1794 February 20 (Maria)

Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, to Anne Andrews, Isleworth, [Thursday], 20 February 1794.

Sarum Feb:ry 20 94

I wrote you my Love a long Letter Janry ye 27 in Answer to yrs of ye 13th but some circumstances relative to our Friend Mrs Houghton, proving different to what I had stated, induced me to suppress it. Nor have I felt much liberty of communication since, strange as it may appear, I have been as it were shut up, in attempting to write to you. A variety of frivolous troubles, with which I did not chuse to burden you, (or if I cd have avoided it, my own attention;) have no doubt occasion’d this Mental bondage. –

Yrs my sweet Friend of ye date mention’d above, was perused by me with a kind of Melancholy pleasure; I perceived Alas! yt a part of it was the Effusion of a griev’d Spirit. But why were you discouraged with your incapacity, of fulfilling my request at yt instant? it is certain I wish you to be useful, very useful; if it were ye Lords will but I cannot bear ye thought, of distressing you either for myself, or others, with fruitless importunity. No, I would only animate & not depress, you. But as you rightly judge, it is ye pride of our heart which occasions us these sorrows. For do not our ungrateful murmurs say too plainly, yt our polluted services would be done to Man, & not heartily unto ye Lord. This Alas! is seeking honor one of another, & not yt which cometh from God only. O my dear, may we in ye language of ye precious Hymn, (which I enclose for your Comfort:) experience yt it is always,

“Sweet in the confidence of faith,

To trust his firm decree’s;

Sweet to lay passive in his hands,

And know no will but his.”

Mr & Mrs Saffery return’d home, in health & safety about 6 o’clock on Saturday Night last. I lament yt you had not the pleasure of an interview, but let us remember yt our heavenly Father does all things well they are much pleased with our beloved Friends in C. Street from whom I suppose you will hear more concerning them –

I must proceed to say something on a Subject in which I am a good deal interested & I am persuaded yt you will participate [in] my feelings: when I tell you yt we find it necessary to enlarge, & rebuild in part, our house in B—n Street – which with ye greatest oeconomy will require nearly ye sum of a hundred pounds. The plan of alteration it is hoped, will commence about six weeks hence; in ye interim a considerable collection is to be made in our own Church. Mr Saffery enters on his begging Expedition. You who know my situation, will readily conceive ye inquietude I suffer on Acc:t of my dependent circumstances. I entreat yr advice my dear Love as soon as possible. –

A few words of poor dr Mrs H– she left here with Tho.s & Mary; her husband & little Matt:w are both in London, the Child is with H–’s mother, No 10 Gate St Lincolns Inn Fields, & if you should go to town, Mrs B begs you will call & look at him. You will be agreeably surprised to hear, yt she has furnish’d two Rooms, thro ye benevolent exertions of her friends since her Husbands departure. She desires her love & ye smallest donation will be gratefully received. When you send a parcel remember if you please ye pieces of ye dark Frock.

I must not forget to tell you yt dear Mr Baine was ordain’d Pastor of ye Church at Downton, on ye 1st day of ye new year. I walked thither on ye occasion. – On ye mor:g of X:mas day I was honord with sustaining ye Character, of Bridesmaid to my friend Frances Leicester now Mrs Wit. Mr S—y Father < > & Mr & Mrs Baker were married ye day after. I call’d ye other day on ye good woman at Bridford. I do believe, nay I cannot doubt, but she is experimentally acquainted with ye truth as it is in Jesus. She enquired for you, so indeed do most of my dear friends. Mary Dossett ask’d after you with particular solicitude a few day’s before her death. O what a precious Redeemer did this excellent young woman find our Immanuel. Death said she to me has lost its Sting; & ye Grave its Victory. This, (alluding to ye exquisitely painful state of her body) is hard work; but its thro’ great tribulation yt they whose Robes are wash’d, & made white in the blood of ye Lamb, enter into ye kingdom such a Saviour shall we, I trust find in Jehovah Jesus –

About a week since I heard ye celebrated Mr Jay you have heard my former opinion of him. Very differently wd I now speak of this wonderful young Man I went prejudiced, suspicious, trembling & return’d humbled, instructed, I may add enraptured, with ye goodness of God manifested to such a Sinner. He preach’d from Heb:ws 2 Chap. Ver. 10 and Oh I could not doubt of Victory while fighting under ye great Captain of Salvation. O my dear Love, are you a Soldier? do you know any thing of a Conflict? You know you do; well then

Fight on, nor fear to win the day,

Tho’ Death & hell obstruct the way.

What tho’ thine inward Lust rebel,

’Tis but a struggling gasp for life;

The weapons of victorious grace,

Shall slay thy sins & end ye strife.

but I must forbear. – Mr Saffery preach’d last Night from those important words, “but a New Creature.” Ah! when I look back & think, with what secret horror, & aversion, such passages have fill’d my Mind, I cannot but give Glory to God, & rejoice over the wond’rous change, which Sovreign Grace hath made. I long to say a great deal more but time forbids. Pray write soon, & take a lesson from ye preceptive part of yr own letters. Enter into ye particulars of yr experience. Let me know ye good things which God is doing for you, how he is bearing you up, & bearing with you, in the wilderness, don’t let the Enemies presume because of yr unbelief. Tell Him for I hope you can; yt you have been to Jesus; & yt he casts out none, yt come to him by faith. Use the Sword of ye Spirit, say “it is written Satan.” & O, be much in Prayer. All ye artifices of hell will be employ’d against you, in this thing. My dear Sister don’t desert a throne of Grace. Of ye force, & prevalency, of this temptation, I can bear sad testimony, but don’t let us yield to our cruel Adversary. We need strong consolation as poor sensible Sinners. Then never let us dare to trifle with yt divine Compassion, which bids us come, yt we may find rest unto our Souls. My unbelief was sweetly reproved in a late distressing Season by some words you will find in ye 20 Chap Prov:bs “Say not thou I will recompense Evil, but wait on ye Lord, and He shall save thee.” Yes & I believe he will. I will find time now to tell you what yr favorite Mr Dyer said to me about doubts & fears, “bring them first said he to ye Court of Conscience; & if conscience can’t do anything with them, bring them to ye promise, & if ye promise won’t do, carry doubt & conscience, & promise, & all, to ye Lord; & say, “Lord I am oppressed, undertake for me.” Adieu my dear Love, may you have all joy, & peace in believing, & know from delightful experience, yt light is sown for ye Righteous; & gladness for ye upright in heart. So prays yr Affectionate Friend & unworthy Sister

Maria Grace Andrews

I am sure dr Mr & Mrs S—y send love. I intend writing & beg you will send two or three of Cheyt-Sing Mr S—y reminded me yesterday of my promise received yr little letter of ye 18th write very soon

Love to all our dear Isleworth Friends.

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, I.B.1.(6.), 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. 66-68. In 1795 a new chapel (or ‘meetinghouse’) was built in Brown Street. John Saffery spent much of the fall of 1794 and early 1795 soliciting donations from individuals of Baptist congregations in London and throughout the provinces, having the donors sign their names (and the amount of their donation) in a bound volume which is now a part of the Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. no. 180, B.4, Angus Library. See G. A. Moore, The Story of Brown Street Baptist Church, Salisbury, 1655-1955 (Salisbury: [n.d.], 1955), p. 26. William Jay (1769–1853) was the celebrated Independent minister at Argyle Chapel, Bath. He delivered the funeral sermon for Marianna Attwater Head at Bradford on 1 March 1832, the only funeral discourse for any member of the Steele/Saffery circle that appeared in print.