Part 2 out of 3
They who despond, as the tidings of woe come borne to us on almost every
breeze which sweeps across the ocean, have lost sight of Him who holds in
his hand the issues of life and the awful realities of death. These have
drawn their eyes from the immutable promises and the ever-present Helper,
and fixed them on the tomb, and the corpse, and the pale mementoes of
mortality. They have ceased to reason like Christian men, and look at God's
providence through the misty vision of scepticism and doubt.
Men admit that certain laws control the world of planets, the world of
animal life, the world of intellect and reason; but seem not to have the
idea that the providences are all under God's control, and regulated by
fixed and certain laws. The sparrow that flits from bush to tree, and the
mighty angel that wheels in everlasting circles around God's throne, are
alike under divine protection. The feeblest insect which creeps upon the
earth, and the highest archangel which ministers to God above, are equally
safe beneath the divine protection. The Being who holds the universe, who
keeps worlds in their places, is also employed to count the feathers of the
young raven's wing, and number the hairs which cluster upon the human head.
Nor will God allow the places of the dead to remain long vacant. The
conversion of the world is in accordance with his unalterable will and
purpose; it was an article in the grand treaty of Calvary; and by all
that God is has he pledged himself to give "the heathen to his Son for an
inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession." Hence
when, in the accomplishment of his grand design, one after another who went
forth with high hope and joyful expectation is cut down, we may expect to
see others raised up ready to accomplish greater good than their fallen
The hearts of men are in Jehovah's hand. He moves upon the mind as he will,
and takes those whom we least expect to lead on his hosts to the victory
Years ago the question was, "Who will go?" but now the question is being
asked, "Who will stay at home and let _me_ go?" "Who will resign his place
in the missionary ranks, and let us go forth to do battle for the truth?"
And we may expect this spirit to increase, until it shall be deemed the
highest glory of the Christian minister to be a missionary of the cross of
Thanks be to God, the Church is arousing herself to her high duty, and
already many have gone forth. The places of Harriet Newell, of Ann H.
Judson, of Sarah D. Comstock, of Harriet B. Stewart, of Sarah L. Smith, of
Elizabeth Hervey, of Henrietta Shuck, of Sarah B. Judson, and of others who
are now quietly sleeping the long sleep of death, are filled. Others as
faithful have come on to do the work which they left unfinished, and to
stand around the moral plants which they began to cultivate,
And thus it will continue. When the faithful, laborious, successful
missionary women who are now the admiration of the church and the world
fall beneath the pressure of disease, toil, and time, a missionary Church
will send out her daughters, who are reposing at home, to take the places
of those who depart; and never will Burmah, Syria, Ceylon, Turkey, and
other dark places be deserted, until over all the earth shall echo the song
of the ransomed and the jubilee of the redeemed.
HARRIET B. STEWART, OF THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.
Harriet Bradford Stewart labored as a missionary at the Sandwich Islands.
Amid this beautiful cluster of green spots in the bosom of the sea her
efforts for human good were put forth; and here was the scene of her
success, though not of her death.
The origin of the mission to the Sandwich Islands is somewhat peculiar.
In 1809 two little boys shipped themselves on board of an American vessel
bound for New York. They arrived at the great city, and, after residing
there awhile, were taken to New Haven, Connecticut. They were fatherless,
motherless children, with none to care for them; and their destitute,
helpless condition soon drew the attention and won the sympathy of the
Christian public. In a short time one of these youths was converted to God.
Opukakia became a believer in the religion of Christ, and to the believers
of our own land gave evidence of having passed from death unto life.
Interest in these boys soon led to solemn inquiry into the condition of
their country. This inquiry resulted in the establishment of a school for
the instruction of heathen youth who were found in our land; and of the
privileges of this school these two boys gladly availed themselves.
Shortly after they were taken to Andover and made acquainted with a
class of young men who were about to graduate and go forth as heralds of
salvation. Two members of that class soon determined on a missionary life,
and selected these islands as the field of their labors. These young men
were Hiram Bingham, and his classmate, Mr. Thurston. Their services were
offered to the Board, and in 1819 were accepted. They were ordained at
Goshen, Connecticut, and, under very solemn and impressive services, set
apart to the work of the ministry.
On the 15th of October, 1819, in the vestry of Park Street Church, in
Boston, they, with others, were organized into a church of the Lord
Jesus. On the 23d of October this church set sail for the place of its
destination--to the field of labor in which it was to thrive and flourish.
Solemn was the scene, as on the wharf stood a company of beloved ones, who
were leaving home and all the dear associations of youth for a barbarous
nation. There, beneath the cool breath of autumn, they united in singing,--
"When shall we all meet again?
When shall we all meet again?
Oft shall wearied love retire,
Oft shall glowing hope expire,
Oft shall death and sorrow reign,
Ere we all shall meet again."
The voyagers were commended to the "God of ocean and storm" by Rev. Dr.
Worcester; the apostolic benediction was pronounced; and the vessel gayly
pursued her way down the harbor, and was soon lost from sight.
After the usual pleasures and annoyances of "a life on the ocean wave," the
company were made glad by beholding in the distance the green hills of the
islands on the soil of which they were to labor and pray. They found the
people, not as Judson and Newell found those to whom they were sent with
the torch of truth, but ready to believe and embrace the gospel. The
messengers they sent ashore were greeted with shouts of joy, and their
wondering eyes turned to consuming idols and demolished temples. They found
a nation without a religion, a government without a church, a court without
an ecclesiastic. The people seemed sunk in barbarism. They had no schools,
no books, no pens, no means of information. Gross darkness was over all the
people, and the land was enveloped in appalling gloom.
Undismayed by the gross ignorance and encouraged by the abolition of
idolatry, the servants of God went to work. They distributed themselves
through the islands, and every where preached Jesus and the cross. The
effects of their labors were so apparent that the American Board were
encouraged to send out repeated reinforcements; and in the progress of
time Mr. Stewart and his accomplished companion arrived at Hawaii on their
sacred mission. Perhaps there is no mission station on the globe, no scene
of missionary toil, where such glorious results have been accomplished, and
such wonderful changes wrought, as at the Sandwich Islands. Mr. Bingham,
speaking of the condition of the people at the time of his arrival among
them, says, "The nation had, on our arrival, neither books, pen, nor
pencil, for amusement or business, or for acquiring information or
communicating thought. They sat, like Turks or tailors, on mats spread on
the ground; dipped their fingers in the dish to eat their fish, poi, and
dog flesh, without knife, fork, or spoon. They stretched themselves at full
length on the mats to play cards or otherwise kill time. Their water they
drank from a gourd shell; and _awa_, the juice of a narcotic root, chewed
by others and mixed with water in the chewers' mouths, they drank, as their
fathers had done, from a cocoa-nut shell, for the same purpose that other
intoxicating drinks and liquors are taken."
That the nobles as well as the common people were thus degraded and
uncivilized, we are referred to a description, given by the same writer, of
the king, who, with the royal family, was invited on board the vessel which
conveyed out the missionaries, "They came off in their double canoes, with
waving _kahalis_ and a retinue of attendants. His majesty, according to the
taste of the times, having a _maio_, or narrow girdle, around his waist, a
green silken scarf over his shoulders, instead of coat, vest, and linen,
a string of beads on his otherwise naked neck, and a feather wreath, or
corona, on his head,--to say nothing of his being destitute of hat, gloves,
shoes, stockings, and pants,--was introduced to the first company of white
women whom he ever saw."
But the speedy change from drunkenness to sobriety, from ignorance to
comparative intelligence, from theft and falsehood to honesty and truth,
from shameless indecency to purity and chastity, from the violation of
the whole ten commandments to the sacred observance of these ten, from
barbarism to civilization and refinement, from brutish idolatry to the holy
service of God, was astonishing even to those through whose instrumentality
it was brought about.
Thirty years ago there was no church, no school house, no seminary of
learning, no regard for the Sabbath, no thought of the great Jehovah: now
all of these are found. The church tower lifts itself to heaven; the school
and the seminary are sending abroad their instructions; the Sabbath is
regarded by the mass of the people; and Jehovah is worshipped in spirit and
in truth by thousands. During the year 1840 there were four thousand one
hundred and seventy-nine additions to the church in the five islands; and
since then conversions have been multiplied and converts have increased.
The Bible has been printed, and edition after edition given to the
perishing inhabitants, until thousands of them are rejoicing in the hope
which it inspires. The whole temporal and spiritual condition of the people
has changed. Christianity has made men of beasts, and lifted up the whole
government in the scale of being.
Perhaps we can convey no better idea of the change which a few years' labor
produced in the Sandwich Islands than by giving an extract of a letter,
written by Rev. C. S. Stewart about the time of the death of his wife. It
is a beautiful and thrilling description of a Sabbath in an island where,
a few years before, was nothing but idol worship, heathen rites and
ceremonies, and ignorant superstitions.
"At an early hour of the morning, even before we had taken our breakfast on
board ship, a single person here and there, or a group of three or four,
enveloped in their large mantles of various hues, might be seen wending
their way among the groves fringing the bay on the east, or descending from
the hills and ravines on the north towards the chapel; and by degrees their
numbers increased, till in a short time every path along the beach and over
the uplands presented an almost unbroken procession of both sexes and of
every age, all pressing to the house of God.
"Even to myself it was a sight of surprise; not at the magnitude of the
population, but that the object for which they were evidently assembling
should bring together so great a multitude, when at this very place, only
four years ago, the known wishes and example of chiefs of high authority,
the daily persuasions of the teachers, added to motives of curiosity and
novelty, could scarce induce a hundred of the inhabitants to give an
irregular attendance on the services of the sanctuary. But now,--
'Like mountain torrents pouring to the main,
From every glen a living stream came forth:
Prom every hill in crowds they hasten down
To worship Him who deigns in humblest fane,
On wildest shore, to meet the uprightin heart,'
"The scene, as looked on from our ship, in the stillness of a
brightly-gleaming Sabbath morning, was well calculated, with its
associations, to prepare the mind for strong impressions on a nearer view,
when the conclusion of our own public worship should allow us to go on
shore. Mr. Goodrich had apprised us that he found it expedient to hold the
services of the Sabbath, usually attended at all the other stations at nine
o'clock in the morning and at four in the afternoon, both in the fore part
of the day, that all might have the benefit of two sermons and yet reach
home before nightfall; for
'Numbers dwelt remote,
And first must traverse many a weary mile
To reach the altar of the God they love.'
"It was near twelve o'clock when we went on shore. Though the services
had commenced when we landed, large numbers were seen circling the doors
without; but, as we afterward found, from the impossibility of obtaining
places within. The house is an immense structure, capable of containing
many thousands, every part of which was filled except a small area in front
of the pulpit, where seats were reserved for us, and to which we made our
way in slow and tedious procession, from the difficulty of finding a spot
even to place our footsteps without treading on the limbs of the people,
seated on their feet as closely almost as they could be stowed.
"As we entered, Mr. G. paused in his sermon till we could be seated.
I ascended the pulpit beside him, from which I had a full view of the
congregation. The suspense of attention in the people was only of momentary
duration, notwithstanding the entire novelty of the laced coats, cocked
hats, and other appendages of naval uniform. I can scarce describe the
emotions experienced in glancing an eye over the immense number, seated
so thickly on the matted floor as to seem literally one mass of heads,
covering an area of more than nine thousand square feet. The sight was
most striking, and soon became, not only to myself, but to some of my
fellow-officers, deeply affecting.
"With the exception of the inferior chiefs having charge of the district
and their dependants, of two or three native members of the church and of
the mission family, scarce one of the whole multitude was in any other than
the native dress--the _maro_, the _kihee_, and the simple _tapa_, of their
primitive state. In this respect, and in the attitude of sitting, the
assembly was purely pagan; totally unlike those of the Society Islands; as
unlike as to one at home. But the breathless silence, the eager attention,
the half-suppressed sigh, the tear, the various feeling--sad, peaceful,
joyous--discoverable in the faces of many, all spoke the presence of an
invisible but omnipotent Power--the Power that can alone melt and renew the
heart of man, even as it alone brought it first into existence."
Turning from the changes which have been wrought in these islands,--on
which we have, perhaps, lingered too long already,--we turn to one through
whose efforts a part of this work has been accomplished.
Harriet B. Tiffany was a native of Stamford, Connecticut. She was born on
the 24th day of June, 1798. Her parents were honorably descended from an
illustrious line, and Harriet inherited many of the noble qualities of
her ancestors. Her youth was passed mostly in Stamford, Albany, and
Cooperstown, in which places she endeared herself by many acts of kindness
to all who knew her, and grew up to womanhood cherished and loved by all
who came within the circle of her influence. In 1819 she passed through
that mysterious change which is denominated regeneration. Repeated
afflictions, the death of friends, and her own sickness led her to feel the
need of a strong arm and a firm hope. Feeling the emptiness of earth, the
vanity of human life, even in its best estate, she turned to Him who can
give support to the soul in the hours of its dark night and guide it amid
the gloom. By faith she saw the crucified One, and rested her sorrows and
griefs on Him who was able to bear them. She was changed from darkness to
light, from sin to holiness, from death to life.
The great subject of a missionary life was presented to her view, connected
with a proposal to accompany Rev. C.S. Stewart to the Sandwich Islands as
his assistant and companion. With trembling anxiety she submitted the case
to the wise discretion of her Father in heaven: on earth she had none.
As may be supposed, it was no easy thing for a young lady of high and
honorable connections, who had always been surrounded with friends and
educated in the circle of refinement and luxury, to leave all these. There
were tender ties to be riven, fond associations to be broken up, dear
friends to part with, and a loved home to leave behind; and when the
momentous question was brought distinctly before her mind, it required a
strong faith, a firm dependence on God, an entire submission to his will to
induce her to take the solemn and important step; but, believing herself
called upon by God, she decided in his favor, and lost sight of the
sacrifice and self-denial of the undertaking.
She resolved to go--to go, though home was to be abandoned, friends to be
left, loved scenes deserted, and a life of toil to be endured. She resolved
to go--to go, though she might pass through a sea of tears, and at last
leave her enfeebled body upon a couch that would have no kind friends to
surround it when she died. She resolved to go, though she should find in
savage lands a lowly grave.
She was married to Mr. Stewart. in the city of Albany, on the 3d of June,
1822. Mr. Stewart had already been appointed as a missionary, and was to
go out to the Sandwich Islands under the care of the American Board. They
sailed in company with a large number of others who were destined for the
same laborious but delightful service. The sun of the 19th of November went
down on many homes from which glad spirits had departed on their errand of
mercy to a dying world; and on that day the eye of many a parent gazed
upon the form of the child for the last time. Nor could a vessel leave
our shores, having on her decks nearly thirty missionaries, without being
followed by the prayers of more than the relatives of those who had
departed. There was mingled joy and sorrow throughout the churches of New
England, as the gales of winter wafted the gospel-freighted vessel to her
They arrived, in April of the following year, at Honolulu; and, after a
residence of a few days, located themselves at Lahaina, a town containing
about twenty-five thousand inhabitants, who were mostly in a degraded
condition. Here they found but few of the conveniences of life, and were
obliged to live in little huts, which afforded but slight shelter from the
scorching heat or the pelting rain. In these miserable tenements did the
child of luxury and wealth reside, and in perfect contentment perform the
duties of her station. She suffered, but did not complain; she labored
hard, but was not weary; and, cheerful in her lot, smiled even at her
privations and sorrows.
In 1825 her health began to fail. Unable longer to labor for her perishing
heathen sisters, she sailed for England in order to enjoy medical advice
and care; but instead of improving by the voyage, she continued to decline,
until the hopelessness of her case became apparent. She embarked for
America in July, 1826, her residence of a few months in England having
rendered her no permanent benefit. In her low state the voyage was any
thing but agreeable; and she arrived among her friends the mere shadow of
what she was when, a few years before, she had gone forth in the flush of
youth and the vigor of health.
For a time after her arrival strong hopes were cherished that she
might recover. The balmy breezes of her own native valley, the kind
congratulations of friends, the interest and excitement of a return to the
scenes of youth gave color to her cheek and life to her step. But in the
early part of 1830 the prospect of returning health was dashed, and Death
appeared in all his terror. Long was her last sickness--so long that she
groaned to depart and be with Christ. For many months she suffered and
struggled on a weary bed, until the spirit call was heard, and golden gates
were opened, and the ransomed one entered in. During this sickness she was
sustained by the grace of God. Death found her ready, and led a _willing_
victim down into the sepulchre, who exclaimed, as she entered it, "O Death,
where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?"
Racked with pain and tortured by disease she murmured not, but, as each new
cup of sorrow was put to her lips, meekly replied, "The cup which my Father
hath mingled, shall I not drink it?" She was a remarkable instance of
Christian submission and resignation under sufferings, and left behind her,
to surviving friends, the joyful evidence that she had passed away to rest.
"Spirit, leave thy house of clay;
Lingering dust, resign thy breath;
Spirit, cast thy cares away;
Dust, be thou dissolved in death.
Thus the mighty Savior speaks
While the faithful Christian dies;
Thus the bonds of life he breaks,
And the ransomed captive flies."
Since the death of Mrs. Stewart at Cooperstown, the work of civilization
and reformation in the Sandwich Islands has been rapidly progressing. The
faith of the Church has been strong and confident, and she has exerted
herself to save those islands from barbarism and ignorance. In her holy
strength, and with her high commission, she has sent out her servants armed
with the whole Christian armor. These men and women have preached Jesus and
the cross with wonderful success. Struggling against the tide of obstacles
and the barriers which sin raised in their pathway, they have advanced
until they have caused an entire change in the customs and the religion of
Nor have the natives been unwilling to render their assistance. They have
cooperated with the missionaries, and nobly exerted themselves to bring the
islands under Christian influences. Their efforts to erect temples in which
they and their children may worship the only living and true God illustrate
the zeal with which they toiled to accomplish good. Speaking of the large
stone church at Honolulu,--a church which cost twenty thousand dollars,
and required the labor of many men for six long years to finish it,--Mr.
Bingham says, "In the erection of this stately edifice, the active men,
among about one thousand communicants of that church, having divided into
five companies, labored by rotation many days and weeks with patience and
Of the labor given to the erection of a house of worship at Kealakekua, the
same work furnishes us with the following particulars:--
"The stones were carried upon the shoulders of men forty or fifty rods. The
coral for making the lime they procured by diving in two or three fathom
water and detaching blocks, or fragments. If these were too heavy for the
diver to bring up to his canoe with his hands, he ascended to the surface
to take breath, then descended with a rope, attached it to his prize, and,
mounting to his canoe, heaved up the mass from the bottom, and, when the
canoe was thus laden, rowed it ashore and discharged his freight. By this
process they procured about thirty cubic fathoms, or seven thousand seven
hundred and seventy-six cubic feet. To burn this mass, the church members
brought from the mountain side, upon their shoulders, forty cords of wood.
The lime being burned, the women took it in calabashes, or large gourd
shells, and bore it on their shoulders to the place of building; also sand
and water for making the mortar. Thus about seven hundred barrels each of
lime, sand, and water, making about two thousand barrels, equal to three
hundred and fifty wagon loads, were carried by women a quarter of a mile,
to assist the men in building the temple of the Lord, which they desired to
see erected for themselves and for their children--a heavy service, which
they, their husbands, fathers, sons, had not the means of hiring nor teams
to accomplish. The latter had other work far more laborious to perform for
the house. The sills, posts, beams, rafters, &c., which they cut in the
mountains, six to ten miles distant, they drew down by hand. The posts and
beams required the strength of forty to sixty men each. Such a company,
starting at break of day, with ropes in hand, and walking two or three
hours through the fern and underbrush loaded with the cold dew, made fast
to their timber, and, addressing themselves to their sober toil for the
rest of the day, dragged it over beds of lava, rocks, ravines, and rubbish,
reaching the place of building about sunset."
Mr. Conn gives the following amusing account of the industry and
willingness of the people in church building at Waiakea, Hilo: "I have
often gone with them to the forest, laid hold of the rope, and dragged
timber with them from morning to night. On such occasions we usually, on
our arrival at the timber to be drawn, unite in prayer, and then, fastening
to the stick, proceed to work. Dragging timber in this way is exceedingly
wearisome, especially if there be not, as is often the case, a full
complement of hands. But what is wanting in numbers is often supplied
in the tact and management of the natives, some of whom are expert in
rallying, stimulating, and cheering their comrades, by sallies of wit,
irony, and, if the expression is allowable, of good-natured sarcasm. The
manner of drawing is quite orderly and systematic. They choose one of their
number for a leader. This done, the leader proceeds to use his vocal powers
by commanding all others to put theirs to rest. He then arranges his men
on each side of the rope, like artillerists at the drag rope. Every man
is commanded to grasp the rope firmly with both hands, straighten it, and
squat down, inclined a little forward. The leader then passes from rear to
front, and from front to rear, reviewing the line to see that every man
grasps the rope. All is now still as the grave for a moment, when the
commander, or marshal of the day, roars out in a stentorian voice, '_Kauo_,
draw!' Every one then rises, and away dashes the timber, through thicket
and mud, over lava and streamlet, under a burning sun or amidst drenching
rain. No conversation is allowed except by the marshal, who seems to feel
it his privilege, during his incumbency, to make noise enough for all."
In this toilsome way most if not all the houses for the public worship of
God have been erected; and most of them being of enduring materials, they
will stand for many years as monuments of the devotion, self-sacrificing
industry, and sincere piety of the Sandwich Island Christians. A people
having this spirit, and animated with such a love for Christ and his
worship, could not fail in being successful while armed with gospel truth.
Before such noble workmen all obstacles will vanish, all barriers will
be broken down, all opposition will be overcome. Were the members of the
church in Christian lands willing to make such sacrifices and perform such
labors, a half century would not roll away ere the voice of the missionary
would be heard in every valley and on every hill top of the globe. Were the
Christians of one single denomination willing to lay hold upon the "drag
rope" of Christian missions, and emulate the conduct of the poor, degraded
Sandwich Islanders, in their efforts to build temples of worship, they
would see the car of salvation moving on gloriously, and, ere long, would
listen to the shout of a redeemed world.
The Christians of these islands seem to resemble the early disciples of
our dear Savior. Their simple and unostentatious piety, their firm, manly
devotion to truth, and steady resistance to error, their willingness to
leave all for Christ, reminds us of the disciples of Antioch and Rome, who
perilled life and happiness to prove their devotion to the cross. Perhaps
nowhere in our times have converts from heathenism to Christianity
displayed more of the primitive spirit, and developed more of the primitive
virtues, than the once despised, idolatrous, blinded inhabitants of the
Sandwich Islands. The language of each heart seems to be,--
"Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
Only thou my leader be."
In the language with which Mr. Bingham closes his full and valuable
history, we close this sketch of the Sandwich Islands and of one of the
most intelligent and gifted females ever sent to them:--
"A nation has been raised from blank heathenism to a rank among enlightened
nations, to the enjoyment of letters and laws, of Christianity and the hope
of heavenly glory. Whatever troubles may yet assail them, there is ground
to rejoice that the foundation of the spiritual temple of Jehovah has there
been firmly laid, and its superstructure commenced, which is to rise in
future generations. The builders there and elsewhere have many adversaries;
but the benignant Lamb shall overcome them. His servants must be
multiplied, and many a heart, constrained by the love of Christ, will be
found to say,--
'The voice of my departed Lord, "Go teach all nations,"
Comes on the night air, and awakes my ear.'
"If the American Board and its friends and laborers have not done too much
for that nation in a generation past,--and who will say they have toiled or
expended too much?--those who are on the Lord's side, grateful for what the
Lord has _wrought_ there, will be encouraged to attempt and expect the same
or 'greater things than these' for other nations, till in every tongue they
shall harmoniously hymn the Messiah's praise, and earth's ransomed millions
shall swell the strain which these converted islanders have recently
learned and gratefully adopted:--
'E ke Ola, Lua ole!
E ukuia kou make e:
Lanakila kou aloha;
Nau 'na mamo, e maha 'i:
Make oe i mau ohua--
Nou ko makou mau naau;
Nou ka ikiaka;--Nou na uhane;--
Nou ka nani oia mau.'
'O Redeemer, matchless, glorious,
Let thy anguish be repaid;
Reigning, make thy love victorious;
In thy seed be satisfied:
Thou wast slain, blessed Lamb, to win us;
Let us live and die for thee;
Worthy thou of all within us;
Thine shall endless glory be.'"
SARAH L. SMITH, OF SYRIA.
There are some spots on earth more hallowed than others. There are
consecrated cities and towns, from which, as we approach them, we seem
to hear a voice, saying, "Put off thy shoes; for the spot whereon thou
treadest is holy ground."
Such are the places in which Christ our Savior lived, and preached,
and suffered while incarnate. Such are the places where his immediate
successors, the apostles and martyrs, contended so earnestly for the faith
delivered to the saints. Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Corinth, Ephesus,
Antioch, and Rome will be associated forever, in the minds of Christians,
with the early progress and triumphs of our holy religion; and the pious
traveller will never visit those places without feeling his bosom thrill
with tender and intense emotions.
On this account the mission in Syria is one of peculiar interest. Founded
almost within sight of Calvary, it is surrounded with many scenes of dear
and hallowed interest; and it requires but little effort of the imagination
to recall the song of the infant church, as it arose from vale and glen,
vibrating on the air and echoing back from hoary Lebanon. It was with the
mission in this place that the amiable, talented, and beloved subject of
this article was connected.
Sarah Lanman Huntington was the daughter of Jabez Huntington, Esq. She
was born in Norwich, Connecticut, on the 18th of June, 1802, and in that
beautiful town passed through the period of childhood. She was educated
with missionary sympathies and feelings. All the circumstances under which
she was placed were calculated to invest the holy enterprise with sacred
pleasantness. In her father's house she never heard a word of reproach
breathed forth against the cause itself or the devoted men and women
engaged in it. She traced her descent from the famous John Robinson, of
Leyden, whose blood came flowing down through a long missionary line until
it coursed in her veins. Her grandfather was a member of the American Board
of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; and all her relatives on the side of
father and mother were active promoters of the work of God.
Under such influences Sarah grew up, believing that it was far more
honorable to do good to man, to be the means of reclaiming the wanderer
from the path of duty, or to bring a sinner back to God, than to found an
empire, or establish a throne, or conquer an army of steel-clad warriors,
or lead in triumph captive kings and princes. Before her conversion, she
was aware of the divine character of the work which had just commenced; and
doubtless her young heart responded to the appeals made by the death of
Harriet Newell and the life of Ann H. Judson.
During the first twelve years of her life there appears to be nothing
unusual in her history. She was like other thoughtful and pleasant girls
of her age, and spent her time in the amusements and pursuits of youth.
At school she was industrious, studious, but not remarkably rapid in her
progress; at home she was fondly loved and cherished; but in the minds of
her parents she never appeared to be a _prodigy_ or a _genius_.
At the age of twelve she became the subject of the Spirit's influence. Her
mind was drawn to divine things and her heart touched by the finger of
God. On the 10th of August, 1820, she realized for the first time the
blessedness of full and free forgiveness. The Savior was precious to her
soul, and holy duties were pleasant and delightful. She had passed from the
deep waters of conviction, and gladly placed her feet on the Rock of Ages,
where she stood immovable. Her joy knew no bounds. Liberated from sin, free
from the dreadful weight of guilt and condemnation, pardoned by God and
loved by Christ, she deemed no praises too exalted, no trials too severe to
endure in return. She immediately recognized the great principle that "we
are not our own," and acted upon it; and life became from that hour devoted
to holy employments and useful pursuits.
Writing to one of her friends about this time, she says, "All is changed.
I am in a new world of thought and feeling. I begin to live anew. Even our
beautiful Norwich has new charms, and, in sympathy with my joyousness,
wears a new, a lovelier, aspect."
The vows which she made, as she passed through the "strait gate" and
entered the kingdom of heaven, did not consist of words alone. They were
engraven on her heart and carried out in her life as well as recorded on
high. Ceaselessly she sought out ways in which she might do good to the
bodies and the souls of her fellow-creatures; and what her hands found
to do, she did with her might. In 1827 she formed a plan to benefit the
Mohegan Indians, who lived a few miles from Norwich. These Indians were the
remnant of a once mighty tribe; and the proud blood of some of their rude
chieftains of former times coursed through the veins of these tattered
and ragged descendants. From hut to hut she visited among these degraded
children of the forest; started a Sabbath school, of which she and another
young lady were the sole teachers; provided books for those who could read;
and in many ways conferred benefits upon them. Not satisfied with this, she
determined to build a church and secure the services of a missionary; and
for this purpose wrote to several of her influential friends, to secure
their cooeperation and sympathy. For aid in her work of benevolence she also
applied to the legislature of Connecticut and to the general government.
To a considerable extent she was successful, and obtained the esteem and
gratitude of that forlorn and oppressed people.
The manner in which she visited among the people gives us an insight into
the character of the woman, and furnishes us with a clew to her future
success. She usually rode from Norwich on horseback, and, taking a little
girl with her into the saddle, passed from house to house, using the child
as guide, interpreter, and adviser. When she met in the road a few ragged
natives or a knot of men and women she would stop her horse and converse a
while with them, and slip a tract into the hand of each, and with a smile
pass on. In this way she gained the confidence and love of the poor people
who lived in ignorance and degradation within sight of the towers and
temples of New England towns and cities.
At times the mind of Miss H. was much exercised in relation to a mission
in the western part of our own country. The gathering thousands who were
pouring in from every quarter of the world, the future influence of the
west upon the nation, the wide field of usefulness there presented, were
all inducements for her to go forth and labor amid the mountains and on the
broad prairies which extend towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The idea of laboring in the west was abandoned in 1833, during which year
she resolved to accompany Rev. Eli Smith to his field of toil in Syria.
The opportunity presented by the offer of Mr. Smith was what Miss H. most
earnestly desired. Her heart was set on doing good; and no spot on earth
could have been selected more in accordance with her tastes and feelings.
The long-cherished purpose could now be accomplished; and, after due
consultation with her friends, she was married on the 21st of July, in the
midst of her associates, at Norwich.
On the 29th of August the parting between child and parents took place, and
Mrs. Smith left the home of her infancy forever, and, after visiting the
friends of her husband in Boston, embarked from that place for Malta, on
the 21st of September, in the brig George, commanded by Captain Hallet.
The scene on board the vessel was peculiarly solemn. After the missionaries
had arrived and the people had assembled on the deck and on the wharf, all
united in singing that grand hymn,--
"Roll on, thou mighty ocean;
And, as thy billows flow,
Bear messengers of mercy
To every land below."
Rev. Dr. Jenks then led in prayer, commending the servants of God to the
gracious care of Him who sitteth on high; after which the brig was loosened
from her moorings and floated down the harbor, while the little cluster of
missionaries on board sung sweetly the beautiful hymn of Heber,--
"From Greenland's icy mountains,
From India's coral strand."
The sorrowful friends remained standing upon the wharf until the vessel
which contained the loved ones had faded from sight, and with its precious
freight was far out upon the deceptive ocean.
After a fine voyage of fifty-four days the missionaries landed at Malta,
and proceeded to Beyroot, via Alexandria. They arrived at Beyroot on the
28th of January, 1834. The sketch of their voyage, given by Mrs. Smith
herself and found in her published memoir, is of intense interest. The
objects of interest were so numerous, the mind of the voyager so well
prepared to appreciate them, that a journey on land could scarcely have
been more delightful. The heaving Atlantic; the calm, bright Mediterranean;
the Azore Islands; the long coast of Africa; the Straits of Gibraltar; the
stay at Malta; the visits to convents, temples, and other places of resort;
the city of Alexandria; the Mahometan Sabbath; the grave of Parsons; the
passage to Beyroot, and the safe arrival,--were all calculated to enlist
the feelings of such a woman, with such a mind, as Mrs. Smith, She arrived
at her new residence at Beyroot on the 28th of January, 1834. The town lies
at the foot of the "goodly mountain," Lebanon, and, to the approaching
traveller, presents a scene of beauty seldom equalled. Descending gently
from the south, the whole town seems like one vast garden, with houses half
covered by the thick foliage, and cottages of Oriental style, of brown or
yellow appearance, peeping through the overhanging trees, or standing in
the centre of a well-cultivated spot, like a temple in the heart of a city.
Away beyond is Lebanon, stretching its sunny ridges from north to south,
and lifting its peaks until they bathe their foreheads in the clouds. On
its sides are seen the cottage, and here and there a cluster of human
habitations, forming little villages, which delight the eye and give beauty
to the prospect. Every thing, to a native of Europe or America, is unique
and strange, and has an air of richness and productiveness which surprises
while it charms. The birds, the beasts, the insects are, to a lover of
natural beauty, sources of study and profit; and the refined mind could
scarcely find a more delightful spot as a field of missionary exertion.
The inhabitants did not correspond with the outward scenery. Though the
people kindly welcomed them, the missionaries found a wide difference in
the habits and customs of the European and the Arab; and brought into
connection with the latter, as they were every hour of the day, the
contrast was continually before the mind.
Besides this, the missionary cannot live on the same equality with the
people as can other classes of European or American residents. The _trader_
can close his doors and have his family circles sacred from the intrusion
of officious, meddlesome natives; but this course would defeat the very
object which the _missionary_ has in view. It would shut him out from the
confidence and sympathy of those whose hearts he wished to reach. It would
place between him and the heathen a barrier which would be insurmountable.
So our sister found it at Beyroot. She had no house which she could
properly call her own; for at times, while she was least prepared and while
visits were least desirable, her house would be invaded by a company of
five or six women, who would remain a long time, asking questions and
prying into a hundred things which did not concern them.
And yet Mrs. Smith felt that these annoyances must be endured with
cheerfulness; and when patience was almost wearied out, and time which
belonged to herself and her family was taken up by such persons, she
would console herself that such privations and trials were parts of the
missionary work, which must be endured cheerfully for the sake of Jesus.
The manners, customs, and dresses of the people at Beyroot served to remind
the Christian of the times of Christ, and led back the imagination
through the lapse of eighteen hundred years to the thrilling events which
transpired throughout the Holy Land.
So few are the improvements made in art and agriculture that one can easily
fancy himself in the middle of the first century, gazing upon the people
who from apostolic lips listened to the words of life and salvation; and
under this almost irresistible impression the solemnity of Gethsemane and
Calvary gathers over the soul, and throws a divine enchantment over the
life and labors of the men of God. So our sister felt, as the Oriental
costumes passed before her, as she looked out from her window upon the
sides of the snow-covered Lebanon.
The situation of Mrs. Smith was not at all like that of many other devoted
servants of God. She was not compelled to break up the fallow ground, or be
the first to drop the Seed into the soil. Others had preceded her--they had
prepared the way--they had erected the kindly shelter--they had opened the
heathen mind to receive light and truth. Hence, on her arrival, she found
all the comforts and conveniences of a civilized community--she found a
most beautiful and romantic residence, a land teeming with all the hallowed
associations of sacred history.
Called by God, not to the dungeons of Ava, not to the damp and
monster-covered banks of the Irrawaddy, but to a more congenial field of
labor, she toiled on in it with pleasure.
Mrs. Smith spent most of the time in her school, which was commenced soon
after her arrival, and for a while was "the only schoolmistress in all
Syria." The school house, which was erected upon a plan of her own, was
filled by a large number of children of Egyptian, Arabian, and Turkish
parents, who, under the care of their faithful teacher, made considerable
progress. To instruct the little, ignorant children, explain to them the
mysteries of science, and lead them upward to the God who made them, was a
task for which she was well adapted. Being an ardent lover of the beautiful
and grand in nature, she made the green fields, the blooming vineyards, the
high, towering mountain all subservient to the purposes of instruction. Her
residence among the Mohegans prepared her for her duties in Syria, and gave
her the advantage of an experience which she could have acquired nowhere
else. In the Sabbath school she was also most happily employed in
instructing the fifteen or twenty children who attended in the path of
holiness. Under her labors the school gradually and constantly increased,
and a visible change for good was observed among the pupils. Her kindness
and affection won the hearts even of the Moslem parents, who, in repeated
instances, disobeyed the direction of their priests, and kept their
children under her care after the school had been condemned.
One of the most pleasant circumstances connected with the missionary life
of Mrs. Smith was her visit to the Holy Land in 1835. From early childhood
she had regarded with a feeling of veneration the city of Jerusalem. That
was the city in which many of the Savior's miracles were done; there he had
healed the sick, cast out devils, raised the dead, and performed many other
wonderful works; there was the temple; there the scene of trial, and the
streets along which the cross was borne; there, near at hand, was the
Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, and on the other side of
the city the Hill of Calvary on which the Savior was crucified. When,
therefore, she found herself on her journey to the most noted spot in the
wide world, emotions of solemn and pleasing interest crowded upon her mind.
As she passed along, one object of interest after another presented itself.
Tyre and Sidon were seen; and the spot whereon Sarepta once stood was
crossed. Her feet traversed the mountains of Galilee, and stood upon the
summit of Carmel, Gerizim, Tabor, Hermon, Lebanon, Olivet, and Calvary. She
visited the spots where tradition tells us the Savior perished and where
his sufferings were endured; and doubtless her imagination brought back
the scenes of the past, and she might have heard the low, silvery tones of
mercy and grace as they flowed from the lips of "Him who spake as never man
After visiting the prominent places of the Holy Land, our missionary
returned again to her station at Beyroot, where she labored with untiring
diligence until June, 1836, when, her health failing, she set sail with her
husband for Smyrna, with the delusive hope of regaining it. At this point
her sufferings commenced. The vessel in which they sailed was old and
uncomfortable; the crew and some of the passengers were any thing but
agreeable; and horrid profanity was heard instead of prayer and praise. The
fifth night after leaving Beyroot the vessel was wrecked on the north side
of the Island of Cyprus, and the voyagers escaped with their lives. After
many hardships and much danger they landed on a sandy shore in an almost
destitute condition, and, after continuing on the island some days,
obtained passage towards the place of their destination. The vessel on
board which they sailed was a Turkish lumberman, and in no way adapted to
the conveyance of passengers. But, submitting to stern necessity, they made
the best improvement of the circumstances under which they were placed. Of
the voyage Mr. Smith says, "The wind was high, and, being contrary to the
current, raised a cross and troublous sea. The vessel was terribly tossed,
and, being slightly put together, threatened to founder at almost every
plunge. Mrs. Smith, besides rolling to and fro for want of something to
support her against the motion, was writhing under violent seasickness,
which, instead of allaying, served only to increase her cough. She had some
fears that she should not survive the night; and for a time I did not know
what would be the end of her sufferings."
They arrived at Smyrna in thirty-three days after they left Beyroot. Here
her strength gradually failed. The consumption which was wasting her body
and drawing her down to the grave made visible advances; and on the 30th
of September, 1836, she died in the triumphs of faith, at Boojah, a quiet
little village about five miles from Smyrna.
In her sickness she gave the most cheering illustrations of the power of
the Christian faith to subdue fear and disarm death. Her mind was lifted up
above the sufferings of her lot, and she held constant intercourse with the
Savior of her soul. To a great extent she was free from pain, and enabled
to converse with her husband upon the prospect before her. She waited for
death with pleasure, and was ready at any hour to depart and be with Jesus.
To die was gain, unspeakable gain; and she knew it well. Hence, when her
physician and friends would whisper words of hope, she would plainly tell
them that her work was done, her mission fulfilled, and the sand of her
glass almost run out. It gave her more pleasure to look forward to a
meeting with the loved men and women who had departed than to contemplate
an existence on the earth, where storms will disturb the fairest prospect,
and clouds will shut out the rays of the noonday sun.
On the Sabbath before her death she sung, in company with her husband, the
"Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love;
But there's a nobler rest above;
To that our longing souls aspire
With cheerful hope and strong desire."
At twenty minutes before eight o'clock she died, with a countenance all
illuminated with smiles, which, after she ceased to speak, played upon
her features, and by their silent eloquence whispered to every beholder,
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
On the following day, as the tidings spread through Smyrna that the sainted
woman was at rest, the flags of the American vessels in the harbor were
seen lowering to half mast, and that upon the dwelling of the consul was
shrouded with the drapery of death.
On the 1st of October she was carried to the grave. The service of the
English church was read beside the corpse, and in one common grief the
people stood bending over it, while the beautiful hymn of Dr. Watts was
"Unveil thy bosom, faithful tomb;
Take this new treasure to thy trust;
And give these sacred relics room
To slumber in the silent dust."
The tidings came echoing across the deep, and in our homes the story of
death was told; and sadness filled the pious heart as the thought that
another servant of God, another heroine of the church, had fallen at her
post, a martyr in the cause of truth. The American Board of Commissioners
for Foreign Missions felt deeply the loss which had been sustained, and
mourned for one whose piety, intellect, and labors were abundant.
Here endeth the missionary toils of two years and four months; and,
uttering words of peace to the fallen, we bid farewell to her memory until
death shall call us to join the blessed throng of the ransomed whose names
are recorded on high.
"Who would not wish to die like those
Whom God's own Spirit deigns to bless?
To sink into that soft repose,
Then wake to perfect happiness."
ELEANOR MACOMBER, OF BURMAH.
Almost all the heroines who have gone forth from the churches of America
to dot heathen soil with their lowly graves have been attended by some
stronger arm than that of weak, defenceless woman. Many of them have had
husbands on whom they relied for support and protection, and to whom they
could turn with the assurance of sympathy in hours of anguish and gloom.
But Miss Macomber went out attended by no such kind companion. She resolved
on a missionary life, without the offer of marriage being connected with
it. No husband helped her decide the momentous question; and when she
resolved, it was to go _alone_. Impelled by the Christian's high and holy
motives, she determined on a course which would involve her in a thousand
perplexities and load her with a thousand cares. With none to share these
cares and perplexities, with no heart to keep time with the wild beatings
of her own, she crossed, a friendless woman, the deep, dark ocean, and on
soil never trodden by the feet of Christian men erected the banner of the
Eleanor Macomber was born at Lake Pleasant, Hamilton county, New York. Here
her childhood and youth were passed, and here was her mind prepared for
that career of usefulness which in after years made her an ornament to her
sex, to the church, and to the world.
From Lake Pleasant she removed to Albany, where her heart was brought into
subjection to the divine will and her mind impressed with the great truths
of revelation. She became a convert to the religion of the cross. She
became a convert to tears, to prayers, to self-denying labors, to a life
of sacrifice and devotion. Her piety was from henceforth of the highest
character, and all her daily deportment gave evidence of her love to the
In 1830 she was sent out by the Missionary Board, of the Baptist
denomination, as a teacher among the Ojibwas, at Sault de Ste. Marie, in
Michigan. This was her first missionary work, and she continued engaged in
it nearly four years, when, in the mysterious providence of God, her health
failed, and she was obliged to return to her friends. But the great Head of
the church, in removing her from one field of labor, was only preparing her
for another. In 1836 she became connected with the Karen mission, and a
more extended field of usefulness was thrown open before her. She sailed
from this country in the ship Louvre, and arrived in Maulmain in the autumn
of the same year.
After her arrival she was stationed at Dong-Yahn, about thirty-five miles
from Maulmain. Here she lived and labored almost alone, doing the great
work which was assigned her. In the midst of discouragements she fainted
not, but performed labors and endured afflictions almost incredible. When
she arrived at the scene of her future labors her heart was affected at
what she saw. Vice and sin reigned triumphant. The most odious, disgusting,
and blasphemous crimes were committed. On every hand intemperance and
sensuality were observable. She immediately commenced in their midst the
worship of God. On the Sabbath the people were drawn together to hear
about the blessed Jesus; and the story of the cross was told with all the
sweetness of woman's piety. During the week her house was thrown open
for morning and evening prayers. A school was soon gathered under her
persevering labors: ten or twelve pupils gathered into it.
Mr. Osgood, who accompanied Miss Macomber from Maulmain to her field of
labor, and whose duty required him to leave her there, an unprotected
stranger, in the midst of a brutal, drunken community of heathen
barbarians, writes as follows of her place of toil and her feelings on her
"We ascended the Salwen River about twenty-five miles, and slept in our
boats the first night. On the morning of the next day, December 20, we
procured a guide and proceeded overland, following the line of the Zuagaben
Mountains, to the house of one of the chiefs, about ten miles. The chief
and most of the inhabitants were absent, attending the burning of a Burman
priest. I immediately despatched a messenger for him, and in the mean time
took up lodgings in his house, to wait his return. Two or three men and
several females and children spent the greater part of the afternoon and
evening with us, hearing sister M. read from the books which have already
been written in their language. We, however, soon found that we had arrived
in a most unpropitious time; for almost every man in the vicinity was in a
state of beastly intoxication.
"On the morning of the 21st, as the chief did not arrive, we concluded to
return about half way to the river, with a view to exploring the country,
and in hopes of meeting the chief on his return, and holding a conference
with him and several other principal men relative to the objects of the
mission. Having proceeded as far as we intended, and waited some time in
vain for his arrival, I concluded to go in person and endeavor to prevail
upon him to return, as my business would not allow of protracted absence
from home. On arriving at the place of the feast we found a large concourse
of people, consisting of Burmans, Peguans, Karens, and Toung-thoos, who
were assembled upon an extensive plain to pay the last tribute of respect
to a Burman priest that had been some months dead and was now to be burned.
The body was mounted upon an immensely large car, decorated according to
Burman custom, to which were attached ropes, made of grass, three or four
hundred feet long. With these the car was drawn about the plain, levelling,
in its course, every obstacle.
"After some little search we found the chief men, the objects of our
pursuit, but so completely drunk that all attempts to induce them to return
with us were entirely fruitless. We immediately returned to the house of
the chief where we had lodged the previous night. In the evening the chief
returned, but so intoxicated as to be entirely unfit for business.
"We rose early on the morning of the 22d to take advantage of the effect
of the night's rest upon our host, and obtained the privilege of a few
minutes' conversation. He gave us permission to build in any place we saw
fit to select; but before I had fixed upon a place he was again missing.
After selecting a place and making the necessary preparations for building,
I prepared to return to Maulmain. Until this time our dear sister Macomber
had borne the trials of the journey and the prospect of being left
alone without the least appearance of shrinking; but when the moment of
separation came, the thought of being left, without a friend in the midst
of a drunken people, and even in the house of a man completely besotted
with ardent spirits, and at a distance of thirty miles or more from any
civilized society, with scarcely a sufficient knowledge of the language to
make known her wants, was too much for the delicate feelings of a female
to endure; and she could only give vent to the emotions of her heart by
a flood of tears. She soon, however, recovered her self-possession, and
resolved to cast herself upon the merciful protection of her heavenly
Father, and to pursue what seemed to her to be the path of duty."
But the laborer did not long toil in vain. In less than one year, a church
of natives, converted through her instrumentality, was formed and placed
under the care of Rev. Mr. Stephens. The people changed beneath the
influence of divine grace. Intemperance, sensuality, and other vices
gradually disappeared; and morality, solemnity, virtue, and religion took
their places. The Sabbath day was respected; and in the jungle and thicket
the voice of prayer was often heard. Jesus and the cross received thought;
and the great idea of salvation by grace was pondered and believed.
In a few months the little church planted through her instrumentality
numbered more than twenty persons, who continued faithful in the duties
and practices of the disciples. Her feelings towards the little band of
Christians gathered by her in the very wilderness of sin are represented as
having been very strong and earnest. Her language was, when speaking of the
"For her my tears shall fall,
For her my prayers ascend,
To her my toils and cares be given,
Till toils and cares shall end."
She was an _intelligent_ missionary. Her mind was of superior order, and
reason held even balance. Her zeal for the truth was not a blind, headlong
enthusiasm, which sparkles, and glitters, and comes to an end, but a zeal
founded on the wants and woes of a perishing world. She measured the depths
of heathen degradation and estimated the worth of souls, and went to work
calmly, philosophically, and earnestly.
The faith which she carried forth was well studied and fully understood.
She had a reason to give for the hope which was in her and which she so
fondly cherished. She was able to defend it--to develop its glories--to
show its superiority to any and all the forms of heathenism. The kindness
of her own heart led her not only to appreciate the superior excellence of
the gospel, but also to feel most deeply for the degraded Karens. Towering
far above them in the majesty of intellect and the grandeur of thought, she
sought to inspire them with feelings kindred to her own. Her high ambition
was, to lift the race from its fallen position, save the people from
their prevalent vices, enlighten the minds of the young, and improve and
regenerate the hearts of all.
She thought it not inconsistent with her true dignity, as a woman
possessing a high order of intellect, to bring her mind into contact with
the most degraded of the human family, if by so doing she could be the
means of saving some and improving others. Hence she _studied_ to do
good. The energies of her mind were placed under contribution to furnish
arguments by which the heathen mind might be convinced and the heathen
heart subdued. She met the strongest objections to the new faith; she
answered the questions of the cavilling priest; she reasoned with the
common people from the law and the gospel, until enough were converted to
form a church of our Lord Jesus.
She was a _laborious_ missionary. All our missionaries are laborers. The
work itself compels toil; and it cannot be avoided. But few go into it with
an idea of ease and personal aggrandizement; and that few are disappointed.
The great enterprise is in itself a hardship; and however cheerfully it
may be borne for Jesus and a dying world, it cannot be carried on without
immense labor and sacrifice on the part of the missionaries.
But the noble woman of whom we write was in labors more abundant. She
even went beyond what was expected of a most faithful servant of God: she
exerted herself to an extent which but few others have done, and gathered
a reward in proportion to her labors. Others have suffered more and had
a more checkered life; but none have put forth greater exertions to
accomplish a given result.
Indeed, the spectacle of a weak, friendless, lone woman removing from
Maulmain to Dong-Yahn, and there, with no husband, no father, no brother,
establishing public worship, opening her house for prayer and praise, and
gathering schools in the midst of wild and unlettered natives, is one full
of moral grandeur. The idea of performing such a work alone, the idea of a
defenceless woman going into a besotted nation, among a drunken, sensual
people, and lifting them up to the privileges of a refined faith, a pure
religion, is an idea worthy of an angel. This idea entered the mind of our
subject, became a part of herself, and was carried out in her life.
Not content with sitting down and teaching all who came to her, she went
out to the surrounding tribes, and, for miles around, preached salvation
to the dying. In these excursions she was generally attended by one or two
converts, who formed her escort and guard, and performed that part of the
labor which could not be brought within the province of woman. In this
heroic and romantic manner she travelled from place to place, fording
rivers, crossing deep ravines, climbing high hills and mountains, entering
the dwellings of the poor, sitting beside the bed of the dying, rebuking
the sinful, and every where preaching the doctrines of salvation.
The spectacle was one which affected even the heathen heart; and this
estimable woman was respected and loved even by those who scorned the
gospel and hated Christ. She had "a more excellent way;" and that
excellence was exhibited in every step of her progress. As she approached
the towns and villages, on her excursions of mercy, she was often met by
enthusiastic crowds, who welcomed her with joy, and led her to the homes of
the dying, and besought her aid. Most females would have fainted under her
toils and turned back from the amount of work to be performed; but gifted
with wisdom and strength from on high, endowed with powers not her own,
she continued until a church was gathered and the foundation laid for a
She was a _pious_ missionary. Doubtless much of the success which crowned
the efforts of Miss Macomber must be attributed, not to the brilliancy
of her intellect, not to the vigor of her mind, not to the vast labor
performed, but to the _piety_ of her heart. It was this which induced her
to go out; she had no other motive in leaving home and all the joys of
kindred and native land. It was this that induced her to plant the cross
where the name of Jesus had not been preached; to go alone, a friendless
woman, in the midst of savages; to brave sickness, disease, and death
itself, in order to utter notes of salvation which should fall on dying
ears like strains from heaven. It was this which sent her, like an angel of
mercy, to the homes of the weary, to the abodes of sickness, to the hovels
of want, to dens of crime, to whisper rebuke in one place and consolation
She gave ample evidence that her heart had been baptized in the Holy
Spirit; that her mind had come into contact with the great truths of
revelation; that she had been to the cross and received an impulse from the
spectacle of death there witnessed; that her heart had bled at scenes of
woe which every where abound on heathen soil; that, in the majesty of
humble faith and trust in the Divinity, she had resolved to die in the holy
work to which God and the church had assigned her.
We not unfrequently behold the most lovely exhibitions of piety in
Christian communities. We see religion doing its holy work in the lives of
its professors; we contemplate instances of piety and devotion which seem
to be more of heaven than earth; but never can be witnessed in Christian
lands those sublime trophies of godliness which we find on shores which are
covered with heathen abomination. We must leave home, we must cross the
ocean, we must follow Harriet Newell through all her sufferings, until she
finds an early grave. We must follow Ann H. Judson to the dungeons of Ava,
to the damp, cold prisons of the East, to her home of suffering and
death. We must trace the course of Miss Macomber from Maulmain to her
new residence at Dong-Yahn; we must see her on her excursions into the
surrounding province, and listen to her teachings as around her a rude
group gather to hear of Jesus.
Here is piety in its most lovely form. Here is godliness in its most divine
attire. Here is pure religion, which is undefiled before God. In these
cases we see what cannot be witnessed at home, and what thousands of pious
women would shrink from as impracticable and impossible.
Amid such scenes as these Miss Macomber seems to rise above the measure of
a human being, and gain a likeness to Him who went about doing good. She
appears superior to the infirmities of humanity, because she was engaged in
an employment so nearly resembling that of her divine Master, and performed
it with so much of the excellence and beauty of his spirit and grace.
Perhaps no better description of Miss Macomber as a laborer in the vineyard
of her Lord can be given than she herself furnishes in her printed
letters, which are found scattered through the missionary magazines of the
denomination to which she belonged.
"DONG-YAHN, April 15, 1837.
"A line to you the last of December left me at this place, in the house
of a Karen chief, waiting the building of my own, and giving what little
religious instruction my knowledge of the language would admit. I have now
the happiness to inform you that the excitement, which I then attributed
wholly to novelty, proved to be a gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. A
number of these poor, dark heathen, who were then bound in Satan's double
chain, (idolatry and drunkenness,) have been liberated and brought into the
glorious liberty of the gospel of Christ, and are now rejoicing in hope of
the glory of God. Ten have been baptized, four men and six women; and a
number of others, I trust, will ere long seek the blessed privilege. Many
are still inquiring, and some, I trust, earnestly seeking. But many
are opposing, reviling, and persecuting; and a few are indifferent and
"The progress of the work has been deeply interesting to all who have been
acquainted with it, and particularly so to myself. Never were the power
and mercy of God more manifestly displayed, and never did his saving grace
shine through a more feeble instrumentality. But God can work according to
his will; and, blessed be his name, the heathen shall be given to his Son.
"Our first baptism was on the 12th of January. Chung-pau, a man rather
advanced in years, but of a sound, good mind, and who has thus far
manifested a most devoted spirit, had from the first listened with uncommon
interest; and I think I shall never forget the sensations it gave me when
he would come and sit down by me, and, with a countenance which bespoke a
soul awakened to the interest of eternal realities, would ask, 'What is it
to believe? What can _I_ do to believe? I want to escape hell and obtain
heaven. I wish to trust in Jesus Christ. What shall I do?' O, what would I
have given in that moment for an easy use of the language! But I said what
I could; and the Spirit taught him as man could not.
"On the 21st of January brother Osgood came up again, and had the happiness
to baptize six more; viz., Ah-wah and wife, Bah-mee and wife, and Ko-pee
and wife; and Mr. Judson baptized three of the chief's daughters on the
16th of March, one only about twelve years old. All gave good evidence of a
gracious change, and have since manifested a growing devotion to the
cause. A number of others of the chief's children, I trust, have been made
partakers of divine grace, and will ere long enter the visible church. One
of those baptized was married; and although her husband made no objections
to her baptism, yet he immediately left her. She has two young children,
whom her father has added to his eleven; and it is truly interesting to see
the care he personally takes of them. Bah-mee has also been turned off by
his widowed mother without a spoonful of rice for his family, (wife and two
children;) and yet I hear not a hard or murmuring word. They seem to take
it as a thing of course, that, if they _will_ be disciples, they must
"When I consider these and many other things which these dear Christians
meet with, I cannot but admire the power of divine grace, and find new
cause to bless God for light and civilization.
"The men baptized all expressed a great desire to devote their future lives
to the service of God in making known his great salvation to those who were
ignorant of it. They have uniformly manifested the same spirit ever since,
and have been very useful so far as they knew. I have spared no pains in
giving them every opportunity in my power for religious instruction; and
their progress has been truly pleasing. The chief and Bah-mee both read
Peguan well, and Burman some; and have now learned to read and write
their own language. The former is about forty, of respectable talents and
considerable influence. Bah-mee, who I think is an uncommonly able man, is
about thirty; was in the priest's office three years, but left them some
years ago; and when I came here was fast pursuing the drunkard's road with
all the others. Ko-pee is but little over twenty, but has a wife and two
children. He knows nothing of letters, but possesses a quick, discerning
mind, and a lovely disposition. He is learning to read; and I am making
great efforts to have the old man (Chung-pau) learn to read. I hope to get
them all to Maulmain during the rains, that they may have better advantages
for religious instruction, and that those who can may get a good knowledge
of Burman books. They all understand considerable of the language; and it
will be long before there will be books to any extent in their own. It has
all the time seemed to me an indication of designs of great mercy towards
this people that men of such qualifications should be called just at the
commencement of labors amongst them; and I trust that God will so direct
that they may accomplish much for the salvation of their countrymen and the
glory of his name.
"I have had two or three Burman assistants constantly, who not only go out
in the vicinity, accompanied by some of the Karens, and preach daily,
but make excursions of four or five days in the villages, amongst the
mountains, preaching the gospel to Toung-thoos, Peguans, or Burmans, as
they happen to meet with them. I have made it my personal business to go
with some of them; so that I have visited all the families within six or
seven miles once or twice. I trust that these labors, though feeble, have
not been in vain. I can speak but little of the language; but keeping a
Karen with me, who is accustomed to my broken speeches, I give him ideas
which he explains; and have been comforted and happy in the work, though
attended with much fatigue and exposure.
"These things have not gone forward without opposition, as you will readily
suppose. Besides all that would be expected from a numerous and deeply
interested priesthood, we have had the fierce and violent opposition of a
young prophet, who started up just before my arrival, and is located about
a mile from me. He renounces a little of Boodhism and adds some other
things; is unlettered and of no marked character; and yet he has many very
devoted adherents. It is believed, however, by the best judges that he will
be of short continuance. He effectually evades every effort to make him
hear the gospel. His followers do not permit us to ascend the ladder into
his house; and I have been out sometimes two or three days in succession,
and have not been permitted to enter more than ten or twelve houses. It was
fatiguing and painful to be exposed to the sun or hot air so long, and
to find a seat as I could on the ground; but I was never comfortless or
unhappy, assured that I was going at the bidding of Him who exposed his
life unto death for a guilty world.
"We have had morning and evening worship from the first, and four or five
exercises on the Sabbath, usually in Peguan, interpreted into Karen.
I often ask questions at the close. A school has been sustained by my
teacher, who, though very incompetent, has done very well. We have about a
dozen scholars, as none will come who are opposed to us."
The following letter was written at Dong-Yahn February 5, 1838, and
published shortly afterwards in this country:--
"The work of God is still going on here. Three men requested baptism
last Sabbath, and a number more will soon come forward. This is the more
encouraging, as, just now, there is an unusual effort of the adversary to
put the cause down. It is the season for funeral festivals; and for fifteen
or twenty days they have been in constant celebration, which of course
attracts much attention. But the priests, not finding their coffers so well
filled as usual, have seemed to make an effort as for life; and there is no
end to the fog of worthless stuff which comes from them. It would seem that
there was very little else said or done than what their violence called
forth. No one of the Christians can go abroad but they hear from every
quarter '_Jesus Christ_,' by way of contempt; and all who attend our
meetings receive the same treatment unless they join the rabble. So that
when any of them decide to come out and face the whole, which to a heathen
is mountainous, there is strong evidence that divine grace has taken
possession of their hearts.
"One woman had made up her mind to come forward, but said she feared she
could not endure to be cast off, not only by her parents and relatives, but
by the whole village, as they had told her they would do. So she concluded
to wait and see how her mind was when the others were baptized.
"Have been absent considerably of late, wishing to visit all the villages
just about the mountain. Found ten or twelve places of some importance:
this, however, is the largest and most important, except Tun-pah-tine,
where we have one convert, and where I spent four days last week. There are
some encouraging indications there; but the chiefs will not yet consent
to my building a zayat. I am trying to get some of the converts to go and
build there; but they are so timid and deficient in energy that, if left to
themselves, I do not know that they would ever go out of their own village;
though they never hesitate to go wherever I direct them. But in this case I
wish them to take some responsibility.
"We have now an applicant for baptism from Puh-ong, a young man who has
some excellent qualifications for usefulness. There are also two or three
encouraging cases in Tun-loh, five or six miles distant, as also in some
other directions; but the future is unknown.
"Our meeting is beginning to attract more attention, so that our room is
often crowded; consequently I have engaged the chief to put on an addition
of a few feet, which will be done this week.
"All the Christians seem to be getting on well, Bah-mee is my principal
preacher. He certainly does admirably, considering what he was a year ago;
but I find it necessary to see him, look over every subject, and give him
all the ideas I wish to have advanced.
"There are constant rumors of robberies on the river, which of course
prevent our doing any thing here."
Under date of July 30, 1838, we find the following article:--
"I still find much comfort and encouragement in trying to lead Karens in
the path of knowledge and salvation. At the same time, I have constant
cause to mourn over their defects and errors, which require not a little
watchfulness and anxiety; but even in this I find a pleasure, having the
assurance that I am not _alone_.
"In regard to the state of things at Dong-Yahn, Ko My-at-yaw, whom I left
in charge, informs me that about all remain as when I left. The three or
four who were rather hopeful still seem to be inquiring; opposition is
about the same. There has been another attempt to burn the house, but
unsuccessful. I have very little expectation that it will stand till
my return; but this is but a secondary cause of anxiety. Their seeming
determination to go down to eternal death causes me, at times, exquisite
pain. O, when will they turn and live?
"The native Christians have generally, from the first, appeared remarkably
firm and steadfast; and although some cases have required discipline, yet
not one has had the appearance of contemplated or wilful sin. One poor
old man alone, twelve or fifteen miles off, was overcome, by the long
solicitation of a numerous family and under peculiar circumstances, so as
to eat in a feast made to appease evil spirits; but he immediately came
down here, confessed, and appeared truly humbled; said he did not forget
God any moment, or cease to love him; but to be at peace with friends, he
ate. I directed him to return and prove his sincerity by a future upright
walk, and when we all returned, at the close of the rains, we would consult
together on his case. There have been some other similar cases in regard to
drinking--an evil which I fear more than all others.
"Agreeably to our earnest prayer, there seems to be an opening amongst the
Pgwos at Bassein. I have prepared an assistant (Telaw) and family to go
over to Rangoon two or three times; but they have been providentially
prevented. We now wait with anxiety to hear from that quarter in regard to
In November of the same year she writes as follows: "I may have mentioned
that there had been attempts to burn the house and zayat at Dong-Yahn when
we were in it. Since the rains ceased the attempt has been again repeated
and considerable damage done; but I understand the chief thinks he can
repair it for the dry season with but little expense; and I expect to build
before another season, as the house was of the kind which usually lasts but
two years. I thought it probable that the first attempt was in consequence
of the increase of our number--brother and sister Brayton being then there;
but now believe it was owing to a settled enmity to the gospel of Christ.
"Should not the power of God be displayed in changing the hearts of the
perpetrators, or they be found out, I expect to be annoyed all the coming
season, and have but little hope of keeping a house standing. Still, the
cause is God's; the hearts of men are in his hands. He can subdue them; and
I believe he will, and that the gospel will yet triumph at Dong-Yahn. It
has already done wonders; and the time cannot be far distant when the enemy
will be put to silence. Two or three of the assistants have just returned
from there, and give the most cheering accounts of the attention of numbers
to the word. They say that the three or four inquirers appear well, and
talk of being baptized. The chief, who remains there constantly, is very
much encouraged, and appears truly devoted to the cause of Christ. Ko
My-at-yan is also there; rather old and feeble, but a faithful laborer.
"I am not a little comforted in seeing the zeal and increased efficiency
with which the natives go to their work since leaving school, (about six
weeks ago.) Ko Chung-paw, Telaw, and Bah-mee have been out in different
directions, and bring pleasing accounts. They spent three weeks in one town
on a branch of the Dah Gyieng. They say they every where met with Karens;
but they are very much scattered and very poor, having lately emigrated
from the Shyan country, three or four days over the mountains. The Karens,
to an individual, listened well, though Boodhists; and many expressed a
desire to receive further instruction, so as to become Christians. An aged
priest, highly esteemed among them, and who does not conform to all the
customs of the Burman priests, would not release them short of two days, so
anxious was he to hear. They left the Testament and other Burman books, and
Ko Chung-paw gave him his eyeglasses. The old priest sent me presents and
a request to visit them. I attempted to visit that region last season; but
reports of robberies on the rivers prevented. It is not more than four
or five tides from here. The assistants have just been sent to make them
another visit, and to tell them that, if they wish for instruction, they
must build a zayat."
At the close of the same year our laborious missionary gives to her
supporters and patrons the following summary view of the Dong-Yahn station,
with which she was connected, and in the prosperity of which she was so
"I shall ever rejoice in what I have witnessed of the power of divine grace
amongst the heathen. A number of precious souls have been rescued from
Satan's power; and one, I trust, has gone home to heaven, though not
permitted to join the church below.
"The native Christians here now number twenty-three, twelve of whom
have been baptized the present year. A few are still inquiring; but the
multitude are going on the broad way to eternal death.
"During the dry season the assistants visited, more than once, all the
villages about these mountains; and I think, from what I could judge by
spending most of the time with them, the truth was faithfully declared
and the way of life made plain. At Tunpuhtine and Puhaung some have been
gathered in; at Tunlopun are some hopeful cases, as well as at Pahleen and
"Evening and morning worship has been kept up all the time, and worship on
the Sabbath, with Sabbath schools, &c.
"Bah-mee, whom I selected for the purpose from amongst the first converts,
and who has thus far justified my expectations, has been my principal means
of communication with the people. I have taken unwearied pains with
him, giving him every means in my power for instruction; and I am daily
comforted in seeing that it has not been in vain. He is much engaged about
the vicinity we lately visited, on a branch of the Dah Gyieng, and I trust
his labors there have been blessed. But experience has often shown that
natives, however efficient with teachers, are but children if left alone.
"Ko Chung-paw, two years ago, was fast going down the declivity of life in
all the darkness of heathenism; but a ray of heavenly light darted across
his path, arrested his attention, and soon kindled to a flame. Now, I may
say, he is a 'burning and a shining light;' one to whom we often point as a
witness of the power and purity of the religion of Jesus Christ."
Miss Macomber died in April, 1840. The closing scenes of her life were full
of sadness and full of glory. Her death was deeply lamented by those who
knew her worth; and many of the Dong-Yahn women came to her funeral,
crying, "The mamma is dead! the mamma is dead!" and with wails of sorrow
surrounded her grave. They had listened to her counsels, they had
experienced her kindness, they had partaken of her hospitality; and, though
many of them did not love the Savior, they mourned the fall of his servant.
Their nation had sustained an irreparable loss; and they came to pay their
last tribute of respect to the ashes of the departed. The last hours of
Miss Macomber are thus described by Rev. S. M. Osgood, who was at Maulmain
at the time of her death. The account, from the pen of one who witnessed
the whole scene, will be read with deep interest. Mr. Osgood says,--
"It becomes my painful duty to announce to you the death of our dear sister
E. Macomber, who died with jungle fever on the evening of the 16th instant,
after an illness of nine days aged thirty-nine years.
"On the 9th of March Miss Macomber came down from Dong-Yahn with brother
Stevens, and on the morning of the 10th left us again, with a view to visit
a body of Pgwo Karens, residing high up one of the rivers. She had also
a particular reference to spending the hottest part of the season on the
river, having suffered much from the extreme heat at Dong-Yahn during the
hot season last year. On the 4th instant she returned from this excursion,
having enjoyed excellent health and a peculiarly pleasant season in labor
for the good of the souls of the Karens, many of whom listened with much
interest, and were 'almost persuaded to be Christians.'
"She arrived here late in the evening, and appeared quite well, with the
exception of a slight cold, which she said she had taken that evening.
On Sunday, the 5th, she complained of headache, but not so severe as to
prevent her attendance upon the usual religious exercises of the day; and
on Monday, after spending some hours with me in the bazaar, she left,
and started on her return to Dong-Yahn. Before she arrived, however, her
illness grew more violent, and, though it subsequently abated for a time,
became again so decided that on the following Wednesday she was removed to
this place by Christian Karens for the purpose of obtaining medical aid.
Nothing remarkable or alarming was then discovered in her symptoms; and
Doctor Charlton, the medical gentleman who was called in, expressed the
fullest confidence that her disease would yield to the ordinary course of
treatment, and that she would soon be able to resume her labors. But she
thought otherwise; and although she did not express any conviction during
two or three of the first days that the disease would prove fatal, she
afterwards told me repeatedly that she had not from the first had the least
expectation of recovery.
"On Saturday, the 11th instant, she, with the greatest composure, attended
to the settlement of her temporal affairs, and then seemed to feel that
her work was done. Her mind was perfectly clear and calm to the last; and
during her whole illness she was a lovely example of Christian fortitude,
patience, and resignation. Her faith was unwavering; and consequently she
was enabled to look forward to the period of her dissolution with evident
pleasure, and with the fullest conviction that death was but the door to
endless bliss. I asked her if she felt any reluctance to die; and she
replied, 'I have not the least. It is a pleasure to think of dying. I shall
see much of what I have recently thought a little of--the glory of God and
the love of Christ. When I think of the dear Karen disciples I feel for
them, and would be willing to stay with them a little longer; but if it is
the Lord's will that I should leave them, I have nothing to say. Tell my
friends I am not sorry that I came to this country or that I came alone. I
have suffered for nothing which they could have supplied me with. I have
found kind friends to take care of me.' She appeared upon the whole rather
anxious to die, and to die soon. The morning before her death, although
none of us thought she was so near her end, she was heard to pray, 'O my
Master, take me to thyself this day.' While in the agony of death she said,
'Why cannot I be released?' But when one remarked, 'The Lord's time is the
best time,' she replied, 'Yes;' and after a few minutes more she quietly
fell asleep in Jesus.
"The dear Karen Christian disciples have suffered a great loss, which they
most deeply feel. Brother Stevens and I visited them a few days subsequent
to her death and found them overwhelmed with grief, but at the same time
resolved to trust in the Lord and go forward. They are a lovely band, and
apparently as well grounded in the principles of religion as could be
expected of any so recently converted from heathenism."
Thus parted with earth one of the most devoted servants of God. She has
gone up on high to receive her reward. By her death the heathen lost a most
faithful friend, the Missionary Union lost a most devoted laborer, and the
cause of Christ parted with a most zealous advocate.
And shall we weep? No; death has gained no victory. God and the Christian
have triumphed over death and the grave.
"Well we know her living faith
Had the power to conquer death;
As a living rose may bloom
By the borders of the tomb."
Her life was short, and her sun went down while it was yet day. But short
as her stay on earth was, she was enabled to do much good; and in eternity
many will rise up to call her blessed.
SARAH D. COMSTOCK, OF BURMAH.
The Burman empire has witnessed the death scene of some of the most
illustrious women who have ever lived. It is the graveyard in which their
bodies have been laid to rest after the spirits have departed. It will
continue to be a spot of melancholy interest as long as the ashes of
departed saints are deemed of value by the Christian world; and those
graves will remain the silent pledges that Burmah will never be abandoned,
as a field of missionary exertion, until missionary exertion shall be no
longer necessary. The soil in which such choice spirits find rest, the
groves in which they seek shelter, the flower which blossoms, and the tree
which waves its branches over them, are all sacred in the estimation of
those who love God and delight in the glory of his kingdom. Senseless as
they are, they assist in forming a shelter for honored dust, over which
monuments of marble, with letters of gold and silver, are not worthy to
rise. When Mrs. Comstock died another name was added to the glorious
catalogue of the fallen--not fallen, but ascended. Another grave was made,
from which, on the morning of the resurrection, will come forth a glorified
one, to shine in the crown of the Savior forever.
Sarah Davis Comstock was a native of Brookline, Massachusetts. She was the
daughter of Robert S. Davis, of the Baptist church in that place. In the
house of her father her youthful days were passed, and there she received
the mental and moral education which fitted her to labor for the souls of
the heathen. In early life she found the Savior, and during her residence
in America gave full evidence of a pious, self-denying spirit.
Previous to his sailing for the East, Mr. Comstock selected her for his
companion, and with a martyr spirit she determined to bear the sacrifice
and endure the toil. She was married to Mr. C., and in the act gave herself
not only to him, but to the cause of Christ--to all the sufferings incident
to a life in Burmah.
They, in company with several other elected missionaries, were publicly
consecrated to the work in June, 1834, and sailed immediately for their
field of labor. The services of consecration, on the 28th of June, occurred
in the Baldwin Place Church, in Boston, and were of thrilling interest.
Meetings had been held during the day in another church, at which Rev. Mr.
Wade and the converts from heathenism, Ko Chet-thing and Moung Sway-moung,
had spoken. Indeed, the whole of the previous week had been given to
missionary exercises and missionary sympathy; and when the evening of the
Sabbath came, the spacious church was densely crowded with an eager and
holy throng. Rev. Dr. Wayland delivered an eloquent address of more than an
hour's length; after which the missionaries were instructed by Dr. Bolles,
secretary of the American Baptist Board, under whose patronage they were to
be sent out. When their instructions had been given, Mr. Wade replied in
behalf of his brethren and sisters who were so soon to leave our shores.
The whole scene was one of deep interest; and many were the prayers offered
to God in behalf of that company of devoted Christians. In these delightful
services Dr. Comstock, father of Rev. Grover S. Comstock, one of the
missionaries, and Rev. Dr. Wisner, secretary of the American Board,
participated; and in the crowded house there were several missionaries
connected with other denominations, who looked on with thrilling interest
and satisfaction. One who witnessed the scene and heard the addresses which
were given speaks of the occasion as follows:--
"At seven o'clock, notwithstanding the weather, that spacious building was
crowded to excess, above and below; hundreds were _standing_ through the
whole service and hundreds retiring from the house because there was not
even a place to stand. To be present among those thousands on such an
occasion, once in a life, were to stamp that life with an impression to
which language is not equal. What, then, must have been felt by each of
these missionaries, by their relatives and friends, by those angels who
rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, and whose prophetic thoughts would
connect this preparatory hour with the repentance of myriads in a distant
clime, and age after age?
"We did not wonder, therefore, to hear Dr. Wayland's address open with a
confession of the inadequacy of speech to do justice to the thoughts and
feelings that fill the soul to overflowing at such an hour. And while
listening to his lofty, bold, beautiful, and we may add emphatically
_scriptural_ delineation of the objects, qualifications, and duties of
a Christian missionary,--a delineation that made every other object and
character than that of the Christian dwindle into utter insignificance in
the comparison,--we felt as did Peter on the mount of glorious vision: 'It
is good to be here.' And the thought more than once occurred to us, How
would the late venerable Baldwin have enjoyed this scene!
"We were struck by the remark of Mr. Wade, that, while he regarded the
prayers of Christians in this country as indispensable to the success of
the mission, he could not but fear that prayers _such as he had sometimes
heard_ would avail them or their offerers little. The fervor of love,
the expectancy of hope, and the persevering constancy of faith were the
spiritual qualities wanted. Could they not be obtained?
"In the farewell of Ko Chet-thing and Moung Sway-moung there was a
simplicity and pious warmth that went to the heart. They were grateful for
the unspeakable blessings of the gospel sent to them when in darkness, and
happy alike that they had been permitted of God to see the land where the
seed grew; that they were now about to return to plant and rear the tree
of the gospel in Burmah; and that they could hope hereafter to meet their
Christian friends of America in heaven."
The closing hymn, which was sung by the choir and congregation with fine
effect, was written for the occasion by one of the sweetest writers among
Native land!--in summer smiling,--
Hill and valley, grove and stream;
Home! whose nameless charms beguiling,
Peaceful nursed our infant dream;
Haunts! to which our childhood hasted,
Where the earliest wild flowers grew;
Church! where Christ's free grace we tasted,
Graved on memory's page,--_Adieu_!
Mother! who hast watched our pillow
In thy tender, sleepless love,
Lo, we dare the crosted billow;
Mother, put thy trust above.
Father! from thy guidance turning,
O'er the deep our way we take;
Keep the prayerful incense burning
On thine altar, for our sake.
Brothers! sisters! more than ever
Are our fond affections twined,
As that hallowed bond we sever
Which the hand of Nature joined.
But the cry of Burmah's anguish
Through our inmost hearts doth sound;
Countless souls in misery languish;
We would fly to heal their wound.
Burmah! we would soothe thy weeping;
Take us to thy sultry breast;
Where thy sainted dust is sleeping
Let us share a kindred rest.
Friends! this span of life is fleeting;
Hark! the harps of angels swell;
Think of that eternal meeting,
Where no voice shall say, _Farewell_!
Mrs. L. H. Sigourney.
On the morning of Wednesday, July 2, the good ship Cashmere, Captain
Hallet, bore them from our shores, some of them to return no more. There
were on board Mr. and Mrs. Comstock, Mr. and Mrs. Dean, Mr. and Mrs.
Vinton, Mr. and Mrs. Howard, Mr. and Mrs. Wade, Mr. and Mrs. Osgood,
Miss Gardener and the Eastern converts, all belonging to the Baptist
denomination; together with Dr. Bradley and wife and Miss White, belonging
to the stations of the A.B.C.F.M.
The morning dawned in beauty and loveliness; and, as the sun rolled up the
sky, a crowd of people were seen assembling on the wharf. Soon from the
deck of the vessel was heard the melodious but firm voice of Rev. Dr.
Sharp, in prayer to God, pleading for those who were now to commit
themselves to the perils of the deep. Hymns were sung, kind words were
spoken, Christian greetings were exchanged, and farewell embraces given;
and, amid sobs, and tears, and prayers, the vessel swung off from her
moorings. As she floated out gently into the harbor the vast crowd on shore
commenced singing the hymn of Bishop Heber,--
"From Greenland's icy mountains,
From India's coral strand."
This hymn was scarcely finished, and the last echo was yet upon the air,
when from the ship was heard another song. Voices which seemed divine
united in another hymn, and, as holy stillness gathered over the people,
they heard repeated by the departing missionaries the lines of Rev. S.F.
"Yes, my native land, I love thee;
All thy scenes, I love them well."
_Such_ hymns, sung under _such_ circumstances, by _such_ men and women,
must have produced joy and rapture among the ransomed spirits on high; and
doubtless Jesus, man's ascended Savior, looked down upon his followers with
The Cashmere anchored before Amherst on the 5th of December, and the
missionaries were warmly greeted by Dr. Judson and his associates. After
remaining awhile at Amherst and Maulmain, Mr. Comstock and wife proceeded
to the province of Arracan, which was to be the field of their labors; and
on the 26th of February, 1835, it being the Sabbath, they performed their
first missionary duty in Arracan. On the 4th of March they arrived at Kyouk
Phyoo, from which place Mr. Comstock writes an interesting letter, giving a
description of the field of labor in which he and his companion were to be
engaged. The interest of this sketch will be increased by a perusal of that
description in the language of the author himself:--
"As this province is a new field of labor, perhaps a short account of it
will not be uninteresting. It is situated on the eastern shore of the Bay
of Bengal, and extends from 15 deg. 54' to 20 deg. 51' north latitude. Its
width is very variable. At the northern part of the province it is about
ninety miles wide, while the width at the extreme southern point is but two
or three miles. Probably the average width is something less than fifty
miles. It is bounded on the north by the Province of Chittagong, on the
east by the Burman empire, and on the south and west by the Bay of Bengal.
An extensive range of mountains is the boundary between Arracan and Burmah,
over which are several passes--one to Ava, one to Prome, another to
Bassein, &c. Only the _first_ is very much travelled. By this we are only
six or eight days' journey from Ava. A good deal of this province is
mountainous, and much of the rest is jungle or uncultivated land. The
people live in small villages, which are scattered over the whole province.
The population, according to the government census, I do not exactly know;
but it must be something less than two hundred and fifty thousand. It is
very difficult, however, to ascertain the population, as the people will
deceive all they can, to avoid taxes, which were very oppressive under the
Burman government, and are not very light now. A great deal of itinerant
labor must be performed here, as the inhabitants are so scattered; and much
must be done by tracts. Two or three laborers besides brother Simons
and myself should enter this field as soon as may be. The province is
subdivided into four subordinate jurisdictions, called districts. The
northern one, Akyab, is the largest. Here is brother Fink, with his native
church; and here, I believe, brother Simons intends to settle. The Ramree
district is the next in size. It consists of Ramree Island, about forty
miles long, and on an average about fifteen wide, extending from 18 deg.
51' to 19 deg. 24' north latitude of Cheduba Island, lying a short distance
to the south-west of Ramree, which is eighteen miles long and fourteen
wide, and of several smaller islands. There are in the district three
hundred and seventy-four villages and about seventy thousand inhabitants.
This is the field of labor I occupy. Kyouk Phyoo is on the northern point
of Ramree Island; and, though not as central or as large as some other
places, is, on some accounts, a very desirable station."
In his labors Mr. C. found a valuable help in Mrs. C., who with unreserved
diligence devoted herself to the duties of her station in different parts
of Arracan. Though not exposed to the trials and dangers which attended
the efforts of the first missionaries, yet in labors abundant and faith
unwavering she certainly was.
There is mentioned of her a most beautiful incident which occurred when
about to part with her children, who were to visit America to commence a
course of instruction not to be obtained in Burmah. When the vessel was
about to sail, and Mr. Kincaid, who was to conduct them to this country,
was ready to go on board, Mrs. Comstock took her two children and led them
forth towards the ocean which would soon part her from them forever, and,
kissing the cheek of each, committed them to the care of Him who holds the
storms in his hand and controls the tempests as he will. It cost a struggle
such only as a mother's heart can feel and realize; and, as she kissed them
for the last time and gave them to her husband, she turned her streaming
eyes to heaven and exclaimed, _"O Jesus, I do this for thee!"_
It was the last time. The vessel spread her canvas to the gales of heaven,
and the children of the devoted woman were wafted from her, to see her face
no more; and when next they meet, it will be before the great white throne,
where the secrets of all hearts will be revealed, and where the Savior will
place upon the head of his servant a crown of glory, and declare, in the
hearing of an assembled world, _"This, beloved disciple, I do for thee!"_
It will be a delightful recompense for all the trials, inflictions, and
sufferings of a missionary life, and will more than compensate the most
self-sacrificing of all earth's children for the most toilsome labors, the
most severe trials. Far happier will be he whose brow is encircled with
such a crown than he who in this life is hailed as a royal emperor and led
in chains of gold from throne to throne, from kingdom to kingdom.
One of our poets has thrown this beautiful incident into rhyme. One verse
of his poem we repeat:--
"One burning kiss, one wild good by;
Put off, put off from shore!
In mercy to the mother fly,
And swiftly waft them from her eye,
For she can bear no more!
She knelt and cried, as o'er the sea
Faded their forms like sunset ray,
'_O Savior, I do this for thee!_'
And, sobbing, turned away."
The faith of Mrs. Comstock was strong. She believed that the efforts of
Christian philanthropy would be attended by the desired blessing, and that
Arracan would lift up its hands to God and implore the love of Jesus upon
her prostrate sons. In a letter from Ramree, written only a few months
before her death, she wrote as follows: "I believe these hills and vales
of Arraean will yet leap at the 'sound of the church-going bell,' and the
hundreds and thousands of her children will be seen coming up from every
city, village, and hamlet, with united heart and voice, to the worship of
the great Jehovah. It may not be in my day; but my children _may_ see it.
God grant that they may be privileged in hastening it on. We see but little
fruit of our labors, i.e., so far as converts are concerned, but see the
seed germinating. It is not dead--it will yet spring up; yes, this very
seed we are now sowing will spring up and yield a glorious harvest."
With this confident expectation she labored on until the hand of death came
to close her labors and lead her away to her infinite reward. In whatever
part of Arracan she was, she was zealous to do the will of her Master, and
seemed governed by a firm determination to glory in nothing but the cross
of Jesus. Whether at Kyouk Phyoo, at Akyab, or at Ramree, or any of the
other spots of toil and denial, she was _faithful_ to the great work
assigned her. She never lost sight of the object to accomplish which she
had been sent out to a heathen land.
She departed this life on the 28th of April, 1843. Her disease was the
malignant dysentery, which is peculiar to the climate. Her two children,
lovely little boys, followed her to the grave; and in three months they
were laid to rest by her side. About two hundred inhabitants of the Ramree
district attended her funeral; and when the disconsolate husband had gone
to his deserted home they remained and poured forth their sorrow over the
new-made grave. Her death exerted a deep and powerful influence on the
minds of the natives; and some were led to prepare to meet God by seeking
the mercy of his Son.
The touching account of the death of his companion we give in Mr. C.'s
own words: "For several months past Mrs. Comstock had been blessed with
unusually good health; and we had repeatedly spoken with gratitude of the
goodness of God in granting us so long an exemption from sickness. We
hoped, too, that we should be permitted to labor more vigorously and
uninterruptedly for the good of the heathen than we had been able to do.
She had just completed a Book for Mothers, which, I think, was greatly
needed, and will, I trust, prove very useful. She was contemplating a work
for children, and had begun to inquire for scholars to attend during the
rains, just at hand. We had, too, already decided to spend a month or two
early in the cold season at Cheduba, and then take a tour of a month to Ava
and the villages on the way thither. Our prospects for the future appeared
to be unusually encouraging; and we fondly hoped that we should be
permitted to see many turning unto the Lord in Arracan. We did not,
however, forget that death might destroy all our plans, and often conversed
together freely on the probability that one of us might be called speedily
into eternity. She had no fear of death nor any anxiety as to the time
or manner of her departure, but only spoke of it as affecting our future
"She was taken ill on Saturday, April 22. Our English doctor was then
absent from Ramree; but, had he been here, we should not, probably, have
thought it necessary to call him, as Mrs. C. had prescribed for many
similar cases with entire success. On Monday I saw that her disease was
very severe and obstinate, and asked her if I had not better call the
Mussulman doctor who is left in charge here when the English one is absent.
He came Tuesday morning. He prescribed for her, but wished the English
doctor sent for; and I despatched a messenger for him. He arrived early on
Wednesday morning, and faithfully and assiduously tried every remedy to
arrest the disease, but in vain. On Friday evening, the 28th, at eight
o'clock, she very suddenly expired. Occasionally there were slight symptoms
of amendment; and I fondly hoped, to the very last, that she might recover.
A minute or two before her death she took some nourishment, and remarked
that she thought she should soon regain her strength. I trusted that it
might be so, and stepped on to the veranda to say to the native Christians
that there was still a little reason to hope. I heard her speak, and
hastened to her just in time to see her sink back upon her pillow, and.
without a struggle or even a gasp, breathe her last.
"The body was immediately surrounded by weeping and wailing heathen women,
who felt that they had lost a friend. Such indeed was the case; for Mrs.
C. truly pitied and loved the women of Arracan, and was never happier than
when telling them of the Savior. On the day after her death, as the news
spread in the town, men, women, and children (more of the last two) began
to crowd to my house; and it was estimated that about two thousand were
here during the day. Their expressions of attachment to my dear wife and of
sorrow for her loss were deeply affecting. 'How kindly she always spoke to
me when she met me!' 'She always gave us medicine when we were sick.' 'She
was truly a good woman.' 'She came here to die, far from her native land,
with no mother or sister near her, because she pitied us.' Expressions
similar to these were made and listened to with many tears. I remarked
once, 'What crowds are pressing to the house! Are _all_ from the town?' A
bystander replied, 'Yes; as the news spreads all will be here, for she
was greatly beloved.' Another added, 'Many tears will be shed in Ramree
"I was surprised and deeply affected to witness such manifestations of
feeling among the heathen towards a Christian missionary. They more firmly
convinced me that she had not lived in vain, but had exerted an extensive
and salutary influence, which, I doubt not, will be powerfully felt in
preparing the way of the Lord here. Her labors, too, I trust, will prove
the means of salvation to many souls. She was a most conscientious and
laborious missionary. The rains before last she had a school, to which
she devoted a good deal of time; translated the Scripture Catechism,
administered medicine to the sick, conversed with the women who were daily
calling at the house, and taught her own children, besides attending to
household duties. She was from daylight till nine o'clock at evening
constantly engrossed with labors and cares. As far as her own feelings were
concerned, she would have delighted uniformly to be as active and busy as
she then was.
"She was not, however, always called to such constant and severe labor, but
uniformly did what she could. Whenever women came to the house she felt it
her duty to leave all and go and tell them of the Savior; and I recollect
that in a few instances, when she was so engaged that she could not at once
go to them, and they left without hearing of Christ, she was very much
grieved on account of it. If I was not at hand, she conversed with the
men, too. Towards evening, when she could be out, she might often be
found seated on a rice mortar, with half a dozen women around her, in the
adjoining villages. Attention to the sick, also, demanded a good deal
of her time and thought. I have known her to give medicine to twenty
applicants in a day. She was always anxious to accompany me in my tours to
the villages during the cold season; but circumstances usually prevented
it. She would have prepared more works for the press but for a feeling
of extreme self-depreciation, which led her to think that she was not
competent to prepare a book fit to be printed. The Scripture Catechism and
Mother's Book are both, I think, calculated to do much good. She not only
labored faithfully, but prayed fervently, and with tears, for the salvation
of the heathen. She has, however, entered into her rest; her labors and
prayers have ceased; and I am left alone to train my children up for God
and to do what I can to win the heathen to Christ. The Lord has thus
decided; and he does all things well. I am enabled to say, in sincerity
I trust, 'Thy will be done.' I have lost a most affectionate and amiable
wife, my children have lost a kind and faithful mother, and a prayerful and
diligent laborer is lost to the cause of missions; but I will not repine or
murmur. The Lord is as rich in mercy as he is infinite in wisdom; and let
him do what seemeth good in his sight. I need not ask the sympathy and
prayers for the members of the Board and other friends, for I feel assured
that I shall have them. Pray, not only that my affliction may be greatly
sanctified to my spiritual good and to the good of other friends and other
missionaries, but also that the death of my dear wife may be made the means
of life to many souls in Arracan. Several appear tender, and seem to recall
the instructions she has given them."
Mr. Comstock did not long survive her. In about one year from the time his
wife was taken from her toils his earthly joys and sorrows closed, and he
went up on high. Borne down by anxiety, care, and affliction, he died April
24, 1844. He was the third son of Rev. Oliver C. Comstock, of Michigan.
He graduated at Hamilton Institution in 1827. For a while he studied
and practised law in the city of Rochester, where he was becoming very
successful as a counsellor. But God had another station for him to
occupy--a wide field of usefulness for him to fill. In the winter of 1831
he was led to view himself as a sinner and embrace Jesus as his Savior.
He became a member of the First Baptist Church, and was baptized by his
venerated father. Soon he became convinced that the Christian ministry
demanded his exertions and powers. He soon removed to Hamilton and entered
the theological class, and at once commenced preparing himself for
labors in Burmah, and soon went forth to do the will of God in wild and
uncultivated regions. But his afflictions were many--his toils great--his
years few. He died ere the desire of his heart had been realized. He
ascended to heaven ere the field given him to cultivate was seen blossoming
as the rose.
Called by God, he left the path to earthly honor and distinction and
entered the scorned and despised service of the crucified One, and in that
service found an early grave. He saw his beloved companion go down to the
tomb; he saw two darling babes laid beside her; and, panting for the loved
ones, he himself went down into the sepulchre.
Here ends the record of a family sacrificed on the altar of Christian
benevolence; a record written with tears of sorrow and anguish, yet
gleaming with signs of glory; a record which even the cold cynic might
respect, and the stoic read with emotions of wonder and admiration.
"Patriots have toiled, and in their country's cause
Bled nobly; and their deeds, as they deserve,
Receive proud recompense. We give in charge
Their names to the sweet lyre. The Historic Muse,
Proud of the treasure, marches with it down
To latest times; and Sculpture, in her turn,
Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass
To guard them and immortalize her trust.
But fairer wreaths are due, though never paid,
To those who, posted at the shrine of Truth,
Have fallen in her defence."
HENRIETTA SHUCK, OF CHINA.
The Celestial empire has become an object of great interest. Its vast
extent, its swarming inhabitants, its peculiar customs, its steady
resistance of modern inventions, and its obstinate defiance of
Christianity, all draw upon it the gaze of the Christian world. The time
was when China was barred and bolted against the truth; when on her soil
could be found no teacher of the true faith; when a high wall separated
the ignorant inhabitants from the rest of the world. But the wall has been
thrown down; the obstacles in the way of Christianity have in many cases
been removed; and China is open to the footsteps of the man of God.
Following the leadings of divine Providence, good men of various