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ANNA, THE ELDER SISTER.
Short account of her Mother-Anna goes to Boston, America-is united to the Church-is left an orphan-Extracts from her journal-Her earnest desire to train up her younger brother and sisters in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Anna B., was blessed with a most pious and devoted mother, of whom a few particulars will be given to introduce the memoir of her daughter. Mrs. B., was born at St. John's, Newfoundland, and had many early religious advantages.
After her marriage, at the age of twenty, she went to England. On the voyage, and after it, the good seed her parents had sown sprung up, and she became a decided Christian. Mrs. B. was called to pass through much affliction, but it was sanctified. She lost her eldest child, Lucy, when seven years old: this little girl displayed an uncommon knowledge of divine things, and departed in peace to a better world. In the same year she was attacked with fever, and lost her beloved and pious husband. She was left with four young children, to whom she devoted the five following years with ardour, discretion and watchful piety. In 1819, constrained by a sense of duty to her aged father, she left England with her children, and went to reside in Boston, America. In March, 1824, Mrs. B. was attacked with fever. She manifested firm confidence in Christ on her dying bed, and died in peace on the 27th of March, 1824, aged forty.
Three daughters and one son were thus early deprived of a mother's care, the eldest daughter Anna, the subject of this memoir was only seventeen years of age when left with the care of nursing an aged and feeble grandfather, and with the charge of the education of the rest of the family. She was delicate in constitution, mild and retiring in disposition, modest and even timid in deportment; yet she at once rose with her situation, and though so young, already displayed that maturity of intellect and judgment for which she was remarkable. She took her mother's place at the head of the family, and conducted all the domestic affairs with the discretion of a matron. Her intellect was clear and masculine, her judgment
distinguished for discretion and propriety, her whole mind as highly cultivated as richly endowed.
At an early age she had been led to believe in Jesus as her Saviour, and had found that peace in believing which the world can neither give nor take away. From that time, Jesus was the object of her constant contemplation, religion the principle of her life, and preparation for an eternal world, the end of all her exercises. Her piety was deep, uniform, and active; her religion was just such as it is to be wished all young people should possess: it did not evaporate in words, but discovered itself in the daily walks of life.
Perhaps humility was her distinguishing characteristic; she exercised a holy jealousy over her thoughts and state of mind, spent much time in self-examination, watched the symptoms of incipient delusion in faith or love, and mourned over them; while these views of her depraved nature had only the effect of making her cleave closer to Jesus as the Lord her righteousness.
Previous to making a profession of religion, the following resolutions are found in her diary dated,
Jany. 1, 1824.—I have this day determined that by the help of God I will no longer be in subjection to the prince of this world, but that I, will as far as in me lies, give myself up to him, determining that, let others do as they will, I will serve the Lord. May the Lord by his Holy Spirit give me strength so to do.”
The following extracts from her Journal show the searching nature of her reflections previous to offering herself for admission to the church.
Monday.-O Lord! why am I left to such unbelief and hardness of heart? Are Thy mercies clean gone for ever? Return and visit my soul with thy salvation-thou dost not willingly afflict nor grieve thy children. Oh, help me to enquire into the cause of this falling off; may I seek Thee in prayer, and oh, grant merciful answers!
"Tuesday.-Still I feel that my heart has so much remaining depravity, that I almost fear for myself. I am indeed a living testimony to this truth. Who can deny the depravity of the heart, so long as he has one inclination left?
"Wednesday. I have had a most interesting day, attended the Biblical class in the evening; Mr. G. was particularly good, especially on the proof of salvation being entirely of grace. For what have we, whose every action is either in itself base, or actuated by still baser motives, what have we to merit the salvation of our souls? Surely if these had been the conditions, not one ray of hope could beam upon our souls.
"Friday.-Week after week passes on. Oh, how little improvement do we make of our time! Lord, help us to look upon it in the light of eternity; may all our employments be begun and ended in Thee; and, as time rolls on, may we grow in grace and in the knowlege of Him, whom to know aright is life eternal!
"Saturday.-Have I this week past endeavoured by every action, thought, and word, to glorify my Father who is in heaven? Have I increased in grace? Oh! how can I answer such heart-searching questions without feeling my entire unworthiness? I am indeed undone ;-but for Almighty Grace, I should still have neglected God, still have been ignorant of a Saviour's love, still lying in the chains of the evil one.
"Sunday.-Lord, help me this week to live near to Thee in prayer and self-examination, and grant I may this day advance a Sabbath day's journey nearer Thee!
Thursday, Jan. 15, 1824,-To-day I offered myself to a committee of the church for examining candidates. O Lord, I have indeed taken Thy yoke upon me, and it is pleasant. Never may I prove unworthy of the high vocation! Help me to consider the sacredness of my obligation! As long as life shall be spared, I have determined to devote myself to the service of the Lord God: never for one moment can this obligation be cast off. I am no longer my own, but given up to my rightful sovereign. O blessed Saviour! enable me to live above the world, when I live in it; may I honour thee, and never give way to the temptations of this ungodly world!
"Friday.-Oh, how many derelictions of heart and will have I to mourn over! Thy grace alone is sufficient for me in the devious paths of life. I am indeed a creature of change; I sin, repent, and sin again. Lord, make me more firm and decided,
“Wednesday.—I have been thinking how many times during this year, so lately begun, I have fallen off from my covenant God—how many times I have broken the engagement which I made to be the Lord's. Oh, God of mercy, help me to be more devoted to thee.
“ Saturday.—A female prayer-meeting was held at our house in the afternoon; this is a day which I hope will not soon be forgotten, Oh, that the Lord would hear and answer the prayers then offered up to him. I had indeed a share in them, unworthy as I am. This day is most important to me, about on the morrow, to offer myself up publicly to the Lord, to declare before angels and men, that whatever others do, I will serve the Lord, and devote myself body and soul to Him, that He may do with me as seemeth good in his sight. O Lord quicken me in the all-important duty of self-examination, that I may not on the morrow eat and drink damnation [judgment] to my soul.
Saturday, Mar. 7, 1824.—I have this day, together with nine others, publicly declared to the world the vows which I had before made in secret to be the Lord's. I have determined to take His yoke upon me, and to follow my blessed Saviour. I have come out from the side of the world, and enlisted myself under the glorious banner of the gospel. Lord God of heaven and earth, keep me, through thy Spirit, from ever dishonouring thy cause!
"Christ crucified is indeed a noble theme, one which can never be exhausted. Oh, that I had an angel's tongue to sound abroad the depths of the salvation purchased by his death! Methinks I could wear it out in singing of this matchless love to rebels, this unspeakable condescension of the Lord of life and glory, who had all worlds under his power, and was himself God, the eternal, the everlasting, the wonderful, counsellor; yet condescending to take upon himself the form of a servant, and be in subjection to the creatures he had formed. And not only this, but suffering cruelties and pains greater than were ever borne by mortals, even the withdrawing of his Heavenly Father's countenance-all for us! And although he laid down his life for us, we love those sins which made
him mourn and brought Him from His throne. Oh! infinite Saviour! if thou hast given any of us to see our sins, our ingratitude, thine be all the glory! Oh, make us more thankful, and enable us to honour thee, and set a godly example, that others may see the reality of that religion which we profess!"
Anna's first communion season was the last of her mother's on earth: it was therefore a day ever memorable.
She found the value of Divine support when brought into affliction. It was after a day of high and hallowed enjoyment, and a week of spiritual comfort, that this young Christian was called on to stand by the bed-side of her dying mother, and was severed from her best of earthly friends. This was indeed a severe trial to the affectionate daughter; her mother, beloved by all, was especially dear to Anna. From her, Anna had received all her education, and her habits and modes of thinking were so far beyond her age, that she had been regarded by her mother more as a companion and sister, than a daughter; she shared in her counsels, and united in her prayers for the spiritual good of the rest of the family. Her mother thus became the object of her deepest affection: to please her was her greatest delight, and to imitate her excellencies became her heart's desire. And when death took her parent away, while holding communion at the mercy seat with her "Elder Brother," she still seemed to feel the spirit of her mother hovering over her, and beckoning her on in the course which she should run. How deeply she felt her loss, may be seen from her Letters and Journal, in which ever and anon she recurs to this theme, and uses it not only as a stimulus to herself, but also as a motive with which to urge her brother and sisters to flee unto Jesus. She writes-
"Sabbath-day, Aug. 14, 1824.-This is the first time I have taken my pen in hand to continue my journal since I have lost the best of mothers. Three weeks after I had been permitted to make a public profession of religion, her happy spirit fled to her God and Redeemer.
"On Saturday, the 27th March, her triumphant spirit winged its flight to a happier region, and left this world of sin and sorrow. Oh what a change has one short week made in