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A general outline has now been exhibit ed of the life and habits of this pious couple, for a long series of years. Harmony be tween themselves, active attention to necessary worldly business, with a singular beneficence, charity, and piety, rendered them shining examples of practical and primitive christianity.
Deacon Hodge died A. D. 1783. By his will he left the use of nearly his whole estate to his wife during her life, and at her death, made it a fund for the education of poor and pious youth for the gospel ministry, in the college of New-Jersey. Mrs. Hodge bore the loss of her husband, not indeed without keen distress, for all her feelings were remarkably acute, but yet with such a becoming and sweet submission to the divine will, as was extremely amiable and instructive. She cherished a fond remembrance of her husband through the whole remainder of her life, on all occasions she honoured his memory, often spoke of him with tenderness, and yet, after her first sorrows, never with much apparent emotion, but in the same man. ner in which she would have mentioned a dear absent friend, whom she shortly expected to meet again. Happy spirits! ye are now united, never more to part.
The house of Mrs. Hodge, after the death of her husband, was the same hospitable mansion as before, the same place for sacred conferences, and meetings for prayer and religious improvement. One of these meetings was held weekly at her house till a short time before her death, and was, as she acknowledged, a valuable substitute for the privilege of public worship, from which her infirmities at that time often detained her. For many years after the death of her husband she likewise continued the business of shopkeeping, to which she had long been accustomed. He had left her an easy maintenance, independently of any exertions of her own. But she continued in her former occupation from considerations which manifested equally her be nevolence and piety, and her good sense and knowledge of human nature. The income from her shop, which was considerable, was almost wholly applied to charitable uses, and sometimes she even added to it from her other resources. Thus, though she did not labour for her own subsistence, she had the satisfaction of providing more extensively than she could otherwise have done for the poor, the friendless, and the pious; and while she performed an important duty, gratifod highly the feelings of her heart. But
she also well knew the effect of habit on herself. She knew that having long been accustomed to fill up a large portion of the day with active business, she would be likely to feel the want of it, both in body and mind, when it should be discontinued. Accordingly, when her infirmities at last compelled her to relinquish her employment, she declared that she regretted it, principally because she found it unfavourable to her religious state. "You are very fortunate, madam," said a friend to her pleasantly, “very fortunate, indeed, in having no care or anxiety about the world; no business to take up your time or attention; nothing to do from morning till night, but to read, and meditate, and pray, and converse with your friends." "For all that," answered she, "I have not half so much comfort, not even in religion, as when I was bustling half the day behind the counter. I need more variety than I now get. I become moped and stupified for the want of something to rouse me. Beside all this, vain, foolish, wicked, and vexatious thoughts are almost constantly working their way into my mind, because I have so much of that time, which you talk of, for meditation. And, in addition to all, I become lazy and indolent, and do nothing as I ought to do. No, I was a great deal better off when I had some worldly business to which I could attend moderately. It did me good in every way. I must get along as well as I can, now that I am incapable of business, but I find it no advantage, but the contrary, to be without it." It is believed that this was the language of truth, of nature, of experience. Those who have led a busy life should contract their business as age advances, but they will seldom find it beneficial, even to a life of religion, to be wholly unemployed in worldly concerns.
Mrs. Hodge had three attacks of an apoplectic or paralytic kind, within the last sixteen years of her life. But she wonderfully recovered from them, and possessed all her faculties, in a degree of vigour beyond what is usually seen in persons of her age, till about two years before her death. Then her decay became rapid and visible. On the 16th of Dec. 1805, in going to bed, she was seized with a fit. Medical aid was used to restore her, and she recovered so far as to know and speak to those who were about her, especially to the pastors of the church to which she belonged. In the course of the evening, they both, at different times, prayed with her, and she appeared capable of joining in the service,
atleast for a part of the time. But her mind was evidently in a broken, wandering, and enfeebled state. Still, however, it seemed to draw to the centre which had so long attracted it. "Help, Lord Jesus! help; come Lord Jesus, come quickly,' were sentences that she often repeated. She had a succession of slight paralytic affections during the night, and early in the morning fell asleep in the Lord, expiring without a sigh, a struggle, or so much as the motion of a single muscle. Few persons in the city of Philadelphia had so extensive a religious acquaintance as Mrs. Hodge. To them these memoirs will be interesting, and to others a part of them may be useful. They will be closed with an attempt to give the most striking features of her character.
Among the natural powers of her mind she was most of all distinguished by that faculty which has been denominated common sense, and of which it has been truly said, that "though no science it is fairly worth the seven." Except on the subject of religion, she had read but little; and in what is usually understood by mental improvement, she had made no great progress. Her powers of judging and distinguishing were naturally strong, and these she had improved by thinking much and observing accurately. Hence she seldom gave an opinion which did not deserve to be heard with respect, and which was not proved by experience to be just. This was the source of the influence which she possessed, and which was singularly great. Often has the writer of these sketches remarked, that she was a striking example of what solid sense, sterling integrity, and sincere piety will effect, without the advantages of refined education, great wealth, or even of that sex which usually claims the highest respect. It was his belief that for many years her opinion had more influence in the large religious society to which she belonged, than that of any other individual in it. Yet it may be remarked with truth, and the truth is much to her honour, that she did not appear to know the influence that she possessed. She was truly diffident and unassuming, and never intruded her opinions upon others, nor delivered them as if she supposed they were important.
She possessed great sensibility and strong passions, which caused her many a sore conflict. Yet the united influence of religion and good sense had given her, as a habit, a remarkable self-command; so that she was capable of managing, with a happy address, the most refrac
tory spirits of others. She could remain self-possessed and silent, till the time for administering reproof was come, and then give it with the most complete effect. Many examples of this were known to her acquaintance.
Kindness and affability were distinguishing features of her character. They rendered her company unusually agreeable and pleasing; so that even the young and the gay sought it, and were often delighted with it. They could not but admire in her a strictness of piety, united with a tenderness, an attention, and a desire to give pleasure, which they seldom found. To the last she was visited by the young as well as by the old.
Her benevolence and liberality have already been mentioned. Many will feel their loss, and, ungrateful as the world is, many will long remember with gratitude the benefits she conferred.
She was remarkable for sincerity. There was nothing that she abhorred more than dissimulation or hypocrisy. She could not endure it in others, and she stood at the greatest distance from it herself. She loved to hear and to speak the truth in all its simplicity. On some occasions, the frankness and explicitness of her manner gave offence. Such instances, however, were not numerous; for though she would never speak what she did not be. lieve, she was often silent, when she dif fered from the sentiments of others, and when she thought that speaking would do no good. But her silence on many such occasions was eloquent, for it was not easy for her countenance to conceal any sentiment that she strongly felt.
In domestic life she was indeed a bright example. Intent on doing good in this, which is the principal sphere of female usefulness, and having always a small family of her own, she brought up a number of orphan or destitute children, received several female boarders into her house,* and made it a charitable asylum to others who had once seen better days. Many of these, especially the youth, received the most essential benefit from her example, her conversation, her instruction, her admonitions, and her
The last of these was the aged and amiable widow of the late Rev. Dr. Finly, whose company and conversation were the principal earthly solace of Mrs. Hodge in the last years of her life: And to whom the writer here begs leave to dedicate these memoirs of her dear departed friend.
prayers. A domestic incident on which she loved to dwell was the conversion and piety of a native African woman, whom her husband had purchased, and whom she had assiduously taught the principles of religion. This woman died at last in christian faith and triumph, uttering, in broken English, sentiments that would have adorned the lips of the oldest and best instructed saint.
The piety of Mrs. Hodge was indeed eminent, but its peculiar characteristic was humility. Those who had heard much of her did not always find their expectations realized, when they became acquainted with her. They found that she was not one of those who anticipate continually and with confidence the heavenly joys, who are raised by this above all fear of death, and who seem to be rapped into a better world while they remain in this. A person who, from what he had heard of her, was led to believe that she possessed something of this character, after a short acquaintance, offered to present her with a handsome copy of Mrs. Rowe's Devout Exercises of the Heart. Her reply to him was this: "I know something of that book, sir, and I thank you sincerely for offering it to me. But I must say that it is a book which does not suit me. I wish I was more like Mrs. Rowe than I am. But her exercises were so far superior to mine, and her descriptions of them are so strong, that, to tell you the truth, they rather discourage me than help me. If you please, let the book be given to Mrs. I think it will exactly suit her." In this there was no affectation, to which indeed she was a stranger. She believed that others had made attainments far beyond her own, attainments which she wished to make, and mourned that she wanted; but to which, as she believed she did not possess them, she would make no pretensions. There were some considerable portions of her life, and many short seasons scattered through almost the whole of it, in which she rejoiced and triumphed in God her Saviour. But as a habit she did by no means possess the "full assur
ance of hope." On the contrary, she had frequent doubts and fears, and great anxiety about her spiritual state; though never, after her first exercises, did she sink into any thing like despondency. She was often searching her heart, questioning and examining herself, to ascertain whether she was truly a disciple of Christ; and this continued to the very last. Few christians have ever more fully renounced themselves than she, and expected salvation as the purchase of the Saviour, and the free gift of God through him. The idea of human merit in the sight of God was the abhorrence of her soul. Some of the poor whom she relieved, would sometimes suggest that her abundant charities would render her the favourite of heaven. Such intimations she always received with manifest disgust, and it is believed never failed to reprove the parties who gave them, and to endeavour to convey juster notions of the manner in which we must be recommended to God. She panted ardently after holiness and inward conformity to the divine law, but a clear sight and a deep sense of her remaining depravity, made her abhor herself, and cleave to the perfect righteousness of Christ, as the only foundation of her hope. Newton's Letters, and Owen on Indwelling Sin, were, next to the holy scriptures, the books which she most delighted to read.
Thus has an imperfect sketch been given of the character of this excellent woman, of whom a man who had seen much of the world, was heard to say, as he followed her corpse to the grave, “I would rather be Mrs. Hodge than Buonaparte." Beyond all question, her life was more enviable, her death more hap py, and her eternal destiny infinitely more desirable, than that of any unsanc tified hero, patriot, or sage, whose actions or whose wisdom have furnished the theme of the poet's song, the materials of the historian's volumes, and the objects of emulation to a blinded world, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; yea saith the Spirit for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."