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live are often as cold and cheerless as can well be imagined ; and the difficulty of obtaining clothes and food sufficient for their comfort is very great. The fireplaces of these rooms are so deep, that a large quantity of fuel is required to procure even a little warmth ; and with all the aid which is obtained from the city, from our charitable societies, from benevolent individuals, and from the streets, much, very much is endured in such a winter as the present. Nor is it as easy as some think it to be, for all to find employment, by which they may earn enough for a comfortable subsistence. Hence, too often, come intemperance and dishonesty.
My attention has constantly been directed to the children of the families in which I visit; and I have done what I could to persuade parents, faithfully to keep their children at school. Through the kindness of friends, who have supplied my poors' purse, I have enabled parents to send a considerable number of children to school, who were kept at home by the want of shoes, or a shawl. Of the results of my mission, I am not prepared to say much at present. I have cause, however, I think, to believe that no preceding three months of my life have been passed more usefully. I am received with great kindness and affection in the families in which I visit; and, great as are the vice and suffering which I have sometimes been called to witness, I have also found encouragements and compensations in this service, which will be among the happiest recollections of my life.
On the second day of my mission, I visited a widow, who was passing rapidly to the grave in consumption; and I ministered to her till the 27th ultimo, on which day
she died. She was thirty-five years of age, and had three children. I particularize her, only because I have the pleasure to tell you, that neither in my reading, nor in my ministry of twenty-five years, have I met with a more impressive example of the power, which the simplest principles of our religion, when they have full possession of the heart, may exert in forming a perfectly christian character. Her daily sufferings were very great. But the ruling principle in her soul was, love to God. This was the source of all her immediate comfort, and of all her hope as a disciple of Christ. “O Sir," she has repeatedly said to me, “ I would not exchange my sick bed, with the love of God which I feel in my heart, for ten thousand worlds.” “I can glorify God in my greatest sufferings, for my love of him triumphs over all my distresses.” “Adversity,” she said, " is better than prosperity. I once lived without God; but I have passed through many scenes of trouble, and in trouble I learned to know and to love God. The hardest trial to which I have been called has been, to give up my children. But now that I have given them up to God, I look upon them without a feeling of anxiety.” Such, indeed, were her conceptions of God's government, and of the purposes of suffering ; such her love of God, and her desire to possess and to maintain the spirit of Christ, that she refused opiates by which her sufferings might have been alleviated; preferring to endure distress, rather than have her mind in the smallest degree enfeebled in its exercises, or checked in its aspirations after a nearer acquaintance with Him, who was the rock of her confidence, and the fountain to her heart of unutterable blessedness. In all my visits to this poor,
but intelligent, most amiable and pious woman, I never heard from her any of the technical language of a sectarian. We were soon friends; and I shall never forget the emotion with which, a short time before she expired,
“I bless God, who has sent you to me, to enlighten my way through the dark valley of the shadow of death.” If no other circumstance to cheer and strengthen me should occur in the year of service on which I have entered, than the privilege of ministering to this poor widow, I shall be well compensated for all the toils to which it
may I may tell you, likewise, that, on the 27th of November, I was called to visit a man who was confined to his bed by a fever. I was pleased with the neatness and order which appeared in his family. But this man had thought little of religion, and had lived without prayer. Before he left his sick bed, I have reason to think that he offered the prayers of penitence, of gratitude, and of hope ; and, since his recovery, he has uniformly read prayers in his family, morning and evening. I have the assurance of this man, and of his wife, that they will faithfully maintain this practice.
On sabbath evening, the 3d of December, by the assistance which I received from an association of private Christians, with which I am connected in the city, I was enabled to begin a course of religious services in the upper chamber of the circular building at the bottom of Portland-street. These services have been continued from that time to the present; and as a lease of the room is taken for a year, I shall probably continue to preach there on the evenings of the sabbath. In these services,
which are very well attended, I have the aid of several of the gentlemen of the above named association. A Sunday School was begun in my lecture room on the 10th of December; and the children of many families which I visit, as well as of other families, are very faithfully taught there.
I have occasionally preached both to the men, and to the women,
in the House of Correction. On the 27th of December, I visited Colson, who was executed on the Ist instant for piracy and murder. From the time of my first visit, I was in the cell with him every day; and this too is a part of my service, for which I think that I have much cause to bless God. I found this man terribly profane and wicked. But I soon found that he had not lost every element of moral feeling. After the visits of a few days, I observed that he fell upon his knees when I was about to pray with him. Some time after this, he began to respond the amen at the close of our prayers. And at last, such was the strength of his emotions, that while I was praying with him, he has broken out in an importunity of supplication, the most heart-rending which I have ever heard from the lips of man. In addition to my daily visits to his cell, I passed with him the evening previous to his death ; and I was with him on the next morning, till a few minutes before the time when he was led out to be executed. I had said and done all that I could say or do, to affect, and to direct his mind; and feeling, as I did, that my duty towards him was done, I left him. He died, as I am told, in the manner in which I hoped that he would die ; with the prayer in his heart, and upon his lips, God be merciful to me a sinner!
how much time and exertion my services require ? I answer, that I give to them all my time, and all my strength. Most of those whom I now visit live at the north part of the town. But I also visit families in the eastern, western, and southern sections of the city ; and not a week passes, in which I am not extending my charge. Two more missionaries, within three months, might find duty enough to fill up every waking hour.
It may not be amiss to add, that I have numbered two hundred and eighty-three visits made to the people of my charge. Besides these, however, I have been into many families, of whom I learned that they regularly worship with some one of our religious societies, and whom, therefore, I visited no more. Nor do I include in this number of visits, those which I made to Colson, in prison ; nor those which I have made in the house of correction. With great respect,
JOSEPH TUCKERMAN. Boston, February, 5th, 1827.