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money in this case, as far as I can judge, does not arise altogether from pride; as my kind friends can tell, I accept the smallest obligation with the same grateful feeling that prompts the acknowledgment of a larger one. But here lies the objection which oppresses me: I have found voluntary instruction, on my part, to have been attended with great advantage, and I am apprehensive, that in receiving payment, my labours may be less acceptable. I fear also, that my mind may be fettered with pecuniary payment, and the whole work upset. To try the experiment, which might injure the thing I live and breathe for, seems like applying a knife to your child's throat to know if it will cut. Now, my life is my own, my time is my own for the prisoners, according to my conscience before God; and the consequent desire is, in an honest and faithful manner, to obey the wishes of the gentlemen who have the control of the gaol, who honour me with their confidence, and support me with their influence. Were you so angry that I could not meet you, a merciful God, and a good conscience, would preserve my peace; when, if I ventured on what I believed would be prejudicial to the prisoners, God would frown upon me, and my conscience too, and these would follow me every where! As for my circumstances, I have not a wish ungratified, and am more than content."
I was suddenly comforted in my distress, by a few words from one of those gentlemen, whose kindness to me on this occasion ought not to be forgotten. The words were, "The business is
out of your hands: if we permit you to visit the prison, you must submit to our terms." Before the evening came when the committee met, my mind was at rest, and I was free to say, "Whatever decision they may arrive at, I shall have acted right." Nor had I any choice from that time as to receiving any pecuniary acknowledgment or not, until it was made known to me that I should receive twelve pounds a year. My peace was restored in the consciousness, that money was no part of my object; and when I saw the measure carried forward without my knowledge or concurrence, by the secret providence of God, I felt it a privilege to acquiesce and be thankful.
From my first visit to the gaol in 1819, to the present year, (1843,) I never had a serious illness, and I have seldom been compelled by indisposition, to omit regular attendance on the prisoners. So remarkably have I been favoured, that I have often said, "I see that the Almighty indulges me in health in order that my delightful privileges may be pursued to advantage." In the course of the last five years, my strength has, however, been failing, and during the last winter, health departing; with pain and difficulty I have, however, been enabled to reach the home of my first interest and pleasure, until April 17, 1843, from which day I have been entirely confined at home by serious illness. Then did I remember how often I used to tell the prisoners, that a Christian's happiness, imparted and supported by his God, was unmoved in affliction; and now I proved it, and the half had not been told. In
bodily affliction, my mind was full of joy and peace: I found affliction so deprived of afflictive power, that I could not call my own illness by that name. I have been mercifully favoured with much comparative ease; yet in sleepless nights, and days of pain, I found neither grief nor sorrow, for my Saviour had "borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." My cares also were lost in peace; all the deep anxieties inseparable from my duties among the prisoners whilst in health, in sickness fled. From my twentieth year, as before mentioned, in the happy assurance which Divine truth brought by the power of God, of my Saviour's great work upon earth, and his intercession in heaven, I had seen death to be disarmed; for whilst Jesus tasted death, the shadow only remained, and it has seemed from the Holy Scriptures, that the last moments of a believer were the most joyful of life below; yet such was my frailty then, that I still shrank with much timidity from the thought of sickness and pain; but when sent by my most merciful God and Father, I found them to be all blessing. In the consciousness of being in his hand, there is no void, no loss. What made me happy? When abroad, I had his smile; now, I have it more undisturbed, and prove his boundless all-sufficiency.
After a course of medical treatment, with renewed health and return of appetite, when advancing strength was expected, I still sank, and extreme weakness brought its attendant pain. The excitement of seeing my friends for the first nine weeks, was too much for my weak state, and I found inexpressible sweetness in calm seclusion
with God. The medical gentleman who attended me, ordered strict quietness, and in this point my weakness made way for a blessing of the highest advantage. In health, my duties at the gaol, my beloved friends, and other duties, had my time: in sickness, cut off from these, God demanded it. This was a happy season below heaven; but in spirit as much above earth. I at once found free access to the Father, Son, and Spirit, and had learned from the word of God, that ministering angels surround his children below. In spirit, I seemed in communion with the redeemed in heaven; nor can I, with a grateful heart before God, omit to mention the goodness and great kindness of my dear friends to me in my illness. Those, whose love and care had long before sweetened life to me, with new energy poured fresh benefits on me, both in spiritual sympathy, and in supplies of temporal bounty. The beneficence of the Almighty followed me in these precious human streams, and I was also favoured with medical attendance by the husband of a friend, without money and without price.
At an early period, after having been brought out of spiritual darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, I found great pleasure and delight in writing sacred poetry; and homely as my attempts were, they were not the less profitable to me, as I accustomed myself to seek portions of matter from the Holy Scriptures. I leave these pieces in the hands of my dear executrix: they were nearly all written twenty years ago; but at later periods, some improvements were made in
re-copying them, and although they could not be made what I would now wish, yet there was in them too much of scriptural truth, for me to destroy them with a good conscience.
In the happy seclusion of my illness, apart from all that could disturb, in a universe of calm repose, and peace, and love, I found in the enjoyment of God, I had no choice as to whether he would give me sickness or health, pain or ease, life or death, as nothing but good could come from my Redeemer's hands, whilst his wise and eternal purpose secured my present happiness, and eternal benefit. With such feelings, I wrote The Sick Room," in eight short pieces, between May and June 10, 1843.
I was requested a few years ago to write an outline of my life, with the view of encouraging others in the instruction of prisoners, but after having written it, I was so struck with what appeared to me the strange impropriety of sending forth such an account publicly, whilst I was yet living, that it was laid aside. It was then proposed to me to furnish that part only which related to the prison, but this I felt to be more strongly objectionable, as it was an exhibition of that part of my life only, in which any love or obedience to God could be traced. Having looked over that outline in my present illness, with much weakness, I have re-copied it, though with little success, in the hope of destroying that egotistical appearance, which, in such a relation, after all my attempts against it, it still seems to bear.
My hope is, that the former part of my life, so