1801 July

Jane Attwater Blatch, Bodenham, to Caroline Whitaker, Bratton, [Thursday], [16] July 1801.

“Looking unto Jesus the Author & finisher of our Faith”

My dear Sister,

When we take a survey of the numerous worthy characters mentioned in the Chap.r preceeding my Motto does it not tend to excite in our breasts a degree of admiration & Emmulation & stimulate us with a degree of Fortitude to pursue the same path they trod – to exalt that Faith they embraced & endear Him Who is the Author & finisher of that Faith wch can raise the mind superior to the world & worldly objects.—Whilst we view those Antient Worthies with deserved applause & veneration & at an humble distance wish to follow their Example: let us come to later periods of Time & take a view of many of our worthy ancestors & Friends who in later ages has borne a glorious Testamony to the Truth of our holy Religion. –

Yes amongst our Relations a Gay a Steele an Attwater & a Whitaker will not be forgotten these all died in Faith & are now Inheriting the promises.—Many of our pious Senr Friends whose pious precepts & Examples are impress’d on our minds never to be Erased are gone to that world of Glory to which I trust we are tending.—With what Love & veneration did we view them? – with what satisfaction Imbibe their Sentiments.—With what pleasure listen to their Admonitions.—The stern austerity embittered the nectarious cup of Wisdom or chill’d the opening buds of enquiring Infant Reason.—But sweet perswasion & softened pity “allured to brighter worlds & led the way” meek eyed patience & blest Humility with every lovely virtue gave energy to precept & taught to be good was to be happy.—Holiness & Happiness was sweetly & rationaly recommended by & exemplified in them as Inseparable Companions before we knew how to express our Ideas we lovd the Image of Jesus (the perfect pattern of all Good) in those Hon’d Friends with whom we was most Intimately connected.—

Years of Experience has now added strength to those Instructions we rec’d, in our juvanal days – we see the propriety & force of many observations made to us in early life; which perhaps (tho from sense of duty & confidence in the judgement of our Superior Relations were yn assented too) yet were not so heartily embraced as now because not fully understood.—Lengthen’d life & accumulating Experience now revives the memory of past exhortations & realizes more yn ever the certainty of the Benefit yt arises from following the Examples set before us – Sacred writ call on us – our long loved venerated Friend & Relatives call on us – and very recently our dear young Relative our beloved Mary (who is now added to the List of the dear departed Happy Spirits) She arrests our attention! In humble mild & pious Accents – “Look unto Jesus as your prophet priest & king as the perfect pattern of Christian obedience. Look unto Jesus as the kind Intercessor at ye Throne[ above pleading your cause & preparing a place for you.—“Look unto Jesus as your Almighty King to subdue every remaining Imperfection to sanctify you wholly by his spirit to conquer your every foe & ennable you to triumph over every Enemy. “Look unto Jesus as your compassionate Saviour & redeemer who knows how to succour you under temptations to feel for your Infirmaties to tenderly sympathize with you in distress redeem you from sin & render you acceptable by ye Impartation of his grace & the Imputation of His Righteousness. “Look unto Jesus” for support & comfort wn Earthly support & comfort fails – Yes God will be the strength of your heart & your portion forever He will strengthen you he will uphold you – Reflect my valued Friend on past times of distress! Did not God then wonderfully support you? & administer tender Consolations to your Mind? Can we not both say wn Affliction & distress abounded Grace & mercy did much more abound.—We have been mercifully upheld by the Almighty power & Goodness of our God – In time of the deepest distress & heartrending Woe did you not once say “Tho He slay me yet will I trust in him” Yes my beloved sister we have both Experienced the Goodness of God to be unspeakably Great.—I had fainted unless I had believed wn mourning the loss of a most tenderly beloved parent!—with extreme agony of Grief I view’d all my Earthly Happiness expire with my fondly lovd Friend yet Blessed be God for supporting Grace I could then rise superior to all this world could bestow & look up with filial love & adoration & say in the fullness of my heart “Whom have I in Heaven but Thee & there is none upon Earth I desire besides Thee Tho my flesh & my heart faileth yet thou art ye strength of my hearts will be my portion forever My father & my mother has left me but thou O Lord my Heavenly parent – Thou will take me up – Thou will guide me by thy counsel thro’ Life & afterward receive me to Glory.” This was the language of my heart in ye most trying period of my life – not unto me but to God be all the Glory.—Jesus is still the same Yesterday today & forever Tho’ our frames may vary & our Faith may not be in such lively Exercise yet I trust our Faith is of that Kind which is alone the Gift of God & shall be realized at last in full assurance of Blessed Glory above.—

Tho’ our Earthly comforts one after another leave us – or should we be taken from them let us remember our God in whom we trust is still the same In Him alone there is an Infinite fullness supply all our need. Like as a Father pities his children so does ye Lord pity those who fear him he knoweth our frame & remembers we are but dust. He does not afflict us willingly but for our profit nor Frowns the God but in a Fathers Form – may the various dispensations of providence as well as ye various means of Grace be sanctified tend to discipline our minds so that we may move earnestly apply our hearts unto true Wisdom, to wean us from all terrene enjoyments & make us more & more meet for the Inheritance of ye saints in light.—By the departure of those we so justly loved this world becomes impoverished & a future state becomes increasingly familiar – There some of our best Friends now dwell & many of our kindred are already arrived at the haven of Blessedness – There God our saviour reigns without a veil to Interrupt perfect Tranquility.—We my dear sister are left a little longer to have our Faith & every grace tried & improved, to have our affections more abstracted from the world & more immovably set on divine things & I trust to be more useful to our families & in ye different spheres in wch we are calld to work – In labors of Love be constant – In secret duties to our God & to our fellow creatures be fervent – let Love be without Dissimulation ever abhor that wch is evil cleave to that wch is good – following every virtue wch shone so conspicuous in those whose memory still be forever blessed with them may we 1 “shew forth the praises of God in the beauty of Holiness 2 know in whom we have believed & 3 may the Life we now live be by the Faith of the Son of God whom may we know hath loved us & given himself for us – 4 may we live in Love & the God of Love & peace will be with us 5 may we trust in ye Lord Jehovah in whom there is everlasting strength 6 may we now that our Redeemer liveth & yt he is gone to prepare &c when Death arrives may we look forward with Exulting Triumph say (7ly) I go to the General Assembly I go to God rejoicing 8ly having a desire to depart & be with Christ absent from ye body present with the Lord (9thly) commit our Spirits with joy into the hands of God who gave them” –

In ye mean time may we my much lovd sister humbly acquiesce with filial confidence & submission to every Event wch takes place – Tho Nature still mourns – may we never murmur – but feel a calm Tranquility in the thought that God does all things well – what we know not now we shall know hereafter – may our wills be lost in the will of God.—Time may blunt the Edge of Grief & soften sorrow but it can never obliterate the sense we have of such deprivations.—Every occurance that has reference to our dear departed Friends speaks their value – Awakens the sigh of regrett & often cause the silent tear of affection to flow.—But my dear sister Let us endeavor to divest ourselves of Self & view them in their present state of Felicity.—

Contemplate their present possessions & enjoyments & contrast Infinite purity in Glory the Beatific presence of God with human depravity in this state of Imperfection – we may then have a faint Idea & but a very faint Idea are we capable of forming for Eye hath not seen may we then be earnest at ye throne of divine grace that ye same God who kept ym w’d keep us thro’ Faith unto Eternal Salvation.[xxiii] – Time is hastening to an end – Death approaches & Eternity succeeds – What awaits us in our short uncertain state of future Existence here we know not nor wd I be anxiously concernd to know: may we be prepared for ye whole will & pleasure of God nor be ever excercised with more yn we shall be enabled to bear with Fortitude Resignation & patience. Let us adore that goodness & mercy wch has hitherto followed us –recount our numerous past & present mercies gratefully acknowledge & adore the giver & chearfully trust him for all that is yet to come – permit me my dear sister to call your attention to your remaining mercies tho its true you have sustaind an inexpressible Loss in the death of our valuable your beloved daughter. She was every thing you could wish for as a child – as a Friend – & as Christian.—Rejoice that you was honourd with such a dear Inestimable treasure – think her not too good for the God that lent her “Give up this comfort to the Lord” – She is happy – transplanted from ye church militant into ye richer soil of ye church – Triumphant above – remember & be consoled with the thought It is not your all you have still affectionate valueable & pious Children left – whose sense of filial duty will influence ym to do all in their power to make up ye Loss of their beloved sister – to sooth your sorrow & make ye dissent of Life as easy as possible – accept their united Efforts to smooth the path before you & convince them by paying every attention to your own health & comfort that you have blessings still left to tempt your patience below.—

Is our passage to ye Tomb made familiar by the steps of our beloved relatives let us not fear!—the same almighty Friend who softened their Beds & gently conducted them thro’ the dark valley is still the same as I before observed – can we but read our title clear we yn need not give way to dismay he will uphold strengthen & comfort us – Jesus is gone before us – for us I trust he is already entered as our forerunner If so – where he is we shall also be Let us then Lay aside every weight every Sin wch may beset us run with patience the race yt is set before us pressing forward with unremitting diligence still looking unto Jesus as our All in All O accept this as the genuine Effusions of a sympathizing Heart wch tenderly feels with & for you believe me at all times your sincere

Friend & Affectionate Sister


July 16 1801

In ye text I mentioned particular words referd to by figures was ye first our hond Uncle Steele 2ly our Hond Aunt Steele 3ly our dear hond Father 4ly our Worthy Grandfather 5ly our beloved Brother 6ly the amiable & pious Theodosia 7ly our truly worthy & respected Friend Mr Steele 8ly our beloved valueable young Relative 9thly our hond Mother

You would not expect yr humble Servant wd be acting quite out at a moderate computation in ye 2 days we went 20 or 23 Leagues

Text: Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.B.3.(d.). Address: Mrs Caroline Whitaker | Bratton. No postmark; for an annotated edition of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 8, pp. 172-76. Individals named in the closing lines are William Steele III of Broughton and his second wife, Anne Cator Steele; Thomas Whitaker of Bodenham and his father; Gay Thomas Attwater of Nunton; the poet Anne Steele of Broughton; William Steele IV of Broughton; the recently deceased Mary Whitaker; and Anna Gay Whitaker.