« PreviousContinue »
That she also possessed and enjoyed the social affections in a high degree of refinement, a refinement heightened and purified by the fire of Christianity, is fully manifest to all who knew her. Your speaker bas often witnessed in the social circle of Christian friends, for these were her chosen companions-her desire to please, to edify, and to make all around her happy. It is true she did not descend to that light and vain conversation which the giddy multitude think necessary to enliven society. Her's was the conversation of a disciple of Christ, ministering grace to the hearer. It was, however, only to a few chosen, spiritual friends, that she fully embosomed her heart, and exhibited those celestial charms arising from communion with God, and which so interest and captivate the heart of the experienced Christian. A few extracts from letters directed to a highly valued female friend and correspondent, will evince that she knew how to estimate the value of friendship. The whole of the letters froin which these extracts are made, breathe such an ardent spirit of piety, such warmth of Christian friendship, and such deep humiliation before God, that they are well worth perusing; but room, on the present occasion, will only permit a few extracts :
“ Often,” says she, “ when the last rays of the setting sun are gilding the western horizon, does my mind rove to Wilton, where I fancy I see sister KEELER sitting or kneeling in some lonely retreat, adoring the God of all her mercies, and enjoying sweet union and communion with her heavenly Father, an enjoyment far surpassing all the transitory pleasures this world can afford.” “I have often wished," she observes in another letter to the same person, "for a female friend with whom I could correspond on religious subjects; and that God whose Hand I behold in all His dealings with me, has granted this privilege also, blessed be His holy Name. O, my dear sister, the goodness of God to me knows no bounds.”—“ If to do was as present with me as to wish, a great part of your time would be taken up in perusing my letters. I thank you, my dear friend, for the warm wishes of your heart for my happiness."
But the fire of divine love which burnt so steadily and ardently, could not be pent up in her own heart, nor be confined to a narrow circle, but it burst forth like a vehement flame, enlightening and warming all around her. Of the truth of this, the following communication, furnished by one who knew her well, and whe knows how to estimate real worth, will abundantly shew.
“ Neu-York, February 27, 1824. « My Dear BROTHER,
“I find it both pleasing and profitable to my mind, to recollect the exercises of our dear departed sister, HARRIET DUSINBERY, as far as it was my privilege to become acquainted with them. If you can find any thing in these recollections that will assist in unfolding her character so as to attract the attention of her young acquaintance and eagage them to imitate her virtues, I am willing you should use them as you think fit.
“My first acquaintance with our deceased friend, commenced in a female prayer-meeting held on the north side of the town several years ago. Here she, with her friend, ELIZA Higgins, was in the habit of attending. Though both young in years (our sister HARRIET being then only seventeen) and babes in Christ, yet by the fervency of their prayers and their evident attainments in religious knowledge and experience, they have constrained their sisters in Christ to magnify the riches of divine gráce, that shone so conspicuously in them.
“About this time the Female Missionary Society, Auxiliary to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, took its rise. In this vineyard our two young friends immediately entered, and continued zealously to labour until released by their Divine Master. On the decease of her friend, ELIZA HIGGINS, I could not but observe the increased interest and diligence manifested by our sister HARRIET in the concerns of this institution. She was soon called upon by the unanimous voice of her sister Managers, to fill the office of Secretary. In this capacity she most zealously employed her time and talents to advance the interest of the Redeemer's kingdom for three years, always appearing to bear in mind the words with which she closed her First Annual Report of the Society ; So that, whatsoever our hands find to do, we should do it with all our might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither we are all hastening. While her conciliating and unassuming manners won the affection and confidence of her associates in this labour of love, her example could not fail to excite them to diligence and perseverance.
“ In November of 1822, our sister was appointed a Manager in the New-York Female Assistance Society. In this new sphere of action, the same divine principle appeared to influence her proceedings. She frequently expressed the deep sense she felt of the responsibility attached to this duty. She not only sought out means to relieve the temporal wants of her pensioners, but laboured to promote tireir eternal salvation. Sometimes she would complain that she found it a great cross for one so young as she was to converse and pray with the sick, but she always. endeavoured to take it up. She expressed a belief that her engagements in this Society were a means of profit to ber own soul. That after visiting the abodes of sickness and poverty, she always returned home better satisfied with her own situation, more humbled in spirit, and thankful to God for his abundant mercies to her. On one occasion I recollect she told me, she began to be discouraged, she saw no fruit of her labour, and she began to conclude she was not qualified for such an important undertaking ; but the Lord had recently so owned her weak efforts to serve him, that she was convinced it was her duty to perse,
This manifestation of divine approbation on her labours was in the case of a poor woman, whom she found apparently very near death, and deplorably ignorant of spiritual things. Our dear sister felt great concern for the soul of this poor sufferer. She endeavoured to awaken her to a sense of her dangerous situation, so near eternity, and so unprepared for death ; and after commending her in prayer to the mercy of God, left her with but little satisfaction. In a few days, however, calling to see her again, she was agreeably surprised, to find her deeply
convinced of her situation as a sinner, and crying aloud for mercy. Not satisfied with her own instructions, our sister procured for this awakened soul, the visits of several of her Christian friends; amongst whom was her dear companion. In a short time she had the happiness of seeing this poor woman rejoicing in the love of God, and leaving the world in the triumph of the Christian faith.
“It was with extreme regret our Board of Managers learned they should be deprived of the agreeable society and useful labours of our dear young friend another year.
“Of her labours in the Sunday School institution, of which she was a Manager for the past year, I cannot speak from personal observation, not being so immediately connected with her in this duty; but from what I have learned from others who were, I believe the same disposition to be useful in her day and generation was manifested, and the same Christian graces displayed themselves in her deportment, which so eminently appeared in her general walk, and attracted the attention and love of all who were acquainted with her. “ In much haste, “Respectfully submitted by your friend, &c.
• MARY W. Mason." The above communication has introduced our beloved HARRIET to our notice as Secretary of the Female Missionary Society of New-York. Her zeal and activity in the concerns of this Society, were only limited by her means of doing good. The following letter was written to a female teacher of the Indian School at Upper-Sandusky, from whom HARRIET had received a very interesting communication respecting the state of that institution. The reader will perceive in this letter several traits of character worthy of imitation; such as her attention to domestic concerns,in which, indeed, she was exceeded by nonemher affectionate regard for her husband, and the watchful jealousy which she constantly had over the exercises of her own heart, marking the smallest diminution of her spiritual enjoyment, as well as thankfully adoring her Redeemer for the bright displays of His love. The letter is without date, but it seems to have been written a little before her confinement with her second child, which was only about three months old when its pious mother died. “MY DEAR Miss BARSTOW,
“ Your kind and interesting favour of March 3, was duly received, and perused with no ordinary degree of pleasure. It should have been acknowledged at an earlier period, but my little family demands so large a share of my time and attention, that I have but little left for writing
“I have also, during the past summer, laboured under considerable weakness of body, which, together with many discouragements in my spiritual warfare, and very painful exercises of mind, have made duties which formerly were easy and pleasant appear quite burdensome. In other respects my cup runneth over.' I am favoured with the choicest blessings of indulgent Heaven. y companion is one of the most amiable and affectionate of men; there subsists between us an entire union of sentiment and pursuits. We are blest with one dear pledge of our mutual affection, a little boy in his third year, which, together with an orphan child and one domestic, constitutes our family. Peace and contentment reside beneath our roof. May God in mercy preserve me from growing careless under the profusion of his gifts, and enable me to present myself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in his sight. Distinguished as I am by outward favours, happily as I am situated in life, I feel that without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, without the abiding witness that my ways please the Lord, I must be miserable indeed. I am very sensible that I ought to be more diligent and fervent in those things which make for my eternal peace. God having bestowed in rich abundance the blessings of Providence and grace, justly claims my whole heart. O that I could lay at his feet,
" A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine.' “Several days have elapsed since writing the above, which, I am happy to inform you, have been days of spiritual comfort and consolation. That cloud which for some time past has almost obscured my Redeemer, is mercifully removed ; and, I feel, instead of that restlessness and inquietude of spirit, a calm and inward peace; my mind reposes in God, and I feel a hope that I shall be enabled in future to make the concerns of my soul more particularly the business of
life. “I know not how soon this frail tabernacle of clay may be dissolved, and my immortal part burst its fetters and soar to an eternity of bliss, or sink to endless misery. How necessary then to live in an habitual readiness to meet the King of terrors! Strange indeed that mortals who cannot ensure one moment of their existence on earth, but are assured that they shall exist when millions on millions of years shall have rolled away, surpassing strange, that they should be so engrossed with the trifles of this life, and make religion merely a secondary consideration ! May you and I, my dear sister, strive to make our eternal all the primary object of our lives; and may every other concern be subservient thereto; then we shall be prepared to discharge our relative duties on earth to divine acceptance, and when time is no more with us, to enjoy the blissful presence of our God in a state of endless duration.
“I fear that I have tired you by dwelling so long on my feelings and exercises. I will merely say by way of apology, that I think it well for correspondents to know something of each other's circumstances, and my thoughts seem to have led me in this train. I have, therefore, opened my mind freely to you, wishing that it may be for our mutual benefit."
In another letter to the same person, which appears to have been written about the same time with the above, she has the following observations, which are here introduced for the purpose of shewing the deep interest she took in the Missionary cause.
“ The accounts of Missions established in various parts of our world, are truly exhilirating to those whose prayer to God is, that the gospel may take the wings of the morning, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth: but I believe the Wyandott Mission has been more prosperous by far, than any of which we have heard. We rejoice with you, my dear sister, that even babes are lisping forth the praises of God. We sincerely pray that you may be comforted, and supported under every trial.”
Lay all these circumstances together, and then say, if HarRIET was not beloved of God, lovely in her life, in the sight of her parents, her associates, ber husband, the ministers of Christ, and in the sight of the poor and needy; even the Indian youth of our forests, as sharers of her bounty, will hail her blessed in the Lord. Before I bring you to the closing scene, and shew that they were not divided in death, permit me to lay before you some circumstances of the life of LANCASTER, the husband of our departed sister. From these it will appear, that if he could say of HARRIET, Thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant thou fairest among women, she might reply, As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons–Very pleasant hast thou been unto me, my LANCASTER. He was born on the 13th of June, 1796. His
parents were for a number of years, members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and were in truth, among the first fruits of Methodism, in that part of the country where they resided, viz. the township of NewWindsor, in Orange county. Before any regular circuit was formed they opened their doors to the faithful Missionary, and had preaching at their house. After the formation of the Newburgh circuit, N. B. Mills, and A. Harpending, who were the first regular itinerant preachers in those parts, always found a cheerful welcome at their hospitable mansion. They continued faithful witnesses until their deaths, which took place in the year 1816.
Of his childhood and youth, as well as his conversion to God, the following items have been furnished by his uncle, Mr. LANCASTER S. BURLING.
“My beloved relative LANCASTER BURLING DUSINBERY, was in early youth thoughtful and serious, averse to idle and vain company, and attached to study and the acquirement of useful information; in this respect he far outstripped many with whom he was associated. His mind, however, seems not to have received at this time any religious impressions. It was when in his twentieth year, while listening to the instructions of a dying mother, that he becaine in some degree alive to the importance of inward religion; and that gracious Lord who opened his heart to considerations so momentous, did of his mercy preserve in him this blessed disposition, and continue the desire of salvation. It was at the Camp-Meeting held on the 21st of June, 1819, in the township of Huntingdon, Long-Island, that all opposition on his part was done away, and Almighty Mercy triumphed in his complete deliverance. The Saviour of sinners imparted to him that peace which the world cannot give, and enabled him to rejoice with exceeding joy. He immediately united himself to the church, met in class, and continued to evidence that his profession was sincere, by a well ordered walk and conversation."