dearly beloved Wife, Sons, and Daughters, every one,
I now begin probably what is the last letter I shall ever write
to any of you, I conclude to write to all at the same time.
I will mention some little matters particularly applicable to
little property concerns in another place.
recently received a letter from my wife, from near Philadelphia,
dated November 22, by which it would seem that she was about
giving up the idea of seeing me again. I had written her to
come on if she felt equal to the undertaking, but I do not know
that she will get my letter in time. It was on her own account,
chiefly, that I asked her to stay back. At first I had a most
strong desire to see her again, but there appeared to be very
serious objections; and should we never meet in this life, I
trust that she will in the end be satisfied it was for the best
at least, if not most for her comfort.
am waiting the hour of my public murder with great composure
of mind and cheerfulness; feeling the strong assurance that
in no other possible way could I be used to so much advantage
to the cause of God and of humanity; and that nothing that either
I or all my family have sacrificed or suffered will be lost.
The reflection that a wise and merciful as well as just and
holy God rules not only the affairs of this world but of all
worlds, is a rock to set our feet upon under all circumstances,
even those more severely trying ones in which our own feelings
and wrongs have placed us. I have now no doubt but that our
seeming disaster will ultimately result in the most glorious
success. So, my dear shattered and broken family, be of good
cheer, and believe and trust in God with all your heart and
with all your soul; for He doeth all things well. Do not feel
ashamed on my account, nor for one moment despair of the cause
or grow weary of well doing. I bless God I never felt stronger
confidence in the certain and near approach of a bright morning
and glorious day than I have felt, and do now feel, since my
confinement here. I am endeavoring to return, like a poor prodigal
as I am, to my Father, against whom I have always sinned, in
the hope that he may kindly and forgivingly meet me, though
a very great way off.
my dear wife and children, would to God you could know how I
have been travailing in birth for you all, that no one of you
may fail of the grace of God through Jesus Christ; that no one
of you may be blind to the truth and glorious light of his Word,
in which life and immortality are brought to light. I beseech
you, every one, to make the Bible your daily and nightly study,
with a child like, honest, candid, teachable spirit of love
and respect for your husband and father. And I beseech the God
of my fathers to open all your eyes to the discovery of the
truth. You cannot imagine how much you may soon need the consolations
of the Christian religion. Circumstances like my own for more
than a month past have convinced me, beyond all doubt, of my
own great need of some theories treasured up, when our prejudices
are excited, our vanity worked up to the highest pitch. Oh,
do not trust your eternal all upon the boisterous ocean, without
even a helm or compass to aid you in steering! I do not ask
of you to throw away your reason; I only ask you to make a candid,
sober use of your reason.
dear young children, will you listen to this last poor admonition
of one who can only love you? Oh, be determined at once to give
your whole heart to God, and let nothing shake or alter that
resolution. You need have no fears of regretting it. Do not
be vain and thoughtless, but sober minded; and let me entreat
you all to love the whole remnant of our once great family.
Try and build up again your broken walls, and to make the utmost
of every stone that is left. Nothing can so tend to make life
a blessing as the consciousness that your life and example bless
and leave others stronger. Still, it is ground of the utmost
comfort to my mind to know that so many of you as have had the
opportunity have given some proof of your fidelity to the great
family of men. Be faithful unto death: from the exercise of
habitual love to man it cannot be very hard to love his Maker.
must yet insert the reason for my firm belief in the divine
inspiration of the Bible, notwithstanding I am, perhaps, naturally
sceptical, -certainly not credulous. I wish all to consider
it most thoroughly when you read that blessed book, and see
whether you cannot discover such evidence yourselves. It is
the purity of heart, filling our minds as well as work and actions,
which is everywhere insisted on, that distinguishes it from
all the other teachings, that commends it to my conscience.
Whether my heart be willing and obedient or not, the inducement
that it holds out is another reason of my conviction of its
truth and genuineness; but I do not here omit this my last argument
on the Bible, that eternal life is what my soul is panting after
this moment. I mention this as a reason for endeavoring to leave
a valuable copy of the Bible, to be carefully preserved in remembrance
of me, to so many of my posterity, instead of some other book
at equal cost.
beseech you all to live in habitual contentment with moderate
circumstances and gains of worldly store, and earnestly to teach
this to your children and children's children after you, by
example as well as precept. Be determined to know by experience,
as soon as may be, whether Bible instruction is of divine origin
or not. Be sure to owe no man anything, but to love one another.
John Rogers wrote to his children: "Abhor that arrant whore
of Rome." John Brown writes to his children to abhor, with
undying hatred also, that sum of all villanies, slavery. Remember,
"he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty,"
and "he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
Remember also that "they being wise shall shine, and they
that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
now, dearly beloved family, to God and the work of his grace
I commend you all.