1806 October

Jane Attwater Blatch, Bratton, to the scholars in the Bratton Sunday School, c. October 1806.

My dear little Children

Will you now hearken to the advice of a sincere Friend who wishes you well for this world & the next: & desires with fervency of spirit to pray to that God who made Heaven & Earth & who made you that you may be blessd with grace to love fear & serve Him & with glory hereafter, &c what shall I say to you to promote your happiness? – to engage your affecte attention do you wish to be happy? yes you will say we all wish to be happy & shall look upon those as our friend, who will do any thing to lead us in that path wch shall bring us to the perfection of Good, agreeable then to what you lately heard I would say Come ye children hearken! unto me & I will teach you the fear of the Lord. I will endeavor to Instruct you in the way to Felicity by Intreating you to follow the advice of your blessed Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ when he was here upon Earth he said “Seek first the Kingdom of God & his Righteousness & all these things shall be added unto you” – These words my children call for your serious attention – consider who spoke those words? not a frail creature like ourselves – but the Lord of Heaven & Earth Him who demands your most serious awe & reverence Him in whom you live move & have your being – him on whom you are wholly dependant for every hope of Salvation – Him who wn on Earth took the little children in his arms & with compassionate tenderness said suffer little children to come unto me & forbid them not – hear & attend to the kind Invitation to come & hear what your saviour says seek first the Kingdom of God Christ Jesus our Blessed Lord does not invite or exhort you to any low or trifling pursuit but to the exalted pleasures of true religion – to that which will make for your Happiness here & hereafter Seek first in early life you are capable when very young to think & act have you not when you have been attending the funeral of little children especially thought I too may die I have heard I have a soul that must live forever after my body is dead.—This my young companion is dead I may die too – if I die have I reason to hope my soul wd go to Heaven my Hymn tells me there is a Heaven beyond the sky a Heaven of joy. Dear & holy children when they die go that world above am I holy or am I not?—none but holy children go to Heaven have not the prayer arose in your hearts whilst this serious reflection lasted at least Lord make me holy make me fit for Heaven & deliver me from that dreadful Hell in which is everlasting pain – have not the Enquiry arose how or what can I do to make myself holy & thus fit for Heaven & happiness – to such wd I say seek first & above all things the Kingdom of God & his righteousness you have been often told by ministers that by nature you are sinners – you have no righteousness of your own to render you acceptable to God. Jesus Christ the Blessed Saviour is the only way whereby you can be saved. He came into our world to save all those that come to him he invites you to come if you are willing to be saved exhorting you to seek first his kingdom & his righteousness with the promise that all other needful things shall be granted unto you. Will you not with joy & gratitude obey the exhortation hearken to the kind advice of ye blessed saviour & wish to secure your happiness here & hereafter?—consider for a moment my dear children & let this be your language if I make this my first choice things of an Earthly kind are promisd me too as far as will be for my good but if I turn a deaf Ear & reject the exhortation of the saviour, I cannot hope for any good here nor for Heaven hearafter. I am a poor little sinful creature I have no righteousness of my own – no riches – no knowledge no raiment or good but what God gives me that grace which will enable me to serve most reasonable duty? Lord give me that grace which will enable me to serve thee here & fit me to dwell in thy presence forever. Take off my heart from vanity & folly & set my affections on divine things on those things which shall make me holy here & happy forever.—Jesus the blessed Redeemer exhorts & invites you to come to Him – He forbids you not – come then obedient to his call – submissively attend to his voice obey his precepts & rejoice in his promises – fear nothing so much of your Time to God who is your maker & preserver.

When we devote our youth to God

’Tis pleasing in his Eyes

A Flower when offerd in the Bud

Is no vain sacrifice.

Have you not an ambition in your hearts to be thought wise? if you would possess true wisdom then be early pious begin with the fear of the Lord – seek first his righteousness this is the best gift you can possess be assured you stand in need of it, be assured you cannot be happy without it – are you not ready to ask me but how must we obtain this Blessing the Exhortation gives you direction Seek by prayer to God beseech intreat & cry to God for an Interest or share in his favor. Seek to God for Everything you need ask all in the precious name of Christ – are you sensible of your sinfulness pray for that wisdom which comes down from above pray for the Enlightening Influences of the blessed Spirit – that you may be kept from Error & led into all truths – are you sensible of the awful desert of every Sin remember Jesus died that you if you trust in Him, live to rely upon him might be freed from the power of sin here & its dreadful consequences hereafter how ought you then to Love adore & of your Love & Duty then any Earthly Friend because He has done more for you then its in ye power of any of your Earthly Friends to do. O my dear Children pray earnestly pray to God to give you a heart to love Jesus Christ more to serve him better to make you useful in life happy in Death & blessed in Eternity.

Text: Reeves Collection, Box 19/2/f, Bodleian; for an annotated edition of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 8, pp. 182-84. Attwater Blatch adds this note to the manuscript: "written for my Beloved Anna to read to her schollars wch she taught once a week to read," a reference to the Bratton Baptist Church Sunday School, for which Annajane was working as a teaching assistant.