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AMERICAN BAPTIST MAGAZINE.
During the visit of my family last winter among our connexions and friends at the South, it was our affecting lot to watch over the last sickness and dying moments of Mrs. Ripley's aged mother. Filial respect and desire for the welfare of her grandchildren, prompted me to prepare an account of her life furnished mostly from papers which she left behind. I submit to your disposal an abstract of what I prepared. Mrs. Winn moved in a comparatively retired sphere, “unknown to fame.” Perhaps, however, the record of her religious life may contribute to the spiritual welfare of some, whose chief aim is to serve the Redeemer and to be “ made meet for the inheritance of the saints."
Yours, Newton, May 25, 1833.
H. J. RIPLEY.
MEMOIR OF MRS. ANN WINN, OF SUNBURY, GEORGIA. Mrs. Ann Winn was born October 18, 1758, in Liberty county, Georgia. Her maiden name was Sumner. Her parents were pious, and endeavored to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. At the early age of 12 years, she was deprived, by death, of the care and counsel of her mother. Five years after, at the age of 17, her father also died. On the death of her father, the surviving members of the family were scattered, and she took up her abode with her eldest married sister. She thus remained two years, when, at the age of 19 years, she was married to Mr. Charles Carter. This took place in the midst of the revolutionary war. In consequence of the troubled state of the times, Mr. and Mrs. Carter removed to South Carolina. After the British obtained possession of Charleston, Mr. Carter was taken prisoner, and, after many sufferings, died in prison. His widow was left with an infant daughter in the midst of enemies, not knowing at what moment she might be called, in her lonely
condition, to encounter other trying vicissitudes incident to a time of war. During these trials, she represents herself as supported beyond all her expectations, but yet destitute of the comforts of true religion.
Shortly after peace was restored to the country, she returned to the place of her nativity and early residence. She was soon called to a new affliction in the death of her only child, at the age of three years and a few months. Some months after this affliction, she removed to Bryan county, and resided in the family of her brother-in-law, Mr. H. Carter. There was then, in that section of the country, an entire destitution of religious privileges. The preaching of the gospel was not enjoyed, and she knew not a single person there who gave evidence of having experienced true religion. Thus unfavorably situated, it is not suprising that she had occasion afterwards to reproach herself as spending much of her time in a vain and unprofitable manner. She again returned to Liberty county; but was here so situated as not to enjoy religious privileges. The early instructions of her parents, however, and her knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, proved very serviceable to her. She had hours of serious reflection, and the Holy Spirit was striving with her.
While thus situated, her second marriage occurred. This was to a Mr. Good, whom she represents as possessing many amiable qualifications, and expressing for her in all his conduct an endearing affection. This union was, however, of but short contin
It terminated in six weeks, by an accidental and fatal fall of her husband from his horse.
This disappointinent in her hopes of happiness on earth appears to have been signally blessed to her spiritual welfare. She began in earnest to seek the Lord, deeply convinced of the insufficiency and uncertainty of all earthly comforts, and of her need of those comforts which the world can neither give nor take away. She also removed at this time to the house of her brother, where she enjoyed religious privileges, such as she had not enjoyed since the death of her father. At this time, too, she had the privilege of attending upon the ministry of the Rev. Abiel Holmes, now the Rev. Dr. Holmes, of Cambridge, Mass. From his faithful preaching she derived much instruction; and in subsequent years she remembered him with much affection, as the instrument, in the hands of God, of special good to her soul.
“I then ventured,” she says, " to make a public profession of my faith in Christ, and was received into the communion of the Congregational church at Midway. I was for some time much engaged in religious duties. Being much retired and having considerable leisure, I endeavored to improve it, and (if I mistake not) found much peace and comfort for a while. I have often looked back to that period of my life, as the happiest I have seen, though I was never free from doubts and fears about my spiritual state. Yet I thought I had strong desires to serve God and to be useful to my fellow-creatures.”
After this public profession of religion, she was, in 1789, married a third time. This union continued until 1824, when it pleased God to remove her husband to his final rest, in peace, at the age of 73 years, after he had, for many years, given evidence of being a sincere disciple of the Redeemer. Subsequently to this third marriage, the attention of herself and her husband was specially directed to the subject of baptism; and after mature examination of the Scriptures, they were both baptized, in the year 1803, by the Rev. Charles 0. Screven, and became members of the Baptist church in Sunbury. Mr. Winn served the Baptist church in Sunbury as a deacon until his death, having also profitably sustained the same office in the Midway church. Of the six children with whom the subject of this memoir was blessed after this third marriage, the afflicted parents were called to surrender three; namely, Sarah, who died in her 17th year;
Abiel, who died ten days after in his 20th year; and the Rev. Thomas Sumner Winn,* who died in his 27th year.
From the time of Mrs. Winn's making a public profession of religion she kept a diary, in which she recorded the exercises of her mind and her reflections on important events and periods of her life. These interesting remains of the deceased bear testimony to the sincerity of her repentance, to the singleness of her faith in Christ, to her consciousness of her failings and of indwelling sin, to her earnest desires for growth in grace, to her love of prayer and of social worship, to the tenderness of her conscience, and to her solicitude for the salvation of her children and friends, and for the spread of the gospel.
A few extracts from her diary will exhibit the character of her piety:
“ March 9, 1786. Tomorrow, if God permit, I am to make a solemn dedication of myself to the Lord. O that my
may be suitably affected with the solemnity of the transaction. O may I come with a firm reliance on Christ, my Saviour, trusting in his merits alone, hoping for acceptance through him, not trusting in any thing I can do. I can do nothing of myself; but I desire to trust in the gracious promises of the Lord. He has said, My strength is made perfect in weakness. I desire humbly to trust in these and other gracious promises. But O may I keep up a godly fear, lest I come trusting in any of my poor, weak services. O Lord, make me see my nothingness and great unworthiness, and enable me to come with a deep sense of my sins, and true repentance for them, with a true love for thee and faith in thy Son Jesus Christ. I desire to give up myself, soul and body, to thee, to be dedicated to thy service. 0
the short remainder of my time be spent in seeking thy glory, and may I be enabled sincerely to say with the psalmist, Whom have I 'in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee.”
* A inemoir of this pious and useful minister may be found in No. 90 of the tracts of the Baptist General Tract Society.
At this early stage of her religious life, she possessed no small degree of acquaintance with her own heart. She complains of much “dulness and hardness of heart;" expresses earnest desires that God would soften her heart, prepare it more for duty, and give her strength to resist temptation. She became early convinced, that there was a law in her members warring against the law of her mind, that the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the fesh against the Spirit.
April 6. My poor hard heart is dull and heavy. I have hard struggles continually to perform my duty, the world taking strong hold upon me, the vanity of it carrying me away from my God. And O how prone am I to be puffed up with vain thoughts and self-love; and how hard to fix my thoughts in meditation on any thing worthy the attention of a reasonable creature. O my God, I humbly beseech thee to look in pity on me; wean my affections from the vain and transitory things of this world, and fix them on thee, the author of all good. May I have an interest in Christ, be found in him, washed from all sin and pollution in that fountain which was opened for sin and uncleanness.”
Under another date, May 6, occurs the following record:“ Blessed be God for the mercies of another week. I have had much opportunity for secret meditation and religious duties the greater part of this week. I think I have enjoyed more peace of mind and more real satisfaction, than if I had had the best of company. O what worthy companions I have had, though all alone. I have conversed with some of the best of authors. What agreeable amusement do they afford, and, I trust, good instruction. I pray God to forgive my imperfections, pardon the sins of the past week, and enable me to spend the next better than I have spent this. 0
may he root out of my heart all pride and vanity, selfishness and vain glory; and plant within humility, faith, love, and true repentance. When shall I find that sweet communion with God, that fervent love for Christ, that rapture and holy joy, which many Christians experience?"
Sept. 1, 1801. This day I have come to a determined reso lution (if enabled by divine grace,) to do my utmost endeavors to forgive all injuries, either real or supposed, done to me or mine. O may I not lean on my own strength, but depend entirely on grace to enable me to do my duty to God and man.
Similar expressions of self-renunciation, of contrition for sin, of trusting in Christ, of desire for growth in grace and ehristian comfort, are frequently recorded. She was also called to exercise submission to the afflictive dispensations of divine providence. The year 1813 was a remarkable period in her life. During that year, her only sister was removed to eternity. Her sister “died with much composure and a comfortable hope of an interest in the Saviour. She manifested in her life for many years a pious, meek and humble walk before God and towards her fellow-creatures.” Soon after this event, Mrs. Winn's two eldest children, with her son-in-law, were separated from her for six months, for purposes
of health and study. During their absence, “it pleased ” (to use her own words) a just, wise, good and merciful God to remove from her arms, her ever dear Sarah and Abiel, in the full bloom of youth.” In recording this event, she further says, “I desire to say in sincerity, his holy will be done. I desire forever to bless his name, that he has not caused us to mourn without hope. For though they were obedient and dutiful children, moral in their conduct and amiable in the sight of men, they renounced all hope or confidence in any thing save what Jesus has done for sinners, and appeared to take comfort in that alone. I trust the Lord gave them such broken and contrite hearts as he will not despise. And now, I desire to record the goodness of the Lord in supporting me under these sore bereavements. For, surely, if left to my own strength only, I must have sunk under them. But I trust he has made good his promise in giving me strength, in some measure, according to my day. O may the good Lord sanctify these afflictions for his glory and my best good. O may they be sanctified to each surviving brother and sister. May they hear the awful admonition from their dear departed brother and sister, speaking to them loudly from the silent grave, Be ye also ready. The Lord grant, that all my children may experience a change of heart, be adopted into his blessed family, and become heirs of his heavenly kingdom above, through the merits of his dear Son."
Under a subsequent date, she relates with considerable minuteness the mental exercises of her two deceased children. The account which she gives justifies the hope, that they were admitted among the redeemed. She then proceeds, in the exercise of patient submission and of hope," How the Lord has disposed of my children, I know not; but this I can confidently say, he has done right; for he is too wise to do wrong, and too good to do evil. I dare not wish them back with me. I trust they are in the merciful arms of the Lord Jesus Christ, freed from all sin and sorrow, uniting with the holy throng who cease not, day nor night, to sing the praises of redemption. what a blessing to have any grounds for hope. How undeserving am I of such a favor. O! the Lord had been just, had he deprived me of all my children, or made them as goads in my sides, or thorns in my eyes, for my past sins and transgressions. Adored be his holy name, for his patience and forbearance toward me and mine. His ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts, or long ago I should have been cut down as a cumberer of the ground. O that he would sanctify my late bereavements, make me resigned to his will, cause me to be more weaned from the world, and enable me to live nearer to himself, prepare me for what is yet before me in life, and especially fit me for death and eternity.”
A new affliction awaited her. But mournful as it was, she was enabled to bear it with christian fortitude and submission. And though she seems to have felt it as the chief affliction of her life, yet she mentions it repeatedly without murmuring, with confidence