Diary of Ruth Bissell Cowing, Ancestor of Ann Conaway of Sargentville
In 1808 twenty one year old Ruth Bissell who had been born in East Windsor, Conn. and now lived in Chesterfield, Mass., began this record of her thoughts and feelings. A year later she married Calvin Cowing who was born in Chesterfield, Mass. and between 1810 and 1830 they had 9 children. In 1826 the family left Chesterfield to start a new life in Jamestown, New York, a journey that included travel on the newly completed Erie Canal. Ruth’s diary ends in January of 1834 and she died in 1836.
Ruth’s diary is a rarely seen reflection of the world and life Ruth experienced as a devout , intelligent, sensitive and articulate woman in the early 1800s.
The following is a transcription of that diary which is now in the possession of Ruth’s great, great, great granddaughter Ann Conaway of Sargentville, Maine. An effort was made to transcribe the spelling and punctuation, or lack of same, verbatim. Occasional words could not be deciphered due to penmanship or degradation of the ink or page.
Transcript of the Diary of Ruth Bissell Cowing
Jan. 6th 1808
For a year back, have been very careless about things of religion for the most part of the time, and was led to consider my situation by hearing of the information in an adjacent town. While hearing the conversation these words of the Prophet, passed thro my mind “return O backsliding daughter for I am married unto you saith the Lord.”
O my soul tho’t I where hast thou been, can it be that I am a daughter (tho a backsliding one) I think that I have seen the time that I thought I was one, but if so I have strayed far, very far, from my Heavenly Father. I have often thot’ in time past, that if I was a child of God surely I shall have some great punishment to bring me back. O how I have liv’d can it be possible that I know anything about these things. But I will not despair I will pray to God to show me my situation and if I am his, to that he will reclaim me, and if not to lay my sins before me that I may not rest till I have made my peace with him.
Last night attended a conference at Wm. Thurz’s and never was I at such a meeting before, some of them were a praising God, some a crying for mercy; and some of them exercised to so great a degree that that they were incapable of supporting their human frames. Six young persons lay extended on a bed apparently in the greatest distress possible, what is my situation that I, surely I never had a
thorough sense of my Sin, if it causes such distress of body. But I think I have hardened my heart that nothing makes any impression on me. “he that knows his master’s will and doe’th it not shall be beaten with many stripes”. I have been sensible of what God requires of me, but my case is similar to that of Jonah the prophet, I am not willing to do the preaching that God bids me but I think I have a desire to be made willing.
No tongue can describe the tumult of my mind, my duty to God calls me to acknowledge truthfully where I am, but the temptations of Satan and my wicked heart keep me back- sometimes I almost come to the resolution that I will, and then my past life stares me in the face, and the opinion of the world. What reason have I to think that any person will have charity for me, that knows how I have lived, but yet the promises of God assures; that I shall enjoy great reward in obedience. I will attend the meeting this night in hopes it will compose my mind.
Last night at the meeting my youngest brother was brought a sense of his situation. O that it may end in a reconsecration to Christ. On returning from meeting I was greatly distressed in mind anxious to know the will of God with respect to acknowledging what he has done for me. I thought I had a desire to ask the prayers of some person when these words of Christ dropped into my mind, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not”. O thought I it is enough if Christ has prayed for me surely I need not the prayers of mortals, I will trust in God and if I perish, I will perish. I will leave the event with him and do my duty so far as he shall reveal it.
After many weeks of struggling in my mind I last night revealed that to all that I never revealed before, which was, that I had a hope in Christ that my sins were pardoned many years ago, and no tongue can tell the relief that it gave my mind. These words of the poet rushed in “The cage is broke to let us fly, And build our happy nest on high. Surely said I the cage is broke, the burden is gone from my heart that’s been there so long. I returned home in peace. And now I began to reflect back on my past life. O I am astonished at myself that I have lived no more to the glory of God. I can now see that it was the enemy of souls that kept me back, but I have reason to rejoice that there is a power above him.
It is astonishing to consider the goodness of God to me, after living so many years in rebellion he is still willing to receive me. O that I may live to his glory.
I think that my evidences are much brighter than they were I long to praise God more, but O my sinful heart. Last night I was meditating on the happiness of departed happy spirits, it appeared that I would
not praise God like them because of sin. I I longed to be kept from sinning because it was contrary to a holy God. O that I may always have a sense of it.
This day attended meeting heard a very searching discourse from __ except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharasee’s ye can in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven” thot that I had an evidence that my righteousness did exceed theirs. I am lost in contemplation on heaven and divine things. We met this evening at the meeting house according to appointment, and there before a large concourse of people had the pleasure to hear my brother (together with another young man) speak of the loveliness there is in Christ. O the happiness that flows from being reconnected to God. And why my soul is it __ because we have done nothing to merit these blessings. Surely no. nothing but more mercy and love unbounded would influence the blessed Saviour of mankind to bestow them. O that we two might spend the remainder of our days in his service for in so doing we increase our own happiness.
The past day for the first time the young people in the neighborhood collected at our house, in order to speak of the goodness of God and to pray for themselves and others. There are a number that appear very comfortable in their minds, but I am afraid that we don’t give God the glory we ought. O that we might be enabled to. I think I have an anxious desire that those that are out of the __ of safety that they may flee to __ before it is too late. How can I bear to see them unconcerned, when Christ stands with open arms to receive them.
Have enjoyed my mind very well the past week. I have often felt like Peter, that I would do anything rather than deny my Lord. But now there is something to try my love. The duty of baptism is made known to me and I find it crosses my natural inclination. O that I may have the mind and will of God and may be reconciled to whatever he may reveal.
The past week I have not enjoyed the presence of God as I wished to. Last evening was reflecting on my stupidity and was anxious to know the particular cause I applied to the word of God for directions, and was concerned that I have neglected the duty that God requires of me. yet still it is a cross but our Saviour says that whosoever taketh not up his cross and follows me cannot be my disciple. Sometimes I astonished at myself to think how unworthy I am to follow the commands of my Saviour. O that I may be made willing.
Still I do not enjoy the love of my Saviour; and it is just that I should not. When I took on the outward appearance my heart is for delaying what is made known to me. must I who am naturally timid, and
bashful, be called out the first to publicly __ the cause of Christ. Christ says that where much is given there is much required, surely I have had great enjoyments in times past, and in part this requires of me to try my __. O that I may have strength equal to my duty.
I have at length come to the resolution to trust in God. And do what he commands me, if he is pleased to spare my life. What reasonable excuse have I for delaying. Does not everything urge me on to faithfulness. I have that in time past that I would delay till someone should appear to go with me. but I am not certain of the appointment, I may be called suddenly to exchange worlds the present time is the only time. Surely I shall want the presence of God in my undertaking, and his favor is sufficient to grant it to me alone as if the thousands were to go with me. shall I be so loth to obey my Saviour when he has done so great things for me.
I have this day opened my mind to the church of God in this place and received their fellowship. I now stand as a candidate for Baptism, I think that I begin to feel the blessing of obedience. O that I may be more faithful to God than I ever have been. I think that I can trust the faithfulness of God. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” are his words to those who put their trust in him.
Wenesday March 2nd
This day in obedience to the commands of Christ I solemnly devote soul and body to him in the ordinance of baptism and as I have arisen from the liquid grave so may I arise to __ of life and new obedience. Truly God is good to those that trust in him. My mind has been calm and composed during the day. Can I ever doubt the faithfulness of God after having experienced it in such trying scenes. I think that I can rejoice to be in the hands of God and at his disposal. What are the vain amusements of this world when compared with the presence of Christ. I think that I can freely renounce them for an interest in his love.
This day heard of the death of Wm. Joseph Green, a member of the church of God here below and I doubt not that he is praising God in the church above. And now there must be __ to follow him and who is ready. Had some meditations on the Day of Judgement as I was not into , and meeting this night and asked myself the question whether I would meet my judge in peace should I see them coming on the clouds of heaven. If I know my heart I thought I should rejoice to see him, not because I think there is worthiness in me, but because I trust the judge is my friend.
Have just heard of the exit of Wm Asa Niles another member of the church, who arose this morning well and now lies a sleeping corpse. Truly we may adopt the language of the psalmist” helps lord for the godly man__ for the faithful fail from among the children of men”. O may these deaths excite us to
diligence, to see that we are ready. How inconsistently we conduct here in this world, we live as tho we thought this life was never to have an end, and as tho the other was never to have a beginning.
Have just returned from the funeral of Wm. Niles heard a very alarming discourse by Wm Lock from “for you yourselves who know how the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night”. Truly the coming of the Lord was as a thief in the night to him. Doubtless his prospects of living were as good but the day past as any of ours now living, but he has gone and left a wife and two small children to mourn their loss. O that they may put their trust in him who has said “ I am a father to the fatherless and Widow’s God” was led to reflect on the shortness of time. Methinks it is nothing in comparison to Eternity my time for continuing in this world looks very short, perhaps I am the next to be summoned unto the eternal world O that I may be ready.
this day in obedience to the commands of Christ two young persons followed him in the ordinance of Baptism, O that they may live agreeable to the profession that they have made.
Have just returned from a meeting at Wm Coli’s and methinks I never had a greater desire for the Souls of others than at the present. O that all that are not, might be made sensible of their situation. Did they but realize the shortness of times, and the worth of their souls. Surely they can’t be unconcerned “help Lord for vain is the help of man”.
Had a fine meeting this day. After sermon ten persons presented as candidates for Baptism. All were accepted and together with some others wait till the ensuing Tuesday to attend to the ordinance.
This day 17 persons their ages being 9 to 50 years followed the example of Christ in baptism. What a pleasing sight to behold children, in their early days, and youth in the bloom of life, together with those more advanced in life walking hand in hand in the things of religion.
Have just returned from attending a meeting in W. Worthington, had an agreeable meeting. Before my return took a walk (together with Wm. Todd, Wm and Mrs. Morse and their children and P. H.) to the tomb that contains the remains of Wm S Morse and Pr. M. and O what a sight did present to my view. They who were once in the vigor of health now lie a feast for worms nothing to be seen of one, but a ghastly skull, and of the other a corrupted mass. and is this the appearance of the body of man after death must these active limbs of mine be one day as theirs. Certainly they must. Then if so how ought I improve the Golden moments of life and health. To see that my peace is made with God.
Awoke this morning by hearing the mournful news that Sophrania, daughter of Mr. Asa Jackson departed this life last night. Death is not content till he has bound the whole. The little active babe was a few days past as well as any of us and now lies a sleeping corpse. Why am I spared and that little one taken, who never committed sin. Let it not then be my concern to know the time of my departure but let me see that Christ is formed in me the hope of glory. Then I can make death a welcome messenger. And rejoice in the hope of leaving this world of sin to dwell with Christ forever
Have just returned from the funeral and heard of the birth of the son of Mr. J.T. “man that is born of Woman is of few days and full of trouble”
This day 7 persons publickly owned the cause of Christ in the ordinance of baptism. We met at Mr. P. and there I with 23 others newly baptized, renewed the covenant that I hope we all made with God before and now with the rest of the church have given ourselves up to each other in covenant obligations promising to watch over each other for good and to do our duty both to God and Man as far as the Spirit of God shall teach important obligations! O may each one of us be enabled to fulfil them! How reasonable it is that we should give up all to God! To whom shall we devote our souls and bodies, if not to the author of them? We are not capable of directing our steps even for what we think our own happiness, how much less then to the glory of God. Let us then trust in him and he will do all things well.
This day assembled with the church of God in this place to commemorate (for the first time) the Death and sufferings of Christ in the ordinance of the Sacrament. I think that I felt a union to Christ and the Church. O unbounded goodness! To think that I who have so often nailed him to the cross with my sins, and pierced his side by my Unbeliefs, am admitted to such priviledges. O that I may live more devoted to the author of them
Have just heard of the death of Mr. Kingsly a young man in the bloom of life. He who but a few weeks past had youth, health, and a numerous circle of friends, is now called to part with all and resign himself into the arms of Death but what is death, to the meeting our judge unreconciled. O may we who are living lay this to heart.
Sunday April 3rd
I think I daily see more and more of my own inability to cover my steps aright without the assistance of the Spirit of God, he who hath promised it to those that ask him, then if so why do I not always have it?
Uncertainly it must be because I do not ask aright. God is faithful to perform what he has promised but I am not faithful to obey. He has promised to be with those that put their trust in him. But O my unbelieving heart! I so often doubt the faithfulness of God, surely it would be just in him to leave me to coldness and indifference. But he is willing as well as just, if it were not so, surely I must be cast off.
Have been very busy in secular affairs this day, and why can’t I be as engaged in the affairs of religion. In attending to the first I have no enjoyment in the present time and no lasting happiness to be expected hereafter (should I live to see it) But O the solid happiness that arises even in the present tense, in being obedient to the commands of Christ and the great reward that is promised to those who are faithful unto the end. What more do we want to stir us up to faithfulness to God than the consideration that we are obeying the loveliest of beings. O may I be astonished at my own stupidity and ingratitude to my Saviour, and be enabled to live more and more to his glory.
My mind had been very moving of late, doubting and questioning those things that I ought not pry into. O that I might be delivered from those wicked thots I am sensible that they procede from an evil Spirit Truly, those that would live an obedience to the commands of Christ have the World, the Flesh and the Devil to fight against. But we shall come off conquerers if we put our trust in God “tho we fall we will rise again. Satan’s power can extend no farther than this life over those that are the children of God. When life ends, then trouble ends. O happy thought.
The sun is near setting, the Night draws nigh, and perhaps the Sun of my life is night setting, and the night of Death nigh. And O I am prepared for the important event. I trust that my hope is in Christ, then if so then dying will be but going home Christ will be with us in the grassy Valley- but if Christ fail then our all fails- But, no, he will never fail to one of his, for he hath said, that those he loves he loves to the end—O is not such a friend worth a seeking for, and when found how aught we live to his glory.
I have just returned from hearing Mr. Hamlinton preach from these words, “And while Thy Servant was busy here and there he was gone”. 1st thing he described the busyness of the people in pursuing the affairs of this world and the neglecting the affairs of their souls—O mournful thought! That any should be busy here & there and lose their own souls– we have nothing that we can claim as our own but our souls, then if we lose that we have lost our all? O that every one might be made sensible of the worth of their souls and not be busy here and there any longer but see that they secure their eternal all before it be forever lost.
The sound of Death is continually sounding in our ears on our right hand & on our left we are reminded of our own mortality- I have just heard of the Death of Mrs. Porter of Norwich, who was in perfect health but last Monday and now lies a sleeping corpse- How sudden and unexpected to her was her change from time to Eternity. But O where is the soul… that immortal part that never dies is it now in heaven ringing glory to God with saints & angels.. or amongst the damned in hell blaspheming the God that made her…but this is not for us to know she has gone to a righteous judge- and we must all soon follow her. O that all may be ready whenever the summons may come & be enabled to say, come welcome death the end of fears.
What shall I write I have a confused mind at present-when I review my past life and consider how little of my time is spent in contemplations on God and his character I am ashamed of myself, and surprised at the goodness of God to me, in displaying his love to me again,…my mind is moving at times on the affairs of this world and then I find a void in my breast…something wanting… surely nothing short of God himself can ever satisfy the capacious desires of the soul. The why my soul art thou not more engaged in the delightful employment of seeking to know more of God, and of his divine perfections. O that I may from this time live more dedicated to the service of God.
Was about to retire to rest when I heard the sound of the distant thunder rumbling in the skies announcing that there is a shower at hand. And I like a timorous mortal tremble at the thots of it. But what is this to the storm of God’s wrath that will soon overtake the guilty world. Then O how shockingly miserable will the situation of those be that have not Christ for a shelter. How will they call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them from the presence of that God who is a shelter to his saints—then O that I might see that Christ is my shelter & put my trust in him for time & eternity then I shall have a friend that will never leave me.
Busy here and there in the things of the world. Making preparations for the marriage of my brother while thinking of this day O thot I is my Soul married to Christ… important question!…too great for me to solve..can it be..yet I trust that it is possible although I am the vilest of the vile. There is mercy for __ of sinners. I think I have a desire that my mind may be taken off from these vanities of time & and be more stayed on God. We cannot serve two masters & surely it is easy for those that have served both to determine in which there is the most satisfaction… & yet the mystery remains with me what can I so negligent in the service of him who is the foundation of my happiness. O sluggish soul.
This day was witness to the solomnisation of the nuptials of my youngest brother with Miss Tirzah Pierce [the wife of Ruth’s brother Solomon], my mind was calm during the day. I always considered it the most
important transaction of an earthly kind that is performed. O that they may be blessing to each other & as they have both peoples religion before the world may they always live agreeable to their professions.
While nervousness the state of my mind this day I tho’t that of all persons I had the greatest reason to mourn before God for my wanderings from him yet I am sensible that the longest life spent in pentinence cannot atone for one sin—the atonement is made & I think I can witness that Christ is willing to receive wanderers if they will return. Surely he is a God of mercy or he never could receive me.
I think that I have resigned my all over into the hands of God. Wishing that he may cast out all the idols out of my heart and himself take possession…but methinks I am like the little child that gives up his plaything to his parent one moment & the next wants to get it back again…but I think that I am thankful that I am in the hands of God and O that my mind might be stayed on him. That is the only way I can take happening if I seek for it in the things of this life it is not to be found. The pleasures of this world are fleeting nothings and feverish in the using__ But the joys of the world to come are those that will always last they will not fail us in the trying hour__ then then surely they are worth waiting for.
I have just returned from visiting Mrs. Niles. Had an agreeable time in discoursing on the love of God, and the vanity of Earthly enjoyments. Why are we so attached to this earth when it gives so little enjoyment. We must soon, very soon, leave all below and to an unknown someone there wing our way__ the transactions of the future world are unknown to us now, but the times coming when we must all know. Methinks I am amused to consider the confusion there is in the world every day even scenes present to our own view. Some appear pleasing others cross our natures_ & we may seek for happiness in a thousand things & when done it is found only in one thing and that is love to God.
Yesterday morning heard that Mary Todd was suddenly taken sick and confined to her bed. It struck me sensibly when I heard of it—perhaps she will die… I visited her in the evening and at her request spent the night with her. I found her very calm under her distress she tells me she thinks she is resigned to the will of God in life or Death. O happy state of mind! She warns us all to be faithful while we have our health & reason. She laments that she has not been more faithful than she has been. O thought I if she has cause to lament what cause have I… it appears to me that I have done but little to the glory of God to what she has. O that this may be the means of stirring me up to faithfulness to God and Man.
Sunday May 1st
Have just returned from visiting my sick friend found her not so well as when I left her. She tells me her strength fails her and a scorching fever attends her all the time. But in the midst of all her troubles she has a calm mind. She says her time for living looks short but she thinks it is her choice to go if it is the
will of God. O tho’t I when I was about to with her, must we part…. Perhaps never to see you again… tomorrow I leave my father’s house to attend to the affairs of a School in the adjacent town… but why do I mourn to part with her when perhaps I may be called to exchange worlds before her—tho I at present have health yet that is no security against Death.
Sunday morn. May 8th
Have just returned to my Father’s after spending a week in my school and have enjoyed myself very well, beyond my expectations—yes, God is the same abroad as at home-he is a friend to all that trust in him even while absent from Earthly Friends. tho I have many things to perplex my mind & take up my attention in school hours yet I hope that my attention may not be taken from the one thing needful. But when opportunity presents for meditation and retirement may I examine myself and ask the assistance of God to enable me to watch over my thoughts and actions that I do nothing amiss. Surely I have need to watch when there are so many things to lead me astray.
Had the pleasure to hear that my sick friend is better and a prospect of recovery. O may she give God the glory and as she has expressed a desire to give more to the glory of God may she be enabled to and set an example of Piety for all to follow (last evening & G & a)
Returned last evening to my father’s found Miss S & her brother here the family all well except my Father who appears to be bourn down under his misfortunes__ O that he may rise superior to these transitory things and trust in God for he will not leave those that trust in him we must expect crosses and troubles while here in the body, and if we make a right improvement they will all work for our good in the end. O for a resigned will to the will of God__ surely that is the happiest state of mind that we can be in.
Well attended this day heard an excellent discourse from Psalms 73-5 “they are not in trouble as other men neither are they plagued as other men” wherein was set forth the troubles that a child of God experiences more than the ungodly- surely they have troubles of heart that the ungodly know nothing about. Yet why should we envy those that appear to live in the affluence of this world when they have no God for their friend. They may live in what they call pleasure here, they may afflict the godly, but they cannot always enjoy their pleasure neither can they destroy their souls how aught we to rejoice that there is a god above man that hears the crys of his children and will deliver them.. two went forward in the ordinance of baptism this day, and 6 the Sunday previous.
Sunday morn 17
Returned to my school & on my return had a tooth drew by Dr.B. Very painful ended-attended the conference last evening and had an agreeable meeting. I think I do enjoy the presence of God sometimes although surrounded with perplexities in my school—O that God would display himself more and more.
Was deprived of the pleasure of attending meeting this day on account of the rain and bad walking but I think I can truly say that I have enjoyed myself in reading & meditation although deprived of the priviledge of hearing public discourse—God can manifest himself to his creatures in every situation if they will earnestly make it I long to be more like God to see my ___ in things and be humbled for it If I know my own heart. I am willing to be in the hands of God—O that he take possession of me & my little family.
Just entered my school and finding no one present take my pen to write a scetch of affairs. Attended the conference at Mr. P last evening had a fine meeting a number spoke of the love of God and extorted sinners to repent & turn to God. The meeting continued till late and the meeting with them was very agreeable…engaged in conversation this __ upon religion. Methinks I long for the time come when all shall be of one heart to serve the Lord—then there will be no division in sentiments but all love and harmony. O thought I this morning must the summer pass away without any operation of the Spirit of God on these Dear youth under my care surely it would be a happy school if God would appear amongst us… I have hopes that there are attentive minds amongst us here that can do all things.
Have just dismissed my school and now stay a few minutes to record the transactions of the day. This morn C.C. entered the school I observed an unusual solemnity in her countenance but had no conversation with her till after school. I observed two of the girls were very much affected while spelling. I asked them the cause but they declined giving me a decisive answer.—after dismissing the school I again requested to know the cause of their crying at length C. L. told me that C.C. had told them that she loved Jesus, and asked them if they did not.& told them not to put off these things till a Death bed. &G &a they both burst out crying & have left me in that situation. O surprising goodness do my ears deceive me! no surely they do not. God is good. O may I be thankful how often have I wanted to hear some of my little charges__ forth the praises of God. O that he would continue his goodness & convert and correct their souls.
Went home to my fathers on Saturday, attended a meeting on Sunday heard a fine discourse—and attended the communion with the church of God in C. and enjoyed my mind very well. Had the headache very bad in the evening. S.G. & G. heard an important question asked but I did not hear it
answered. Have now returned to my school and find the aforementioned girls very low in their mind. O that it may it end in a reconciliation to Christ.
Attended a meeting at Mr. P and one of the little girls very much affected she told me she was so great a sinner she was afraid God could not have mercy on her. O thought I, if this little one who is no more than 9 years old tells of living in sin, what may we think who have lived it to see 20 years. Surely none but God himself can give such a sense of sin in anyone! And none but him can pardon… O may she and all others apply to him for relief.
Wednesday night June 1st 1808
I want words to record the transactions of this day… this morn I arose saw CK observed a smile on her countenance and knowing that she has been very serious of late concluded that she had cast off serious thots and returned to her former gaity…but to great joy and disappointment she told me that she loved Jesus & could rejoice that her sins were pardoned she said she could not praise him half enough…I returned to my school and C. entered into conversation with the schollars, there were a number that had been serious at times were now cut to the heart to see one of their little mates so joyful but not much disturbance till I came in the P.M. I had not been seated long when C.S. told me that she could contain no longer—she must tell me that is was a new word to her—they soon began to express their feelings to each other. About their love to Christ and their astonishment to think they had never loved him before. They told me they longed to sing a hymn I willingly gratified them while they were singing I observed that W.K. and J C were very deeply affected I asked them the cause they told me they were such sinners that they were afraid they must go to endless torment—from that there were more affected till the whole school were in tears…some of them requested prayers. O thought I what shall I do.. can I deny them… I cannot… I attempted it and my example was followed by F.G. a little girl of 9 years several of the neighbors came in to see them and Mr. M. passing by called and talked and prayed with them… there were a number that were very happy & and I left them at their request to sing & pray alone. I must leave it… I cannot describe the scene.
Have had a happy school this day could hardly keep them regular enough to attend to the affairs of the day they tell me that they want to be a talking and singing all the time I indulge them considerable surely it is the best imployment they can be in-can’t know why I am favored with such a blessing…surely it is a blessing to me though a still greater one to themselves O that I may be truly thankful & set them an example worthy of imitation I shall attend the affairs of my school with double the pleasure that I did before.
Attended the lecture yesterday came back to Mr. F. with my father- some of my little charges were there, my father conversed with and prayed for them—they sang a number of hymns and we repaired to bed at a late hour.
Was told there are some who heard of the sincerity of these little ones and say it is nothing but affected, it hurts my feelings very much to think that any can feel that towards them but what are our trials in comparison to those who have gone before us Thousands and thousands have been executed for owning the religion of Christ & can we expect to escape the censure of the world—no– Christ fortold of all these things.. but if we have him for our friend why need we fear. Just heard that Eunice B. was taken violently ill on Thursday last and that her life is despaired off but am told that she manifests resignation to the divine will. O what consolation to have a friend who will not leave us on a sick bed or in our dying hour—how can those that have no reason to think that God is their friend rest securely. Surely it is a great thing to die and to launch into an unknown world of spirits.. O that all may realize it and prepare before it is too late.
Monday morn 6th
Attended meeting yesterday P.M. and in the eve a conference at Mr. B. heard that Miss B. is no better. Had an agreeable chat with H.B. while walking home she joins with me in thinking these little ones sincere. And who that have seen and conversed with them can doubt it!..astonishing to think that any do!
Finding no schollars I take my pen to give vent to my feelings—had some conversation with Mrs. G. yesterday noon and was very affected while talking with her—my mind got confused and disturbed I attended to the affairs of my school with a heavy heart—after school repaired to the conference spent the chief of the time in crying, foolish girl that I am; thus to be troubled about the opinion of the publick—it is natural for all to wish for it- but when it stands in competition with my duty to God may I even be willing to resign it..hope the next time that I write I shall feel more composed.
Felt very composed yesterday during the conversation, thought I can’t quit my trust in God ___that if he cuts me off from his presence it will be just.. O it is an important thing to die..- I think at times that I care not for the censures of the worldly, if I may be so happy as to gain the approbation of my judge– what is man that we should neglect our duty to God in order to please him O that I may be more removed from the world & seek more & more to live to the glory of God—surely there is a day a coming when the righteous will be delivered from these troubles & O may I be one of that happy —
Recollect that last Monday I entered my 22nd year.. so many years of my life gone and how many yet remain is uncertain perhaps not any… and O am I prepared.. Important question; the searcher of hearts only knows.
Monday Morn 13
Walked home to my Fathers Saturday was very much fatigued indeed. Attended meeting on Sunday heard a fine discourse after meeting my sister R. and Mr. IL followed the example of Christ in the ordination of baptism. O that they may live devoted to the service of God. My sister complains of travails in their life.. but what are the troubles of their life as to those that have God for their friend if rightly improves they will all work for our own good. O that they might serve to wean us all from the creature & place our dependence on our creator. ( Last eve: I and my little charge continue steady and when (those of them that have of late been excused) O that we all may be directed by enerring wisdom; I think that I feel the need of it in all my undertakings. What is before me I know not and I think I am not anxious to know if I can be possessed of the blessing of heaven in my undertaking.
Heard this morning the daughter of Mr. Gordon and Mrs. Laura Lee departed this life the last night…the little active babe of eight months old taken and the disconsolate parents, to mourn their loss. O that they may make a right improvement of the providence, and prepare to follow her Surely this instance together with the numerous others is sufficient to teach us all the uncertainty of earthly enjoyments.
Monday Morn 20
Was sent for home last Fryday Night & found on my return Mrs Pierce, Mrs. & Miss Rogers at my fathers. Had some conversation with Miss and found her mind very much exercised about my religious duty, but I would not advise her she must set for herself—they left us in the evening & I returned to rest very much fatigued. Arose Saturday Morn attended to the affairs of the family and at night was convinced I had not spent the day as I aught—had severe reflections on my conversation—I find it is impossible to have our minds on the vanities of the world & the things of Eternity at the same time. We cannot have God and Mammon for in proportion as our conformity to the one rises, the other it falls. & is this the case, then why do I not guard more against those things that tend to abate the life of religion. My own conduct is mystery to me…. arose Sunday morn attended meeting, after sermon Mr. Hitchcock Miss Trent a little boy of ten years of age together with the aforementioned Miss Rogers gave their relation to the church, were all received and now start as candidates for the ordination of baptism— my father returned from Connecticut Saturday Night & brought word that Mrs. E. Bliss and 3 others have departed this life in Longmeadow since he was down last & that there is a mortal sickness prevailing in the towns around where he has been… he says they are taken very suddenly and expire in a few hours…how are we ___ with peculiar blessings! Health reigns in our borders at present but perhaps the fatal disorder will reach us & what will the situation of those, that yet remain unreconciled to God! Shocking beyond description! I have now returned to my school & as I have begun anew week may I begin with a new resolution to watch my words and actions that I do nothing amiss.
yesterday P.M. while I was busy in attending the affairs of the School Mr. L. B. entered, presented a letter, which contained the melancholy news that Mr. Elisha Bissell, (the husband of my father’s youngest sister) departed this life May 18th. He was taken violently ill, his reason left him, & in 4 days was a corpse. Surprising indeed! His wife and 5 children left to mourn their loss. O that they may feel their trust in God and not murmer at his dealings.
Monday June 27th
Went home to my fathers last Saturday visited my sister P. In the evening walked down to Mr. C.found Mrs Robinson there in violent distress she was taken ill but a few minutes before I arrived. We did everything possible to relieve her but all in vain, a Physician was sent for, he ordered some things that in some measure relieved her, what was the cause of her extreme distress we could not tell- her husband and child were in the same situation. They are all some better. My father is in a low state of health the Physician apprehends that he will not continue long without immediate help. But God only knows the time of his departure. I was called very early in life to part with my mother and if God should now see fit to deprive me of my father I pray that he would give me a resigned will to his will & enable me to put my trust in in him… but perhaps I may be called for before him O that I may be found ready.
Heard this morning that Mrs. Stanton wife of Mr. Elisha Stanton departed this life Sabbath evening.. a few days sickness terminated her earthly existence, and her remains are this day to be interned in the silent grave there to be till the last trumpet sounds. She has left a husband and 12 children to mourn their loss.. affected children, I can feel for them. Friends are dear to us in this life, but when God calls we must part with then resigned or not. But those that are united to Christ have the consolation to reflect that although they must part for a while yet the time will come when they will again be reunited never to part. O that their loss may be made up to them in the enjoyment of Christ.
Sunday July 1st
Have just heard the melancholy news that Mary Brown daughter of Mr. Elijah Brown departed this life about 6 o’clock this morn after a few hours illness.. how sudden and unexpected to herself and Friends as well yesterday morn as any of us now sleeps in death cut down in the bloom of life. Suddenly deprived of her reason & expired in a senseless state. Her disorder was the Spotted Fever [ this usually was smallpox]the same that prevails in the towns below us.. the disorder has entered the town and God only knows how many will fall victim to it.. do I live to record so many deaths of others!..but perhaps this is the last perhaps before another sun rises I shall be in the eternal world…such is the life of man.
Monday Morn July 4th
Entered the schoolhouse and finding no schollars take my pen till they arrive was sent for by Mrs. C. last Fryday went and assisted her about sewing till Saturday evening, called at my brothers on my way home received a present from him, of a pair of ___ spent the night at my fathers found him still in a low state
of health made up to meeting in the morning heard a fine discourse from Isaiah 49:21 after sermon 74 were added to the church 23 of whom were baptized. The sacrament was administered in the intermission.. surely the children of God are all one family let them be where they will..then why this difference in sentiments.. methinks I long for the time to come when they will all be of one heart and mind—I care not which way if we all be united in the right way.
Thursday July 7th
Feel quite indisposed this morning but hope that I shall soon feel better. Was thinking while walking to school how strongly we are attached to life nature shudders at the prospect of dissolution yet I believe that true love to God will bear the Soul above the fears of death why should we wish to live in this world always when it keeps us from the complete enjoyment of God. Sin we shall, while Sin remains there can be no complete enjoyment. I think I can rejoice that my life is in the hands of God and at his disposal. He has a right to command it when he pleases and it is our highest happiness to feel reconciled to it. I must leave my pen to attend to the affairs of my school.
Monday P. M. july 11th
Went home to my fathers last Saturday found my father to be some better and sister Tirzah (my brother’s wife) very sick indeed. She had been complaining a number of days, and the night before was taken very distressed with a pain in her side. Physician was sent for he ordered some things & she was some better in the moment. I attended upon her that night she remained very sick the next day but I think she was some better this morning when I left her. What a stupid mortal I am that I am no more affected wiith the ___of God that I am witness to. Death is a solemn and trying scene & is what we all must experience prepared or unprepared must go whenever God calls. “Our lives are in the hands of Death”.
Thursday P.M. july 14th
Concluded boarding at Mr. Soffords this Morn and this night must seek a new lodging. Left Mr. Shaw (a brother of Mrs. Soffords) in a very low state of health, to appearances his stay in this world is short without immediate help his disorder considered to be consumption which generally baffles the power of medicine. How natural it is for those in health to think that a person in his situation will have the world before them yet doubtless there are many men in prefect health that he will survive. Health is one of the greatest blessings that we do enjoy and we know not the value of it till we are deprived. What are all the gay pleasures (if they may be called pleasures) of this world without health. Yet a sick bed may be rendered easy with the presence of God
Saturday P.M. 16th
Very warm weather indeed I think it to be the warmest that has been this summer. Sister K called at the schoolhouse we rode up to Sister s’s spent the night and I rode down to the school this Morn. I heard by my sister K. that my father has been very sick this week the dr. that has— him might it best for him to apply to some other Physician. He accordingly made down to Chester yesterday but is expected home
this day. I feel very anxious to see him. O that I may be prepared for what is before that I may not murmer at the dealings of God but be enabled to say “thy will be done” tho ever so contrary to my natural feelings.
Monday Morn 18th
Rode home to my fathers on Saturday found my father had returned but no better. He thinks himself to be in a dangerous situation & feels in a measure reconciled to his Heavenly Father’s will. Feeling indisposed I did not attend meeting on the Sabbath. Mr.V. Sinnings of the State of New York performed divine service and spent the night at my fathers. My mind was very much agitated during the day feeling unreconciled to submit to the will of God in the disposal of some future transactions which I fear might take place. I took a walk in the __ and as I was meditating on these things I felt my heart willing to resign that things should be as they are even though ever so contrary to my natural feelings. God is a wise being and surely knows what is best for us in this life. I have thought much on these words of the psalmists- “Saints at your heavenly Fathers wont Give up your comfort to the Lord He can restore what you resign Any want you blessings more divine”. If we are willing to resign to the will of God in the disposal of things he can restore to us the enjoyment of those things that we resign. In the evening S G S O had some conversation with sister Tirzah thought her to be uncommonly rude did not feel disposed to gain with her, retired to rest and rose in the morn and made up to my school- I must leave my pen for my schollars appear.
had the pleasure last night to see an old acquaintance and, I trust a true friend. (Miss Chloe Gove) whom I have known for 10 months past. Yes she is an amiable person-her heart is formed for true friendships. And her conversation calculate to soothe the Sorrows & heighten the joys of those that she converses with. I have seen her in affliction and she has survived nearly all her earthly afflictions and she tells me now, although she was once summoned by earthly friends and now left destitute she does not feel herself to be alone. She considers that she has a kind God that watches over and manifests himself to her which is greater happiness than the enjoyment of earthly friends. There is something pleasing in conversing with those that received our friend I think that the things of this world are given us for our happiness if we have dispositions to improve them aright it is true that nature contrives that our lives shall be short, but Man contrives they shall be worthwhile. Since then the cause of our unhappiness is in our own breast let us look to God that he would give us right dispositions. Then we shall no longer complain that the earth was made in vain man be over anxious concerning future events of life but enjoy the blessings of the present moment with a thankful heart. I am far from thinking that the things of the world alone can make us completely happy. No the Soul of Man aspires to God its ___ in the enjoyment of him there is happiness that is lasting. When God is pleased to take from us these lesser comforts of Earth if he grants us his presence we shall not be unhappy. “Should Friends and kindred of man & time leave me to want and die __God my life would be thy care and all my needs supply”
Fryday P.M. 22nd
Having a few leisure moments take up my pen to divert my mind. Had a confused school yesterday, but more regular this day. Did schollars consider how much unnecessary trouble they give their teachers, surely they would try to do better than they sometimes do. The conduct of my schollars is very teachable to me at times for I am conscious that I do not do so well as my reason dictates. Writing is an employment that I am fond of, and I now write from the impulse of the present moment having nothing further in run than my own diversion, not intending that this little book should be exposed to the eye of the critic who I am sensible would find many things they would censure though perhaps unobserved by me, or an intimate friend with me.
Just returned from Sister Taylors [Ruth’s sister Amelia, the wife of Stephen Taylor] __ little Henry very sick he was taken ill last Wednesday and the doctor thinks him very dangerous. — I must attend to the affairs of my school and shall ride up there again after dismissing them.
Returned from Sister Taylors left child more comfortable he had a (the writing on the rest of this page is too light to read—Pam Simmons)
Heard from the sick this Morn they are all some better and there are hopes that two of them will recover. Our lives are short at longest, and every moment brings us nearer the grave, but how little part of my time is spent as though I expected every day would be the last. Death and Eternity look very near to me at times, and then again, I appear to be senseless and stupid about it. My heart at times unbelieving doubting the reality of these things that I have experienced. Was there ever a person like me? or is my case singular from all the rest of the world? But let the event be as it may, I long to be freed from unbelief, and live more to the glory of God, removed from the world and prepared for a better…………….
Heard this morn that Mr. Kingman’s child was not so well, they thought it to be a dying last night and have but little hopes of it this morning. It is very rainy this morn. I feel anxious to go home to my fathers, hope I shall have an opportunity before night.
Monday Morn August 1st
Went home on Saturday in company of Matilda B. & S. H. found my father not so well as when I last saw him. Heard that there was a conference on Fryday and Sister Stetson (together with 4 others) went forward in the ordinance of baptism nearly two years has expired since she gave her relation to the church and was received, forward till” this time. I rose Sunday morn repaired to the meeting house heard a discourse from Luke.. Simon Simon— Satan has desired to have the & a’s heard at noon that Emily, daughter of Mr. Frank and Mrs. Lucy Kingman, departed this life Saturday night at 2 o’clock. O that the parents and friends may make a right improvement of the providence and prepare to follow her. Doubtless they were in expectation that their little daughter would live to be a comfort to them for many years, but she is gone to that God that made her before she entered her 3rd year. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered after sermon at night. There were a large number assembled One observed that there were the most that ever assembled upon the occasion—the aged Mrs. Morse, her daughter, grandson and two of the fourth generation were all present. Possibly we may not all partake again with the church before and perhaps I am the one to be called for first.. “Death’s fatal arrows daily fly And sprightly youth like hairy age must die” how aught we to live in actual readiness that when the Summons of Death comes it may not terrify us. We often get our hearts placed on the things of this world, and neglect our duty to God. I am sensible that I do and that I need the assistance of God to bring me back to right reflections. Surely we might despair of happiness if it depends on ourselves.. our wicked hearts would soon lead us astray. All things are known to God, he knows the thoughts of all hearts and needeth not that man should inform him—yet he has required of us to ask of him such things as we need. “Ere he called me, well he knew What a heart like mine would do”
Did not attend the funeral yesterday by reason of the schollars that came to attend the school. I heard in the P.M. that Sister Taylors youngest child was very sick, and feeling anxious to see it I walked up there after dismissing my schollars. Found her more dangerous than I expected, she had a very ill turn just before I arrived they supposed her to be a dying, but she revived and is spared a little longer.. the scene was too much for my sister she almost fainted and we helped her to a bed. I left the child some revived this Morn, and sister very feeble. May she and the rest of us be supported through all the trying scenes that we are called to pass through in life, and through Death which is the last of all. Feeling quite indisposed I have dismissed my schollars at an early hour. God only knows whether I shall ever return to them again. I know not what is before me nor am I anxious to now if I may be prepared…… having sufficient leisure I have spent some time in writing the feelings of my mind and a short sketch of affairs as they have happened. Now I not what hands these lines may fall into.. but I think it best not to destroy them.. for surely a friend to Virtue will overlook imperfections (to which the best among us are liable) when they consider they were never written with a view of there being made publick but soley for the amusement of the writer R.B.
Had a very sick time last night but feel somewhat better this morn. And now though I am afraid to attend to the affairs of this day, yet certainly I am one day nearer the Eternal World. Death, Judgement, Eternity are subjects that are talked of by all, but I am afraid that there are but few that reallise them as they aught. I am sensible at times, that I do not but I think I have a desire that I may be enabled to. Life is short at longest and surely if my life was to measured be the progress that I have made in Religion, it would appear short indeed. Yet I trust that I have experienced true love to God and that I consider to be something very great Though my imperfections are very many, the attributes of God are the same. O that I may not be deceived and go hoping for heaven and land in hell,,, dreadful situation. Forbid it O Father of Mercy, but search my heart and let me know my situation truly while in time…. The thoughts of dying many time make me tremble.. it is ____to ___our breath and appear before our judge… nothing but the atonement of Christ will avail in that all trying day. Our own works will not recommend us, Saints and Angels cannot help us God himself will frown if Christ will not intrude for us. O why do not I live more devoted to him who hath purchased such blessings for sinful souls. Be astonished o my Soul and dedicate the remainder of thy days in his service.
Monday Morn August 8th
Agreeable to the request of Mrs. Sufford I walked up & assisted her about coming on Fryday P.M.—till Saturday P.M. when I walked over to Sister Taylors on my way there called on Mrs. Fuller she informed me of some news that she had lately heard about me. I readily convinced her that there was no truth in it tarried but a short time & then walked on.there are people in the world that are ever busy in reporting groundless asertions and others that are ready to believe them. We must take the world as it comes & get from it all the good we can & as much as possible shun the evil endeavor at all times to keep a (the rest of text on page too light-cannot read it—Pam Simmons)
Fryday night has arrived & what have to write. nothing, but to lament my stupidity, and a cold and careless heart my pen is poor and my mind is moving therefore I must leave it.
Monday Morn 15th
I left writing on account of my poor pen and feeling so stupid that I know not what to write. My pen is some better but no alterations for the better in my meditations. I rode home to my fathers on Fryday found my father some better and Sister Flavia absent. She has taken a journey to Williamstown in company with one of her brothers walked down to Mr. Bucks in the eve spent Saturday at home.. attended meeting on Sunday heard a discourse in the forenoon from ___ 8th 33rd in the P. M. Romans 6th 10 11th. In the evening had some conversation with …..perhaps more than I had aught to…but the time is past it is to state to read it I hope that I shall have no reason to wish it. Made up to my school this morn and hope that I shall spend this much better than I did the last.. at least with more serious reflections time passes whether we make right improvement or not.
I have had some severe reflections on my indifferent state of mind tho last night felt a desire to be reclaimed, and to be truly pentinent I trust that I am humble in a measure.
Walked over with little Maria Eagen the last night. They think her to be some better altho she remains very feeble.
had some conversation with Mrs. Ramsdel (an aged woman in this neighborhood) the last night on the importance of being ready to exchange worlds when called for.the things of the world appear very trifling to me at times, and then again they seem to have the greatest share in my meditations. O foolish heart of mine. Thus to be astry by those tryffling things- and lose a relish for t hose great enjoyments that are reserved for those that life in obedience to the commandments of Christ true the Soul that has tasted the love of God considers it the greatest happiness..yet if our hearts get led astray and glued to this world we neglect those means than we are priviledged with for attaining this happiness.. such as meditation and prayer.. these two being the greatest and the cherishing right meditations and looking to God for assistance in the life of Religion in the Soul.
August 22 has arrived, the natural summer season has almost past.. nature will soon put on a gloomy appearance… but my mind runs fervent of the natural season. I have felt an abatement of spirit in the things of religion for a few days back that is unusual for me of late 5 months have expired since I made a public profession of religion, and for the most part of the time think that I have enjoyed it.. hardly a cloud has passed over my mind..the pleasures of the world have appeared very trifling when compared with the more solid happening of feeling united to Christ and meditations on the future enjoyment that is reserved for those that are faithful unto the end. Then why this difference in feelings? The question is easily answered-the fault is in myself. “ Tis thine own heart makes grace delay And hides a pardoning glorious day.” How will do I requite my Saviour for all his kindness shown me.
I am sensible that God needs none of my services to add to his happiness yet surely gratitude would induce me to give him the glory that is his due. God changeth not, he is ever ready to manifest himself to his creatures if they will seek him aright. O that I may be humble and truly pentinent for my backslidings, & seek more earnestly the presence of him who is the only foundation of happiness.. I hope that I have not lost a relish for those enjoyments that flow from Religion, that I have experienced but that they may again be restored to me. “rejoice not over me O mine enemy though I fall, I shall rise again,” O that God would raise my heart to him and grant his holy spirit that I may never wander again. Went home to my fathers on Saturday attend meeting on Sunday heard a discourse from “In vain do ye worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” in the P.M. from Luke 19th the parable of the 10 pounds.. the explanation that the pounds were priviledges of religion that we have & if not rightly improved they are taken from us. Was led to reflect on the improvements that I have made of the many priviledges I have. Methinks it is very small, in comparison nothing to what it aught to be it is with grief that I observe the inclination to play, that is observable in my shallows hardly one that has anything to say for God. But I have to mourn that I have not been faithful to them as I aught I consider it an important charge to have the care of these little ones and I fear that I am too negligent in advising them.. yet with all my carelessness and their inattention there are some that I have gained so great an evidence for that I trust a faithful God will carry them through all the temptations of this vain world and bring them to the complete enjoyment of himself. I was interrupted while writing this by the arrival of two cousins (Reuben and Isahel O.) who called on me on their way to my Fathers and tell me if they stay all night they will ride up for me this P.M. their arrival so unexpected has somewhat frustrated my mind
Went home to my fathers last night had an agreeable visit my cousins spent the night-rode up to my school this morn. Perhaps the next meeting we shall have will be in Eternity. They have all that heart can wish for in this world but if unreconciled to God their pleasures will end with life.
Fryday walked over to Miss M. Wednesday after school tarried all night last night had a sociable time with Mrs. Robbins-her mind still continues to be exercised upon religion, she tells she has an anxious desire to possess it. I think tht I have great cause to be thankful to God that he has made me sensible of my lost situation & I trust reconciled me to himself.
Went home in company with Mrs. R. on Fryday arose Saturday attended to the affairs of the family , but before noon Sister T. was taken very ill she continued ill all day. Sat up some time after the family retired to read and meditate attended meeting on Sunday heard good preaching (if I am a judge) from Corinthians 3rd, 11, 12, 13th the works that are ___acted in religion, with a view to the glory of God he will approbate in a coming day. But the works of the hypocrite will then be brought to light. O how important is it that I examine myself, to know what my situation is,, do I possess true love to God? If so then my situation is good but if not all my professions of religion will avail me nothing.
Saturday Sep. 3rd
Nothing very special to write.. received a visit from brother and Sister B. the day past our conversation upon general subjects. Surely there is a great alteration in others as well as myself-where is that heavenly love that we have professed to know about do we now profess it? If so then why do we not speak of it? Well may we adapt the language of the Poet “alas why is it so That Jesus’ cause should run so low” I hope that there are but few hearts like mine.