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Title: A Memorial of Mrs. Margaret Breckinridge
Author: Alexander, Archibald B. D. (Archibald Browning Drysdale), 1855-1931, Breckinridge, John, Miller, Samuel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Notes:

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  =equal signs=.

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  [Illustration:
  _Painted by Robinson._      _Eng^{d.} by J. Sartain_]



  A

  MEMORIAL

  OF

  MRS. MARGARET BRECKINRIDGE.


  IN TWO PARTS.


  PART I. MEMOIR, AND FUNERAL SERMON.
  PART II. LETTERS TO HER SURVIVING CHILDREN.


  PHILADELPHIA:
  WILLIAM S. MARTIEN.
  1839.



Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by

WILLIAM S. MARTIEN,

in the office of the Clerk of the District Court, for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.



CONTENTS


  PART I.

                                                            _Page._

  INTRODUCTION,                                                  13


  CHAPTER I.

  Life of Mrs. Breckinridge,                                     17


  CHAPTER II.

  Additional Illustrations of the Life and Character of Mrs.
  Breckinridge,                                                  35

  Her Religious Character,                                       42

  Her dedication to the work of Foreign Missions,                46

  Her Sacrifices for the Church of God,                          47

  Her Last Sickness and Death,                                   54


  CHAPTER III.

  Closing Reflections,                                           61


  SUBMISSION:

  A SERMON--by the Rev. A. Alexander, D.D.                       69


  PART II.

  LETTERS OF A GRANDFATHER.


  LETTER I.

  Introductory,                                                   5


  LETTER II.

  Human Nature,                                                  10


  LETTER III.

  The Way of Salvation,                                          17


  LETTER IV.

  The Bible,                                                     29


  LETTER V.

  Prayer,                                                        37


  LETTER VI.

  Cultivation of the Mind,                                       45


  LETTER VII.

  Cultivation of the Heart and the Moral Habits,                 67


  LETTER VIII.

  Manners,                                                       87



  A

  MEMOIR

  OF

  MRS. MARGARET BRECKINRIDGE.


  "Jesus wept."


  PART I.



INTRODUCTION.


MORE than a year has now passed since Mrs. MARGARET BRECKINRIDGE, the
beloved subject of the following brief notices, was taken from us into
the saints' everlasting rest. By that event, the little family of which
she was the joy and crown, was dissolved. The surviving parent felt that
God had committed to him the interesting but mournful duty of preserving
the memory of so inestimable a friend. But it is long after such an
event, before the mind is sufficiently tranquil to utter our thoughts
and feelings without excess. The peaceable fruits of so dreadful a
chastisement succeed, alas! but slowly in our intractable hearts, to the
distraction of grief, and the desolation of the grave.

It was in the midst of the deepest of his sorrow, also, that the writer
was hastened (by a very kind Providence, as he now sees it to have been)
into the active duties of an office which left no rest for body or mind
during almost an entire year. So that if his feelings had allowed the
attempt at preparing a Memoir, his duty to the Church of God forbade it.

In these trying and peculiar circumstances, he was permitted to call in
the aid of those honoured and venerable Friends, from whose hands, in a
happier day, he had received the lovely wife of his youth. They of all
others knew her best, especially from her birth to her marriage. They
had done most, under God, to fit her for life's duties, and its close;
and to make her "worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance." And none
were judged to be so well qualified to do justice to her memory. To the
one we are indebted for the following interesting Sketch, making the
first chapter. To the other for the valuable Letters to her surviving
children, forming the second part of this memorial.

While all must admire the delicacy and candour with which this sketch is
drawn, it is evident to those who knew the deceased, that much remains
to be said which ought not to be omitted--especially in regard to that
portion of her life, embracing more than fifteen years, which passed
between the time of leaving the parental roof, and her lamented death.
In attempting to supply this omission, the writer felt the
inconvenience--even awkwardness of returning upon a narrative which
seemed to have been brought to an appropriate close. But this was
thought preferable to leaving the memoir incomplete; or to breaking the
thread of the narrative given in the first chapter.

And moreover it was felt that the design of the work which called for
the additional chapters, dispensed with form in the manner of
furnishing them. It is intended to preserve the memory of the beloved
dead for her bereaved children, and her numerous kindred and friends,
rather than to unveil her retiring character to the public eye. The work
being designed, not so much for general circulation as for family use,
is rather _printed_, than _published_; and all its imperfections will
readily be overlooked by those who will come to these pages, as Mary
went to the tomb of Lazarus--"to weep there."



MEMOIR.


CHAPTER I.

A NARRATIVE of the life of our departed friends, bears some resemblance
to the representation, on canvass, of their persons and features; it
serves to restore and collect our scattered thoughts, and revive our
affections; and prevents the hand of time from obliterating entirely,
their peculiar mental and moral lineaments.

It was in consequence of the necessity of this help to our natural
infirmities, that our Lord gave to his people the bread and wine, as a
symbol of his body and blood, and said, "Do this in remembrance of me."
He knew too well our careless, wandering hearts, to trust the
recollections, even of _his_ great and lovely character, to our
unfaithful keeping, and established, as a help to his word, the
ordinance which was to continue unto the end of the world, "as a
memorial of him." And we trust that his people are permitted to
endeavour to perpetuate the remembrance of each other by means, which,
however they may come greatly short of the significant emblem ordained
by himself, will assist in enabling them "to love one another as he also
loved them."

In view of this encouragement, given us in the Scriptures of
inspiration, we would endeavour to bring together, and exhibit, in the
history of the short life of Mrs. Margaret Breckinridge, some of those
graces of a Christian character, which lead us to hope that the finger
of the Lord had engraven his name on her heart, and that his grace was
carrying on the work, notwithstanding much infirmity of flesh and
spirit, until the body of sin and death within her was rolled away, and
a simple, undivided hold taken on the Rock of ages.

She was born September 29th, 1802, in New York, and educated for several
years under the immediate instruction of the sanctuary, in a
comparatively pure state of the Church, when the name and influence of a
few such venerable and holy men as the Rev. Dr. John Rodgers, had thrown
a restraint on the vices of the world around them, as well as on the
constantly recurring disorders of the Church, so that the very vagrants
of the street felt their presence.[1] Every pastor of a flock of Jesus
Christ seemed to feel it his privilege, as well as his duty, to feed the
lambs of his flock himself, and did not commit them to the ever-varying,
heterogeneous instruction of others. The Scriptures, and the Catechism,
it was his own business to inculcate; and the same afternoon in each
week, had been for many years, in several of the churches of the city,
of various denominations, the season for this instruction.

     [1] The appearance of these servants of God, in any part of the
     city, seemed to make "iniquity hide its head," and was often the
     means of dispersing an idle, youthful group, in which profanity and
     disorder were beginning their destructive career. Through their
     influence, in a great measure, the Sabbath was, at least
     externally, a holy day, on which the public ways exhibited no crowd
     or bustle, but what was of necessity occasioned by a church-going
     people.

By these and other means, the Bible had taken a systematic form in
Margaret's mind, very early; and whenever she met, even in childhood,
with a scriptural scene or subject, she generally knew where to place
it, and was particularly animated by it. And this peculiar skill, and
taste, continued and increased until childhood passed away, and the
pride and enjoyment of life opened a new scene before her.

For a time it seemed as if every vestige of the sensibility arising from
religious instruction would be swept away. She had friends who wished to
see her enjoying the _innocent_ pleasures of youth; especially as in
person and mind there was a promise of peculiar adaptation to them. And
there was a will of her own very clearly developing, which wanted more
restraint than parents are generally willing to exercise. Many
interpositions, however, in providence occurred, which, though sad in
the view of her family, proved a real deliverance to her--frequently
arresting her first decisive step in folly.

At the age of eleven she was removed with her family to Princeton, in
consequence of a call which her father received, to a Professorship in
the Theological Seminary in that place. Being thus separated from many
snares incident to a city life, she began anew, as it were, to form
habits and connexions, which, although in some respects, more dangerous
and ensnaring than those which she had left, had not "grown with her
growth, and strengthened with her strength;" and were, on that account,
more ready to yield, when the follies of youth passed away, and the
solemnities of this world, in view of another, opened before her.

The want of a good school in Princeton, induced her parents to send her,
at the age of about fourteen years, to Philadelphia, for the purpose of
obtaining for her some finish to the education which she had received at
home. She remained there nearly a year, residing with an aunt, and
attending a daily and well conducted school. Indeed it was _her_
privilege, as well as the privilege of many others, to receive
instruction from a teacher, who not only was competent to every branch
of polite learning which adorns the mind of a female, but desirous of
having all which he taught so sanctified as to reach the heart, and be
made the means of communicating spiritual and saving, as well as
intellectual instruction.[2]

     [2] Many will probably have reason for everlasting rejoicing in the
     kind arrangement which placed them under Mr. Jaudon's instruction.
     He was truly "a man of God," and the effects of his wise and holy
     instruction and discipline, we have no doubt are felt in the bosom
     of many families, and in the hearts of many individuals in
     Philadelphia, to this day, who will, we trust, be prepared to meet
     him, where, having turned many to righteousness, "he shall shine as
     a star for ever and ever."

The immediate effect of this experiment was injurious to Margaret's
disposition and deportment. She returned to her parents with more love
for the world, and a better opinion of herself; and of consequence was
less docile. It was evident that the atmosphere of a city was not the
element in which her heart would receive the best influence.

In a revival which took place in Princeton, when she was about eighteen
years of age, an interest was excited in some of her pious female
friends for her conversion. They concluded to make her the subject of
special prayer. Of this she was entirely ignorant, until the evidence
appeared in herself of the verity of the promise, as to the result of
"fervent, effectual prayer." A sermon of the celebrated President
Edwards, read in a small, social meeting, arrested her attention, and
brought her to continued, deep, serious thinking, which ended, as she
thought, in a new view of everlasting things. With all the sanguine
feelings of youth, she judged herself prepared to be united with the
Church; but owing to the unwillingness of her parents to risk the
possibility of a premature profession of religion, this step was
delayed.

In connexion with this period of her life, it seems necessary to relate
some circumstances which took place with regard to a much loved sister
of hers; not many years younger than herself. They had been so closely
educated together, as to make them one in many of their views and
feelings.

Elizabeth, in giving an account of the exercises of her own mind on the
subject of religion, some time after they took place, said, that she
experienced an irresistible feeling of contempt for the concern which
Margaret manifested, and concluded that she was indulging a mere
hypocritical affectation; in consequence of which she was beginning to
make some observations to this effect, when, in a moment, a deep
conviction fastened on her conscience, of the danger of resisting what
might prove to be the influence of the Holy Spirit. This impression
resulted in a real concern for herself, and in views equally solemn with
those expressed by Margaret.

They both now made progress together in their inquiries and experience,
and were a mutual help, rather than a hinderance to each other. Both
soon thought that they had obtained an interest in "Him, whose blood
cleanseth from all sin."

It appeared, however, soon after this, as if our fears with regard to
Margaret were but too well founded. "Because of manifold temptations,"
she seemed to be taking a new hold on the world; but a state of things
about the same time, began with Elizabeth, which disciplined and humbled
her spirit; and she was soon enabled to realize all the insufficiency
and uncertainty of this world, as a portion.

Many doubts with regard to the genuineness of the change which Elizabeth
trusted had taken place in her heart, increased by the weakness which
rapidly declining health had induced, perplexed and troubled her, and
made her more and more unwilling to make a profession of religion. She
had witnessed some of the extravagances of revivals, and felt the danger
of being deceived, and of "having a name to live whilst she was dead."

In January, 1823, Margaret was married to the Rev. John Breckinridge,
and returned with him to Kentucky, his native State, in the spring of
the same year. In consequence of a call which her husband received, to a
church in Kentucky, (which he accepted,) they were soon after this
settled in Lexington. Her departure from her early home was her first
real trial. For although, through the course of several months, she had
taken a prospective view of this arrangement, with much buoyancy of
spirits, as the time approached, every circumstance connected with a
separation from all the associations of her childhood and youth, seemed
to produce a new and deeper impression, and seven or eight hundred miles
appeared at length, as almost an interminable space. The sadness which
irresistibly overspread her countenance, convinced her friends that
when, in view of Mr. Breckinridge's first destination, she had given
herself unreservedly to a foreign mission, she, like many others, little
knew her own heart, and all the sacrifices which such a destination
involved. And when it was seen expedient that this intention should be
relinquished by him, for a plan more eligible in the view of his fathers
in the ministry, a release from this more enduring trial, formed no
small part of the considerations which assisted in making her
submissively bow to one so much more lenient. And indeed, she had reason
to say, that goodness and mercy had followed her at every step. For this
very trial which sobered her countenance, made her heart better, and
prepared the way for deeper self-examination, and probably more fervent
prayer; and the result was, that with a trembling confidence she united
herself with her husband's church in Lexington, a few months after he
took charge of it. From her letters, after this event, we learned that
her connexion with the church took place at the same time--it is thought
on the same day--in which her sister Elizabeth, having been delivered
from the many doubts which had clouded _her_ mind, made a profession of
religion in the church in Princeton. This co-incidence in providence,
having occurred without any mutual intercourse or understanding on the
subject, seemed so consistent with the plans of Him who "sees the end
from the beginning," and who, from their first serious impressions,
appeared to have united the lines of their experience until they ended
in one gracious result, that it did much to confirm their friends in the
hope, that a good "work was begun in them which should be carried on."
They felt constrained to say, "It is the Lord's doings and wonderful in
our eyes."

The kind and affectionate family in Kentucky, of which she now made one,
assisted much in alleviating the pressure of sorrowful recollections,
and in making the resolution which she had formed of "learning in
whatsoever state she was, therewith to be content," more practical, and
more enduring; and when Mr. Breckinridge was called to Baltimore in
1826, although she was pleased with the prospect of getting nearer to
her early home, she felt that a new tie had been formed which could not
be broken, even partially, without much pain. It was a source of much
grateful recollection to her, that she was not permitted to use any
undue influence to lead her husband away from his congregation in
Lexington, to which she was indebted in so considerable a degree, for
the pleasant circumstances which surrounded her.

Her health was remarkably firm, especially for one of her delicate
appearance, for several years after her marriage, and during all the
time that her husband had a settled charge. In Baltimore, to which he
removed from Lexington, she seemed to realize with much gratitude, the
particularly pleasant circumstances in which her family was placed.
Situated on the direct way between her husband's relatives, endeared to
her by so many pleasant recollections, and the family of her youth, with
both of which she could have frequent intercourse, and in the midst of a
kind circle of friends, not limited by the bounds of Mr. Breckinridge's
congregation, she was literally at home; and when the summons came to
call him to another sphere of labour in the Church, she was the last to
be persuaded that it was his duty to obey it, and reluctantly yielded to
the opinion of those whose judgment she honoured.

From this time she may truly be said to have been a sacrifice to the
interests of the Church. The unsettling of her domestic duties and
habits, to which her temperament was particularly adapted, was,
probably, directly and indirectly at the foundation of those causes,
which gradually but too surely undermined her health, and prepared her
for a premature grave. Her last change of residence, which placed her in
Princeton by the side of her paternal family, and amongst many of her
youthful associates, seemed to her to fill up the measure, as it
regarded this world, of that providential goodness "which had followed
her all the days of her life;" and she said, not long after it took
place, with a humility which was in itself an evidence of her gracious
state, "I think, in view of all my mercies, there is a thankfulness
experienced which is not the natural growth of my own heart." To us who
remain it is given to see, that these unusual comforts were mercifully
intended to soothe the infirmities of a rapidly dissolving body, and
soften the approach of the last and most formidable enemy.

Several attacks of disease in the course of two years, which threatened
to be immediately fatal, were, by the aid of skilful medical treatment,
happily arrested, but not until their baleful effect had fastened on her
feeble body, and each had left her "more a prey for death." And it was a
cause of much thankfulness to her friends, that instead of one of those
unexpected instant departures, which so frequently occur, and which in
her case it was often feared would take place, the approach of death was
gradual and mild, so as to involve no pain, and but little surprise.

The simplicity of her character appeared through all her last days,
especially after she ascertained that her end was not far off. Her
words were few, because she studied to utter none but "the words of
truth and soberness;" she seemed to feel that there _might be_ a parade
even in dying.

After a short conversation in her room a day or two before she departed,
on the subject of the unprofitableness of our best works, which we found
had deeply exercised her mind, she remarked with much emotion, a tear
starting to her eye, "I feel the truth of these remarks;" but, after a
pause, she said, "I have _tried_ to do my duty as a wife and as a
mother; I have _endeavoured_ to conduct the affairs of my family with
discretion, and to instruct my children in the best things." She
evidently clung to this as an evidence of grace, (and not at all as a
cause of acceptance with God,) and as affording some hope for her
children, when relied on in view of the promises of Him who says, that
if this precious seed is sowed, grace shall insure the crop.

Her Sabbath evenings, after the good old way of our puritan fathers, saw
her with all her household, over whom she had any authority, gathered
around her for the purpose of giving them that instruction which, with
the promised blessing, would save them from the paths of sin and folly
in this world, and prepare them for enjoying the blessedness of another.
And through the distractions of an unsettled life, and the hinderances
experienced in a large boarding house, in which several winters were
spent with her family, she persevered as far as possible, in the
instruction of both children and servants in the week and on the
Sabbath, with a determination which both she and her friends thought had
shortened her life.

In view of this peculiar faithfulness to her domestic duties, we are the
more willing to offer an apology for what appeared to some of her
friends, an indifference to various extra means; which in these last
times have been esteemed needful for the awakening of a slumbering
church.

When her mind began to open to this subject, the glory of our revivals
was beginning to be tarnished. "The enemy had begun to sow his tares."
The extravagance which so frequently attended them, had produced in her
no little disgust for what she thought the mere machinery of religion.
In such circumstances, it is difficult to "choose the good, and refuse
the evil." The cast of her mind was such, that parade in any thing, and
especially in the vital concerns, in which is involved our everlasting
destiny, irresistibly revolted her mind. And the errors in principle and
in practice, which had been by these means insinuated into, and
corrupted the legitimate and professed doctrines and ordinances of the
Presbyterian Church, greatly impaired her confidence in what many good
people esteemed genuine revivals of religion. Subsequent events have
abundantly confirmed the wisdom of her early and deep distrust.

After her constitution had been tried with another violent and unusual
attack, in March, 1838, which prostrated nearly all her remaining
strength in a few hours, it was evident to many of her friends, that
recovery was no longer to be expected. Every means, however, were made
use of, that might in any way prove salutary; many of which, as has
often occurred, were rather injurious than beneficial. As a last
resource, a journey was commenced, for the purpose of trying the Springs
of Virginia, so highly recommended to invalids. She was not permitted,
however, to go beyond Philadelphia. Her physicians there, judging so
long a journey very hazardous, gently arrested it, by proposing a delay
of a few days; thus endeavouring to obviate the effects of any
disappointment which she might experience. Her own views seemed,
spontaneously, to meet theirs, and a quiet acquiescence was every day
more manifest. After a consultation of physicians, in which they agreed
that an effort might be safely made for her return to Princeton, the
sweet complacency with which she said to a very kind friend, who was
visiting her, "I am going home to-morrow," encouraged a hope that she
had realized her danger; and that _her_ will was gradually moulding to
the Divine will, and she preparing for a far better home.

It appeared as if she was permitted to get thus far on her journey, in
order to gratify the feelings, and experience the renewed kindness of
friends, whom her husband had attached to his family, from his
temporary labours amongst them. The attention of these, and indeed many
others, whom their interesting circumstances were a means of winning to
them, is deeply felt in the family circle, of which she was a beloved
member; and which will continue to be felt, as long as her memory shall
be cherished amongst them.

It was with difficulty that she was removed to her own residence at
Princeton, a few days before she died, fully sensible that her departure
was not far off. One of her anxious friends, wishing to be more
satisfied of this, said: "You know, my dear Margaret, how ill you are?"
A most emphatic "O yes," silenced every remaining doubt.

The day before she died, the conversation leading to the subject of
death, she said, "I am only afraid of the article of death: I know that
when this is over, I shall be in Jesus' arms." From one, so slow to
speak, these were encouraging words.

A few hours after this, she awoke from a light sleep, with that sort of
bewildered spirit, which is frequently experienced under circumstances
of so much weakness, especially when accompanied with, perhaps, the
effects of an opiate, and repealed the _name_ of a person, with which
she had been familiar in her childhood. She observed, "what easy words!"
Some one present remarked--there are words equally easy. She said, "tell
me some." Upon being referred to a Psalm which had been spoken of the
day before, she commenced, as having found something exceedingly
pleasant--"The Lord is my shepherd"--and continued to the end of this
short and interesting portion of the Word of God, in a tone of sweetness
and solemnity, which impressed every one present, adding her testimony
to the sweetness of the words. It appeared as if, while the world was
fast receding, her character was rapidly finishing in the mould of this
precious Word.

Reason was continued to her until the last departing moment, when, after
a violent but short struggle, which seemed to arrest every mental
exercise, except that which led her spirit immediately to "Him who takes
away the sting of death," the freshness of former years was restored to
her complexion, which had been, for some months, suffused with
feverishness, and marked with suffering, and a calm and solemn composure
settled on her countenance, appearing full of meaning, which persuaded
those who were around her, that she had some communication to make. But
her mouth was sealed, and her hand could no longer effect the gentlest
pressure. We were left to conclude, that when in her agony she had
cried--"Come, Lord Jesus--come quickly;"--"Lord Jesus receive my
spirit," "she was heard, in that she asked;" and the freshness of
everlasting youth, casting one parting ray upon her mortal countenance,
had passed upon her, and "she had gone to be forever with the Lord."

"She being dead yet speaketh," and speaks, especially, to all who yet
live of her youthful associates. Many of them are, as she was, called to
sustain the character of wife and mother, and their history in its
prominent features, most probably resembles hers. Her course was marked
with much failure in duty, over which she mourned, and, in view of which
she seemed deeply humbled. She once said--many months before she
died--"O! if the Lord were to send his bereaving commission into my
family, I could never forgive myself for the manner in which I have
failed to improve the trust committed to me, and fulfilled the duties to
which I have been called." Hear the voice which speaking, says, "My dear
companions in sin and infirmity, I leave you a poor example. But I
exhort you to become believingly and affectionately acquainted with Him,
who has borne _me_ through the dark valley and shadow of death, and
'presented me faultless before his Father, clothed in his righteousness,
and washed in his blood.'"

"Ye cannot, though _Christian_ wives and mothers, do the things ye
would;" but there is a fountain opened, in which your poorest desires
and efforts, though like filthy rags, "may be washed and made white, and
made instrumental for much good." Point this out to your children,
"talk to them in the house and by the way, in sitting down and rising
up," of this only hope of perishing sinners. And lest, after all, they
should come short, plead, unceasingly, the promises for them, and take
hold by faith of the blessing. O! how will you rejoice if you can say,
"Here am I Lord, and the children thou hast given me." In order to
sustain your character as wives, aim continually, by prayer, to obtain
the gift of a meek and quiet spirit, "which in the sight of God is of
great price, that even the unbelieving husband may be won to the
knowledge of the truth."

May such exhortations from our departed friends, reach us all, and be
sanctified to us--and may we "exhort _one another_, daily," so that our
social intercourse may be made the means of grace, and assist in
preparing us for our last great change!


CHAPTER II.

ADDITIONAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF MRS. MARGARET
BRECKINRIDGE.

WHOEVER has been called, in the midst of life, to part with 'the wife of
his youth'--if these pages should chance to meet his eye--will _know_
what the writer has felt. Such a bereavement must be _felt_, in order to
be understood. There is a shock in its coming for which no foresight or
submission can fully prepare us. There is a chasm created by it which
nothing can fill. It is a new experience, replete with dreadful
desolation. It is a wonderful attribute of grace that can make these
great afflictions so "work _for us_ an exceeding and eternal weight of
glory," that the most weighty and enduring of them all, shall seem, in
comparison, to be "light, and but for a moment." Yet "no chastisement,"
(especially such as this) "for the present seemeth to be joyous, but
rather grievous." God intends that we shall be _moved_ by such
visitations. The call which they utter is too costly to be lightly felt.
The stroke is too deep to be hastily healed. "To _faint_ when we are
rebuked of Him," is to reproach the goodness of God, when we ought to
"lay hold on his strength." But insensibility to his afflictive
dispensations is to "despise" the methods of his grace. And who can fail
to feel at such a moment! To find one's self strangely, and after all
the warnings mercifully given, suddenly left alone; in the midst of life
to be broken in twain; to come to a time when you may no longer pray
with her whose presence sweetened devotion itself; no more pray for her
who many a year has been the dear burden of all your intercessions; to
see your orphan babes left desolate, and enhancing your woe, by being
unconscious of their own; yea, "to sorrow most of all" for those dread
words, "that you shall see her face no more!" This is sorrow! If it were
possible, and being so, were right to ask it for others, we might pray
for our readers, that they may be forever ignorant of our experience.
But we know that every house is appointed to such a sorrow, sooner or
later. They who are yet to pass through these deep waters, if they
cannot now fully enter into our trials, may at least be expected to
excuse this humble tribute to the dead, as an amiable weakness.

But it is not bleeding affection, merely, which has prompted us to add
to the foregoing brief narrative, these imperfect illustrations of the
life and character of Mrs. Margaret Breckinridge. The bereaved children
having been early called to lose a mother's care, justly claim of
surviving friends to preserve her image that they may gaze on it, and
her example that they may imitate it, in after life. It is a cruel
addition to an orphan's lot, to consign to the tomb even the memory of
the dead. We refer not to the indecent and revolting haste with which
every memorial of the deceased is swept into oblivion by those who,
studious of new relations, are faithful only to forget. Such a spirit is
abhorrent to every sentiment of humanity and religion. But it often
happens that the disconsolate survivor, for a season careless of all
things but of grief, neglects to treasure and record what God gave in
peculiar trust to him--for the good of others. That godly example, which
it cost the toils and the trials of a life to exhibit, ought not to be
permitted to perish from the world. That "death of the saints," which
"is precious in the sight of the Lord," and which so gloriously shows
forth his praise, is worthy of a monument that time cannot consume.
These should live! We should embalm them in the memory of the heart. We
should hand them down in the tradition of faithful love. We should
record them in a household book, if not publish them to the world--in
honour of Jehovah; in memory of the beloved dead; and for the good of
those who, even while they were spared to them, were too young to know
their value. It is the memory of the wicked alone which God has doomed
to rot; or if it live, to stand as a beacon on the brow of death.

There is another consideration of great tenderness and force by which we
have been influenced in making these sketches. Woman dwells, to speak
so, in the shade of retirement; and not like man, in the blaze of public
life. In the household she sits enthroned, the weaker vessel, but the
stronger power. Yet the domestic circle, in a great degree,
circumscribes her influence; shuts in her character. Her refinement--her
patience--her humility--her cheerfulness in trial--her fortitude--her
readiness to forgive--her faithful, constant love--her self-devotion to
her children--her personal charms--her domestic virtues--her Christian
graces--which make her

     "The light and music of our happy homes,"

are little known beyond the narrow boundary of her own family, on which
they continually rest, "like the dew of Hermon that descended upon the
mountains of Zion." It is not less so with her domestic trials--with her
perplexing domestic duties, as she meekly toils in "patient continuance"
amidst their innumerable detail, and ever returning round. Now while the
full disclosure and rewards must be reserved to the great day of final
account, it is a special duty, on proper occasions, to bring such
excellence to view. Without our care, this never will be done, since the
graces that most adorn, are the most retiring. By an affectionate
diligence in this service, a thousand pearls might be brought from the
recesses of domestic life, and added to the too scanty stock of
memorable worthies. At least, we ought not to make oblivion the penalty
of domestic virtue. On the other hand, the doing of proper justice to
real female merit, would most effectually rebuke that assurance of
coarse and fanatic women, who, in the insulted name of God, assume the
prerogative, and attempt the offices of the stronger sex--forgetting
that the immodesty which is offensive to all men, can never be an
offering pleasing to a God of purity and order. By presenting to mankind
examples of Christian women revolving in orderly beauty, and shining
with mild lustre in their appointed course, we not only preserve the
memory of those who rest from their labours, but we diffuse their
influence abroad. If we may but do justice to the subject of these
notices, she would be herself the only being likely to complain, for she
shrunk with instinctive sensibility from every such disclosure of her
retiring character.

Without repeating what has been said in the first chapter, we proceed to
fill up the narrative given therein, by additional notices, which some
one ought to furnish, and which a parent could not.

It was God's peculiar mercy to Margaret (Miller) Breckinridge, that she
came into life under parental influence so admirable in all respects,
that she may be said to have been born and reared in a family, which,
like that of Aquilla and Priscilla, "_had a church in the house_." She
enjoyed, in its happiest form, a domestic Christian education, having
the BIBLE for the basis of knowledge; the Parents for instructors; the
family fire-side for the school of manners; and the royal law of love
and truth, as the standard and source of all true politeness. Truly it
is a goodly spectacle in these days of pretension, and vulgar parade; of
shallow learning, and degenerate manners, to behold here and there a
mother in Israel, after "the manner of the olden time," training her
little flock without the aids of modern parties, fashions, vain
accomplishments, and earthly tinsel; waiting with them day by day at the
door-posts of that wisdom by which grace is poured into the lips, and
mien, as well as heart--where "woman indeed becomes the glory of man;"
(1 Cor. xi. 7,) and then to see her lead them forth into life, from
these sacred shades, polished after the similitude of a palace.[3] Such
a school was well fitted to form the mind, refine the manners, and
under God to save the soul of our lamented friend. God had been pleased
to endow her with an unusual measure of personal beauty, and great charm
of character and mind. So that as soon as she entered into society,
which she did with great reserve, she attracted much attention, and was
universally admired. These things combined, might have been expected,
especially in early life, to draw her into the world; and lead her away
from the humbling and self-denying religion of her father's house. But
even before she gave her heart to God, there was an inimitable
simplicity in her character, manner, and dress, which evinced either a
total unconsciousness of her attractions, or a noble superiority to
human praise. Her good taste, and the better principles of the Gospel,
enabled her in all her after life, notwithstanding the many temptations
to which she was exposed, to exhibit the same transparent and lovely
example.

     [3] The following passages are so graphic, that it would seem as if
     our day had set for the likeness, though they were written two
     thousand six hundred years ago:--"Moreover the Lord saith, because
     the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth
     necks, wincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
     Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of
     the daughters of Zion: The Lord will take away in that day the
     bravery of their tinkling ornaments Footnote: about their feet, and
     their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and
     the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of
     the legs, and the head-bands, and the ear-rings, the rings, the
     changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the whimples, and
     the crisping pins, and the glasses, and the fine linen, and the
     hoods, and the veils."--Isaiah iii. chap. Behold the contrast! 1
     Peter iii. 1-6. 1 Timothy ii. chap. 9-10.


HER RELIGIOUS CHARACTER.

The work of the Spirit was early begun in her heart; but it was for some
time resisted. Our acquaintance with her began just as she was closing
her domestic education, (in her sixteenth year,) and almost before she
had looked this evil world in the face. In 1820 she became decidedly
serious; and after several months of deep religious impression,
expressed a trembling hope of an interest in the Divine Redeemer. At
this time she was strongly disposed to make a public profession of
religion; but the salutary caution of her parents induced her to
postpone it to a future occasion. Subsequently to this, the extreme fear
which she ever after cherished, of self-delusion in religious exercises;
the high standard of Christian character which she had proposed to
herself; and her strong conviction of the frequent and very hurtful
inconsistencies of many professors of religion; influenced her, in the
end to defer that solemn step to a distant day. That day, as stated in
the narrative, did not arrive until after her marriage, her removal to
Kentucky, and her settlement as the wife of a pastor. In the mean time,
however, it cannot be doubted, that the grace of God had taken
possession of her heart. And when finally she did publicly connect
herself with the people of God, her tenderness of heart, her
self-distrust, her deep humility, her child-like simplicity, and
transparency of Christian character, condemned her _only_ for a delayed
profession, and left few fears for her sake in any bosom but her own.

She was in a remarkable measure devoted to the Word of God. Her
extraordinary memory faithfully stored with its rich treasure in early
youth, vividly retained the chief part of it through life. The Psalmody
of Dr. Watts, her favourite author in that department, she had almost
wholly at her command. And with the Commentary of the inimitable Matthew
Henry, a Latin and a French Bible, and a Harmony of the Gospels at her
side, she daily and most devoutly searched the Scriptures. Clarke on the
Promises, was also a favourite book, especially in her last days; and
the Pilgrim's Progress was her companion to the "water's edge," where
her _real_ visions of the celestial city enabled her to lay the sweet
Dreamer by, as the Parting Pilgrim did his crutches, when on the bank of
the river he saw "chariots of fire" to bear him to the _Pearly Gates_.
Her diligence in studying the Bible, without in the least degree
neglecting her domestic duties, (and even in the days of her feeblest
health,) was truly wonderful. When a subject specially interested her,
she compiled and collated all the leading passages of the Bible upon it;
often writing them out at great length, and preserving them for
reference on future occasions. Indeed, so far did she carry her
interested inquiries into the various parts of the Old and New
Testament, and especially into the life of Christ, that she drew out a
harmony of the Gospels with her own hand; the better to confirm her
knowledge of the true order and relation of the events of his history.

She was a most faithful hearer of the preaching of the Gospel. Her
luminous face cheered the progress of the herald of the Lord, and marked
the deep measure of her personal interest in the message from the skies.
Since her decease, we have found numerous briefs of sermons which she
had heard at different periods of her life, from those whom she most
admired. Some of these were delivered by Dr. James P. Wilson, and some
by her father, others by Dr. Green, but chiefly by the venerable and
honoured friend whose tribute to her memory is affixed to this Memoir.
He was undoubtedly her most esteemed instructor from the sacred desk.
His inimitable simplicity, vivacity, richness, and force of truth,
always carried her understanding and her affections along with him; and
those appeals which were most searching and simple, were most treasured
and admired.

To her refined and candid spirit, nothing was more detestable than
religious parade. As it is intimated in the former chapter, it sometimes
served to repel her from things and people that were good, but savoured
of religious cant. She was especially shocked with the numberless and
painful examples of female impropriety in this way, which our age has
disclosed. But in all the appropriate walks of Christian females, and in
every becoming expression of their feelings and influence, though
diffident of herself, she promptly took her part. Perhaps her most
cherished occupation in the service of others, was that of a
Sunday-school teacher. Here she rejoiced in the work of her hands. Here,
without indelicacy or pretension, she could use the word of God, in his
house, and on his day, to teach the little children, whom like her Lord,
she so much loved to take in her arms and bless. She had for this
service uncommon adaptation in the vivacity of her mind, in the charm of
her manner, and especially in the rich store of her Biblical knowledge.
She continued this relation after she became a wife, and a mother; and
the tenderness of a Christian mother's love seemed to be transferred to
the little commonwealth of the Sabbath-school.

We shall never forget the animation and delight with which she
communicated to us, two years before her decease, the account of a visit
which had been paid her very recently, by a highly respectable young
gentleman, then attached to a learned profession, the son of a
distinguished public man, who had been a member of her Sunday-school
class in Princeton, fifteen years before!


HER DEDICATION TO THE WORK OF FOREIGN MISSIONS.

It was not long after the first experience (as was hoped) of the grace
of God in her heart, that the relation was formed between herself and
the writer of these pages, which, by its consummation and close, became
in succession the crowning joy and the absorbing sorrow of his life.

While this interesting event, combined with other causes, was made the
occasion (from an excess perhaps of delicacy on her part) of retarding
her public profession of religion, it led to an early and very decisive
trial of her Christian principles in another form. At this time the
friend whom she so much honoured by her affection, was devoted to the
work of Foreign Missions; and he had solicited her hand with the
distinct expression, both to herself and her venerable parents, of such
a purpose. This necessarily called her to consider the question of a
personal engagement in this work. She met and decided this question with
a promptitude and nobleness of Christian resolution which surprised even
those who knew her best; and though in the providence of God she was
spared the expected trial of separation for life from her family and
country, yet the unreserved dedication of herself to the Missionary
cause which her Redeemer enabled her to make, gave elevation to her
Christian character, and prepared her for the trials scarcely less
severe to which she was called in the domestic field. It was on the
ground of her having thus dedicated herself, that with so much
self-oblivion, and even cheerfulness, she encountered the many
difficulties of which we are now to speak.


HER SACRIFICES FOR THE CHURCH OF GOD.

By a train of events over which we had no control, and in the
interpretation of which we were permitted to enjoy the direction of the
Church, (it would be needless to recite them here,) we were hindered
from indulging the desire to "go far hence to the Gentiles." But the
_principle_ of dedication for life was settled; and hence it was from
the first, understood and acted on at all times, that other things being
equal, the field at home in which there was opportunity to do most for
the conversion of the heathen, was always to be preferred, if offered by
the Lord of the harvest. Her first and second settlements could scarcely
be considered as giving occasion to many _sacrifices_. Lexington,
Kentucky, was in the bosom of her husband's native state. There, in the
garden of America, surrounded by a great circle of the most affectionate
kindred and friends, and in a city remarkable as the Athens of the west
for its refinement and general intelligence, and connected with a most
kind and worthy congregation, Mrs. B. felt, that even separation from
the home of her youth, was a form of trial so softened by her
circumstances, that it was converted into a mercy.

In our removal to the interesting and important city of Baltimore, we
felt that goodness and mercy followed us, changing our abode, but
augmenting the number of our friends, and opening to us new and
effectual doors of usefulness. Her attachment was very strong to both
cities; she left each with regret; but still referring the decision to
others in whose wisdom and affection she confided, she cheerfully obeyed
their successive summons to depart. It was in leaving the latter city
that her sacrifices for the Church more especially commenced. At this
eventful period, (the summer of 1831,) it was found that there were more
than one thousand congregations in the Presbyterian Church without a
pastor, not to mention the immeasurable destitution of the heathen
world. To supply this immense demand required, in addition to the very
inadequate means already in use, a greatly enlarged and quickened effort
of the entire Church. This necessity was deeply felt by the General
Assembly of 1831, and led to the re-organization by that body of its
Board of Education. In the solemn providence of God, the writer of these
sketches was called to fill the office of Corresponding Secretary and
General Agent for that Institution. He found it impossible to resist
what appeared to be the voice of God speaking through his Church;
though in yielding to it he was constrained to dissolve forever the
sacred tie which bound him to a beloved people, and to pass from the
endearments of domestic and Pastoral life, to incessant toil and travel
in the wide and homeless world. She foresaw, and with keen anticipation
felt, all the trouble which such a step must bring upon herself and her
little household. But the decision of all her friends, excepting the
kind people we were about to leave, was in favour of removal. She
remembered her Missionary vows. She saw in it the sweetness as well as
the severity of the cross, and without a murmur meekly bowed to the
burden of the Lord. In this service, which continued for nearly five
years, she shared; and like an angel, soothed the trials of the work.
The comforts of domestic life were almost annihilated, either by
incessant separations, or the nameless discomforts of a constant absence
from home. During one entire year her house was occupied by her but _six
weeks_, the rest being spent in hotels, and boarding houses, and
steamboats, and stages, with occasional intervals of repose in the bosom
of related or attached families scattered through the wide field of her
visits from the Mississippi to the Hudson. Yet never did woman shine
with more lovely lustre at home; never was woman more indisposed to step
from this, her undisputed and delightful empire, into the confusion and
folly of this selfish and evil world. Yet did she give up all, and
consent to erect her domestic altar in the wilderness, and gather her
little fold on the highway, for Jesus' sake. When weary of a year of
travel, undertaken to shun a year of separation, she returned to occupy
and order her solitary home. There she was constrained, though both
tender and inexperienced, "to guide her house" alone; and to receive her
husband only as an occasional visitant. Still, she never murmured; nor
would we complain. But faithful history--now that she rests from her
labours, requires this narrative; and God permits the record of "_those
works which follow_" such "_as die in the Lord_." Thus, for five years,
were kept up the alternations of these affecting trials. They were
relieved, it must devoutly be acknowledged, by the unremitting
attentions of those kind and lovely families in Philadelphia, whose
virtues bound them to us by better ties than those of earthly
kindred--as "Zion's friends, and ours;" whose reward we will not attempt
to take out of a Saviour's hands by our poor praises; and whose
displeasure we shall only then be sure of incurring, when we attempt to
unveil to the public eye, the authors of so much disinterested and
untiring goodness. The same reference is due to very many families in
the city of New York, in which, for several successive years, she passed
the winters with her husband. He who thus imperfectly attempts to record
his gratitude, knew her worth so well, that he cannot wonder that such
friends should love her; and he feels it his duty here to say, that any
portion of success in the work herein referred to, is under God, largely
owing, not only to her influence on his labours, but to the charm which
she threw upon every circle with which she mingled, and the interest she
kindled in all the persons and objects which interested her. When, at
the end of two years, he felt overwhelmed with the review of her
domestic trials, and was strongly moved to abandon a work which made
them inevitable, _she_ earnestly resisted the thought of change; and
with generous self-devotion urged her husband forward in a work which,
though painful to her feelings, was in her view useful to the Church,
and pleasing to its glorious Head. As her impressions were those of all
her friends, and apparently of the Church at large, and as the Board
itself kindly relaxed some of the severer features of our trials, we
were confirmed in the conviction that it was our duty to persevere, lest
we should incur the divine displeasure, "_by being weary in
well-doing_."

When, however, the indications of divine Providence in the spring of
1835 seemed plainly to say, that our work for the Board of Education was
done, and that we ought to enter the door opened for us at Princeton,
she was the last to see the duty of a removal; and though her parental
home was there, and though her heart and her wearied nature cried aloud
for rest, she would not allow any reasons for the change, to be drawn
from her wishes or her sacrifices, and to the last, rather _submitted_
to, than _heartily approved_ of, the new relation.

But how deep are the ways of God! Scarcely had she time to establish
herself in her new home at Princeton,[4] when another and loud call to
an agency, directly in behalf of _Foreign Missions_, was pressed upon
us. Though at this period her health had become evidently far more
delicate, she heard and heeded again the voice of her Saviour; and still
recalling the Missionary vow, offered herself again a willing sacrifice
on the altar of God. In deciding this momentous question (in the winter
of 1838, after having spent but eighteen months in Princeton, nearly
half of which was occupied by her husband in active agency in behalf of
the funds, library, &c. of the Theological Seminary,) we found
ourselves incapable of being instrumental in recalling her _still again_
to the commotion, desertion at home, and incessant cares, of another
agency. Three months therefore were given to the important work, and the
offer of the office finally declined. Even here however, she persisted
in referring the decision to _public relations_ alone, leaving all
personal considerations out of view. And though fast approaching her end
(what at that time none of us knew) she spontaneously put herself at the
disposal of the friends of the Board of Foreign Missions, for her part
of any service which might be required of her husband, whether it was in
extensive journeys with him, or separation from him, or a winter's
sojourn with him and her children in the city of New York. For the
first, hoping it might invigorate her health, she was actually
furnished; and when that was abandoned for the last, she repaired, with
the spirit of her Master in her heart, to meet the trials it induced. It
was in the fresh recollection of the parting scene, on her way thither,
that the following sentences were addressed to the writer by the Rev.
Dr. Alexander.

     [4] It is at once a remarkable indication of the nobleness of those
     Philadelphia friends already named, and of the extent to which her
     worth and her sacrifices were appreciated, that on being informed
     of our final purpose to remove to Princeton, they united in the
     purchase of a commodious dwelling, which was presented to Mrs.
     Breckinridge and her children. It is true, one object in view was,
     the accommodation of the Professor (for the time) of Pastoral
     Theology and Missionary instruction in the Seminary. But the terms
     of the gift are specific; and when we attempted to alter the
     direction of this munificent testimonial, so as to make it the
     _property of the Institution_, it was peremptorily declined; and
     the deed was drawn in the name of Margaret Breckinridge and her
     children.

"I cannot conclude, without a word to dear Mrs. Breckinridge. I admire
her ready submission to the calls of Providence. For although she cannot
help dropping the silent tear, she makes no complaint, but shuts up her
comfortable house, leaves her home and her friends, and as cheerfully as
she _can_, goes to live in a hotel, and among strangers. Well, she
shall not lose her reward. For these sacrifices she shall have rich
compensation: and our sweetest earthly pleasure is in doing the will of
our Heavenly Father." (Dated Princeton, December 17th, 1837.)

At the close of the winter we returned to Princeton, hoping that now God
would grant us a little rest in that quiet village and that delightful
home, where not "_unaware we entertained an angel_." But ah! this
blessedness was not long intended for us. Having done her work, (though
still we did not fear it,) she was soon to be taken to her rest and her
reward on high.


HER LAST SICKNESS AND DEATH.

Her last sickness was of a protracted and very interesting character.
When she returned from New York, she was delicate and her state of
health was mysterious, but not yet alarming even to her physicians. Very
soon after this, she had a violent attack, which in a short season
prostrated her frame, and, disclosing a peculiar complication of
diseases, overwhelmed every mind in the family, but her own, (she was
calm,) with the most gloomy apprehensions of her danger.

At the close of the winter term of the Theological Seminary, (May
first,) it was our anxious desire to take her to the Red Sulphur Springs
in Virginia. But it was too early in the season; and being yet doubtful,
whether this or that place would be useful or hurtful, it was agreed by
her physicians to indulge her strongly expressed wish to try the waters
of Saratoga. Thither therefore we went, pausing only a short time in the
city of New York for medical consultation.

At this time, she was a most interesting object to all who saw her. Her
debility was so extreme that she was borne from place to place in the
arms of her husband, which, from her delicate frame, it was easy to do.
The gentleness and patience with which she endured her sickness, the
inimitable moral beauty of her countenance, and the general expression
of frailty mingled with grace, excited the deepest interest wherever she
passed.[5]

     [5] There is poetic beauty in the Stanza of Southey's on the
     portrait of Bishop Heber, written after his decease; and though
     fanciful it is striking. Blessed be God our Redeemer, we have surer
     marks of recognition in the heavenly world.

          "They too, will gaze
           Upon his effigy
           With reverential love,
           Till they shall grow familiar with its lines
           And know him when they see his face in heaven."

At Saratoga we spent a very quiet season of three weeks, (before the
great hotels were opened, or the crowds had arrived) at the house of a
most kind and deserving Christian woman, Mrs. Taylor, whose unceasing
attentions greatly conduced to soothe sufferings which God had pleased
should not be arrested. During this visit she used the waters freely, as
a beverage, and in the bath, with no apparent _injury_, except that it
evidently disclosed the fatal symptoms of her malady. She was able
almost every day, to take gentle rides in the open air, and frequently
to mingle with the family. But her chamber was her sanctuary. There she
reclined, feeding on the Word of God. She was especially delighted with
Clarke on the Promises. During that season of seclusion, she seemed to
grow in grace with a progress which surprised (while it delighted) us;
for we knew not then how near she was to the perfection of the heavenly
rest. But it has since been interpreted to us, by the event, as one of
God's peculiar mercies. What made this the more pleasing evidence of
grace was, that she did not know her own danger. It was the power of
religion poured upon her spirit by Him who was "hastening to make her up
among his jewels." At one time, she said--"Oh, yes, pray that the
_distance_ between God and me may be taken away." And after uniting,
with the most affecting solemnity and tenderness in the prayer which was
offered, she at its close expressed _aloud_ her joy in the exercise, (a
thing most unusual with her) and her delight in God her Saviour, who
_draweth nigh_. On another occasion, after hearing some of the promises
of _healing_ to the body, as collected by Clarke, she seemed for a
moment to be musing, she then gently said: "My dear----I am like the
poor woman who had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could
be healed of any; but rather grew worse. _My hope is in the Great
Physician!_"

Since we have been calm enough to review the various stages of her last
sickness in relation to her religious exercises, it has been a subject
of deep regret, and of no little self-reproach, that we had not made the
attempt at recording, as they were uttered, some of the deeply affecting
expressions of her Christian principles and feelings. But the tumultuous
hour of hope and fear, and hurried, anxious watching at the bed of
death, is not the time for cool calculation. Some of the most affecting
parts of such scenes are incapable of being written down, even by one
not interested in the sufferer. Nay, more--like the voices which John
heard from heaven in Patmos, the Spirit seems to say of them, "_write
them not_." These are "joys with which the stranger intermeddleth not."
(Prov. xiv. 10.) It is a sanctuary which no creature can enter. And then
our beloved Friend, who was often afraid to whisper her religious joys
to her Saviour, lest she should be found offering "strange fire" on his
altar, seldom talked of her hopes, (though often of her sins,) to her
nearest friends; and never, by _writing them_ down, put it in the power
of posthumous publications to expose them to the view of others. We can
only, therefore, illustrate her religious character, at the stage which
we now approach, by broken fragments of thoughts and feelings, caught
from her lips amidst the awful mercies of a dying hour.

She began at length, visibly to sink, when Dr. Freeman, of Balston,
whose skilful and kind attentions she enjoyed, (Dr. Steel, of Saratoga,
having himself been recently removed by death,) strongly advised a
discontinuance of the use of the waters, and an attempt to reach the Red
Sulphur Springs. For now the prevailing type of the disease had become
distinctly pulmonary; and the skill of physicians, and the healing
waters, and all the help of man were vain. Now, for the first time, we
began to discern the dread reality of her approaching dissolution; and
had some foretaste of the _first_ anguish of such a loss.[6]

     [6] The following touching stanzas do more real honour to their
     illustrious author, (Lord Palmerston) than all the distinctions of
     his high rank and public life.

          Whoe'er, like me, with trembling anguish brings
          His dearest earthly treasure to these springs;
          Whoe'er, like me, to soothe distress and pain,
          Shall court these salutary springs in vain:
          Condemn'd, like me, to hear the faint reply,
          To mark the fading cheek, the sinking eye--
          From the chill brow to wipe the damps of death,
          And watch in dumb despair the short'ning breath:--
          If chance should bring him to this humble line,
          Let the sad mourner know his pangs were mine.
          Ordain'd to lose the partner of my breast,
          Whose virtues warm'd me, and whose beauty bless'd;
          Fram'd ev'ry tie that binds the heart to prove,
          Her duty friendship, and her friendship love.
          But yet, remembering that the parting sigh
          Appoints the just to slumber, not to die,
          The starting tear I check'd--I kissed the rod,
          And not to earth resigned her, but to God!

With heavy hearts, but hastened steps, we returned to Princeton; whence
almost in despair, yet anxious to try any and all means for so great an
end, we hastily set out with our meek sufferer for the Virginia Springs:
but as the previous narrative has recited, we were arrested at
Philadelphia. Here all was done by the assiduity and skill of her
physicians,[7] and the most tender and constant attentions of a great
number of friends. But her divine Redeemer claimed her for himself. She
returned to Princeton, to bless her household, and to die. On the
evening of June the 13th, she reached her children, and her earthly
home. On the morning of the 16th, a quarter before ten o'clock, with her
reason unclouded, in a frame of calm and holy triumph which marked the
dawning of heaven on her soul; with a meek prayer for permission to die,
and with but a single pang, she bade the world farewell, and ascended to
God!

     [7] Drs. Chapman and Meigs, to whom with Dr. Nelson of New York, we
     all owe more for their unwearied and sympathizing care than we have
     words to express.

Her remains were attended to the grave by a very large and deeply
affected assembly, after the delivery of the impressive funeral
discourse affixed to this Memoir; where they rest by the side of her
three little children, two daughters and a son, removed by death before.
The like number and of the same sex, two daughters and a son, are left
to the surviving parent, to mourn her loss, to treasure and imitate her
example, and, by the grace of the Saviour, to follow them to the skies,
where the "house now left desolate unto them" shall be restored with
added bliss; and the little family thus divided in the midst of life,
being reunited in pure and perfect love, be received into everlasting
habitations.

A neat marble monument points to the spot where her dust reposes.


CHAPTER III.

CLOSING REFLECTIONS.

THUS it has pleased our Heavenly Father to "take away from us the desire
of our eyes, with a stroke." The first impression of such a loss is that
of _amazement_--overwhelming and bewildering the soul, and with strange
horror, destroying for a time, the power to feel. "Deep calleth unto
deep--all thy waves, and billows have gone over me." Such is the abyss
of grief! At such a time, our part is "to be still"--sitting, like the
Marys, "over against the sepulchre."

When the disciples of John lost their earthly Master, "they came and
took the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus." This ought to be
the first act of every mourner, _to tell it unto Jesus_. With him we
shall find both sympathy and support. And more than this: He resolves
the death of our friends into his own gracious sovereignty, when he
calls it, "the coming of the Son of Man." Death loses its terror when it
becomes his act of grace. "The death of his saints is precious in his
sight," and is always ordered with a supreme regard to their
blessedness, and his glory. So that the feeblest of his dying children
may confidently say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil; for Thou art with me."

There is a feeling about the death of our friends, which is made up in
part of unbelief, and in part of that tender regard which is produced by
their dependence on us through life. Those endearing relations which
make us their protectors, and supports, send their deep sympathies even
into the grave. Who of us that is a husband, or a parent, that does not
feel the horror of the separation aggravated by the spectacle of our
helpless kindred struggling alone in mortal strife with "the king of
terrors"? We, to whom they have always looked for succour, are then as
helpless as they, in their extremest need. We cannot even share their
agony. It is this which gives a nameless anguish to such a moment.[8]

     [8] One of the most affecting scenes ever witnessed, was the death
     of a little child, who, in the last moments, called on her mother
     _to die with her_. This was the voice of nature. To this call the
     heart would, but cannot respond. "Here our father and mother must
     forsake us."

But it is because we forget that "when father and mother," and all they
most depended on in life, "forsake them, then the Lord doth take them
up." The Christian is never so little alone as on the verge of heaven.
The Lord of life is there. Underneath are the everlasting arms; and
through all the terrors of the grave; and above all the tumult of that
last hour, the Shepherd's voice is heard, saying--"IT IS I--BE NOT
AFRAID." While some pass over Jordan on the wing, and some struggle
through the waves, yet all safely pass. Not one of them shall perish,
but each appear in Zion before God.

It adds tenderness and force to these consoling hopes, that Jesus once
"tasted death himself." It moves us, that "Jesus wept." But it gives a
new nature to death, that Jesus died! For while the _merit_ of _his_
death takes the sting from ours, his presence in the tomb dispels all
its terrors. Therefore, since Jesus died, let us consent to death; and
surrender at his call those most dear to us.

       The graves of all his saints he blest,
         And softened every bed--
       Where should the dying members rest,
         But with their dying head!

It must be sweet to lie in that grave which he has hallowed by his
presence among the dead.

One of the considerations which should make us acquiesce in the removal
of our beloved friends who die in the Lord, is this--that we are
suffering for their sakes; and that they could not be blessed without
our sufferings. For their death, (the dread cause of all our grief,) was
necessary to their perfect and eternal blessedness. This thought ought
to soften every pang. If we really love them, and if our sacrifices for
them while they were here below, were the fruit of our love, then we
have only to remember that this is one prolonged, supreme sacrifice for
their sakes.--This reflection if properly pursued, would often turn our
mourning into gladness.[9] And then, if this weight of sorrow that is
laid on us may but be duly improved and meekly borne; if it may not only
mark the bliss of our friends begun on high, but be made by a wise and
good God conducive to our growth in grace--it will have in it the pledge
of our everlasting re-union in heaven; and thus be an affliction doubly
blessed.

     [9] A lovely example of the power of this sentiment in subduing
     grief, is given in the narrative of one of our American
     missionaries. He and his fellow-labourer were alone in a barbarous
     land, far away from any creature who cared for their Lord or for
     them. Suddenly his friend was taken from him. In that awful moment
     of desertion and anguish, after commending the parting soul to God,
     and closing the eyes of the dead, _he kissed his cold lips, and
     thought, "What glory has already burst upon his view!"_ In this
     thought his sorrow was lost.

But the silencing, yea, elevating thought of all is, that it is _for
Jesus' sake_, we are called to suffer. "_The Master_ is come and called
for her." It is indeed the richest of our earthly treasures. Our own
life were a far lighter offering. But for that reason we honour him the
more. It is our _Isaac_ that God calls for; and it is then indeed we
honour God when we can _offer_ like Abraham. We shall receive the
offering back, if not as soon, as certainly--and at no distant day!
When, therefore, He who laid down his life for us, asks for our richest
gift, let us not call him a hard master, but give without a murmur.

The death of our friends should have the effect of bringing Heaven
nearer to us. We ought to cultivate, if we may so speak, _domestic_
views of that blessed world to which we are so much honoured as to have
sent up angels from our households. While all superstitious emotions are
carefully to be quelled, we are permitted to draw very nigh to them. We
may cherish their image in our memories and hearts; we still belong to
the same great communion--and all are members of that body of which
Jesus is the head. "As death does not separate from the Lord, neither
does it divide the saints from one another. Our spirit and theirs daily
meet at the one throne--they to praise, we to pray; therefore, in that
sense, though we are absent in body, we are present in spirit."

And the distance which lies between them and us is daily growing less.
How swiftly we travel, yea, fly, in all the speed of time! It may not be
an inappropriate close to these meditations, to insert the family hymn,
with which the remnant of a bereaved household often close the day, and
comfort each others' hearts, at the hour when we feel most desolate.

       Come let us join our friends above,
         That have obtained the prize;
       And on the eagle wings of love,
         To joy celestial rise.

       Let saints below his praises sing,
         With those to glory gone;
       For all the servants of our King,
         In heaven and earth are one.

       One family, we dwell in him,
         One church above, beneath:
       Though now divided by the stream,
         The narrow stream of death.

       One army of the living God,
         To his commands we bow;
       Part of the host have crossed the flood,
         And part are crossing now.

       Ten thousand to their endless home,
         This solemn moment fly;
       And we are to the margin come,
         And soon expect to die.

       Dear Saviour, be our constant guide,
         Then when the word is given,
       Bid the cold waves of death divide,
         And land us safe in heaven.

And now, in bringing to a close these very imperfect notices of a
beloved saint of God, it is proper to say, that much more might truly
have been added in reference to many points of her character, that would
have been proper, and interesting: as for example, her intellectual
endowments; her extensive acquirements; her domestic life; her personal
accomplishments. But we fear to indulge our feelings. Nor is it needful.
For it was her Christian character mainly which we designed to
illustrate. Her love for the Redeemer, and her sacrifices for his sake,
were the jewels which adorned her on earth, and which lose not their
lustre in death. It was the glory of all those qualities which so
eminently fitted her to attract the admiration of this world, that she
meekly laid them at the Saviour's feet. There also, we desire to leave
this humble tribute to one whose "sun went down while it was yet day,"
praying that he who thus early fitted her for heaven, may by these poor
means prolong her usefulness, and bless her memory on earth.



  SUBMISSION:


  A SERMON

  OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF

  MRS. MARGARET BRECKINRIDGE.


  BY THE

  REV. A. ALEXANDER, D.D.



SERMON.

PSALM XLVI. 10.

"Be still, and know that I am God."


OMITTING all critical discussion of the true import of the text, I will
consider the words as addressed by Jehovah to his own people, when
suffering affliction under the strokes of his mighty hand. It may be
considered as the language of authority; or of consolation. According to
the first view, it is as if the Almighty had said, "Be still, and
neither repine, nor rebel, for your affliction comes not from the dust,
but from me, your rightful Sovereign; to whom you owe absolute
subjection." If viewed in the sense last mentioned, then it will be as
though God, feeling compassion towards his afflicted saints, puts them
in mind of the sure refuge which they had in him; as if he had said, "Be
calm and unruffled, in the midst of all your overwhelming calamities,
for I am able to sustain you, and to deliver you by my Almighty arm."
"Be still, and know that I am God." In either case, the result, as to
our duty, is the same. Unreserved submission is the thing enjoined, and
the reason to enforce the injunction is, "_I am God_."

"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He
cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow,
and continueth not. His days are determined: the number of his years are
with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds, that he cannot pass." No
condition in this life is exempt from trouble. No bulwarks can be
erected by kings and princes, strong enough, and high enough, to be a
safeguard against the shafts of adversity. In regard to this matter, the
rich and the poor stand very much upon a level. "Man is born unto
trouble as the sparks fly upward." Hence, this life has justly been
denominated, "the vale of tears." Uninterrupted bliss cannot be found
beneath the skies. The righteous are not exempt, but many are their
afflictions. Besides a participation in the common lot of humanity, they
have troubles peculiar to themselves. The dispensations of God towards
his own people, are, indeed, in covenant love and faithfulness, but they
are not calculated to encourage them to take up their rest in this
world, but to render their path so thorny, and their bed so uneasy, that
they are continually admonished of their duty to set their affections on
things above, and to press forward as pilgrims to the possession of
their heavenly inheritance.

The reasons which should persuade us to exercise unreserved and
uncomplaining submission to the will of God, as manifested in the
dispensations of his wise and righteous Providence, are at the same
time obvious and weighty. But, here, as in other cases, theory and
practice are very different things. On this subject, we all can teach
and inculcate what is right; but when it becomes necessary to practise
our own lessons, we experience a sad deficiency. This is a school in
which, sooner or later, we must all be learners; and it behoves us to
use diligence in preparing ourselves to endure trials with fortitude,
and cheerfully to acquiesce in those painful events, which we cannot
avoid. Some persons, when overtaken by severe strokes of adversity, are,
like the bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, restive and rebellious; they
resist the hand which presses them, and struggle to throw off the yoke.
Such a course is altogether unwise, and must be unsuccessful. "Wo to him
that striveth with his Maker. Let the potsherds strive with the
potsherds of the earth," but let not a feeble, sinful worm rise up in
rebellion against the Almighty; for who hath hardened himself against
him and hath prospered? And when there is no open rebellion, there is
often a spirit of discontent and murmuring, which, though smothered in
the breast, partakes of the nature of rebellion, and is the very
opposite of cordial, filial submission. Every degree of this temper,
whether concealed or expressed, is exceedingly offensive to God, as we
learn from his word, and is so far from mitigating the evils which we
suffer, that it doubles their pressure; it makes even a light burthen
intolerable.

Others again, endeavour to form habits of hardy insensibility; they seek
refuge from the keen arrows of affliction, in a stoical indifference.
They affect to contemn, as weak, and wanting in fortitude, all those who
seem to suffer exquisitely under the strokes of adversity. Much
practical progress never can be made in this unnatural system. Whatever
men may profess or pretend, nature will assert her claims, and if her
feelings may be for a season suspended, she will again resume her sway;
and indeed the equanimity acquired by these principles, has been more in
appearance than reality; and the greatest adepts in eradicating the
susceptibilities of our nature, have only learned the art of
successfully concealing the emotions of their bosoms from the
observation of others.

But while some endeavour to obtain relief by rendering themselves
insensible to the calamities of life, and aim at braving the storms of
adversity, there are others, who err on the opposite extreme. Under the
chastising hand of God, they are prostrated in the dust; not in
humility, but in despondency; their sorrow not only casts them down, but
overwhelms them. They find themselves sinking in deep waters, where
there is no standing. Such persons not only put away all hope, but cease
from all exertion, and abandon themselves to grief; forgetting the
exhortation which speaketh unto them as to children, "My son, despise
not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of
him."

There is but one effectual remedy for the evils to which man is heir,
while on his earthly pilgrimage; and that is RELIGION--true religion,
not merely apprehended and approved in its theory, but deeply felt, and
cordially embraced in the inmost soul. This is the only principle of
sufficient potency to tranquillize the perturbations of the soul when
deeply afflicted. This only can sustain the mind, ready to sink into
despair. This furnishes the only medicine which heals the anguish of the
broken heart; the only balm which relieves the wounds made in the spirit
by painful bereavements. Here the superlative value of true religion is
realized; and this principle of heavenly origin is found to possess a
power, not only to sustain the soul under the heaviest pressure of
affliction, but to pour sweet consolations into the desolate and
troubled heart. Here, indeed, is opened a fountain of refreshing
streams, in the midst of this dreary wilderness, of which the poor
heathen had no knowledge, and of which the men of the world are still
ignorant.

These blessed effects of genuine piety are not produced by any
irrational process, or blind impulse; but by the contemplation of truths
adapted to the end. Consolations which do not rest on this firm
foundation, will ever be found precarious, and commonly evanescent.
Buoyant hope and cheerful resignation must have the solid pillar of
truth on which to repose. It will therefore be consonant to our present
purpose, to bring more distinctly into view, some of those important
doctrines, the practical belief of which leads to the exercise of
Christian submission.

That which lies at the foundation of the whole, is, that God exists, and
governs all events by his providence. Whatever men profess, or
speculatively believe, as it relates to the actual presence and
operative providence of God, there is undoubtedly much practical atheism
in the hearts of men. Most feel and act as if there was no God, and as
if all things happened by chance. This is remarkably manifest when they
are suddenly cast down into deep affliction. They recognise not the hand
that smites them. They seem to think, that affliction cometh from the
dust, and that trouble springeth out of the ground. In all their bitter
lamentations, their views extend no farther than to the proximate causes
of their distress; and they often experience the bitterest regret,
because they did not pursue a different course, or make use of different
means from what they did; although with the knowledge possessed, they
could not have done better. Under the same short-sighted views, they are
prone to censure others who have had an innocent instrumentality in
bringing about the events by which they are distressed. All this arises
from the want of faith in Divine Providence; and too much of this
unbelief cleaves to the pious themselves, and greatly aggravates their
calamities. But when their faith in the being and providence of God is
strong, they see his hand in every thing good and evil, which occurs;
they behold him operating through all nature, and giving efficacy to all
second causes; and are as fully persuaded that he directs the fall of a
sparrow, as the overthrow of a kingdom. This doctrine of an universal
and particular Providence, is the foundation of our trust in God, for
security and sustenance. How beautifully did Christ teach this lesson to
his disciples, when he said, "Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow
not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly
Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? And why take ye
thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that even
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore,
if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow
is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little
faith?"

When the dark and cloudy day of adversity, or the long and tempestuous
night comes upon us--when our comforts are suddenly blasted, and our
brightest earthly prospects are obscured, then, instead of repining or
desponding, we should betake ourselves to the doctrine of an overruling
Providence. The dispensation may be dark, and afflictive, and even
profoundly mysterious; yet we should think, it is God that hath done it.
These are his footsteps. This is the operation of his hand. He it is,
"who formeth the light and createth the darkness; that maketh peace, and
createth evil." The more, in such circumstances, we look beyond all
creatures, and second causes, and fix our thoughts and our faith, on God
alone, the sooner shall we find composure of mind. If we fully believe
that God is in the storm, and that it is his voice which is heard in the
thunder, and his face which is seen in the flashing of the lightning,
the less shall we be terrified with the apprehension of unknown dangers.

But we are permitted to know not only that God governs all human affairs
by his Providence, but also that his dispensations, as it relates to his
own people, are all ordered in wisdom, in faithfulness, and in love. The
doctrine of Providence can bring no true consolation to any who are
unreconciled to God. They may know that it is his rod by which they are
smitten, but they cannot tell but his strokes are those of vindicatory
justice, and only a prelude to more intolerable pains. Before we can
repose with confidence and comfort on the faithfulness, wisdom, and
goodness of the Divine dispensations, we must possess some evidence that
our sins are pardoned and our persons accepted; for the more perfect
the Divine government, the more certainly will punishment pursue the
guilty. Our cheerful resignation to the afflictions of life, is
therefore, closely connected with our justification through the merits
of the Lord Jesus Christ. While we contemplate our own sins and
imperfections only, we can entertain no other feeling, than a fearful
looking for of wrath; but when with the spirit of adoption we can look
up to our heavenly Father's reconciled face, we need not be alarmed nor
cast down, under the heaviest afflictions which befall us. We know that
he doth not willingly afflict his beloved children, but out of love
chastises them for their greater good, that they may become in a higher
degree, partakers of his holiness. They are assured, therefore, that all
these painful events shall be so overruled, as to work for their good.
And the Holy Scriptures clearly teach, that although these chastisements
are, for the present, not joyous, but grievous, yet, hereafter, they
will produce in them who are exercised thereby, the peaceable fruits of
righteousness. They eminently conduce to wean the affections from this
vain world, to humble the spirit in the dust under a sense of
unworthiness, and to excite an ardent spirit of prayer. It is, moreover,
by a severe but salutary discipline of this kind, that saints are made
meet for the heavenly inheritance. And not only so, but these temporary
afflictions, somehow or other, will have a direct efficiency in
increasing their future felicity and glory, according to that remarkable
declaration of Paul, "These light afflictions which are but for a
moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory." It is not surprising, therefore, that God who loves his people
with an unchangeable love, should visit them with the rod. It is the
method which he takes to purge out their dross and their tin. Affliction
is therefore compared to a furnace, in which the precious metals are
assayed and purified. Thus Peter comforts suffering Christians in his
time:

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to
try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice,
inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory
shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." Again: "That
the trial of your faith being much more precious than gold that
purifieth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto peace, and
honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

In the testimony just cited, there is another interesting reason
suggested for the affliction of Christ's disciples. And it is one which
must be touching to the hearts of all who truly love their Lord. It is,
that as he was pre-eminently "the man of sorrows," there is a congruity
in their participating in suffering, that in this respect, as in
others, they may be conformed to his example. Paul also makes express
and repeated mention of the same thing. "If children, then heirs of God,
and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we
may also be glorified together." He speaks of this communion with Christ
in suffering, as a characteristic of discipleship, and as a high
privilege, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord
Jesus."--"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to
believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." Christians, therefore,
in primitive times, gloried in their severest sufferings. And now, no
consideration is more efficacious in fortifying the believer against
fainting than the idea of the sufferings of Christ for us. It would seem
that they who have been privileged to endure nothing for Christ's sake,
would scarcely be admitted to reign with him in glory.

And as we should endeavour, while in the world, to glorify God to the
utmost of our power, by letting the light of a holy example shine forth,
so there is no situation in which piety appears to greater advantage,
than when exercised in deep affliction. What disposition can be
conceived as possessing more moral beauty, than the grace enjoined in
our text; _cheerful, quiet submission to the will of our heavenly
Father_, under the heaviest pressure of his hand. And as we all are
conscious that there is yet much impurity and dross cleaving to our
nature, we should rejoice in being subjected to a process, though it be
a fiery one, by which we might be more and more purified from sin.
Indeed, we cannot do without this salutary discipline: our salvation,
probably, depends upon our sufferings as a means of conservation in a
state of grace. We ought not, therefore, "to think it strange concerning
the fiery trial, which is to try us, as though some strange thing
happened to us; but should rather rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers
of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be
glad with exceeding joy."

"Be still, and know that I am God." Be calm and submissive; be not
alarmed nor perturbed; let your resignation to the Divine will be
unreserved and cheerful. Seize the occasion, which severe afflictions
offer, to show your entire willingness that God should govern and
dispose of you and yours according to his own sovereign will. He is
wise, and knows how to order every thing for the best. He is powerful,
and can bring light out of darkness, and good out of evil. He is
faithful, and will certainly fulfil all his gracious promises. He is
good and merciful, and will consult the best interests of his children
in all his dealings towards them; and even those events which seem to be
most adverse, he will so temper and overrule, that ultimately, and
relatively, they will be made to work for their good.

Under sore and unexpected bereavements, the human heart will bleed; and
the susceptible feelings will be lacerated, and the gush of sorrow will
have its course; but grace comes in and suggests considerations which
ought to moderate our grief; and to teach us to be quietly submissive to
the hand of the Almighty. It is a blessed state, when the feelings of
the man are absorbed in the nobler feelings of the Christian; when our
will is swallowed up in the will of God. What He doeth we know not now,
but we shall know hereafter. It will not be long until we shall be able
to see, "that he hath done all things well."

In the recent mournful dispensation of Divine Providence, we see how
many hearts may be wounded, and how many joys withered, by a single
stroke. In this interesting group of mourners, we behold the aged
parents weeping over the lifeless body of a much loved, and very lovely
daughter. They have lived to witness the premature departure of one,
whom they might naturally have expected to be a comfort to them in their
declining years, and to wipe from their foreheads the cold drops, in a
dying hour. Parental bereavements admit of less alleviation, than
others, from earthly considerations. The friends and comforts which,
late in life, we lose, we cannot hope to have made up to us. And,
sometimes, the parents of a numerous offspring are preserved so long,
that they survive all, or most of their children; and they stand, like
aged trees, which, by successive storms, have been stripped of their
foliage and branches. But, although bereaved parents cannot draw much
consolation, under their afflictions, from this world; yet the rich
consolations of the Gospel are accessible to them, and peculiarly
appropriate to their condition. The pious do not know how to appreciate
the promises of God rightly, until, in the hour of affliction, they are
made to experience their power and sweetness. We cannot blame these
parents for mourning the loss of a first born and very amiable daughter;
but we trust that they now find support and comfort in that God on whose
Almighty arm they have long trusted. They have not now for the first
time, to learn the riches of that grace which is treasured up in Christ
Jesus; and may they be enabled to come now to that fountain of mercy, by
the streams of which they have been so often refreshed and comforted,
under former trials!

The grief of affectionate brothers and sisters also, flows this day, in
a strong current. They feel as if a part of themselves had been taken
away; and yet they can scarcely realize the extent of their calamity. It
often requires time for grief to become rooted in the soul. The first
gush of sorrow from the bleeding heart, is indeed a more sensible
emotion, but the full value of our loss is not felt, until after serious
reflection. It is a painful thing to be separated from those around
whom our earliest and tenderest affections were entwined. The thought of
never again, in this world, seeing a face, from which always the most
benignant affections beamed upon us, cannot but leave a melancholy and
heart-sinking impression. Who can adequately describe the anguish
produced by the sudden severance of hearts, long cemented in the bands
of the tenderest affection! But, though nature will be obeyed, and the
floods of sorrow cannot be altogether restrained, yet there is a
Christian duty incumbent on those placed in these circumstances. The
command does not say, that we should not weep, but that we should not
sorrow as those that have no hope. Christians are not divested of the
common sensibilities of humanity; but they possess principles much
higher than mere humanity, by which they moderate their passions, and by
which the stream of natural sorrow may be sanctified, and turned into
that of "godly sorrow, which worketh a repentance not to be repented
of."

But among the weeping mourners, on this sad occasion, I see some, who
though deeply affected, can scarcely be supposed capable, on account of
their tender age, of estimating the irreparable loss which they have
sustained. I call the loss of a mother _irreparable_; because, however
many affectionate friends may stand ready to do all in their power to
supply a mother's place; yet, the assiduity, forbearance, and
tenderness, so requisite in the treatment of young children, can be
expected in perfection from nothing but that affection, which the
Creator has deeply implanted in the hearts of mothers. To those who have
had long experience in the world, there are few ideas more affecting
than that of _a motherless child_. But orphaned, as these dear little
ones are, by the loss of one parent, they are, I may say, on this
account, more peculiarly the care of a covenant God, whose promise
extends not only to believers, but to their seed, and whose kind care
extends especially to such children of the faithful, as have been
bereaved of one or both parents. These dear children, we confidently
trust will be the objects not merely of God's common goodness, but of
his special grace; and after spending a life of usefulness in acts of
piety and beneficence, will enjoy the blessed privilege of regaining
their beloved mother, in the mansions of glory, where sickness, death,
and tears, will be known no more.

In addressing the interesting group of mourners now before me, I
perceive one, whose griefs are too big for utterance, and whose swelling
bosom cannot be soothed, at this time, by any of the common topics of
consolation. An officious intrusion into the sacred recess of such
indescribable sorrows, only serves to exacerbate, rather than mitigate
the wounded spirit. All that the kindest friends can do, in such a case,
is to let their warmest, tenderest sympathies fall in with the tide of
overwhelming grief, which rejects all consolation. "Weep with them that
weep." There is another thing which we can do, and that far more
important, we can pray for our afflicted and bereaved brother. In such
circumstances, prayer is almost our only refuge; for all our help must
come from God. While the voice of man is powerless to afford relief,
there is ONE who causes his voice to be heard even in the midst of the
tempest. And his authoritative, his affectionate language to our beloved
brother is, "_Be still, and know that I am God_." "God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble." It is somewhere related of
that eminently pious reformer, Luther, that when he fell into any great
trouble, he was wont to say to his friends, "Come, let us sing the
forty-sixth psalm."

A striking example of uncomplaining submission we have in the good old
priest Eli, who, when informed that God was about to bring such
judgments on his house, as would cause the ears of every one that heard
them to tingle; meekly replied, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth
him good."

And the patriarch Job, when deprived of all his property, and of all his
children, humbled himself and worshipped God, saying--"The Lord gave,
and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." "What,
shall we receive good from the hand of the LORD, and shall we not
receive evil?"

When Jesus visited the mourning family of Bethany, who were among his
dearest friends, he did not say to the afflicted sisters, weep not--but
the compassionate Redeemer united his tears with theirs; for it is
written, "Jesus wept." These were indeed only the tears of sympathy, for
it was in his benevolent purpose to restore the deceased brother to his
disconsolate sisters. Here also, we have a striking illustration of the
truth, that God's children are ignorant often of his kind designs, when
he permits sore afflictions to come upon them; "If thou hadst been
here," said both the weeping sisters, "my brother had not died." Their
regret was keen, and unmitigated by any known circumstance; but in one
short hour, they were, no doubt, glad that their Lord was not
there--they rejoiced that their beloved brother had died; because the
glory of God and the power of the Redeemer had now been manifested.
Indeed, a gracious visit from Jesus will turn our bitterest sorrows into
joy. His name--his word--his grace--has a mighty power to calm the
swelling surges of overwhelming sorrow. He can say, as he did to the
raging storm, "Peace, be still," and there will be a great calm. Were it
not for thoughts of God--of his providence, and promises, and of the
seasonable and effectual aid of his grace, grief would often drown the
soul in perdition; as it often does work death in the heathen, and in
the men of the world, who are without God, and without hope.

It would be in place here to speak of our dear departed sister, whose
loss we now mourn; but this task will hereafter be better performed by
another hand. And to this audience little need be said; for she was
brought up among you from her childhood, and enjoyed the affectionate
regards of this community in no common degree, as is manifest by the
general and tender sympathy felt on this occasion. By her sweet
simplicity, engaging vivacity, affectionate temper, and affable manners,
our beloved friend endeared herself to her acquaintances and neighbours,
wherever she resided. And in regard to her Christian character, she
adorned her profession by a consistent life and conversation, in all the
relations which she sustained.

Her latter end was calm and peaceful. She felt some dread of the pangs
of dissolution; but in regard to what comes after death, she had no
fear--her hope continued firm and her prospects bright to the last
moment.

It is always a cause of lively gratitude, when God is pleased to sustain
his dear children in passing through "the valley of the shadow of
death." It affords to mourning friends the sweetest consolation which
could be received under such sore bereavements. This consolation of our
benignant Father has not been withheld in the present instance. Mourning
friends are permitted to rejoice in the midst of their overflowing
sorrow, in the confident hope, that the departed spirit of our dear
sister, free from all sin and pain, rests sweetly in the love and
beatified vision of her divine Redeemer.

"BLESSED ARE THE DEAD THAT DIE IN THE LORD, FROM HENCEFORTH; YEA, SAITH
THE SPIRIT, THAT THEY MAY REST FROM THEIR LABOURS; AND THEIR WORKS DO
FOLLOW THEM."



  LETTERS

  OF

  A GRANDFATHER,


  TO THE SURVIVING CHILDREN OF

  MRS. MARGARET BRECKINRIDGE.


  BY THE

  REV. SAMUEL MILLER, D. D.


  PART II.



LETTERS

OF

A GRANDFATHER.


LETTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.

MY DEAR GRANDCHILDREN:--The decease of your beloved and lamented Mother,
has placed both you and me in circumstances of great solemnity and
responsibility. To be deprived of a mother's care and counsel at the
tender age at which she left you, is indeed a loss which no human
arithmetic can estimate; especially to be deprived of _such_ a mother,
one so well qualified by strength of intellect, by sincere piety, and by
peculiar loveliness of character, to be a blessing to you, for time and
eternity, is a bereavement of which, even now, I know not how to speak
without emotions too strong for utterance. While this precious Parent
lived, she seemed to interpose between your beloved grandmother and
myself, and any immediate responsibility in regard to your education;
but now that she is removed, we seem to be brought, in the mysterious
and mournful Providence of God, to stand in some measure in her place,
and to perform some of the most important duties which she owed to her
children. And, although your surviving Parent is eminently fitted, both
by nature and grace, to be a guide to your youth; yet, as he is engaged,
and is likely for some time to be engaged, in active, arduous, and
extended labours for the Church of God, which will probably separate him
from you often and much for a considerable time;--an additional
responsibility on our part seems to grow out of every circumstance.

It is under these impressions that I now address you. Your grandparents
are drawing near to the end of their course. They must soon leave you in
a depraved and ensnaring world. What they do for your benefit, they must
do quickly. As one placed in these tender and endearing relations to
you, and in these solemn circumstances, allow me to pour out the fulness
of a heart most earnestly engaged for your welfare, and desiring more
ardently than I am able to express, to see you walking in truth and
happiness, and embalming by your conduct, as well as by your affection,
the memory of that blessed Parent, who, if she is ever permitted from
her high and holy abode, to look down on those whom she has left behind,
will rejoice to see you making choice of that path which leads to the
same blessedness.

There are two considerations, beloved grandchildren, which, I think, you
will all agree, entitle me to expect from you a respectful and
affectionate attention to what I have to offer in these letters. The
_first_ is, that I have lived a long and somewhat eventful life; and, of
course, my range of _experience_ has not been small. In my three-score
and tenth year, I have had an opportunity of following many young people
from the cradle to the grave. I have seen the training, the subsequent
course, and the end of thousands. Need I say, that the lessons derived
from such experience are not unworthy of your regard? O, if you could
start in your career with that practical knowledge of the vanity, the
snares, and the sufferings of the world, which has come to me through
the medium of many a melancholy sight, and many a painful conflict, how
great would be the advantage! But this cannot be. Happy were it for you,
if you were willing to profit as you might from the experience of
others. But neither can this be expected, in ordinary cases, to be
realized. I cannot, however, admit the thought, that you will be willing
to reject this teaching altogether.

The _second_ claim which I have on your attention is, my ardent and
affectionate desire to promote your happiness. You cannot suspect me of
any sinister design in what I have to say. This would be to suppose me
capable of "hating my own flesh." No, dear children, I have no desire to
damp the sanguine joy, or cloud the smiling sun of your youth. I would
not take from you a single rational pleasure. On the contrary, I delight
to see you happy; and desire, by all the means in my power to promote
your true enjoyment and honour. But you must allow me now, in my old
age, when I have seen so much of the illusions of the world, and so many
examples of the destruction of those who yielded to them, to counsel
you, not in the style of youthful flattery, but in the language of
"truth and soberness." You will find nothing in these letters intended
to carry a point by overpainting, or by any other artifice. If you have
a real disinterested friend on earth, who unfeignedly wishes to promote
your best interest in both worlds, it is he who now addresses you. I
shall not give a counsel or an injunction, but what I verily believe
your precious Mother, if she were permitted to speak from the bosom of
her Saviour, would ratify with all her heart.

You will observe that some of my counsels have a respect to objects
beyond the period of childhood, which you now occupy. The truth is, I
expect soon to leave you. Probably long before any of you shall reach
adult age. Of course, I feel that what I have to say at all, had better
be said _now_. I may have no other opportunity. Besides, one of the
great truths which I wish to impress upon your minds is, that you are,
even at your present age, sowing the all important seeds of a future
harvest of good or evil. You will not find a single habit or attainment
recommended in the following pages, which, if you are ever to gain it,
you will not find an advantage in having calculated and prepared for, as
far as possible, at the earliest age. The earlier you begin to imbibe
good principles, and lay good plans, the better will it be for all the
future.

Let me entreat you, then, to receive with all the affection and docility
of dutiful children, the counsels of one who, while he writes, looks up
to "Him who has the residue of the Spirit," that what is rightly said,
may be impressed upon your hearts, and made to bring forth precious
fruit, to your happiness, and to the glory of his holy name!


LETTER II.

HUMAN NATURE.

DEAR CHILDREN:--On all important subjects there are certain great facts
which must be regarded as fundamental; as lying at the foundation of all
truth, and all duty. I feel that this is peculiarly the case in regard
to the counsels which I am about to give you concerning your course in
life. Among these fundamental facts are the depravity, the misery, and
the numberless temptations of the world in which you live; the depravity
of your own nature, ever ready to be attracted by the allurements and
corruptions of the world; and your consequent need of the grace of God,
at every step, for your guidance, protection, and deliverance. And until
you know and feel, and in some degree lay to heart, that the world in
which you live is a fallen, depraved world; that its habitual maxims and
ways are hostile to your best interests; that you are yourselves, by
nature, miserable sinners, standing in need of pardoning mercy, and
sanctifying grace; and that you are every day exposed to snares and
perils, from the joint influence of a depraved nature and a corrupt
world;--until you have learned, in some good measure, to recognise these
facts; to dwell upon them daily and hourly; and to receive the lessons
which they are adapted to teach; you are not prepared even to _begin_
life. You are not prepared to meet or encounter the most common scenes,
much less the more formidable dangers which are likely to beset your
path every day that you live. But the moment you are brought to admit
these humbling, momentous truths; to feel their reality; and to consider
and treat them in some degree according to their practical importance;
then, and not till then, may we hope you will be ready to make a proper
estimate of the world; to guard against its allurements; to ponder well
what you need for securing your true happiness; and to implore that
divine aid which is necessary if you desire, in such circumstances, to
perform any duty aright. And, therefore, when I see young people
apparently forgetful of the character of their own hearts, and of the
world in which they live; thinking that all is gold that glitters; and
imagining that they can safely trust to their own wisdom and strength in
every situation, I regard them as objects of the deepest commiseration,
and as wholly unqualified for either the duties or the best enjoyments
of life.

Know, then, dear children, and remember, that you belong to an apostate
race; that we are all, according to the declaration of God's own word,
"born in sin," and "shapen in iniquity;" that we are "by nature the
children of wrath;" that our native propensities are all of them
corrupt; opposed to God; impelling us to habits and practices forbidden
by his law, and unfriendly to our best interest. Remember, too, that, so
far from being able to trust your own hearts to resist the temptations
around you, and to guide you aright, they are all naturally inclined to
that which is evil, and disposed to take side with the vanities and
corruptions of the world. So that there is constant need of self-denial;
of imposing restraints upon all our appetites and passions; and of
submitting, especially in early life, to the counsels of the wise and
the good, who have gone before us in the journey of life, and have had
more experience than ourselves of its temptations and dangers.

Hence it is, that so large a part of religion is represented in
Scripture as consisting in opposing our own corrupt inclinations; in
"crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts;" in constant
efforts to bring down pride and vanity; to mortify our evil
propensities; "to keep under the body;" to "rule our own spirits;" and,
in general, to gain the victory over ourselves. All these expressions
imply that the course of true wisdom is a warfare with evil; that our
most formidable enemies are within; and that resisting our own corrupt
nature is at once the most constant, and the most serious part of our
duty as accountable creatures.

Nor is this all. Not only is our nature corrupt; not only are we from
our very birth, prone to evil "as the sparks fly upward;" but we are
also by nature under condemnation. In the language of that incomparable
Catechism, with which you have been familiar from lisping infancy--and
every doctrine of which, as I believe, is drawn from the Bible--"All
mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and
curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death
itself, and to the pains of hell forever."

Such is the condition of our race by nature. Not only depraved and
unworthy, but guilty, condemned, and perishing; not only in _danger_ of
being forever lost; but already under a sentence of death, unless
rescued from it by the power and grace of the Saviour. All the posterity
of Adam are by nature, "dead in trespasses and sins," having no
resources within themselves for regaining the favour and image of God.
"The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not in subjection to the
law of God, neither indeed can be." So that, left to ourselves, we
should infallibly go on in sin to eternal, merited, and hopeless
destruction.

Here you are, then, dear children, in a revolted, polluted, lost world,
where the vast majority of the population is in open rebellion against
God; where the prevailing habits and maxims are selfish, carnal, and
opposed to all that is truly and spiritually good; where, if you fall
in, and continue to go with the prevailing current, you are inevitably
and eternally lost; where your only safety consists in renouncing the
world, its idols, its master, and its hopes; in "crucifying the flesh
with its affections and lusts; in resisting the fashions and allurements
which reign around you; and taking refuge in that Saviour, who came to
seek and to save that which was lost." Such are the temptations and
perils with which you are constantly and every where surrounded; and
such your only refuge. And, what greatly adds to your danger is, that if
the representation which I have given be correct, your own hearts are
naturally disposed to take the side of the enemy, and to betray you into
his toils and his power. So that you are like persons travelling in an
enemies' country, and liable every moment to be taken in some insidious
and fatal snare, and whose own inclinations to yield to the enemy are
among their greatest dangers. These are the humbling facts which it
behoves you constantly to keep in view, and to regard as the great
practical index of all your plans, resolutions, and efforts, as long as
you live.

And as you can never be truly wise until you learn the corruption of
your own nature, and how indispensably you need pardoning mercy,
sanctifying grace, and unceasing guidance and help from on high; so you
are not prepared to begin your intercourse with a corrupt world, until
you have learned to appreciate the real character of human nature as it
appears in all the walks of social life. The young, anterior to
experience--and indeed many, long after experience ought to have taught
them otherwise--are too ready to put confidence in the professions and
arts of men. They are apt to believe the flattering tongue; to rely on
plausible promises; to trust heartless professions of attachment; to
repose confidence in civilities never meant to be accepted; and to
expect much from protestations of kindness, and assurances of
friendship--all dictated by the merest selfishness, and never intended
to be fulfilled. Rely on it, dear children, you live in a cold, selfish,
heartless world. Its civilities are hollow; its promises are deceitful;
its flatteries are insidious; its most splendid attractions are
delusive. Expect little from the warmest professions, and be very
backward to avail yourselves of the most fervent proffers of friendship.
I am far, indeed, from recommending a misanthropic suspicion of every
body. Your parents and grandparents ought to be the last persons in the
world to indulge or recommend such a spirit. They have been so happy as
to enjoy friendships sincere, disinterested, active, and unwearied,
never to be forgotten. For these they would be thankful, and enjoin it
upon you never to forget such precious friends. But remember, that
social confidence is a plant of slow growth; that there are few cases in
which it can be safely indulged; that where it exists, great care ought
to be taken not to abuse it by laying too much upon it; and that, while
you ought to receive all expressions of civility and respect with a
suitable acknowledgment, nothing can be more unwise and unsafe in such
a world as this, than to trust indiscriminately to the professions and
promises of men.

If such be our deplorable circumstances, as a race, and as individuals,
then we need deliverance. We need salvation. To this great subject I
would next entreat your attention.


LETTER III.

THE WAY OF SALVATION.

DEAR CHILDREN:--Salvation is a word often on your lips, and on the lips
of many around you. The truly pious look forward to it with humble,
joyful hope. And those who have no piety, and even the profane and
profligate often speak of it as something which they desire and
anticipate. But what is SALVATION? The very expression presupposes that
we are all by nature in a state from which we need to be _delivered_ or
_saved_. We never apply this term to any but those who are in danger of
being _lost_. When a man is drowning, or in the utmost peril of death in
any form, and by the interposition of some benevolent and active friend,
is rescued, we say he is _saved_. Now in a similar sense is the term
used in the case before us. The salvation of man implies that he is, by
nature not only in _danger_, but in a _lost_ and _perishing_ condition.
Accordingly I told you, my dear children, in the preceding letter, that
our whole race, and you among the rest, are, by nature in a state of
guilt, depravity, and misery; that we are fallen creatures; under
condemnation; exposed to the wrath and curse of God; liable not only to
natural death, but also exposed to all the terrors of eternal death,
that is, of eternal separation from the presence of the Lord, and the
glory of his power, unless delivered, or, in other words, _saved_ by the
interposition of some mighty and merciful deliverer. Such a great
Deliverer has appeared to save sinners of our race;--to "put away sin by
the sacrifice of himself." And now, the word of God assures us, that
there is "no other name given under heaven among men whereby we can be
saved, but the name of Jesus Christ."

It is my earnest desire, dear children, to open this way of salvation to
your minds, and to recommend it to your serious and solemn attention.
Believe me, "it is not a vain thing for you, it is even your life."
Unless you are, by the grace of God made partakers of this great
salvation, it "had been better for you that you had not been born."

By the salvation revealed in the Gospel is meant, delivering us from all
the ruins of the fall--from the condemnation of sin and the power of
sin--restoring us to the favour and image of God--and bringing us to the
everlasting enjoyment of his presence in heaven. This is salvation. Now
I wish to show you how this great and blessed result is accomplished by
the undertaking and work of Jesus Christ, whom we are accustomed, on
that account, to denominate, with emphasis, our SAVIOUR.

Man was made upright; in full possession of all the powers necessary to
perfect moral agency, and with all the dispositions which prompted to a
perfectly correct use of those powers. But "man being in honour abode
not." He rebelled against God. He violated the covenant under which he
was placed, and became liable to the dreadful penalty which it denounced
against transgression. In this fall of our first parents we are all
sharers. "In Adam," says the apostle, "all die." "By one man's
disobedience," he again declares, "many were made sinners." We have all
totally lost our original righteousness; so that there is now, by
nature, "none righteous, no not one." In short, we have all become
guilty and polluted before God, and incapable of regaining his image or
his favour by any merit or doings of our own. How, then are we to be
delivered from these deplorable circumstances? How shall we escape that
perdition which is the just reward of sin? "How can we escape the
damnation of hell?" How can any be saved? God cannot set aside his own
law, or permit his authority and majesty, as a righteous Governor, to be
trampled under foot. To "clear the guilty;" to take impenitent rebels
into the arms of his love, would be to "deny himself." Where, then, is
our refuge? Must we sit down in despair, and say, "There is no hope?"
No, by no means. A God of infinite wisdom, power, and love, has devised
and proclaimed a wonderful plan by which sin was punished while the
sinner is pardoned; by which justice is completely satisfied, while
mercy is extended to the guilty and vile; by which "grace reigns through
righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord."

This wonderful and glorious plan of mercy consisted in the Father giving
his own Son to obey, suffer, and die in our stead, as our substitute;
and in the Son consenting to bear the penalty of the law for us; to put
away our sin by the sacrifice of himself; and to bring in an everlasting
righteousness for our justification. Yes, dear children, however coldly
an unbelieving world may receive the amazing annunciation, the Lord
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, condescended, in his wonderful
love, to assume our nature; to take the place of the guilty and the
perishing; and to become the victim of Divine justice in their stead.
His language, in the eternal counsel of peace, was, "Let me suffer
instead of the guilty. Let me die to save them. Deliver them from going
down to the pit; I will be their ransom." This wonderful, this
unparalleled offer was accepted. The Father was well pleased for the
righteousness sake of his Son. He accepted it as the price of our
pardon; as that on account of which all who repent and believe should be
justified. So that the Scriptures may well say concerning the
Saviour--_He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that
believeth. He is the Lord our righteousness. He was wounded for our
transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of
our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed. He bare our
sins in his own body on the tree. He died the just for the unjust, that
he might bring us to God. He delivered us from the curse of the law,
being made a curse for us._

Here then, dear children, is the way, and the only way of a sinner's
acceptance with God. In virtue of the covenant of redemption, the
righteousness of Christ, or what he did and suffered on our behalf, is
placed to the account of his people, _as if_ they had performed it in
their own persons. Though sinful and unworthy in themselves, God is
pleased to pardon and accept them as righteous in his sight, only for
the righteousness sake of his beloved Son. I am aware, indeed, that some
who speak much of "the merits of Christ," and profess to rely entirely
on those merits, represent the whole subject in a very different light.
They suppose that in consideration of the sufferings and death of our
blessed Saviour, the old, original law of God, requiring perfect
obedience, is repealed, and a _mitigated law_ now prescribed as the rule
of our obedience. So that now, under the Christian dispensation, a
perfect obedience is not even required, but only an imperfect one,
accommodated to our fallen condition and our many infirmities. But
still, they insist, that this imperfect obedience is the meritorious
ground of our acceptance with God; and, of course, that eternal life is
the purchase of our own obedience. In short, the doctrine of these
errorists is, that the benefit conferred by the sufferings and death of
Christ, consists, not in providing an entire righteousness for us, but
only in abating the demands of the law; in bringing down the divine
requisitions more to a level with our ability; and still enabling us,
low as we have fallen, to be the purchasers of salvation by our own
works.

Be assured, dear children, this view of the subject is a grievous
departure from the Scriptural doctrine concerning the way of salvation.
The Bible represents our pardon and acceptance with God as not founded,
in any respect, or in any degree, on our own obedience; but as wholly of
grace--as a mere unmerited gift, bestowed solely on account of what the
Redeemer has done as our substitute and surety. It represents the holy
law of God as remaining in all its original strictness without repeal or
mitigation; and as falling with the whole weight of its penalty on all
the impenitently guilty. But it declares that penalty to be removed from
those who repent and believe the Gospel, not on account of any
worthiness in themselves, as the meritorious ground of the benefit; but
only on account of the perfect righteousness of Him who came to seek and
save those who were lost. In short, a gracious God saves his people not
by overlooking their sins; but by lifting the penalty from them, and
laying it upon the divine Redeemer, and for his sake letting them go
free, and accepting them solely on account of his merit.

This righteousness of Jehovah the Saviour is said to be "to all, and
upon all them that believe;"--that is, it is imputed to none--set to the
account of none but those who receive Christ by faith. Faith is that
great master grace by which we become united to the Saviour, and
interested in his atonement. This righteousness, therefore, is called
_the righteousness of faith, and the righteousness of God by faith_.
Hence we are said to be _justified by faith_, and to be _saved by
faith_. Not that faith, as an act of ours, is, in any measure, the
ground of our justification; but all these expressions imply, that there
is an inseparable connexion, in the economy of grace, between believing
in Christ, and being justified by him, or having his righteousness
imputed to us. Happy, thrice happy they, who can thus call the Saviour
_theirs_, and who have thus "received the atonement!" Though unworthy in
themselves, they are graciously pronounced righteous by their heavenly
Judge, on account of what the Mediator has done. Their sins, though
many, are, for his sake, forgiven them. They are _freely justified from
all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses_.
They are "accepted in the Beloved." Though polluted and undeserving in
their own character, they are "complete in Him." There is no
condemnation to them now; and in the day of judgment they shall find, to
their eternal joy, that there is both safety and happiness in appearing
in the righteousness of Him who loved sinners, and gave himself for
them, clothed in "robes which have been washed and made white in the
blood of the Lamb."

But we not only need to be justified by the righteousness of Christ; we
also indispensably need to be sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.
Accordingly, the purification of our nature, as well as the pardon of
our sins, is one of the benefits purchased by Him, and secured by
covenant to all believers. Hence the teaching and the sanctifying power
of the Holy Spirit must be regarded as an essential part of the great
salvation of which I am speaking. We need as much to be delivered from
the love of sin as from its condemnation. And for both, the plan of
mercy held forth in the Gospel of Christ, makes equal and effectual
provision. "Whom he justifies, them he also sanctifies; and whom he
sanctifies, them he also glorifies." By the power of the Holy Spirit,
the dominion of sin is broken in the hearts of all who are brought under
the power of the Gospel. The reign of corruption in the soul is
destroyed; the love of it is taken away; and though not perfectly
sanctified in the present life, yet every believer has his
sanctification begun. It is carried on, not by his own wisdom or
strength, but by the same divine power by which it was commenced; until
he is, at last, made perfectly holy, as well as perfectly happy in the
presence of his God and Saviour.

Thus does it appear that salvation is all of grace, sovereign, unmerited
grace. The original devising of the plan, in the eternal counsels of
peace, was prompted, not by any foresight of faith and holiness in the
fallen creature; but in mere grace. The plan itself, in all its
principles and provisions makes our salvation perfectly gratuitous, and
wholly excludes all human merit. After the plan was formed and executed,
and the knowledge of it imparted to us, no one would ever accept of it,
did not the same grace which formed it, incline the sinner to lay aside
his native opposition, and accept of the offered mercy. And even after
cordially accepting it, no individual would ever cleave to his hope, and
continue to embrace it, and live under its power, were he not "kept by
the power of God through faith unto salvation."

After the foregoing statement, the great question is, what message does
this plan of salvation bring to YOU? The message which it brings, dear
children, is an unspeakably solemn one. It charges _you_ with being
sinners--miserable sinners in the sight of God--without merit--without
help, and without hope in yourselves. It offers you peace, and pardon,
and sanctification, and eternal life, through the atoning sacrifice of
the blessed Redeemer. It entreats you to lay aside your enmity, and to
receive these benefits with humble and adoring gratitude, as a free,
unmerited gift, "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Its
language is, "Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of
life freely." And again, "Whosoever cometh to me, I will in no wise cast
out." It calls upon you to renounce all confidence in yourselves, and to
receive and rest on Christ alone for salvation as he is freely offered
in the Gospel; to receive him as the Lord your righteousness, and the
Lord your strength, and rejoice in him as your only hope. To this end,
it is indispensable that you be convinced of sin; that you experience a
deep and cordial sense of your own sinfulness and unworthiness; that you
despair of saving yourselves; that you fall at the footstool of
sovereign grace, feeling that you deserve to die, and that you can have
no hope but in the atoning blood, and sanctifying Spirit of the
Redeemer. It is your duty and your privilege to go to the Saviour at
once, and cast yourselves on his mercy, without waiting for any
qualifications to render you worthy of his favour. You are commanded to
go to him as miserable, helpless sinners, not with a price in your
hands; but to receive from him all that you need to make you holy and
happy here and hereafter. And until you are prepared thus to go to him,
as miserable, unworthy sinners, who deserve God's wrath and curse
forever; until you sincerely feel that you have nothing to plead but the
merit of another; until you are ready to cast yourselves at the feet of
the Saviour, and to be indebted for pardon and eternal life as a mere
gift of grace, you have yet to learn the vital element of practical
religion.

Dear children! will you hesitate a moment--will you wait for a second
invitation to accept of such a Saviour? Will you turn away with
ingratitude from such a salvation? Listen to the entreaty of one who
loves you, and who has no stronger desire concerning you than to see you
walking in the Spirit, and enjoying the consolation of the Gospel: or
rather listen to the voice of that blessed Saviour himself who died for
sinners; and who says to you, and to all who hear the Gospel--"Come unto
me all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Him
that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

Think not, I beseech you, of putting off this acceptance of the
Saviour's love until you are farther advanced in life. Do you forget
that "the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths
peace," and that you cannot too soon begin to be happy? Besides, have
you any assurance that you will live to be much more advanced in age
than you now are? Not long since, a graduate of one of our colleges was
heard to say, "I have finished my college education. I will now devote
two years to the study of a profession; and _then_ I will take one year
to see what there is in _that mighty thing they call_ RELIGION." So
calculated this careless, blooming youth. But before his plan was half
accomplished, he suddenly fell sick; was seized with delirium; and died
without hope. But there are facts, dear children, which ought to come
nearer home. Can you forget your beloved brother and sisters, who, in
the very threshold of their existence, were cut down, and laid in the
grave? And what security have _you_ that you will live to see another
year? But even if you _are_ permitted to live until you reach adult age,
or until you are old and grey-headed, what reason have you to hope, if
you go on hardening yourselves against the Gospel until that time, that
you will then have grace given you to "consider your ways?" O, how many
who were in youth thoughtful and tender, have become more and more
callous to every serious impression, as they advanced in life, and have,
at length, sunk into the grave without hope! Be entreated, then, dear
children, _now_, while your hearts are tender; before the world has
twined around them a thousand entanglements; before you become hardened
by inveterate habits of sin; be entreated to make choice of that "good
hope through grace," which will form the best treasure, and the only
effectual pledge of safety and happiness in the voyage of life: the
treasure which is emphatically "that good part which can never be taken
away from you."


LETTER IV.

THE BIBLE.

DEAR CHILDREN:--If you were walking, in a dark night, along a road full
of sloughs, and pits, and snares, and dangers of every kind, what would
you do for safety? You would naturally, if you could obtain it, take a
_light_ in your hands. You would also, if possible, engage a _guide_,
strong and faithful, well acquainted with the road, and qualified to
conduct and defend you. And, besides all this, you would vigilantly
_look around you_ at every step, and eagerly mark and avoid every spot
that had a suspicious or doubtful appearance.

Your situation, dear children, in the journey of life, is precisely such
as I have described; or rather, I ought to say, "the half has not been
told you." You are just entering on a world, dark, corrupt, and full of
allurement and danger. On every side enemies lie in wait to deceive and
betray. You are and will be exposed to a thousand temptations and perils
from which you have no wisdom or strength to deliver yourselves. You
need direction and guidance at every step. Now the BIBLE presents the
only complete and perfect map of the road which you are travelling. It
was given us to be "a light to our feet, and a lamp to our path." It
exhibits, with unerring fidelity, every enemy, every snare, every danger
which beset your path. It gives all the information, all the warning,
all the caution, and all the encouragement which you need. It tells you,
more perfectly than any other book, all that you have to fear, and all
that you have to hope for. There is not a form of error, or of
corruption, against which it does not put you on your guard; nor an
excellence or a duty which it does not direct you how to cultivate and
attain. "Wherewith," asks the Psalmist, "shall the young cleanse their
way?"--"By taking heed thereto," he replies, "according to thy word." No
one ever made this holy Book the guide of his life, without walking
wisely, safely, and happily; without finding the truest enjoyment in
this world, and eternal blessedness in the world to come.

Can you wonder, then, beloved children, that I place a high value on
this blessed Book; that I earnestly recommend it to your serious
attention, to your constant study, and to your devout and affectionate
application and confidence? Can you wonder that I should delight to see
it daily in your hands; much of its sacred contents committed to your
memory; and your hearts deeply imbued with its spirit and its power?
You, no doubt, remember how earnestly your precious Mother, now gone to
the God who gave this Book, recommended it to your attention; how
assiduously she put it into your hands; how often she constrained you to
commit portions of it to memory; and how frequently, on Sabbath
evenings, she gathered you round her to recite those portions in her
hearing, and to receive her instructions and counsels in regard to them.
Can you ever forget these scenes, and the solemn, tender lessons which
you then received? Call to mind her earnest looks, her affectionate
tones, her unceasing labour to impress the contents of this sacred Book
on your minds and hearts. Think of these things; and if you can
recollect them without gratitude to God for such a mother, and without
tears of regret that you have not profited more by her faithful
counsels, you have less moral feeling, and less filial sensibility than
I have been accustomed to give you credit for.

Why is it, my dear children, that so many young people regard the Bible
with aversion, and consider the study of its pages, and especially
committing them to memory, as a task and a burden? When we reflect that
it is sent to us from heaven; that it contains the glad tidings of
peace, and love, and salvation to a lost world; that it is besides full
of the noblest specimens of literary beauty, and of tender pathetic
eloquence that the world ever saw; that there is something in it adapted
to touch the finest and best cords of human sensibility--why is it that
you so often feel aversion to the study of this volume, and would
gladly be excused from the task of perusing its chapters? Alas! dear
children, this is one of the many proofs that your nature, as I before
stated, is depraved; and that you need the renewing and sanctifying
power of the Holy Spirit, before you can understand and relish a book
given by his inspiration. Every feeling of reluctance to the study of
this Book which you experience, ought to fill you with alarm, and to
constrain you to cry mightily to God that he would open your eyes and
your hearts, and give you that taste for the best of all books, without
which you cannot be prepared for the joys of his presence. Consider, I
beseech you, that, as you have been made acquainted with this Book from
your earliest childhood, so you will have to give an account for this
knowledge. Many children around you have never had the Bible put into
their hands; have never been taught to venerate and love its sacred
pages; but you have been informed of its origin and value. You have
enjoyed a privilege denied to thousands. Will you not be grateful for
this privilege? Will you not manifest that you know how to prize a gift
of more value than all the world beside? Can you deliberately consent to
meet the dreadful condemnation of those who, from childhood, "knew the
Master's will, and did it not."

I hope I need not remind you that the BOOK OF GOD is to be read with
feelings and in a manner very different from those with which you read
all other books. When you have read books of human composition once or
twice, you have gotten from them all they contain--you have done with
them. But with the perusal of the Bible you can never have done. The
oftener you go over it, if you feel as you ought, the richer and more
delightful will it appear. You can never exhaust its meaning or its
interest. Like its divine Author, it has a length and breadth and depth
and height, concerning which no human reader can ever say that he has
completely fathomed its meaning, or measured its riches.

Other books are to be read with attention, and, if they abound with
truth and wisdom, with respect; but the Book of God is to be read with
the deepest veneration, as containing the mind and will of our heavenly
Sovereign. In fact, every line of it is to be considered as the voice of
God speaking to us. Woe to those, whether young or aged, who can handle
the Bible with levity, make sport of its contents, or recite its solemn
language as matter of jest! The Lord will not hold them guiltless who
thus, practically, "take his name in vain." The Mohammedans manifest
much more reverence for their _Koran_, than many Christians for the
Bible. They never allow themselves to touch it without washing their
hands. They handle it with the most pointed respect, never holding it
lower than their girdles. Every copy of it commonly contains an
inscription or label on the cover, in these words--"Let none touch but
those who are clean." How very differently do many, young and old, among
us, treat the Holy Scriptures! I have often been distressed when I have
seen children toss about their Bibles, and even throw them in the dirt,
as they would the least valued of their play-things, or rattle over some
of the most solemn language of the Bible with as little apparent thought
or respect as they would repeat the veriest effusions of nonsense.

The Bible, farther, is to be read _daily_, and with _diligence_, as
containing that daily food from which you are to derive spiritual
aliment, and strength continually. It is to be read with fixed
_attention_, seriously directing your mind to its rich and important
meaning; with _humility_, feeling your need of the instruction and grace
which it contains; with _prayer_, imploring the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, that he may open your hearts to receive the engrafted word which
is able to save your souls; with _application_--asking continually--"How
does this concern _me_? Does it describe _my case_? Does it not contain
a lesson which demands _my_ special regard? Do _I_ know any thing in my
own experience of what is here taught?"

In this precious Book you will find every thing adapted to enlarge the
mind, to gratify the taste, to elevate the affections, and to purify the
heart. If you only sought the richest _entertainment_, you could not
open a book more fitted to gratify you. It is an inexhaustible mine of
instruction as well as of beauty--the deeper you dig, the richer will
you find its treasures. Its exquisite simplicity, its pathos, its
sublimity, its heavenly wisdom, its purity, are all adapted to turn us
away from the vanities of the world; to enlarge our views beyond these
regions of disorder and darkness; to strengthen every high and holy
motive; and to lead us upward to Him who is the source and the sum of
all good. Happy, thrice happy will those children and young people be,
who early learn to go to the BIBLE for all their sentiments, principles,
and rules of action; who learn daily to go to that precious Book to
direct them in their pursuits, to comfort them in their sorrows, to
guide them in their perplexities, and to animate them in their labours
whatever they may be! Such have the best pledge of temporal enjoyment,
and of eternal blessedness. When, therefore, those who love you, and
would in some measure take the place of your dear departed Mother, daily
put this precious Book of God into your hands, and urge you to read and
commit to memory a portion of its contents, do not allow yourselves to
regard it as a task or a burden. Think from whom it comes--from the God
who made you. Think of the great purpose for which it was given--to make
you wise and eternally happy. Think of the only means of making it truly
profitable to you--studying it with devout attention, laying it up in
your hearts, and practising it in your lives. Think of the solemn
responsibility which the possession of this Book lays upon you--for to
whomsoever much is given, of them shall much be required. And may the
great Author of this Book give you grace to "seek for the heavenly
wisdom which it contains as silver, and search for it as for hid
treasures!"


LETTER V.

PRAYER.

DEAR CHILDREN:--"Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, for
things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of
our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies." This is the
definition given in a Catechism with which you are familiar, and a more
complete and perfect one could scarcely be conceived. It is the offering
up of our _sincere desires_; for unless it be _sincere_, it is but
solemn mockery. It is to be addressed to _God alone_; for prayer
addressed to any created being, is an act of treason to our rightful
Sovereign. It is to be "for things _agreeable to the divine will_;" or
else it is unauthorized and presumptuous. It is always to be presented
_in the name of Christ_; for there is no other name under heaven given
among men whereby we can draw near to a holy God with acceptance, but
the name of Jesus Christ. It must be accompanied with _confession of
sin_; because the approach of a sinner to God, without an humble sense
and acknowledgment of unworthiness, would be contrary to every principle
of reason, as well as to the Christian plan of salvation. And, finally,
it ought to include a thankful acknowledgment of _divine mercies_; for
without a grateful sense of God's goodness, we cannot be in a frame of
mind fitted to receive farther favours.

I trust, dear children, I need not dwell long on either the
_reasonableness_ or the _duty_ of prayer. If we are entirely dependent
on God for every temporal and spiritual blessing, then it is surely
reasonable that we acknowledge our dependence, and apply to him with
humility and earnestness for his aid. If his favour is life, and his
blessing the best riches, it is evident that we ought to supplicate them
with importunity and perseverance. If we are sinners, unworthy of the
divine favour, we ought to humble ourselves at his footstool, and make
confession of our sins with penitence and obedience. If he has revealed
a plan of mercy and grace to us, of which he invites and commands us to
avail ourselves, then every principle of self interest concurs with
reason, in urging us to seek with earnestness a participation in that
mercy. And if our Maker and Redeemer has, in so many words, commanded us
"by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to make known our requests
to God," who can question, for a moment, the _reasonableness_ of a
compliance with that command?

Nor is the _duty_ of prayer less apparent than its _reasonableness_. The
command of our Father in heaven is--"Pray without ceasing--pray always
with all prayer and supplication, and abound therein with thanksgiving.
I will be inquired of by my people to do that for them which they need.
Ask and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall
be opened unto you. For if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts
unto your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give his
Holy Spirit to them that ask him? All things whatsoever ye shall ask in
prayer, believing, ye shall receive. The effectual, fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much. When thou prayest, enter into thy closet,
and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret,
and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. If any
one lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally, and it shall
be given him. Is any afflicted? let him pray. Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let
your requests be made known to God. The Lord is rich in mercy to all
that call upon him. In the day of my trouble I called upon the Lord, and
he heard me, and delivered me out of all my distresses."

Such are some of the numerous passages of Scripture which plainly
_require_ and _encourage_ prayer. Can any one who reads and believes the
Bible, doubt for a moment, that it is equally his _duty_ and his
_privilege_ to go daily to the throne of grace to supplicate for all the
temporal or spiritual good which he needs? I hope, my dear children,
you will not be disposed to say, notwithstanding such express and
positive declarations of God's word, in the language of profane
objectors of old--"Wherefore should we seek after God? Does he need to
be informed of our wants? Can we, by importunity, alter his purposes?
Where is, then, the advantage of asking for what we need? What profit
shall we have if we pray unto him?" If you should ever be tempted to ask
such a question, I would answer--"Much every way." God has connected our
asking for blessings with receiving them. He has promised to hear and
answer prayer. He has condescended to say, that he will regard with all
the tenderness of a parent's heart, the cries of his children. He has
said in his word, "Ye have not, because ye ask not." This is enough. But
it is not all that is worthy of our attention. Prayer is not intended to
inform God, but to benefit ourselves. It tends to remind us of our
dependence and unworthiness; to impress our hearts with a deeper sense
of the divine goodness and mercy; and to beget in our minds that humble,
grateful, tender sense of our own weakness, and of our obligation to the
Author of all good, which constitute the best preparation for receiving
the gracious gifts of our heavenly Parent.

While your precious, lamented Mother was alive, what a privilege did you
consider it to be allowed to go to her in all your troubles, and to
make known to her all your desires! How much greater the privilege to be
allowed every hour free access to your Father in heaven, with all your
anxieties and distresses, to pour out all your wants and wishes, your
hopes and fears into the bosom of an Almighty Friend, who is ever able
and ready to help!

Since, then, dear children, there are so many reasons prompting you to
prayer; since you are always weak, always dependant, always unworthy,
and always in need, can you doubt that it is your duty and your interest
to abound in prayer? Let me entreat you, therefore, never to suffer a
day to pass without engaging in this delightful and most reasonable
exercise. Set apart fixed times for the purpose, that you may form such
_habits_ as will aid your memory, and prevent your neglecting it. Retire
as soon as you can, after rising in the morning, to return thanks for
the mercies of the night, and to implore the protection, the guidance,
and the blessing of your heavenly Father, through the day. And in the
evening, before drowsiness overtakes you, retire again, to praise him
for the mercies of the day, and to ask for his guardianship during the
night watches. But are these the only subjects of prayer? Far from it.
They are numerous as the moments you live, and various as the objects
which you are called to contemplate. Pray in the morning, that God would
keep you from all evil in body or soul, through the day; that he would
create in you a clean heart, and renew within you a right spirit; that
he would guard your speech and behaviour at all times, and in every
situation; that he would enable you to mortify and subdue every sinful
affection, and to overcome every improper habit; that he would deliver
you from sloth, and pride, and vanity, and malice, and envy, and every
evil temper; that he would enable you to treat all around you in a
dutiful and becoming manner; in a word, that he would enable you to
spend the day in a manner profitable to yourselves, and to the benefit
of all around you. And in the evening pray, that he would pardon all the
deficiencies and infirmities of the preceding day; that he would make
you grateful for all the favours of his merciful Providence; that he
would watch over you during the hours of darkness and repose; and bring
you to the light of another day in health, in the exercise of your
reason, and in the enjoyment of his favour and love.

And while you thus pray daily for yourselves, it is your privilege and
duty to include in your petitions all with whom you are connected in the
various relations of life. You ought to pray continually for your
beloved _father_, who is engaged in such important labour for the
Church, and who loves you with an affection and solicitude which you can
never repay; for your _grandparents_, who are daily praying for you, and
who are falling more and more under the infirmities of age; for _one
another_, that you may be guided and blessed amidst all the temptations
and dangers of youth; for your _teachers_; for your _school-mates_; for
the _poor children_ around you, who have none of the advantages of
instruction and restraint which you enjoy; for your _friends_, and
_neighbours_, and all with whom you are acquainted. O, my dear children,
if you prayed as you ought every day for all these, how much happier
would you be! What a benign influence it would have on your whole temper
and conduct! It would make you kind, tender hearted, and forgiving
toward all with whom you conversed; and make all of them, in their turn,
love you as a friend and benefactor.

Let me make, on this subject, one more suggestion. Most people,
especially most young people, have no idea of engaging in prayer unless
at particular times when they retire for the purpose. I wish you all,
dear children, besides your stated seasons of prayer, morning and
evening, to form the habit of lifting up your thoughts and your desires
to God in any and every situation; when walking by the way; when
surrounded with company; when met by any call of duty, or by any
circumstance of a doubtful aspect, or perplexing character--be in the
habit of silently but devoutly looking up to God for wisdom and strength
to perform every duty. This kind of intercourse with God may be carried
on at all times, and in all situations; and, I will add, was never
sincerely adopted by any one without being connected with guidance and
consolations of unspeakable value. In this way the suggestion of the
apostle in writing to Timothy will be realized, that "_every thing_ be
sanctified by the word of God, and prayer."


LETTER VI.

CULTIVATION OF THE MIND.

DEAR CHILDREN:--That every human being is bound to cultivate, in the
best manner, the intellectual powers which God has given him, I hope you
will take for granted, anterior to all argument; and, although the moral
aspects of education are the most vitally important, yet as no one can
be a moral agent without some degree of intellect; so it may be said,
that the wisest and best culture even of our moral powers, depends more
on the discipline, the enlargement, and the furniture of the intellect,
than is commonly supposed.

The cultivation of the mind comprises two things, and two only, viz:
giving it proper habits of exercise, and filling it with useful
knowledge. The case is precisely similar with regard to the _body_. The
sum total of all that we are called to do for the benefit of the body,
is to secure its strength by constant and wholesome action or exercise,
and to furnish it with appropriate nourishment. On the one hand, were
its _exercise_ ever so abundant, if left without aliment, it would
speedily sink into weakness and death; and, on the other, if its aliment
be ever so plentiful and rich, yet if it be left wholly without
_exercise_, it will soon become a mass of disease and corruption.
Precisely so is it in the cultivation of the mind. Exercise and aliment
are equally indispensable, and must go together. If the mind be not
taught to think, and to feel an appetite for intellectual provision, all
the knowledge in the world, if introduced into it, would be of little
use. But, if it be taught only to think and feel, and be furnished with
none of the appropriate aliment of knowledge, it cannot grow either in
strength, or in a capacity to act its part in the world with dignity or
usefulness.

As these principles lie at the foundation of all intellectual culture,
so they are also adapted to instruct us with regard to the wisest and
best means of conducting that culture, with regard to the departments of
knowledge most worthy of being studied, and the relative stress which
ought to be laid on different pursuits. If you would be trained up
merely to be splendid butterflies, to shine and to please the
superficial and the empty, for a day, and, having done this, to die like
senseless insects; why, then, a corresponding plan of culture must be
adopted. But, if you wish to be regarded as rational creatures; to be
prepared for sober thought and action; to "serve your generation by the
will of God;" to die in peace, and to be remembered with love and
veneration when you are gone, then it is perfectly manifest a very
different method of training is indispensable.

I trust you will not hesitate a moment in deciding which of these
courses you ought to choose. I trust the way of practical wisdom, of
piety, and of usefulness, will be the object of your prompt and decisive
choice. If so, the course of mental culture which you ought to adopt,
cannot possibly be mistaken by a mind of the least reflection. If you
are to feel and act as moral accountable agents, and to consider human
life as a serious, momentous thing; then, doubtless, you will feel that
you are bound, first of all, and above all, to exercise your minds in
such a manner, and to store them with such branches of knowledge, as
will tend most effectually to enlarge them, to strengthen them, to
inspire them with practical wisdom, and to furnish them with the means
of the most solid and extensive usefulness.

Upon this principle, I would say, let your first and chief attention be
directed to those branches of knowledge which lie at the foundation of
all that is enlarged, liberal, and elevated in human pursuits; such as
Grammar, Rhetoric, Geography, the Latin, Greek, and French languages,
Natural and Moral Philosophy, the elements of Mathematical science,
Chemistry, and as many of the branches of Natural History as may be
within your reach, especially Botany and Mineralogy. These are all
proper for both sexes; and the more you gain of all of them, the better
fitted will you be both for enjoying life, and for fulfilling its
various and momentous duties. I grant, indeed, my dear grandson, that
with regard to what is denominated Classic literature, and Mathematics,
I wish _you_ to go more thoroughly to work, than would be desirable, or
perhaps proper, for your sisters. But I hope that neither of these will
be entirely neglected by _them_. For I have an impression, that the
careful study, to a certain extent, of the best of the dead languages,
and an intelligent acquaintance with the elementary principles of
Mathematics, ought to be omitted by none who can possibly attain them.
In my opinion, they are adapted to produce an effect on the mind, and to
diffuse an influence over all its other acquisitions, more happy and
more important than is commonly recognised, even by many of the educated
themselves.

Besides the popular sciences just mentioned, with which every human
being who can afford it, ought to seek some good acquaintance, there is
an extensive and important field of knowledge, which is defined by the
general term of _literature_, and, in our case, of _English Literature_.
There is a large class of writers, with whose works every one who claims
to be intelligent and well informed, must be familiar. To this
department belongs the whole subject of _History_, which, I trust, will
receive the serious attention of all of you; and about which I hope you
will take enlightened advice, as a number of the most attractive and
popular writers in this department, are unfit to be perused without
much reserve and caution. To these, of course, ought to be added, those
great writers, both in prose and poetry, which deserve to be ranked as
_English Classics_; and, with which, I feel confident, you will seize
the earliest opportunity of becoming acquainted. I refer to such writers
as Milton, Shakspeare, Dryden, Addison, Steele, Pope, Thompson, Gray,
Young, Goldsmith, Johnson, Cowper, Beattie, and a number of others, whom
I cannot pause to specify, but with whom it would be highly
discreditable not to have some intimate knowledge. Without an
acquaintance with these writers, you cannot appreciate the riches, the
beauties, or the purity of your vernacular tongue, or form for
yourselves a good style of writing. In these writers, too, you will find
a great store-house of fine sentiment, as well as diction, adapted
greatly to enlarge and elevate the mind, to impart to it its highest
polish, and to prepare it for its best efforts.

There are certain accomplishments commonly called _ornamental_, deemed
by many desirable for females, and by some considered as of much
consequence. Among these are dancing, music, painting, drawing,
embroidery, &c. With regard to _dancing_, your beloved grandmother and
myself never thought proper to permit any of our own children to be
instructed in this art; not because we thought the _act_ of dancing
itself criminal, but because we considered it as inseparably and almost
necessarily connected with the whole system of balls, dancing
assemblies, midnight parties, &c., all of which we deemed criminal, and
in a great variety of ways, hostile to the principles and the claims of
true religion. We do, indeed, find dancing spoken of in the Old
Testament Scriptures, as having been employed, even on occasions of
religious joy; but never on such occasions do we read of the midnight
dance, nor of promiscuous dancing, that is, of the sexes together. And
with respect to the New Testament, we read there of only one actual
dance, and that was performed by a profligate woman, and connected with
crime of the most atrocious and revolting character.

As to _music_, I am persuaded it is the duty of every one who is able to
do it, to acquire the power of uniting in the social praise of God with
excellence and efficiency. The cultivation of vocal music, and the
attainment of such a degree of skill in it as is essential to imparting
an interest in the exercise, are conducive to health and favourable to
moral and spiritual improvement. So far, I am confident you ought all to
go. And if my granddaughters should have a special taste and love for
instrumental music, I am by no means prepared to advise that they deny
themselves the pleasure. It is an elegant accomplishment, and when
wisely employed, may be connected with innocent pleasure, and sometimes
with benefit. But I should deeply regret to find them aiming at that
_exquisite skill_ in instrumental music, which cannot be attained
without great expense, much loss of time, and that intense and long
continued attention which cannot fail to engross the mind and stand in
the way of more worthy objects of pursuit, if it do not wholly exclude
them. This is so unworthy of a rational accountable creature, that I
would infinitely rather my dear grandchildren should know nothing of
music, than that they should carry their zeal for it, and their devotion
to it, to such an injurious length. And as to my dear grandson, while I
hope always to hear him unite in singing the praises of God in the
sanctuary with taste and skill, it would give me unspeakable pain to
hear that he was regarded as a highly acceptable and admired singer at
convivial meetings, and that his company was courted on that account. I
concur in opinion with the old Grecian sage, who, when a young gentleman
of his acquaintance, of respectable station and employment in society,
had performed on an instrument of music with consummate skill and
effect, said to him, "Are you not ashamed, my young friend, to play so
well?"

In conducting the intellectual culture of the young, there is one
question which I presume you will not fail to ask, and which I wish to
anticipate and answer in this little system of affectionate advices. The
question is, whether _Novels_ ought to have any place in the course of
reading prescribed for young people? This is a question of exceeding
great importance. When I was a youth it was far less interesting and
momentous, as a practical matter, than it has now become. Three quarters
of a century, and more especially a century ago, the number of this
class of writings was so small, and their popular circulation so
inconsiderable, that their influence was scarcely worthy of notice,
compared with that which they have more recently exerted, and which they
are daily going on to extend. Bear with me then, dear children, while I
dwell a little on this subject, and call your attention to some thoughts
which I pray God may be deeply impressed upon your minds.

That fictitious history is not in its own nature and necessarily
criminal, will probably be acknowledged by all. It _may_ be so construed
as to awaken curiosity, to excite sympathy, and to impress the
understanding and the heart in a salutary manner. Of course, to condemn
every thing of the kind _as such_, and however constructed or employed,
would be to pronounce an unjust judgment. Hence we find examples of this
mode of instruction in the holy Scriptures; and on the same principle,
some of the wisest and best human teachers in all ages, have used the
vehicle of lively and interesting fiction, known to be such at the time,
for insinuating into the mind moral and religious lessons, which in a
different form, might not so readily have gained admittance.

But the great error of modern times is two-fold; _First_, in
multiplying publications of this kind, until they bear an inordinate and
injurious proportion in the current literature of the day; and,
_Secondly_, in constructing them upon a plan adapted to degrade virtue
and piety, to recommend vice, and of course to prove seductive and
immoral in their whole influence.

Even when such works are perfectly unexceptionable in their character;
when they are wholly free from any thing improper, either in language or
sentiment, they may be productive of incalculable mischief, if, as now,
they are issued in excessive _numbers_ and _quantity_. Leaving the
_character_ of modern novels entirely out of the question, the enormous
number which for the last half century has been every day increasing,
has become a grievous intellectual and moral nuisance. As long as they
were _few_ in number, and were regarded not as the _substance_, but only
as the _seasoning_ of the literary feast, they occupied but a small
share of public attention. The chief time and attention of the reading
portion of the community were mainly devoted to works of substantial
value, fitted to strengthen, enlarge, and enrich the mind. But, within
the last twenty or thirty years, the number of novels has increased so
rapidly; they have become so prominent and alluring a part of the
current literature of the day; and by their stimulating and
inexhaustible variety, have so drawn away the minds of the aged as well
as the young from solid reading, that they have formed the principal
reading of a large portion of the community, and, of course, have become
a snare and an injury to an extent not easily calculated. As long as
exhilarating gases, or other stimulating substances, are administered
sparingly, and as medicines, they may be altogether harmless, and even
essentially useful. But, when those who have taken them for some time in
this manner, become so enamoured with them as to be no longer satisfied
with their moderate and salutary use, but make them their daily and
principal aliment, they become inevitably mischievous. They destroy the
tone of the stomach, and, in the end, radically undermine the health.

So it is with the insidious excitement of novels. Were the reader of
them to take none into his hands but those which might be safely
pronounced perfectly pure and innocent; and were he certain that he
would never be tempted to go beyond the most moderate bounds in seeking
and perusing even such, there would, perhaps, be little danger to be
apprehended. But no one can be thus certain of either. The general
stimulus of fictitious narrative is morbid and disorderly. It excites
the mind, but cannot fill or enrich it. The probability is, that he who
allows himself to enter on this course, will be led on, like the
miserable tippler, from one stage of indulgence to another, until his
appetite is perverted; his power of self-denial and restraint lost; and
his ruin finally sealed; or, at least, his mind so completely indisposed
and unfitted for the sober realities of practical wisdom, for the
pursuits of solid science and literature, as to be consigned to the
class of superficial drivellers as long as he lives.

The truth is, novels--even the purest and best of them--are adapted, not
to _instruct_, but only to _amuse_; not to _nourish_ and _strengthen_,
but only to _exhilarate_. They even enervate the mind; they generate a
sickliness of fancy; and they render the ordinary affairs and duties of
life altogether uninteresting and insipid. After wading through hundreds
of the most unexceptionable volumes belonging to this class--what has
been gained? What has been laid up for future use? Nothing. Not a trace
of any thing useful has been left behind. The days and nights devoted to
their perusal have been absolutely lost. What infatuation is it for a
rational creature who is sent into the world for serious and important
purposes, and who is hastening to the judgment seat, thus to waste
precious time; and, what is worse, thus to pervert his mind, and
disqualify himself for sober employments! The celebrated Dr. Goldsmith,
in writing to his brother, respecting the education of his son,
expresses himself in the following strong terms, which are the more
remarkable, as he himself had written a novel:--"Above all things, never
let your son touch a romance or novel. These paint beauty in colours
more charming than nature, and describe happiness that man never tastes.
How delusive, how destructive are those pictures of consummate bliss!
They teach the youthful mind to sigh after beauty and happiness which
never existed; to despise the little good which fortune has mixed in our
cup, by expecting more than she ever gave; and, in general, take the
word of a man who has seen the world, and has studied human nature more
by experience than precepts--take my word for it, I say, that such books
teach us very little of the world."[10] He might have gone farther, and
said--They teach us little of _any thing_; and so pervert the taste, as
to take away all relish for applying the mind to any thing sober or
useful. Often have I known young men and women so bewitched by novels,
that they could read nothing else. They sought for new works of this
class in every direction; devoured them with insatiable avidity; and
became less and less disposed for pursuing any study either prescribed
by their preceptors, or adapted to promote their ultimate enjoyment;
until their prospects for both worlds were irrecoverably overcast with
clouds and darkness.

     [10] Life of Goldsmith, prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works.

Imagine not, dear children, that _you_ will exercise more resolution
than others, and thus avoid the snare of which I have spoken. You
cannot answer for yourselves in this matter, any more than the man who
is constantly exposed to the temptation of stimulating drinks can be
sure of escaping the danger. Rely upon it, the more confident you are of
your own wisdom and firmness in avoiding the evil in question, the
greater your peril. In this, as in many other things, the only complete
safety is to be found in wholly avoiding the dangerous territory.

But there is another source of evil in this department of literature,
still more serious and formidable. A very large proportion of modern
novels, are far from being innocent. They are positively seductive and
corrupting in their tendency. They make virtue to appear contemptible,
and vice attractive, honourable, and triumphant. Folly and crime have
palliative and even commendatory names bestowed upon them. The
omnipotence of _love_ over all obligations and all duties, is
continually maintained; and the extravagance of sinful passion
represented as the effect of amiable sensibility. Surely these
representations can have no other tendency than to pervert the moral
sentiments, and to corrupt the hearts of those who habitually dwell upon
them. And even though they be, at first, contemplated with abhorrence,
no one can tell how soon the mind may be gradually and insidiously
reconciled to them, by familiarity with the infectious influence.

For example; the novels of _Sir Walter Scott_ have been read with eager
delight by millions of the young and the old; and many pronounce them at
least innocent. But those who read them with intelligence, and with a
proper estimate of the times and the characters which he undertakes to
portray, will perceive that the writer arrays himself against the
patriotism and the piety of some of the best men that ever adorned the
history of his country; that he exhibits orthodoxy and zeal under the
guise of enthusiasm and fanaticism; that he strives to cover with
dishonour, men "of whom the world was not worthy;" and to elevate and
canonize their persecutors. In short, that his general influence is
wholly unfriendly to religion. These characteristics pervade the most
popular of his novels. Of course few of his readers, especially of his
youthful readers, are aware of his misrepresentation, and, therefore,
are not armed against the mischievous influence.

But there is a poison lurking in this field, still more virulent and
fatal. A large portion of novels may be charged with being seductive and
immoral, upon a more refined and deep laid plan. They are systematic,
and, in some instances, ingenious and plausible apologies for the most
atrocious crimes. In many modern productions of this kind, the
intelligent reader will recognise the following process of
representation: Corrupt opinions are put into the mouth of some
favourite hero, the splendour of whose character, in other respects, is
made to embellish the principles which he holds, and the force of whose
eloquence is employed to recommend the most unreasonable and mischievous
dogmas. When this hero commits a crime, and when, by this crime,
according to the fixed laws of the divine government, he is involved in
serious difficulty, if not lasting and fatal misery, the fashionable
novelist endeavours to throw the blame on the religious and moral
institutions of society, as narrow, illiberal, and unjust. When a
splendid but corrupt woman, has forsaken the paths of virtue, and when
she suffers in her reputation and her comfort, by such conduct, all this
is ascribed to "the wretched state of civilization"--to "the deplorable
condition of society." Every opportunity is taken to attack some
essential principle of morality, under the tide of a "prejudice;" to
ridicule the duties of conjugal and domestic life, as flowing from
"contracted" and "slavish" views; to stigmatize the sober pursuits of
honest industry, as "dull" and "spiritless;" and, in a word, to frame an
apology for robbery, murder, suicide, and the indulgence of every
propensity, for which a corrupt heart can plead an inclination.

Now, my dear children, when novels of this kind are placed on the
shelves of every circulating library, and strewed over every part of our
land, what security have youthful novel-readers that many of this class
will not fall into their hands, and that they may not imbibe the fatal
poison before they are aware? Is it any wonder that wise parents and
guardians are painfully apprehensive of such danger? Many amiable and
well-intentioned young people, who fancied they were gaining amusement
only, have been unwarily betrayed into opinions, and prepared for
practices which they would once have regarded with abhorrence, and which
ultimately led them into error, crime, and ruin. Since, then, there are
so many novels of this insidious and baneful character; and since it is
by no means easy for the young and inexperienced to distinguish between
the innocent and the vile, you will not wonder that I advise, nay,
entreat you to avoid the reading of novels altogether; never to allow
yourselves to take a volume of this kind into your hands at all. The
most innocent of them, as you have seen, are worthless, and the perusal
even of _them_, a waste of time; and if you allow yourselves to touch
any of them, you will be in danger of being led astray to an extent
which you can hardly be made to anticipate. I beseech you, dear
children, trust one who sincerely loves you; who understands the subject
of which he is speaking; and who would not deprive you of a single safe
or solid pleasure--trust him when he earnestly exhorts you, NEVER TO
READ A NOVEL.

You will, perhaps, ask, what is my opinion of what are called "religious
novels," that is, of fictitious narrative, designed to illustrate and
recommend religion? I am compelled to say, that my deliberate judgment
is unfavourable to _these_ also. They are neither edifying nor safe as
instructors in the great department of religion. I do not deny that
_some_ of this class may be adapted to do good, and may have been
actually useful. But this is not the question. The question is, whether,
as a system, it is better to instruct in religion through the medium of
fictitious narrative, and by means of thrilling incidents, or by plain,
sober, didactic, and exhortatory address. In general, I cannot help
deciding in favour of the latter. The reason why the large majority of
mankind prefer fictitious narrative is, that they love _excitement_; and
most youthful readers will be more likely to take interest in the
"story," than in the moral lessons which it conveys. Condiments and
stimulants are useful in our food; but to make our daily food consist
wholly or mainly of condiments and stimulants, would not, surely, be
wise or salutary.

But this is not the worst. Among the novels called _religious_, there
are various classes. Almost all the different religious denominations
have issued novels appropriate to their respective sectarian characters.
We not only have those which have been put forth by the friends of truth
and piety; but, also, many by the advocates of error. Socinianism is now
strenuously inculcated through the medium of fictitious narrative. Cold
Pelagianism on the one hand, and Antinomianism on the other, have been
presented in the same manner. Amidst these alternate pleadings of
orthodoxy and heresy, how shall the youthful learner discriminate? Were
he to take up a didactic treatise in favour of Socinian or Pelagian
opinions, he would see the error in a moment, and be on his guard
against it. But when he is borne away by the excitement of a stirring
narrative, and a spirited, eloquent dialogue, he may imbibe the poison
of error, before he is aware.

You must not, dear children, consider me as fanciful, if I express an
opinion, that the present prevailing state of mind of the religious
public has some connexion with that class of novels of which I am now
speaking. The most striking characteristic of the present time is _a
love of excitement_. The old and sober mode of proceeding in any thing
has become unpopular and intolerable. Our children can scarcely be
prevailed upon to read any thing unless it comes in the shape of a
striking story. If any one wishes a pious _tract_ to be read, he must
construct it in the form of a thrilling fictitious narrative. Every dish
must be highly seasoned; every draught must be a dram. Is it any wonder
that, in such a condition of the public taste, all old methods of doing
good should be despised, and the Church as well as the world filled with
new opinions, new estimates of things, and "new measures?"

Be assured, when your mind is brought, by any means, whether by an
insatiable love of fictitious narrative, or by any other form of
exciting composition, to relish nothing conveyed in the old form of
solid, didactic, direct instruction, it is high time to examine whether
you are not acquiring habits unfriendly to sober thought, to the best
mental culture, and to the acquirement of the most valuable knowledge.
How often have I met with young people, of both sexes, who could talk
fluently, and with apparent intelligence, of the volumes of Miss Burney,
Mrs. Radcliffe, Madame De Stael, Miss Edgeworth, and Scott, and Cooper,
and Bulwer, and even of the depraved and infamous Byron;--but, who were
struck dumb if you spoke to them of Shakspeare; of Bacon; of Milton; of
Addison; of Thompson; of Young; of Dryden; of Pope, and Johnson, and
Robertson, and Junius, and Cowper, and other English classics, of whom,
if they had ever heard, they seemed to know nothing! Is this the way to
cultivate the mind? Does this speak for or against the devourer of
novels?

The sum of my counsel, then, under this head, is, that if you wish
really to cultivate your minds, and to prepare them for healthful and
useful action, let your studies be solid, diligent, and persevering. Let
your reading be such as will fill your minds with the knowledge of
facts, principles, and sentiments of the enriching and elevating kind.
Let your first and most intimate acquaintance be with those authors
whose works will tend to fit you for answering the great purpose for
which you were sent into the world. Carefully avoid every species of
reading which tends to turn away your minds from sober, practical views
of life and duty. And remember that, for every book you read, and for
every mental influence which you invite, you have to render a solemn
account.

There is one more counsel, dear children, with which I will close this
letter. It is, that whatever subject you study--whatever book you read,
you do it _faithfully_ and _thoroughly_. Leave nothing until you
understand it well;--until you have, as far as possible, gone to the
bottom of it. You may rely upon it that no solid knowledge is to be
gained without patient, unwearied labour. Be not in haste, then, to pass
on to another subject or lesson, until you have completely mastered that
in which you may be engaged. Be not contented with merely enabling
yourselves to recite a lesson with plausible fluency. Be sure that you
thoroughly comprehend, not only its obvious meaning, but also its
elementary principles. Despise the indolence of those, who, in learning
languages, are constantly using the miserable crutches of
_translations_, instead of walking with the use of their own limbs; and
who, whenever a difficulty occurs in mathematics, or any other subject,
instead of delving it out themselves, ignobly ask help from some wiser
and better scholar. This is cheating yourselves. That which is gained
by your own efforts, and with considerable labour, will be better
understood, and more firmly lodged in the mind, than that which is
imparted gratuitously by others, without any vigorous mental exercise on
your part.

The fact is, the pursuit of knowledge may be compared to the task of one
who is called to cross a high and craggy mountain. If he is willing to
forego his own best interests, both as to bodily and mental health, he
may employ some sturdy, athletic assistant to take him up in his arms,
and bear him over the steep ascent, and deposit him in safety on the
other side, without the use of a muscle of his own. But what would he be
the better for it, at the end of his journey? His limbs would not be
braced. His chest would not be expanded. He would miss a thousand
interesting objects of attention which the use of his own feet would
have brought to his view. After a thousand such boasted expeditions, he
might live and die the same feeble, nervous dyspeptic, that he was when
he set out. Whereas, he who resolves to climb the same mountain by his
own efforts; who addresses himself to the task with patient persevering
labour; who takes step after step, slowly, but wisely and firmly; may
not gain the ascent quite as speedily as his weaker contemporary; but he
will gain it much more to his own profit and comfort, and, in the end,
find every power invigorated by the enterprise. O, if children and
young people could feel how foolish it is to procure themselves to be
borne up the mountain of knowledge by others, instead of climbing it
themselves, they would despise all the "labour-saving machinery" to
which many of them are so fond of resorting; and would remember that
what is gained by their own intellectual efforts, is more solid, wears
better, digests better, and is productive of richer fruit, both to
themselves and others.

It is a law impressed by our Maker on the intellectual, as well as the
physical man, that "if any will not work, neither shall he eat." It is a
real blessing, if we did but know it, to have labour connected with all
our attainments. Thus do we best answer the great end of our being; thus
do we invigorate every power, and become prepared most effectually to
"serve our generation by the will of God."


LETTER VII.

CULTIVATION OF THE HEART, AND THE MORAL HABITS.

DEAR CHILDREN:--By the _heart_, I mean the moral feelings, dispositions,
and affections. And by _cultivating_ the heart, I mean directing much
attention to restraining, regulating, and purifying all its exercises.
This may be said to lie at the foundation of all duty and all happiness.
Were your intellectual powers cultivated with all possible care and
success, and your moral faculties neglected, you might be polished and
elegant demons; but would be miserable yourselves, and a curse to
society. Whether, therefore, you regard your own present enjoyment, and
everlasting welfare, or the happiness of those around you, you cannot
too early remember the great purpose for which you were sent into the
world, and the relations which you sustain as rational, social, and
immortal creatures. You cannot too early or too diligently learn to
restrain your passions; to deny yourselves; and to cultivate those
benevolent, meek, humble, and amiable habits, which are indispensable to
tranquillity and peace of mind, and which alone can prepare you to adorn
and bless the social circles with which you may be connected. I draw
your attention the more earnestly to this great subject because I see so
many young people who appear never to think of the importance, or even
utility of this part of their education.

If you have not learned, dear children, that you are by nature prone to
be proud, vain, selfish, envious, irascible, sensual, malignant, and, in
a word, to indulge the various appetites and passions which tend to
destroy your own peace, and to invade the comfort of those around you;
if you have not discovered that this is the tendency of your nature, and
that resisting it will call for much self-denial, and continual, and
sometimes for agonizing effort, you have attended less to your own
feelings, and habits, and less to the character of your friends and
associates than I am willing to suppose.

Perhaps you will ask--Does not _religion_ cover all this ground? Where
the power of Christian principle reigns in the heart, will not every
thing intended to be included in this letter follow as a matter of
course? If the _plan of salvation_, treated in a former letter, be
received and obeyed, will not all the objects contemplated in the
present letter, be included and secured? Whence, then, the necessity, or
even the propriety, of making it matter of separate consideration? I
answer, the religion of Christ, in its spirit and power, does indeed
embrace all moral excellence. It does, in fact, where it bears
appropriate and entire sway, include every moral feeling, affection, and
habit, which can adorn and elevate human nature. And yet it is to be
lamented that many who cherish the Christian hope, are not as much aware
of this fact as they ought to be; and are not so careful to exhibit all
the _loveliness_, as well as the _purity_ of example which become them,
as is desirable. And, besides, I have always found that there is a great
advantage in pursuing rather more into detail the various branches of
the Christian temper, than is commonly done even in the best treatises
on religious character and duty. The French have a phrase which
expresses more exactly than any English one which I can recollect, my
meaning in the title of this letter. The phrase I refer to, is _Les
petites morales_; by which they appear to understand those _moral
delicacies_ of feeling, temper, and intercourse, which, though not
always found actually shining in every professing, or even every real
Christian, do really belong to the Christian code of ethics, and are
indispensable to a complete and exemplary character.

The duties which grow out of our relations to God, are generally
acknowledged by all professors of religion. However defective their
obedience, their obligations are seldom disputed. But if it be the law
of God, not only that we should "love Him with all our heart and soul
and strength and mind," but also that we should "love our neighbours as
ourselves," then the duties growing out of this great law are more
multiplied, tender, delicate and important than most of those who are
called religious people recognise in practice, or even in theory.

It is true, the root of all sound morality is religion. And it is
equally true, that the deeper sense any one has of the constraining love
of Christ, and of the holiness, majesty, omniscience, and omnipresence
of God, the more faithful he will be in the discharge of all moral
duties, both in private and in public. Labour then, day by day, to gain
a deeper impression of the claims of your Creator and Redeemer upon you.
Meditate much on the Divine glory. Cultivate a devout spirit. Study to
walk with God in the exercise of faith, and love, and prayer. And
endeavour to keep constantly before your minds his all seeing eye, his
infinite holiness, his judgment seat, and those righteous retributions
which he has in store for all his creatures, whether they be good, or
whether they be evil? This is cultivating the heart in the most
essential and radical sense. This is going to "the root of the matter."
That morality, and that alone, which is grafted upon this sanctified
stock, will be regarded with approbation by the Searcher of hearts, and
stand the test of the great day.

But while you labour with your hearts, that they may be habitually laid
open, with all the softness and tenderness of spiritual sensibility, to
the claims of your Creator and Redeemer; study with no less diligence to
cherish a deep sense of all the duties which you owe to your beloved
relatives, to your friends, to your neighbours, and to all with whom you
have intercourse. To perceive the theory of these duties, is the
province of the understanding; to enter into them, as a practical
matter, and under a solemn sense of obligation, is an affair of the
heart; and the more deeply your hearts are schooled both in the
principles and practice of these duties, the more they may be said to
partake of that culture which I am now recommending.

When I imagine to myself what an influence your precious Mother might
have had in cultivating your moral feelings and habits, if it had
pleased God to spare her to you; when I think of the happy power which
her delicate, forming hand, might, by the divine blessing, have exerted
over the heart of each of you;--the heart--as Mrs. Hannah More expresses
it--that "seat of evil propensities--that little troublesome empire of
the passions;"--I could sit down and weep afresh that you are never to
enjoy that culture. But, happily, there is a source of infinitely better
culture. Try to lay to heart your weakness and your wants, and implore
without ceasing the enlightening, subduing, and sanctifying power of the
Holy Spirit, and you will find "his grace sufficient for you."

There are special duties which you owe to your beloved surviving Parent,
and to all your domestic relatives, of the most peculiar and tender
kind; duties which it is equally your privilege and your honour to
discharge. These are veneration, love, gratitude, and a dutiful respect
to all their feelings, as well as their interests. Here children are
extremely apt to fail. Affection is generally found to descend from
parents to their offspring, and in general from elder to younger
relatives, in great strength; but from children to parents, or from the
young to the old, it seldom rises with equal vigour. Let not this be
said of you. Constantly cherish toward your beloved Father, and all your
elder relatives, not merely an outward respect, and dutifulness of
deportment, but a cordial and ardent affection; a sincere and lively
gratitude for all those anxious cares and labours on their part for your
benefit, for which you have been indebted ever since you were born, and
for which you can never make an adequate return. Try to please them by
the constant manifestation of love, confidence, and grateful veneration;
and let them see that you treasure up, to your profit, all their
instruction, reproofs, and warnings. When the _heart_, as well as the
outward conduct, is conformed to these sentiments, O, how endearing and
happy is the intercourse between parents and children! What a charm is
diffused over the whole aspect of domestic society!

Let me entreat you, also, early to learn the duty and the pleasure of
_living in affectionate harmony among yourselves_. I can scarcely
express to you the pain which I have sometimes felt when I have
perceived any thing like a spirit of strife and acrimony rising between
you, and leading to the exchange of angry looks and passionate language.
Surely three motherless children ought to feel more closely bound
together than to indulge in such a temper and conduct. If you do not
love one another, who can you expect will love you? Be careful, then,
continually to cultivate a spirit of brotherly and sisterly affection
toward each other. Let nothing interrupt this. When any contest arises,
let the only strife be, which shall be the first to yield, rather than
contend. On no account allow yourselves to employ harsh, much less
violent language toward each other. And if any contest arises which you
cannot settle between yourselves without violence, let a united appeal
to your Father, if he be present, or in his absence, to your
grandparents, terminate the controversy. Seldom does a conflict of this
kind arise without there being blame on both sides. And who so proper to
make the proper award, and to adjust every difficulty, as those who love
you all equally and dearly, and have age and experience on their side?

Let me enjoin on you to begin, as early as possible, to cherish a spirit
of _habitual benevolence_--a desire, wherever you go, to promote the
_happiness_ of all around you. Selfishness is the great master-sin of
human nature. "All seek their own." The _young_, especially, are apt to
be swallowed up in the excessive pursuit of their own enjoyment, and
that enjoyment is rarely sought or found in ministering to the wants,
and promoting the comfort of others. But rely upon it, dear children,
this is a narrow and altogether deceptive view of the best means of
happiness. Not only is it the divine command that we "love our neighbour
as ourselves," but it is equally certain that obedience to this great
law tends as directly to make ourselves happy, as it does to promote the
comfort of the objects of our benevolent attention. If you wish to be
happy yourselves, study continually to make all around you so too. The
luxury of doing good is the richest luxury of which we are capable. It
is the very spirit of Christ, who "went about doing good;" and the more
closely we commune with him in the exercise of the same spirit, the more
we secure true and rational enjoyment. Wherever you are, then, cultivate
a spirit of sympathy with the afflicted, and the habit of flying
spontaneously to the relief of suffering. You cannot begin too early to
feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to minister to the wants of the
sick and dying, to relieve distress of every kind, and to "please every
one for his good to edification:"--not by flattery, which is too
commonly the method of pleasing adopted; but by letting it be seen that
you seek, as much as in you lies, to make all around you truly happy.
Never promote mirth at the expense of others. Never allow yourselves to
"set others by the ears" as it is sometimes expressed, for the sake of
derision. Carefully avoid all those "tricks," which so many of the young
delight in, and by which so much suffering, and sometimes even
ultimately the loss of life, have been incurred. In a word,
conscientiously cherish the principle and the habit of never giving a
moment's pain to a human being, or even to a brute beast, unless it be
necessary for their real good; and wherever you see pain, by whomsoever
inflicted, do all in your power, consistent with other obligations, to
relieve it, and to give rational pleasure. There is nothing, be assured,
dear children, in all the splendour of fashionable display, in all the
gratifications of sense, in all the delirious joys of giddy dissipation,
once to be compared with the hallowed pleasure of habitually doing good
to all within your reach. Yes, make doing good your "ruling passion,"
and you will be among the happiest of mortals.

Let me beseech you to watch over your _temper_ with studious care. Few
things are more unhappy in a young person of either sex, than an
irritable, irascible temper. It betrays into a thousand indiscretions.
It poisons social intercourse. It alienates friends. It destroys the
comfort of the individual who indulges it; and it interferes with the
comfort of all with whom he converses. I have known this infirmity to
cast a cloud over the whole course of many persons who were otherwise
fitted to adorn and bless society. Watch and pray against it with the
utmost diligence. "He that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that
taketh a city." "Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Learn
"by soft answers to turn away wrath," both in yourselves and others. Be
not ready to take offence, or to consider any one as "an offender for a
word." Never regard an honest difference of opinion from yourself as a
personal affront. Surely the indulgence of such a spirit is as
unreasonable as it is unhappy. Guard with the utmost vigilance against a
jealous, suspicious temper. Ill nature, peevishness, and a disposition
to take every thing by an unfavourable handle, and to indulge in satire
and sarcasm, are revolting in every human being, but especially in the
female sex. I have never known such a temper to be indulged without
diminishing both the respectability and happiness of its possessor. Let
a mild, amiable, conciliatory spirit reign in all your intercourse. Be
ever kind, tender hearted, and forgiving, even as you hope to obtain
forgiveness from the God of all grace. Let the spirit of benevolence,
and a desire to please, shine in your countenances, and be manifest in
your deportment in all companies; at home and on journies; in the public
hotel, and in the parlour of a friend; towards servants, as well as
towards your equals or superiors. In a word, in temper as well as in
conduct, "Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even
so to them, for this is the law and the prophets."

In forming your moral character and habits, I entreat you to lay great
stress upon cultivating a sacred and delicate regard to _truth_, in all
your social intercourse. Rely upon it, you cannot pay too conscientious
a regard to this point. A fault here is as dishonourable as it is
criminal. I do not allow myself to fear that my beloved grandchildren,
after the training they have received, will ever indulge in deliberate
falsehood. In this there is a meanness as well as a sin, which I hope
they will equally despise and abhor. But it is to be lamented that there
is much in social conversation, in which many people deemed respectable
are apt to indulge themselves, and which I hope you will make conscience
of sacredly avoiding. I mean all exaggeration in your descriptions; all
high-colouring in your statements; all indulgence in fabulous
narratives, even in jest, for the amusement of company. Aside from the
dictates of religion in this matter, which are sacred and conclusive,
there is something in these habits adapted to lower the character, and
to diminish the influence of those who indulge them, with all
sober-minded people. Whatever may be the consequence, let a regard to
the strictest verity, as if you were on oath, reign in all you say and
do. Avoid the meanness, as well as the sin of the slightest departure
from absolute truth. Let all underhand deceptive contrivances, all low
cunning, all habits of carrying your plans by disingenuous arts, be
abhorred and avoided. How gratifying would it be to those who love you,
to know that it had passed into something like a proverb among your
acquaintance--"The statement is from a Breckinridge--and therefore may
be depended on!"

Let me farther entreat you to guard against all indulgence of the spirit
of _pride_, or _vanity_. By _pride_, I mean such an inordinate and
unreasonable conceit of our own superiority in any respect, as leads us
to look down on others as beneath us, and to treat them with
haughtiness, or contempt. And by _vanity_, I understand that excessive
desire for the applause of others which leads to egotism, and such a
weak anxiety to attract the notice, and gain the approbation of those
around us, as are apt to betray into little and unworthy arts for
gaining the object. That both ought to be repudiated, as at once folly
and sin, I hope no formal argument will be necessary to convince you.
But still, they are both besetting sins, which cleave with deplorable
obstinacy to multitudes whose judgment is against them. Be assured, dear
children, pride is as foolish as it is criminal. Who made you to differ
from others? And what have you that you have not received? If you have
minds, or an education, or outward circumstances more favourable than
those of many others, who conferred them upon you? If, therefore, you
have received all, why should you glory as if you had not received them?
I know that we sometimes hear people talk of a "laudable pride," an
"honest pride," "a noble pride," &c. But such language is a grievous
abuse of terms, and ought to be forever banished from the vocabulary of
Christians. _Pride_ was "the condemnation and snare of the devil," and
is in all cases a weakness and a sin. To call a proper personal dignity
and self-respect by this odious name, is altogether incorrect and
deceptive. To speak of a disposition to avoid a mean action as "a noble
pride," is a perversion of language, as well as of moral principle. "Be
clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to
the humble." "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit
before a fall; for when pride cometh, then cometh shame, but with the
lowly is wisdom." _Vanity_ is a passion still more childish and
degrading. It exhibits a rational creature hanging on the smiles and the
praise of his fellow worms for his importance and happiness. O, what
infatuation for miserable sinners, who deserve nothing at the hand of
God but wrath, and the overflowing of wrath, and who are dependant on
his bounty for every breath, to be puffed up with high thoughts of
themselves, and arrogantly to claim the incense of praise! Fly, then,
from pride and vanity with the utmost vigilance. Study to be "meek and
lowly in heart." "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low
estate." "In lowliness of mind esteem others better than yourselves."
"Be not wise or great in your own conceits." Be not greedy of praise.
Despise all the unworthy arts of seeking and fishing for it. Rely upon
it, the lower you lie in the dust of abasement, the happier you will be.
The more you are disposed to love and honour all around you according to
their real character, the more infallibly you will secure their love and
confidence in return. And the less anxious you are to gain the applause
of men, the more likely you will be to attain it, if you are found
humbly and diligently performing your duty. In short, if I wished you to
gain the highest degree of esteem and honour among men, I would say--Do
not seek this object anxiously, or even directly at all. Never inquire
what others say or think of you. Speak of yourselves, in conversation,
as little as possible. Treat your superiors with uniform respect, but
not with fawning or flattery; and your inferiors, down to the lowest
servant or beggar, with undeviating condescension and kindness; trying
to benefit every one, and promote the happiness of every one; and you
will have as much of the love and respect of all as you really deserve,
and probably more. If you sincerely try to promote the happiness of all
around you, and do it with a kind and amiable manner, I believe it is
one of the cases in which our Lord's declaration never fails to be
fulfilled--"Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure pressed
down and running over shall men give into your bosom."

Strive with sacred care against every feeling approaching to the passion
of _envy_. As you are now at an age when you are called daily to compete
with school and play-mates, you may be sometimes strongly tempted to
indulge in this passion. But it is a base passion. Beware of it. How
fiend-like, to sicken and repine at excellence! How base, to be
displeased and mortified when we contemplate the superior prosperity,
happiness, or accomplishments of others! When you witness such superior
attainments or excellence, let the only effort be to excite gratitude to
God for its existence, and a generous emulation of it in yourselves.

Guard with vigilance against a _talebearing_ and _tattling_ spirit. I
will not suppose you capable of deliberate _slander_, or cruelly
circulating reports to the injury of others without just evidence. This
is so base and mean, that I trust you will ever abhor and despise it.
But it is the infirmity of many, who intend thereby no injury, that they
delight in circulating news concerning their neighbours, and have not a
little of the true gossipping spirit. This is a bad habit. It degrades
the individual who indulges it, in the view of all wise, reflecting
people; often involves in painful explanations and difficulties; and is
frequently followed by consequences of the most perplexing and
disreputable kind. Never indulge the disposition to repeat idle stories
about neighbours. If they are repeated in your presence, listen to them
either in silence, or with a civil remark, which cannot possibly
implicate you, or be construed into an approval of the scandal. It was
an excellent appeal which was once made by a wise and benevolent man
whom I knew in early life--"Why can you not talk more about _things_,
than about _persons_?"

Let me farther exhort you, as a point of duty, to cultivate habitual
_cheerfulness_. When I say this, you will not understand me as
recommending a spirit of levity and frivolity. This is unworthy of
rational, accountable creatures, and indicates as much of weakness as of
sin. Those who spend their lives in gaiety and mirth, are "dead while
they live." But by cultivating habitual cheerfulness, I mean cherishing
a pleasant state of the animal spirits; as opposed to constitutional
gloom, mental depression, and settled, clouded taciturnity, I mean
habits, not of light, but of lively and affable conversation. Such a
state of mind does good like a medicine. It contributes to our own
enjoyment. It makes us more pleasant and useful to those with whom we
converse. It may even operate to promote health and prolong life; and in
various ways extend our power of doing good.

Guard with conscientious care against habits of _indolence_. A tendency
to this sin is one of the radical symptoms of the great moral disease of
our nature; and you cannot begin too early to labour and pray for
effecting a cure. Fly from idleness as a habit connected with a legion
of evils. Make a point of always having something useful to
do--something to fill up every moment left vacant between the larger and
more important tasks of life. I am aware that we all stand in need of
_recreation_; but this is often best attained by _a change of
employment_. When you have finished a sedentary task, which required
intense application of mind, think, for a moment, whether there be not
some other object to which you may attend for a short time, which will
require no mental effort, but by attention to which, you may promote
either your own health or comfort, or the advantage of others. Make it
your daily study to "redeem the time." Try to turn every moment to some
valuable account. For this purpose, form, as early as possible, a plan,
a systematic order in your daily tasks. Without such a plan, more or
less formally adopted, you will inevitably lose much time in passing
from one engagement to another. But if you manage always to leave
something useful with which to fill up every little interval; so as
never to be idle, and never to waste time with frivolous, or worse than
frivolous employments, you will be more happy, and live more to your
own true honour, and the benefit of your generation.

I have only to add on the subject of this letter, a single word on the
great importance of maintaining strict and habitual _temperance_ in all
your enjoyments. If you wish really to enjoy life, and to "live out all
your days," you must exercise moderation and self-denial in eating and
drinking, and in every department of indulgence. Temperance has been
defined--the moderate use of things useful, and total abstinence from
those which are pernicious. This is an excellent definition, which I
trust you will ever keep in mind, and make your daily and hourly rule.
To be thus temperate, is a divine command. It is eminently conducive to
health. It is highly advantageous to the activity and strength of the
powers of the mind. And it is an admirable defence against a thousand
irregularities and mischiefs which cloud the faculties, destroy comfort,
and lead to multiplied forms of disease, and to premature graves. If you
habitually restrain appetite, deny yourselves, and "let your moderation
be known" in all things, and to all men, you will avoid many evils which
continually beset those who act on the system of self-indulgence. Never
drink any thing but pure water, when in health; indulge in animal food
but _once_ in each day, and that in smaller quantities than most people
consider as temperate. Labourers in the open air may, not only with
impunity, but perhaps with profit, eat animal food more than once every
day; but I am persuaded few other persons can do it without disadvantage
to their health. My personal experience and observation in regard to
this point are very decisive. Nay, I would advise you to go one step
farther. Make the experiment of wholly abstaining from animal food at
least one day in each week, for the purpose of "giving nature a
holyday;" of clearing the body and the mind from crudities; and taking a
new start in refined feeling and unclogged activity.

In fine, let it be the object of your unceasing study and prayer, to
"keep under the body;" to "crucify the flesh with the affections and
lusts;" to subdue and restrain all irregular tempers; "if it be
possible, as much as lieth in you, to live peaceably with all men;" to
avoid wounding the feelings of any one with whom you converse, unless
required to do it by a pure sense of duty; to promote the happiness of
all around you; and to be continually seeking and improving
opportunities of doing good.


LETTER VIII.

MANNERS.

DEAR CHILDREN:--I wish it were in my power to give you a perfect and
vivid representation of the manners of your lamented Mother. There was
in them a sweetness, a gracefulness, and an attraction truly rare.
Wherever she went, they at once gained her friends. I am sure if you had
been old enough at her decease to appreciate them; or, if I could now
depict them to the life, you would have a deeper impression of the
importance of happy manners; of their value to their possessor; of their
benign influence on social intercourse, than I can now hope to impart.
As it is, I hope you will be willing to take on trust my statement of
the fact concerning her, and that you will be stimulated to seek a
similar accomplishment.

If it be true, as has been often said, that a good face is an "open
letter of recommendation," wherever its possessor appears; we may, with
quite as much emphasis, say the same of pleasant engaging manners. Nay,
we may go farther. The most beautiful face and form that ever existed,
if unaccompanied by agreeable manners, will soon be contemplated with
indifference, if not with disgust. While, on the contrary, where there
is an entire absence of personal beauty, there may be, and often are
found, such manners as captivate and win wherever they are seen, and
with a power felt by all, however remote they may be from the possession
of such manners themselves.

I shall not tax either your patience or my own, by entering largely into
the subject of manners. On this extensive subject I refer you to a
volume on "Clerical Manners and Habits" which I published a few years
ago, and in which considerable minuteness of detail is indulged. For
although that work was intended more particularly for the benefit of
clergymen, and especially of candidates for the sacred office; yet a
large portion of it is equally applicable to all classes and
professions, and to both sexes. I recommend the volume referred to, to
your serious attention, and to your careful study. And whatever may be
your situation in life, I think you will find much in it worthy of your
regard. At any rate, if it be not so, I have failed of gaining my main
object in its publication.

I will not, however, content myself with merely referring you to the
volume in question. It is my wish, in this little system of affectionate
advices, to call your attention to a few particulars on this subject
which may be considered as more immediately appropriate at your present
tender age, and, perhaps, on that account, more likely to dwell upon
your memory than the contents of a volume.

You will, perhaps, ask me, what I mean by those "good manners" which I
would recommend? I answer, by such manners I mean that mode of personal
address and deportment toward all with whom we converse which is
dictated by the meekness, benevolence, and purity of the Gospel. In a
word, "true politeness"--the most genuine politeness--that which I would
earnestly desire those whom I love to cherish and cultivate--is _the
religion of Christ acted out in the whole temper, conversation, and
deportment_. The simple, unembarrassed, gentle expression of mingled
respect and kindness toward all with whom we converse, from the hovel to
the palace, is the perfection of manners. These are manners which become
all times, places, companies, and circumstances, and which will carry
their possessor through the world with acceptance and comfort.

Perhaps, in your inexperience, you may be disposed to ask, what is the
great value of such manners as are here recommended? If you have any
doubt on this subject _now_, I am persuaded a little more knowledge of
the world will satisfy you that their value is unspeakably great. Few
people are adequate judges of those solid intellectual and moral
qualities which form a character of high excellence. But of personal
manners, all are judges; at any rate, all are capable of perceiving, and
in some degree estimating, their value. Only a small portion of those
with whom you converse are able to discern whether you are wise and
well informed; but every child can see whether you have a sweet voice, a
pleasant countenance, an amiable, kind and respectful mode of address,
or the contrary. Can there be, then, a more obvious dictate, both of
policy and duty, than to cultivate that which, to multitudes, is more
attractive than real merit; which secures to merit a hearing, and an
influence which it would not otherwise obtain; and which will be likely,
in many cases, to open a door to usefulness which, without it, would, in
all probability, have continued impenetrably closed? In repeated
instances have I known persons of weak minds, and of small information,
but of remarkably fascinating manners, carry all before them in circles
of society into which persons of far higher qualifications, both
intellectual and moral, but defective in the attractions of manner, were
scarcely able to obtain admittance, and very inadequately esteemed when
admitted. A soft, insinuating address has, a thousand times, rendered
its possessor every where acceptable and popular, when, on the score of
real merit, he ought by no means to have enjoyed so much public favour.

But this is not all. Pleasant attractive manners not only have a
paramount influence with the superficial and unthinking; but they have
more power even on the minds of the wise and the good than is commonly
imagined. To every human being, that which is intrinsically excellent,
appears doubly attractive when presented in a pleasing manner. Truth,
even to those who know it to be truth, finds a more cordial welcome; and
duty, even among its most sincere and enlightened friends, commands a
more ready obedience, when they are clothed in an attractive garb, and
speak in alluring accents. That the very same words, which, when uttered
by some, are intolerably offensive; when spoken in the mild, respectful
manner of others, are welcome, and even delightful--that the very same
action, which, performed by some, is censured; when performed by others,
of perhaps less talent or virtue, is lauded to excess; are among the
most notorious facts in human life; and that not in the circles of
ignorance and dissipation only, but also in those of the most estimable
portions of mankind.

To despise or undervalue the cultivation of _manners_, then, argues a
great want of practical wisdom. It is a subject worthy of your constant
regard. To neglect it, is equally to oppose reason and experience, and
to set at naught some of the most precious means of gaining access to
the human heart. And when I speak of cultivating good manners, do not
imagine that I mean the formal, showy, pompous manners which some
commend, and seem to aim at. The truth is, the perfection of
manners--the ultimate point which is the result of the very best
culture, is to attain that ease, simplicity, modesty, and gentleness of
deportment in every thing, which has nothing of the artificial, nothing
of display about it. But to be more particular.

The first characteristic of manners to which I would direct your
attention, as lying at the foundation of all excellence, is _benignity_.
Without the law of _benevolence_, reigning in the heart, and governing
the temper and the life, there may be much pomp and courtliness of
manner; many a heartless smile, and many a flattering form of address;
but there can be no genuine politeness. The essence of this consists in
the spirit of cordial good will and kindness shining in the countenance;
expressing itself in the language and tones of respect and benevolent
regard; and flowing through all the channels of human intercourse, and
all the minutiæ of human life. This is the vital principle of good
manners. Just in proportion as you really desire to increase the
happiness of all around you; to consult their ease; to anticipate their
wants; and to promote their welfare--you will spontaneously manifest
these feelings in all situations and companies. Your whole deportment
will be pleasing, attractive, and graceful, without your having studied
artificial rules. This is the foundation and the sum of all; but it may
not be improper to trace the radical principle into some of its minute
details.

In all social intercourse, let _respectful attention_ mark your whole
manner. To turn away your eyes from the person who is addressing you;
or to manifest in any way that you are thinking, or wish to be thinking,
of something else, is a great breach of good manners; cannot fail of
giving pain to those with whom you converse; and must deprive you of a
large part of the benefit of conversation. When you look your companion
gently and respectfully, but firmly in the face, you manifest attention;
you enable yourselves to watch his countenance, and mark the impression
which you make on his mind; to say nothing of the power of the eye in
seconding and enforcing all that is said.

Cultivate _affability_ of manner. By this I mean that style of manners
which is distinguished by ease, simplicity, and courteousness; a
deportment opposed to haughtiness, reserve, coldness, or taciturnity; in
short, to every thing that is adapted to repel, or to prevent freedom
and comfort of approach. I am aware that constitutional temperament has
much to do with this. But still, it is equally true that affability may
and ought to be carefully cultivated; and that there are few things
better adapted to conciliate good will, to inspire confidence, to invite
freedom of communication, and to place at ease all with whom we
converse.

Study to exercise _gentleness_ and _mildness_ in all your deportment and
conversation. Guard against every thing harsh, severe, rough, abrupt, or
in any way repulsive in your language, voice, or manner. Let the
meekness and gentleness of wisdom appear in every look, tone, and
expression. By a mild, respectful address, you may at once reprove
impertinence, disarm violence, and put even brutality to shame. Give all
diligence, then, to be "gentle toward all men." Learn the happy art of
conversing with gentleness, of giving your commands with gentleness, of
arguing with gentleness, of contending with gentleness, and of even
reproving with gentleness. Both commands and reproofs, as well as
arguments, when dispensed in this manner, have not only more dignity,
but also more weight than when invested with an opposite character.

Few things are more opposed to good breeding than a _loud, boisterous_
manner in social intercourse. Whether this be indulged in laughter, or
in conversation, it is equally exceptionable as an offence against both
delicacy and dignity. With regard to _females_, an offence against this
rule, is peculiarly revolting. It is a sure sign of vulgarity, and ought
to be carefully avoided. But, in either sex, it is a blemish which well
bred people never fail to notice.

Closely allied to this is the habit of _rude familiarity_ which some
affect, and to which they give the name of social pleasantry. This is
undignified, and, to all delicate people, offensive. Mutual dignity and
respect are indispensable to the continued existence of Christian
intercourse, in its most pure, delicate, and profitable form. If you
wish to maintain such intercourse, be free and unconstrained; but never
indulge in coarse familiarity. Those who are worthy of your love will
certainly be repelled rather than attracted by it.

Remember, too, that all _interruption_ of any one with whom you are
conversing, or blunt _contradiction_ of his statements, is an offence
against delicate manners. However erroneous he may be, hear him out; and
however certain you may be that his representations are false, rectify
his mistake, not bluntly, but with kindness and respect.

Guard against _talking too much_ in company. He who is very talkative
incurs disadvantages of a very serious kind. He cheapens himself; tires
his hearers; and must, of course, diminish his usefulness. However rich
and instructive any one's talk may be, yet, if there be too much of it,
both his dignity and his influence cannot fail of being impaired. "A
fool's voice," says Solomon, "is known by the multitude of his words."
"In the multitude of words," says the same inspired teacher, "there
wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise." And again,
"He that hath knowledge, spareth his words."

But another extreme in social intercourse, is that of excessive
_reserve_ and _taciturnity_. Some from physical temperament; others from
abstraction or absence of mind; and a third class, perhaps, from still
more exceptionable causes, wrap themselves up in a chilling reserve in
company--never speaking but when addressed; and then answering as
briefly as possible, and relapsing into silence again. This is surely
unhappy in a social being, and ought to be carefully avoided. While you
avoid garrulity, then, sink not down into obstinate silence. If you find
yourselves, from any cause, prone to this, it is abundantly worth while
to take pains to counteract it, and to labour to have something ready to
say that shall be at once acceptable and instructive.

In regard to _uncleanly and vulgar personal habits_, I will not suppose
you capable of them: and, therefore, shall not dwell upon them. All
spitting on floors, lounging in your seats, putting up your feet on
chairs or stools, leaning with your elbows on tables--these, and all
similar habits, I hope, after the training you have had, you will avoid
with instinctive repugnance. But there is one habit which I would
earnestly recommend, as favourable not merely to good manners, but also
to _health_. Learn to _sit erect_, not only in company, but even in your
most private apartment. Reading or writing in a half-sunken or reclining
posture is unfriendly to a graceful carriage; is apt to betray unwarily
into similar postures in company; prepares the way for the sinking,
half-bent postures which disfigure so many of the feeble and aged; and
really tends to bring on premature decrepitude.

Do not affect _wit_ or _punning_ in conversation. So many of those who
try to make themselves acceptable by such attempts, not only fail, but
often render themselves a laughing stock by it, that there is little
probability of your succeeding as wits or punsters. But even with
respect to those whose talents in this way are ever so great, there is
so much danger of their indulging those talents unseasonably and
imprudently, so as to offend and alienate friends, that such powers
ought to be deprecated rather than desired, and their exercise, if
possessed, subjected to the severest restriction. I never knew more than
one person of wit who was strictly discreet and delicate in its use. But
I have known thousands who, by their miserable attempts to display what
they possessed either not at all, or in a very small degree, succeeded
only in exposing themselves to ridicule. And I have known many real
wits, who almost every day wounded feelings, and alienated friends by
their reckless effusions.

Do not indulge the habit in conversation of _talking of yourselves_.
Hardly any quality is more apt to appear in social intercourse than
personal vanity. This leads to egotism, so that the idea of _self_
appears to be ever present to the imagination. Hence we perpetually find
people talking of themselves; what they have done; what they have said;
what others have said and done to their honour; in short, bringing into
view something to their own advantage, or that of their family or
relatives. Rely upon it, if you have real worth, the less _you_ say
about it the better; and if you have it not, every claim of it, direct
or indirect, can only sink you lower in the estimation of those with
whom you converse.

Carefully form the habit of adverting to all the properties of _time_,
_place_ and _circumstances_ in conversation. When you are about, in
company, to make a remark, or to introduce a new topic of conversation,
look round on the circle, and ask yourself, whether there is any one
present whose feelings would be likely to be hurt by what you are about
to say, or who would be placed by it in embarrassing circumstances. Be
very sure for example, when about to make, in company, an unfavourable
remark on an absent person, that no relative or special friend of that
person is among your hearers. For, although you ought never to make a
remark on any one which the Christian spirit cannot justify; yet in
certain circumstances, a remark perfectly proper in itself, may be
unseasonable, and peculiarly painful to some who hear it. Guard against
the possibility of such an occurrence. This is a dictate of sound
worldly policy. A departure from it is a gross violation of true
politeness. But it may be said, still more emphatically, to be a
departure from the principles of Christian benevolence.

Avoid the too frequent _use of superlatives_ in conversation. The habit
of many, when they wish to express either approbation or censure, is to
employ the very strongest terms which the English language affords. If
they think favourably of the talents or the performance of any one, they
are apt to speak of them as "noble, admirable," as of "the first order;"
or in some terms expressive of the very highest excellence. And, on the
other hand, if they undertake to express disapprobation, the terms
"mean," "execrable," "detestable," are the softest that they think of
employing. This is a bad habit. It renders both the praise and censure
of those who indulge it of less value in the estimation of all
sober-minded and discriminating judges. If you wish your judgment to
pass for any thing in the view of the wise and reflecting, you must
learn to express opinions in that guarded and moderate manner which
indicates intellectual discrimination rather than undistinguishing
emotion. You know where it is said "Fools admire, where men of sense
approve."

Carefully avoid giving _unnecessary trouble_ wherever you are. The
difference between different persons in this respect is very
conspicuous. Some, when in the houses of their friends, have so many
little wants, so many errands to perform, and are so absorbed in their
own affairs, that, if permitted, they would keep several servants and
others constantly employed in waiting upon them. You may rely upon it
you can never be, long together, welcome visitants in families which you
subject to so much trouble. Make as few demands as possible on the time
and attention of those whose hospitality you are enjoying. Never call
upon their servants to wait upon you when it is practicable to avoid it.
Never allow the occupations or order of any family to be set aside or
disarranged on your account, where it is possible to prevent it. In
short, act universally on the principle of doing every thing that you
can for yourselves, and making as few demands as possible on the time
and labour of those around you.

In _calling on friends_ consult their convenience, as well as your own;
and in some cases in preference to your own. Many make their calls at
such hours, and sit so inordinately long, as to throw a whole family
into disorder, and inflict very serious pain. Never sit long in your
social calls at any time; but when you make them at times which may, by
possibility interfere with domestic meals, let them be _very short_; be
on the watch for every symptom of engagement or uneasiness on the part
of those whom you visit, and on the appearance of any thing of the kind,
instantly take your leave.

Constantly maintain the habit of _early rising_. Few things are more
conducive to health and activity both of body and mind. A disposition
to lie long in bed in the morning, is, at once, a symptom and a cause of
feeble digestion, of nervous debility, and of general languor. Go early
to bed. Avoid much night study. Quit your beds by dawn of day, and, in
winter, before the dawn, and thus secure several hours of unbroken time,
for devotion, for study, and for gentle exercise in the open air, before
breakfast, and before the interruptions of the earliest visitors
commence.

Cultivate habits of moderation in _dress_. You are never likely to be
able to indulge in very inordinate expense in bodily adorning; and I
will venture to say, this inability, wherever it exists, is a great
blessing. Few things evince more weakness of mind, and absence of
Christian principle, than extravagance and splendor in dress. In young
men it is a sad evidence of "dandyism" and folly; and even in young
females, an excessive indulgence in fashion, in finery, and the extreme
of _devotion_ to bodily adorning, never fails to depress their character
in the estimation of the wise and good. Try to set an example of sober,
dignified _moderation_ in regard to this whole subject. Always guard
against negligence of dress. Conscientiously avoid exposing yourselves
to the charge of careless, slatternly habits. But never make dress an
idol. Reject every thing dazzling, or what is commonly called "dashing,"
in outward ornament. Be not seen aping the extreme of fashion; and ever
remember how unworthy it is of Christians to be worshippers of external
adorning; and how peculiarly disreputable for the children of
_clergymen_ to bear such a character.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus, dear children, I have endeavoured, with brevity, to give you a few
paternal counsels, which, I would fondly hope, may, by the grace of God,
be made to promote your benefit, when the hand which penned them shall
be sleeping in the dust. You will perceive from the _order_ in which I
have placed my counsels, that I consider real heart religion as the most
indispensable and precious of all attainments; that my first and highest
wish concerning you is, that you may love your Father's and Mother's
God, and make it your daily aim to follow her to that world of bliss and
glory to which, as we trust, she has gone before us. Next to seeing you
real Christians, my desire is to see you enlightened, polished,
benevolent, amiable, attractive members of society, respected and
beloved by all who know you.

Remember, I beseech you, that the friends of your Parents will expect
much from you. The advantages which you have enjoyed, and are daily
enjoying, impose upon you a solemn responsibility in the sight both of
God and man. Many prayers have ascended to heaven on your behalf. Pray
without ceasing for yourselves, that you may be preserved from the
paths of sin and folly, and led in the ways of heavenly wisdom.

I have no doubt that the counsels I have given you will commend
themselves to your judgment, and that you will promptly form the
resolution to make them your constant guide. But you cannot rely upon
your own wisdom or strength to do this. Such are your own infirmities,
and so multiplied the temptations and allurements which surround you,
that you will need at every step, guidance and help from above. Happy
will it be for you if you habitually bear this in mind, and acknowledge
God in all your ways, that he may direct your steps.

And now, dear children, I bid you farewell. When I look forward, and
imagine to myself what may be your course in life--when I think of the
corruptions and perils with which you are surrounded, and what _may_ be
the result of them, I hardly know how to express my anxieties and fears:
but when I recollect the love and faithfulness of that God who blessed
your Parents, I feel willing to commit you into his hands, and to trust
his grace for your temporal and eternal welfare. May he guide you by his
counsel! May he guard you amidst all the dangers of youth and of riper
years; and finally, "present you faultless before the presence of his
glory with exceeding great joy!" O how unutterably precious the thought
of meeting you all at last--with those of our beloved family who have
already gone before us, and those who are yet to follow--around the
throne of our covenant God, and rejoicing forever in his presence and
glory! Such will be the prayer until his last breath, of your

       Affectionate Grandfather,

             SAMUEL MILLER.

  PRINCETON, July 10, 1839.


THE END.





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