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not to seek the widest, most effectual, and most appropriate field of usefulness, whether it lie near home and friends, or in the uttermost parts of the earth? Might not little colonies of Christians, taking each a minister with them, go forth and found religious communities in places from which their influ; ence, like circling waves from an agitated centre in a peaceful lake, would spread on every side, until it should be felt by thousands and perhaps millions of their generation ? The plan is feasible—it has been tried and found a successful means of enlarging the borders of Zion. If we mistake not, it will in time, be carried into extensive operation, and be regarded as an indispensable and most important expedient in subduing the powers of darkness, and establishing ihe empire of holiness throughout the wide domains of heathenism and irreligion.
The LIFE AND CHARACTER of Miss SUSANNA AN
THONY, consisting chiefly in Extracts from her writings, with some brief Observations on them. By SamUEL HOPKINS, D. D. Second Edition. Portland. 1810.
More than twenty years ago,
"the Life and Character of Miss Susanna Anthony," compiled by the late Dr. Hopkins of Newport, was put into our hands, and perused with much satisfaction. Within the last few months, we have taken up the book again, and the reading of it has so revived all our former feelings of interest, that we have resolved to give some account of it to our readers.
Perhaps no private devotional writings have been more highly esteemed by American Christians, than those of President Edwards and David Brainerd. Those in the work before us are of the same general character-based on the same great principles, and expressing the same feelings and views; and we hazard the assertion, though we know it is saying a great deal, that in many parts they are not at all inferior. Indeed, for richness and propriety of thought; for loftiness of conception ; for depth and tenderness of feeling; for earnestness of aspiration ; and for simplicity and manifest sincerity of lan
guage, we know of nothing which surpasses some passages in the writings of Susanna Anthony. And yet it ought to be remembered that these are the writings of an uneducated female, penned in seasons of deep retirement, and laid up for her own perusal and benefit, without the thought or intention that they should ever meet the eye of any other human being.
Miss Anthony wrote her own spiritual history during the first seventeen years of her life. Her motive in this was to promote her own good ;-to excite, as she expresses it, “the warmest sentiinents of gratitude, love, and wonder, whenever I review these records of the unmerited displays of Divine grace to my soul.”—She was born at Newport, R. I., Oct. 25, 1726. Her parents were connected with the Society of Friends, in which she received her early education. She was the subject of religious impressions from her childhood, and was hopefully converted when about eight years of age. She joined the first Congregational church in Newport, the day before she was sixteen years old, of which church she continued a mem. ber till her death.
Miss Anthony was of a delicate and sickly constitution, and was brought, in repeated instances, apparently near to the grave. She was never married, but resided with her parents as long as they lived. They seem to have been in easy circumstances during her childhood and youth, but were afterwards reduced to comparative indigence. She was able, however, to support herself by her needle, and by occasionally teaching a small school. Her health in the latter part of her life, perhaps owing to the necessity of more vigorous exercise, was much better than when in youth.
Not long after Miss Anthony became a member of the church of Christ, her feelings prompted her to make the inquiry, so natural to every devoted Christian, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? She felt deeply concerned for the advancement of Christ's kingdom, and the salvation of souls, and wished to know what an obscure young female in her situation could do, to promote objects which lay so near her heart. There were no Sabbath Schools, in which she could enlist as a teacher. There were no Missions from this country in which she could engage; and no Missionary Societies, of which she had any knowledge, to which she could attach herself. After much deliberation, she concluded that she could do more for the cause of God and truth by continued and earnest prayer, than in any other way. Accordingly, she often set apart whole days, when circumstances would permit, and spent them in secret fasting and prayer. She endeavored to spend the last
afternoon and evening of every week, and the morning of every Sabbath, in the same way. Of a female praying circle, which was formed in Newport, she was a member and an ornament for about fifty years. When it devolved on her to lead in the exercises of this most interesting association, she expressed herself with a holy freedom and familiarity, as one who knew the way to a throne of grace, and had been often there.
"At particular times, says Dr. Hopkins, “she had such enlargement and access to the throne of grace, that she would pray an hour and a half, or more, with such engagedness and fervency, without any repetition, with a flow of words expressing the most pertinent and affecting ideas, and with such a natural connexion and progression from one thing to another, that none who joined with her would appear tired, but all were pleased, affected, and edified; and they felt a consciousness that none could have an adequate idea what passed at such times who were not present, as a full description of the holy fervor, the clear view of invisible things, and that nearness to God which she discovered, while she poured out her heart before him, cannot be made by any narration of them.”
Speaking of Miss Anthony, on another occasion, Dr. Hop
“She was, in my judgment, one of the most eminent female Christians with whom I have had any acquaintance. The public, and even Christians who never were acquainted with her, will not, by reading what is published, have a full and adequate idea of her excellent character. I think it a great happiness to have been intimately acquainted with her for near tiirty years, and to have enjoyed her friendship and her prayers.”
Miss Anthony was seized with a violent inflammation of the lungs, in the suminer of the year 1791, and after a week's sickness died in the 65th year of her age. During the progress of her disease, she had none of those conflicts which she had sometimes feared, but with a sweet and calm confidence rested her soul on Christ, and died without a doubt as to her union with him, and her happiness in his kingdom forever. She cheerfully laid down what she used to call her clog of flesh, and soared to meet that Saviour for whose presence she had so long and so fervently aspired-to "sing among the birds of paradise, the heirs of glory."
We shall not detain our readers with long extracts from the volume before us,-hoping that some of our enterprizing booksellers may be induced to republish it ;-or (what we should prefer) that some one would prepare a new arrangement and abridgement of the writings of Miss Anthony, and give them to the public in a form to be more generally useful.- We shall conclude our remarks on these Memoirs with a few reflections ; -such as have occurred to us, and we think would occur to any evangelical Christian, in perusing them. And,
1. We learn the value and excellency of the religion of the Gospel. In the pages before us, we see how much this religion can do for the temporal, spiritual, and eternal good of those who embrace it and live under its influence;-how much it can contribute to the excellence of their characters, and open for them new sources of consolation ;-how much it can promote their glory and joy, in this world and forever. It is interesting to trace the progress of Miss Anthony's mind, under the influence of religion, from small beginnings—from the darkness and feebleness of spiritual infancy, till she came to glow almost with the ardor of a seraph.—After she became interested in religion, and indulged a hope in Christ, still we find her, in knowledge and grace, a child. Her mind is enveloped in much darkness and ignorance, and she is subject to numerous temptations and distresses, which more enlarged views of things would have enabled her better to understand, and more effectually to overcome. We next see her struggling with prejudices of education, and emerging into light and freedom in regard to the ordinances and institutions of the Gospel. Still, she is relying evidently too much upon her feelings, and is subject, in consequence, to sudden and painful fluctuations and depressions. But her spiritual course is steadily onward, and she soon attains to a settled hope in Christ,-so much so, that for years,
she seems scarcely to have entertained a doubt as to her acceptance with God. Meanwhile, this hope was producing its legitimate effect upon her heart, redeeming it from the power of sin, and purifying it even as Christ is pure. Her soul was transforming into the image of her Saviour, and becoming adorned with all the graces and virtues of the Gospel. Such love of God, and longing after his spiritual presence ; such an affectionate reliance upon Christ, as the only resting place for her feet and refuge for her soul ; such delight in duty, especially in the secret duties of religion ; such childlike submission under trials and injuries ; such concern for the salvation of others; such carefulness; such fear; such vehement desire; such assurance of God's love, and peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; such frequent longing for death, and panting after immortality ;-we scarcely know what to add to such a character, to make it more thoroughly and desirably Christian. And yet Miss Anthony was not more remarkable for any thing, than for a deep sense of personal deficiencies, unworthiness, and sinfulness. She had set her standard of Christian attainment high, and felt that she was far-very far from reaching it. She forgot the things which were behind, and to which she had already attained, and press
ed onward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
But as much as the religion of the Gospel did for Miss Anthony, so much will it do for any one, who embraces and adorns it in the manner she did. What it made her, it is capable of making every person, who takes it to his bosom, and suffers it to rule in his heart. And could this religion pervade the globe, and reign in the heart of every individual, what more would be necessary to convert earth into a paradise, and fill it with the peace of heaven.--How excellent then, is the religion of the Gospel ! How poor, and powerless, and worthless are all human theories and speculations, when compared with this!
2. We see the benefit of deep and thorough convictions of sin, in their influence upon religious character. Miss Anthony was distinguished, both before her conversion and afterwards, for such convictions. Indeed, her language on this subject may be thought by some to be extravagant; importing, perhaps, even more than she felt, -more, certainly, than could be true. But those who have looked deepest into their own hearts, and have compared themselves most, faithfully with the character and law of God, will not think her language extravagant. They will know how to sympathize with her in her sense of unworthiness, and in her deep and painful convictions of sin ; for they have felt the same. It is obvious that these convictions, in the case of Miss Anthony, had a powerful and salutary influence on the character ; and so they have in every other case They teach and impress the great evil of sin, and excite to persevering struggles against it. They break down and subdue pride, and induce that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto life. They show persons their perishing need of Christ, and lead them to cling to him, as all their salvation, and all their desire. And when they indulge a hope in Christ, their love, their gratitude, their zeal in duty, and engagedness for the salvation of others, will be in proportion, ordinarily, to their sense of the guilt and condenination from which, by divine grace, they have been delivered.
From the days of David and of Paul to the present time, distinguished piety, in this world, has always been associated with deep convictions of sin; and obviously it always must be. The two things are naturally and necessarily connected.
3. From the example before us, we learn the importance of early piety. Miss Anthony considered it her honor and privilege that she was early converted ;---that she was led, in the morning of life, to submit to Christ, and devote herself to his service and kingdom. VOL. VI.--NO. X.