« VorigeDoorgaan »
when language fails. I cannot describe the feelings with which I think of a dying world, and especially of the heathen perishing around me."-pp. 248, 249.
The activity of the early religious life of Mrs. W. was a fit prelude of her subsequent career. Soon after her conversion, the spirit of missions began to show itself in her efforts to promote the welfare of the poor and ignorant around her. To adopt the language of her biographer, "She did not, in extending her views abroad, overlook duties to be performed at home; or, in attempting to embrace a world in the arms of her benevolence, suffer the minor charities of the family, the neighborhood, the country in which she lived, to be neglected. The spirit of that missionary is to be suspected who acts differently, and does not begin his operations at once where he is, endeavoring to widen the circles of his influence, like the widening waves, caused by the pebble thrown into the still lake, until they reach the most distant shores." Accordingly, we find her writing letters of expostulation and entreaty to her irreligious friends; visiting the poor and sick; giving away religious tracts, adapted to the condition of persons with whom she met; originating societies for the relief of indigent women, and children; frequenting almshouses, for the purpose of imparting Christian instruction to the inmates, and manifesting an intense desire for their spiritual good; establishing, by repeated efforts, a female prayer-meeting; and enlisting several female members of the church in the project of setting apart in concert an hour at specified times, to pray in secret for some important object. She formed also the first Sabbath school in her native town, commencing with only seven scholars, and in the face of much opposition. These objects of her early efforts she remembered with continued and anxious interest, even after she had left her native country; and often mentioned them in her letters.*
*It is interesting to observe that other persons, who were afterwards engaged in the work of missions, commenced their efforts to do good among their early acquaintance. In the Memoir of Mrs. Charlotte Sutton, of Cuttack, we find the following: "If circumstances threw her into the company of females, whether acquainted or not, she would watch, with the eyes of Argus, for the best opportunity of introducing religion. If the ties of relationship or acquaintance sanctioned a correspondence, she usually advanced some cogent arguments to excite serious consideration. Few, if any, are the cottages within the neighborhood of Wolvey, that she did not visit, either to converse with the inmates on religion, to distribute books, or to administer to their necessities. One of her first and most interesting employments was in the Sabbath school. Her heart seemed to be bound up in the welfare of her little charge. By her exertions, chiefly, a Book-society was established for the benefit of her ignorant neighbors, and for the members of the church. Many a sick bed has witnessed her pious efforts, both for body and soul." Memoir of Mrs C. Sutton, pp. 36-40. See also Memoir of Mrs. Judson, pp. 32, 33. Memoir of Ward (Lond. ed. 1825), pp. 38--42, 47.
But we are more particularly concerned with Mrs. W. in the character of a missionary. Her thoughts were evidently turned towards the heathen world, long before she had any prospect of a personal engagement in missionary work. In a letter to her mother, dated Sept., 1814, during an absence from home, after having spoken of the death of Mrs. Newell, she adds, "Am I reserved for similar usefulness? I will encourage the hope. Think not by this that I desire to become the wife of a missionary. I desire to spend my life in the service of my Maker; and however inconsistent with such a wish much of my life may appear, it is my most ardent desire. I am most thoroughly convinced that no service is so delightful as that of my Saviour; that no privations, no toils, no sufferings, are too great for his children to endure for his sake." The fact, that she cherished at that early period the thought of a personal devotion to the salvation of the heathen, is important to be considered in the delineation of her character as a missionary. She was at first met by opposition and ridicule. Her parents were unwilling to entertain such an idea. The work of missions from this country was barely commenced. The feelings of Christians had not been generally enlisted. The confidence of the public was yet to be secured. Nothing was then to be anticipated by a female, entering upon such an enterprise, but self-denial and suffering, and, perhaps, ultimate disappointment. Neither can it be said, that the question was one which related to the subject of matrimony, rather than to the conversion of the heathen. She had at that time no acquaintance with the individual, who afterwards became her companion. The subject was therefore to be examined by her, without reference to a settlement in life. She was led to it simply in the exercise of Christian benevolence, and, we may add, by the providence of God. It rested in her mind for some years, before it was necessary for her to come to a distinct decision. And when
The following passage from the Memoir of Mrs. Sutton is worthy of consideration in reference to the point here suggested. It confirms our belief that the missionary spirit of females, who devote themselves to the cause of Christ among the heathen, is, at least in some cases, an independent and earnest desire to fulfil Christian obligations, and to save souls.
Her impressions were deep, and her attachment to the cause of missions strengthened to a desire to consecrate herself to its interests. A young man of respectable character and circumstances, had previously sought her hand; but she absolutely declined receiving his addresses. Then (1821), and for some years afterwards, she had no prospect of de voting herself to missionary services; but appears to have formed a determination not to enter into any connection, however flattering as to worldly circumstances, which would permanently bind her to her native land."-Memoir, pp. 45, 46.
VOL. VII.-NO. XXV.
this became necessary, there is reason to believe it was not with her a question of mere private attachment, but of Christian obligation; of duty to the heathen and to her Redeemer. She was not led astray by the romance of missionary life. She took strong and just views of the undertaking. Hence she was prepared for the trials of a separation from the friends of her youth, and for the self-denial attendant upon the state of exile in an unpropitious clime. The question was taken up by her, and investigated with "serious and prayerful consideration."
The method by which she came to a final and satisfactory decision of the question, commends itself so highly, as an exhibition of sound judgment, and enlightened Christian feeling, that we venture to present it in her own words. It may, perchance, also, aid some of our readers in similar circumstances. The paper of which the following extract is a copy, was dated and solemnly subscribed, "Norwich, November 10, 1816, Sabbath Evening."
"QUESTION OF DUTY RESPECTING MISSIONS.
"In examining this subject, I have conside red the disposition of my mind; my qualifications; the language of Divine Providence; and the teachings of the Holy Spirit.
"The disposition of my mind. For four and a half years, my prevailing desire has been to spend my life in the service of Christ. During the early part of this period, my plans for future enjoyment always centered in giving up all for Christ, and spending my days in a pagan land. Such plans, however, appeared like idle dreams, to cheat life of some of its dull hours; every thing within and without forbade the indulgence of such hopes.
"The perusal of Buchanan's Researches' first excited my warmest interest for the salvation of the heathen; and while I had not the least idea of ever going myself to the Eastern world, it was my earnest desire that many laborers might be sent to introduce the gospel among its thronging millions. When I questioned myself if I should be willing to go, were all obstacles removed, my uniform reply was, that no personal sacrifice was too great to make; but these obstacles would probably ever remain, and therefore I must think only of duties in my own country. The memoirs of Mrs. Newell, while they exhibited the sufferings of a missionary in glowing colors, were yet alluring, and my fancied scheme of happiness was more frequently resorted to, as a solace in my pilgrimage, though with no more prospect of being realized. No situation in my native land could I imagine so capable of affording me substantial happiness, but I desired to be useful somewhere; and as I was in the hands of Him who had seemed to fix my destiny, I strove to feel, that, could I be entirely devoted here, I would ask no more. In this state of mind, the pleasures of the world gradually became insipid and unsatisfying. The early removal of my brother, when about to devote himself to ministering at the altar, awakened
anew the desire to consecrate all that God had given me to his service. In no other view did life appear desirable; for this only did I wish a continuance here.
"When, at length, it did seem possible that I should be called to forsake friends and native land, my great object was to observe the leadings of Providence, that I might not rush uncalled into so glorious a work. Having long believed that insuperable obstacles would prevent this happiness, I was the less animated by the possibility of their being removed. It was not, that being called to view the hardships attending a missionary, with more prospect of realizing them, I was intimidated; it was rather the difficulty of determining duty, which often checked my roving mind. I strove to lay aside every personal interest, and to fix my desires where I could be most extensively useful. At times the magnitude of the work, my insufficiency, and the trials attending such a sacrifice of temporal comfort, have caused me to shrink from what appeared too much for feeble nature to bear. In the main, however, I have desired to be grateful for being counted worthy to suffer for Christ.
"Qualifications. This subject has caused almost my only doubts. When I compare my love for immortal souls with that of our divine Immanuel, and that of his early disciples, I am almost ready to say, If I were really called to a mission so much resembling that on which he sent them forth, I should possess more of their spirit. But I do feel something, though in a far inferior degree; and what power, save the Holy Spirit, has put the least degree of faith and love within me? I trust that God has implanted a holy principle in me. He will then add to it all needful grace-to him be glory for ever. My mental qualifications are by no means adequate. In this I have support in the assurance that God's 'strength shall be perfected in weakness.' My health has been an objection of some magnitude; but, after consulting my physician, and learning that the effect of the voyage and climate is, on every constitution, uncertain; and after consulting Mr. Nott, who has been abroad, I am led to the conclusion that my state of health should not deter me. The inference from these and other considerations is, that if other objections are removed, qualifications must not be an obstacle.
"The leadings of Divine Providence. These appear in my being early weaned from the charms of this life-an ardent desire being awakened within me to renounce every temporal comfort for the service of Christ-in my having sent to me an unsought friend, who had a missionary spirit, at the very moment when I was about to believe that duty called me to other scenes; in causing my health to be better than it had been for several preceding years; in giving me parents who do not oppose, and in constantly giving me increased desires to devote all my powers to his service. These, united with many more indications that the Lord was leading me, which I cannot record, enable me confidently to believe that the work is all his own, and to him be all the glory.
"Teachings of the Holy Spirit. By these I mean the impressions on my mind, which accompanied the examination of duty, from time to time; and these were manifestly towards this object :-when, in reading the sacred oracles, my heart was particularly warmed by contemplating the wide field of missionary labor, and the examples of holy
men of old, who willingly suffered any privations and hardships for the sake of being ambassadors of the Lord Jesus-when, in examining objections, they always dwindled to a point, if considered with the command of Christ, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature'-when the trials of this life served to excite a more ardent desire to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ,' rather than to have any effect to intimidate me--and when, in pouring out my soul on this subject to the Father of light, I realized more of that sweet peace in which my willing soul would stay '-and, finally, in so drawing me to the throne of mercy, that I could not leave without a blessing; and at length dissipating every doubt, and enabling me by the eye of faith to discover the finger of God pointing to the East, and with the affection of a Father, and the authority of a Sovereign, saying, 'Come, follow me this is the way, walk ye in it;' and adding, for my encouragement, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'
"In view of all these considerations, and many more, I do believe that God calls me to become a missionary; and do, with this belief, resolve' to consider myself as devoted to that service; and, as much as possible, to make all my exertions have an ultimate reference to it; hoping that God will qualify me, and make me a faithful servant, for Christ's sake. Amen and amen.”—pp. 85-90.
She was married to Rev. Miron Winslow, at Norwich, January 11, 1819. Dr. and Mrs. Scudder were to accompany them to Ceylon, as missionaries of the same Board. Amidst the prayers and tears of many friends who " panied them to the ship," they sailed from Boston, June 8, 1819, in the brig Indus, bound to Calcutta. Their passage was cheered by a revival of religion on board the ship. Before the vessel reached its destination, the first and second mates, clerk, cook, and several of the men, had become hopefully pious.
The station of Mr. and Mrs. Winslow was at Oodooville, in the island of Ceylon. She remarks in her journal, soon after reaching the place of their future residence," The country around is nearly all cultivated, and presents a pleasant prospect of rice-fields and palmyra groves, in the midst of which are villages swarming with population. Our habitation is a long, single-story house, with a verandah in front. There are out-houses in the rear, and a garden. The house has four front rooms, and four narrow ones, back. The one that we occupy is in front at the south end, and is sixteen feet square. There are placed most of our possessions, and we still find abundant room to turn ourselves round. The floors are made of mortar. The walls are stone, plastered and whitewashed. The roof is after the fashion of barns in America, and covered with palmyra leaves. The rough,