MEMOIRS OF Mrs. Jerusha Oliver, Who Died, 30. d. 10. m. 1710.
§ 1. ABOUT the middle of the former Century, there died at Norwich in Great Britain, one of the Female Sex, & of no very considerable Quality, in the Thirtieth Year of her Age; who left behind her a Confession of her Faith, and a Relation of her Experience, with some other grateful & useful Remembrances of her Piety. The famous Dr. John Collings, thought it worth his while, to Publish those Memorials, with a Sermon of his own, which he Entitles; The Life and Death of a true Christian; deciphered Page 2 in a Sermon, at the Burial of Mary Simp|son, a Religious Young Maid, lately Living in the City of Norwich.
There has lately Died in Boston, one of the Female Sex, as considerably Cir|cumstanced; who had not attained unto that Age by several Years; but who has left behind her, as Memorable Testi|monies of her Piety, which may prove as Grateful and Useful to many Sur|vivers; and I am desired by many, to make a brief Collection of them. Tho' the Collector should be supposed never so nearly Related unto the Person De|ceased, yet while he forbears every thing that looks like Flourish and Applause upon her Character, and gives but a bare Transcript, and Extract of those Memoirs, which her own Pen had pro|vided, it is to be hoped, that many, especially Young Persons, and of the Female Sex, may Enjoy the Benefit of these things, without any Invidious Re|proaches upon the offer of them. Na|zianzen began his Funeral Oration upon his Deceased Sister Gorgonia, with a short Answer to all Cavil against so Domestick Page 3 a Performance; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, They being things that I am so nearly Re|lated unto, they are not the less True, but the more known, for That; and it is but the more Just for me to give an Account concerning them. What was Good Rea|son Twelve Hundred Years ago, should still be so!
§ 2. THE Young Gentlewoman, who is now (as I have told you,) to Write, rather than to be Written of, was Born at Boston in N. E. April 16. 1684. a Daughter of Dr. IN|CREASE MATHER; And in so say|ing, I have sufficiently intimated, what Education was bestow'd upon her. The Reverend Mr. Richard Mather of Dor|chester, and (by the Mothers side) Mr. Cotton, the for ever Famous Teacher of the Church first in Boston, were her Grand-fathers. She wanted not for good Sense; and as she was betimes a Good Reader, so by being a Great Reader ever since, Four Years Old, in Historical Books, as well as Theological, she furnished her mind with a stock of many Valu|able Page 4 Treasures. But the Early Fear of God, was the most Valuable of all the things that Enriched her; and not the least Observable. Secret Prayer was an Exercise of her Infancy; The Fear of Sin, had a strong Influence upon her; And especially she so fear'd a Lye, that she then began a Custom she never left off; to Avoid Positive Expressions, but rather to say, I think, or, It may be, or, Tis likely; even in things that she was most assured of. So Dutiful she was to her Parents, that I have seen it asserted un|der their Hand; She never gave occasion to them, to be once Angry with her, through|out the whole Course of her Life! What she was in her Infancy, one might a little infer, from a Catalogue of her Sins, which her Penitent Soul drew up, as she was passing out of that Age, and yet scarce Entring into the Years which we call the Teens. Her Catalogue does consist of such strokes as these; What Sins have I been guilty of! O my Sins have been very many! — My Prayers have been sleighty: And I have spent my Time very unprofitably, And I have Read the Holy Word of God sleightily. And I have Heard the Word Page 5 of God sometimes, not with so much Dili|gence as I should have done. And some|times I have not attended upon Hearing of Prayer as I should have done. And I have been Proud. And I have been Unthankful. And sometimes I have not Obeyed my Fa|ther and my Mother as I ought to have done. And I have Eaten things, which were hurt|ful for me to Eat; And I have Eat more than I have had need to have done. And I have been afraid to go alone to Pray. I used to Pray, when I was a bed. Those were Lazy Prayers indeed! I have omitted those Duties of Meditation and Self-Exami|nation. And I have sometimes omitted to ask a Blessing of God, when I have been go|ing to Eat; and to give Thanks, when I had done Eating. And I have Performed this Duty sleightily. And I have been Guilty of one Sin, which is greater than all these; That is, Unbelief. And besides all this, there is that Sin of Sins, my Original Sin; My Nature is Sinful. Thus wrote Jerusha, while her Infancy was hardly yet Ex|pired. These were the worst Things that she could Charge upon her self, when she was then making her Essays Page 6 towards the well-grown Devotions, of no less than Whole Days, of Retirement, for the Humiliations of a Repenting Soul. O more Aged Professors of Religion; To what a Tenderness in your walk with God, will you be Awakened; when you see a Child, Reflecting with all the Bitter|ness of Repentance, on miscarriages which few, few among the Children of men, have any Trouble for, take any Notice of!
§ 3. WHen she was Twelve Years old, the Resolutions of Piety in her were arrived unto such a Fixa|tion and Establishment, that she came to a very Solemn Transaction with the Glorious GOD. She Entred into His COVENANT; and she did with all possible Solemnity set her Hand unto an Instrument for that purpose, which appears to have been very much her own Drawing up: tho' she had a well-known Copy of another before her. Here it is.
The Covenant between God & my own Soul.
THE Lord has been very Merciful to me; tho' I have been a very Sinful Page 7 Creature. I have Great Cause to Love and Serve so Gracious a God. What can I do less, than give up my self wholly to the Lord, to be for Him, and not for any other? And, O most Holy Lord God, wilt thou be pleased to Accept of me? Yea, Lord, I know, thou wilt accept of me, if I do Sin|cerely Give my self to Thee in CHRIST. Then, O Lord, I Pray thee, for the Sake of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, Be at Peace with me. O Lord, I have fallen from thee, by my Sins, and I am by Nature, a Child of Hell. But thou, O Lord, of thy Infinite Mercy hast offered to be my God. There|fore I come unto thee, and I Renounce my Sins; and, with thy Grace inabling me, I will Forsake them. I have been Serving thine Enemies, and Forgetting the God that has dealt very Mercifully with me. But now, O Lord, I will Endeavour to Serve thee; And I will not allow my self in any known Sin; and I will use the Means, which I know, thou hast appointed so the Destruction of my Corruptions. I here give my Heart unto thee; O Lord, I Pray thee to give me a New Heart. And I desire Grace from thee, that when thou shalt call me thereto, I may part with all that is dear unto me in the World, rather than turn from thee to the ways of Sin. O Lord, I have not any Hopes of being Page 8 Saved upon the account of any Righteous|ness of my own. I acknowledge, that of my self, I am Helpless and Undone, and with|out Righteousness. And whereas, thou dost offer to be my God thro' Christ, I do here take the Lord JEHOVAH, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for my Portion. And I do give my self Body and Soul, for thy Servant. I do here also Accept of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, as the only way, by which Sinners may have Access to thee. And I do here joyn my self in a Marriage-Covenant with Him. O Lord, JESUS, I come unto thee, a most lothsome Creature. Who am I, that I should be Married unto the King of Glory! I Accept of thee for my Head & Husband; and Embrace thee in all thy Offices. I chuse thee, the Lord my Righteousness. Grant that thy Wis|dom may be my Guide; I desire, that thy Will may be my Will, and thy Word my Law. I put my Neck under thy Yoke, I Subscribe to thy Laws as Holy and Just and Good; and I do Promise to take them, at the Rule of my Life.
This Transaction was on a Twentieth Day of February, 1696. And in the re|maining Years of her Life, constantly, as the Twentieth Day of February arrived. Page 9 it was her Practice, to Review her COVENANT, and Bewayl her Sins a|gainst it, and Fly to the Blood of the E|verlasting Covenant for the Pardon of them, and Renew her Holy Resoluti|ons to Live yet more Watchfully and Fruitfully, & Implore the Assistences of Heaven to perform what she Resolved.
I will only Single out One or Two of those Commemorations, from her Memorials: February 20. 1703. It is this Day Seven years, since I did make a Co|venant with God; in which Covenant, I did take the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for my Portion and Best Good; and did Promise to Forsake Sin, and to Endeavour to Serve God; And did Ac|cept of Christ, for my Head & Husband, and did Embrace Him in all His Offices. The Lord Pardon my not being so Sincere in, and so Faithful to, that Covenant, as I ought to have been, and make me Sincere in it, and Faithful to it; And Pardon all my Sins; keep me from Sin; and that for the Sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At another time. Feb. 20. This Day Twelve years ago, I did very Explicitely Page 10 enter into Covenant with God. The Lord Pardon my not being so Sincere in, and so Mindful of, and so Faithful to, that Cove|nant, as I ought to have been, and make me Sincere, and Mindful, and Faithful; And make me very Thankful unto that God, who has not cut me down for my Unfruitfulness, but has spared me, not for Three Years only, but Four times Three Years, notwithstanding my Covenant-breaking. And the Lord spare me still, for the Sake of the Sacrifice of Christ, and grant that I may receive those continual Supplies of Grace and Strength from the Spi|rit of Christ, that I want, and grant, that the Holy Spirit may Possess me, and fill me with Good Thoughts, and Good Desires, and Good Resolutions, and Good Actions; and grant that I may Glorify God as long as I Live; and grant that my Death may be Happy & Joyful; and that for the Sake of my Lord Jesus Christ.
That She might go on, with a more Confirmed Piety, when she was near Six|teen years old, She joyned unto the Church, of which her Father and her Brother are the Pastors; and Exhibited unto the Church, an Acceptable Decla|rationPage 11 of her Faith & Repentance; and at the Table of the Lord, Seal'd the Co|venant, in the way of His Appointment.
I think it my Duty to interpose my Advice unto the Young Readers, on this occasion. I fear, I fear, that the Action of Entring into Covenant with God, is too often done, with a little too much of the Strain of the Old Covenant. And for this very Cause, the Lord often leaves His Covenanting, and really Regenerate Children, to Some Remarkable Falls into Sin afterwards, that He may drive them into more Evangelical Terms, and make them sensible that it is not a Co|venant of Works, but a Covenant of Grace, wherein they are to draw near unto Him. I make no doubt, that the Pro|posals of the Two Pious Alleines, and Janeway, and Guthry, and others, for, Explicit Covenanting with God, yea, Wri|ting and Signing the Instrument, have been a mighty Service to Religion, in very many Thousands of Christians, as they were in our Jerusha. Yet I will shew you mine Opinion. The Form used by those Men of God, is hardly Page 12 quite Evangelical enough. I would propose, that the Nature of the New Covenant, which is all over, Grace, Grace; be thoroughly considered by them who do this Action; and that the Terms of, I Confess, and, I Consent, and, I Desire, be preferred, unto, I Will; as Language best Suiting the Nature & the Tenour of a Covenant, in which, tis not by Do|ing, but by Receiving, that we arrive un|to Blessedness, and that our Holy Reso|lutions be form'd, as points of Thankful|ness to the Lord from whom we Receive the Gift of Righteousness, and as parts of our Promised Blessedness; and the style thereof be, O my God, I ask of thee, that thou wilt give me the Grace to do such and such things!
On Febr. 20. 1709. She remembers that it was then Thirteen years since she had thus given her self to God, and has serious and holy Reflections on it: She did not Live to another 20th. of February.
§ 4. SHe had a great Felicity in a more than ordinary strength and Page 13 sharpness in her Eye Sight, being able to Read by such a dim light as others could not, for which she was Thank|ful to God, and made a good improv|ment of it. She became from her Childhood a notable Mistress of her Pen; wrote a Fair Hand, and rarely Miss spelt a Word in all that Passed her Hand. She was to her Father his A|manuensis, could read his ordinary hand and characters: Transcribed several of his Printed Books for the Press. A|mong the many other Good Things, wherein she employ'd her Pen, One was her Diary, wherein she did, especially for the Last Ten Years of her Life, en|ter such Passages as concern'd her In|terior State; and indeed seldome let a Day pass without entring Something or other, that was an Aspiration of Se|rious Piety: always Ending with that clause; For the Sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. All that I propose now to do, is only to make a few faithful Extracts from, and useful Remarks on, these Re|served Memorials. And the first thing, which I will mention, before I Proceed Page 14 unto any thing else in the World shall be, a Notable Proof, That the Doctrines of Grace, have no Tendency to extin|guish the Zeal of Good Works, and that Justification by a Precious Faith in the Righteousness of God our Saviour, is no Enemy to the most Conscientious and Elevated Purity. In her Diary, she very often makes her Flight unto the Righte|ousness of the Blessed JESUS, as the only Refuge of her Soul, the only Hope of her Acceptance with God. Very, very often her Language is this; The Lord Enable me, Sincerely to Renounce all my own Righteousness, and enable me Sincerely to Accept of the Righteousness of CHRIST, and to depend on that alone, for my Justifica|tion; And the Lord be Reconciled to me through CHRIST, and Pardon all my Sin, and keep me from Sin; and that for the Sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the constant Strain! But now, Rea|der, Didst thou not observe one clause in her Prayer; And keep me from Sin! This is what I am now to ob|serve. Such a Dread and Hatred of Sin, there was in the Soul thus relying upon Page 15 the Righteousness of the Sinless JESUS a|lone, to Justify her, that it is a clause for ever occurring in almost every Prayer, Let the Subject she is upon be what it will: And keep me from Sin! I believe, the clause occurs many more than a Thousand times.
§ 5. EAch Book of her Diary, she usu|ally began on her Birth-day. Then she noted her Age; Her Thanks to Heaven for Obtaining the Help which continued her to this Day; Her Griefs for the past Sins of a Life rolled away in so much Unfruitfulness; And her Pray|ers, that the Next Year might be under the Blessing of God, and better spent, than any that had gone before it.
When she heard any Sermons Preach|ed, (yea, or but the Repetition of them at a more Private Meeting) She would mention the Preacher, and the Subject; and there-upon add the Principal Wishes, which were enkindled in her Soul, by what she had been entertained withal. O our Hearers, If we were sure, that you were generally Such Attentive and Page 16 Such Improving Hearers, how much would it Encourage our most Exquisite Preparations for the Offerings of the Sanctuary!
If she were Detain'd from the Pub|lick, she would in her Diary bewayl it, as a Chastisement upon her former Deficiences. And she would write down, her Wishes fetch'd out of the Books, that she Read at home.
The Comfortable Dispensations of Pro|vidence towards her, She mention'd, with her Thankful Remarks upon them. Yea, tho' it were but in being Safely carried out and home, as far as Roxbury; She sees the Mercy of God in it.
If any Afflictive Thing befel her, She mention'd it, with her Useful Remarks upon it. Especially, if it were an Ill Turn upon her Health; tho' it were but a Cold, or a Fit of the Toothach; There's a Prayer on the occasion.
She Remarks the Dealings of God with Others; Especially if any thing either Good or Bad were observable in the condition of the Town; But most of all what occurr'd Joyful or Grievous, Page 17 unto her nearest Relatives, and their Families; and she employes agreeable Meditations & Supplications there-upon.
When she understood that her Bro|ther in England had been Sick and was Recovered, she poured out her Soul in Praises to the Lord; and in Prayer for that Brother on that Occasion. It is not then to be wondred at, if she was deeply affected with the state of such of her near Relations as she had a con|tinual Conversation with, and was at all times Acquainted with their Condi|tion. It would make this Account too large, should all such particulars of that Nature be inserted. Nor would we trouble the World with private Con|cerns. Only as a Monument of her Piety and Prayerfulness one Instance shall be taken notice of. She thus wri|ting in her Diary, July, 10. 1708.
In her Diary, Aug. 10. 1710. which was Two Years after the former, speak|ing of the same Sister; her words are,
Such as these were the breathings of her Pious Soul. It is surely a great Loss to them that survive, when such a Pray|ing Relation is taken from them: Yet it is a Comfort that their Prayers Live after they themselves are gone out of this Sinful & Sorrowful World.
She Oftentimes (and Constantly before the Communion,) set apart a Time, for Solemn Self-Examination. Many Books of Piety served her in this most ne|cessary and Profitable Exercise. Parti|cularly Mr. Doolittle's; and of late years, Mr. Henries Discourse of the Lord's Supper: But she had none more at hand than one Entituled, A Companion for Com|municants. The Result is entred still in her Diary, I don't find the Triumphs of Assurance; a frequent Result: but fre|quently Page 20 tis, a Modest and Humble Hope, That she has had a True Conversion, and that she is a True Believer on her Saviour.
In one of her Diaries her words are, This Day I spent some time in Self-Exami|nation; The Lord grant that I might have the infallible Marks of a sincere Christian; and grant that I may discern those Marks In another her words are, I hope God has made me a true Believer on Christ. I have given my self to Him; and I desire to have Him for my Portion. Very often she writes, This Day I spent some time in Examining my self. And frequently Concludes upon it; I hope I am a Believer! I hope I am Converted!
§ 6. SHE was no stranger to that great Article of the Christian Asceticks, To Retire whole DAYES, for Com|munion with God! To set apart Whole Dayes, for Prayer with Fasting, (at least so much Fasting, as the Feeble state of her Health would allow;) in Secret, before the Lord. On which Dayes, it was her usage, to Pour out her Soul unto the Lord, in the most Extended Page 21 Supplications; Confess her own Er|rors, and Implore the Favours of God for her self and others; And between those Devotions, intermix the Reading of such Things, as might blow up the Flame of Piety. The First Time that I find her Employed in the Fast of the Closet, is, when she was but Thirteen Years of Age. A marvellous way, for a Child to grow Grave, and Wise, and Holy; For a Child to be an Hundred Years Old. The last time save one, that I find any Distinct Record of her being thus Engaged, was upon the Proposal of her Marriage to a Vertuous Young Man, Mr. Peter Oliver, a Gold|smith in Boston. One in Good Repu|tation for a Skilful Artist in his Calling, as well as for his Piety. With whom she was like to have Lived Happily, he being very Tender of her. When her Marriage with that Person was like to proceed, she then writes, among other things; I would keep a Day of Prayer, to Desire the Direction and Blessing of God, and that every Circumstance of that Affair may be ordered in much Mercy. And that I may Page 22 be provided with the supplies I now want. And I would Repent of all the sins of my Single state before I Marry. And I would seek unto God, for Grace and Wisdom, to or|der my Temporal Affairs with Discretion; And to Glorify and Serve God, in all Rela|tions and Conditions. The Lord hear me, and grant that my Soul may be Married unto CHRIST, and that both in Life & Death, I may be the Lord's. The last Time of all was just before she Removed from her Fathers House, to House-keeping, and about three or four Months before her Death.
When Publick Dayes of Humiliation, and Thanksgiving arrived, her manner was to write down in her Diary, the things which 'twas her Desire, to be Hum|bled for; and the Things to be Thank|ful for. Here she considered not only her own Sins, and her own Sorrows, but those also of the Family whereto she was Related; and those of the Church whereof she was a Member; and those of the Town and Land. Yea, her Con|siderations reached as far as the Cir|cumstances of our whole Nation, and Page 23 the Afflictions of the People of God a|broad in the World. It is very surpri|zing to see what will be done this way, by a Child, that has an Heart possessed by the Holy Spirit of God! And, when the Mercies of God were to be acknow|ledged, she not only took Notice of the Blessings that she had her self re|ceived, but also of the Instances where|in the Lord had Bless'd her several Re|latives; (especially, in the Services which He honoured her Father, and her Two Brothers to do for Him:) and the Things wherein the Town & Land, and Great Britain also were favoured of the Lord. Her Pious Methods are enough Explained, without our Tran|scribing at large many Paragraphs of her Memorials; only one or two of them.
These were her Meditations by way of Preparation for a Day of Publick Thanksgiving. We shall only further insert what is found among the Memo|rials of her walking with God, relating to a Day of Secret Prayer, between God and her own Soul. An Exercise of Piety, in which she was (as has been said) very frequent. The last of them was September 16. 1710.
After this manner: Thus Self-Exa|mining: Thus Humbling her Soul, thus Praying, thus Repenting, thus Trusting in God through Jesus Christ, did she leave her Fathers house, and by reason of bodily Infirmities came no more into it, after she was removed into a Fami|ly of her own, but is now in her Hea|venly Father's House: being in that Temple, she shall go no more out.
§ 7. ONE main Intention of her Diary, seems to have been, that she might note the principal De|sires, which her Soul was on each Day, under the power of; which in the Sup|plications of the Closet she principally in|sisted on. Austin would say, The Life of Christianity, was chiefly made up of Holy Desires. The Holy Desires, and the Daily ones, of this Young Woman, were the Things that filled Hundreds of Page 31 Pages in her Memorials. From the thousands of her Pious Anhelations after Spiritual Blessings, I will only single out a few, that may carry more particular Instructions in them, and such as I would wish the Persons of her Age and Sex may take a proper Notice of. Tis not the Commending of the Dead, but the In|structing of the Living, that I am aim|ing at. These which follow were some of her Holy Desires.
The Lord Enable me to count the Cost of walking in the Narrow way, & Enable me to Resolve to walk in that way, whatever it Cost me; and Ena|ble me to make sure, that I be entred in that way before it be too late.
The Lord Enable me to hate Idle|ness. Grant that I may Live more Profitably! Pardon my Daily Unprofi|tableness; and Enable me every Day to Redeem the Time, as I ought to do. Enable me to make Religion my main Business; That I may be sure to spend my Time well, and set Holy Exam|ples before me; but above all the Ex|ample of CHRIST, for my Imitation.
Page 32I have too Vain an Heart. The Lord Enable me to Mourn as I ought to do, for the Vanity of my Heart▪ And the Lord Pardon the Vanity of my Heart; And give me a Sincere, and a Serious, and an Humble, and a Thankful Heart.
The Lord Grant, that I may not Content my self with meer Morality: But that I may Sincerely give my self unto the Lord JESUS CHRIST. — The Lord Enable me, to give my very Heart and Soul to Christ, and Enable me to Love Christ more than any thing in this world.
The Lord Pardon my not Mourning for the Sins of others, as I ought to have done; and Enable me to Mourn both for my own Sins, and for the Sins of others, as I ought to do; And the Lord be my God.
It is now a Cold Season. And my Heart is too Cold. The Lord Pardon the Coldness of my Heart, and Pardon my Praying after too Cold, and too Careless a manner; and give me a New & an Heavenly Heart; and grant that I may be Fervent in spirit, serving Page 33 the Lord. And Enable me to Redeem the Time as I ought, when I am warm|ing at the Fire.
The Lord Pardon all my Proud Thoughts, and Words, and Actions; and give me a very Humble Heart. Pardon the Pride of my Heart; and Pardon all my Sinful Thoughts, and Enable me to watch over my Heart, as I ought to. That Vain Thoughts may be a Burden to me!
The Lord Pardon my not Loving Prayer as I ought to; and cause me to Love Prayer; and pour on me the Spirit of Grace and of Supplication. Give me the Spirit of Prayer, and grant, that I may Love Meditation!
Grant that I may be apt to Blame my self, and not apt to Blame other persons; and Enable me to endeavour to Reform in my self, what I see A|miss in other persons.
The Lord Enable me every Day to be Thinking on the Day of Judg|ment; and Grant, that I may be pre|pared for the Coming of that Day; and Enable me to Long for the Coming of that Day.
Page 34The Lord grant, that Death may find me in Christ, and Enable me to be often Thinking upon Death, and upon Heaven. I know I must Dy. The Lord grant that I may so Live, as that I may have nothing to do, but to Dy, when the Appointed time of my Death does come.
The Lord grant, that the Experi|ence I have had of the Vanity of Earth|ly Things, [Now being Seventeen Years Old,] may Learn me to set my Heart upon Heavenly Things. And grant, that the Experience I have had of the Certainty of Death, and of the Un|certainty of the Time of it, may learn me to be continually preparing for Death.
The Lord Enable me to Live as a Stranger on the Earth, and Enable me to make sure of an House not made with Hands, Eternal in the Heavens; and Pardon my too much setting my Heart upon Earthly Things.
It is a great Mercy, that I may Read the Scripture every day. The Lord make me very Thankful for that great Page 35 Mercy! And Enable me, to have Re|course unto the Scripture, as unto a Weapon that will Vanquish my Temp|tations. Enable me to Love, & Prize, and Search the Holy Scripture!
The Lord Sanctify to me, all the Afflictions that I have met with; and that I do, or am yet to, met with;
And grant that my Desires to get Good by Affliction, may be more, and greater than my Desires to be Deli|vered from Affliction.
The Lord give me an Heart set upon Doing Good, and Pardon my not Do|ing so much Good, as I ought to do. Grant that I may be careful to im|prove all my Talents unto the Glory of God; and that the Consideration of the Littleness of my Time on Earth, may quicken me to do all that I can! That I may be often thinking; How I may Glorify God? And that I may Endeavour, that Others may Glorify God; And be earnest in Prayer, That I may know wherein I may Glorify God.
The Lord give me an Heart, willing to Submit unto the Will of God in Page 36 every thing; and Enable me, when I am under Affliction to be Patient and Thoughtful. Enable me to bear, what|ever Crosses my Saviour shall please to send upon me; and when I am un|der Affliction, to be very Humble, and Fruitful, and Prayerful. And Pardon my not getting that Good by Affliction, that I ought to have got by it.
The Lord Pardon all my Sin; and Enable me to see what Sin it is, that I am most apt to fall into; and Enable me to watch against that Sin, and to mourn for that Sin, in a peculiar man|ner.
The Lord grant that I may have Eternal Life, and Spiritual Health; and grant that the Chief Reason, why I desire Temporal Life, and Corporal Health, may be, that so I may Serve and Glo|rify my Lord Jesus Christ▪ And that I may Sincerely and Entirely Resign my Will unto the Holy Will of God, at all times, and in every thing.
Has Christ so Loved me, as to Dy for me? Then I have unspeakable Cause to Love and Serve Christ. The Page 37 Lord Enable me to Love Christ more than any thing; and give me an Heart set to Glorify Christ; to Live to the Glory of Christ, as long as I live, and willing to Suffer for the Name of Christ. That I may Serve Christ, as long as I Live, and go to be with Christ, when I Dy. Keep me from setting my Heart upon the Things of the World; and Enable me to Love Christ, unspeakably more, than the most Desirable Things I have in this world. And Enable me Chearfully to Resign the most Desirable Things I have in this world, when God Com|mands me to Resign them. And grant, that I may be prepared for Eternity.
The Lord grant, that I may not think, the better of my self for being in Prosperity, nor the worse of others for being in Affliction. And grant, that I may not be Discouraged, when I meet with Affliction; but that I may be made Better by Affliction. And grant that the Mercies of God may cause me to Devote my self Body & Page 38 Soul unto the Service of my Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Sanctify to me, both Afflictions, and Mercies. I hope, I had rather have Sanctified Afflictions, than Unsanctified Mer|cies.
The Lord Pardon my being too unmindful of my Baptismal Obligati|tions; and help me to improve my Baptism, as I ought to do.
The Lord enable me to Mourn for All my Sins; and enable me to Mourn most, for my Original Sin, and grant that I may not Dy in a Natural, Un|converted Estate. Make me very Sensible of my Original Sin; and grant, that I may not Dy before I am New Born; but enable me in the Days of my Youth, to make sure of a Thorough Conversion. I hope, I have given my self unto Christ!
The Lord enable me, to take heed, how I Hear the Word Preached; and grant, that when I hear Sermons, I may have many Holy Ejaculations! And that I may hear the Word with a Particular Application of it to my self.
Page 39The Lord grant, that I may get Good by Afflictions; and not only by my own Afflictions, but also by the Afflictions of Others; and that all things may Work together for my Good. And the Lord make me Thankful for the Mercies of Others, as well as for my Own. And grant, that I may be a true Mourner, both for my own Sins, and for the Sins of Others. And grant, that I may be much in Prayer for O|thers as well as my Self. 'Grant, that my Life may be full of Prayer; and that I may be full of Christ, and full of Joy, and full of Use.
It is the Lord, who has given me that Health, that I enjoy. The Lord make me very Thankful. And if it be His Holy Will the Lord perfect my Restoration; and direct to the use of what means ought to be used for me; and give a Blessing on means; and Pardon my being too apt to depend on means; and keep me from too much Depending on means: and ena|ble me to Desire Life and Health for Right Ends; and enable me to be Page 40 more Desirous of the Health of my Soul, than of Bodily Health; and grant, that my Soul may prosper and be in Health; and enable me Sincerely to Resign my whole Self, and all my Concerns, unto the Disposal of my Heavenly Father. I hope, I had ra|ther have Sanctified Sicknesses, than Un|sanctified Health.
The Lord keep me from Sinning, when I go a Visiting; and enable me to manage my Visits as I ought to.
I am afraid, that my Fears of Death, are a Sign that I am not Fit for Death. The Lord Pardon all my Sinful De|sires of Life, and Fears of Death. The Lord enable me, to make sure of an Interest in Christ, and grant, that I may Live above the Fear of Death; and that I may so do, enable me to Familiarize Death by Daily Thoughts of it; & to Think much on CHRIST, on His Death, and on His Righteousness; and on His Glory; and to be careful to Walk closely with God: And to consider, what an undesireable Place this World is; and what a Desireable Page 41 Place Heaven is. Grant, That I may long to be in Heaven! And enable me to get as much of that Grace, which will go to Heaven with me, as possibly I can! And to Delight in that which is the Work of Heaven: Delight in the Sabbath; and Delight to Serve God, and Love to be where God is Served; and endeavour after an Actual, as well as an Habitual meetness for Heaven! And so Live, that I may have nothing to do, but to Dy and go to Heaven.
The Lord give me a very Thankful Heart; and grant that I may be often thinking, What shall I render unto the Lord for all His Benefits? And enable me to Glorify God with all my En|joyments, as long as I Live: Devote my All to the Service of my God!
If there be any Sin of Ignorance, that I do Live in, the Lord discover it to me; and enable me Sincerely to Hate and Forsake all Sin.
Enable me to be careful, What Persons I chuse for my Companions; and keep me from Delighting in Vain Page 42 Company, and cause me to Love Serious Company.
Grant, that I may manifest my Love to God, by my Hatred of Sin; and grant, that I may fear Sin, more than Death.
Grant, that I may know (and that I may be very Sollicitous to know,) what Errand my Afflictions come of, and that my Afflictions may do the Errand they come of; and that the Fruit of all my Afflictions may be, to take away Sin; and that I may Chuse Affliction rather than Sin. And grant, that I may be Thankful for those Afflictions, that do make me more Holy; and that I may have Grace, and Wisdom and Patience, to bear Afflictions as I ought, and to take up my Cress!
Grant, that I may Mourn for the Wickedness of the Whole World; and that I may be Weaned from this World▪ and that I may be very willing to Leave this Wicked and Wretched World, whenever God shall call me to Leave it!
The Lord be my own and bless me Page 43 Bless me with Spiritual Blessings, & ena|ble me in the first & chief place to desire those Blessings. And the Lord add to me those Temporal Blessings which I stand in need of. He knows what I want and what is best for me. I de|sire to cast all my care upon Him, and to put my trust in Him who has bid me be careful for nothing, but in every thing with Prayer and Thanks|giving to let my requests be made known to Him. The Lord keep me from Sin.
I was going on; — But the Swell of the work, which will be Lost if it be not Confined unto Narrow Limits, for|bids my proceeding any further. So much of the Oyl in the Vessel, may suffice to answer the present Intention. I only say; First, I do very Solemnly Declare, That I have been careful not to Add One Word, unto the Writings from which I have been thus Transcri|bing. It must also be Remembred, that it is not an Able Divine, but a Little Damsel, whose Writings are here Transcribed. Furthermore, In these Page 44 Few Passages, there are the main Li|neaments of the New Creature, and of a Work of Grace in a Mind Renewed, and Sanctified, and Purified by the Spirit of God. They that have the Fear of God, will Rejoyce when they see these things, and Read them with an Allu|bescence of Heart, as finding them|selves wound up to an Unison with them. Finally. The View of these Dispositions, may by the Blessing of God, be helpful, and be honoured with some Instrumentality, to produce, or maintain the like in others; Especi|ally in Persons of the same Age and Sex with her, from whom we have the Dispositions of Piety, in such Li|ving Exhibitions of it. An Effect pre|ferrible to the best Cure ever affirm'd to be wrought by Macrina, the Sister of Basil, whom Gregory Nyssen hath so Panegyrized unto! And if it should be so; a Desire of hers, more than Once or Twice occurring in her Diary, will be happily answered. There, mention|ing her Hopes of her own Conversion; she adds, Enable me to do what I ought, Page 45 that others may be Converted also! Having mention'd her Hopes of having her own Soul Wun to and by her Saviour, She adds; Enable me to do what I ought, that Others may be Wun to Serve Christ! Ah, Dear Child; It is now doing, be|yond what thy Humble Soul could have Imagined! There is one thing more, not improper to be mentioned, She had an heart set to do Good accor|ding to the utmost of her Capacity: and more particularly, She was of a Liberal disposition; She Devised Liberal Things. When she sent (as now and then she did) her Little Ventures to Sea, at the return she would be sure to lay aside the Tenth of her gain for Pious Uses. After she was in a Married Estate she was according to her ability very Liberally Charitable to the Poor; Considered the Poor.
§ 8. IT is Evident from her Memo|rial, that she received many and Wondrous Answers of Prayer. There is no need of their being so Publickly Exposed, as they must be, if they make Page 46 any part of this Relation. Only, Let Young Persons be Encouraged from her Example and Experience. Children, You will doubtless find what she did; The Lord is Good unto them that Wait for Him, unto the Soul that Seeks Him.
However, One Important Article, shall not be left unmentioned. I find it an Article of Prayer, frequently Rei|terated with her; That I may Dy Be|lievingly, Willingly, and Joyfully. And else-where, That I may thro' Christ ob|tain the Victory over Death, and over my Fears of Death. Yea, Sometimes it soars to this. The Lord grant, that I may have such Fore-sights and Fore-tasts of the Joyes of Heaven, as may cause me to long to be there.
Now, Reader, Expect a very Sur|prising Issue!
Her Travail drew nigh; and she had been so Indisposed, that her Friends were doubtful of the Consequences. The last Words, that ever she Wrote were these.
Dec. 16. 1710. I am Every Day ex|pecting my Travail. The Lord keep me Page 47 from Sin; And be with me, when my Tra|vail comes, and Deliver me for the Sake of Christ, who was born of a Woman. Grant, that I may put my Trust in Christ, and not Fear. Let my Fears be Prevented, for the Sake of my Lord Jesus Christ.
The Prayer-hearing Lord, was mar|vellously Gracious to her. The Day following, she was Delivered; and there has rarely been known a more Easy Travail, of a First-born Infant. The Lord also answered her Prayers in giving her the comprehensive Mercy of a Perfect Child; which when Bap|tized had her Mothers Name given to her, but dyed the Week after her Mo|ther; and now Sleeps in the same Tomb with her.
After her Comfortable Travail, all that Week, there was great Hope of her being Shortly & Safely Recovered. But on the next Lords-Day, a Sudden Change appeared on her.
And a Change indeed!
She had been of a Timerous and Melancholy Constitution; which might somewhat contribute, unto that Page 48Fear of Death, which had all her Life-time very much kept her in Bondage. But now, to our Astonishment, she told those who attended her; She was sure, the Time for her Death was now come; And she was now above that Fear of it, that she had heretofore been Subject to.
It is not the Portion of all the Chil|dren of God, to Dy with Triumphant Joyes. Very Eminent Servants of God, have, with Holy Bains, declared on their Death-beds, that tho' they have Enjoy'd a Calm of Soul, yet they had no uncommon Joyes. Yea, Some|times they have rather Suffered some Dejection, some Despondency of Mind▪ Pious Throgmorton when Dying, asked the famous Dod, What shall be thought of a Dying man, who has not the Light of the Countenance of God shining on him? Mr. Dod replied, What shall be thought of JESUS CHRIST, who when He was a Dying Said, My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me? This Thought revived him. On the other side, It is the Portion of Some, to go away Tri|umphing unto the Heavenly World. Page 49 So did our Great Ames, unto the Asto|nishment of a Popish Physician; who asked, Whether Protestants did use to Dy after that manner! Thus Mr. Holland, thus Dr. Winter, had such Views and Joyes of Heaven in their Dying Hours, That they Scarce knew, whether they were in the Body, or out of the Body. Yea, Some Handmaids of the Lord have had such Experiences; The Fearful Sex have Triumphed over the King of Fears. Dying Mrs. Stubbs said unto those a|bout her, O that you did but see what I see! I see Millions of Angels; whom God has appointed to carry my Soul to Heaven. Dying Mrs. Brettergh said, O the Joyes! the Joyes! the Joyes that I feel! They are Wonderful, they are Wonderful, they are Wonderful!
And so our Dying JERUSHA!— When she certainly knew, that she was to Dy, she said unto those about her; Here is a Strange Thing! when I was in Health, Death was a Terror to me. But now I know, I shall Dy. I am not at all afraid of it. She said, This is a Wonder|ful Work of God! I know, that I am going Page 50 to Christ: That I shall shortly be in the Heavenly Jerusalem, with an Innumerable Company of Angels, and among the Spirits of Just Men made Perfect. Said she; I see things that are Unutterable! Then she Sang for Joy. And yet in her whole Discourse had nothing that Look'd at all Delirious. Her Father, at her De|sire coming to her, found her in an Ecstasy of Joy; Saying, O the Glory of Heaven! O the Glory of Heaven! O the Glory of Heaven! I see a Glory, which can|not be Express'd; Persons and Things, which I want a Language to declare what they are! She desired a Message to be carried from her, unto her Sister at Roxbury; That she should be sure, not to be afraid of Dying. Her Father said unto her; Why? Are not you afraid of Death? She replied with great Ear|nestness; Not in the Least! Not in the Least! Not in the Least!
I can readily Suppose, that the Force of Imagination will sometimes carry People into Strange Transports. And I can heartily Subscribe to the Words of our Jerusha's famous Uncle, Mr. Page 51Samuel Mather, late Pastor of a Congre|gation in Dublin, and the first Preacher in the North Congregation in Boston, (in his Book of, The Types. p. 42.) I had rather have a little Solid Comfort, in that Good old plain Scripture way of Faith and Repentance, and Labouring with my own Heart to apply the Promises; And I value this more than if an Angel should ap|pear to me out of Heaven, to tell me, that I am a Child of God. I am sure, that if I walk closely with God, if I exercise my self unto Godliness, and unto Communion with Him, in Faith and Prayer, and in Seeking of Him, and Humbling my self before Him daily, I am sure, that in this way I cannot miscarry. Yet the same Judicious Per|son adds, I would not advise Believers, utterly to reject all Comforts, where there is possibly something of Enthusiasm inter|mixt, if there be a Suitableness to their Con|dition in the Promises brought to their Hand in such a way, and there be a Relish of the Gospel, and the Promises and Blessings of it. And sometimes these Raptures are so circumstanced as to carry upon them the plain Signatures of an Angelical Page 52 Operation. Especially when they are in Persons never known to be on the least subject to Enthusiasm, or to any thing of a Rapturous Nature, but much the contrary, as it was with our Je|rusha.
These Raptures did not continue many Hours. Her Flights were some|what abated. The Solid Comfort her Uncle Speaks of, contented her; yet she never had any Dread of Death on her Spirit after this Day. Some Days afterwards her Father asked her, Whe|ther she were still Willing to Dy? Her Answer was; Tis Natural to desire Life; but I am willing to be at Gods Disposal, Whether it be for Life, or Death. As she drew near her End, She Signified, both unto her Father, and unto her Bro|ther; That she Hoped she was now going to Heaven. On Dec. 30. in the Night, after she had been for some time Speechless, her Speech unexpectedly Returned so far, that she desired, Her Father might Pray with her, That she might be quickly in the Kingdom of God. He did so; and bless'd God for giving Page 53 him such a Daughter, and gave her back unto the Lord. She continued above the Fear of Death; and One of her Last audible words was, I am in Distress to be gone! So she fell Asleep in JESUS.
It is no Unusual Thing, for Pray|ing Ones, who have been much Afraid of Death, in the time of their Health, to be Strangely carried above it, as their Death approaches. Our Jerusha had an Excellent Grand-mother, (her Fa|thers Mother,) who was One Remar|kable Instance of this Observation. She was a Gentlewoman of rare Piety; and One who spent much Time in Reading, and in Meditation and Sup|plication, and Communion with God. Nevertheless, She was for many years much afraid of Dying; and particu|larly fearful, that the Pangs of Death would prove terrible, and very grievous and painful. It pleased God, that the Event proved much otherwise than she feared She dyed Easily; and fill'd with Divine and Holy Joy. She Page 54 left the World with those Words; Eye has not seen, Ear has not heard, neither entred into the Heart of Man, the things which God has prepared for them that Love Him!
Thus Nazianzen in his Funeral Ora|tion on his Devout Sister, seems to Report it with Raptures, that she dyed Singing of those Words; Psal. IV. 8.