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To the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small
Children, in April, 1800.
gave us last
With pleasure we, your Board, again meet this benevolent Society. With pleasure we announce the success of the Institution—its funds, its usefulness, and its respectability increase. We have on the books two hundred and seventy-four annual subscribers, thirty-nine more than at last meeting.
The Treasurer has received three hundred and thirty dollars from ladies, in donations; and from gentlemen, six hundred and seventeen dollars, nearly double what they
year. Your managers have expended eight hundred and twenty dollars since the last meeting—not quite five months. Perhaps this may surprise you, but there was no avoiding it. Though the winter has been mild, and the price of wood moderate, the wants of the poor have been more pressing than in former years. We have on our books one hundred and forty-two widows, with four hundred and six children below twelve years the greater part below six; besides many boys bound apprentices, for whom their mothers must wash, mend, and provide, in part, clothing. Though the sum expended appears great, you will find, on calculation, that it is not quite six dollars to each family: yet, by prudent manage
age, by far
ment, giving it to them by little and little, and in things nourishing, yet cheap, it went further than twice the sum given in money, and at once.
Besides, in cordials for the sick, and exigences of different kinds, your Managers have begged and contributed, (I speak within bounds when I say it,) to the amount of two hundred dollars more. Most of our widows have to learn economy from necessity; in the days of their husbands they lived not only plentifully, but luxuriously. Every class of mechanics in New York could live well, and lay up for their families were they frugal : but the reverse of this is the case—the evil is general, and I fear, not to be cured. The change to their widows greatly aggravates their misery; well may they read their sin in their punishment, when meagre want overtakes them. But God forgives, and so ought we. who have so much to be forgiven, have yet our necessaries, our comforts, and even our luxuries, spared. To us our comfortable dwellings, cheerful fires, and convivial parties, give to winter its charms. Alas, for her! the newmade widow, to whom all these are lost for ever- —to her, the approach of winter is as the approach of death. Accustomed to spread the board by a cheerful fireside, to welcome the companion of her heart from the labours of the day, to bless and share the social meal, provided by his industry, drest with neatness and ingenuity, rendered agreeable by health and appetite, and heightened in its relish by mutual love! The witty sayings of the prattlers are rer peated, and the news of the household exchanged for the news of the city. The little ones too have their share: they tell the father the exploits of the day; he forgets his fatigue, and dandles them by turns on his knee, while the mother's moistened eyes glisten with pleasure. Alas! the change !-Husband, father, support, provider, gone for
ever! The setting sun, the succeeding twilight, the rattling cars, the train of labourers, announce the approach of evening, when many boards are spread, many husbands return to bless their families ; scarcely can she believe that he is not in the crowd; fain would she persuade herself that she has been in a dream ; fain would she fancy that yonder is he. Darkness pervades the earth; the neighbouring doors shut in the happy families; the beaming fires illumine the windows. Back she staggers to her dreary dwelling, and wakes to all the realities of her widowed state. The once cheerful chimney scarcely emits a taper blaze. Her children cry for bread, but her empty pantry affords it not. Tired nature soon brings them relief—they sleep—they forget. Not so the widowed heart: busy cruel memory calls back, and doubles her departed joys; comparison doubles also her present misery; every avenue to hope is shut. Her big swollen heart would burst its narrow bounds, but for a gush of tears, in mercy sent to give it vent. The deep-fetched sobs wring out the big round drops in blest profusion, till glutted with grief, she sinks among her babes. Time, that sorrow-healing balm, softens at length the pungency of woe. thizing neighbours, the unrestrained complaints and tears, render her situation familiar ; the wants of her children urge her to exertion for their support. Some sisterwidow, pensioner on your bounty, consoles her with the
that many benevolent hearts have united their efforts to relieve wants like hers. Hope steals in—she listensis comforted, plans schemes of industry, and exerts herself to become father and mother to her orphans.
Many such, dear Ladies, have eaten of your bread, been warmed from your wood-yard, clothed from your
webin sickness revived by your cordials, consoled and soothed
earth, which they sing in heaven. town, to attend preparation sermon. bath.
I am just going to
taken on my
July 17, 1801. What shall I render to the Lord for all his mercies; mercies temporal, mercies spiritual, mercies eternal, multiplied mercies! The one thing that I asked of the Lord has been answered in full ; and 0, how much added! God himself become my Salvation, and the Salvation of my house; how unspeakable the blessing! Although chastisement and affliction were the means of correction and sanctification, or even the vengeance
inventions, yet, as a God, he at the same time pardons. For my character is ever the same with backsliding Judah, and treacherous Israel. Glory to that name which is ever the same, and changes not, “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." This was his name among a stiff-necked people, an idolatrous, ungrateful people; this is his name to me, alike in character. O how he has magnified this name to me, a backslider in heart and life; multiplying pardons while I have multiplied transgressions ! Still he has been with me; healing my backsliding, restoring my soul, leading me to the open fountain, giving faith and joy and peace in believing: not only so, but in this land of drought, this vast howling wilderness, this vale of tears," where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards," my cup is full, and running over with temporal comfort. All his creatures minister to my comfort; and as days and nights roll on, his daily providence adds, and diminishes not.
I had hardly hoped to see the faces of my children
again; for he commanded, and raised the stormy winds, and lifted up the waves of the sea ; they mounted to heaven, and sunk again to the deep; death with all its natural horrors, surrounded them : the deep yawned to devour them! but God, their own God, was at hand, their Anchor of Hope ; their Ark of Safety; their Hiding Place, till the calamity was past; "they cried to him, and he saved them out of their distresses; he made the storm a calm, and the waves thereof still, and brought them to the desired haven.” This trouble was not unto death, but for the glory of God, and the exercising of your faith, for the manifestation of his power and goodness, and the enriching of your experience.
O, then, “let us praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. exalt him in the congregation of his people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders."
My dear Children,
Yours of July 3d, from Glasgow, is to me like cold water to the thirsty soul. I thank my dear J—, that tired and fatigued as she was, she sacrificed her necessary rest to the relief of her anxious mother. I hope that my
God did not allow her to be a sufferer ; yet, my dear, two sheets were not necessary to my relief, though every line in them was interesting. To hear of the attentions of our dear countrymen, must be gratifying; to learn that your health permits you to accept of these,
re so; to hear of your attention, and that of others, to my lonely sister, is soothing. But words are wanting, to express the delight of my soul, on reading of the Lord's goodness to your