1793 December 23 (Maria)

Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, to Anne Andrews, Isleworth, Monday, 23 December [1793].

Monday Morning, Decr 23rd

My dear Creature,

I sit down with an earnest desire to enjoy, a few minutes conversation with you. My heart puts forth its old enquiry; how is my beloved? Indeed I must know, circumstantially know, all that concerns you, body & Soul. May the Lord for his glory, his peoples joy, & the comfort of a sinful Worm, strengthen you with all might, by his spirit; & sustain, & prosper you, in his gracious providence! may you my love, feel all the refreshing sweetness of those words, which the Lord speaks by his Prophet, “I have known Thee in the Wilderness; in a time of great drought!” Pray, my dear Sister for faith, to receive the promise; be earnest at a throne of Grace; for that strong consolation, which a Covenant God can give you. Be found in the Way; & the Wayfaring Man, tho’ a fool shall not err therein; read Isaiah Chap 35.

But you are enquiring also: are you not saying how are the dear Friends of Sarum? Our beloved Mrs Saffery was very ill when I arrived here, if such a thing may be admitted, of one who seem’d to enjoy, so much spiritual health. Mr Saffery I did not speak to, til I came out of Meeting in the Afternoon, but he remember’d me very sweetly in his prayer. I cannot express what I felt, of the satisfaction the dear people seem’d to experience at seeing me. Several enquired very tenderly for you, but Mr & Mrs Saffery especially. To the latter I gave the Cap, in yr name. Indeed I had reason to think it best, & you must allow it was yr first intention. I cannot tell you all she said about it. And now my dear love I am going to say pity me. Dr Mr Saffery is to supply Mr Rylands church, at Northampton next Month. They pass thro’ London & Mrs Saffery remains the whole time at her Sister’s Mrs Shoveler. I suppose it will be six weeks before they return, & I entreat you, contrive to see her either at home, or at Mr Scotts, for she will call in Chapel St. & write to yr poor solitary Sister, very frequently. I wish I could accompany them & so meet you in C–– St. but this alas! cannot be. –

Mrs Houghton, is removed to a comfortable room at a little distance. She was much pleased with the contents of the parcel. If you cd spare the old stuff Skirt it would be a great advantage to the Boys. They are also constrain’d to sleep without Sheets. If you cd send some old without embarrassing yr self, (as Houghton is to suppose them borrowd) they will be very serviceable when he leaves her; which we conjecture will be soon. She works with her needle a good deal & makes little things to sell. She is the same romantic Creature with respect to me but I trust she loves J. C. supremely; & it becomes therefore our duty, a privilege, to assist her in these struggles of adversity. The love of Christ will, I believe it has constrain’d you, in these things. For you know of the grace of him, who tho he was rich; for our sakes became poor. Let us therefore my dear sister consider one another, to provoke unto love, & good Works. Mrs Saffery has been very kind to our poor Friends, for her necessities have been very severe. ye Children were almost naked. Since I have got into a theme of sorrows, I proceed to grieve you. Mr Law is dead; (this perhaps but don’t mention it,) was really a sad event. Mr S. pr:d from set thine house in order &c. A poor creature present, objected that he had not been there long enough, meaning Mr L––s house in the Close. –

Let it not sadden you my love, to hear yt the Lord is taking home one of his young hand-maids: Mary Popeth. I mean to see her in a few Day’s; I find she is very comfortable. Ah! she might well be joyful, at the thought of entering that land, where the inhabitants shall no more say they are sick, for, “the people yt dwell therein, are forgiv’n, blessed sound to Sinners, all their iniquity.” The two past Sabbaths have been very solemn opportunites to my Soul Mr S– preach’d twice yesterday fm yt remarkable prophecy, Awake, O Sword, &c in the Eveng from Isaiah Chap. 23d the Sinners in Zion, &c & very forcibly proved, yt notwithstanding ye scoffs of some, who wd soften its terrors yt hell was in reallity [sic], a place of fire! The Meeting was very crowded, & I think I never heard him, so clear, so awful, so energetic! perhaps I am presumptuous, but the fears of damnation did not seem to affright my Soul. No but I was afflicted, at the dreadful hardness of my heart, that I could mourn no more for those evil sins, which awoke the Sword of divine Justice; & bathed it in the blood of my agonising Savior, that “Man of Sorrows”! the “Fellow of the Lord of Hosts”! Indeed those lines in yr Hymn Book, have been very sweet to me, where the Sinner pleading ye atonement say’s,

“Thou can’st not justice twice demand;

First at my bleeding Surety’s hand’

And then again at mine.”

Precious thought! should not this afford strong consolation, to every Soul yt looks for all in Christ. & cannot you say, my dr Love,

“Now for the Love, I bear his Name,

What was my gain I count my loss:

My former pride I call my shame,

And nail my glory to his Cross. –

We have now a prayer meeting, every Friday Even’g & every 1st Monday in the Month also, instead of Conference. Every Monday Morning there is a prayer Meeting, in Mr S—y’s parlour, from ten, to elev’n. The M—r’s, agreed at the last association, to spend that hour in the Closet, or in social Prayer, yt they might be together at a throne of Grace, praying for the spread of the dear Redeemers kingdom. Be as much with them my dear, as you can you will no doubt find it good, to draw nigh; & put up, though but a feeble petition to him, who seeth in secret: for the peace, & glory, of Jerusalem. It is said, of her, “they shall prosper that love the – My G. Fh:r & G. Mh:r are tolerably well, as it respects the body: alas! alas! that I can say no more. Do not our hearts unite in saying to the Lord, O that our Ishmaels might live before thee!

Mrs H– seems desirous to have ye blue satin Gown & Petticoat; I think you had better send it with yr Counterpane, as soon as possible. Rebekah is going away to live in Mr Pervis’s Family. She is commonly speaking a good Girl but Mrs H– has taken away the Gown you gave her, so yt I was constrain’d to make her some compensation. I made this use of ye coarse muslin handkerchief, & thought you would not disapprove it, on this emergency.

Mr Dyer preach’d the Thursday after I came f.m Peter 1st Ep. 5 Chap. Ver. 12. Mr Mile of Portsmouth preach’d in my absence, from there is a Giver &c &c in Brown St. – this may make you smile; but you know the streams are never dry. Gustavas Vassa, I understand has been here, he call’d on my G. Fh:r with his Book without success, & dined at Mr S—y’s but I shall tire you.

My affectionate respects to all our dear X:an Friends, at I—h. Adieu my dear Love, the Lord of Peace himself, give you peace, always & by all means. Yrs most tenderly,

Maria Grace Andrews

Sarah Hobbs’s was a sweet experience; she exclaim’d in a rapture at the Water side, my Soul is all in a flame. – dr Mr Baine is to be ordain’d Pastor of ye church at Downton.[21] Mr B– has been thought to be in trying circumstances – Mr S–y’s relation, Mrs Williams, (if we can so call, a triumphant entrance into Glory) is dead. – pardon all errors –

You know what things I am likely to want & the state of my finances –

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, I.B.4.a.(7.), Angus Library. Address: Miss Andrews. No postmark; for a fully annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, gen. ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 6, pp. 59-62. The annual meeting of the Western Association of Particular Baptist Churches (founded in the late seventeenth century) met at Bradford on 21-22 May 1793. James Dyer (1743-97) was the Baptist minister at Devizes, 1782-97. John Bain (d. 1831, aged 77) was ordained at the Particular Baptist church at Downton in December 1793. He remained at Downton for ten years before accepting the call to the pastorate of the Baptist meeting at Potter Street, Harlow, where he preached until his death in 1831. The other minister mentioned here, Daniel Miall (1747-1833), was the assistant minister to the Baptist congregation in Meeting-house Alley, Portsmouth. He joined the congregation in 1773 during the ministry of John Lacy. Olaudah Equiano [Gustavus Vassa] (c.1745-1797) was a former slave in the Caribbean and in the American South best known for his Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (London, 1789), one of the earliest and most important texts describing the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century. The church in Brown Street, as demonstrated by John Saffery’s invitation to Vassa and his dining with him in his home, actively supported the abolitionist movement, being instrumental, through its support of the BMS missionaries in Jamaica, such as William Knibb, in promoting the passage of the Abolition Bill in 1833.