Life of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Late Missionary to Burmah;
With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.
From her Conversion, to her Marriage.
THUS, at the early age of between sixteen and seventeen years, did Mrs. Judson become a decided Christian, and connect herself with the Congregational church, in Bradford. Youth is the most favourable season for seeking God. The heart is at this time, best prepared to be influenced by the motives which the Bible presents. God has spoken with peculiar tenderness and encouragement to the young. "My son, give me thine heart," is his reasonable and affectionate requirement of every child.—Let every reader of this book, think often of the solemn words in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."
Men in general, and young persons especially, are reluctant to think seriously of religion, from a fear, that it will deprive them of earthly happiness. But this is a totally false opinion.—Religion forbids none of the innocent enjoyments of life. It is the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, that religion prohibits; while it gives a sweetness to the blessings of this life, which the irreligious person never experiences. The soul which is unreconciled to God, cannot be really happy, whatever earthly blessings it may possess; and the heart, which is at peace with God, and which enjoys a good hope of another and a blissful life, cannot be unhappy, though health, and property, and friends, may be taken away.
Mrs. Judson, after her conversion, found great happiness in religion.—She possessed still her active disposition, and her love for her friends; but her activity was now directed to doing good, and to acquiring useful knowledge; and her love for her friends made her anxious for their temporal and eternal happiness.
"Redeeming love," says an intimate friend, "was now her theme. One might spend days with her, without hearing any other subject reverted to. The throne of grace, too, was her early and late resort. I have known her to spend cold winter evenings in a chamber without fire, and return to the family with a solemnity spread over her countenance, which told of Him with whom she had been communing. Nor was her love of social pleasures diminished, although the complexion of them was completely changed. Even at this late period, I fancy I see her, with strong feelings depicted on her countenance, inclining over her Bible, rising to place it on the stand, retiring to her chamber, and after a season of prayer, proceeding to visit this and that family, to speak of Him whom her soul loved. She thirsted for the knowledge of gospel truth, in all its relations and dependences. Besides the daily study of Scripture, with Guise, Orton, and Scott before her, she perused, with deep interest, the works of Edwards, Hopkins, Bellamy, Doddridge, &c. With Edwards on Redemption, she was instructed, quickened, strengthened. Well do I remember the elevated smile which beamed on her countenance, when she first spoke to me of its precious contents. She had transcribed, with her own hand, Edwards' leading and most striking remarks on this great subject. When reading Scripture, sermons, or other works, if she met with any sentiment or doctrine which seemed dark and intricate, she would mark it, and beg the first clergyman who called at her father's, to elucidate and explain it."
Mrs. Judson was not perfect, and therefore she was not wholly free from sorrow. The Christian's life is a state of warfare, because he is in a sinful world, where wicked men disturb him, and where Satan tempts him.—But every Christian is supported by the grace of God; and the Saviour who died to redeem him, will make him victorious over his enemies. He will, at last, release him from all sin and sorrow, and will admit him into his holy and glorious kingdom, in Heaven.—Mrs. Judson made the following declaration, in her journal, a short time after her conversion:—
" Aug . 5. Were it left to my choice, whether to follow the vanities of the world, and go to heaven at last, or to live a religious life, have trials with sin and temptation, and sometimes enjoy the light of God's reconciled countenance, I should not hesitate a moment in choosing the latter; for there is no real satisfaction in the enjoyments of time and sense. If the young, in the midst of their diversions, could picture to themselves the Saviour hanging on the cross, his hands and feet streaming with blood, his head pierced with thorns, his body torn with scourges, they would feel constrained to repent, and cry for mercy on their souls. O my God, let me never more join with the wicked world, or take enjoyment in any thing short of conformity to thy holy will. May I ever keep in mind the solemn day, when I shall appear before thee! May I ever flee to the bleeding Saviour, as my only refuge, and renouncing my own righteousness, may I rely entirely on the righteousness of thy dear Son!"
A few months after, she made the following resolutions, which young persons ought to imitate, so far as their circumstances will permit.
"O thou God of all grace, I humbly beseech thee to enable me to keep the following resolutions:—
When I first awake, solemnly devote myself to God for the day.
Read several passages of Scripture, and then spend as long time in prayer, as circumstances permit.
Read two chapters in the Old Testament, and one in the New, and meditate thereon.
Attend to the duties of my chamber.
If I have no needle-work to do, read in some religious book.
At school, diligently attend to the duties before me, and let not one moment pass unimproved.
At noon, read a portion of Scripture, pray for the blessing of God, and spend the remainder of the intermission, in reading some improving or religious book.
In all my studies be careful to maintain a humble dependence on divine assistance.
In the evening if I attend a religious meeting, or any other place for instruction, before going, read a portion of Scripture. If not, spend the evening in reading, and close the day as I began.
Resolve also to strive against the first risings of discontent, fretfulness, and anger; to be meek, and humble, and patient; constantly to bear in mind, that I am in the presence of God; habitually to look up to him for deliverance from temptations; and in all cases, to do to others, as I would have them to do to me."
On the day she was seventeen years old, she wrote thus in her journal:
"I do desire to live a life of strict religion, to enjoy the presence of God, and honor the cause to which I have professedly devoted myself. I do not desire my portion in this world. I find more real enjoyment in contrition for sin, excited by a view of the adorable moral perfections of God, than in all earthly joys. I find more solid happiness in one evening meeting, when divine truths are impressed on my heart by the powerful influences of the Holy Spirit, than I ever enjoyed in all the balls and assemblies I have attended during the seventeen years of my life. Thus when I compare my present views of divine things, with what they were at this time last year, I cannot but hope I am a new creature and have begun to live a new life."
Thus our young readers may learn from the example of Mrs. Judson, that religion made her happy, and that she viewed all her former life, as having been spent in criminal folly. O that all the youth would love the Saviour, and walk with willing feet, in the paths of wisdom. They would find her ways pleasantness, and all her paths peace ."
Mrs. Judson endeavored to be useful to man-kind, and though she was a young female, she found opportunities of usefulness. Every one who has the disposition to do good, will be at no loss for occasions to benefit others. As we have already said, Sabbath schools were not generally established in this country, at that time. The first Sabbath school in the United States, was opened about the year 1791, but it was not till many years afterwards, that the schools were established extensively through the country. Mrs. Judson would have engaged, with eager zeal, in the duties of a Sabbath school teacher; but she had not this pleasure. She became, however, teacher of a common school, where she endeavoured to teach her pupils the fear of the Lord. She gives the following description of the commencement of her school:—
"Have taken charge of a few scholars. Ever since I have had a comfortable hope in Christ, I have desired to devote myself to him in such a way as to be useful to my fellow creatures. As Providence has placed me in a situation of life, where I have an opportunity of getting as good an education as I desire, I feel it would be highly criminal in me not to improve it. I feel, also, that it would be equally criminal to desire to be well educated and accomplished from selfish motives, with a view merely to gratify my taste and relish for improvement, or my pride in being qualified to shine. I therefore resolved last winter, to attend the academy, from no other motive, than to improve the talents bestowed by God, so as to be more extensively devoted to his glory, and the benefit of my fellow creatures. On being lately requested to take a small school, for a few months, I felt very unqualified to have the charge of little immortal souls; but the hope of doing them good by endeavouring to impress their young and tender minds with divine truth, and the obligation I feel to try to be useful , have induced me to comply. I was enabled to open the school with prayer. Though the cross was very great, I felt constrained, by a sense of duty, to take it up. The little creatures seemed astonished at such a beginning. Probably some of them had never heard a prayer before. O may I have grace to be faithful in instructing these little immortals, in such a way as shall be pleasing to my heavenly Father."
Thus was she happy and useful in her own country. But God had designed to send her to the heathen nations, to teach them the name of Jesus. She often felt much concern for their wretched condition, and prayed fervently for their conversion. But the Lord, in his Providence, opened the way for her to go, in person, to tell them of the love of the Saviour; to persuade them to forsake their idols, and serve the living God; to warn them of the wrath to come; and urge them to seek for glory, honour, and immortality in heaven.
Very little had been done, in America, for the conversion of the heathen nations, till 1810, when the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was formed. Adoniram Judson, Jr., Samuel Nott, Jr., Samuel Newell, Gordon Hall, and a few others, were, the next year, appointed missionaries to the East Indies, with a special view to Burmah.
After Mr. Judson had resolved to become a missionary, he formed an acquaintance with Miss Hasseltine. A mutual attachment took place, and he proposed to her to accompany him. This proposal occasioned much anxiety in her mind. So important a step could not be taken, without deliberate reflection, and earnest prayer.—She sought direction from God, and at length she became fully satisfied of her duty to go; and was married to Mr. Judson, February 5, 1812.
There was one circumstance which greatly increased the difficulty of the decision. No female had ever left America as a missionary to the heathen. The general opinion was decidedly opposed to the measure. It was deemed wild and romantic in the extreme, and altogether inconsistent with prudence and delicacy. Miss H. had no example to guide and allure her. She met with no encouragement from the greater part of those persons, to whom she applied for counsel. Some expressed strong disapprobation of the project. Others would give no opinion. Two or three individuals, were steady, affectionate advisers, and encouraged her to go. With these exceptions, she was forced to decide from her own convictions of duty, and her own sense of fitness and expediency.
It was well for the cause of Missions, that God assigned to Miss Hasseltine the honourable, yet difficult office of leading the way in this great enterprise. Her adventurous spirit, and her decision of character, eminently fitted her to resolve, where others would hesitate, and to advance, where others might retreat. She did decide to go; and her determination, without doubt, has had some effect on the minds of other females, who have since followed her example.
To Mrs. Judson, undoubtedly, belongs the praise of being the first American female who resolved to leave her friends and country, to bear the Gospel to the heathen in foreign climes.
Her journal at this time shows that her mind was in a state of extreme anxiety, and that she resorted for direction and help to Him who gives wisdom to the ignorant, and who guides the meek in judgment.
" Sept . 10, 1810. For several weeks past, my mind has been greatly agitated. An opportunity has been presented to me, of spending my days among the heathen, in attempting to persuade them to recieve the Gospel. Were I convinced of its being a call from God, and that it would be more pleasing to him for me to spend my life in this way than in any other, I think I should be willing to relinquish every other object, and, in full view of dangers and hardships, give myself up to the great work.
"O Jesus, direct me, and I am safe; use me in thy service, and I ask no more. I would not choose my position of work, or place of labour; only let me know thy will, and I will readily comply.
" Oct . 28. My mind has still been agitated for two or three weeks past, in regard to the above-mentioned subject. But I have, at all times, felt a disposition to leave it with God, and trust in him to direct me. I have, at length, come to the conclusion, that if nothing in providence appears to prevent, I must spend my days in a heathen land. I am a creature of God, and he has an undoubted right to do with me, as seemeth good in his sight. I rejoice that I am in his hands—that he is every where present, and can protect me in one place as well as in another. He has my heart in his hands; and when I am called to face danger, to pass through scenes of terror and distress, he can inspire me with fortitude, and enable me to trust in him. Jesus is faithful; his promises are precious. Were it not for these considerations, I should, with my present prospects, sink down in despair, especially as no female has, to my knowledge, ever left the shores of America, to spend her life among the heathen; nor do I yet know that I shall have a single female companion. But God is my witness, that I have not dared to decline the offer that has been made me, though so many are ready to call it a 'wild, romantic undertaking.' If I have been deceived in thinking it my duty to go to the heathen, I humbly pray, that I may be undeceived, and prevented from going. But whether I spend my days in India or America, I desire to spend them in the service of God, and be prepared to spend an eternity in his presence. O Jesus, make me live to thee, and I desire no more.
" Nov . 25. Sabbath. Have spent part of this holy day in fasting and prayer on account of the darkness of my mind, and the many internal trials of a spiritual nature that I have lately experienced. Though destitute of that engagedness I could desire, I had some freedom in pouring out my soul to God, and some confidence that he would grant my petitions. When I consider the great wickedness of my heart, I hardly venture to approach the throne of grace. But when I recollect, that God has promised to hear the cries of the poor and needy, and that he has even given his Son to die for those who are sunk deep in sin, I find some encouragement to prostrate myself before the mercy seat, and plead the divine promises. Of late, I have had but little enjoyment, though my mind has been constantly exercised with divine truth. Yet I hope, that God will overrule these trials for my good. I have long since given myself to God; He has an undoubted right to dispose of me, and try me as he pleases. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him .
"He who has styled himself a prayer hearing God, graciously manifested himself to my soul, and made it easy and pleasant to pray. Felt a longing desire for more grace, for more unreserved devotedness to God. When I get near to God, and discern the excellence of the character of the Lord Jesus, and especially his power and willingness to save, I feel desirous that the whole world should become acquainted with this Saviour. I am not only willing to spend my days among the heathen, in attempting to enlighten and save them, but I find much pleasure in the prospect. Yes, I am quite willing to give up temporal comforts, and live a life of hardship and trial, if it be the will of God.
'I can be safe, and free from care,
On any shore since God is there.'
" Oct . Sabbath—(probably 1811.) Another holy day calls me to the house of God. O that I may enjoy his presence, and rest in him. This morning had some faint views of my unworthiness and nothingness before God. Felt ashamed, that I had ever indulged the least complacency in myself, when I am so exceedingly depraved. I can find no words to express my own vileness; and yet I sometimes exalt myself, and wonder the Supreme Being takes no more notice of my prayers, and gives me no more grace. This evening attended a female prayer meeting. Felt solemn and engaged in prayer. Longed for clearer views of God, and stronger confidence in him. Made a new dedication of myself to God. Felt perfectly willing to give up my friends and earthly comforts, provided I might, in exile, enjoy the presence of God. I never felt more engaged in prayer for special grace, to prepare me for my great undertaking, than this evening. I am confident God will support me in every trying hour. I have strong hope, that in giving me such an opportunity of labouring for him he will make me peculiarly useful. No matter where I am, if I do but serve the infinitely blessed God; and it is my comfort, that he can prepare me to serve him. Blessed Jesus, I am thine for ever. Do with me what thou wilt; lead me in the path in which thou wouldst have me go, and it is enough.
" Nov . 23. My heart has been quite revived this evening with spiritual things. Had some views of the excellent nature of the kingdom of Christ. Longed, above all things, to have it advanced. Felt an ardent desire to be instrumental of spreading the knowledge of the Redeemer's name, in a heathen land. Felt it a great, an undeserved privilege, to have an opportunity of going. Yes, I think I would rather go to India, among the heathen, notwithstanding the almost insurmountable difficulties in the way, than to stay at home and enjoy the comforts and luxuries of life. Faith in Christ will enable me to bear trials, however severe. My hope in his powerful protection animates me to persevere in my purpose. O, if he will condescend to make me useful in promoting his kingdom, I care not where I perform his work, nor how hard it be. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. "
The resolution of Mr. and Mrs. Judson, to devote themselves to the service of their Saviour as missionaries, was not formed in the ardour of youthful enthusiasm.—As a proof of this, an extract of a letter from Mr. Judson to Mr. Hasseltine, may here be quoted.
After mentioning to Mr. H. that he had offered marriage to his daughter, and that she had 'said something about consent of parents,' Mr. Judson proceeds thus:—
"I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness, brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal wo and despair?"
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