence, and inflexible integrity. Her mother still survives to forbid our praises.
Under the nurture of such parents, and in the society of beloved brothers and sisters, her childhood was happy. She was naturally cheerful in her disposition, and ardent in her feelings. In her first, as in her later years, she was always a warm and faithful friend; an affectionate sister, and a grateful and obedient daughter. She early manifested that love of books and of her pen, and that thirst for mental improvement, so conspicuous through her following life; as a proof of which, it may be mentioned that, when only about eleven years of age, she kept a regular diary, in which she wrote the events of the passing day, with frequent moral reflections, suggested by the incidents she recorded. About this time her heart was evidently visited with the strivings of God's spirit; and it is known, from the recollection of her friends, as well as from her own subsequent testimony, that for a season, she daily attended to secret prayer, and to the study of the scriptures. These employments, however soon became irksome; and although she cheerfully complied with all the regulations of her father's household, in attendance upon the public ordinances of the gospel-in outward observance of the holy rest of the Sabbath, from its earliest dawn, until its closing hours assembled the family for religious instruction,-and in all external propriety of behaviour,-she ceased to seek for a saving knowledge of Christ as for "a pearl of great price."
In the summer of the year 1806, she attended Bradford Academy, an institution distant about half a mile from Haverhill, which has done much to improve and extend female education, and has been often and remarkably blessed by the spirit of God. Her instructor was the Rev. Mr. Burnham, whom she always afterwards regarded with peculiar gratitude, as one whose counsel had been greatly blessed to her good. Among her companions were many of the friends of her subsequent life; and one of them, Miss Hasseltine, (afterwards Mrs. Judson) was an associate in her last great enterprise.
It was now, when numerous pupils were assembled from various parts of the country, that at the attention of many was mercifully excited to the subject of religion; and they sought, with earnestness, the salvation of their souls. It is true there were many who could not be persuaded to pause in their ceaseless pursuit of pleasure; but the number of those whose hearts were affected was so great, as to spread over the institution a character of deep and solemn feeling, which was evident to the most careless observer. Few persons who visited the seminary during the summer, have forgotten the interesting scenes they witnessed at this favoured spot, when the attention of one and another of the pupils was called, for the first time, to consider the claims of their God and Saviour upon their youthful hearts.
The academy stands on the declivity of a hill, which slopes gradually to the Merrimack river, whose beautiful waters flow along at the distance of a few hundred yards. A narrow lane, shaded by fruit trees, leads from the street to the river bank. Here might be seen at the period of which we are speaking, little groups of scholars, generally of two or three, walking arm in arm, or sitting on the grass, against the stone walls, or more apart under the shade of an umbrella, earnestly communing together upon the means of securing their eternal welfare.
Harriet did not long remain an unaffected spectator of what was thus passing around her, but became deeply anxious concerning her own state. To her sister, who expressed her sorrow at seeing her so much distressed, she replied, "I only wish that I were more so." In another part of this volume, will be found her own narrative of this interesting period. After walking long in darkness, she at length saw and rejoiced in the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God." At that happy season, she said to an acquaintance, "I have found Christ. I felt assured that, if I sought him with my whole heart I should find him; and I have found him." Five years afterwards, referring to this period, she wrote thus:-"There was an hour, when the light of divine truth irradiated my benighted soul; when I could 'rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation';-I could willingly then, renounce the world; for it had lost its power to charm. How sweet was the idea of suffering for Jesus. How sweet to take a decided part in his cause."
Thus happy in the hope of having obtained forgiveness, she became earnestly solicitous, that all her companions might ask and receive the same blessing. On her returning one day from the academy, with a sad countenance, and her eyes filled with tears, her mother said to her, "Harriet, I thought you were always happy." She replied, "it is not for myself I have been weeping, but for my companions-to see them so thoughtless." Her efforts to awaken their attention to religious subjects, were constant and faithful. She would often invite them to walk with her in the neighbouring groves, and there attempt to persuade them to come to Jesus. The aged clergyman of Bradford, who saw her in her frequent walks, and knew the subject of her animated and affectionate conversation, said to a friend, "that child will do more to induce youth to come to Christ, than I can." The venerable Dr. Spring, of Newburyport, once meeting her, and two others, who had left their amusements to listen to her counsels, joined his endeavours to hers; and placing his hands upon their heads, said, "go to God, my dear children; go to God." These youthful labours for the cause of Christ were not unsuccessful. Several of her companions were persuaded to "go to God," and will never forget the young teacher, who was His apparent instrument in their conversion.
At this time she united with a number of her school-mates, children like herself, in a society for prayer and religious conversation. In their little meetings, they opened their minds freely to each other, and told what they had felt of the evil of sin, the wonders of the Saviour's love, and the joy and peace they had found in believing in his name, and trusting their souls in his hands.
As another means of religious improvement, she maintained, while at the academy, a familiar correspondence, in short notes, with some of her pious fellow students. The following extracts will show the state of her mind, and the nature of this correspondence.
"Dear L. I need your kind instructions now as much as ever. I should be willing to leave every thing for God; willing to be called by any name which tongue can utter, and to undergo any sufferings, if it would but make me humble, and be for his glory. Do advise me what I shall do for his glory. I care not for myself. Though he lay ever so much upon me, I would be content. Oh could I but recall this summer!-But it is past, never to return. I have one constant companion, the BIBLE, from which I derive the greatest comfort. This I intend for the future shall guide me.
"---Did you ever read Doddridge's Sermons to Young People? They are very beautiful sermons.-It appears strange to me why I am not more interested in the cause of Christ, when he has done so much for us! But I will form a resolution that I will give myself up entirely to him. Pray for me, that my heart may be changed. I long for the happy hour, when we shall be free from all sin and enjoy God in heaven. But if it would be for his glory, I should be willing to live my threescore years and ten.-My heart bleeds for our companions who are on the brink of destruction. In what manner shall I speak to them? But perhaps I am in the same way."
-"What did Paul and Silas say to the jailer? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. Let us do the same. Let us improve the accepted time, and make our peace with God. This day, my L., I have formed a resolution that I will devote the remainder of my life entirely to the service of my God. Write to me. Tell me my numerous outward faults; though you know not the faults of my heart, yet tell me all you know, that I may improve. I shall receive it as a token of love."
The following are selections from her Journal, which was commenced at the date of her first religious impressions, and continued, with very few intermissions, to her last sickness. For nearly half of this period, only a few fragments remain. When about to leave her home and country, she burned the larger part of her papers, and the residue were spared, only at the earnest intercession of her mother, that she would leave them with her as a memorial of an absent daughter.
Sept. 1, 1806. A large number of my companions of both sexes, with whom I have associated this summer, are in deep distress for their immortal souls. Many who were formerly gay and thoughtless are now in tears, anxiously inquiring what they shall do to be saved. Oh how rich is the mercy of Jesus!
Sept. 3. I have felt, the day past, unaccountably stupid. Can it be, that the children of God ever feel indifferent about the concerns of their souls? Oh no! they must always be "fired with faith, and winged with love"; and I am only a hypocrite. What shall I do to be saved!
Sept. 4. I have just parted with my companions, with whom I have spent three months at the Academy. I have felt a strong attachment to many of them, particularly to those who have been hopefully renewed the summer past. But the idea of meeting them in heaven, never more to bid them farewell, silenced every painful thought.
Sept. 10. Been indulged with the privilege of visiting a Christian friend this afternoon. Sweet indeed to my heart is the society of the friends of Immanuel. I never knew true joy until I found it in the exercise of religion.
Sept. 18. How great are the changes which take place in my mind in the course of one short day! I have felt deeply distressed for the depravity of my heart, and have been ready to despair of the mercy of Jehovah. But the light of divine truth has this evening irradiated my soul, and I have enjoyed such composure as I never knew before. Oh the goodness of God, to make me thus happy!
Sept. 20. This has been a happy day to me when conversing with a Christian friend upon the love of Jesus, I was lost in raptures. My soul rejoiced in the Lord, and joyed in the God of my salvation. A sermon preached by Mr. M. this evening has increased my happiness. This is too much for me, a sinful worm of the dust, deserving only eternal punishment.
Oct. 1. The words, which were made the means of my first religious impressions, have this day solemnly affected my mind-"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation!"
Oct. 6. The day on which Christ arose from the dead has again returned. How shall I spend it? Shall it be spent like departed Sabbaths, which are gone for ever? Oh how the recollection of misspent Sabbaths, embitters every present enjoyment! With pain do I remember the holy hours which were sinned away. Frequently did I repair to novels to shorten the irksome hours as they passed. Why was I not cut off in the midst of this my wickedness?
Oct. 7. I have had a little trial of my submission of heart to God. Have been afflicted with pain and sickness. These are useful monitors-they remind me of that hastening hour, when this frail tabernacle shall be dissolved. But health is an inestimable blessing; for sickness unfits us for the duties of life, and lessens our usefulness.
Oct. 10. Oh how much have I enjoyed of God this day! Such views of his holy character, such a desire to glorify his holy name, I never before experienced. Oh that this frame might continue through life!
"My willing soul would stay
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away
To everlasting bliss."
This is my birth day. Thirteen years of my short life have gone for ever.
Oct. 25. Permitted by my heavenly Father once more to hear the gospel's joyful sound. I have enjoyed greater happiness than tongue can describe. I have indeed been joyful in the house of prayer. Lord, let me dwell in thy presence for ever!
Nov. 2. How wonderful is the superabounding grace of God! Called at an early age to reflect upon my lost condition, and to accept of the terms of salvation, how great are my obligations to live a holy life.
Nov. 4. Examination at the Academy. I have bid my companions farewell. Though they are endeared to me by the strongest ties of affection, yet I must be separated from them, perhaps never to meet them more, till the resurrection morn. The season has been remarkable for those religious impressions which many of the scholars have felt. But the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and there are numbers who can say, we are not saved.
Nov. 14. With sensations, how different from what they formerly were, do I behold the returning Sabbath! "Welcome sweet day of rest!" Welcome indeed to me, is this blessed day, so peculiarly devoted to the service and worship of the Jehovah.
Dec. 8. This evening has been very pleasantly spent with my companions, H. and S.B. The attachment which commenced as it were in infancy, has been greatly strengthened since their minds have been religiously impressed. How differently are our evenings spent now from what they formerly were. How many evenings have I spent with them in thoughtless vanity and giddy mirth. Oh that we may now be united in the service of God.
Dec. 9. I have lately been visited with sickness. This dispensation has made the means of weaning me from the world, and of making me feel more sensibly my entire dependence on God. "It is good for me to be afflicted!"
Dec. 11. This morning has been devoted to the work of self-examination. Though I find within me an evil heart of unbelief, prone to depart from the living God, yet I have a hope, a strong and unwavering hope which I would not renounce for worlds. Bless the Lord, oh my soul, for this blessed assurance of eternal life.
Dec. 13. Derived much comfort and satisfaction from secret duties this morning. Prayer is the life of the Christian.
Jan. 5. I have had exalted thoughts of the character of God this day. I have ardently longed to depart and be with Jesus.
Jan. 9. How large a share of peace and joy has been mine this evening. The society of Christians delights and animates my heart. Oh how I love those who love my Redeemer.-I hope ere long to meet these decided followers of the Lamb in my heavenly Father's kingdom. Oh what anticipated felicity!
Feb. 2. The world has occupied more of my thoughts of late than formerly. But the love of Immanuel has left "an aching void the world can never fill." Oh when will these trifles, light as air, lose their power to please!
Feb. 3. I have felt an unaccountable stupidity to-day. Why is it thus? Am I a stranger to the sanctifying grace of God? Oh no! Jesus has done much for me.
Feb. 10. I long for clearer discoveries of the perfections of Jehovah. When shall I be with, and be like God! When shall I see Him, whom my soul loveth, without a veil between!
March 10. Humility has been the subject of my meditations this day. I find I have been greatly deficient in this Christian grace. Oh for that meek and lowly spirit which Jesus exhibited in the days of his flesh.
March 25. Little E.'s birth day. While reading of those children who cried Hosanna to the Son of David, when he dwelt on earth, I ardently wished that this dear child might be sanctified. She is not too young to be made a subject of Immanuel's kingdom.
April 7. Visited my dear Bradford friends,-found much comfort in their society. They tell me, that they likewise possess hearts which are naturally opposed to God.
April 9. Fast-day. What infinite reason have I to humble myself in the dust before God, confess my sins, and repent of them!
May 1. Where is the cross which Christians speak of so frequently? All that I do for Jesus is pleasant. Though perhaps I am ridiculed by the gay and thoughtless for my choice of religion, yet the inward comfort which I enjoy, doubly compensates for all this. I do not wish for the approbation and love of the world, neither for its splendour nor its riches. For one blest hour at God's right hand, I'll give them all away.
To her sister M. at Byfield.
Haverhill, Aug. 26, 1807
--"In what an important station you are placed! The pupils committed to your care will either add to your condemnation in the eternal world, or increase your everlasting happiness. At the tribunal of your Judge you will meet them, and there give an account of the manner in which you have instructed them.--Have you given them that advice which they greatly need? Have you instructed them in religion? Oh my sister! how earnest, how engaged ought you to be for their immortal welfare. Recollect, the hour is drawing near, when you and the young ladies committed to your care must appear before God. If you have invited them to come to the Saviour, and make their peace with him, how happy will you then be. But on the other hand, if you have been negligent; awful will be your situation. May the God of peace be with you, and make you happy while on earth. May we meet on the right hand of God, and spend our eternity in rejoicing in his favour. HARRIET ATWOOD."
In the summer of 1807, she became a member of Bradford Academy, and retained the same solicitude, as before, for her own religious, as well as mental improvement, and for the salvation of others. Here she formed an intimate friendship with Miss Fanny Woodbury, of Beverly, who, while at Bradford, received those religious impressions, and obtained that hope, which enabled her to adorn, through a short life, her Christian profession.
The following are specimens of Harriet's familiar letters to her.
-Bradford Academy, Sept. 1807.
"As we are candidates for eternity, how careful ought we to be, that religion be our principal concern. Perhaps this night our souls may be required of us--we may end our existence here and enter the eternal world. Are we prepared to meet our judge? Do we depend upon Christ's righteousness for acceptance? Are we convinced of our own sinfulness and inability to help ourselves? Is Christ's love esteemed more by us than the friendship of this world? Do we feel willing to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus? These questions, my dear Miss W. are important; and if we can answer them in the affirmative, we are prepared for God to require our souls of us when he pleases.
May the Spirit guide you, and an interest in the Saviour be given you.--Adieu.
Bradford Academy, Sept. 11, 1807.
"As heirs of immortality, one would naturally imagine, we should strive to enter in at the strait gate, and use all our endeavours to be heirs of future happiness. But alas! how infinitely short do we fall of the duty we owe to God; and to our own souls! O my friend, could you look into my heart, what could you there find, but a sinful stupidity, and rebellion against God? But yet I dare to hope! O how surprising, how astonishing is the redemption which Christ has procured, whereby sinners may be reconciled to him, and through his merits dare to hope? O may his death animate us to a holy obedience. H.A."
Bradford Academy, Sept. 1807.
"How solemn, my dear Miss W. is the idea that we must soon part! Solemn as it is, yet what is it when compared with parting at the bar of God, and being separated through all eternity! Religion is worth our attention, and every moment of our lives ought to be devoted to its concerns. Time is short, but eternity is long; and when we have once plunged into that fathomless abyss, our situation will never be altered. If we have served God here and prepared for death, glorious will be our reward hereafter. But if we have not, our souls will be irrecoverably lost. Oh then let us press forward, and seek and serve the Lord. Favour me with frequent visits while we are together, and when we part let epistolary visits be constant. Adieu;
Yours, &c. HARRIET."
To the same.
Haverhill, April 20, 1808.
"This morning, my beloved Miss W. your kind epistle was handed me, in which you express a wish that it might find me engaged in the cause of God. Oh that your wish could be gratified! But let me tell you, I am still the same careless, inattentive creature. What in this world can we find capable of satisfying the desires of our immortal souls! Not one of the endowments, which are derived from any thing short of God, will avail us in the solemn and important hour of death. All the vanities, which the world terms accomplishments, will then appear of little value. Yes, my beloved companion, in that moment we shall find that nothing will suffice to hide the real nakedness of the natural mind, but the finished robe, in which the child of God shines with purest lustre, the Saviour's righteousness. Oh that we might, by the assistance of God, deck our souls in the all-perfect robe. Our souls are of infinite importance, and an eternity of misery, "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," awaits us, if we do not attend to their concerns. I should be happy, my friend, in visiting you this spring; but with reluctance I must decline your invitation. A dear and beloved parent is in a declining state of health, and we fear if indulgent heaven does not interpose, and stop the course of his sickness, death will deprive us of his society, and the grave open to receive him. Oh! that his life may be spared, and his health once more established, to cheer his family and friends. But in all these afflictive dispensations of God's providence, may it ever be my prayer, "not my will, O Lord, but thine be done."
I do not expect to attend Bradford Academy this summer. We shall have a school in H. which, with my parents' consent, I expect to attend. Do visit me this spring, my dear Miss W. Your letters are always received with pleasure. My best wishes for your present and eternal happiness attend you. I am yours, &c. H."
To Miss C.P. of Newburyport.
Haverhill, Feb. 16, 1808
"Dear C.--Since you left us, death has entered our family, and deprived us of an affectionate uncle. After lingering two days after you returned to your friends, he fell asleep, as we trust, in Jesus.
Oh, C. could you but have witnessed his dying struggles! Distress and anguish were his constant companions, till about ten minutes before his spirit winged his way to the eternal world; then he was deprived of speech, he looked upon us, closed his eyes, and expired. He would often say, "Oh, howI long for the happy hour's approach, when I shall find a sweet release; but not my will, but thine, O God, be done." When we stood weeping around his dying bed, he looked upon us, and said, "mourn not for me my friends, but mourn for yourselves." Oh my C. let us now be persuaded to lay hold on Jesus, as the only Saviour. If we trust in him for protection, he will preserve us in all the trying scenes of life; and, when the hour of dissolution shall come, we shall be enabled to give ourselves to him, and consign our bodies to the tomb with pleasure.
What a world is this! full of anxiety and trouble! My dear father is very feeble; a bad cough attends him, which we fear will prove fatal. What a blessing, my friend, are parents! Let us attend to their instructions and reproofs while we possess them, and when death shall separate us, we may not have to regret that we were undutiful. While we do every thing we can to make them happy, let us remember that it is God alone can compensate them for their labours of love. Far distant be the hour when either of us shall be called to mourn the loss of our dear parents.
Do, my dear C. write to me; tell me if this world does not appear more and more trifling to you. May the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, be shed abroad in your heart. Oh, may happiness attend you in this vale of tears, and may you be conducted to the haven of eternal rest. Accept the wish of your ever affectionate HARRIET."
To Miss C.P. of Newburyport.
Haverhill, April 24, 1808.
"Accept, my dear C. my kindest acknowledgments, for your last affectionate epistle, in the perusal of which, I had the most pleasing sensations. You observed, your contemplations had frequently dwelt on those hours we spend in each other's society, while at Bradford Academy; and that you regretted the misimprovement of them. Alas! how many hours have we spent in trifling conversation, which will avail us nothing. Let our imaginations often wing their way back to those hours which can never be recalled.
"'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours
And ask them what report they've borne to heaven,
And how they might have borne more welcome news."
Will the recollection of the moments that are now speeding their flight, afford satisfaction at the last? Oh that we might improve our time and talents to the glory of God, that the review of them may be pleasing.
You ask me to write to you, and to write something that will awaken you from stupidity. I would my dear C., but I am in the same careless state.
My father still remains in a critical condition. Permit me to request an interest in your prayers for him; but be assured, there is none they will be more serviceable to than your friend,
After the death of her uncle, mentioned in a preceding letter, she was called by Providence to witness the rapid decline of an affectionate, and much beloved father, and, on the eighth of May, to weep over the lifeless body, from which his undying spirit had peaceful departed. The sorrows of a family, over the grave of such a parent, could admit but one consolation; that which ever flows from an humble submission to the will of God. Such is the language of his epitaph:-
"Beneath this stone, till Christ shall bid him rise,
A much loved husband, father, brother, lies:
In vain were tears; Death came at Heaven's command:
Cease, then, each murmur at the Sovereign hand."
It is a circumstance deeply cherished in the recollection of his children, that almost the last act of their lamented father was to call Mrs. A. to his bedside, and to express to her the consolation it gave him in that solemn hour, to remember that he had, while in health, sought for his offspring the favour and blessing of Him who could never die.
To Miss F.W. of Beverly.
Haverhill, May 24, 1808.
"In the late trying and afflictive scene of God's providence, which I have been called to pass through, I have flattered myself that the tenderest sympathy has been awakened in the heart of my beloved F. Oh my friend, this is a scene peculiarly trying to me. How much do my circumstances require every divine consolation and direction, to make this death a salutary warning to me. The guardian of my tender years, my father, my nearest earthly friend, where is he? The cold clods of the valley cover him, and the worms feed upon his cold and lifeless body. Can it be, that I am left fatherless? heart-rending reflection! Oh my dear, dear Miss W. May you never be left to mourn the loss, which I now experience. Oh, that your parents may be spared to you, and you ever honour them, and be a blessing to them, even in their declining years.
Glance a thought on nine fatherless children, and a widowed and afflicted mother! But if we are fatherless, O may we never be friendless. May He who has promised to be the father of the fatherless, and the widow's God, enable us to rely upon him, and receive grace to help in this time of need; and although the present affliction is not joyous, but grievous, oh that it may be instrumental in working out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Do come and see me--I long once more to embrace my friend, and tell her what I owe her for all her favours. Adieu, my beloved Miss W. Receive this as a token of renewed affection from your
The loss of that part of her journal, renders it impossible to present a full picture of her heart, during several succeeding months. According to her own account, hereafter given, she lost, during this period, as, alas! too many young Christians do, the ardour of her first love. The situation of the church at Haverhill, destitute of a regular and faithful pastor, and the worldly character of the surrounding society, were the chief apparent causes of this unhappy declension.
Of this part of her life, one friend testifies, that "she appeared gradually to lose her fondness for retirement, and her delight in the Scriptures; and associated more freely with her former gay companions. But nothing was manifested, which afforded any just ground for suspecting the sincerity of her religion." Another states, that "though thus mingling with gayer associates, she still met Christians with the same glow of affection, and sought their company with much interest." Her own estimate of the state of her heart and conduct during this season of darkness, with her deep repentance, and happy restoration, will be found in the following pages.
1809.--July 1. God has been pleased, in infinite mercy, again to call up my attention to eternal realities. After spending more than a year, engaged in the vanities of the world, thoughtless and unconcerned respecting my eternal welfare; he has, as I humbly trust, showed me my awful backslidings from him, and my dependence upon his grace for every blessing.
I do now, in the strength of Jesus, resolve that I will no longer sacrifice my immortal soul for what I have hitherto deemed my temporal happiness. O that I might be enabled to come out from the world, and to profess Christ as my Redeemer before a gazing but unaffected multitude. I now see, that I have enjoyed no happiness in my pursuits of pleasure. Not in the play-room--not in the vain and idle conversation of my companions--not in the bustle of a crowded life, have I found happiness. This heaven-born guest is found only in the bosom of the child of Jesus. How awfully aggravated will be my condemnation, if I do not, after this second call, awaken all my drowsy faculties, and become earnestly engaged for God. I have now more reason than ever to serve him; and if I do not attend to his precious invitations, he perhaps may swear in his wrath, that I shall never "enter his rest."
July 2. With what motives have I entered the house of God this day? I have heard two excellent sermons preached by our beloved pastor; and he administered the sacrament in a solemn and affecting manner. The exercises recalled to my memory the happy moments I once enjoyed, when I thought nothing would deter me from solemnly taking the covenant vows upon me, and joining myself with God's children. But I have not kept the commandments of Christ as I ought. May I now resolve to glorify him in my obedience!
July 4. I have called this day on one of my companions, with whom I was formerly very intimate. I longed to tell her, her dangerous situation, and to entreat her to flee for safety to the rock, Christ Jesus. But a "secret something" forbade. O that I had but a heart to tell my companions the danger of delaying repentance!
July 5. How engaged in the world I have been this morning! Did I think, a few days since, that I should so soon forget my duty to God! How important it is, that we keep close to Jesus, and in Him place all our safety! He is able to keep us from falling, and to bring us faultless before his presence in the heavenly world. Why then should we not put our trust in him?
July 7. A black man called in the evening, who appears to be a child of Jesus. God is no respecter of persons. He will glorify himself in all his children, however different their colours, or their circumstances.
July 10. How foolishly, how wickedly have I spent this day! What have I done for God? Nothing I fear. O how many misspent days shall I have to answer for at the tribunal of a holy Judge! Then how does it become me to set a watch upon my behaviour; as one that must shortly give an account to God. O thou blessed Jesus, grant thy assistance, that I may live as I ought.
July 16. Sabbath morn. Solemnly impressed with a sense of my duty to God, I entered his holy courts this morning. What am I, that I should be blessed with the gospel's joyful sound, while so many are now perishing in heathen darkness for lack of the knowledge of Christ.
Sabbath eve. I have now offered myself to the church of God, and have been assisted by him. Perhaps they will not receive me; but, O God, wilt thou accept me through a mediator.
I have now let my companions see, I am not ashamed of Jesus. O that I might not dishonour the cause I am now about professing. In Christ alone will I put my trust, and rely entirely on his righteousness for the pardon of my aggravated transgressions.
July 17. Have spent the day at home. I think I have enjoyed something of God's presence. Felt a disposition, frequently to call upon him by prayer and supplication.
July 18. At this late hour, when no one beholdeth me but God, how solemnly--how sincerely ought I to feel engaged for him?
The family are retired to rest. The darkness and silence of the night, and the reflection that the night of death will soon overtake me, conspire to affect my mind. What have I done this day for God? Have I lived as a stranger and pilgrim on the earth; as one that must soon leave this world and go to "that bourn from whence no traveller returns?"
Oh that I were more engaged for God--more engaged to promote his cause, in the midst of a perverse generation.
July 20. This evening, I had a most solemn meeting with one of my dear and most intimate companions. I warned her in the most expressive language of my heart, to repent. She appeared affected. I left her, and after returning home, I trust, I was enabled to commend her to the God of infinite mercy, and to pray earnestly for her conviction and conversion.
July 22. Was informed that __________ appeared serious and unusually affected. Oh that God might work a work of grace in his heart, and enable him to resign all earthly vanities, for an interest in the great Redeemer. He has talents, which, if abused, will only add to his everlasting condemnation. O thou God of infinite mercy, thou who has had pity on me, show him mercy, and awaken him to a sense of his situation, before the things that concern his peace, are hid for ever from his eyes.
July 26. Sabbath day. Arose this morning but little impressed with a sense of the duties before me, upon this holy day. My health obliged me to decline going to the house of God in the morning. But I think I could say, it was good for me to be afflicted. God was graciously pleased to assist me in calling upon his name, and permitted me to wrestle with him in prayer for the prosperity of Zion, and for the conversion of sinners. I felt a desire that every one of my friends might be brought to a knowledge of the truth. This afternoon I have attended meeting, and heard a most excellent sermon preached by Mr. W. from Matt. xxvi. 6--13. He passed the Sabbath with us, and gave us excellent instructions. But of what use are advice and religious conversation to me, if I do not improve them as I ought? These instructions will rise up in judgment against me, and condemn me, if I am not indeed a child of God. Oh for a heart to love God more, and live more to his glory. How can I hope to enter that heavenly rest, prepared for the people of Jesus, when I so often transgress his laws?
July 29. Past eleven o'clock--the family have retired to rest, and I still remain writing. But what shall I say of myself? Shall I say, I have spent this day as I ought? I have been blessed with privileges greater than I deserve, greater than I improve. Two dear Christian friends spent the day with us. If I know my own heart, I do love the society of the children of God. If I do not, I know not what I love. I recounted the exercises of my mind, and found a pleasing satisfaction in telling what God had done for me. Blessed be his name, that I have the least reason to hope, that I am indeed brought out of darkness into his marvellous light.
August 5. How solemn, how important a transaction it is, publicly to profess religion. And now, what are my feelings in respect to this great duty? I am about to take the vows of a holy God upon me. I am about to bind myself to him by an everlasting covenant. O that I may do it with a serious, humble, and sincere heart!
Aug. 6. Lord's Day Morning. Upon this sacred morning, oh that the Holy Spirit of God would enliven and animate my cold and stupid affections. Oh that I might this day enter his earthly courts, worship him in an acceptable manner, profess his name before a scoffing world, sit down at his table, and partake in faith, of the body and blood of Jesus.
Sabbath eve. And now I have entered into the most solemn engagement to be the Lord's I have confessed Christ before the world--I have renounced my wicked companions--I have solemnly promised, that denying ungodliness and every worldly lust, I will live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. If I should, after taking these solemn vows and covenant engagements upon me, dishonour the cause of my Redeemer--if I should give the enemies of religion reason to say there is nothing in religion--If I should again return to my former courses, and live as one that had never professed faith in Jesus--oh how dreadfully aggravated will be my condemnation! What excuse could I render at the tribunal of a just Judge? My mouth would be stopped, and I should plead guilty before him. How then does it become me to watch and pray, lest the devices of Satan, the world, or my own remaining corruptions, should lead me into temptation.
In thee, oh God, do I put my trust; from thee do I hope to obtain mercy in the day of retribution.
Aug. 10. How stupid, how cold I grow! Where is that fervour--that zeal--that animation I ought to have, after profession to know and receive Jesus as my Redeemer? How alluring are the vanities of time! How prone my heart to wander from God! How ready to engage in the trifles of this wicked world! Descend, thou Holy Spirit--Breathe into my soul a flame of ardent love; let not my affections wander from the one, and only thing that is needful.
To Miss F.W. of Beverly.
Haverhill, Aug. 1809--Sabbath morn.
"A few moments of this sacred morning shall be devoted to my beloved Miss. W. After discontinuing, for so long a time, our correspondence, I again address you. By the endearing title of a friend, I again attempt to lay open my heart before you. But what shall I say? Shall I tell you, that since I last saw you, I have made great progress in divine grace? To you, my ever dear friend, will unbosom my heart; to you will I describe my feelings. Yes; I will tell you what God has done for my soul. About six weeks since he was pleased, in infinite mercy, again to call up my attention to the concerns of my soul; again to show me the evil of my ways. I have now publicly professed my faith in him. I have taken the vows of the covenant upon me, and solemnly surrendered myself to him, eternally. Oh Miss W.! should I now be left to dishonour this holy cause, what would be my eternal condemnation! O pray for me. Entreat God to have mercy upon me, and keep me from falling. After I left you at the Academy, I by degrees grew more and more neglectful of serious and eternal realities. When I review the past year of my life; when I reflect upon the wound I have brought upon the blessed religion of Jesus, I am constrained to cry, why has God extended his mercy to the vilest of the race of Adam? Why has he again showed favour to me, after I have so wickedly abused his precious invitations, and grieved his holy spirit? It is God, who is rich in mercy, abundant in goodness, and of great compassion, that has done these things, as I trust, for me. How can I be too much engaged for him, too much conformed to his holy will, after these abundant manifestations of his love and mercy. O that I could spend my few remaining days as I ought, even entirely devoted to the delightful service of the dear Redeemer.
Extracts from her journal, continued--Review of her religious experience--Reading society--Singing school--Dangerous illness--Byfield Academy
The following summary account of her religious exercises, was found among her papers.
"A review of past religious experience I have often found useful and encouraging. On this account I have written down the exercises of my mind, hoping that, by frequently reading them, I may be led to adore the riches of sovereign grace, praise the Lord for his former kindness to me, and feel encouraged to persevere in a holy life.
"The first ten years of my life were spent in vanity. I was entirely ignorant of the depravity of my heart, and of the necessity of regeneration. The summer that I entered my eleventh year, I attended a dancing school. My conscience would sometimes tell me, that my time was foolishly spent; and though I had never heard it intimated, that such amusements were criminal, I could not rest, until I had solemnly determined that, when the school closed, I would immediately become religious. But these resolutions were not carried into effect. Although I attended every day to secret prayer, and read the Bible with greater attention than before; yet I soon became weary of these exercises, and by degrees, omitted entirely the duties of the closet. When I entered my thirteenth year, I was sent, by my parents, to the Academy at Bradford. A revival of religion commenced in the neighbourhood, which in a short time spread into the school. A large number of the young ladies were anxiously inquiring, what they should do to inherit eternal life. I began to inquire what these things meant. My attention was solemnly called to the concerns of my immortal soul; and I was a stranger to hope. I feared the ridicule of my gay companions, but, more than all, the displeasure of an angry judge. My heart was opposed to the character of God, and I felt that, if I continued an enemy to his government, I must eternally perish. My convictions of sin were not so pungent and distressing, as many have had; but they were of long continuance. God, in his providence, inclined the hearts of my parents to favour the work, and they treated me with the greatest kindness and attention. But it was more than three months before I was brought to cast my soul on the Saviour of sinners, and rely on him alone for salvation. The ecstasies, which many new-born souls possess, were not mine. But if I was not lost in rapture on reflecting upon what I had escaped, I was filled with a sweet peace, a heavenly calmness, which I never can describe. The honours, applauses, and titles of this vain world appeared like trifles light as air. The character of Jesus appeared infinitely lovely, and I could say with the Psalmist, "whom have I in heaven but thee!" The awful gulf which I had escaped, filled me with astonishment. My gay associates were renounced, and the friends of Jesus became my chosen friends. The destitute, broken state of the church at Haverhill prevented me from openly professing my faith in Jesus; but it was a privilege which I longed to enjoy.
But alas! these seasons so precious, did not long continue. Soon was I led to exclaim--O that I were as in months past! My zeal for the cause of religion almost insensibly abated; while this vain world engrossed my affections, which had been consecrated to my Redeemer. My Bible, once so lovely, was entirely neglected. Novels and romances engaged my thoughts, and hour after hour was foolishly, sinfully devoted to the perusal of them. The company of Christians became, by degrees, irksome and unpleasant. I sometimes endeavoured to shun them. The voice of conscience would frequently whisper, "all is not right." Many a sleepless night have I passed after a day of vanity and sin. But such conflicts did not bring me home to the fold, from which I, like a stray lamb, had wandered far away. A religion, which was intimately connected with the amusements of the world, and the friendship of those who are at enmity with God, would have suited well my depraved heart. But my heart told me that the religion of the gospel was vastly different. It exalts the Creator, while it humbles the creature in the dust.
"Such was my awful situation! I lived only to would the cause of my ever blessed Saviour. Weep, oh my soul! when contemplating and recording these sins of my youth. Be astonished at the long-suffering of Jehovah!--How great a God is our God!--The deaths of a beloved parent, and uncle, had but little effect on my hard heart. Though these afflictions moved my passions, they did not lead me to the fountain of consolation, which ever runneth free. But God, who is rich in mercy, did not leave me here! He had prepared my heart to receive his grace, and he glorified the riches of his mercy, by determining to carry on the work. I was providentially invited to visit a friend in Newburyport. I complied with the invitation. I heard the celebrated Dr. G. preach two sermons. They were evangelical, and calculated to promote genuine piety. His eloquence charmed me; but the gospel which he preached, was not received as "glad tidings." The evening previous to my return home, I heard the Rev. Mr. Mac F. It was the 28th of June, 1809. How did the truths which he delivered sink deep into my inmost soul! My past transgressions rose like mountains before me. The most poignant anguish seized my mind; my carnal security fled; and I felt myself a guilty transgressor, naked before a holy God. Mr. Burnham returned with me the next day to Haverhill. Never, no, never, while memory retains her seat in my breast, shall I forget the affectionate manner in which he addressed me. His conversations had the desired effect. I then made the solemn resolution, as I trust, in the strength of Jesus, that I would make a sincere dedication of my all to my Creator, both for time and eternity. This resolution produced a calm serenity and composure, to which I had long been a stranger. How lovely the way of salvation then appeared! O how lovely was the character of the Saviour! The duty of professing publicly on which side I was, now impressed my mind. I came forward, and offered myself to the church; was accepted, and received into communion with him at his table, August 6, 1809. This was a precious season, long to be remembered!--O the depth of sovereign grace! Eternity will be too short to celebrate the perfections of God.
August 27, 1809. Harriet Atwood."
Aug. 28. I awoke last night, and spent a most delightful hour in contemplating divine truth. The words of David flowed sweetly through my mind, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul." Most willingly would I resign all earthly pleasures--for one such hour in communion with my God.
Sept. 1. This evening our pastor, and some of the brethren of the church, met for the purpose of establishing conferences, and consulting on the best method of conducting them. They have concluded to meet every Thursday evening. O God! do thou meet with us, and in mercy hear the prayers of thy children, which continually ascend to thy throne, and send answers of peace and salvation. Is not the time, the set time to favour Zion come? Descend, thou great Immanuel, revive thy work in this place, and cause thy Zion here to rejoice, while seeing many thronging her solemn feasts.
Sept. 3. This day, unworthy and vile as I am, I have been permitted to commemorate the dying love of our once crucified, but now ascended Jesus. I think I have felt some love to God; I was enabled to gain near access to his mercy seat. "Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him!"
Sept. 25. Mr. D. addressed us from these words, "Be still, and know that I am God!" A sudden and remarkable death, occurring the last week, was the cause of his selecting this subject. Thus one is called after another, and I am spared! Why is it thus? Am I spared a little longer to fill the measure of my iniquities, or to be made more prepared for the enjoyment of the celestial world? Thou, oh Searcher of hearts, alone knowest! May I be more diligent in the great work assigned to me, that, when the night of death shall come, I may have the pleasing satisfaction of reviewing my work as done, and well done.
Sept. 29. Mr. T. preached our preparatory lecture this afternoon. Text, "Jesus answered and said, My kingdom is not of this world." Examined myself strictly by this question; Am I indeed a real member of Christ's kingdom? If I am--why are my affections so languid--my heart so cold--my desires so few, for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom? Why is my heart so prone to leave God? Why am I so interested in the concerns of time and sense--and why are the important concerns of my soul so little regarded? Decide, dearest Jesus, the doubtful case. If I never yet have tasted and seen that thou art gracious, O let me now, before it be for ever too late.
Attended our conference this evening. I think I enjoyed what the world can neither give nor take away.
Sept. 30. How inestimable the blessing of a sincere, a pious friend! Drank tea with Mrs. M. In the most friendly manner, she spoke of my former conduct, and tenderly reproved me for an incident which occurred the past day. I acknowledged my fault--confessed my obligations to her for her advice, and sensibly felt the importance of watchfulness and prayer, that I might be kept from entering into temptation. May the review of my former life, serve to humble me in the dust before God, and make me more active than ever in his blessed service. Awaken, oh God, my sluggish spirit, and make me more faithful to thee, to the world, and to my own soul.
Oct 7. Another week has rolled away, and my probationary existence is still lengthened out. But to what purpose do I live? Why am I supported in this world of hope, when I am daily transgressing the laws of a holy God, and grieving his blessed Spirit? Astonishing grace! Wonderful compassion, that still prolongs my days after such rebellion! spare me, O my God, spare me yet a little longer, and by thy grace enable me to do some little work in thy vineyard.
Oct. 9. I have just formed a solemn resolution of devoting one part of every day to fervent cries to God for a near and dear friend. Who knows but my Father in heaven will lend a listening ear to the voice of my supplications, and touch her heart with convicting and converting grace! If so, I cannot intercede too often, or too earnestly, for her.
Oct. 10. Am I only a stranger and pilgrim on this earth? Must I shortly appear, and render my account, before the tribunal of a sin-hating, and sin-avenging judge? Yes--this must be my situation. What will become of my naked soul, if destitute of the robe of the Saviour's righteousness? Wash me, oh my Redeemer, in thy blood; clothe me with thy spotless robe.
Oct. 12. Attended another of our conferences. But how stupid have I felt this evening! It is perfectly just that I have not enjoyed the light of God's countenance; for I had no heart to ask him, to make the evening profitable to my own soul, or to the souls of others.
Prayer is the breath of the Christian; when that is omitted, farewell to enjoyment.
Thus truly did this young Christian mourn upon the first discovery that her love to her Saviour was abating. What a lesson to those who have long professed themselves followers of the Lord Jesus, and who are contented to have weeks, and months, and years pass away, without any present evidence that all is well with their souls!
To Miss F.W. of Beverly
Haverhill, Oct. 12, 1809
Yesterday afternoon I attended a lecture in the Academy at Bradford. The emotions which vibrated in my mind, while sitting in this seminary of learning, I cannot describe. Imagination recalled those scenes which I had witnessed in that place. That season was a precious one to many souls, when the Spirit of God moved among us, and compelled sinners to tremble and earnestly inquire what they should do to inherit eternal life. But those days are past. No more do I hear my companions exclaiming, "Who can dwell with devouring fire? Who can inherit everlasting burnings?" No more do I hear souls, who for years have been under the bondage of sin, exclaim, "Come, and I will tell you what God hath done for me." He has, I hope, "delivered me from the horrible pit and miry clay, has established my goings, and put a new song into my mouth, even praise to his name." But under these general declensions from the truth of the Gospel, still the "Lord doeth all things well." He will revive his work in his own time. He will repair the waste places of Zion, and sinners will again flock unto him as clouds, and as doves to their windows. And blessed be his name, he makes his children the honoured instruments in building up his kingdom. Let us, then my dear Miss W. exert all our faculties to promote his cause. Let us warn sinners of their danger, and walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. Wishing you the light of God's countenance, I beg you adieu. HARRIET."
Oct. 15. This holy morning, I would carefully examine my heart, and know, whether I do indeed love the Sabbath and the sanctuary of the Lord. Which is most my delight, the place of worldly pleasure, or the sanctuary of Jehovah, where his servants solemnly tell us of the depravity of our hearts, of our distance from God, of our need of a Saviour, of the eternal state of the finally impenitent, and of the joys prepared in heaven for those who love the Lord Jesus?
Oct. 19. Drank tea with mother, at Mrs. C's. A conference there in the evening. Mr. Dodge paraphrased the Lord's prayer, and was enabled to pray fervently to his divine master, for the revival of religion in this place. As for myself, I felt stupid--could easily trace the cause of my feelings. Had no opportunity, this day, of pouring out my soul to God in prayer. My mother insisted on my accompanying her to Mrs. C.'s; I did; though with as great reluctance as ever I obeyed a command of her's.
I know, by experience, that no opportunities for improvement do me any good, unless the divine blessing is previously requested.
"Restraining prayer, we cease to fight,
Prayer makes the Christian's armour bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees."
Oct. 20. Youth and beauty are no shield against the shafts of death. Once, E. could boast of these; now, her voice is silent in death, and the cold clods of the valley cover her. But her spirit, has returned to the Being who gave it. O then let us leave her with Him who worketh all things after the counsels of his own will; and let it be my work to prepare to follow her to the house appointed for all the living.
Oct. 21. This day, God in infinite mercy has seen fit to grant me near access to his mercy seat. I have been enabled to call upon his name, and to plead with him for his spiritual Jerusalem. O that he would hear and accept my feeble petitions, and answer them for his own name's sake.
Oct. 23. Have just returned from our reading society; and feel condemned for my gaiety and light conduct, before my companions. Have nothing this evening to satisfy the desires of my soul. Greatly fear that I have brought a wound upon the cause of the blessed Immanuel. O that I might be enabled to glorify God, by my future devotedness; and constantly to live as one born of Him.
Oct. 27. Two servants of Jesus Christ called upon us this afternoon; Mr. W. and Mr. E. Their conversation was very interesting and instructive. Mr. W. informed us of the serious attention, that appeared to be commencing at Andover. O that Jehovah would pour down his Spirit there. O that he would ride from conquering to conquer, and make not only A. a place of his power, but Haverhill also. Arise, blessed Jesus! plead thine own cause, and have mercy upon Zion. Now, when iniquity aboundeth, and the love of many is waxing cold; now, when men are making void thy law, and grieving thy Holy Spirit; now arise; build up thy spiritual Jerusalem, and let her no longer mourn, "because so few come to her solemn feasts."
Oct. 30. Have just returned from our reading society. Have nothing to complain of this evening, but my gaiety and lightness. Ramsay's Life of Washington was read. The meeting was very regular and orderly. Sincerely wish it may be the means of improving our minds in the knowledge of our own and other countries. And oh, that from a knowledge of the world which God has made, our minds might be led to the Creator.
Oct. 31. Have spent this day prayerless and stupid. "O that I were as in months past," when I felt a spirit of prayer, for the interests of Zion, and for the salvation of immortal souls.
Nov. 1. We have spent this evening in singing. What a happy effect does music produce upon the mind. As we have reason to believe it is a great part of the employment of those holy beings in the celestial kingdom of God, how does it become the saints on earth, while wandering through this state of vicissitudes and trial, to unite their feeble voices, and sing the praises of Jehovah! Lord, teach me so to sing, and feel thy glory; and when my journey on earth is ended, oh may I sing in exalted strains, the song of Moses and the Lamb, on the shores of a blessed immortality!
Nov. 5. I have again sitten at the table of the Lord. Great, unspeakably great are the privileges, with which God is blessing me. O that they may not add to my condemnation in the day, when the world shall be judged, and every one receive a reward for the deeds done in the body.--This evening, I have had some conversation with Miss____. She expressed herself to this purpose: "I do not enjoy the light of God's countenance: I go mourning all the day." She requested an interest in my supplications at the throne of almighty grace. On my return, I found freedom in prayer, in presenting her case before the physician of souls. Oh that Jehovah would speak peace to her troubled spirit, and grant her the healing balm of divine consolation!--But while those who appear to live as the children of God, are mourning the vileness of their hearts, what can I say of myself? Instead of growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus, I am more and more engaged in the vanities of time and sense, backwards in the performance of duty, and cold and lifeless in the concerns of my soul. Dreadful consideration! Yet, I do not mourn my vileness as I ought, but still live at an infinite distance from my Saviour. Thy grace, O Lord, alone can revive thy work, and make me again to rejoice in thy glory!
Nov. 6. Our reading society met this evening. Have just returned home; find little or no satisfaction in the review. Although the company were light and gay, I pitied them; and in my heart commended them to God. But I fear I countenanced them, and gave them reason to say of me, "what do you more than others?" Possessed naturally of such a rude and ungovernable disposition, I sometimes find it difficult to keep within proper bounds. Often does my heart condemn me for my trifling conduct; conscience reproaches; and frequently I am led to the conclusion that I will no more leave the residence of my mother--have no more to do with the world; but seclude myself, and spend the few remaining days entirely devoted to the best of beings. But this will not be following the example of the blessed Jesus. No, while I am in the world, let it be my constant endeavour, to do all the good I can to my fellow mortals--to rise above its frowns and flatteries, and give no occasion for any reproach to be brought upon the cause of religion.
Nov. 7. I called on Mrs. S. this afternoon. Her symptoms are of the most alarming kind; and I think she cannot much longer remain in this world. But she appears as one triumphing over death and the grave. She is entirely resigned to the will of God; willing to go, at her Father's call, or stay, if he has any more work for her to perform. Happy being! How willingly would I be in her situation. She told me, that, when her friends informed her that she was drawing near her dissolution, it rather exhilarated, than depressed her spirits. She could say, with humble submission, "Not my will, but thine be done." May her evidences continue still to brighten, and her prospects of futurity become yet more glorious.
Cousin J. left us this morning. We shall sincerely regret his absence. But God can preserve him, and give him the light of his countenance, on the sea, as well as on the land. May he, who holdeth the mighty waters in his hand, be his guide, his counsellor, his friend!
Nov. 8. My dear friend, and, as I humbly trust, my spiritual father, Mr. B. called upon us a few moments. He expects to preach for Mr. D. next Sabbath. On seeing him, I could not but recall the many different scenes that passed while under his instructions. But these scenes remain in remembrance only. No more I hear my companions exclaiming, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life." No more, I hear them telling to all around them, what the Redeemer has done for their souls. That was indeed a precious season to many, and will be remembered with joy to all eternity. But to some, the privileges of that season will, I fear, be the means of sinking them lower in eternal torments!--Dreadful thought!
Nov. 10. I have this day been led seriously to read, and, as I humbly trust, to renew my covenant engagements. How far short I have fallen of fulfilling those solemn vows, which I once publicly made to Jehovah! In what way shall I atone for my past ingratitude, my criminal engagedness in the affairs of a world of pleasure and dissipation! Thou, oh blessed Immanuel, canst wash away my guilt.
Nov. 28. My heavenly Father has kindly protected me another night, and brought me to view another rising sun, blessed with health and strength, and given me another opportunity of paying to him my morning tribute of praise and thankfulness. How easily might he have cut the brittle thread of life; and I, instead of beholding the light of this morning, have awakened in the eternal world!
To Miss C.F. of Boston.
"Pardon, dear C. the long silence of your friend Harriet. Although I have omitted answering your affectionate epistle, my heart has been often with you. Yes C. often have I fancied seeing you engaged to promote the cause of the blessed Immanuel, solemnly renouncing the vanities of an alluring world, and acting the decided part of a child of God. Oh may you be enabled to follow on to know the Lord, and constantly live as a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus. I sincerely and ardently wish you the aids of the Holy Spirit, and a heart habitually conformed to the holy character of God. Great and precious are the promises which an infinitely merciful Jehovah has made in his word, to those who persevere in well doing. But how great the guilt, and how aggravated must be the condemnation of those, who are often reproved, and yet harden their hearts against God!
While we hear the denunciation of God's wrath to the finally impenitent, let us, my friend, be active to secure an interest in his favour. Then, let what will befall us in this life, our souls will rest safe on the Rock of ages; Jesus will be our guide and friend through earth's tedious pilgrimage.
To Miss F.W. of Beverly.
Haverhill, Sabbath eve--Nov. 26, 1809.
"I have this moment received, dear Miss W. your inestimable letter, in which you affectionately congratulate me on the happiness of "tasting that the Lord is gracious."
Assailed by temptations, surrounded with the gay and thoughtless, and with but few of the humble followers of the Lamb, to guide me in the path of duty, or to instruct me in the great things of the kingdom, what feelings do I experience, when receiving from my beloved friend a letter, filled not only with assurances of continued affection, but with encomiums upon the character of the dear Immanuel, as "being the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely." Often does my heart glow with gratitude to the parent of mercies, for bestowing on me such a favour as one friend, to whom I can disclose the secret recesses of my heart, and with whom I can converse upon the important doctrines of the gospel, and an eternal state of felicity prepared for those, whose "robes have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb."
Have you not, my friend, often felt, when conversing upon these great truths, a flame of divine love kindle in your heart; and have you not solemnly resolved, that you would live nearer to the blessed Jehovah?
I have this day been permitted to worship God in his earthly courts. How unspeakably great are the privileges with which we are indulged in this land of gospel light! The Sabbath before last, Mr. B. exchanged with Mr. D. Oh, my beloved Miss W. could you have heard the important truths he preached,--the impressive manner in which he held forth the terrors of God to the impenitent, and the necessity of immediate repentance, surely, it must to you have been a blessed season. But it had no visible effect upon the minds of the people here. A dreadful inattention to religion still prevails. The youth are very thoughtless and gay;--"iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold." But there are, as I humbly trust, a pious few, who are daily making intercession at the throne of grace for the prosperity of Zion.
What encouragement have we, my dear friend, to wrestle at the throne of mercy, for renewing and sanctifying grace for ourselves, and the whole Israel of God; even in times of the greatest declension. Jehovah hath promised, that he will hear the prayers of his children; and that if offered up in sincerity of heart, he will, in his own time, send gracious answers.
Next Friday evening, it being the evening after Thanksgiving, a ball is appointed in this place. I think it probable that _____, whom you once saw anxiously inquiring what she should do to inherit eternal life, will attend. Oh my beloved friend, you cannot know my feelings. It is dreadful to see mortals, bound to eternity, spending their lives with no apparent concern about their never dying souls. But it is, if possible, more dreadful to see those, who have put their hands to the plough, look back, or being often reproved, harden their hearts against God.
I could, my dear Miss W., write you all night, but a violent head-ache has attended me this day, and wearied nature requires repose. I sincerely thank you for the affectionate invitation you have given me to visit you. I wish it were possible for me to comply with your request; perhaps I may this winter; but I shall not place much dependence upon it, as everything is so uncertain. Do, my friend, visit Haverhill--I long to see you; but if Providence has determined we shall never meet again in this world, oh, may we meet in our heavenly Father's kingdom, and never more endure a separation.--In haste, I am, &c. yours, H."
Dec. 7. "Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil." How much reason I have to adopt this petition, taught us by the blessed Saviour! I cannot--cannot be too watchful--too prayerful.
Dec. 12. Alas! my wicked, deceitful heart is prone to wander still. Oh for a flame of divine love to warm and animate my cold and lifeless soul!
Dec. 31. I have now come to the close of another year. How various have been the scenes, through which I have been called to pass, this year! But what have I done for God? what for the interest of religion? and what for my own soul? I have passed through one of the most solemn scenes of my life--I have taken the sacramental covenant upon me--I have solemnly joined myself to the church of the blessed Jesus.
O that I might now, as in the presence of the great Jehovah, and his holy angels, with penitential sorrow, confess my past ingratitude, and in humble reliance on the strength of Jesus, resolve to devote the ensuing year, and the remaining part of my days to his service.
At the commencement of the year 1810, she was brought very near to death by a violent fever, attended with much pain. Her state of mind, during this long sickness, may be learned from her journal after her recovery. The calmness and resignation which she manifested, at the time of her greatest suffering and danger, were truly remarkable. She, one day, repeated the verse--
"God of my life, look gently down;
Behold the pains I feel:
But I am dumb before thy throne,
Nor dare to dispute thy will."
And then requested her mother, who was seated at her bedside, to read to her the whole hymn, adding, that it had often recurred to her mind during her sickness, and fully expressed her own feelings. The happy effect of this sickness, seemed to be a renewed and unalterable resolution henceforth to live not unto herself, but unto him who had redeemed her from the power of the grave.
1810.--Feb. 10. What great reason have I for thankfulness to God, that I am still in the land of the living, and have another opportunity of recording with my pen, his tender mercy and loving kindness? I have been, for almost five weeks, unable to write; and for a week, confined to my bed. But Jesus has undertaken to be my physician; he has graciously restored me to health; and when greatly distressed with pain, he afforded me the sweet consolations of his Spirit, and brought me to resign my soul into his arms, and willingly to wait the event of his Providence, whether life or death.
Oh that this sickness might be for my eternal good! may it be made the means of weaning me from all terrestrial enjoyments, and of fixing my hope and only trust in the merits of Jesus. Then should I have cause to bless God for his chastening rod, and through eternity, count all these afflicting dispensations as great mercies.
Feb. 11. I am not permitted to worship God in his earthly courts this day. But I have no reason to complain. God is still merciful and good to me, although I am evil and unthankful.
Feb. 18. How easily can God disconcert the plans formed by short sighted mortals! I had fondly flattered myself, that before this, I should have met with the assembly of saints, and have sitten under the droppings of the sanctuary; that I should have joined my Christian friends in their social conference, and heard the truths of the Gospel explained by our dear pastor. But Jehovah determined otherwise. He has again laid his chastising rod upon me, by afflicting me with sickness and pain. But "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him." I have a renewed opportunity of examining my submission to God. And I do now, as in his presence, renewedly resolve to devote myself a living sacrifice to him. I think I can say, that afflictions are good for me. In times of the greatest distress, I have been brought to cry within myself: "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth to him good." I think I am willing to bear whatever God sees fit to lay upon me. Let my dear heavenly Father inflict the keenest anguish, I will submit; for He is infinitely excellent, and can do nothing wrong.
Feb. 25. With the light of this holy morning, I desire to offer to the kind Shepherd of Israel, who never slumbers nor sleeps, a morning tribute of thanksgiving and praise. Oh that my whole soul might be drawn out in love to God; and may all my faculties unite with the inhabitants of the New-Jerusalem, in praising the immortal King, for what he has done and still is doing for rebellious man. But I fall infinitely short of the honour due to his glorious name. When, oh when shall I arrive at the destined port of rest, and with the blood-washed millions praise the Lamb of God for redeeming love? Hasten, blessed Immanuel, that glorious period, when all thy exiled children shall arrive at their eternal home, and celebrate thy praises, when time and nature fail. Oh for a tongue to sound aloud the honors, the glories of the dear, the matchless Saviour!
Feb. 27. A neighbour lies in the agonies of death. Gracious God! grant, in infinite mercy, that this, thy departing servant, may have an easy passage through the dark valley of the shadow of death; but especially give him the light of thy reconciled countenance; and may he evince to surrounding friends, that there is a reality in the doctrines and consolations of the gospel!--Death has done his office: and Mr. E. lies silent and breathless in his cold arms. His immortal spirit has left his emaciated body, and winged its way to that long eternity, whence no traveller returns; but he has given pleasing evidence, that he was truly prepared to meet the king of terrors. May this call of almighty providence awaken the thoughtless in this place, and lead them to prepare for their last great change. And may He, who has promised to be the Father of the fatherless, and the widow's God, fulfil his promises of mercy to those who are now left desolate.
March 1. With sincerity of heart, and fervent affections, I would desire, oh thou preserver of men, to plead for pardoning grace, and continuing mercy, that I may be enabled, this month, to devote all my faculties to thy service. I have found great consolation in reflecting, that it is God who has confined me with sickness, and that he will, in his own good time, restore me to health.
March 2. Have, this afternoon, been solemnly admonished, by seeing the remains of Mr. E. carried by the house. And can it be, that I who am now so actively engaged in the affairs of this world, shall shortly be conveyed on a bier, to the cold grave? Yes, the righteous Judge has declared to the race of Adam: "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." And soon this sentence will be executed upon me. Prepare, O my soul, to meet thy God.
March 4. Communion day--but I am denied the unspeakable privilege of sitting at the table of the Lord. The first time that I have been absent from it, since I publicly confessed my faith in Jesus. But the mercy of God has been manifested to me. He has given me much freedom at the throne of grace, and particularly to intercede for my dear brethren and sisters who have communed with God at his table.
March 6. What unspeakable consolation does it afford the children of God to reflect, that the great Jehovah is carrying on his work of grace; and that earth and hell combined, cannot hinder what he has designed to accomplish.
March 10. How awfully depraved is the natural heart! Every day I can see more and more of my own apostacy from God. How prone I am to wander in the labyrinth of sin, and to lose sight of the Lamb of God. How often does my stubborn heart refuse to return to the fold of the Saviour, and to yield a delighted obedience to his dear, well known commands. Break, compassionate Immanuel, oh, break this stony heart of mine, and compel me to live as an obedient child.--Blessed be God, I have this day been permitted to go to his house of prayer: nine Sabbaths have elapsed, since I enjoyed this inestimable favour. Mr. Spring solemnly addressed us, from this text: "And I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." How unspeakably happy are those who are children of the Most High! Oh could I but be assured that I were one of them, willingly would I resign all that the world calls happiness.
March 13. How engaged am I in the concerns of this world! I cannot but ask myself the questions, have I any reason to imagine, that I am interested in the covenant of life? If so, why am I thus? Why this awful distance from God? "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts."
April 8. On this holy day, how ought my affections to be elevated, and my heart engaged in the service of my Redeemer! Awake, my drowsy senses; partake of the happiness, and join in the praises of angels and the redeemed above. Awake, and join the heavenly chorus, even "praise to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever."
April 29. A sudden death this week. Mrs. C. was in health and prosperity one hour, and, the next, in the cold embraces of the universal conqueror! May this solemn event be sanctified to the surviving friends. And may it lead me to place my affections on the things of eternity.
May 2. I have commenced attending the Miss W.'s academy. May the blessing of God rest upon me in the duties to which I am now called. Let not my heart be set upon worldly vanities, nor too much upon worldly attainments!
May 4. Mr. Emerson, of Beverly, called upon us a few moments, and informed us, there was a great revival of religion in his society and town. O how did it rejoice my heart! However cold and stupid, I can in sincerity say, that I love to hear of the conversion of sinners. Must Haverhill be left destitute of the work of the Spirit? O let me be ardent and constant at the throne of grace, for the out-pouring of the Spirit, and a revival of religion among us.
May 11. Called upon a friend this morning, who, to human appearance, is on the brink of the grave. She was speechless, though not senseless. Her very countenance declared the importance of religion. Never shall I forget the affectionate manner, in which she pressed my hand to her bosom, and lifted her eyes to heaven, as if calling down a blessing upon me.
May 30. This day recalls many painful events, which occurred last year at this time. How was I then labouring for "the meat that perisheth,"--following the leadings of a trifling heart. It was infinite mercy that snatched me from the abyss, and, as I humbly trust, made me a monument of redeeming love. "Praise the Lord, O my soul."
June 1. I have this day felt real gratification in hearing from our dear Miss W., the pleasing exercises of her mind. I sincerely hope that she will not be left to go astray from her Saviour, and become indifferent to eternal concerns, as I have done. Many will be the temptations to which she will be exposed, but almighty grace is sufficient to overcome them.
June 2. Have had some interesting conversation with Miss W. upon the situation of my dear _____. Who knows but that she might now have been earnestly engaged in the cause of the Redeemer, if it were not for my unchristian conduct. The thought is solemn and painful. How can I think of being an enemy to the souls of my dear friends?
June 3. Solemn, indeed, have been the transactions of this day. O that they might be remembered with joy through eternity. Had some humbling views of my past ingratitude. The aggravated transgressions of my life, the last six months in particular, have been laid open before me. Have again become stupid--but no,--I cannot. I will surrender myself to Jesus. He will keep me from falling, and at last present me faultless before his Father's throne.
June 4. Have been solemnly impressed with the worth of immortal souls this day. The welfare of my school companions lies near my heart. In what way can I be serviceable to them?
June 28. Attended a lecture at Bradford, this afternoon. My mind, during the exercises, was elevated above terrestrial enjoyment. In my interest for the church of the Redeemer, I thought that I could say with the poet,
"My soul shall wish Mount Zion well,
Whate'er becomes of me."
June 29. Professor S. and lady dined with us. A most excellent man. It was a pleasure I had long wished to enjoy. I was introduced to a young lady from Boscawen. She professed and hopefully experienced religion at the early age of twelve. She can testify that the Lord is gracious, and faithful to fulfil his promises. I felt encouraged at seeing so many engaged followers of the Lamb.
June 30. Called on my dear friend E. She has lately experienced affliction. She told me that she was resigned to divine Providence, and could rejoice, even in the hour of distress. Happy composure! What joys, O ye followers of unrighteousness, have you to boast, compared with those experienced by the humble followers of Jesus?
July 1. Hail, sacred morning! Once ushered in with the most important event ever registered in the records of time. On this holy morning, the Saviour rose from the grave. I expect this day to commemorate the sufferings of the Lamb of God. Grant me, gracious God, a blessed communion with thee. Let me not "eat and drink judgment to myself."
July 4. I have again entered the house of God, and heard a sermon from Mr. O. on this text, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." This day is celebrated by Americans, as the anniversary of our Independence. While some are spending it in luxury and vice, a few assembled in this place for the professed purpose of worshipping God.
July 6. Spent the afternoon with my beloved friends, Mrs. and Miss _____. They appear sincerely engaged in the promotion of religion. E. conversed with me very freely on the subject in which she is so deeply interested. May the change in her situation which she soon expects, increase her happiness: and may her exemplary Christian conduct be the instrument of bringing her future companion to the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus.
July 7. How have I spent this day! What a fountain of iniquity is my heart. Must I resign the idea of ever feeling the power of religion? Surely if I were a child of God, I could not feel so stupid, and live so careless, as I do.
July 19. Favoured with the privilege of attending a lecture this afternoon. Our dear minister preached from these words: "How long halt ye between two opinions?" a most solemn discourse. In the evening, a meeting at Mr. D.'s for religious conversation. A small number of young people appear unusually solemn. Has not God already begun to show the riches of his grace? Will he not arise, and have mercy on Haverhill, and make it a place where he will delight to dwell?
August 4. I have parted from my Haverhill friends, and expect to spend three months at Byfield. How great are my privileges! While so many are destitute of opportunities for acquiring useful knowledge, I am indulged with them, under circumstances peculiarly favourable. Blessed with the society of a sister, dearer to me than words can express, and of other kind friends, what do I need to make me completely happy? Nothing but a thankful heart, to praise and bless the bountiful Giver of these mercies.
The autumn of this year was spent at Byfield, at a private female Academy, under the charge of her elder sister. Harriet's affectionate love for that sister, and anxious watchfulness over her feeble health, are so feelingly exhibited in many of her letters to her mother from Byfield, that we regret being obliged to omit them, by that minuteness of their details which her kindness dictated. Her efforts for mental improvement, during that season, were very great, as her papers, and the testimony of her beloved instructor, most abundantly show.
Aug. 6. How soon are my resolutions, to live wholly to God, broken! My conscience daily reproaches me for my unfaithfulness to my companions, to myself, and to my God. If any one had told me, when light first shone on my mind, that I should feel such indifference to the salvation of sinners, and so little love to God, as I now feel, I should have exclaimed, impossible!
Miss Atwood's attention turned to the wants of the Heathen.--Mr. Newell's first introduction to her.--Extracts from letters and journal.--Visit to Charlestown.--Mr. Newell's proposals.--Her resolution to become a Missionary.
Oct. 10. I have this day entered upon my eighteenth year. Seventeen years have rolled, almost insensibly, away, and I still remain a pilgrim in this barren land. Merciful Jesus, on the commencement of this year, may thy supporting hand be underneath me; and if my life is prolonged, may I more faithfully serve thee, and promote thy blessed cause.
Oct. 20. A female friend (Miss Nancy Hasseltine, afterwards Mrs. Judson) called upon us this morning. She informed me of her determination to quit her native land for ever, to endure the sufferings of a Christian amongst heathen nations, to spend her days in India's sultry clime. How did the news affect my heart! Is she willing to do all this for God; and shall I refuse to lend my little aid, in a land where divine revelation has shed its brightest rays? I have felt more, for the salvation of the heathen, this day, than I recollect to have felt through my whole past life.
How dreadful their situation! What heart but would bleed at the idea of the sufferings they endure to obtain the joys of Paradise! What can I do, that the light of the gospel may shine upon them? They are perishing for lack of knowledge, while I enjoy the glorious privileges of a Christian land! Great God, direct me! Oh make me in some way beneficial to their immortal souls.
Oct. 21. I have had a joyful meeting this day in the house of God. "When I am weak, then am I strong." I have experienced the truth of this declaration this day. I went to meeting in the morning, afflicted with bodily pain, yet joyful in the God of my salvation. When reflecting on the melancholy state of our church, and distressed, lest the deserved judgments of the Almighty should be poured out upon us, the words of the dear Redeemer, "fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom," sweetly refreshed and animated my desponding spirit. I desire ever to bless the Lord, for the manifestations of his love this day. He has taught me, that neither Paul nor Apollos is any thing without his grace. Ministers may faithfully preach; but the word will not prove successful, if God does not touch the heart.
I have seen the glory of God in his sanctuary. "I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." The Lord is good; may it be my delightful employment on earth, to praise him; and in heaven may I join the enraptured millions, in a song that shall never end.
Oct. 22. M. has this day parted from us. May her future days be spent happily. Oh may her path be strewed with the choicest of heaven's blessings.
Oct. 23. Mr. M. introduced Mr. Newell to our family. He appears to be an engaged Christian. Expects to spend his life in preaching a Saviour to the benighted pagans.
This was her first interview with her future companion in life. Rev. Samuel Newell was educated at Harvard University, and pursued his studies for the Christian ministry at Andover. In June, 1810, he and four other young men, Messrs. Hall, Judson, Mills, and Nott, consecrated their future labours to the cause of foreign missions, and offered their services for this object to the General Association of Massachusetts.* This measure led to the establishment of the "American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions," under whose direction they placed themselves.
Oct. 27. I have just returned from the funeral of Miss B. How loud is this call to me! Ought I not to be more faithful to the souls of my friends, while their bodies are in health! Oh why is it, if I am a chosen one, that I am so backward to speak for God!
Oct. 28. I have been to the house of God, but have had little enjoyment.
"Tis a point I long to know;
Oft it causes anxious thought
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I his, or am I not?
If I love, why am I thus?
Why this cold, and lifeless frame?
Hardly, sure, can they be worse,
Who have never heard his name?"
Oct. 31. Mr. N. called on us this morning. He gave me some account of the dealings of God with his soul. If such a man, who has devoted himself to the service of the gospel, has determined to labour in the most difficult part of the vineyard, and is willing to renounce his earthly happiness for the interest of religion; if he doubts his possessing the love of God:--what shall I say of myself?
Nov. 4. I have once more commemorated the dying love of Jesus. Have entertained some faint views of the character of God; and mourned for the evil of sin. How condescending is God, to permit hell-deserving rebels to commune with him at his table! What, on earth, can equal the love of Jehovah! He treats those who are by nature his enemies, like children.
"But yet how few returns of love,
Hath my Creator found."
Nov. 6. Sleep has fled from me, and my soul is enveloped in a dark cloud of troubles! Oh that God would direct me; that he would plainly mark out the path of duty, and let me not depart from it.
Nov. 10. Have this day commenced reading Law's Serious Call to a Holy Life. How infinitely short do I fall, of that holy conformity to my Maker, which he describes as the duty of a Christian! I am as much obligated to yield myself a willing soldier to Christ, to fight his battles, and to glorify him in every action of my life, as he who ministers at the altar. Why, then, am I not employed in his service? Why stand I here idle all the day?
To her sister M. at Charlestown.
Nov. 18, 1810.
"How gracious, my dear sister, has God been to us. But when I enumerate our many mercies, it is with deep humility that I look back on my past life, and discover so little gratitude, and so much unworthiness. How much has sovereign grace done for me. Though I have solemnly professed to find consolation in religion, to derive my hopes of happiness only from God; yet how often have I roved in the world in quest of pleasure, and dishonoured the best of Masters, by an unholy life. How ungrateful have I been for the common mercies of life, and for the still more precious blessings of the Holy Spirit. May every temporal blessing which your heart can wish, be yours. But whatever be the trials, through which you may be called to pass, oh may that heaven-born religion attend you, which can sweeten the bitter cup of life, afford you joy in this vale of tears, support you in nature's last extremity, and conduct you to the heavenly Canaan, where undisturbed happiness will ever reign. Life is but a vapour. Whether we spend it in tranquillity and ease, or in pain and suffering, time will soon land us on the shores of Eternity, our destined home. These things, my dear sister, my heart tells me, are solemn realities. They are not fictions. Though the language of my past life has been, "there is no future state"; yet I now feel there is an eternity, where I shall meet my earthly friends, and stand accountable to the great tribunal for my conduct towards them. I regret the loss of those hours I have spent in vanity, and in wounding the cause of that dear Redeemer, whom I think, if I am not greatly deceived, I can now call mine. I think I can say with the Psalmist, "whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." His religion comforts and supports my drooping spirits; his promises encourage, and his glories warm my heart. But where am I? The striking clock reminds me of the lateness of the hour. These delightful, these heart-consoling subjects have almost made me forget that "tired nature requires repose."
To Miss Sarah Hills,* Andover.
Haverhill, Nov. 20, 1810.
"Will it afford my dear Miss H. satisfaction to hear of the health and happiness of her friends at Haverhill? While many of our friends are languishing on beds of sickness, sighing for the return of ease,--while many have gone the "way of all the earth," "have heard their sentence and received their doom"; we are still enjoying the blessings of health, and are not out of the reach of pardoning mercy. Ought not a review of these daily blessings to excite in us the liveliest gratitude? How should our whole lives be a constant series of grateful acknowledgment to the Parent of mercies, for bestowing such great, such unmerited favours on rebels doomed to die.--Is my friend, Miss H. rejoicing in God? Does she find joy and peace in believing? This I sincerely hope is your happy condition. I have infinite reason to confess my obligation to God, for the faint discoveries I have lately obtained of his glorious character. Yes, my dear H., I still find the promises precious, and Jesus unchangeable. Though I am worthless and undeserving, yet the blessed Immanuel is lovely and worthy of the united praises of saints and angels.--
* An eminently pious lady, since deceased, warmly attached to Miss Atwood: almost her last words were,
"Jesus can make a dying bed,
Feel soft as down pillows are."
Letter to her sister M.
Haverhill, Jan. 1811.
"Mary, I really long to go to Charlestown, but do not know when I shall enjoy that pleasure. The travelling is very bad at present, and I see no prospect of its being any better. I feel in some degree disappointed in not going on Monday as I expected; but I know I ought not to be; for I should expect nothing below but disappointments: I think that I wish for nothing in this world but a heart wholly conformed to God, and to be prepared to enjoy his perfections in heaven. The world, my dear sister, is incapable of satisfying my vast desires. I find that God alone can satisfy me; and if I love him not, I know not what I love.
I am, &c. HARRIET."
P.S. In reviewing my letter, I find that I have expressed myself differently from my real meaning. I mean, my dear Mary, I wish for nothing in this world in comparison with a heart devoted to God. I have many other wants.
To Miss M.T. of Newbury.
Boston, Feb. 18, 1811.
"What, my dear friend, shall be the subject of our letters? Shall the common occurrences of life, and the flattering compliments of the polite world, fill our sheets; or that religion, which is the glory of the bright intelligences of heaven, and the consolation of trembling believers on earth? I think I can confidently affirm that the latter will be your choice. As for myself, I can say, that if I never felt the power of this religion, yet it is a theme upon which I love to converse, write and reflect. It is a duty incumbent on the children of God, to reprove, encourage, and animate each other on their journey to the upper world. Every Christian has difficulties to overcome, temptations to encounter, and a warfare to accomplish, which the world are strangers to. If pilgrims in the same country can in the least console each other, and sweeten the thorny journey, by familiar intercourse, they ought not to neglect it. We, my dear M., are professedly interested in the same cause. Our home is professedly in heaven; we have temptations, difficulties, trials, and doubts, which, if we are believers, are in unison. I feel that I need the prayers and the advice of all the followers of the Lamb. I have "an evil heart of unbelief," prone to "depart from the living God." Will M. pray for me? Will she bear me in remembrance when supplicating mercy for other sinners? You shall not be forgotten by H.A. If the friend of sinners will lend a listening ear to my feeble cries, M. shall be strengthened and blessed.
It is now about three weeks since I left Haverhill. Last Sabbath I enjoyed the pleasure of hearing the good Dr. G. preach. This pleasure I hope often to be favoured with, while I continue with my sister M. I have been these two days with our friends, the Misses F. My time has passed very pleasantly with them.
I have more things to tell you than I have time to write. A number of interesting occurrences have happened since I saw you. Should I again be indulged with an interview with you, I fear I shall tire your patience with a history of my troubles and pleasures. But I must leave you, my M. May you enjoy the influences of the Holy Spirit in life, consolation in death, and a seat in the mansions of blessedness. HARRIET."
1811.--Feb.24. For four weeks past I have been visiting my sister at Charlestown. The first week, I was remarkably favoured with the presence of Immanuel. Never before did I gain such access to the mercy seat, and entertain such glorious views of the character of God, and such humiliating ideas of my situation, as a sinner. But I have since experienced a sad reverse. My God, why hast thou forsaken me? Oh for that invigorating grace which the Saviour dispenses to his followers! But can I hope myself his follower?
Last Sabbath went with Mr. H. and sister M. to hear Dr. G. His language, his very features spoke the emotion of his soul. His text was in Corinthians, "When I was a child, I spake as a child," &c. As we entered the meeting house, they were singing my favourite hymn, "Lord what a wretched land is this," &c. in a melancholy air. Such were my sensations, that I could hardly refrain from weeping. How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! Where the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed to a lost world, my soul would for ever dwell. I spent three days with the Miss F.'s. Was much pleased with meeting an aged couple engaged for God. Hoary hairs are, in this instance, a crown of glory. Religion is lovely in the decline of life, as well as in its morning.
Mr. H. and M. are absent. My friend _____ has been with me since their departure. I cannot but hope, that she is a chosen vessel. But her trials are great: may she come forth, like gold seven times tried. I do not justly appreciate the inestimable blessing of pious friends. How great the contrast between her situation and mine! Oh for a heart to grow in grace, and improve under the cultivation of the Most High.
Feb. 25. After spending the day in trifling conversation, I was permitted to enjoy the privilege of attending a Christian conference, where the evening was spent in praying, singing, and conversing upon the things of religion. The brethren who were present, conversed with great freedom and engagedness, and all appeared to talk the language of Canaan. "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." I hope to meet these professed followers of Jesus in a world of rest--but why do I thus presumptuously hope. O God, if I am a believer in thee, give me a full assurance of my good estate; if I am a hypocritical professor, arrest me in my career, and cause me to place my hopes of heaven on thee!
Feb. 26. Mr. H. and sister M. inform me, that my dear mother wishes me to engage in a school, the ensuing summer. Can I think of such a responsible situation as that of instructing little immortals? I know that I ought not to consult my own ease; the question should be, how can I be most useful in the world? I hope I shall be directed by God. Oh that He would use me as an instrument of promoting his glory.
M. informed me that the Indian* from the Island of Owhyhee, who has lately resided at the Institution at Andover, called upon mother. It would have given me much satisfaction to have seen him. His conversion would cause great joy to the students. He is a nephew of the High Priest of the island, and would have much influence upon the natives. His heart is not too hard for almighty grace to soften.
*Obookiah, whose life was short, and his death happy. The American Mission to the Sandwich Islands owed its origin to his zeal for the salvation of his countrymen. His Memoirs are among the publications of the American S.S. Union.
This suggestion, that Harriet should assume the charge of some young pupils, was occasioned solely by her mother's knowledge of her earnest desire to "do some good." So ardent was this desire, as to render her at times unhappy at the thought of what she considered, her uselessness in the world. On this account, the suggestion was very welcome, and, when afterwards the plan was thought inexpedient, she submitted to that decision with much regret. In her own home, to her younger brothers and sisters, she was always an assiduous, and a beloved teacher, anxious to "train up" for excellence, both their minds and hearts.
Feb. 27. I have spent the greater part of the day in reading. I find that I am indeed ignorant, and long to have time to devote myself wholly to the improvement of my mind. While endeavouring to obtain useful knowledge, oh may I never forget, that if at last found a hypocrite, I shall be capable of greater sufferings, than if totally ignorant.
Feb. 28. Afflicted with a violent pain in my head. Experience daily evinces, that afflictions will do me no good, unless sanctified. And can I hope that the pain, which I now suffer, will eventually prove one of those "all things that work together for good to those that love God." How ardently ought I to pray, that it may! Then, if admitted to the abodes of bliss, I will bless my Redeemer for every pain which on earth I have experienced. I had had some sense of the presence of Jehovah, and some longing desires to be wholly conformed to him. When shall this vain world lose its power to charm, and the religion of the Gospel influence my heart and life? Oh when shall I die--when shall I live forever? How many times this day have I repeated that Hymn of Dr. Watts, "Lord, what a wretched land is this!"
March 1. Father of lights, it is the office of thy spirit, to create holy exercises in the hearts of thy creatures. Oh may I enter upon this month with renewed resolutions to devote myself exclusively to thee; that at the close of it I may not sigh over misspent hours. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps": I am entirely dependent upon God. If he forsake me, my resolutions will be broken; I shall dishonour his religion, and ruin my soul. Oh leave me not, thou shepherd of Israel, but have mercy upon me for thy name's sake.
March 3. Heard an admirable sermon this morning from Dr. G. Have likewise communed with God at his table. Oh this cold, stupid heart! I long for wings to fly away from earth, and participate in the holiness and pleasures of the saints within the veil. I have had this day a greater sense of my depravity, and of my inability to create exercises pleasing to God, than I recollect having ever had before. I think I feel my need of a physician, if I have no heart to apply to one.
March 4. I have this day visited at ___. The entertainment of the evening was splendid and extravagant. Query. Is it consistent with the humble religion of the gospel, for the friends of God, who ought to deny themselves, and take up their cross daily, to expend that money, which is His, and only lent them for holy uses, in providing dainties to please the palate, and clothes to ornament the body? Where then, is the vast difference between the children of God and the children of this world? As far as I have examined the subject, it is my opinion, that if Christians would appropriate more of their property to charitable purposes, instead of making such extravagant provision for the flesh,--would imitate the example of the meek and lowly Jesus--and feel indifferent to the smiles and frowns of the world; religion would flourish, the kingdom of God would be built up, and happy effects would be visible through the world.
March 6. I have lately been pleasantly engaged in reading Professor Silliman's "travels." One passage has to-day caused mingled emotions as I read. While speaking of subjugated and suffering Holland, he observes--"Freedom, indignant at the atrocities committed under her name, has long since flown with disdain, finding a retreat only in one little island, and one favoured country beyond the ocean." Yes, America is indeed favoured by Heaven. Oh may it be a land of virtue and religion, as well as of freedom.
March 7. It is indeed a delightful privilege to assemble with the saints, and unite with them in the worship of God. I have often considered it a blessed privilege in this sense particularly: the persons present are, in a special manner, the subjects of prayer; and God has pledged his word, where two or three are gathered together in his name, to be with them, and bless them. But Christians should carefully examine their motives for assembling themselves together. If filled with unbelief or spiritual pride, they will lose the promised blessing, and remain without the bread of life.
March 9. This is a delightful evening! Not a cloud is in the heavens to intercept the bright rays of the moon. All nature, both animate and inanimate, appears combined in the blessed employment of praising God. "But man, my kin, lies desolate." He alone is silent, the most ungrateful of the Sovereign's works. The moon, shining in her glory, and the planets and stars, are monitors, that speak more loudly to me than ten thousand human voices. Awake my slothful soul; nothing in creation has half thy work to perform; and oh, let it not be said that "nothing is half so dull."
March 10. How much wisdom and goodness did the Deity manifest, in the appointment of the Sabbath. On this day, Christians can rest from the outward labours of life, and their souls can be refreshed in the sanctuary. On this day, God usually reveals the glories of his character to his children, and often gives them a foretaste of the joys of heaven. Blessed Saviour! grant me this day communion with thee.
March 15. How tedious are the hours which I pass in the company of strangers, when religion is not introduced as a subject of conversation. Were I to judge of my state by no other criterion than that of love to the children of God, I should have no doubts.
March 16. How shall I conquer this growing dislike to my pen! I have often observed, that when I am peculiarly favoured with devout exercises of heart, and am most concerned for the interests of religion, writing is a delightful employment. Oh Jerusalem, how can I forget thee!
March 18. My dear mother wishes me to relinquish the plan of engaging in a school. It is some disappointment; but Providence orders all things for the best.
I have received a letter from my dear Nancy.. She expresses much confidence in the guidance of God. When separated from her by tempestuous seas, may I be remembered in her prayers. How can I part with her? But God is the same unchangeable being, in India, as in America. If we are his children we shall be transported at death to the same abodes of bliss, never more to be separated.
March 25. God has not left himself without witness in the earth. No; he is still manifesting the riches of his grace, in bringing home his chosen ones. A young lady of my acquaintance, formerly gay, and a stranger to piety, has hopefully become the follower of the Lamb. And has my dear M. chosen Jesus for her friend and portion? I cannot but stand amazed to see the salvation of God. "Come, behold the works of the Lord!"
I feel deeply interested for _____, who is distressed for his immortal soul. The situation of an awakened sinner is very critical. If conviction does not terminate in conversion, the heart is hardened, and all future calls and reproofs seldom penetrate it.
I feel that I can rejoice with the angels in heaven, at the conversion of sinners. If those holy beings whose salvation is secure, and who are not personally interested for mortals, make the upper regions ring with their acclamations, when a repenting prodigal returns, what ought to be my joy, when Jesus is honoured, and a soul saved.
I made an appointment with _____, to retire at eleven in the morning, and spend some moments at the throne of grace. May our united prayers be heard!
March 29. Walked this morning in the mall, and through the principal streets. The time is coming, when all these things shall be destroyed. How applicable to all is the command of Jesus, "Watch!"
To Mrs. Mary Atwood.
Monday Eve, March 25, 1811.
"The family have retired, and I am left alone to write a few lines to the best of mothers. I have just returned from a Christian conference, where the religion of Jesus has been the topic of conversation. A female stranger was seated by me weeping, and exhibiting strong marks of an awakened and agonizing conscience. Inquiring the cause of her grief, she answered, she had found herself a sinner, and on the verge of destruction. I have lately, my dear mother, witnessed some of the most solemn and interesting scenes. I called at Mrs._____, the last week, and engaged to spend the next Sabbath with her. Her sister M. who, you know mother, was once an intimate friend of mine, appeared gay and thoughtless. Upon entering the room the next Saturday, she gave me her hand, and with tears in her eyes, she exclaimed, "Harriet rejoice with me; come, and I will tell you what God has done for me." My surprise was so great, I could say nothing, but, "is it possible!" Doct. B., a number of professing Christians, and three children passed the evening there. I will not attempt to describe the circumstances of the evening, but can only say, my mother, it seemed like Bradford. It was indeed a season long to be remembered. I think you will rejoice with other Christians, that another praying soul is found on earth. HARRIET."
To her Sister Elizabeth.
"Will it afford Elizabeth pleasure to hear of the happy change in her friend _____? The alteration in her is conspicuous indeed. Religion makes the lovely appear more lovely. Never did I meet with such a striking instance of the power of divine grace "Behold, she prayeth." She says she is willing to renounce the friendship of the world, and live the life of a child of God. She wishes her companions were engaged in the same cause--she speaks of E., she longs for her conversion. Never before did she know real happiness--lost in the contemplation of the character of Immanuel, she forgets the world--forgets herself. Could you but see her, I am convinced you would say with me, 'Is not this a religion, worth seeking--worth obtaining?' Have we a heart to rejoice with the angels in heaven, and the saints on earth, at the conversion of sinners?"
March 30. Have found much encouragement and satisfaction of late, in reading some of Newton's works. They are indeed a treasure. He penetrates my heart, and while he exposes my depravity, he points me to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.
March 31. The violent storm has prevented my attending public worship. Perhaps I place too much dependence on the means of grace. If so, oh thou covenant Redeemer, rectify this disorder of my heart, and enable me to rely on thee alone. I have had some real enjoyment, while pleading for supplies of grace from the great fountain.
April 1. This is an interesting public day. O that the supreme Ruler of all events, would incline every citizen to vote for that man who is most worthy of the office of governor, and will best fulfil its duties. The aspect of the times is dark; but God can bring good out of evil, and continue to us our national blessings. I often find this reflection a sweet solace in the hour of distress; that no event, however great or small, can take place without the permission and direction of the great Jehovah.
April 2. Attended a quarterly prayer meeting at Dr. Baldwin's. It gave me much pleasure to see ministers of different denominations in the same pulpit, and uniting their efforts in the blessed cause of religion. It led my thoughts to the glorious millennial state of the church, when all will be of one heart and one mind--and to the happy realms of Paradise, where superstition and bigotry are forever unknown, and prejudice is for ever a stranger. If Christians knew how much it would promote their joys, they would endeavour to cultivate this union in this life. Strange! that they can indulge prejudices against each other, when they know that they cannot be admitted with them into the kingdom of God!
April 3. Received a kind letter from dear mother. She writes, "is Harriet saying, that she is stupid?" I thought I could reply, 'no, Mother! God has done great things for me: and my life shall be one continued series of praise.'
April 4. I have learned the truth of the observation of the pious Newton, that "the grace of God is as necessary to create a right temper in Christians on the breaking of a china-plate, as the death of an only son." I find that I need the influences of the Holy Spirit on my heart, as much in the most trivial incidents of life, as in affairs highly important.
April 7. How exactly calculated are all the means and ordinances of the gospel for the comfort and improvement of the saints. What an act of love it was in God, to select one day from the week to be appropriated to his worship. Were it not for this glorious day, I fear I should lose all sense of eternal things. O may I be in the spirit this day!
April 8. Last evening I heard the good Dr. G. His subject was, "love to God." The walk from Boston was unusually pleasant. The rays of the moon glittered on the surface of the water; not a cloud could be seen in the sky. How can the works of nature fail to excite in my mind emotions of holy love to God. How calculated is such an evening to raise my thoughts above this world, to those realms of life and light, where an unclouded sky is for ever seen, and Jesus is the theme of every song.
April 9. What shall a stupid Christian do? Stupid Christian did I say? Can a Christian ever feel stupid? It is an inconsistent title. But notwithstanding all my death-like stupidity, I cannot renounce the hope of being a child of the Most High. What shall I do, a dependent, guilty creature, to gain access to thy mercy-seat, and derive a supply of grace from the fountain of life. Draw me, thou Saviour of sinners, and I will follow thee. O lead me beside the still waters, and refresh my soul with heavenly food.
April 11. This day has been appointed by the Governor, for Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer. Humble me, oh thou great Jehovah! Enable me to fast from iniquity, and deeply to deplore my ingratitude and rebellion. Father, guide me; and prepare my soul for that world of bliss, where sorrow will for ever cease, and weeping will be turned into rejoicing.
April 13. Weep, oh my soul, for the depravity of human nature. But floods of tears can never wash away its stains. Let me then fly to Calvary--there I find a fountain open; and a sufficiency to supply all my wants.
In all my troubles, sharp and strong,
My soul to Jesus flies;
My anchor-hold is firm in him,
When swelling billows rise.
April 17. How shall I record the events of this day! How can I tranquillize my disturbed mind enough to engage in the once delightful employment of writing? I returned from Boston in the morning, after spending three days very agreeably with my friends C. and N. M. handed me a letter with an appearance which indicated that something unusual was contained in it. I broke the seal, and what were my emotions, when I read the name of _____. This was not a long wished for letter,--no, it was a long dreaded one, which I was conscious would involve me in doubt, anxiety, and distress. Nor were the contents such, as I might answer at a distant period;--they required an immediate answer. And now what shall I say? How shall I decide this important, this interesting question?--Shall I consent to leave for ever the parent of my youth, the friends of my life; the dear scenes of my childhood, and my native country; and go to a land of strangers, "not knowing the things that shall befall me there?" O for direction from heaven! "O for that wisdom which is profitable to direct!" I will go to God, and with an unbiased and unprejudiced mind, seek his guidance. I will cast this heavy burden on him, humbly trusting that he will sustain me, and direct me in the path of duty.
April 19. The important decision is not yet made. I am still wavering. I long to see and converse with my dear mother! So delicate is my situation, that I dare not unbosom my heart to a single person. What shall I do? Could tears direct me in the path of duty, surely I should be directed. My heart aches;--I know not what to do!--"Guide me, O thou great Jehovah."
April 21. Sleep has, for the past three nights, been to me a stranger; so greatly has this subject agitated and distressed me. Obliged through weakness to lie down after dinner, and weary, indeed worn out with fatigue of mind, I fell asleep, and for one hour forgot distant India, and all the important questions connected with it. I have now retired to my chamber, once more to vent, in silence, my unavailing sighs, and with an almost bursting heart, implore divine relief and direction.
I shall go home on Tuesday.--Never did I so greatly long to visit the dear native dwelling.
April 22. Perhaps, my dear mother will immediately say, Harriet shall never go. Well, if this should be the case, my duty would be plain. I cannot act contrary to the advice and express commands of a pious mother.
April 24. Yesterday, I returned in safety to my home in Haverhill. How great was my astonishment on finding my dear mother, "tranquil as a summer's eve." She leaves me wholly to my own decision. I am distressed, greatly distressed. May Heaven direct me!
The anxiety and distress, which the proposal of Mr. Newell occasioned, may be, in some degree, conceived, from these extracts from her Journal and her letters. Though far from being a matter in which her heart was indifferent, the great inquiry was, what was her duty?
Her friends were always dear to her, and never more so than at that moment. And she was alike dear to them. Her mother gave, indeed, her full consent, that she should act, as her own convictions of duty should lead her; but it was not without a most painful struggle between affection and religious principle. From many others, she received much discouragement; even from many, whose Christian character gave weight to their opinions.
But the importance of missionary efforts she never doubted; and the usefulness of female cooperation, especially in India, to which this first American foreign mission was directed, was supported by abundant evidence. "These circumstances," said Mr. Newell, "led her to examine the subject prayerfully, and to consider it altogether as a question of duty; in which she had nothing to do, but to seek divine direction, and to obey the will of God. The resolution, which she at length formed, of spending her life among the heathen, was truly her own: and in this resolution she steadfastly continued till death."
Most of the hesitation, expressed in some of her subsequent letters, arose from another cause; a doubt, whether her constitution, naturally delicate, was sufficiently firm to sustain the probable hardships of a missionary life. Mr. Newell himself had some painful apprehensions, that her health or her cheerfulness would fail under such trials. A confidential friend, to whom he communicated his anxiety, replied in these words: "A little slender female may endure losses and sufferings as cheerfully and resolutely as an apostle. The lovely humility and meekness of a Christian woman, are sometimes connected with a tranquillity of mind, that no calamities can ruffle, and a firmness that no danger or distress can subdue. The time may come, when your courage may sink, and when the cheerfulness and resolution of your Harriet will at once astonish and animate you." "I have to acknowledge," said Mr. Newell, several years afterwards, "that these predictions, if I may so call them, were more than once literally fulfilled."
To Mr. Newell.
Haverhill, Wednesday, April, 1811.
"Were I to consult the natural inclinations of my heart, my love of worldly ease, and temporal enjoyment, my dread of ridicule from the world, &c. I should decidedly answer in the negative. But these are not the only difficulties. If I reflect upon my youth, the little knowledge I have of the world, the want of abilities, and a stronger assurance of my interest in the covenant of grace, I tremble at the idea. I wish to follow the guidance of heaven. The subject is too solemn to be trifled with, and too important to be hastily decided.
Wishing to converse personally with my dear mother, I have returned to Haverhill. It afforded me much consolation to find her calm and submissive. Gladly would I leave with her, the dear guardian of my youth, this point, and wait her decision. But no. Although she will not refuse her consent, nor oppose any determination I may come to, yet she will not advise. Who, then, shall guide and direct me? Should I apply for advice to other Christians, their opinions would vary like the wind. Should I wait for an answer to prayer, I might be guided by my own imagination, and instead of following the Saviour, might follow my selfish interests. Oh! for the direction of Jehovah. I tremble lest I should dishonour God by an improper decision. Will Mr. Newell remember Harriet at the mercy seat? Will he implore for her the guidance of that covenant Redeemer, whom she has professed to love. It will be a source of consolation to be assured of a remembrance in the prayers of Christians."
To her sister M.
"Without hesitating for a subject, I will now, my dear Mary, give you a free statement of what has passed since I left you. I improved the opportunity while the passengers were dining at R. and called on Mr. S. He immediately recognized me, and appeared glad to see me. After being questioned respecting the exercises of my mind, since the reformation at Bradford, the subject turned upon Nancy's mission. I did not introduce it. He was strongly in favour of it; would not oppose it on any account. He put the question to me, what if a Missionary should ask you to go, would you dare refuse? So great was my embarrassment, my countenance soon betrayed the feelings of my heart. I said nothing. When I came out, he followed me to the door, and asked me if I would make a friend of him? He told me if I had an opportunity to go the the heathen lands, not to let anything but a strong conviction that it was not duty, prevent. If friends opposed it--pray for them--make it a subject of prayerful deliberation, but by no means to relinquish it, if possible. I engaged his secrecy and prayers and left him. We reached Haverhill about five--found all the family well. And now my dear sister, how do you think I found our dear mother? She was calm, and apparently happy. My return was not wholly unexpected. Conversing with her alone, she told me, that the subject had given her great anxiety, but now she felt submissive, and could raise no objection either way. Mr. N. spent last week in Bradford--perhaps this. With mother's consent, I have this day answered his painful letter--observing that I could not at present come to a full determination. And now, dear Mary, by whom shall I be guided? Even Elizabeth will not say one word against it.--Although she says, she would rather go, than have me, yet she never has brought one objection. I have told you all I know at present upon this subject. My return to Haverhill has not lessened my desires to visit the missionary ground, nor induced me to think it is not my duty to go. But I think I can say with my dear mother, that I do feel a satisfaction in committing this to God. How is your health? I hope my dear, dear Mary was not injured by seeing a sister in distress and doubt. I intended writing more, but am prevented. Mr. N. is here--Oh Mary what shall I say--how shall I conduct? My head aches, and my heart aches; I can say no more. In haste,
To her sister M. at Charlestown.
-----"Should I tell you there is a prospect of my spending the remaining part of this short life in a land of strangers; should I tell you I do seriously think of leaving my native dwelling, my friends and my companions, for ever, would you upbraid me? Could you attribute it to want of attachment to the friends of my youth, or to entire ignorance of this great undertaking? You would not, you could not, did you know the conflict which almost rends my heart. Never before did my dear mother, brothers and sisters appear so dear to me. But God commands me! In his holy providence, he now offers me an opportunity of visiting the heathen. While many of my female friends who are far more adequate to the important employment, are permitted to enjoy the society of their earthly relatives through life, I am called to quit the scenes of my childhood, and go to a far distant country. How can I ever pray for the promotion of the gospel among the heathen, if I am unwilling to offer my little aid when such an opportunity is given? I know what to expect from a gay and thoughtless world. But I have this consolation, that ridicule cannot injure my soul.
I have this consolation--if the motives by which I am actuated are sincere and good, God will accept the inclination to glorify him, even though I should not be made useful. But my dear sister, this is a trying season! It is from God alone that I derive the least sensible comfort. This world has lost its power to charm, and all its applause is a trifle light as air. My companions are perhaps accusing me of superstition and the love of novelty. But God alone knows the motives by which I am actuated, and he alone will be my final judge. Let me but form such a decision as he will approve, and I ask no more. Willingly will I let go my eager grasp of the things of time and sense, and flee to Jesus. Oh that he would prepare me for the future events of life, and glorify himself in the disposal of my concerns."
To Miss M.S. of Boston.
Haverhill, Sabbath eve--May, 1811.
"While agitated with doubts and conflicts, with the gay world in opposition, it has afforded me much consolation to think I have a friend in M. who can feel my sorrows, and sympathize with me in grief. I have passed through many interesting and solemn scenes since I last saw you. Returning to Haverhill, I found my dear mother calm and composed. So completely was she filled with a sense of the shortness of time, the uncertainty of life, and the duty of giving up our dearest comforts to the Lord, that she never raised one Objection, but wished me to act as my conscience directed. I felt an unspeakable consolation in committing the disposal of this event to God. I thought I could willingly renounce my own opinion, and sitting at the feet of Jesus, be guided entirely by him. Mr. N. has visited us frequently. He wishes not to influence me; he would not if he could.
And now, my dear M. what will you say to me when I tell you, that I do think, seriously think of quitting my native land for ever, and of going to a far distant country, "not knowing the things which shall befall me there." Should I refuse to make this sacrifice, refuse to lend my little aid in the promulgation of the gospel amongst the heathen, how could I ever expect to enjoy the blessing of God, and peace of conscience, though surrounded with every temporal mercy? It would be pleasant to spend the remaining part of my life with my friends, and to have them surround my dying bed. But no! I must relinquish their society, and follow God to a land of strangers, where millions of my fellow sinners are perishing for lack of vision. I have professed, my friend, for these two years past, to derive comfort only from God. Here, then is a consoling reflection, that the ever blessed Jesus is able to support and comfort me, as well in the sultry climes of India, as in my dear native land. I trust that he will make his promise good, that as my day is, so shall my strength be. The wintry storms of life will soon be over; and if I have committed my immortal interest into the hands of God, I shall shortly find a sweet release from every woe. So visibly have I beheld the hand of Providence in removing some obstacles which once I though almost insurmountable, that I dare not object. All my friends, with whom I have conversed, since my return to Haverhill, advise me to go. Some Christians, who were formerly opposed, after obtaining a more extensive knowledge of the subject, think females would be useful. The people of this world probably view this subject as they do others. Those who have never felt the worth of their own souls, account it superstition and hypocritical zeal, for Christians to sacrifice their earthly pleasures, for the sake of telling the heathen world of a Saviour. But all the ridicule that the gay and thoughtless sinner can invent, will not essentially injure me. If I am actuated by love to the Saviour and his cause, nothing on earth or hell can hurt me. I must ask your prayers for me. We have prayed together; O let us now, though separated in person, unite at the throne of grace. Perhaps my views of this subject may be altered; and God may yet prepare a way for me to continue in America. O, that I might be submissive, and humbly wait on God. He can direct me at this eventful crises, and glorify himself. Affectionately yours,
To S.H. of Newbury.
Haverhill, June 12, 1811.
"How shall I sufficiently thank my dear Miss H. for the kind token of affectionate remembrance, which she was kind enough to send me? Your letter really exhilarated my languid spirits. I had spent the evening in conversation with Mr. N. The subject of the contemplated Mission was renewedly talked over, and the dangers, the crosses, the manifold trials of such an important undertaking, were themes which engrossed our thoughts. Depressed with anxious apprehensions, and in doubt respecting duty, Mrs. G. handed me a letter, and the well know hand of the writer I soon recognized. The contents dispelled many a heart-rending sigh. Would to heaven I could prevent distress from ever entering the heart of a widowed, beloved parent, and the dearest brothers and sisters. O Miss H. could these dear friends but go with me to distant India--but alas; that is a fruitless wish;--but were it possible that this could be the case, I think I could quit America without reluctance, and even rejoice to spend my life among the benighted heathen. Sometimes, I can reflect upon this subject with composure, and even long to be on missionary ground, where superstition and idolatry usurp the sway; I think I can bid my dear friends a last farewell, with calmness, and follow, with delight, the leadings of Providence. But at other times, I fear that this is not the situation God has designed for me; and if it is not, I can never lay claim to the promises of the gospel, or expect the support of an Almighty arm, when dangers stand thick around me. My greatest fear is that I shall lose all courage and perseverance, should I go, and not only be unhappy myself, but make those wretched who are with me. But are not these thoughts criminal, when carried to excess? Ought I not to praise the Lord for what I have received, and trust Him for a supply of grace? Ought I not to examine the subject carefully, and if, on examination, I am convinced that Jesus calls me to make these great sacrifices, ought I not to do it voluntarily, and leave the event with the ruler of the universe?
I find, my dear Miss H. that I am now in great danger of being actuated by a strong attachment. Oh, could I but give the ever blessed God the first place in my affections, I should not be in danger of being misled by earthly objects. Often have I adopted the words of the pious Mr. Cowper:
"The dearest idol I have know,
Whate'er that idol be:
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee."
When shall we hope for a visit from you? Do write me often; your letters will always be acceptable. Although tired and fatigued with the employments of the day, I have improved this late hour in writing.
Can I ask the favour of being remembered in your intercessions at the throne of grace? Oh, that Christians would pray for me. Farewell, my dear Miss H. May the choicest blessings of heaven be yours. I am affectionately your
June 22. I have this day taken my leave of Mr. N. not expecting to see him again for nine months. I can hardly feel reconciled to his departure, but the will of the Lord be done. Taking every circumstance into consideration, I am fully persuaded, it will be most for his interest to spend the summer and winter in Philadelphia. Why, then, should I object?
June 27. It is now almost five years since my mind became seriously impressed with eternal realities. What have I learned, in these five years, of myself? and what of God? Weep, oh my soul, for past transgressions and present unfruitfulness.
Extracts from Letters and Journal continued, from her engagement to Mr. Newell, until the close of her eighteenth year.
To Miss C.F. of Boston.
Haverhill, June 29, 1811.
"I thank you, dear C., for your affectionate letter. The kind interest you have of late taken in my happiness, has greatly endeared you to my heart. May you never want a friend to sympathize with you, "when adverse fortune frowns," or to rejoice with you, when "life's vale is strewed with flowers fresh." If the remaining days of my short pilgrimage are to be spent in sorrow, oh that heaven would grant C. peace and happiness, and a sure pledge of joys to come. Where my future lot may be cast, time only can determine. If I can but maintain a firm and unshaken confidence in God, an humble reliance on his blessed promises, I shall be safe, though temporal comforts languish and die. I am now calculating upon a life of trials and hardships: but the grace of Jesus is sufficient for me. The friend of sinners is able and willing to support me amid scenes of danger and distress.
When I bade you a parting adieu, my mind was in a state of agitations which I can never express. Dejected and weary, I arrived at the dear mansion where I have spent so many happy hours. My dear mother met me at the door with a countenance that bespoke the tranquillity of her mind. The storm of opposition, as she observed, had blown over, and she was brought to say from the heart, "thy will be done." Yes, C. she had committed her child to God's parental care; and though her affection was not lessened, yet, with tears in her eyes, she said, "If a conviction of duty, and love to the souls of the perishing heathen, lead you to India, as much as I love you, Harriet, I can only say, Go."--Here I was left to decide the all-important question. Many were the conflicts within my breast. But, at length, from a firm persuasion of duty, and a willingness to comply, after much examination and prayer, I answered in the affirmative.
I wish to tell you all the motives that have actuated me to come to this determination; likewise, how all the difficulties, which applied to me particularly, have been removed, But this I cannot until I see you. Why cannot you make it convenient to spend three or four weeks with me this summer? To assure you it would afford me happiness, would be but what you already know. Write to me, C. next week if possible. Let me know when I may expect you, and I will be at home. Perhaps we may go and spend a day or two with our friends in N. I am very lonely. Nancy Hasseltine has been visiting at S. ever since I returned from Charlestown. Mr. Newell has gone to Philadelphia, where he expects to continue until a short time before he quits his native country. He is engaged in the study of medicine, together with Mr. Hall. HARRIET."
To Mr. Newell, then in Philadelphia.
Haverhill, July 16, 1811.
---"With respect to the mission, my mind has never been so solemnly impressed as since you left me. Various indeed have been my feelings. I fear I have not thought enough of the most important qualification of all, viz. a heart wholly devoted to God. Sometimes, when reflecting on this subject, I think I shall welcome the day, which will land me on India's shores, that I may have an opportunity of telling those dear benighted females, what I have felt of a Saviour's love, and of the worth of his blessed gospel. At other times, a sense of the dangers and hazards of a missionary life quite depresses my spirits, and deprives me of every enjoyment. Is it a delusion, or do I really feel willing to sacrifice the pleasures and comforts of life, which I might enjoy in my native country, and unite with the few dear brethren and sisters, in using my feeble efforts to Christianize the heathen?
I think upon the whole that I am decided. I have never met with so much encouragement as of late. I have conversed freely with a number of Christian ministers, who unanimously say, "go, and may the blessed Saviour go with you." But I cannot bear the idea that my going should be attended with so many anxieties on your part. Unless I have a hope of rendering Mr. Newell in some degree happy by sympathizing with him in trouble, mitigating some pain, or lightening some heavy burden, I ought not to go. If I should only be an additional care, a heavy incumbrance, without affording him any assistance in the arduous undertaking, the case ought to have been decided in the negative long ere this. Will you promise me you will overcome these feelings, which I have so often heard you express. I have friends--what cause for gratitude that I have them to leave. I have a pleasant home--this likewise calls for gratitude--but the presence of the great Jehovah would make even a mud-walled cottage desirable. You fear I shall lose my courage and look back with longing desires toward America--this I likewise fear; but that God who has said that his grace is sufficient for his children, will, if I sincerely desire it, grant me new resolution and strength to persevere. From God is all my aid. Oh pray for me, that I may possess those qualifications which are requisite.
August 1. "I think of the days of other years, and am sad." But God is unchangeably the same. Blessed be his holy name, he has not given me up to hardness of heart, but is often, at seasons, worthy of grateful remembrance, making me to feel the importance of living a holy life, and of promoting the glory of his cause in the world.
August 4. Communion day. Stupid and insensible while I professedly commemorated the dying love of my covenant Redeemer.
"I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If aught is felt 'tis only pain
To find I cannot feel."
When shall I enjoy the visits of a Saviour's love, in his sanctuary and at his table! Time was, when the ordinances of the gospel were refreshing to my soul. I sat at his table, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. Why this change in my feelings? Is not God as willing and as able to delight my soul in his house of prayer, as when light first dawned upon my mind? He most certainly is. How criminal, then, I am for not enjoying constant communion with him! Have I not loved idols, more than him? Have I not sought happiness, where it is not to be found? Oh for the influences of the Holy Spirit to attract my soul to the centre of universal happiness!
Aug. 7. I have just laid down Horne on Missions. How did his pious heart glow with benevolence to his fellow creatures! How ardently did he wish for the promulgation of the glorious gospel, among the benighted heathen! I think, for a moment, I partake his ardour, and long to hear that the standard of the cross is set up in the distant nations of the earth.
"Yes, Christian heroes! go, proclaim
Salvation through Immanuel's name:
To India's clime the tidings bear,
And plant the rose of Sharon there."
Willingly would I sacrifice the dearest earthly friend to engage in this blessed service. Oh that I had a thousand pious relatives, well calculated for the important station of Missionaries. The tenderest ties that bind me to them should be eagerly cut; and I would say to them, "go, and let the destitute millions of Asia and Africa know, there is compassion in the hearts of Christians; tell them of the love of Jesus, and the road to bliss on high." Providence now give me an opportunity to go myself to the heathen. Shall I refuse the offer--shall I love the glittering toys of this dying world so well, that I cannot relinquish them for God? Forbid it heaven! Yes, I will go. However weak and unqualified I am, there is an all-sufficient Saviour ready to support me. In God alone is my hope. I will trust his promises, and consider it one of the highest privileges that could be conferred upon me, to be permitted to engage in his glorious service among the wretched inhabitants of India.
To Mr. Newell.
Haverhill, Aug. 9, 1811.
---"I am astonished at my calmness when contemplating the probable events of my future life.--Shall I impute these feelings to insensibility? Have I no ties to bind me to my native country? Have I no natural affection for my friends? Surely it is not because I have taken a wrong view of the subject, and am anticipating a life of ease and tranquillity. Why is it thus? Often do I look forward, not only without distress, but with a degree of pleasure, once unknown. I feel a satisfaction in committing my mortal interest to God, and in relying on him for those supplies of grace, which will enable me to persevere in the path of duty. The subject is solemn and important. While my heart sometimes exults at the prospect of being made the favoured instrument of bringing home one heathen to Jesus; I often tremble, lest some inferior motive should induce me to make these great sacrifices. But was it any earthly consideration which first directed my thoughts to the heathen world? O no."
Aug. 11. How reviving to my disconsolate mind, has been the word of life, this day! O, this adorable plan of salvation! Have I the least inclination to alter one single part of it, if I could? O no, I would not be less holy---I would not wish the author of it to exact less perfect obedience from his creatures.
Mr. R. drank tea with us. I felt the same backwardness in conversing upon the things of the kingdom that I usually do. Whence this criminal diffidence! O when will divine grace so absorb my heart, that my stammering tongue shall be loosed, and Jesus and his salvation be my constant theme! If I cannot unite in conversing with believers, in a land where religion flourishes, how can I speak to the benighted heathen of India, whose minds are involved in pagan darkness?
To her Sister E.
Haverhill, Tuesday morning.
_____"I have lately been led to reflect on the probable scenes of my future life with a degree of satisfaction, and pleasure. The idea that God can make use of the weakest instruments to promote his glory, has afforded me much consolation. I know the foundation is sure, and the cause a blessed one to be engaged in. Be the difficulties ever so many, the undertaking ever so hazardous, yet if I should be made the humble instrument of turning one poor heathen from the worship of dumb idols, to the service of the living God, how great will be my recompense, how glorious the reward. Who would not be willing to sacrifice those enjoyments which a parent's house affords, leave for ever their beloved country, and spend the remnant of their life, in the delightful employment of teaching listening, attentive, dear benighted heathens, the way to Jesus, the road to glory? Elizabeth, my heart exults at the thought. Yes, I will go; relying on all-sufficient grace to bear me conqueror through. The presence of Jehovah will make a cottage desirable; the love of Jesus, and a desire for the salvation of the deluded inhabitants of the eastern world, shall lead me to cut these tender ties which so closely unite me to American shores, and say in the language of submission,
"Here am I Lord, send me where thou wilt.
Should fate command me to the farthest verge
Of the green earth, to distant barb'rous climes,
Rivers unknown to song; where first the sun
Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam
Flames on the Atlantic isles; 'tis nought to me:
Since God is ever present, ever felt,
In the void waste as in the city full;
And where he vital breathes, there must be joy."
When my mind is engaged contemplating the object of this mission, all seeming difficulties often vanish, the view delights my heart, and it is with reluctance I dismiss the subject. A consciousness of my want of proper qualifications for this arduous undertaking, leads me to that fountain, where every want is abundantly supplied."
To Miss M.S. of Boston.
Haverhill, Sabbath, Aug. 11, 1811.
"How great, my dear M. would be the pleasure, could I retreat with you to some lonely corner, far from the busy haunts of this vain world, and unbosom to you the secrets of my heart, instead of writing to you. But this dear privilege is denied me. I must be content with expressing a few unconnected thoughts on paper for the present, and will anticipate a happy meeting with you on earth, and a still happier one in those regions, where the friends of Immanuel will never more be separated. What if our intercourse on earth should cease? If we are the followers of the Lamb, our prayers will unitedly ascend to the same blessed throne while we live, and when our pilgrimage is ended, our friendship will exist and flourish for ever. M. we are pilgrims, we are strangers in a barren land. This world is not our portion; it is incapable of satisfying our desires. The glittering toys of life are not calculated to afford real enjoyment. There is nothing in heaven or earth, but God, that can delight our hearts, and ease us of the heavy load of sin. Let us not be satisfied with the low and grovelling pursuits of time; but let us look to the unchangeable Jehovah, for a supply of his soul refreshing grace. How much has God done for us individually? He has, as we humbly trust, made us partakers of his grace, and redeemed us from eternal death. What shall we render to him for this abundant mercy? O let our future lives evince gratitude, and let our praises unceasingly flow to his throne. Dear M. I feel as though I had done nothing for God. Where are the last five years of my wretched life? Can they witness to my exertions in the cause of the Lord? "I think of the days of other years, and my soul is sad." All is a barren waste. A few heartless duties and cold formalities will never carry me to heaven.
Sabbath eve. This day, my dear M. I have been highly privileged. I have heard three sermons preached by the excellent Mr. R. How sweet is the gospel to the heart of the believer! How does the pure word of truth animate the desponding sinner, and encourage him to apply to the Lamb of God for pardon and sanctification! But of this glorious gospel, which reveals to mortals the way of salvation, the far greater part of the inhabitants of the earth are deprived. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Thousands of immortal souls are entering eternity, and peopling the dark realms of woe. If our souls are of greater importance than this world with all its boasted treasures, how can we calculate the worth of those millions of souls, which are equally as precious as our own? We have had the Bible in our hands from our childhood; we are instructed regularly from this precious volume, every Sabbath. We have believing friends to associate with; we enjoy the stated ordinances of the gospel. But the dear heathen have no such privileges. They are destitute of Bibles, Sabbaths, and churches. The inhabitants of India, to atone for their sins, will submit to the most cruel tortures imaginable. Widows consent to be burned with their deceased husbands; parents sacrifice their infant offspring to appease the anger of their idol gods. But this dreadful superstition vanishes before the benignant rays of the gospel, as the morning dew before the rising sun. We enjoy its meridian splendours. Have we any benevolence? Are we susceptible of feeling for the distresses of our fellow creatures? As we value the salvation which a Saviour offers; as we value his tears, his labours, and his death, let us now seriously ask what we shall do for the salvation of the benighted heathen? If we are not permitted to visit them ourselves, and declare to them the efficacy of a Saviour's blood; yet we can ardently pray for them. And not only pray for them, but by our vigorous exertions we can awaken a missionary spirit in others, and excite them also to feel for those who are perishing in pagan darkness. M. the subject is copious indeed. I might easily write till the rising sun, and then not give you a perfect delineation of the wretchedness of many of our fellow creatures. But I must leave these forlorn wretches. Suffice it to say, that when the whole universe shall stand collected at the bar of God, we shall meet them, and there render a solemn account for the manner in which we have conducted ourselves towards them in this world. I hope my dear M. you are living near to God, and enjoying times of refreshing from his presence. O pray often, and remember me in your prayers. I shall ever continue to love you. Farewell, my dear M. Your affectionate HARRIET ATWOOD."
To her sister M. at Charlestown.
Haverhill, Aug. 1811.
---"A few moments, this morning, shall be spent in writing to my dear sister. Accept my hearty congratulations for your returning health. I often think of you, and imagine you possessed of every comfort which can render life desirable. O may these streams of divine goodness lead you to the fountain. I have been contrasting your present delightful situation with the trying one that will probably be mine. Although I could shed floods of tears at the idea of bidding a final farewell to the dear associates of my youth, and the guardian and instructor of my early years; yet a consciousness that this is the path marked out for me by my heavenly Father, and an assurance that the cause I have engaged in is a blessed one, impart at times an indescribable pleasure, which the brightest earthly prospects could not bestow. If some unforseen occurrence should prevent my going to the East Indies, I shall still enjoy the satisfaction of thinking that this also is ordered by God. Should I never go, O may I never forget the wretched inhabitants of Hindostan, nor cease to pray that they may enjoy the blessings of the gospel."
Aug. 13. How consoling has been the beloved promise, when sinking under the contemplated difficulties of a missionary life; "my grace is sufficient for thee." Have I any thing but an unfaithful, depraved heart, to discourage me in this great undertaking? Here the Almighty God, the Maker of all worlds, the infinite Disposer of all events, has pledged his word for the safety of his believing children. Sooner will the universe sink into nothing, than God will fail of performing his promises. The cause is good--the foundation is sure. If the Saviour has promised a sufficiency of his almighty grace, what have I to fear? O that I had a stronger confidence in God--a heart to rely on him for grace to help in every time of need! Be the difficulties ever so many, the trials ever so great, the employment ever so arduous, He hath assured me, that his grace will be sufficient to support, to comfort, and to carry me safely through. And when I reach my journey's end, how trifling will earthly sorrows appear!
Aug. 14. This is indeed a wretched world. How few the joys! how many and various, the sorrows of life! Well; if this world is unsatisfying--"if cares and woes promiscuous grow," how great the consolation, that I shall soon leave it!
"Loose, then, from earth, the grasp of fond desire,
Weigh anchor, and the happier climes explore."
In the Paradise of God, every rising wish, that swells the heart of the celestial inhabitant, is immediately gratified. O for a dismission from this earthly tabernacle--O for an entrance into those lovely mansions! My soul pants for the full enjoyment of God. I cannot bear this little spirituality--this absurd indifference; I long to be swallowed up in endless fruition! When shall I die--when shall I live forever?
Aug. 15. A letter from my friend Mr. N.--May he enjoy the light of Immanuel's countenance! Have just heard of Mr. Judson's arrival, and that he expects soon to set out for India. This unexpected news deeply affected my mind. A consciousness of my unpreparedness for this arduous undertaking makes me tremble. But I will give myself to God; "'tis all that I can do."
Aug. 19. Conscious that the riches and honours of this world will not be mine, my deceitful heart often promises solid and durable happiness in the society of a dear friend. But how vain this hope! O let me, from this hour, cease from anticipating happiness from creatures.--O that I could look to God alone for permanent satisfaction.
"Dear Saviour, let thy beauties be
My soul's eternal food;
And grace command my heart away
From all created good."
Aug. 20. How strong is Christian friendship. He who enjoined it upon his followers, to love God, has likewise commanded them to love one another. If I am a stranger to the joys of pardoning mercy; if I am an enemy to holiness; whence arises this union with Christians? What has produced this love to those, who resemble God? Formerly I preferred the friendship and society of those, whose hearts were at enmity with God; who disliked the sublime though humbling doctrines of the gospel; but now I can say with Ruth, "thy people shall be my people." My soul is cemented to them; and if I am not greatly deceived, my affection is the strongest for those, who live nearest to God, and are most concerned for his glory. I love the most abject creature in existence, however despised by the wise men of this world, who bears the image of the lowly Jesus. Yes; how could I rejoice to give the endearing appellation of brother or sister, to one of the tawny natives of the East, whom grace had subdued.
Aug. 22. Sweet is the name of Immanuel to believers. That name speaks peace and consolation to their troubled minds. In him they find a balm for every woe.
"Jesus, to multitudes unknown,
O name divinely sweet!
Jesus, in thee, in thee alone,
Wealth, honour, pleasure meet.
Should both the Indies, at my call,
Their boasted stores resign;
With joy, I would renounce them all,
For leave to call thee mine.
Should earth's vain treasures all depart,
Of this dear gift possessed,
I'd clasp it to my joyful heart,
And be for ever blessed."
Is this the language of my heart? Am I willing to relinquish the pleasures, the honours, the riches and the applause of the world, for leave to call Immanuel mine? If so, I may enjoy exalted happiness, even in a land of strangers.
To Miss H.B. of Salem.
Haverhill, Aug. 23, 1811.
"Induced by the repeated solicitations of your sister S. I have retired to my chamber, determining to devote a leisure hour to renewing a correspondence, which has for a long time been entirely relinquished.
The attachments which I formed in the early part of my life, have of late been greatly strengthened. Those companions in whose society, "the longest summer days seemed too much in haste," have become exceedingly dear to my heart. You, my H. were one of the choicest and most loved members of the dear familiar circle. Did pensive melancholy for a moment assume the place of mirth and gaiety in my mind; you were immediately acquainted with the cause. Did my youthful heart beat with joy; if you were a partner, joy was heightened. But particularly dear did the appellation of friend appear, when we were unitedly depressed with a sense of the divine displeasure, and when our souls, as we then thought, were irradiated with the light of truth, and washed in the peace speaking blood Immanuel.
Should our lives be spared, very different will probably be our future destinies. Blest with those beloved friends, whose sympathy alleviates every grief, whose society contributes so largely to your happiness, and indulged, not only with a competency, but with affluence and ease, you may glide along through this world, almost a stranger to the ills attendant on mortals. But, these joys remain not for me. Destined to a far distant land, my affectionate friends, my pleasant home, my much loved country, I must leave for ever. Instead of the soft delights and elegances of life, self-denials, hardships, privations and sorrows will be mine. Instead of the improved and polished society of Haverhill associates, will be substituted the society of the uncivilized Hindoos. Instead of being enlivened by the cheering voice of a believing friend, I shall behold thousands prostrating themselves before dumb idols, while the air will ring with the horrid sounds of idol music. No churches will be found for the refreshment of weary pilgrims; no joyful assemblies, where saints can resort to unite in the reviving exercises of social worship. All will be dark, every thing will be dreary, and not a hope of worldly happiness will be for a moment indulged. The prime of life will be spent in an unhealthy country, a burning region, amongst a people of strange language, at a returnless distance from my native land, where I shall never more behold the friends of my youth.
Amid these discouragements, I often find my sinking heart desponding. But his is not all. Even while blest with a habitation in my own country, I hear some of those friends whom I fondly love, accusing me of love of novelty, of an invincible attachment to a fellow creature, of superstition, and of wanting a great name. Wretched indeed, will be my future lot, if these motives bear sway in my determination. Surrounded by so many discouragements, I find consolation only in God! "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me." A consciousness that this is the path which my heavenly Father hath selected for me, and an ardent desire for the salvation of the benighted heathen, constrains me to cry, "Here am I," Lord, send me where thou wilt. Daily experience convinces me that the glittering toys of life are not capable of conferring real happiness. With my present feelings, I may enjoy as much happiness in India as in America. But my great consolation is that life is short. However great may be my trials, they will soon be over. H. I feel that this is a wretched world. It is nearly six years since, I humbly trust, I committed my all to God, willing that he should dispose of me as he saw best. He has given me friends; he has given me many earthly comforts; but he is not appointing me trials, greater than I yet have know. But I think I can say, "It is well." Give me but humble resignation to thy will, O my God, and I ask no more. The presence of Immanuel will make a cottage, a foreign land, and savage associates desirable. What but the light of the Redeemer's countenance can make me happy here?--and what but that can delight my soul, in a far distant country?
"For me remains not time, nor space,
My country is in every place;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there."
It seems a long time since we had the pleasure of seeing you at Haverhill. Your time undoubtedly passes away very pleasantly at Salem. May your happiness be constantly increasing, at the return of each succeeding year. May you have that peace of mind, that heart-felt joy, which is known only by the decided follower of Jesus. This is pleasure that knows no alloy, and of which death can never deprive you. May I meet you with all my dear friends, in that world, where a wide sea can never separate us. I hope to spend many happy hours with you before I bid you a final farewell. I am affectionately yours, HARRIET."
Aug. 26. What word can be more impressive and weighty than ETERNITY? How replete with events that deeply interest every intelligent creature! How full of ideas too big for utterance! And can Eternity be mine, "poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?" If the word, which has proceeded from Jehovah, be true, I shall surely inhabit a dread Eternity, when this short life is ended. O yes! I feel that I have an immaterial part, which will survive "the wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds." Death can never extinguish this in inward principle; is it immortal; it will continue the same, when time and nature fail. And shall it exist in glory? O, let me fly to Jesus, and make his arms my resting place, while the storms of divine wrath are gathering over an impenitent world. Then shall I rest securely, when the heavens are rolled together as a scroll, when the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth shall be burned up.
September 1. Far from the happy land, where salvation has been proclaimed, my thoughts have wandered over the stormy seas, to regions, whose inhabitants are sitting in the shadow of death. No light of divine revelation beams on them,. No sanctuaries where God is worshipped, are erected for them--no communion tables--no bread and wine to remind them, that a Saviour shed his blood on Calvary for them! Weep, O my soul, for the forlorn heathen.--Be astonished at the stupidity of Christians--be astonished at thine own indifference about their wretched condition. O thou blessed Redeemer, thou who didst commission thy disciples of old to preach the gospel of thy grace to every creature; wilt thou send forth labourers: make the wilderness a fruitful field, and cause the desert to blossom like the rose.
"I'm but a stranger and a pilgrim here,
In these wide regions, wandering and forlorn,
Restless and sighing for my native home,
Longing to end my weary space of life,
And to fulfil my task."
Yes; my Redeemer, I know by experience that this life is a tiresome round of vanities, hourly repeated. All is an empty, deceitful appearance, an unsubstantial shadow. My thirsty soul longs for the enjoyment of God in heaven, where the weary and heavy laden find rest. How long, O my Father, shall I wander in this dreary land? When shall I bid a final adieu to these scenes of guilt!
"O haste the hour of joy, and sweet repose."
How refreshing will heavenly rest be to my soul, after a life of toil and hardship!
To Mr. Newell.
Andover, Sept. 7, 1811.
---"The conversation turned this morning on that subject which most interests my feelings. Mr. _____, while leading my thoughts to the glory of the cause I professedly wish to promote, has greatly lessened every discouragement, and given me a "passion for missions," which I never felt before. Before I came to Andover I felt discouraged and distressed; not on account of my health, nor from opposition of friends, nor from a dread of the privations and difficulties of a missionary life; but wholly from the want of more heartfelt conformity to God, and a greater concern for the salvation of the heathen. I feel that piety is as important here, as it would be in India. It requires as much self-denial to live above the world and wholly to God here, as it would to leave country, friends, all that is dear to me, and go to a heathen country, a land of strangers. I have one request to make, your compliance with which will be highly gratifying to me. It is this; that in your next letter you will mention one particular hour in the day when I may meet you at the throne of grace, to pray for the success of the mission, for the brethren and sisters connected with it, and for each other.
Sept. 13. My dear brother J. has returned, and will spend his six weeks' vacation with us. Pleasure and pain alternately filled my bosom, while he clasped me in his arms. I felt something like a particular pang. He is a dear, dear brother.
"Oh may I meet him on that blissful shore,
Where parting sounds shall pass our lips no more."
Sept. 17. How sweet is this text; "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and by supplications, let your requests be made known unto God." When the contemplated difficulties of my future life depress me, how often am I relieved and comforted by this, and similar invitations. How precious, how exceedingly valuable is the word of God! "The gospel bears my spirit up."
Sept. 30. Surely the heathen converts do not live as I do. How active are those who have received the Christian religion. O let me learn wisdom from those, who have so lately been taught what are the first principles of godliness.
To a Friend.
Haverhill, Sept. 1811.
"Forgive, my dear M. the liberty I take in addressing you in this manner. From my first acquaintance with you, I have felt deeply interested for your happiness. Nothing but an affectionate regard for you would induce me to write to you on a subject, which the world will undoubtedly ridicule, but which engages the attention and constitutes the felicity of the holy inhabitants of heaven. This subject is the religion of the gospel--a subject which is infinitely interesting to us both.
You have of late witnessed a scene, trying indeed, and solemn as eternity. You have watched the sick bed, you have heard the expiring groans of your beloved sister. You fondly hope that she was interested in the covenant of redemption, and is now perfectly happy in the enjoyment of her God in heaven. When standing by the dying bed of this dear sister, say, my friend, did you not ardently wish for piety similar to her's--for that faith, which could triumph over the horrors of a dying hour? Was the hope then cherished, that you should meet her in yonder world, when the trials of this short life are over? and did this hope support your sinking spirits in the trying hour of separation? She has gone for ever, but we are still prisoners of hope. Could we now draw back the covering of the tomb, and listen to her language, how earnestly would she beseech us to become reconciled to God, and devote our lives wholly to his service.
My dear M. these are not idle dreams. If we reflect for a moment, we feel conscious that there is an immortal principle within, which will exist when time and nature die. This principle is corrupted by sin, and without the sanctifying grace of God, we should be unhappy, even though admitted to heaven. Do but examine the feelings of your heart one hour, and you cannot for a moment doubt the truth of this assertion. How important then that we should have this work of grace begun in our hearts before it is too late. "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." To-morrow our probation may be closed, and we may be irrecoverably lost. M. my heart is full. What inducements can I offer you to receive Jesus into your heart, and willingly sacrifice your all for him? O think of the worth of the soul, the price paid to redeem it, the love of Immanuel, your obligations to live to him, the joys prepared for the righteous;--and O, think of the torments in reserve for the finally impenitent--and be induced to flee from the wrath to come. If nothing in Providence prevents, before the return of another autumn, Harriet will be a stranger in a strange land. I go, my friend, where heathens dwell, far from the companions of my playful years, far from the dear land of my nativity. My contemplated residence will be--not among the refined and cultivated, but among females degraded and uncivilized, who have never heard of the religion of Jesus. How would it gladden my sad heart, in the trying hour of my departure, could I but leave a dear circle of females of my own age, engaged for God, and eminent for their usefulness, in Haverhill. Well; I hope to find a circle of Hindoo sisters in India, interested in that religion which many of my companions reject, though blessed with innumerable privileges. But my friend M. will not treat with indifference this religion. O no: I will cherish the fond hope, that she will renounce the world, become a follower of Immanuel, and be unwearied in her exertions to spread the triumphs of the cross through the world. I must leave you, my dear M., with God. May you become a living witness for him. When our journey through this barren wilderness is ended, may we meet in heaven. HARRIET ATWOOD."
Extracts from Letters to sundry persons--her intimacy with Miss Hasseltine--the hour of departure arrives--her marriage and sailing for India.
Oct. 10. I have this day entered upon my nineteenth year. How great a change has the last year made in my views and prospects for life! Another year will probably affect, not merely my prospects but my situation. Should my expectations be realized, my dwelling will be far from the dear land of my nativity, and from beloved friends, whose society rendered the morning of my life cheerful and serene. In distant India--every earthly prospect will be dreary.
"But even there content can spread a charm,
Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm."
To Mr. Newell.
Haverhill, Oct. 10, 1811.
-----"This is the eve of my birth-day. Pensive and alone, I have this evening given full scope to recollection of the past, and anticipation of the future. The retrospect of departed years affords but little solid satisfaction. How has my life been replete with vanity, and with sorrow, occasioned by frequent departures from God! But still the recollection of some seasons ever worthy of grateful remembrance, excites in me sensations of unutterable joy. There was an hour, when the light of divine truth irradiated my benighted soul--when I could rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation. I could willingly, then, renounce the world, for it had lost its power to charm. How sweet was the idea of suffering for Jesus. How sweet to take a decided part in his cause. Were it not for the continual mercy of Jehovah, I should sink under the remembrance of my many backslidings since that hour. O for a heart to repair to that Fountain where sinners, vile and guilty, can be washed and cleansed.
I have spent this afternoon in the sick chamber of a very dear cousin. She is rapidly hastening to the world of spirits but is calm and tranquil as the summer's eve. Here I have learned an important lesson, which the alluring circles of the gay and thoughtless could never teach me. Oh how valuable, how exceeding precious is the religion of the gospel on a sick bed and in a dying hour! What but this can support the soul, when it stands trembling on the verge of eternity, just ready to make its last, its final remove."
"Soon I hope, I feel, and am assured,
That I shall lay my head, my weary, aching head,
On its last rest; and on my lowly bed,
The grass green sod shall flourish sweetly."
Oct. 25. How strong are the ties of natural affection! Will distance or time ever conquer the attachment, which now unites my heart so closely to my mother, the dear guardian of my youth--and to my beloved brothers and sisters? O no;--though destined to a foreign country, where a parent's voice will no more gladden my melancholy heart, still shall that love which is stronger than death, dwell within, and often waft a sincere prayer to heaven for blessings unnumbered upon her. Long shall remembrance dwell on scenes passed in the dear circle of Haverhill friends.
Nov. 4. 'Tis midnight. My wavering mind would fain dwell on some mournful subject. I weep--then sing some melancholy air, to pass away the lingering moments. What would my dear mother say, to see her Harriet thus involved in gloom? But why do I indulge these painful feelings? Is it because my Father is unkind, and will not hear a suppliant's cries? Is he not willing to direct my wandering steps, to guide my feet in the paths of peace? O yes; his ear is ever open to the prayer of the fatherless. Let me then go to him--tell him all my griefs, and ask of him a calm and clear conviction of duty.
"Why sinks my weak desponding mind
Why heaves my soul this heavy sigh?
Can sovereign goodness be unkind?
Am I not safe, if God be nigh?"
Nov. 10. The rising sun witnesses for my heavenly Father, that he is good. O yes; his character is infinitely lovely--his attributes are perfect. I behold his goodness in the works of creation and Providence. But the beauty of his character shines most conspicuously in the plan of salvation. In the Redeemer, beauty and worth are combined. And shall my heart remain unaffected amidst such an endless variety of witnesses of the glory of God? Shall I be silent, for whom the Son of God, on Calvary, bled and died?
From this date, till her departure from America, her journal was discontinued. The various duties of preparation for her future comfort and usefulness allowed little leisure for writing. And that leisure was devoted to her numerous correspondents, all of whom became dearer to her, as the hour of wider separation drew near. The number of letters written by her during her short life, was very great. Her private papers, written for her own eye only, and most of which she destroyed at the time of her departure, were yet more numerous. Among the earliest, were some poetical efforts, of which the favourite themes were, the wonderful works of God. It is often the disposition of the pious heart, to borrow the aid of harmonious numbers to express its most ardent emotions of admiration, gratitude and joy. Such were, evidently, the motives of these poetical compositions of her childhood.
To Mr. Newell.
Haverhill, Nov. 21, 1811.
-----The contemplated mission occupies my sleeping and my waking thoughts. O, who would not sacrifice all that is dear in life, to carry the glad tidings of salvation to heathen lands! When will private Christians be more importunate in prayer, for the universal spread of the gospel. O when will the heralds of the gospel rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for Jesus, and obey his last command, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Little E. frequently asks when Mr. Newell will come home again. She says "she will love you with all her heart if you will promise not to carry Harriet away." When I ask her if we shall both stay at home and let little Hindoo children live without the Bible? she will answer, "that Mr. Judson and Miss Nancy Hasseltine may carry them hers."
To Miss R.F. of Andover.
Haverhill, Dec. 29, 1811.
The hour is hastening, when I must bid an eternal farewell to all that is dear in the land of my nativity, cross the boisterous ocean, and become an exile in a foreign land. I must relinquish for ever the friends of my bosom, whose society has rendered pleasant the morning of life, and select for my companions the uncivilized heathen of India. I shall shortly enter upon a life of privations and hardships. "All the sad variety of grief," will probably be mine to share. Perhaps no cordial, sympathizing friend will stand near my dying bed, to administer consolation to my departing spirit, to wipe the falling tear--to close my eyes, or to shed a tear upon my worthless ashes. But shall the contemplation of these adverse scenes, tempt me to leave the path selected by my heavenly Father? O no, "I can do all things, through Christ, who strengtheneth me." This consideration exhilarates my sinking soul, and diffuses an ardour within, which I would not relinquish for all the splendours of this world.
You, my dear Miss F., will not forget to intercede with Jesus in my behalf. You will pray for the wretched heathens of India; this will lead your thoughts to those who have devoted their lives to the work of spreading the gospel among them. You will feel interested in their exertions; and as often as the sun rises in the east, you will invoke for them the blessing and protection of the universal Parent.--Affectionately yours,
As the hour of her departure from her native land approached, Miss A. felt her interest deepen towards the female associates of her great undertaking. To one of these, Miss Hasseltine, she had been much attached since their mutual participation in the blessed fruits of the revival at Bradford Academy, in 1806, and although Miss H. was several years older than the subject of this Memoir, the friendship which was then commenced, continued with increased warmth and intimacy until they left America; and which we doubt not has since ripened into perfect love and union above the skies. The places of their residence were about a mile distant, and the houses in sight of each other on the opposite banks of the Merrimack.
But it was particularly after they had resolved to leave friends and home for Christ's sake, that their affection became truly sisterly. Sisters they called each other. Many were the days they spent together in devising plans for improvement and preparation for the scenes which awaited them. Many hours did they weep, and encourage each other when anticipating the trials of a missionary life--singing their favourite hymn, "Lord! what a wretched land is this," and praying unitedly to their covenant God, for that strength and grace which he so abundantly bestowed upon them in their after trials.
The following was written in answer to an affectionate letter from Miss P. whom Miss A. had never personally met. Nor was it the will of Providence that they should ever be favoured with an interview in this life.
To Miss P. afterwards Mrs. Nott.
Haverhill, Jan. 11, 1812.
The commencement of a correspondence with my dear Miss P. -- is attended with many pleasant sensations. When one whom I love, though an entire stranger, addresses me by the endearing appellation of "sister or friend," I lose every embarrassment, and feel the same perfect freedom as when conversing personally with those companions, with whom I have spent the playful hours of youth. Your affectionate letter met with a cordial reception. The perusal of it increased the wish which I have long indulged, of being favoured with an interview with you. The anticipated separation from a beloved mother, affectionate brothers and sisters, and other valued friends, strongly attaches my heart to those "dear selected few" who will be my only associates, through the little remnant of my life. When eagerly listening to the maternal advice of the best of parents, or when attending to the accents of love which flow from the lips of brothers and sisters dear, I often say to myself, will my Father in Heaven condescend to grant me friends similar to these, in my dear Miss P-----, and my ever dear Nancy? (Mrs. Judson) O yes, my heart replies,--they will instruct, advise, reprove, and love me too. When the accumulated difficulties of a missionary life depress my labouring bosom, they will direct my thoughts to that Saviour, who has kindly engaged to be the friend of the friendless, -- the support of his believing children. Their prayers, their sympathy and love, will sweetly calm each rising fear, and tranquillize my distressed soul.
Nothing but an ardent wish of more extensive usefulness, first led my thoughts to the heathen world. Favoured by heaven with every temporal blessing heart could wish, a foreign country would have no charm for me. Although I frequently contemplate with pleasure a life so peculiarly devoted to the service of God; yet the consciousness of wanting many important qualifications which I know I do not possess, often creates a depression of spirits, and a doubt with respect to duty. My youth, a slight education, so little vigour and strength of mind, so little piety, --these are obstacles, great indeed. I think it does rejoice my heart that you, my dear Miss P---, and Nancy, are so eminently qualified for the work of the missionary. May you be made the favoured instruments of leading many wretched female Indians to the Lamb of God, who bled on Calvary. On the "great day of dread decision," may those who have heard from your lips the way to heaven, rise up and call you blessed. The idea that an independent, sovereign God, often uses the weakest instruments to promote his glory, and carry on his plans, frequently affords me encouragement. If he has any work for me to do in heathen lands, he will remove every obstacle, qualify me for the important undertaking, and support me under every trial.
Sabbath eve. I have this day been to the house consecrated to the worship of the Most High God. I have sat under the droppings of the sanctuary, with great delight. The inviting sound of the glorious Gospel, which bringeth life and salvation, has conveyed to my inmost soul a sublime ardour, and heart-felt satisfaction, almost unknown before. O my sister, how valuable, how exceedingly precious, is the religion of Jesus? How unlike that of Mahomet, how different from any which the carnal heart can invent! How well is it adapted to secure the eternal interest and happiness of all created intelligences; "how just to God, how safe for man." While contemplating, with rapture, the superior excellency of the Christian religion, does not your heart burn within you at the anticipated prospect of its universal promulgation throughout the world? The present state of the heathen is deplorable, beyond description. No star in the east directs them to the Babe of Bethlehem. No Sun of righteousness has arisen amongst them, to irradiate their benighted, dreary path. They spend their days in wretchedness, strangers to the consolations of the Gospel, without a friend to point them to the Saviour of sinners, who alone can make them happy beyond the grave.
But "faith looks over these" lowering "mountains," and beholds, with joy unutterable, the millennial reign of peace and love. The banks of the Ganges and the Indus, shall resound with the high praises of Immanuel; redeeming love shall be the theme of the Hindoo; it shall warble sweetly from the lips of the uncivilized Hottentots, on Africa's burning sands. The wandering, inhospitable Indians of our own dear native country, shall catch the sacred fire, and their hearts shall beat in unison. Shall we, my dear Miss P. be made instrumental in hastening this great revolution? Will our covenant God condescend to employ us in his service, and bless our feeble efforts? And shall we think any sacrifices too great to make for him? O no! Let us willingly take a last farewell of friends and native country, cross the tempestuous ocean, and spend a self-denying, active life, in the attempt of leading the females of India to that Jesus, whom we have found so precious to our souls. What if our lives are replete with hardships and afflictions?
------------------------------"Our journey here,
Though it be darksome, joyless, and forlorn,
Is yet but short; and soon our weary feet
Shall greet the peaceful inn of lasting rest."
I have thought much of the plan you proposed, viz. of studying some new language, in order to acquire an eastern language with greater facility. Nancy and I have conversed upon the subject, and have at length come to this conclusion; that considering our present indispensable engagements, it would be very impracticable. Were we to continue another year in America, I should enter upon the study with pleasure. Perhaps in the course of three months, if nothing in Providence should prevent, we may commence the voyage. Would it not then be more for our own improvement, to devote our time to reading books, calculated to excite a spirit of genuine piety, and prepare us for future trials and privations? Mr. Nott is probably with you. When shall I see you both at Haverhill? Will you not visit me in the spring? Must I be deprived of an interview with you at my home? I wish much to introduce you to one of the best of mothers, and a circle of dear brothers and sisters. It is but a short ride. Will my friend forgive the freedom with which I have written. The effusions of your pen will always afford me the highest satisfaction. Miss P. will often think of her sister HARRIET.
To Miss M.T. of Newbury.
Boston, Jan. 21, 1812.
Notwithstanding all the encouragements which the scriptures afford to those who leave all things for God, and devote their lives to his service, still, my heart often recoils at the trials of a missionary life. The idea of taking a last farewell of friends, and country, and all that is dear on earth, (a few friends only excepted,) is exceedingly trying. Yes, my friend, Harriet will shortly be an exile in a foreign country, a stranger in a strange land. But it is for God that I sacrifice all the comforts of a civilized life. This comforts me; this is my hope, this is my only consolation. Will M. think of me, will she pray for me, when stormy oceans separate us? Will imagination ever waft her to the floating prison or the Indian hut, where she, who was once honoured with the endearing appellation of friend, resides? May we meet in heaven, where friends will no more be called to endure a painful separation. May peace and happiness long be inmates of M.'s breast. May she increase in the enjoyment of her God, as days and years increase. How can I wish her more substantial bliss? Shall I not be favoured with one more undisturbed interview with you? Shall I not give you a parting kiss? Shall I not say, Farewell? Why may I not spend the little remnant of my days with you? Must I be separated? But enough--my heart is full,--gladly would I fill my sheet with ardent expressions of lasting friendship.
"But hush, my fond heart, there is a shore
Of better promise, and I hope at last,
We two shall meet in Christ, to part no more."
A few more letters will probably close our correspondence for ever. Will you write me immediately? M. will gratify me if she loves me. Affectionately yours, HARRIET.
To Miss S. Hills, of Andover.
Haverhill, Feb. 3, 1812.
The long expected hour has at length arrived, and I am called to bid an eternal adieu to the dear land of my nativity, and enter upon a life replete with crosses, privations, and hardships. The conflicting emotions which rend my heart, imagination will point out to my dear Miss H. better than my pen can describe them. But still peace reigns many an hour within. Consolations are mine, more valuable than ten thousand worlds. My Saviour, my Sanctifier, my Redeemer, is still lovely; his comforts will delight my soul. Think of Harriet, when crossing the ocean--think of her when wandering over India's sultry plains. Farewell, my friend--a last--a long farewell. May we meet in yonder world, "where adieus and farewells are a sound unknown." Give dear Mrs W. a parting kiss from Harriet. Write to, and pray often for,
To Miss S.B. of Haverhill.
Haverhill, Feb. 1812.
Accept, my ever dear Sarah, the last tribute of heart-felt affection from your affectionate Harriet, which you will ever receive. The hour of my departure hastens; when another rising sun illumines the eastern horizon, I shall bid a last farewell to a beloved widowed mother, brothers and sisters dear, and the circle of Haverhill friends. With a scene so replete with sorrow, just at hand, how can I be otherwise than solemn as eternity! The motives which first induced me to determine upon devoting my life to the service of God in distant India, now console my sinking spirits. O how valuable--how exceedingly precious--are the promises of the gospel!
Eighteen years of my life have been spent in tranquillity and peace. But those scenes, so full of happiness, are departed. They are gone "with the years beyond the flood"---no more to return. A painful succession of joyless days will succeed;--trials, numberless and severe, will be mine to share. Home, that dearest, sweetest spot--friends, whose society has rendered the morn of life pleasant, must be left--for ever! The stormy ocean must be crossed! and an Indian cottage in a sultry clime, must shortly contain your friend Harriet. Perhaps no sympathizing friend will stand near my dying bed, to wipe the falling tear, to administer consolation, or to entomb my worthless ashes, when my immortal spirit quits this earthly tabernacle. But why indulge these melancholy sensations? Is it not for Jesus that I make these sacrifices--and will he not support me by his grace? O yes, my heart replies, he will.
"The sultry climes of India, then I'll choose,
There will I toil, and sinners' bonds unloose;
There will I live, and draw my latest breath;
And, in my Jesus' service, meet a stingless death."
My friend, there is a rest for the weary pilgrim in yonder world. Shall we meet there,--"when the long Sabbath of the tomb is past?"
Sarah, my much loved friend--farewell.--Farewell--perhaps for ever. Though trackless forests separate--though oceans roll between--O forget not HARRIET.
The hour of her final departure from her "kindred and friends, and native land," drew near. On the 6th of February, 1812, when the missionaries were ordained at Salem, Mass. she was present, and manifested, on that interesting occasion, remarkable tranquillity and resolution.
On the 9th of February, she was married to her Rev. Samuel Newell, and, a few days afterwards, left beloved home of her childhood for ever. In that moment of sorrow, the grace of God sustained her. "Do not be anxious for me"--were her last words to her mother,--"God will take care of me."
On the 19th of February, Mr. and Mrs. Newell and their missionary associates, Mr. and Mrs. Judson sailed from Salem, in the Caravan, for Calcutta. Before her departure, she wrote among others the letter we subjoin.
She went not without the prayers and sympathies of many, who loved her and the cause to which she had consecrated her life. The following lines, written upon a cambric work-bag, presented to her by her sister, have been before published.
"May He, whose word the winds and waves obey,
Convey you safe o'er ocean's dang'rous way;
From every danger, every ill defend,
Be your support, your guardian and your friend."
On the other side.
"The Christian's God in heathen India reigns,
Whose grace divine the feeblest heart sustains;
That thou may'st prove his constant guardian care,
Shall be thy sisters' ardent, daily prayer.
Be thine the joy to hear thy Saviour's praise,
Resound from pagan fanes in Christian lays;
And when this varying scene of life is o'er,
O may we meet thee on that peaceful shore
Where friends shall never part, farewells be heard no more!"
To her Mother.
Salem, Feb. 18, 1812.
I have only time, my dear mother, to assure you of my ardent affection for you, and my dear brothers and sisters, to ask your prayers, and bid you a short farewell. Dear mother, we shall shortly meet again. We have every accommodation necessary for the voyage;--friends in Salem are very kind. I have received many valuable presents;--but you will hear. Do not let my departure occasion one anxious feeling. I am tranquil and happy--the undertaking appears more noble than ever. Do let me hear that you are composed and happy. Dear mother, farewell; --let the consolations of the gospel now be your support. In America or Asia, I shall be your affectionate daughter.
To the same.
(Written the evening before the vessel sailed from Salem.)
Here am I, my dear mother, on board the brig Caravan, in a neat little cabin, with brother and sister Judson, Mr. P. and Capt. I. and another dear friend, whose beloved society enlivens my spirits, and renders my situation pleasant. I have at length taken leave of the land of my forefathers, and entered the vessel which will be the place of my residence till I reach the desired haven. Think not, my dear mother, that we are now sitting in silent sorrow, strangers to peace. O no; though the idea that I have left you, to see you no more, is painful indeed; yet I think I can say, that I have found the grace of my Redeemer is sufficient for me--his strength has been made perfect in my weakness. We have been engaged in singing this evening, and can you believe me, when I tell you, that I never engaged in this delightful part of worship with greater pleasure.
Our accommodations have exceeded my highest expectations. God has ever been doing me good; He will not leave me in this trying hour. I feel distressed that I should cause you and my other dear friends so much pain. Why should you feel anxious, my mother? Let me entreat you to dry your tears, which have been shed on my account trust in God, and be happy. The agreeable disappointment which I have met with, relative to the accommodations of the vessel, lays me under renewed obligations to devote myself entirely to my covenant Redeemer. I feel a sweet satisfaction in reflecting upon the undertaking, in which I have engaged. It is not to acquire the riches and honours of this fading world; but to assist one of Christ's dear ministers in carrying the glad tidings of salvation to the perishing heathen of Asia.
I intended to write a long letter to our dear M. before I left Salem; but have found it quite impracticable. Do give my love to her and Mr. H. I hope they will not forget me when I am a stranger in a strange land. Remember me affectionately to Mr. and Mrs. W., Miss H. and all my other friends. I shall think much of the society of females in Haverhill. Will they not make me a subject of intercession at every meeting? O that they may be abundantly blessed.
I never shall repay you, my dear mother, for all the kindness and love you have shown me thus far in life. Accept my sincere thanks for every favour, and oh forgive me for so often causing you pain and anxiety. May the Almighty reward you a hundredfold for your kindness to me. And now, my dear mother, what more shall I say, but ask you to pray for me, and engage other Christians to do the same.
"There is a calm for those who weep,
A rest for weary pilgrims."
Parting sounds will not be heard in heaven.--May we meet there, after lives filled with usefulness and duty. I have a thousand things to say, but must stop short.--It is late.--Dear mother adieu.
During her voyage to India;
Addressed to her Mother.
March 9, 1812.--To you, my beloved mother, shall these pages be cheerfully dedicated. If they afford you amusement in a solitary hour--if they are instrumental in dissipating one anxious sensation from your heart, I shall be doubly rewarded for writing. Whatever will gratify a mother so valuable as mine, shall here be recorded, however uninteresting it might be to a stranger.
The first week after our embarkation, I was confined to my bed with sea-sickness. This was a gloomy week. But my spirits were not so much depressed as I once expected they would be. The attendants were obliging, and I had every convenience which I could wish on board a vessel.--February 24th, the vessel sprung a leak. We were in the greatest danger of sinking during the night. The men laboured almost constantly at the pump. Capt. H. thought it best to alter the course of the Caravan, and make directly for St. Jago. The wind changed in the morning. In a day or two the leak was providentially discovered, and prevented from doing any further injury. Though much fatigued, sleep departed from me. It was indeed an interesting night. Though a sudden exit from life appeared more solemn than ever before; yet I felt a sweet complacency in confiding in God, and in leaving the disposal of my life with him.
We have no family worship, which we consider a great affliction. Sabbath forenoon, Mr. N. or brother J. reads a sermon, and performs the other exercises of worship, in the cabin. The captain and officers favour us with their attendance. I have found much enjoyment at these seasons. I often think of my American friends, who are blessed with the privilege of attending statedly on the means of grace. My thoughts were particularly fixed on my brethren and sisters the first Sabbath in March. I thought that our dear pastor would not forget to intercede with God for an absent sister, while sitting at the communion table, where I have often had a seat. I shall devote much of my time to reading while on the water. There is but little variety in a sea life. I have noticed with pleasure, that many little articles which I accidentally brought with me, have contributed much to my comfort.
We have had contrary winds and calms for ten days past, which will make our voyage longer. How can it be that I wish for those winds that will waft me further from my dear mother, and all that I love in my much loved native country. Surely the wish does not originate in the want of affection for friends.
March 10. We have prayers regularly, every evening, in brother J.'s room, which is larger and more convenient than ours. We have met a brig bound to America, as we imagine, but on account of contrary winds, which would render it difficult to come near enough to speak with her, she has proceeded on her passage.--This is the second vessel that we have seen at a distance, going direct to America; but I have not been favoured with the privilege of sending letters to you. O, how ardently do I long to tell you, just how I am now situated, and that I am contented and happy. It is very difficult writing to day, on account of the constant motion of the vessel. The wind is favourable,--we go nearly seven miles an hour.
March 12. A heavy sea to-day;--the waves have repeatedly broken on deck and rushed with violence down into the cabin. Our room has not yet been wet.
March 14. I have just seen the mate and sailors take a turtle. They went out in a boat two or three miles, and took it by surprise with their hands. It weighs about twenty pounds. I have been agreeably disappointed respecting our manner of living at sea, though we are not free from inconveniences by any means.
March 16. Yesterday morning religious exercises were performed, as usual, in the cabin. Several pages in Law's Serious Call, read. My thoughts dwell on home, and my much loved country, more intensely on the Sabbath, than on any other day. The sun rises four hours earlier here than at Haverhill. At one, I think you are going to church. Dined on turtle-soup yesterday. Saw a flying fish to-day--breakfasted upon it. Several gales of wind last evening. I do not know why it is, that I do not suffer more from fear than I do. Cousin J. will tell you, how dreary everything appears in a dark evening, when the wind blows hard, and the vessel seems to be on the point of turning over. But we have been highly favoured: the weather has generally been remarkably pleasant.
March 17. I have just seen a third vessel, bound, as we have every reason to think, to dear America. We came so near her as to see the men walking on deck: but Capt. H. received particular orders to speak with no vessel on the passage. I have a great desire to send you, my dear mother, some communication. But this gratification I must give up. Five weeks, yesterday, since I bid you a last adieu. O that you may never, for one moment, regret that you gave me up, to assist in so great, so glorious a work. I want more faith, more spirituality, more engagedness in so good a cause. Possessed of these blessings, I shall be happy, while crossing the tempestuous ocean, and when I become an inhabitant of heathen Asia.
March 18. I am sometimes almost sick, for the want of exercise. I walk fast on the deck three times a day, which is the only exercise I take. We are now more than 3000 miles from home--or, rather, about 12,000 miles from home. But I shall ever find a melancholy pleasure in calling my mother's house in Haverhill, my home, though the Atlantic floods roll between. Long may the best of Heaven's blessings rest upon the dwelling where I have spent my playful years in peace, and where, in riper age, I have known what blest tranquillity is, by happy experience. Long may my beloved mother, and dear brothers and sisters, enjoy the blessing of my heavenly Father, and be strangers to affliction and woe.
March 19. It is excessively warm to-day. We are now in the torrid zone; while my dear mother, brothers and sisters are probably shivering over a large fire, I am sitting with the windows and door open, oppressed with heat. You know not how much I think of you all--how ardently I desire to hear from you and see you. My time passes more pleasantly than ever I anticipated. I read, and sew, and converse at intervals:--rise early in the morning--retire early at night. I find Mr. N. to be everything I could wish. He not only acts the part of a kind, affectionate friend, but likewise that of a careful, tender physician.
March 20. I often think of many ways in which I could have contributed to your comfort and happiness, and that of my other dear friends, while with you. My mother, my dear mother, can you, will you forgive me for causing you so much pain, as I surely have in the course of my life, and for making you so few returns for the unwearied care, and kindness you have ever shown me. I think that if your heart is fixed, trusting in God, you will find consolation when thinking of my present situation: you will be unspeakably happy in commending me to God and the word of his grace, in praying for my usefulness in heathen lands.
March 21. A large porpoise was taken yesterday. I will describe this curious fish to you. I have had, for two or three days, a return of my old complaint, a severe head-ache. I ascribe it, in some measure, to the confined air of our room. I often think of your large cool chambers, when I awake, these extremely hot mornings. But this is a light trial.
March 22. I have spent the greater part of this holy day on deck, reading, singing, conversing, &c. I hope this has been a profitable and joyful Sabbath to my dear mother.
O how ardently do I long again to frequent the courts of my God, and hear from his ambassadors the joyful sound of the glorious gospel. But though in an humbler manner, yet I trust we find his grace displayed towards us, while meeting for his worship. The weather is hot in the extreme--we are within a few days sail of the line. I have not found a stove necessary more than once or twice since I left the harbour. The weather has been much warmer than I anticipated. But we keep pretty comfortable in the air.
March 23. O how welcome would be some of mother's cold water, or a cup of her coffee, with milk in it, I do not say cream! But we have every necessary which is possible on the ocean. I am thankful, I feel no disposition to complain. I have for the most part of the time since we sailed, enjoyed a great degree of real happiness. The everlasting God is my refuge.
March 24. Mr. N. often regrets that he had no more time to spend with you, previous to our departure. He often says, "Harriet, how I long to see your dear mother." We often look the way where capt. H. tells us Haverhill lies. But alas! a vast ocean and the blue sky is all we can see. But there is a land, my dear mother, where stormy seas cannot divide the friends of Jesus. There I hope to meet you, and all my beloved friends, to whom on earth I have bid adieu. Oh that, when the followers of the Lamb, are collected from the East and West, from the North and South, Harriet an exile in a distant land, with her mother, father, brothers and sisters, may be united in the family of the Most High in heaven.
March 25. The weather is about as warm as the extremely hot weather in America last summer. We are told we shall not be likely to suffer more from the heat in Bengal than we do now. We do not go more than a mile an hour. Are within 160 miles of the equator. This dear little Emily's birth day. Sweet child--will she ever forget her absent sister Harriet, whom once she loved? O no--I will not for one moment indulge the thought. I cannot bear to think of losing a place in the remembrance of friends so dear.
March 26. My attachment to the world has greatly lessened since I left my country, and with it all the honours, pleasures and riches of life. Yes, Mother, I feel this morning like a pilgrim and a traveller in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Heaven is my home--there I trust my weary soul will sweetly rest, after a tempestuous voyage across the ocean of life. I love to think of what I shall shortly be, when I have finished my heavenly Father's work on earth. How sweet the thoughts of glory, while I wander here in this waste wilderness. I still contemplate the path into which I have entered with pleasure, although replete with trials, under which, nothing but sovereign grace can support me. I have at times the most ardent desires to see you, and my other dear friends. These desires, for the moment, are almost insupportable. But when I think seriously of the object of my undertaking, and the motives which first induced me to give up all and enter upon it, I enjoy a sweet serenity of mind; a satisfaction, which the heaviest trials cannot destroy. The sacrifices which I have made, are great indeed; but the light of Immanuel's countenance can enliven every dreary scene, and make the path of duty pleasant. Should I, at some future period, be destitute of one sympathizing friend, in a foreign, sickly clime, I shall have nothing to fear. When earthly friends forsake me, then "the Lord will take me up." No anticipated trials ought to make me anxious; for I know that I can do and suffer all things, "through Christ, who strengtheneth me." In his hands I leave the direction of every event, knowing that he, who is infinitely wise and good, can do me no wrong.
March 29. We crossed the equator last night. The weather still continues excessively hot.--Heavy gales of wind, and repeated showers of rain, rendering it necessary for the captain and officers to be on deck, we had no religious exercises in the cabin.
March 31. It is six weeks, this evening, since we came on board the Caravan. How rapidly have the days, the weeks glided away. Thus, my dear mother, will this short life pass. Why then do our thoughts dwell so much upon a short separation, when there is a world, where the friends of Jesus will never part more.
April 1. Three sharks caught to-day. In their frightful appearance, they far exceeded the description I have often heard given of them.
April 7. The weather grows colder, as we draw nearer the Cape. Some Cape birds are flying around us, called Albatrosses. They are very pretty birds, about the size of geese. We have had our room a little enlarged, which renders it pleasanter and cooler. We can now sit there, and read, with comfort.
May 1. Again, my ever dear mother, I devote a few leisure moments to you, and my beloved brothers and sisters. The winds and the waves are bearing us rapidly away from America. I care not how soon we reach Calcutta, and are placed in a still room, with a bowl of milk and a loaf of Indian bread. I can hardly think of this simple fare without exclaiming, O, what a luxury. I have been so weary of the excessive rocking of the vessel, and the almost intolerable smell after the rain, that I have done little more than lounge on the bed for several days, and have been more sick than on the first part of the voyage. But I have been blessed with excellent spirits, and to-day have been running about the deck, and dancing in our room for exercise, as well as ever. What do some females, who have unkind husbands, do in sickness! Among the many signal favours I am daily receiving from God, one of the greatest is a most affectionate partner. With him my days pass cheerfully away--happy in the consciousness of loving and of being beloved. With him contented I would live, and contented I would die. This, my mother, is the language of Harriet's heart.
We are in the latitude of the Cape. The weather is cold, and will probably be so for a month. The last winter we shall have. Ten weeks since we left Salem. I often think and often dream of you. Are you happy? O yes; blest with the rich consolation of the gospel, she cannot be unhappy.--But, the heathen are wretched. For their sake shall not some Christians leave friends and country, cross the Atlantic, and submit to many hardships, to carry them the word of life. I do not repent, nor have I ever repented of my undertaking.
When in the exercise of right feelings, I rejoice that I am made capable of adding to the happiness of one of Christ's dear missionaries. This is the sphere, in which I expect to be useful, while life is prolonged. This is what you always calculated upon, and I am now happy in seeing this wish daily accomplished. In heaven, I hope shortly to recount to you the many toils of my pilgrimage. My dear mother, and my dear brothers and sisters, farewell for the present.--Lest I should forget, I mention it now--request brother E.W. and all who are interested enough to inquire for me, to write me long letters. O! how acceptable will American letters be. You will think of it.
May 8. My dear Mr. N. has been ill this week past,--so ill that he has kept his bed the greater part of the time. Should he fall a victim to this painful disease and leave me alone in a strange land--But I will not distrust the care of my heavenly Father. I know he will never leave nor forsake me, though a widowed stranger, in a strange country. The weather is rainy, the sea runs high, and our room is often overflowed with water. My health has been remarkably good since Mr. N.'s sickness, and I have been able to attend upon him a little. But think, mother, how painful it must be to a feeling heart to stand by the sick bed of a beloved friend, and see him in want of many necessaries which you cannot provide--which cannot be had on the ocean. Four years to-day since my father's death. You, my dear mother, have probably thought of it, and the recollection is painful. Dear cousin C. has probably, before this time, entered the world of spirits, and perhaps more of my dear Haverhill friends.
"This life's a dream, an empty show."
We find that we are in a leaky vessel, which perhaps will not stand the force of the wind and waves, until we reach Calcutta. But if God has anything for us to do in heathen Asia, we shall arrive there and accomplish it. Why, then, do we fear! It is God,
"Who rides upon the stormy skies,
And manages the seas."
And is not this God our God?
May 10. Mr. N.'s health is much improved. "I will bless the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications." The weather is still cold and unpleasant. We are tossing about on the stormy waves, and are subjected to the numerous inconveniences of sea-faring life. We go at the rate of 160 miles in 24 hours. We hope to reach our destined haven in six or seven weeks.
Scarcely a night passes, but I dream of my dear mother, brothers and sisters. My sleeping hours are pleasant. Mother sometimes dreams of Harriet--does she not?
May 11. I have been reading what I have written, and fear that mother will conclude from some sentences, that I am not so happy in my present situation, as she could wish. It has never been my intention to leave this impression on your mind. Believe me, my mother, in the sincerity of my heart I can say, that with a very few exceptions, I am happy "all the day long." Though I am deeply sensible of my want of many qualifications, which would render a female highly useful among those of her own sex in Asia, yet I delight in the thought, that weak and unqualified as I am, a sovereign God may see fit to make me the instrument of doing some good to the heathen, either directly or indirectly. Recollect, that happiness is not confined to any particular situation. The humble cottager may enjoy as much happiness as the king on his throne. Blessed with a competency, what more do we want? This, God has hitherto granted me; and more than this, he has often given me the enjoyment of himself, which, you know, by happy experience, is of greater value, than all this earth can afford:
"Give what thou wilt, without thee we are poor,
And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away."
I think I never enjoyed so much solid peace of mind--never was so free from discontent and melancholy, as since I have been here; though I still retain a sinful heart, and often am led to doubt the reality of my being personally interested in the covenant of redemption.
May 7.--Sabbath eve. This has been a pleasant day. We assembled in the cabin as usual, and joined in the worship of God. I have enjoyed as much this day as ever I did in an American church. The presence of Jesus is not confined to a temple made with hands. Many hundreds flock to his house every Sabbath, whom the word preached does not profit. They go and return without a blessing; while the believing two or three, who are gathered together in his name, are favoured with his presence. This thought often gives me great encouragement, when lamenting my long absence from the courts of the Lord. "I have loved the place where thine honour dwelleth."
May 20. This is probably a delightful month with you. "The winter is past, and the time of the singing of birds is come." May health, peace and joy reside in my dear loved native dwelling. O! may my mother dear, and all her children, be favoured with those joys and consolations which the gospel of Jesus affords its followers, while journeying to the new Jerusalem. These are neither few nor small. Pray that Harriet may possess them too, though far away from friends and home.
May 21. How does our dear church flourish? Is the little flock which our dear pastor is attempting to direct to glory, increasing in strength, piety, and numbers? Are the pious few, whom I left, walking closely with God, like pilgrims and strangers, and daily expectants of rest in Jesus? O that I were with them, to speak a word to our dear sisters, and exhort them to be faithful unto the end. But no! Mother, do not regard the opposition of the world, or Satan; but oh, be active, be engaged in promoting piety around you. Oh, that I had done more for Jesus when with you--O that those evenings, which were spent in vanity, had been sacred to prayer! Tell cousin J. to exert every faculty of his soul for God. He will be faithful. God, I hope will give him grace to be so.
May 22. How does dear little A. do? I should love to see the sweet child. May he long live to comfort his parents, and do good in the world! Our dear Mr. W. is probably now at Haverhill. It would have been pleasant to see him once more. Do give my love to him. Will he write one letter? M. I hope, has become very good, and is affording you much assistance and comfort. C. likewise, and little E. I hope are great blessings to their dear mother. Do kiss all the children for me. I shall expect letters from every one. I shall not ask for them; for mother knows what I want. I cannot yet give up the idea of having a visit from you, when I get settled in my little Indian hut--but let me stop. I have thought more than ever, since I left home, that I shall return to America again, if deprived by death of my dear, dear Mr. N. Oh that such an event might never, never happen! But life is uncertain, particularly in burning India. I am trying to familiarize my mind to every affliction. We often converse of a separation. It is his wish that I should return to you immediately, should such an event take place, unless I am positive of being more extensively useful amongst the heathen.
May 24. Hope my Haverhill friends have enjoyed as much comfort as I have this holy Sabbath.
May 31. We have, this evening, been reading some account of Burmah. Never before did I so much feel my dependence on God. We are going among a savage people, without the protection of a religious government. We may possibly one day die martyrs to the cause which we have espoused. But trusting in God we may yet be happy, infinitely more happy, than all the riches and honours of this world can make us. I hope you will never indulge one anxious thought about us. Pray often and pray earnestly for us. O how does the sweet hope of heaven reconcile me to a life of trials. When my friends in America hear of my departure from this vale of tears, let the thought that I am at rest in Jesus, influence them to rejoice rather than to weep.
June 7. The weather grows warmer, and the heat will probably continue to increase until we reach Calcutta. But we have fine winds, which renders the weather comfortable. Worship as usual in the cabin to-day. We have commenced and ended this Sabbath nearly at the same time with the Christians in India. If mother and our other friends were now to look on the map, they would see us in the torrid zone, passing near the fertile island of Ceylon. The idea of being within some hundred miles of land is really pleasant; though our situation is perhaps more dangerous, than when we were thousands of miles from any coast. We have had strong gales of wind, heavy rains, and thunder and lightning of late, which might terrify a heart more susceptible of feeling than mine. I know not how it is, but I hear the thunder roll,--see the lightning flash,--and the waves threatening to swallow up the vessel;--and yet remain unmoved.
June 9. We are now looking forward in expectation of shortly seeing the shores of India. The idea of again walking on the earth, and conversing with its inhabitants, is pleasing. Though, as we often remark to each other, this may be the pleasantest part of our lives. We do not calculate upon a life of ease.
June 10. We have been packing some of our things to-day. Hope to reach port Sabbath-day, if the winds prove favourable.
June 11. Some visitors from land to-day,--two birds and a butterfly. We suppose that we are about one hundred miles from land. The weather unpleasant and rainy last night and to-day. I dread rainy weather very much at sea. How does dear Emily do? Is she a very good child? Do dear mother, talk often to the children about sister Harriet. Do not let them forget me. I think much of dear sister Elizabeth. How happy should I feel, if she were with me. Dear girl! with what sensations do I recall the scenes of other years! I hope that she is happy. Perhaps ere this she has given herself to God, and commenced a serious and devout life. If this is the case, my heart congratulates her. My mother, shall so much loveliness be lost?
June 12. Rejoice with us, my dear, dear mother, in the goodness of our covenant God. After seeing nothing but sky and water for one hundred and fourteen days, we this morning heard the joyful exclamation of "land, land!" It is the coast of Orissa, about twenty miles from us. Should the wind be favourable, we shall not lose sight of land again until we get to Calcutta. We hope to see the pagoda which contains the Idol Juggernaut, before sunset. The view of the Orissa coast, though at a distance, excites within me a variety of sensations unknown before. For it is the land of pagan darkness, which Buchanan so feelingly describes.
June 13. A calm--Passed the temple of Juggernaut and the Black Pagoda--but the weather being hazy, we could not see them. In the afternoon, for the first time, spoke a vessel. An American ship from the Cape of Good Hope. It seemed good to hear the voice of a human being, not belonging to our number. Agreed to keep company during the night.
June 14. No public worship to day.--The last night, a sleepless--tedious one.--Sounded every half hour, all night. The water shallow, and of a dirty light green.--Surrounded by shoals,--in perpetual danger of running upon them. Many vessels have been shipwrecked here, and in the Hoogly river. May that God, who has hitherto been our protector, still stand by us. Anxiously looking for a pilot, but no vessel in sight.--The ship and a brig close by us. Pleasant having company. Spoke with the brig to-day--Owned by some one in Calcutta, and manned by Bengalees. I could see them distinctly with a spy-glass.--Lost sight of land.--No observation of the sun for three days.
June 15. We anchored last night. It is dangerous sailing in this place in the dark. Providentially discovered a pilot's schooner this morning. Vessels are sometimes kept waiting ten days or more, for a pilot. The pilot, an English lad called the leadsman, and the pilot's Hindoo servant, came on board. I should like to describe this Hindoo to you. He is small in stature, about twenty years of age, of a dark copper colour. His countenance is mild, and indicates the most perfect apathy and indolence. He is dressed in calico trowsers and a white cotton short gown. He is a Mahometan. I should not imagine he had force enough to engage in any employment. But he has a soul.
June 16. Last night, by sunset, the anchor was thrown again. A heavy sea; the vessel rocked violently all the evening. The water, rushing at the cabin windows, overflowed our rooms. The berth is our only place of refuge at such times.
About eleven the cable broke, and we were dashed about all night in continual danger of running upon some shoal. The anchor was lost, but we were preserved from a sudden and awful death, by that God who rules the seas, and whom the winds obey. I slept the greater part of the night sweetly; though the dead lights were in, which made our room excessively hot, and there was much confusion on deck; all hands hard at work almost all night. What a blessing, O my mother, is health.--Were I on land, I think no one would be so free from complaint as I. Even here, notwithstanding all the fatigue to which I am unavoidably subjected, I get along surprisingly. Land in sight again. It is Saugor Island; about two miles from us. This is the island where so many innocent children have been sacrificed by their parents to sharks and alligators. Cruel, cruel! While I am now writing, we are fast entering the river Hoogly.--For several days past, we have had frequent showers of rain. This is the time at which the rainy season commences in Bengal. It is the most unhealthy part of the year. The weather is not uncomfortably warm.
12 o'clock. A boat filled with Hindoos from Cudjeree, has just left our vessel. They have taken letters, which will be sent before us, to Calcutta. These Hindoos were naked, except a piece of cotton cloth wrapped about their middle. They are of a dark copper color, and with much more interesting countenances than the Hindoo we have now on board. They appeared active, talkative, and as though they were capable of acquiring a knowledge of the Christian religion, if instructed. Their hair is black--some had it shaved off the forepart of the head, and tied in a bunch behind: that of the others, was all turned back. I long to become acquainted with the language of Hindustan.
1 o'clock. We are now so near land as to see the green bushes and trees on the banks of the river. The smell of the land air is reviving. We hear the birds singing sweetly in the bushes.
5 o'clock. I wish my ever dear mother could be a partaker of our pleasures. Were it in my power, how gladly would I describe to you the beauties of the scenery around us. After passing hundreds of the Hindoo cottages, which resemble hay-stacks in their form and colour, in the midst of cocoa-nut, banana and date trees, a large English house will appear to vary the scene. Here will be seen a large white Pagoda through the trees, the place where the idol gods are worshipped; there a large ancient building in ruins. Some Hindoos were seen bathing in the waters of the Ganges; others fishing; others sitting at their ease on its banks; others driving home their cattle, which are very numerous; and others walking with fruit, and umbrellas, while the little tawny children are playing around them. The boats frequently come to our vessel, and the Hindoos chatter away, but it is thought best to take no notice of them. This is the most delightful trial I ever had.--We anchor in the river to-night, twenty-five miles from Calcutta.
Residence in India---Serampore---Baptist Missionaries--Juggernaut--Natives bathing in the Ganges--The Missionaries ordered to leave Bengal--Mr. and Mrs. Newell leave India for the Isle of France.
June 17. After a tedious voyage, we have, my dear mother, arrived at Calcutta. We reached here yesterday, at three o'clock in the afternoon. Mr. N. and brother J. went on shore immediately, and returned in the evening. They called at the Police office, entered their names, called upon Dr. Carey, at his dwelling-house at Calcutta, were cordially received, and invited to go immediately to Serampore. They likewise saw Mr. Marshman and Mr. Ward. I cannot say that our future prospects are at present flattering, but hope before I send you this, they will wear a different aspect.
Mr. N. and J. will go on shore again this morning; we hope to be permitted to land and reside here for a season, but know not how it will be.
The English East India Company are violently opposed to missions, but I will tell you more at some future time. O that their hearts might be opened to receive the blessings offered them. O my mother, my heart is pained within me at what I have already seen of these wretched Pagans. Here we are, surrounded by hundreds of them, whose only object is to get their rice, eat, drink, and sleep. One of the writer caste who can talk English, has just left the cabin. Your pious heart, my dear mother, would melt with compassion to hear him talk. O the superstition that prevails through this country! I am sure, if we gain admittance, I shall plead harder with American Christians to send missionaries to these Bengal heathen, than ever a missionary did before.
Three miles from Calcutta, a native came with a basket of pine-apples, plantains (which taste like a rich pear), a pot of fresh butter, and several loaves of good bread--a present from one of Capt. H.'s friends. At night I made a delicious meal of bread and milk. The milk, though thin, was a luxury. Yesterday and last night we were not comfortably warm, as the day was cloudy, attended with a little rain. But to-day it is excessively hot. I dare not go on deck, for I burned my face so yesterday that it is almost ready to blister; owing to my going on deck without a bonnet. You have heard of the natives dying by being sun-struck.
I think I can say, I never felt better in America, than I do here. Calcutta harbour is a delightful place. But we are quite tired of the noise. The natives are as thick as bees; they keep a continual chattering. I like the sound of the Bengalee much.
June 18. Yesterday afternoon we left the vessel and were conveyed in a palanquin through crowds of Hindoos, to Dr. C.'s.
No English lady is here seen walking the streets. This I do not now wonder at. The natives are so numerous and noisy, that a walk would be extremely unpleasant. The Calcutta houses are very large and airy. Dr. C.'s appeared like a palace to us, after having been confined so long in our little rooms. This morning we saw some of the native Christians; but they could not talk English. An invitation to go to Serampore to-morrow.
June 20. At Serampore. We came here last evening by water. The dear missionaries received us with the same cordiality, as they would, if we had been their own brothers and sisters. This is the most delightful place I ever saw. Here the missionaries enjoy all the comforts of life, and are actively engaged in the Redeemer's service. After a tedious voyage of four months at sea, think, my dear mother, how grateful to us is this retired and delightful spot. This mission house consists of four large, commodious buildings--Dr. C.'s, Dr. M.'s, Mr. W.'s, and the common house. In the last we are accommodated, with two spacious rooms, with every convenience we could wish. It has eight rooms on the floor, no chambers; viz. the two rooms above mentioned, with two other lodging rooms, the dining hall, where a hundred or more eat, a large elegant chapel, and two large libraries. The buildings stand close to the river. The view of the other side is delightful. The garden is large and elegant.
A few months since the printing-office was destroyed by fire. This was a heavy stroke; but the printing is now carried on very extensively. There are a large number of out buildings also; the cook house, one for making paper, &c.
June 21. Mr. N. preached this morning in the mission chapel. Mr. W. in the afternoon, in the Bengalee language, to about fifty Hindoos and Mussulmans. This afternoon, I shall ever recollect with peculiar sensations. The appearance of the Christian Hindoos, when listening to the word of life, would have reproved many an American Christian. Had you been present, I am sure you could not have refrained form weeping. Had an opposer of missions been present, his objections must have vanished. He would have exclaimed, what hath God wrought! To hear the praises of Jesus sung by a people of strange language; to see them kneel before the throne of grace; to behold them eagerly catching every word which proceeded from the mouth of their minister, was a joyful, but an affecting scene. Rejoice, my dear mother, the standard of the blessed IMMANUEL is strongly erected in this distant land of pagans; and here the gospel will undoubtedly continue to be spread, till the commencement of the bright millennial day. In the evening brother J. preached. How precious the privileges I now enjoy!
June 24. I have just returned from a scene calculated to awaken every compassionate feeling. At nine in the morning we took a boat, and went three or four miles up the river to see the worship of Juggernaut. The log of wood was taken from his pagoda, and bathed in the sacred waters of the Ganges. The assembled worshippers followed his example, and thousands flocked to the river, where with prayers and many superstitious rites, they bathed! Miserable wretches! O that American Christians could but form an adequate idea of the gross darkness which covers this people.
July 14. A letter from Calcutta informs us that the Frances will sail for America in a day or two. With this information I must be expeditious in writing. As the Caravan will sail in a short time, I shall neglect writing now to many of my dear friends, to whom I shall then be very particular. I hope the contents of this little book will be gratifying to my dear mother. She will remember that they were written while the events were passing, and that they were the feelings of the moment. You will therefore feel disposed to pass over all errors, and think it the private conversation of one of your daughters.
I am sure I love my dear, dear mother, and my beloved brothers and sisters, and all my dear American friends, as well now, as I did on the morning when I took my last farewell of home. I long to hear from you all. Whenever you think of me, think I am happy and contented, that I do not regret coming here.
In this country, life is uncertain. Should God in judgment remove far from me lover and the best of friends, and leave your Harriet a lonely widow in this land of strangers, say, my ever dear mother, shall I be a welcome child in your house? I know not what would be my feelings, should such unknown trials be mine. Perhaps I might feel that here I ought to stay. But I want to feel, that a mother's home, and a mother's arms are open to receive me, should my all be removed before me into the land of darkness.
My dear mother, unite with me in praising God for one of the best of husbands. Do give much love to all my friends in Haverhill. I cannot stop to particularize them. They are all dear to me, and I shall write to many of them by the Caravan. Dear mother, if I supposed you had one anxious thought about me, I should not feel half so happy as I now do. When I think of you, I think I see you surrounded by your dear family, taking comfort in their society, and blessing God for one child to consecrate to the work of a mission. O that you might find the grace of Jesus sufficient for you. As your day is, so may your strength be. Trust in God; he will support you under every trial. I hope to meet my dear mother and brothers and sisters in heaven where we shall never be separated.
Farewell my dear, dear mother. May you enjoy as large a share of earthly bliss, as your God shall see best to give you; and O that the joys and consolations of that gospel, of which the heathen are totally ignorant, may be yours in life, and in the solemn hour of dissolution. ---Farewell.
Letter to her sister M.
At Sea, June 11th, 1812.
As I take my pen to write you, I feel all those sensations of love revive in my heart which were implanted in childhood, and which riper years have strengthened and increased. I long once more to see you, to tell you how dear a sister you are, and to make you some small return for your kindness to me. But the anticipation of another interview with you on earth cannot be indulged. May our hearts be comforted with the prospect of meeting in a far happier world than this, where the tears shed at our separation will be for ever wiped away. I want to tell you a thousand things, but must be as brief as possible. I shall imagine what questions you would ask, were you present, and endeavour to answer them. We are now 11_ north of the equator, and with favourable winds we shall reach Calcutta by next Sabbath. Our voyage will be remarkably short if we arrive as soon as we now expect. Some part of it has been very pleasant--some part extremely unpleasant to me. Some days, not one cloud to be seen, to obscure the rays of a delightful sun; a brisk wind sufficient to waft us across the blue ocean at the rate of seven or eight miles an hour. Other days we have had a constant succession of gales of wind, accompanied with repeated showers of rain, with such a smell, proceeding from the bilge water, and the tar used about the vessel, as to produce sickness, and loss of spirits. This, united with the want of fresh air below, and the excessive rocking of the vessel, has often obliged me to lay aside all employment, and throw myself into my berth, to secure myself from falls and the like. Some nights have been very wearisome. The want of those provisions which the lowest class of Americans can be supplied with, we have considered a great, though not an unexpected evil. The want of milk, for instance, has rendered coffee and tea useless to us. I think I would give more for one tumbler of milk this afternoon, than for gallons of the richest wine. Indian meal is another article--bread and puddings made of this would be luxuries. This is generally carried on India voyages. It was prepared for the Caravan, but unluckily forgotten. But still I have been agreeably disappointed. Few voyages I think could be pleasanter than ours thus far. The captain and officers have treated us with the utmost civility and kindness. We have rooms sufficiently large to spend the day in studying, &c. and to lodge in at night. We often sit and walk on deck--but never hear any profane language from the sailors. Every morning we read, sing, and have prayers in brother J.'s room. Sabbath morning, we have religious exercises in the cabin. The captain and one of the officers always favour us with their attendance. Mr. Newell and I unite in morning and evening prayer in our room. Our dear American friends are then particularly remembered and commended to almighty God.
Postscript.--Serampore, July 16.--Dear Mary, I wish you were with me this moment! While I write, I hear the dear Christian natives singing one of Zion's songs in the mission chapel. The sounds are melodious--they remind me of that glorious day when the children of Jesus, collected from Christian and heathen lands, will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, on the blest plain of the New Jerusalem. May we there meet, and unite in the celestial anthem of praise, no more to shed a parting tear. Affectionately yours, HARRIET.
To Mrs. K. of Haverhill.
On board the Caravan--at Sea, April 14, 1812.
Most sensibly do I feel the loss of the society of my Christian friends in Haverhill, with whom I often took sweet counsel. How repeatedly have I commemorated the death of the blessed Jesus, at his table, with my sister and friend, my ever dear Mrs. K. The ties are still strong which attach my heart to her; and though I no more anticipate another meeting with her on earth, yet I hope to sit with her at the gospel feast in heaven, where all parting tears will be wiped away. Two months this day since I left my native shores, and became a resident of this floating prison. The change has been great, indeed, which the last few months have effected in my situation. Many have been the inconveniences and privations to which I have been subjected. I have relinquished a life of ease and tranquillity, in the bosom of my relatives and friends, for the hardships of a voyage across the Atlantic, and a habitation in an unhealthy clime, among heathens. But I am far from being unhappy. I have found many valuable sources of enjoyment, and believe I can say in the sincerity of my heart, that notwithstanding my separation from every object which once I loved, yet I never was happier or more contented in my life. In one bosom friend I find the endearing qualities of a parent, a brother, and a husband, all united. This sympathy alleviates every sorrow--his prayers diffuse joy and consolation through my heart; and while he lessens my earthly griefs, he points me to that world where the weary are at rest.
June 9, lat. 10_, long. 56_. We are rapidly advancing to the place of our destination. A few days more will probably land us on the shores of Asia. I feel, my dear Mrs. K., a mixture of pleasing and melancholy sensations, as I approach nearer Calcutta.
My health has been remarkably good, since we crossed the equator the last time. This I consider a very great blessing, and some encouragement that I shall enjoy the same favour in India. The weather is excessively hot; the nights are very uncomfortable, owing to the confined air of our rooms. But what is this compared with India? The recollection of departed pleasures often casts a gloom over my present enjoyments. "I think of the days of other years, and my soul is sad." How is the little flock of Jesus, of which you are a member? How flourishes that dear society of praying females? How is our dear pastor? Are the weekly conferences continued? Are there many who attend them? Are there many inquiring the way to Zion? Are there any new converts to the power of truth? Are there numbers daily added to the Church, of such as shall be saved? Were I with my dear Mrs. K. how gladly would I particularize. But I must stop. In one or two years, I may have an answer, as will gladden my heart, and cause our little Mission-band to rejoice. I hope that it will not be long before glad tidings from the East will give you joy.
O that this infant Mission might ever live before God. May that quarter of the globe, where so many wonderful transactions have been performed be filled with the glory of God. O that the standard of Immanuel's cross were already erected in Heathen Asia, and that Mahometans and pagans were prostrated before it. I cannot but hope that the labours of our missionary brethren will be abundantly successful in winning souls to Christ, and that we shall afford them some comfort and assistance in the arduous, but glorious work.
June 14. My dear Mrs. K. I think, will congratulate us on again seeing land. I have been walking on deck, and have seen a boat filled with Hindoos, approach our vessel. I like their appearance much, and feel more reconciled to the idea of living among them than ever before. My heart burns within me while I write. O my friend, will these degraded pagans ever be brought to Jesus?
Serampore, July 16. I have not time to review what I wrote you, my dear Mrs. K. on board the Caravan, but send it you, full of errors, with a promise to write you shortly again, by vessels which will soon go to America. Do let me hear from you. I long to have letters from Haverhill. You will be kind enough to visit my dear mother often, and console her with your pious conversation. I think much of her. O that Jesus would support her under all her trials. Dear woman!--Mrs. K. do not forget me, though I am far away. Let me have your prayers, and the prayers of all my Christian friends in America. A short farewell. Affectionately yours, HARRIET.
To her brother J. of Yale College.
Mission-house, Serampore, June 27, 1812.
I have just received the welcome intelligence that a vessel, bound to America, will sail in a few days. With sensations of pleasure unknown before, I have taken my pen to address a brother, who though far distant, is unspeakably dear to my heart. I cannot tell you how I long to see you; nor how much joy a letter from you would give me. Neither distance, nor a long absence, has in the least diminished my affection for you. No, my brother, although the pathless ocean rolls between, and I no more anticipate another interview with you on earth; yet I love you, ardently and sincerely love you. Your happiness will ever make me happy. I sometimes indulge the fond hope that Almighty grace will incline your heart to visit this distant heathen clime, and here proclaim the joyful news of salvation to multitudes of dying pagans, immersed in superstition and wretchedness. But if this laborious part of the vineyard should not be assigned you; O that your days might be spent in winning souls to Jesus, in happy America, where you can enjoy ease and security, in the bosom of your friends.
I feel assured that my dear brother will be gratified by a recital of the various scenes through which I have passed, since I bid a last farewell to our dear maternal abode, and left my country. I suffered all the horrors of sea-sickness the first week after I left Salem harbour. At the conclusion of the week, we were, one dark and stormy night, alarmed by the intelligence that our vessel had sprung a leak, and that, unless Providence interposed, we should sink in twenty-four hours. In this trying hour I thought of death, and the thought was sweet. Nothing, but anticipating the long continued anxiety and distress of my dear American friends, made such a sudden exit from life, in such an awful manner, melancholy and painful. But God, who is rich in mercy, interposed in our behalf the following day, by sending a favourable wind, which enabled the mariners to repair the vessel, when their strength was nearly exhausted by long pumping. We proceeded on our passage with pleasant weather--favourable winds--few heavy gales, until we reached Cape of Good Hope. The weather was then cold and boisterous--the sea rough, and our room was repeatedly overflowed with water. The newly discovered shoals round the Cape rendered this part of the voyage extremely dangerous. The first land we saw was the Orissa coast, 114 days after sailing. The sight of the adjacent country, after we entered the river Hoogly, was beautiful beyond description. Leaving America in the winter, and for a length of time seeing nothing but sky and water, think what must have been our delight to gaze upon the trees, the green grass, the little thatched cottages of the Hindoos themselves rambling near the shore. My friend Nancy and I were detained two days on board the Caravan after our arrival at Calcutta. This was a time of great confusion. The Hindoos, of every class, flocked around our vessel like bees round a hive. We were carried in palanquins to the house of Dr. C. Professor at the College at Fort William. No white female is seen walking in the streets, and but few gentlemen. English coaches, chaises, chairs and palanquins are numerous. Every street is thronged with the natives. If you ride in a chaise, it is necessary for a Hindoo to run before to clear the way. The houses in Calcutta, and indeed all the buildings, the Hindoo huts excepted, are built with brick, white washed. These are lofty, and have an ancient appearance. Some of them are very elegant. There are many half English children in Calcutta. There is a charity school close by Dr. C.'s, supported by subscription, managed by the Baptist Missionaries. Here they enjoy the benefit of religious instruction. We attended the English church one evening. This is an elegant building.
The Friday after our arrival we took a boat and came to Serampore--fifteen miles from Calcutta. This is a delightful place, situated on a branch of the river Ganges. It is inhabited chiefly by Danes. This retired spot is best calculated to prepare us for our future trials, and our arduous works. There are five large buildings belonging to the Mission, viz. the print-office, the common house, Dr. C.'s, Dr. M.'s, and Mr. W.'s dwelling houses; besides several convenient out-houses, one for making paper, one for cooking, &c. &c. There is a delightful garden here; it contains a large number of fruit trees, plants, flowers, &c. The fruit is not as good as ours. Mangoes, plantains, pine apples, cocoa nuts, are very plentiful now. Dr. C. spends most of his time at Calcutta. Mr. and Mrs. M. have large schools of English and half English children--about eighty in both schools. These children all eat with us in the hall, and attend prayers morning and evening in the mission chapel. Many of them are sweet singers. Mr. W. superintends the printing. Here a large number of Hindoos are employed. Mrs. W. has the care of providing for the whole mission family. The church of Christian natives is large. It is a delightful sight to see them meet together for the worship of God. The missionaries preach to them in Bengalee. They sing charmingly in their language.
We went in a budgerow, (a boat with a little room in it, cushions on each side, and Venetian blinds) the 24th of this month, to see the worship of the Hindoo god, Juggernaut, a few miles from Serampore. They took the idol, a frightful object, out of the pagoda, and bathed him in the water of the Ganges, which they consider sacred. They bathed themselves in the river--repeated long forms of prayer--counted their fingers--poured muddy water down their children's throats, and such like foolish, superstitious ceremonies, in honour of their god. Thousands on thousands were assembled to perform these idolatrous rites. In witnessing these scenes, I felt more than ever, the blessedness--the superior excellence of the Christian religion. The Hindoos are very well formed--straight black hair--small--near a copper colour. Their dress is cool and becoming. It consists of white muslin, or cotton cloth wrapped about them. Some wear white muslin turbans.
I shall write you again, my dear brother, by the Caravan, and other vessels which will shortly sail to America. You will wish to know whether I regret coming to this distant land. I do not; but feel an increasing satisfaction, in thinking of my arduous undertaking. Since I have been an eye witness of the idolatry and wretchedness of the Asiatics; and find it confirmed by the long experience of the Baptist missionaries, that females greatly promote the happiness and usefulness of missionaries, I am inclined to bless God for bringing me here. I have not, as yet, had sufficient trials to shake my faith. Providence has smiled upon us, and we know but little of the hardships of a mission. But we shall shortly leave these abodes of peace and security, and enter upon that self-denying life among a savage people, upon which we calculated when we left our native country. It is not determined where our future lot will be cast.
I have enjoyed far better health than I expected, when I left home. I have been supported through the fatigues of our tedious voyage. This is the rainy, hot season, and the most unhealthy in the year, but I think I never felt better in America; though many around us are suddenly dropping into eternity. There have been ten deaths in the mission family the last year. This is a sickly, dying clime.
You are probably still at New-Haven, I hope making great proficiency in your studies, and preparing for eminent usefulness in the world. O my brother, shall we meet in heaven--or shall we be separated for ever? Let us be solicitous to obtain an interest in Jesus, whatever else we lose. When the glad tidings reach this distant land, that a brother of mine, dear to my heart, has been redeemed from eternal woe, and become a disciple of the blessed Immanuel; oh how will this delightful intelligence make me rejoice! how will it gladden the days of separation! I long to see our dear mother. Do your utmost, my dear J. to make her happy. The thought of meeting her in a world, where there will be no parting, is sweet. All my beloved brothers and sisters will ever be dear to me. I cannot tell you how much I think of you all. I feel much happier than ever I expected to feel in this heathen land. I am glad I came here; I am glad that our dear mother was so willing to part with me, and that no opposition prevailed with me to relinquish the undertaking. Let me hear from you, my dear brother, by every vessel bound to Asia. You know not how large a part of my happiness will consist in receiving letters from my American friends. Every particular will be interesting. For the present, I must bid you farewell. May you be distinguished for your attachment to the cause of Jesus, and be made an eminent blessing to your dear friends, and to the world. O that by sanctifying grace, you might shine as a star of the first magnitude in heaven, when dismissed from this life of toil and pain. Farewell, my dear, ever dear brother, a short farewell. While I live I shall ever find pleasure in subscribing myself your affectionate sister. HARRIET NEWELL.
To Mrs. C. of Boston.
Calcutta, June, 1812.
The last request of my dear Mrs. C. (when quitting the beloved land of my nativity), and the sincere affection which I feel for her, are my principal inducements for ranking her among the number of my American correspondents.
I have witnessed scenes this morning calculated to excite the most lively sensations of compassion in the feeling mind. My heart, though so often a stranger to pity, has been pained within me. Weep, oh my soul, over the forlorn state of the benighted heathen; and, oh that the friends of Immanuel in my Christian country would shake off their criminal slothfulness, and arise for the help of the Lord against the mighty, in lands where the prince of darkness has long been adored. The worship of the great god of the Hindoos has this day been celebrated. We were apprized yesterday at sunset, to its near commencement, by the universal rejoicings of the natives, which lasted through the night. This morning we went in a budgerow to see the worship. Between fifteen and twenty thousand worshippers were assembled. The idol Juggernaut was taken from his pagoda, or temple, and bathed in some water taken from the river Ganges, and then replaced in his former situation with shouts of joy and praise. This I did not see, the crowd was so great. After this, the people repaired to the river side, where they bathed in the sacred waters, said their prayers, and counted their fingers, poured the muddy water down their infants' throats, and performed many other superstitious ceremonies with the utmost solemnity, and with countenances indicative of the sincerity of their hearts. Many of the females were decked with garlands of flowers, nose jewels, large rings round their wrists, &c. Some deformed wretches and cripples attracted our attention, and excited our compassion. One man, bent almost to the ground, was supported by two of his companions to the holy Ganges. There he doubtless hoped to wash away the pollution of his heart, ignorant of the blood of Jesus, which does indeed cleanse from all sin. O that an abler pen than mine would delineate to my dear Mrs. C. this idol worship. Surely her pious heart would be filled with tender sympathy for these benighted Asiatics, and her prayers would become more constant, more fervent, for the introduction and spread of the blessed gospel among them. Gladly would American believers leave the healthy civilized land of their birth, and spend their lives in preaching Jesus to the natives of India, did they but know how wretched, how ignorant they are, and how greatly they need the gospel. Do Christians feel the value of that gospel which bringeth salvation?
Let us leave the melancholy subject, and turn to one calculated to fill our minds with holy joy and devout thanksgiving to God. In this land of darkness, where the enemy of souls reigns triumphant, I see the blessedness, the superior excellency of the Christian religion. Yes, my friend, there is in heathen Asia a favoured spot where the darkness of heathenism is scattered, and the benign influences of the Holy Spirit are felt. Here Jesus has a people formed for his praise, redeemed by his precious blood from eternal woe, and made heirs of bliss everlasting. "Bless the Lord, O our souls, and all that is within us, bless and praise his holy name." Last Sabbath afternoon I shall ever remember with peculiar emotions. Mr. W., a missionary blessed and beloved of our God, preached in Bengalee to a large collection of Hindoos and Mahometans. The dear converted natives appeared to enjoy the precious season greatly. To hear them join in singing one of Zion's songs;--to see them kneel before the throne of grace, and listen with eagerness to the word of life, was sufficient to draw tears of joy from eyes that never wept before. After service, each dear Christian Hindoo of both sexes came to us with looks expressive of their joy to see new missionaries; and, offering us their hands, they seemed to bid us a hearty welcome. I said to myself, such a sight as this would eternally silence the scruples, and the criminal opposition to missions, of every real believer.--While such persons would intercede for the success of missionaries, and praise the Lord for what he has already done for these once degraded wretches, they would weep and repent in dust and ashes for their former criminality. O that every American might be prevented by sovereign grace from opposing or discouraging those who feel willing to engage in this work, lest the blood of the heathen, at the last day, should be required at their hands.
Last evening, while thousands were preparing for the impure and idolatrous worship of Juggernaut, the native Christians assembled at the mission chapel for prayer. Their engagedness in prayer, though I could not understand a word they said, made a deep impression on my mind.
To her Mother.
Serampore, July 14, 1812.
I never enjoyed such excellent health as I have since we landed. For this I can never feel sufficiently thankful. And another blessing still greater, is an easy, contented mind. I have never looked forward more than once or twice, with the least degree of anxiety. Though I am here in a strange land, wholly unsettled, yet I feel confident that He, who preserved me from the dangers of the stormy ocean, will not leave me unprovided for. I am sure, my dear mother, I have no excuse for complaining, while God is pleased to spare the life of my dear Mr. N. I have every accommodation at present, I could wish. The future I leave with God. I know that he can dispose of all events, infinitely better than I can. Here is consolation.
--While I know I am making Mr. N. happy, and increasing his usefulness, I shall be thankful I came here.---
---I shall write you again, my dear mother, by the Caravan. Now I must leave you, after requesting your prayers for me in particular, and for this mission in general. I hope to hear from you soon. Love to dear brothers and sisters, and all other friends.--Farewell, my dear, dear mother.
To her sister E.
Mission House, Serampore, July 14, 1812.
How is my dear, ever dear Elizabeth? Happy, I would hope, in the possession of every temporal blessing heart can wish, and in the still richer blessings of the religion of the gospel. To tell you that I long ardently to see you, would be only saying what you already know.
Never shall I cease to love you. I have given our dear mother many particulars respecting my past and present situation and prospects. Such is our unsettled state at present, that I can say little or nothing to any one. The Harmony (Messrs. Nott and Hall, Mr. Newell's associates in the mission, sailed from Philadelphia in the Harmony, but did not arrive until after the departure of Mr. and Mrs. N. for the Isle of France.) has not yet arrived; we are daily expecting her.--No determination can be made without the other brethren. The government have ordered us to return to America. We have entirely relinquished the idea of stationing a mission at Burmah. Several other places have been thought of, but it is still uncertain where we shall go. It is fully as expensive living here as in America. I am disappointed greatly in this respect. Some things are cheap, others very dear. Some articles of provision are very high, and likewise house rent; and yet we are told that no where in India can we live so cheap as here. We have excellent accommodations at the Mission-house;--indeed, we have every thing at present to make us happy. We shall remove to some rooms in the garden, when the Harmony arrives, where all our brethren will be invited to stay till we leave Bengal. I love these dear Missionaries very much. I never expected so many kindnesses from them. Serampore is a charming place. We frequently walk out to admire its beauty. About a week since I went to Gundle Parry, with Mrs. W. and family, to visit Mrs. K. a charming woman, much like our dear Mrs. B. We spent the day, returned home in the evening in the budgerow, saw two dead bodies burning on the shore, and a Bengalee wedding. Yesterday we crossed the river at Barackpore, and walked over the Governor General's Park; saw the wild beasts, variety of birds, &c. One of the most delightful places I ever saw. Artificial hills and dales supplied the want of real ones.
This is the rainy season, but very pleasant. It is sometimes excessively hot; but a shower of rain cools the air. The jackalls make a tremendous yell every night under our window; the noise is like a young child in great distress. Musquetoes very troublesome, though not so large and numerous as I expected--have not seen one snake yet. I bathe every day, which is very refreshing--have not yet suffered half so much from the heat as I calculated. I can sew or read all day, except an hour or two at noon, very comfortably. You would like the climate of Bengal. I think I shall enjoy at least as good health here, as in America. When I first came here, I disliked all the fruit of the country but pine-apples, and those made me ill. The mangoes, plantains, guaves, &c. were all alike disagreeable. But I love them all now.
We were obliged to submit to a great many inconveniences on our passage, and were exposed to many dangers. But on the whole I think no missionaries ever had a pleasanter voyage to the East. I used to think, when on the water, that I never should return to America again, let my circumstances in Asia be as bad as they could be. But I think now, that the long tedious voyage would not prevent my returning, if nothing else prevented.
Mr. R. one of the Baptist missionaries married a lady from Calcutta, about fifteen years of age, and set sail for Java. They slept in the open air for a fortnight, on deck; were out in a violent storm, and returned to Calcutta again. How different this from our comfortable passage. O that we might be ever grateful to God for past favours, and learn to trust him for the time to come. Surely we, above most others, have reason to say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
I regret that time obliges me to be so short. But you shall have letters by the Caravan, sufficiently long to make up for this short one. I will begin a journal on the morrow, and write in it every day, till I can send it you. I will not be so negligent again. I have many letters partly written to friends, but must leave them now. My time has been so occupied since our arrival, that I have scarcely found leisure to write a line. I hope soon to be more at liberty.
Do give love to S., Cl., M., Charles, and Emily. I shall write them all by the Caravan, and shall expect letters from every one of them. Kiss them all for me. Dear, dear Elizabeth, must I leave you? But I shall talk with you again in a week or two. Till then, and ever, I shall love to call you my dear sister, and subscribe myself your HARRIET.
To her sister C.
Serampore, July, 1812.
My ever dear sister C.--I cannot forget you among the numerous friends I have in America, but must say a few words to you, though in great haste. Can it be possible that I shall never see you again in this world? Have we then parted to meet no more this side eternity? We probably have. But what is this short separation? Nothing when compared to eternal separation, which will take place at the last day between the friends and enemies of Jesus. My dear C. listen, I entreat you, to a sister who loves you, who ardently wishes for your everlasting happiness. Make the friend of sinners your friend, now while an opportunity is presented. O let not the adversary of souls cheat you out of an interest in the Saviour. Gladden the heart of your dear widowed mother, of saints and angels, by becoming a devout and holy follower of Jesus. Mother has no child now to go with her to the sacramental supper; will not our dear C. renounce the world, and all its vanities, embrace religion, and in the morning of her life, openly consecrate herself to God? Think how much good you might do among your dear brothers and sisters. Perhaps you might be made the instrument of rescuing them from endless death. It may possibly be that I may never write you again; will you not then, my dear girl, seriously think of these things? I hope we shall meet in heaven after death, no more to part. But we never shall, unless our hearts are renewed, and we made the friends of Immanuel in the present life.
Farewell, my dear girl--comfort the heart of your mother, and make her declining days as happy as possible. Do write me. From your sister HARRIET.
July 15. Spent the greater part of this day in my room alone. Mr. N. went to Calcutta this morning to carry letters to the captain of the ship Frances.--Went with Mrs. W. to one of the mission buildings in the garden, to see the rooms intended for us. There are four convenient pretty rooms, with bathing apartments, which they have kindly offered us and our missionary company. In the afternoon called upon Mrs. M.--The good woman, as usual busily engaged in her school. How firm a constitution must she have to occupy a station attended with so many cares. At four P.M. another message from government was received. Mr. N. and Mr. J. ordered to appear before the police again, to receive further commands. Mr. J. immediately took the Buggy [chaise] and set out for Calcutta.
In the evening, went with Nancy and Mrs. W.'s family to the car of Juggernaut, which stands in the road. A huge building, five stories high--images painted all over it--two large horses with a charioteer made of wood in front--with many wheels, drawn by the natives with large cables. From the car we walked through the Bazar [market] to temple, where the great god of the Hindoos is now residing.--A horrid object indeed!--Not allowed to enter the temple; but could see him plainly--a log of wood painted red, with large hideous eyes.--Little images were kept for sale in the Bazar. We walked through an immense crowd of Hindoos home. Was confused with the noise and bustle of the place, and excessively wearied with my long walk.
July 16. Called with Mrs. W. upon Mrs. Carapeit, the Armenian. Mr. Carapeit has gone with brother Kristno on a mission to Jessore--will be absent four weeks. Mrs. C. very ill-can only talk Hindostanee. Brother J. returned about sunset--A letter from Mr. Newell. He states that a collection has been made for us among the friends of missions in Calcutta. Mr. Thomason presented 500 rupees already collected.
How dark and intricate are the dispensations of Providence! We are ordered by government to leave the British territories, and return to America immediately. Captain H. will be ready to sail in three weeks. He has requested a clearance, but it has been absolutely refused him, unless we engage to leave India with him. Thus is our way hedged up--thus are all our prospects blasted. We cannot feel that we are called in Providence to go to Burmah. Every account we have from that savage, barbarous nation, confirms us in our opinion, that the way is not prepared for the spread of the gospel there. The viceroy would not hesitate to take away our lives for the smallest offence. The situation of a female is peculiarly hazardous. But where else can we go? Must we leave these heathen shores? Must we be the instruments of discouraging attempts of American Christians to give these nations the word of life? My spirit faints within me. These are trials great and unexpected.
9 o'clock. Just returned from family worship in the chapel. My depressed spirits are a little revived. The good Dr. M. feels deeply interested for us, and has been interceding in our behalf. Not mine, O Lord, but thy will be done. I know that the gracious Redeemer will take care of his own cause, and provide for the wants of his little flock. How consoling this--I will trust him and doubt no more.
July 17. I find that writing has become quite pleasant, now I am alone. My natural cheerfulness has returned, and I hope I shall never again make myself unhappy by anticipating future evils, and distrusting the care of my heavenly Father. I have been taking a solitary walk in the mission garden--a charming retreat from the bustle of the world. How happy would a walk with my dear absent mother, or dear brothers and sisters, make me? and yet as much as I long for their society, I am not willing to return to them. Yes, I am positively unwilling to go to America, unless I am confident that God has no work for me to do here. How far preferable to me would be an obscure corner of this pagan land, where the wretched idolaters would listen to the gospel of Jesus, to all the glittering splendour of a civilized land.
July 18. My dear Mr. N. returned last evening, fatigued in body and depressed in mind. There is now no alternative left, but a return to America, or a settlement among some savage tribe, where our lives would be in constant danger. Lord, we are oppressed! Graciously undertake for us. We know not which way to direct our steps. O that the Harmony would arrive. Insurmountable obstacles attend us on every side. Pity us, oh ye friends of Immanuel; pity our perplexed situation, and intercede with the prayer-hearing Redeemer for direction in the path of duty.
A prayer-meeting in the mission chapel on our account--the dear Baptist brethren deeply interested for us. Fervent were their prayers that God would direct our steps! The exercises were all calculated to comfort our hearts.
I hear the distant sound of heathen voices. The miserable wretches are probably engaged in some act of idol worship; perhaps in conveying the log of wood, which they call Juggernaut, to his former place. A conference in the chapel this evening. The bell calls us to breakfast at eight in the morning. Immediately after we have worship in the chapel. At half past one we dine--at seven drink tea--go directly to the chapel again.--Sabbath morning and evening service in English--afternoon in Bengalee. Monthly prayer-meeting, Monday evening.--Weekly prayer-meeting, Tuesday morning.--A lecture for the children, Wednesday evening.--A conference, Saturday evening.
The weather is very warm; but not so hot as the last July in America. The Bengal houses are made so as to admit all the air stirring. In the room where I now am, there are four large windows the size of American doors, with Venetian blinds, and three folding doors. There are no glass windows. A bathing house is commonly connected with each lodging room, and verandas to walk in, in the cool of the day. The floors of the houses are made of chunam (A composition, which becomes nearly as hard as stone.), the partitions and walls whitewashed.
20. From nine to eleven last evening I spent in walking in the garden with Mr. N. I do not suffer the least inconvenience from the evening air in this country. When on the ocean we were very cautious of the least exposure. But here, physicians, and every one else, advise walking in the evening. The jackalls are all that I am afraid of here.
Mr. J. preached yesterday morning; Mr. W. in Bengalee, afternoon; Mr. N. in the evening. Some good people from Calcutta present at worship--a large collection of hearers, all very attentive. Dr. M. returned to-day from Calcutta--Brought us some intelligence which has revived our spirits a little. Has had some conversation with Mr. _____, the secretary, about us. He said the Caravan would have leave to depart, if we would engage to leave the British territories, and that possibly we might have leave to go to the Isle of France of Madagascar. So, then, we shall not go to America in the Caravan, but wait the arrival of our dear brethren in the Harmony, and then conclude which way to direct our steps. The Lord is merciful and full of compassion.
I have been trying to reconcile my mind to a tedious sick voyage. I have prayed for submission under this great trial. And I have felt unspeakably composed, and have spent most of the three days past in trying to console and comfort Mr. N. He has regained his usual cheerfulness, and hopes that their late afflictions have been sanctified to him. It is pleasant to hear him say, "What should I do, my dear Harriet, without a wife I loved?"
21. Intend going to Calcutta to-morrow, should the weather permit. I like the climate of Bengal much. I do not long for a seat by an American fireside, nor for pleasant winter evenings, as I once thought I should; but feel perfectly contented and satisfied with this hot, sultry weather. I am obliged to guard against heating my blood, by walking in the sun, or by using too violent exercise. Fevers, and the prickly heat, are in consequence of this imprudence. Rosy cheeks are never seen in India, except where a lady uses paint.
24. Went early on Tuesday morning in the mission budgerow to Calcutta, in company with brother and sister J., Lieut. M., Miss H., and Mr. N. Spent the day and night at Dr. C.'s. The air of this confined place does not agree with me--a severe headache kept me all day within doors.--Wednesday morning, breakfasted with Capt. Heard, at his house. I hope my dear mother and other friends will have an opportunity of seeing and thanking him on his return, for his kindness to us. Heard of Mr. Thompson's death at Madras. He had received positive orders from government to return to England, chargeable with no other crime than that of preaching the gospel. He has now gone to his everlasting home, and will trouble his opposers no more. Tired of the confusion and noise of Calcutta, I reached Serampore last evening--found friends to welcome our return. Why these great favours?
25. I have become a little familiarized to the sound of the Bengalee language. It has become quite natural to say cheeny for sugar pauny for water, &c. &c.
26. I am happy in finding, that the expectations of my American friends respecting my health in India, will not be disappointed. I think I can say, that I never felt so strong in the summer season, nor ever had such an excellent appetite, as since I have been here. The weather is sometimes excessively hot and sultry, but to me not uncomfortable.
July 28. I love dear Mrs. W. more and more every day. She is remarkably obliging and kind to us. I go constantly to her for advice. Mr. N. returned this afternoon from Calcutta. We have obtained liberty to go to the Isle of France! We hear that the English governor favours missions--that a large field for usefulness is there opened--18,000 inhabitants ignorant of Jesus. Is not this the station that Providence has designed for us? A door is open wide--shall we not enter and begin the glorious work? This must be a subject of fervent prayer.
July 29. A world of changes this! Early this morning brother J. called at our room, unexpectedly from Calcutta. Captain C. has agreed to carry two of us in his vessel to the Isle of France. How can such a favourable opportunity be neglected? Halted long between two opinions--If we go we shall relinquish the pleasure of meeting the dear brethren, and sister Roxana (Mrs. Nott). Perhaps we shall never see them more. They may conclude to labour in some distant part of the Lord's vineyard, and we be separated from them through life. I shall go far away, without one single female acquaintance--the dangers of a long voyage must be hazarded at a critical period.--But here let me stop, and review all the way in which God has led me since I left my mother's house, and the land of my birth. How have I been surrounded with mercies! What precious favours have I received! And shall I doubt? O, no: my heart gladdens at the thought of commencing with my ever dear companion the missionary work, and of entering upon missionary trials and arduous engagements. So plain have been the leadings of Providence thus far, that I cannot doubt its intimations. I will go leaning on the Lord, and depending on him for direction, support, and happiness. We shall leave the dear mission family at Serampore, when another rising sun dispels the darkness of the night--Have packed all our things to-day--fatigued much and very sleepy.--The wanderer and the stranger will ere long repose sweetly on the bosom of Jesus. It is sweet to be a stranger and a wanderer for such a friend as this. A valuable present from my dear Mrs. M.--Thus are all my wants supplied. O for more thankfulness. Bless the Lord, O my dear American friends, for his kindness to me, a stranger in a strange land.
July 30. I have this morning taken my leave of my dear Serampore friends. After a visit of six weeks, I regret parting form them exceedingly. But such are the changes of this changing world. Friends must be separated; the parting tear will often flow. How consoling the hope, that there is a world where separation will be for ever unknown. A pleasant time in going from Serampore to Calcutta in the budgerow with brother J. and Mr. N. Went on board the ship--Much pleased with the accommodations--Our berth is on deck--A cool pretty place.--Dined at Dr. C.'s--Spent the afternoon at Mr. M.'s--a charming family, willing to assist us in every thing.--Drank tea with Mrs. Thomason, one of the kindest, best of women--More money collected for us. Mrs. T. has provided me with many necessaries--Went to church with Mr. and Mrs. T. in the evening--Heard Mr. T. preach.
To Mrs. C. of Boston.
On the river Ganges, July 30, 1812.
Providence, my dear Mrs. C. has seen fit to change the scene of our labours. The East India Company are so much opposed to the spread of the Gospel among their Pagan subjects, that they have absolutely forbid our settling in Bengal. They have consented that we should go to the Isle of France, where missionaries are much needed, where there are 18,000 inhabitants, without one minister. We have just left the dear mission-house at Serampore. I address you from a budgerow going to Calcutta. We shall sail next Saturday. We have only four days to prepare for a voyage of two months. I have not one female acquaintance to accompany me to this land of strangers. But I hear the voice of an Almighty Saviour, saying, "Fear not, I am with thee,--be not dismayed, I am thy God."--Encouraged by these precious promises, I willingly enter upon the sufferings and employments of a missionary life. Oh, that American Christians would strengthen me by their fervent prayers. Do not forget the cause of Immanuel in distant pagan lands. And oh, forget not to love and pray for your friend, H. NEWELL.
To her Mother.
Calcutta, July 31, 1812.
With a week's employment before me this day, I take my pen to write you a few lines. By reading my enclosed journal, you will become acquainted with our reasons for leaving Bengal and going to the Isle of France.
--I go without one female companion--but I go with renewed courage, rejoicing that the Lord has opened us a way to work for him. I have received favours unmerited, unexpected, and great.
--My health is really excellent--I never felt so well in America.
You will wish to know something of the Isle of France. It has one of the most delightful climates in the world. The inhabitants are 18 or 20,000 in number, chiefly French, who have taken the oath of allegiance to the King of England, and slaves from Madagascar, &c. I think it probable that all our brethren will join us--the vessel we go in can accommodate but two passengers. When I am settled I shall write you longer letters. I long to have a home--and long to engage in the great objects for which I left my home. I shall begin to study the French language with my dear Mr. N. on the passage. Oh for more ardent piety. Love to all that are dear to me. I intended writing to all my dear brothers and sisters, but did you but know how I have been situated, you would not blame me. I shall leave this, dear mother, to be sent in the Caravan, which will sail in a week or two. I long to hear from home. Do, do write to me, and pray much for me and my dear missionary brethren and sisters.
In great haste. My dear mother, farewell.
Aug. 2. Heard Dr. M. preach this morning at the Baptist chapel, from these words: "This do in remembrance of me." The poor heathen are traversing the streets to-day, engaged in buying and selling, as on other days. How vast the difference between Bengal and America, on the holy Sabbath! Surely, "the land of my birth, is the loveliest land on the face of the earth." Dr. Carey says, "Did I think it lawful to live for myself, I am sure I should prefer America, before any other country in the world." Our hearts naturally responded to the good man's remark upon that dear land of piety, liberty and independence. Mr. N. preached in the Baptist chapel in the evening, and after service we went to the Rev. Mr. Thomason's church. Heard the good man preach an excellent sermon. As we were going out of church, a gentleman, stranger to us, came to us, and requested Mr. N. to call on him the next morning.
Monday, Aug. 3. Mrs. C. very politely sent her carriage with an invitation for me to call on her. She appeared glad to see me again; repeated her kind wishes to serve me. An obliging, interesting woman. From Mrs. C.'s I went to Mr. J.'s, the stranger, who last evening requested us to call on him. Words were wanting to express my astonishment at finding in the house of an entire stranger, such unexpected liberality and benevolence. Mr. and Mrs. J. endeavoured to ascertain and supply our wants; and in a few minutes had provided a large number of little necessaries for our voyage; to which they added thirty rupees in money.
Departure from Bengal--Coringa--Birth and death of a daughter--Arrival at the Isle of France--Sufferings and death of Mrs. Newell--Conclusion.
Aug. 4. On board the Col. Gillespie, in the river Hoogley.--Though sick enough to keep my bed, I have this day come to the ship, which will probably be my home for some time to come.
Aug. 11. Blessed be the Lord, who has raised me from a bed of sickness and pain, and given me strength to use my pen. I have been confined by a short, but severe fever, to my cabin and my couch. The noise and confusion on board a ship manned with Bengalees, is sufficient to try the strength of the strongest. The pilot has not yet left us. We are still in the river with wind against us. My wicked heart is inclined to think it hard, that I should be doomed to suffer such fatigue and hardship. I sinfully envy those whose destiny it is, to live in quiet tranquillity on land. Happy people! ye know not the toils and trials of voyagers across the rough and stormy deep. Oh for a little Indian hut on land. "Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness!" But hush, my warring passions! It is for Jesus, who sacrificed the pleasures of his Father's kingdom to redeem a fallen world, that thus I wander from place to place, and feel no where at home. How reviving the thought, how great the support it yields my sinking soul! I will cherish it, and yet be happy.
Aug. 12. This morning the Pilot left us. Two of the unhappy Lascars, having never been to sea before, have in the night, cast themselves into the river. Where now are their wretched souls! In that dread eternity which awaits the deluded Mahometan and pagan after death! This affair has excited but little surprise, scarce any notice--thus they die.
Aug. 16. At length we are relieved from the distresses of sea sickness; and though solitary, without our dear missionary associates, feel a degree of contentment and happiness. We could not think of spending this Sabbath without religious exercises in the cabin. Mr. N. therefore requested permission of the captain to read a sermon there. The request was granted. One of Davies' sermons was read. No one joined us except the captain. Hope we enjoyed the presence of that gracious Redeemer, who has promised to be with the two or three who meet for his worship. Determined to persevere amidst all discouragements.
Aut. 17. Dear Mr. N. is much tried and perplexed in mind. It is a season which calls for close self-examination and earnest seeking to know the will of God. Where is the path of duty? Which way does it lead? Lord, what wilt thou have us to do? "Guide us, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrims through this barren land." How little do those Christians, who are enjoying peace and plenty in the bosom of their friends, in their dear native land, know of the trials of a missionary! We are separated from our dear brethren, a trial which we never once anticipated before we left home; and we know not what they will determine to do;--we are going five thousand miles backward towards America, to a place where there is but little prospect of usefulness, and indeed hardly any prospect of our remaining,--where it is very expensive living,--without friends,--and not knowing what difficulties may befall us there. Are we to consider the opposition of the East India company to the spread of the gospel, an intimation of Providence that we are to give up the mission? Or are we to fight our way through all opposition, and attempt to do something for these wretched pagans around us?
Aug. 18. Anxiety of mind and great depression of spirits have sensibly affected dear Mr. N.'s health. I fear he will soon sink under the heavy trials of a missionary life. His health is very poor. But still I hope for better days. Should God be pleased to make him the instrument of leading souls to Jesus, this, I think, would animate his sinking heart, and greatly benefit his health of body. May that dear Saviour who has graciously promised never to leave or forsake his children, console him with his blissful presence through this vale of tears, and comfort him with the prospect of shortly reaching the haven of eternal rest. It is a source of unspeakable comfort to me, that feeble and weak as I am, God has kindly blessed my endeavours to ease this dear friend's heart of his heavy burden.
Aug. 19. Our situation on board the Gillespie has become more pleasant. We resolved to be very strict in our hours of devotion, social and private; to avoid all trivial conversation, and not to countenance profaneness by a look of complacency, and to improve every opportunity of introducing religious conversation at table. This kind of life, though it has undoubtedly excited ridicule, has nevertheless procured us respect. When we are present, swearing and cursing are laid aside, and we have not so much reason, as formerly, to say with a saint of old, "Wo is me that I sojourn in Mesheck, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar." Mr. H._____, the passenger, is a Calcutta gentleman. He has undertaken this voyage on account of ill health, is a sensible man, and apparently very obliging. He wonders much at our entertaining the idea of converting the Hindoos. He is positive that never one will be converted, for it is impossible that a Hindoo should ever change his religion. He attends Dr. _____'s church, and is his sincere admirer. This Dr. _____, is as great an opposer of missions, as perhaps ever existed. When we first arrived at Calcutta, a pious female said to him in company, "Well Dr. _____, are you not rejoiced to hear that some more missionaries have come to Bengal?" "I am so greatly rejoiced, Madam," answered he, "that I wish every one was driven out of the country." "And their arrival gives me so much joy," returned the lady, "that I wish from my heart, that Bengal was filled with them."
Aug. 20. O how do I long for the society of dear Christians. O my dear mother, prize your devout acquaintances, value the society of the dear children of God.
Aug. 23. Another sacred day has come. My heart welcomes its approach. But I shall not be joyful with the dear saints in God's house of prayer. Well--let me consecrate, in a solitary manner, these sacred hours to him, and the kind moment will come, the glad morning will shortly dawn, when I shall engage in the sweet work of praise, with all the blood-washed throng in my heavenly Father's kingdom.
Sabbath evening. This has been a good Sabbath to me--worship in the cabin. While engaged in worship, a Portuguese accidentally fell overboard. He was an excellent swimmer, and by putting the vessel about and throwing out ropes he was mercifully saved from a sudden death, and probably from an awful eternity. This release from death much affected my mind. It led me to feel the importance of praying fervently for the conversion of these wretched creatures. I can do nothing but pray for them, and compassionate their wretchedness. Oh that I could talk their language. Spent the afternoon in reading, singing, and praying together.
Aug. 24. Winds and waves seem to be united against us. It is now three weeks since we left Calcutta, and we have made no progress in our voyage. The wind is ahead, and we are beating about without getting forward. But Providence has undoubtedly a particular design in thus disappointing our hope of speedily arriving at the place of our destination. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice."
Aug. 27. The wind has become more favourable. We make a degree a day. I hope to reach the Isle of France in good health. But I feel no anxiety about that. I know that God orders everything in the best possible manner, and that he who takes care of the ravens, will not forsake his own children in the hour of affliction. If he so orders events, that I shall suffer pain and sickness on the stormy ocean, without a female friend, exposed to every inconvenience--shall I repine and think he is dealing hardly with me? O no. Let the severest trials and disappointments fall to my lot, guilty and weak as I am, yet I think I can rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation.
Aug. 29. It was discovered this morning that the vessel had sprung a leak. No immediate danger is apprehended; we shall therefore proceed on our voyage, and in about a fortnight, touch at a little island, and there repair the vessel. I have just laid aside Cowper's poems. These pathetic lines have wrought affectingly upon my feelings.
"Ye winds that have made me your sport,
convey to this desolate shore,
Some cordial endearing report,
Of the land I shall visit no more;
"My friends, do they now and then send,
A wish or a thought after me?
Oh tell me I yet have a friend,
Though my friends, I am never to see."
Aug. 30. The leak increases so fast that is thought necessary that something should be done immediately. The vessel is much shattered, and the captain says he knows not what may be our fate the next hour. They agree to put the ship about, and make the nearest land on the Coromandel coast.
Aug. 31. When disappointed in our worldly expectations and hopes, how soon is the language of that holy man of God, the afflicted old Jacob adopted; All these things are against me. But the thoughts and ways of the Lord, are not like ours? Why has he brought upon us this misfortune, after suffering us to be tossed about with contrary winds for such a length of time? Why we are obliged to return in the way we came, almost as far back as Calcutta, we can give no reason. The language of true Christian faith and submission will be, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.
Sept. 8, 1812. Coringa, (on the Coromandel coast, about 400 miles from Calcutta.) Bless the Lord, my soul, who healeth all thy diseases, and redeems from death and the grave. On the evening of the 31st ult. I was seized with a violent complaint, the common disorder of this hot and unhealthy country. So great was my distress that I was wholly confined to my bed. Speaking comparatively, I never knew pain before. Saturday, the 5th inst. we arrived at this place. Full of bodily anguish, I was under the necessity of leaving my bed, getting into a small boat, and going six miles to land. The captain went with us to the house of Mr. W., Master Attendant, the only English family in this place. I was laid on a couch, and every possible attention was shown me by Mrs. W. but they could not accommodate us with lodgings. We were therefore obliged to go to the house of a Portuguese in the neighbourhood, a kind of tavern. My couch, though hard, was truly welcome to my tired, aching body.
To-day, the 8th, have been able to sit up most of the day. Hope the Lord will restore my health before the departure of the ship.--Begin to look around me a little. Find myself surrounded by Hindoo cottages, and the tawny natives are as thick as bees. Not one Christian church here."
To Mrs. Judson, then at Calcutta.
Coringa, Sept. 14, 1812.
I address you, my dear Nancy, from a retired spot in a strange land, surrounded by the tawny natives of Asia, without one friend to converse with. Mr. N. my dear and only companion in this land of strangers, has gone this afternoon to a little village, four miles distant, to procure some little necessaries for our voyage. I am consequently alone. How dark and mysterious are the ways of Providence! When I took my leave of you, I expected to be at the Isle of France, in six weeks. But that time has expired, and we are now but a short distance from Calcutta. But "it is well." Every thing that God does must be right, for he is a being of infinite wisdom as well as power.
I have known by painful experience, Nancy, some of the bitter trials of a missionary life. While tossing about on the raging ocean, I was seized with violent pains unfelt before. Distressing days and sleepless nights, warned me of my approaching departure from this vale of tears. But mercy was mingled with judgment. The alarming state of the vessel induced the Captain to put about and make land. And here, after a week of the most exquisite distress, I have found relief. My prospects have indeed been gloomy. I have felt that I was in danger of detaining my dear Mr. N. in this place. But I trust that this will not be the case, as I am now almost restored to health.
Since I left you, my mind has been variously exercised. I have had many distressing conflicts and doubts. But at some blessed seasons, I think I have enjoyed the light of Immanuel's countenance, and have known joys too great to be expressed. I have never, since I began the Christian life, found so much satisfaction in attending on the duties of religion as lately. The return of those hours consecrated to the worship of Jesus in private, has been attended with delight to my soul.
There are three Mogul Mussulmans, (one of whom is a priest,) staying in the house where I reside. They are very punctual in saying their prayers. How deserving of the pity of Christians, who worship a God who can hear and answer prayer. Here seems to be a large field for usefulness. The natives are numerous, and greatly need the gospel. They live in little huts which seem too miserable to be the habitations of human beings. This place appears to me, Nancy, like that India, which imagination painted in such lively colours, when engaged in familiar talk with you on the other side of the Atlantic. These little huts, these tawny, chattering, uncivilized natives, these trees of fruit, and banks of sand, all answer the description which fancy gave in former times.
Sept. 17. Well, Nancy, we are this morning making preparation for our departure for the Isle of France again. We shall go on board the vessel this morning, and expect to sail sometime in the course of the day. God only knows whether our voyage will be prosperous or not. But if Jesus go with us, we shall be secure and happy. We long to know the decision of our dear missionary brethren. Shall we not see some or all of you at the Isle of France? O that Providence may so order events, that we may be united in labouring among the heathen. How difficult will it be to keep alive the spirit of piety in the soul, without Christian converse and social prayer. But I hope we shall be prepared for every trial. I long much to see our dear sister Roxana. You are probably blessed with her society and friendship, while I must be deprived of once seeing her. But I shall think of her as a friend; as one who loves me, though a stranger; and the thought, that she, with Nancy, is praying for me, will render many a lonely hour pleasant. Remember me particularly and affectionately to all our Serampore and Calcutta friends. Request them to pray for my usefulness and devotedness to the cause of the mission.--God has been kind to me, Nancy. He has restored me to my former degree of health and spirits, after bringing me near the border of the grave. O may my future life be wholly consecrated to him.--Do not forget to pray for me. I hope you are enjoying much of God. This alone will prepare you for future trials. I hope to see you soon. Farewell.
The following letter of Mr. Newell concludes the history of her life. As now published, it contains some additions, inserted from a duplicate afterwards sent by Mr. Newell.
To Mrs. Atwood
Port Louis, Isle of France, Dec. 10, 1812.
When I sit down to address you, my dear mother, from this distant land, to me a land of strangers and a place of exile, a thousand tender thoughts arise in my mind, and naturally suggest such inquiries as these. How is it now with that dear woman to whom I am indebted for my greatest earthly blessing--the mother of my dear Harriet? And mine too; for I must claim the privilege of considering you as my own dear mother. Does the candle of the Lord still shine on her tabernacle, and is the voice of joy and praise yet heard in her dwelling? Or, what is not improbable in this world of disappointment, has some new affliction, the death perhaps of a dear child, or some other beloved friend, caused her heart again to bleed, and her tears to flow? Ah! my mother, though we may live many years and see good in them all, yet let us remember the days of darkness, for they too will be many. It is decreed by Infinite Wisdom, that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of heaven. You, my dear mother, have had your share of adversity,--and I too have had mine. But we will not complain. Sanctified afflictions are the choicest favours of heaven. They cure us of our vain foolish expectations from the world, and teach our thoughts and affections to ascend, and fix on joys that never die. I never long so much to see you as I have these several days past. What would I now give to sit one hour by that dear fire-side, where I have tasted the most unalloyed pleasure that earth affords, and recount to you, and the dear children, the perils, the toils, and the sufferings through which I have passed since I left my native land. In this happy circle I should for a moment forget ____________.
Yes, my dear friends, I would tell you how God has disappointed our favourite schemes, and blasted our hopes of preaching Christ in India, and has sent us all away from that extensive field of usefulness with an intimation that He has nothing for us to do there. I would tell you how He has visited us all with sickness, and how He has afflicted me in particular, by taking away the dear little babe which he gave us, the child of our prayers, of our hopes, of our tears. I would tell you--but O, shall I tell it or forbear--
Have courage, my mother; God will support you under this trial; though it may for a time, cause your very heart to bleed. Come, then, let us mingle our griefs and weep together, for she was dear to us both; and she too is gone. Yes, Harriet, your lovely daughter, is gone, and you will see her face no more! My own dear Harriet, the wife of my youth and the desire of my eyes, has bid me a last farewell, and left me to mourn and weep. Yes, she is gone. I wiped the cold sweat of death from her pale emaciated face, while we travelled together down to the entrance of the dark valley. There she took her upward flight, and ascended to the mansions of the blessed!
But I must hasten to give you a more particular account of the repeated afflictions with which God has visited me.
Harriet enjoyed in general good health from the time we left you, until we embarked on our voyage from Calcutta to the Isle of France. During the week previous to our sailing for this place, she went through much fatigue in making calls on those dear friends in Calcutta, who were anxious to see her, and who kindly furnished her with a large supply of necessaries for the voyage, and which, on account of her succeeding illness, she would not have been able to prepare herself. The fatigue of riding in a palanquin, in that unhealthy place, threw her into a fever, which commenced the day after we were on board. She was confined about a week to her couch, but afterward recovered and enjoyed pretty good health. We left Calcutta on the 4th of August, but on account of contrary winds and bad weather, we were driven about in the bay of Bengal without making much progress during the whole of that month. On or about the 27th it was discovered that the vessel had sprung a leak; and on the 30th the leak had increased to such an alarming degree as to render our situation extremely perilous. A consultation of the officers was called, and it was determined to put about immediately, and make the nearest port, which was Coringa, a small town on the Coromandel coast, about sixty miles south of Vizagapatam. We got safe into port on Saturday, September 5th. The vessel was found to be in a very bad case.
Four days before the arrival of the vessel in port, Mrs. Newell was seized with severe pain in the bowels, the disease of the country; but in three days after going on shore she was in a good degree recovered. On the 19th of September we re-embarked, and Mrs. N. enjoyed comfortable health till nearly three weeks after leaving Coringa, and about three weeks before reaching the Isle of France, when she became the joyful mother of a daughter.--Four days after, in consequence of a severe storm of wind and rain, the child took cold, and died on the evening of the next day.
On the 13th of October, our dear little Harriet expired in her mother's arms. A sweet child. Though she had been but five days with us, it was painful, inexpressibly painful, especially to her mother, to part with her. The next day, with many tears, we committed her to a watery grave.
About a week after her confinement I first perceived the symptoms of that disorder which terminated in her death. She immediately recognized the disease, of which her father and several other of her family connexions died, and was confident she should not recover. I entertained strong hopes however, that the healthy air of the Isle of France and a change of diet, together with rest, would stop the ravages of this complaint; especially as we were then within a few days' sail of land. I endeavoured to raise her hopes, and to encourage her to expect much from a change of situation. But she wished me to dismiss all expectation of her recovery, and to prepare my own mind, and help her to prepare hers for the solemn event. She told me she had some doubts respecting her state and wished me to examine her closely, and to converse with her constantly, on the momentous subjects of experimental religion. Yet she was by no means alarmed at the idea of death, nor was she melancholy. She was calm, patient, and resigned. During the last week of our voyage she read through the whole book of Job; and as she afterwards told me, she "found sweet relief form every fear in submitting to a sovereign God, and could not refrain from shedding tears of joy, that God should give her such comfortable views of death and eternity."
October 31. We came to anchor in the harbour of Port Louis, I took lodgings and brought Mrs. Newell ashore the same evening, and called in the aid of Dr. Burke, who continued to attend her until her death. It was not until several days after our arrival, that I could realize the nearness of her death. I finally became sensible that she was far gone in consumption, and told her I feared she would find a grave in the Isle of France. She seemed to be relieved of a heavy burden, when I gave her this intelligence. She now felt at liberty to speak freely on the subject of her death, which before she was unwilling to do, because she had observed it was painful to me. From this time we conversed constantly and with the greatest freedom and plainness, respecting her death, which we now both considered as near at hand. When she perceived me sorrowful, she would endeavour, with the greatest cheerfulness, to animate me with the prospect of a speedy re-union in a world, where we should part no more. This hope, she told me, perfectly reconciled her to the momentary separation, so that she had not one painful sensation in parting with me.
She often spoke of her mother, whom she loved with the most tender affection. "Perhaps," said she at one time, "my dear mother is gone before me, and I shall find her in heaven!" At another time she said, "we often talk of meeting our friends in heaven; but what would heaven be, with all our friends, if God were not there?" The enjoyment of God, was what she expected and longed to find in heaven. Her mind seemed to repose with comfort and delight on the glorious perfections of Jehovah, her covenant God. She spoke repeatedly of the pleasure she took in dwelling on the character of God.
Though she enjoyed a comfortable hope from day to day, yet she would often say to me, "what a dreadful thing it would be if I should be deceived?"
Soon after our arrival in the Isle of France, we received letters from our brethren in Calcutta, informing us that they expected to be with us shortly. Mrs. Newell desired very much that they might arrive before her death; that she might be refreshed by their society and prayers, that my mind might be relieved by their company, and that we might all of us surround the table of the Lord together, and commemorate his dying love before her departure.
Finding ourselves inconveniently situated in our lodgings, I rented a small house, in a healthy part of the town of Port Louis, and removed Mrs. N. on the 9th of November. After our removal she seemed to recover a little for five or six days. I began to indulge some hope of her complete restoration. She enjoyed this respite from distress and pain; was cheerful and happy, but cautioned me against placing much dependence on present appearances, as my disappointment would be the more sensibly felt in case of her death. "Consumptions," she would often repeat, "are flattering disorders. I may live along several months, but there is very little hope of my final recovery." When I asked her if she was not willing to live longer? She replied "yes, if I could live better than I have ever yet done. But I have had so much experience of the wickedness of my heart, that if I should recover, I should expect the remainder of my life to be much like the past; and I long to get rid of this wicked heart and go where I shall sin no more." This thought, viz. that death would be a complete deliverance from sin, she repeated many times with great delight.
About a week before her death there was a considerable change in the weather, (the rainy season, being about to commence) in consequence of which her symptoms became again worse. She failed very fast, and death seemed to be rapidly advancing. In this situation she called me to her, and told me, she wished to deliver me her dying message to her friends; that she had neglected it too long, and now had strength to say only a few words.
Tell my dear mother (said she) that Harriet remembered her on her dying bed. Comfort her--tell her not to grieve for my death--that I shall soon see her again, for surely she is one of the dear children of God. But I have no anxiety about her; she lives near to God, and he will support her. Tell my dear brothers and sisters how much I love them. Tell them from the dying lips of their affectionate sister, that the world is vain and worthless, and that there is noting but religion worth living for. The eldest of them will be anxious to know my views of missions at this time. Tell them--assure them, that I approve on my dying bed the course I have taken. I have never repented leaving all for Christ. Though I am taken away before we have had it in our power to do anything for the heathen, yet it gives me comfort to think of the case of David, who was accepted for having it in his heart to build a house for God, though he was never allowed an opportunity of accomplishing his desire. The mission will go on without me. Entreat my dear brothers and sisters in my name to attend without delay to the concerns of their souls. Oh warn them to repent and seek an interest in Christ. I hope I shall see them in heaven; but oh! if I should not.---Here a flood of tears interrupted her, and brought on one of those distressing turns of coughing, which, for many days before her death, had rapidly exhausted her strength. When she had a little recovered, she added, "Give my love to all my other friends--you know what I would say, if I had strength, but I must stop--I have gone beyond my strength and can say no more." This was two days before her death.
During her sickness, I read to her most of Doddridge's 'Rise and Progress.' In one of the chapters near the close of the book, the author represents the soul in the near view of death, as looking to God and calmly reposing on him, if it cannot rejoice and triumph in him. This, she observed, was her case. She said her mind was so broken and her thoughts scattered by the violence of her disease, that she could not think steadily and regularly on divine things; but that she could and did look up to God, and wait upon him, and repose her weary shattered mind, continually, on him with comfort and peace.
The day, I think, before her death, I asked her how her past life appeared to her? She replied, "Bad enough--but that only makes the grace of Christ appear the more glorious." She then repeated these favourite lines:
"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my heavenly dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head."
Sabbath, 29th of November, the day before her death, I gave her the memorials of the Saviour's dying love, as she had often expressed a desire during her sickness, of enjoying this privilege once more before her death. The same day Dr. Wallich, a friend of ours from Serampore, who had lately arrived in the Isle of France, called to see us; and after looking at Mrs. Newell, he took me aside and told me he thought she could not live through the next day. When I told Mrs. N. what the Dr. said, she raised both hands, and clasping them with eagerness, and with an expressive smile on her countenance, exclaimed,--"Oh! blessed news!--but perhaps he does not know. I fear I have not yet got through." In the evening, as I stood by her bedside, I perceived she was failing very fast, and wished to take my leave of her before her speech and recollection left her. She seemed to be in a stupor, and it was with difficulty that I roused her. I asked her if she knew me? She said she did. I told her I was afraid she would not live through the night, and wished to bid her a last farewell. She gave me her cold hand, and said with a feeble voice, "farewell-we shall soon meet again--look to Christ and he will support you."
She spoke to me some time afterward, and requested me to lie down and take some rest--she thought she should live through the night and should be able in the morning to talk with me again.
Between 12 and 1 o'clock in the night, she had one of her coughing turns, which quite exhausted her, and she seemed to be dying. She requested me to retire and pray for her. I asked her what thing in particular she desired--she said, "that I may wait patiently till God's time shall come." She often repeated to herself in a low voice, "patience, patience."
About 4 o'clock in the morning, I thought she seemed to be lost and wandering in her mind, and said to her, my dear Harriet, do you know who is speaking to you? She looked up and replied in a broken manner,--"my dear--Mr. Newell--my husband." In the morning she seemed to revive a little and attended prayer with composure. There was no visible alteration in her from this time, till about 2 o'clock, P.M. when her sight failed her, and she exclaimed with joy, "Oh this is death!" I said to her, how does death appear to you now? She answered "Oh glorious, glorious." Her sight returned afterward; but between three and four o'clock, it left her again, and she became more restless, turning from side to side with pain. The last words, which she distinctly uttered, were these; "Oh the pains, the groans, the dying strife"--"How long, O Lord, how long!"--allusions, evidently, to the 31st hymn of the 2d Book of Dr. Watts; a favourite hymn of hers, which she often used to sing, and which she had repeated but a day or two before.
Her pains seemed to abate before her death, and she lay quietly in one posture for near a half an hour, and then gradually died away, and expired with apparent ease.
She died about half past four o'clock, in the afternoon, on Monday the 30th of November, 1812; aged 19 years and nearly two months.
But I must stop: for I have already exceeded the bounds of a letter, though I have come far short of doing justice to the dying deportment of this dear friend. O may my last end be like hers. I would now proceed to discharge the duty, which Harriet's dying request imposed on me, of administering consolation to you, and of beseeching the dear children to make a right improvement of this afflicting dispensation; but I hope the God of all consolation will himself wipe away your tears, and fill your heart with comfort, and that Harriet's dying entreaties, and tears, and sighs, may be carried by the Spirit of truth, to the hearts of the children, and of her other young friends, and may fasten conviction on their minds, and engage them to follow her so far as she followed Christ. With these hopes, I must at present bid them all an affectionate farewell.
Perhaps you may censure me, my dear mother, for leaving Serampore before Harriet's confinement. I wish I had time to answer you fully on this head; but I can only say, that she did not expect to be confined short of three or four months from the time of our departure; that the usual length of a voyage to the Isle of France is not half that period; that Bengal is the most sickly place in all India, and this the most healthy spot in the eastern world; and that it was the unanimous advice of all our friends that we should go. Brother Judson would there have embraced the opportunity had I declined it.
My dear, dear mother, I must bid you farewell. God Almighty bless you, and reward you a hundred fold for all your kindness to me. Do not forget me; I shall never forget you. Write whenever you have opportunity. I send my love to all my acquaintance, and to all Harriet's friends, for her sake. My ever dear mother, I remain your's affectionately,
Mr. Newell enclosed a fragment of a letter from Mrs. Newell, the last which she ever wrote. It was written with a hand trembling through weakness; and left unfinished on account of the rapid approach of death.
Port Louis, Isle of France, Nov. 3, 1812.
My ever dear Mother,
Since I wrote you last, I have been called by God to rejoice and weep; for afflictions and mercies have both alternately fallen to my lot. I address you now from a bed of great weakness--perhaps for the last time. Yes, my dear Mother, I feel this mud-walled cottage shake, and expect ere long to become an inhabitant of the world of spirits. Eternity, I feel, is just at hand. But let me give you some account of God's dealings with me, which I shall do at intervals, as strength will admit.
After mentioning the birth of a daughter, with fond anticipations of happiness, she adds--"We could weep for joy--and call ourselves the happiest of the happy. But alas! on the evening of the 5th day, the dear object of our love was snatched from us by death, and on the day following committed to its water grave. Heart-rending stroke to a parental heart! Mine almost bled with deep anguish.----
The following extracts from various letters, contain some recitals, and facts, which may be interesting to the reader who, having traced the life and character of Mrs. Newell, would learn how those, who knew her best, loved and lamented her.
To Mr. A. Hardy, of Boston.
Port Louis, Isle of France, Feb. 23, 1813
My dear Brother,
I wrote to our dear mother, Mrs. Atwood, in December, by way of London. As that may fail, I shall briefly recapitulate some things which in that I stated at length.--We were all ordered away from India by government. I embarked with Harriet for this place in August. We had a most disastrous voyage; on the 8th of October, H. was delivered of a daughter, three weeks before we arrived here. Our dear babe took cold, and died suddenly on the 13th, five days old. Harriet took cold at the same time, being exposed to a violent storm of wind and rain. The cold settled on her lungs, and terminated in a consumption. She rapidly wasted away, and on the 30th of November ended her days in this place. Two physicians beside myself attended her during her sickness. It would be gratifying here to relate the exercises of her mind during her illness and at the hour of death; but I have time only to say, that she died rejoicing in the sure prospect of eternal life through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.--Thus, my dear brother, I have been called to lay my beloved Harriet in her lowly bed, within the short period of ten months from the beginning of our marriage. I have buried both my parents, and several near relatives; but I never knew the bitterness of grief till I saw my dear wife expire. It is now about three months since she died; and I feel my loss more deeply than when I followed her to the grave. I trust that this very afflicting stroke of Providence has been sanctified to me. I feel more like a pilgrim and stranger on earth, and I long to finish my work and be away. But I must not spend time in describing my feelings on this mournful occasion--you can easily imagine all that I would say.
I have one request to make of you--comfort our dear mother. Tell her that her dear Harriet never repented of any sacrifice she had made for Christ, that on her dying bed "she was comforted with the thought of having had it in her heart to do something for the heathen, though God had seen fit to take her away before we entered on our work."
Give my love to all our friends. How glad should I be to see you all! Tell little Aaron about my dear babe--we called her Harriet Atwood. Poor thing, she found a watery grave. Mary, my dear sister, do not grieve too much for Harriet; she is well now. O may we be counted worthy to meet her in the mansions of the blessed. She comforted me with this hope on her dying bed; and this blissful hope is worth more to me than all the wealth of India.--Farewell.
From Mrs. Judson to Mrs. Atwood.
Isle of France--Port Lewis. March 12, 1813.
Before the reception of this I presume you will have received the very afflicting intelligence of the death of your beloved Harriet. I would not, by calling your attention renewedly to the event, open your sorrow afresh, but I would sympathize with you, and if possible heal the wounds which your heart may have recently received. Though you may weep and mourn that you could not afford her a mother's care, and comfort her on her dying bed, yet how great must be your consolation to know that the Spirit of God was her comforter, and enabled her to resign her life in a tranquil, happy manner even in a land of strangers. And though her body lies solitary and alone in yonder heathy ground, yet doubtless her immortal spirit has been conveyed to worlds of glory by those guardian angels who will watch her dust till the resurrection day. Dry, then, your tears, my dear Madam, for H. has only gone a little while before you. You will soon meet to part no more, but be happy for ever.--I am now alone, have no female friend with whom I can converse. We live in the same house, sleep in the same room in which she died, and often wish our latter end may be like hers. On our arrival here, we found Mr. Newell heart-broken and dejected. He left us a fortnight since for Ceylon, where he expects to meet the other brethren.
From Mr. Newell to Mrs. Atwood.
Jaffna, (in the Island of Ceylon,) Sept. 19, 1813.
My ever dear Mother,
-----Forgive me, that I have written a whole page, without mentioning that name, which is dear to both you and me. Believe me, it is not through forgetfulness.--No; the name of Harriet will never cease to excite the deepest sensations in my heart nor will her image be effaced from my memory.
The affecting news of her death has doubtless reached you before this time.---In the long letter I wrote, (bearing date, Isle of France, Dec. 10, 1812,) I have given you a particular account of the exercises of her mind, during her sickness. I shall embrace the first opportunity to send you her journal, &c. At present, I can only say, that she bore her sickness, which was extremely painful, with a remarkable degree of meek and quiet submission to the will of God.--She died in the full possession of that peace of God which passeth all understanding, and desired most earnestly to depart, that she might go to her long wished for home. Never shall I forget the solemn scene! She seemed for several days before her death, to be already in heaven. Every earthly wish and feeling seemed to have left her, and her mind was completely with eternal things. She mentioned by name her dearest mother, and all her dear brothers and sisters, a few hours before her death.---She has gone, I doubt not, to join the blessed spirits around the throne.---I can never discharge the debt of gratitude I owe to you, my dear mother, for giving me such a companion. May God support you under this heavy affliction; and may we soon meet our dear departed Harriet in that better world, where we shall rejoice for evermore.
From Mr. Newell to Mrs. Atwood.
Point de Galle, Ceylon--Nov. 9, 1813.
My dear, dear mother,
It seems too much to believe that this paper will ever reach Haverhill, and be read in that peaceful dwelling, where I have spent so many happy hours. But your letters have safely reached me, and gladdened my sorrowful, desponding heart, in this distant region; and why should not mine be safely conveyed to my beloved mother? I hope this will reach you, and remind you of one, on whom you have bestowed the greatest blessing which any person on earth could bestow. That blessing, alas, how transient!--It was resumed by that sovereign God, from whom is every good gift, and I am left to mourn.--Yes, my dear mother, within ten short months from the day you gave your Harriet to me, I saw her sicken, waste away, and expire. In a strange land, without one friend to weep with me, I followed her, a solitary mourner, to the grave. She was interred in a retired spot, in the burying ground in Port Louis, under the shade of an evergreen. I often visit the spot with mournful satisfaction, during the three remaining months of my residence in the Isle of France.
"Till Christ shall come to rouse the slumbering dead,
Farewell, pale, lifeless clay, a long farewell;
Sweet be thy sleep, beneath that green tree's shade,
Where I have laid thee in thy lowly cell.
Adieu, dear Harriet, thou shalt sigh no more,
Thy conflict's ended, and thy toils are past;
Thy weary pilgrimage on earth is o'er,
And thou has reached thy wished-for home at last.
Loosed from thy prison earth, I saw thee rise
To realms of light, beyond these lower skies:
There I behold thee in thy blest abode,
'Mid kindred spirits, near thy father, God.
But me, not destined yet thy bliss to share--
My prime of life in wandering spent, and care--
My duty calls to traverse realms alone,
And find no spot of all the world my own."
Oh, Harriet, Harriet, my heart bleeds afresh at the sound of thy name; and yet I love to repeat it, and to dwell upon the sound. How often did I wish, my dear mother, for your presence, during Harriet's illness--in the closing scene,--and especially the night after her death, which I spent with no person in my house but my negro man, while the remains of our dear Harriet lay enclosed in the gloomy coffin before me. The end of this month will bring around the anniversary of this solemn, trying scene. But the revolution of years can never obliterate the impression which it made on my heart.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The packet of letters sent me by the Alligator, went first to Calcutta, thence to Bombay, and thence to Colombo, where I found it, as I came from Jaffna, Oct. 30, nearly a year from the date. Those which were directed to Mrs. Newell, I opened and read with sensations of mingled pleasure and pain. They came, alas! too late for her. While you were writing them, she was dictating her last farewells to me to be transmitted to you. But she stands in no need of letters or mortal friendship now. She enjoys, I doubt not, what she often spoke of on earth, "the light of Immanuel's countenance," and the friendship and converse of angels and saints.--Yours affectionately,
Goa, Feb. 27th, 1814.
My dearest Mother,
I long to see you, to weep with you, and to endeavour to comfort you. But I trust in the Lord we shall meet in a world where we shall not have occasion to weep over our loss, but to rejoice over and with our dear Harriet, now taken from us for a little while, but then restored to us for ever. In this hope, my dearest mother, we will rejoice, while we wade through the depths of affliction in this toilsome pilgrimage. Soon we shall reach the end of our journey, and see our beloved Harriet again. Would we wish her back again to earth? To drink again of the bitter cup of sorrow, to struggle again with temptations, and to be grieved with sins; again to face the king of terrors, and to pass through the deep waters of the river of death? Oh no, no, dear as she is to my heart, I could not wish it.--No.
She lives; she greatly lives; and from an eye of tenderness, lets heavenly pity fall on us, "more justly numbered with the dead." No--she shall not come again to us; but we shall go to her: where she is, there is unmingled joy; but we must struggle with the waves of trouble until we have crossed this tempestuous sea of life, and reached the peaceful shore of our heavenly Canaan. Oh let us comfort ourselves, my dear mother, with these reflections; for they are not the fictions of the imagination, but are warranted by the sure word of God.--My dear mother, farewell. Yours affectionately,
To Mrs. E. Willis--Boston.
Bombay, August, 1814.
My dear Sister,
In the Isle of France I found myself a solitary mourner, stript of all the earthly comforts which my heart had so long been idolizing; separated from all my missionary associates, and with little prospect of ever meeting them again. Such was the distress of my mind, that I was in danger of sinking under it, and losing all hope. I used to climb the heights of those stupendous mountains which overhang the town of Port Louis, and spend whole days in wandering through those solitary wilds, where no human ear could hear the voice of my sorrow. Frequently I visited the spot where I had deposited the remains of my beloved Harriet, and used to find some momentary relief in kneeling at her grave, and watering the turf with tears of heart-felt grief.
Her death has cast a gloom over all my earthly prospects, which makes this world appear to me very different from what it once did. Be earnest, my dear sister, in seeking the salvation of our soul, and pray also for me. How happy will it be for us if we should obtain mercy of the Lord to meet together a few years hence in the heavenly world, and there find again our now lost Harriet, and renew our converse with her, to be no more separated for ever! O delightful, cheering thought! Let us strive to realize it. Yours very affectionately,
Bombay, Dec. 13th, 1817.
My dearest Mother,
I send you, together with this letter, a present, which you, my dear mother, will highly value. It is a twig and a bud from that ever memorable tree that casts its friendly shade over the lowly bed of our dearest, sweetest Harriet! It was given me by Captain Austin, of the ship Fawn, who, on his voyage to India, touched at the Isle of France, visited the burying ground in Port Louis, and sought out and found the grave of Harriet. He informs me that some kind American friend, who was lately at the Isle of France, has caused a wooden monument (the only one that could be had there) to be set up to mark the spot, with an inscription cut in the wood. Many persons have gone to the burying ground of Port Louis to visit her grave. The wooden monument cannot last long, and though I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the unknown friend by whom it was erected, yet I wish that a more durable one might be put in its place. Since Harriet's name has become so extensively known, and so dear to many thousands of Christians in the four quarters of the globe, some of whom may many years hence visit the spot where her ashes are deposited--will it not be useful to have a marble prepared, with a suitable inscription, and sent to the Isle of France? Let the name of Atwood be preserved--Harriet Atwood--a name that sounds to me as no other human name ever did.--- S.NEWELL.
The desire expressed in the last letter, was promptly fulfilled, and a marble monument has been erected over the grave of Mrs. Newell, with the following inscription, written by the Rev. Dr. Worcester, late Secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
Mrs. Harriet Atwood,
WIFE OF REV. SAMUEL NEWELL,
Missionary at Bombay.
BORN, HAVERHILL, MASS. U.S.A., OCT. 10, 1793.
Died after a distressing voyage from India to this place,
November 30, 1812
Early devoted to Christ, her heart burned for the Heathen;
for them she left her kindred and her native land,
and welcomed danger and sufferings.
Of excellent understanding, rich in accomplishments and virtues,
she was the delight of her friends, a crown to her husband,
and an ornament to the Missionary cause.
Her short life was bright, her death full of glory.
HER NAME LIVES, and in all Christian lands is pleading with irresistable eloquence
FOR THE HEATHEN.
This humble monument to her memory Is erected by the AMERICAN BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS For Foreign Missions."
The spot has been often visited by American voyagers, who had heard her history, and loved the cause for which she laboured, and died; and many of them have brought from thence, and presented to her relatives, some memorial taken from the grave or from its overshadowing ever-green.
There rests in peace the mortal frame, from which the immortal spirit so early departed. But "that life is long, which answers life's great end"; and the remembrance of her, who left the comforts of Christian civilization, to "pour wine and oil into the wounds" of her suffering, though guilty and polluted "neighbours," shall excite many to the holy purpose to "go and do likewise." Nor shall the artless narrative of her religious feelings--of her repentance, faith and love,--of that fear of God which led her to walk humbly before him during her life; and of that glorious hope, which shed a heavenly brightness on the hour of her death--leave the reader's heart unmoved, or the conscience unaffected. Many have already found, in the peace and joy of a change produced throughout the instrumentality of her writings, a blessed assurance, that, "though dead, she yet speaketh"; and others, still, shall follow her "faith, considering the end of her conversation."
"Praise, for yet one more name, with power endowed
To cheer and guide us, onward as we press;
Yet one more image, on the heart bestowed
To dwell there, beautiful in holiness;
Thine, Harriet, thine! whose memory, from the dead,
Shines as the star, which to the Saviour led."
Mr. Newell remained at the Isle of France about three months after the departure of his beloved companion to her heavenly rest. During this period his missionary associates, Messrs. Nott. and Hall, who arrived at Calcutta, in the Harmony, from Philadelphia, were endeavouring to procure permission from Lord Minto, the British East India Governor, to prosecute their labours in some part of India. They were at length allowed to go to Bombay.
In the mean time, Mr. Newell, in order to be nearer the Company's possessions, repaired to Ceylon, from whence, after a year spent in doubt and uncertainty as to his future movements, he sailed for Bombay, and joined his friends there. Here he spent the few remaining years of his life, in efforts to build up among the heathen the cause of that Redeemer for whom he had forsaken country and home. While acquiring the language, he preached to the English soldiers and other foreign residents, and when able to communicate with the natives, united with untiring devotion of spirit in all the arduous labours of the mission; the importance of the missionary cause rising unspeakably in his estimation, as he personally contemplated around him the darkness, the superstition, and the wretchedness of the heathen world.
But he was soon called away from his earthly toils. He died in May, 1821, after seven years residence in Bombay. His illness, as is common in that country, was only of a few hours duration; and through its severity, and the powerful medicines administered, he was unable to converse intelligibly with his friends. But it was apparent to all his associates that the "coming of the Lord" had found him "watching." For some months previous to his decease, he became more and more spiritual in all his walk and conversation--repairing many times a day to his closet for converse with his Saviour, whose face he was, as we trust, shortly permitted to behold in glory.
The following paper, written by Mr. Judson, was laid before a number of the leading Congregationalist ministers, at the meeting of the Massachusetts Association, at Bradford, in June, 1810.
The undersigned, members of the Divinity College, respectfully request the attention of their Reverend Fathers, convened in the General Association at Bradford, to the following statement and inquiries,
They beg leave to state, that their minds have been long impressed with the duty and importance of personally attempting a mission to the heathen; that the impressions on their minds have induced a serious, and they trust, a prayerful consideration of the subject in its various attitudes, particularly in relation to the probable success, and the difficulties attending such an attempt; and that after examining all the information which they can obtain, they consider themselves as devoted to this work for life, whenever God in his providence shall open the way.
They now offer the following inquiries, on which they solicit the opinion and advice of this Association. Whether, with their present views and feelings, they ought to renounce the object of Missions as visionary or impracticable; if not, whether they ought to direct their attention to the eastern or the western world; whether they may expect patronage and support from a missionary society in this country, or must commit themselves to the direction of a European society; and what preparatory measures they ought to take previous to actual engagement?
The undersigned, feeling their youth and inexperience, look up to their Fathers in the Church, and respectfully solicit their advice, direction, and prayers.
ADONIRAM JUDSON, JR.
SAMUEL NOTT, JR.
SAMUEL J. MILLS
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