Isabella Graham.

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The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor
is humility. The Lord will destroy the house of the proud; but he will
establish the border of the widow. PROV. 15:25, 33.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843,
by JOANNA BETHUNE, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court
for the Southern District of New York.

Copyright transferred to the American Tract Society.





Foundation of the excellence of her character - Birth -
Education - Conversion - Marriage - Voyage to Quebec -
Doddridge's Rise and Progress - Residence at Montreal and
Fort Niagara - Sails for Antigua - 1742-1772, .................. 7



Dr. Graham called to St. Vincents - His safe return - State of
his mind - Death of Mrs. Graham's mother - Letter
describing the death of Dr. Graham - Kindness of Dr. H. -
Reflections - Letters to Mrs. Grandidier and to her father -
Departure for Scotland - 1773-1775, ............................ 22



Perilous voyage - Trust in God - Return to Cartside - Care of
her father - Residence at Paisley - Depressed circumstances -
Peace in God - Singular investment and result - School
in Edinburgh - Friends - Benevolence to poor tradesmen -
Dancing - Letter of Lady Glenorchy - Origin of the Society
for the Relief of the Destitute Sick - Death and character
of Lady Glenorchy - Letter to a daughter - Visit to
Cartside and Paisley - Reposes all upon Christ - Removal to
New York - Devotional exercises - 1776-1789, ................... 54



Voyage and reception at New York - Marriage of Mrs. Stevenson -
Anxiety for her son - He escapes a press-gang - Confidence
in God - Sickness and death of her pastor, Dr. John Mason -
His character - Dr. John M. Mason installed pastor -
Devotional exercises - Letter to A.D. - Letter to her son -
Last intelligence of him - Reflections - 1789-1794, ............ 82



Marriage of Mrs. Bethune - Death of Mrs. Stevenson - Strong
consolation - Singular receipts and liberality - Devotional
exercises - Anniversary of her daughter's birth and death -
First Missionary Society in New York - Reflections -
Acquaintance with Mrs. C - - near Boston - Letter and
devotional exercises - 1795-1797, ............................. 115



Rise of the Widows' Society - First monthly missionary
prayer-meeting - Letter to a young man on joining the
church - The Essay on Man - Marriage of Mrs. Smith - Close
of her school - Labors for widows and the poor - Letters to
Mrs. C. - The yellow-fever - Death of Washington - Devotional
exercises - 1797-1800, ........................................ 144



Schools and labors connected with the Widows' Society - Her
friend Mrs. Hoffman - Anniversary of the Widows' Society -
Visit to Boston - Want of evangelical preaching - Letters
to Miss M - - of Boston - Letters to Mr. and Mrs. Bethune in
Britain - Anxiety for them - Confidence in God - Church
discipline - Dr. Mason sails for Britain - 1800-1801, .......... 167



Death of a grandchild - Letters to Mr. and Mrs. Bethune in
Britain - Death of B. - Of another grandchild - Of Pero, a
colored man - Return of Mr. and Mrs. Bethune - Takes up her
abode with them - Devotional exercises - Ladies' school for
poor children - Address on its formation - Supplications for
a revival of God's work - Labors for the suffering poor -
Letters to Mrs. C. - Letter to the widow of her brother -
1801-1805, ................................................... 200



Letters - Formation and success of the Orphan Asylum -
Inscription for Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Hoffman - Labors in the
New York hospital and among female convicts - Miss
Farquharson, first American missionary to foreign lands -
Visit of Rev. Dr. Morrison and others - Letter to her
children at the Springs - Letter to Mrs. Juliet S. - Visits
Rockaway - Reminiscence of Elderslie - 1806-1809, .............. 250



Letters - Bible Society organized - Efforts for the revival and
extension of religion - Admissions to the communion -
Narrow escape from drowning at Rockaway - Barrenness of
preaching without Christ - Devotional exercises - Letters
to Miss Van Wyck and James Todd - Happy old age - Letter to
Mrs. C - - in affliction - Letter to Mrs. G.Y. - Prayer for
ministers - Magdalen Society - Lancasterian school -
1809-1811, ................................................... 270



Indwelling sin lamented - Day of fasting - Happiness of the
aged Christian - Sermon in the state-prison - Happy
reminiscences - Two grandchildren unite with the church -
Unfaithfulness to people of the world lamented - Rich
temporal blessings - Letter to Mrs. J.W. - Day of fasting -
1812-1814, ................................................... 309



Society for the promotion of industry among the poor -
Sunday-school of eighty children - Love of evangelical books
Last two weeks - Communion - Last sickness - Peaceful
death - Character by Dr. Mason - Epitaph - 1814, ................ 348


Scripture extracts - Meditations - Poetic effusions, ............... 379







Mankind take an interest in the history of those who, like
themselves, have encountered the trials and discharged the duties of
life. Too often, however, publicity is given to the lives of men
splendid in acts of mighty mischief, in whom the secret exercises of
the heart would not bear a scrutiny. The memoirs are comparatively few
of those engaged in the humble and useful walks of active benevolence,
where the breathings of the soul would display a character much to be
admired, and more to be imitated.

As the celebrated Dr. Buchanan has observed, that if you were to
ask certain persons in Christian countries, if they had any
acquaintance with the _religious_ world, they would say "they had
never heard there _was_ such a world;" so, while the external
conduct of individuals is made the subject of much critical remark,
the religion of the heart, the secret source of action, too frequently
escapes unnoticed and unexplored.

It is only when the career of life is closed, that the character
is completely established. On this account memoirs of the living are,
in few instances, read with much interest; but when the soul has
departed, and the body sleeps in dust, it may prove useful to
survivors to examine the principles which led their departed friend to
a life of honorable benevolence, and to a peaceful end.

Such considerations as these, and the urgent request of many
respectable individuals, have induced the preparation of the following
sketch of the life and writings of Mrs. ISABELLA GRAHAM, whose
character was so esteemed, and whose memory is so venerated by all who
knew her. The evident purity of motive which impelled her to activity
in deeds of benevolence, at once commanded love and respect, which, in
her case peculiarly, was unalloyed with any risings of jealousy, envy,
or distrust.

Blessed with a spirit of philanthropy, with an ardent and
generous mind, a sound judgment, and an excess of that sensibility
which moulds the soul for friendship, a cultivated intellect and rich
experience, her company was eagerly sought and highly valued by old
and young. Though happily qualified to shine in the drawing-room, her
time was seldom wasted there; for such a disposition of it would have
been waste, contrasted with her usual employments. Her steps were not
seen ascending the hill, of ambition, nor tracing the mazes of popular
applause. Where the widow and the orphan wept, where the sick and the
dying moaned, thither her footsteps hastened; and there, seen only by
her heavenly Father, she administered to their temporal wants,
breathed the voice of consolation on their ear, shed the tear of
sympathy, exhibited the truths of the gospel from the sacred volume,
and poured out her soul for them in prayer to her Saviour and her God.

In a few such deeds she rested not, nor was the story of them
obtruded upon others, or recorded by herself. The recollection of past
exertions was lost in her zeal to accomplish greater purposes and
greater good: her heart expanded with her experience, and her means
were too limited, the active powers of her vigorous mind too feeble,
to fulfil the abounding desires of her soul in alleviating the
miseries and increasing the comforts of the poor, the destitute, and
afflicted. To learn the latent springs of such excellence is worthy of
research; they may be all summed up in this, _the religion of
the heart_.

The extracts from Mrs. Graham's letters and devotional exercises,
which constitute so large a part of the following pages, will furnish
the best development of her principles; and may, with the blessing of
God, prove useful to those who read them. In all her writings will be
manifested the power of _faith_, the efficiency of _grace_,
and in them, as in her own uniform confession, Jesus will be magnified
and self will be humbled. Her life was chiefly distinguished by her
continual dependence on God, and his unceasing faithfulness and mercy
towards her.

ISABELLA MARSHALL, afterwards Mrs. Graham, was born July 29,
1742, in the shire of Lanark, in Scotland. Her grandfather was one of
the elders who quitted the established church with the Rev. Messrs.
Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. She was educated in the principles of the
church of Scotland. Her father and mother were both pious; indeed, her
mother, whose maiden name was Janet Hamilton, appears, from her
letters yet extant, to have possessed a mind of the same character as
her daughter afterwards exhibited.

Isabella was trained to an active life, as well as favored with a
superior education. Her grandfather, whose dying-bed she assiduously
attended, bequeathed her a legacy of some hundred pounds. In the use
to which she applied this money, the soundness of her judgment was
thus early manifested. She requested it might be appropriated to the
purpose of procuring a thorough _education_. When ten years of
age, she was sent to a boarding-school taught by a lady of
distinguished talents and piety. Often has Mrs. Graham repeated to her
children the maxims of Mrs. Betty Morehead. With ardent and unwearied
endeavors to attain mental endowments, and especially moral and
religious knowledge, she attended the instructions of Mrs. Morehead
for seven successive winters. How valuable is early instruction. With
the blessing of God, it is probable that this instructress laid the
foundation of the exertions and usefulness of her pupil in after-life.
How wise and how gracious are the ways of the Lord. Knowing the path
in which he was afterwards to lead Isabella Marshall, her God was
pleased to provide her an education of a much higher kind than was
usual in those days. Who would not trust that God, who alone can be
_the guide of our youth_?

Her father, John Marshall, farmed a paternal estate, called the
Heads, near Hamilton. This estate he sold, and rented the estate of
Elderslie, once the habitation of Sir William Wallace. There Isabella
passed her childhood and her youth.

She had no definite recollection of the period at which her heart
first _tasted that the Lord is gracious_. As far back as she
could remember, she took delight in pouring out her soul to God. In
the woods of Elderslie she selected a bush, to which she resorted in
seasons of devotion. Under this bush she believed she was enabled to
devote herself to God, through faith in her Redeemer, before she had
entered on her tenth year. To this favorite, and to her, sacred spot,
she would repair, when exposed to temptation or perplexed with
childish troubles. From thence she caused her prayers to ascend, and
there she found peace and consolation.

Children cannot at too early a period seek the favor of the God of
heaven. How blessed to be reared and fed by his hand, taught by his
Spirit, and strengthened by his grace.

The late Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, afterwards president of Princeton
college, was at this time one of the ministers of the town of Paisley.
Isabella sat under his ministry, and at the age of seventeen publicly
professed her faith in Christ. In the year 1765 she was married to Dr.
John Graham, then a practising physician in Paisley, a gentleman of
liberal education and of respectable standing.

About a year after their marriage, Dr. Graham, having been
appointed surgeon to the 60th or royal American regiment, was ordered
to Canada, where that corps was stationed. Mrs. Graham accompanied
him, and a plan was digested - with how limited a knowledge of the
future will appear - for their permanent residence in America. Dr.
Graham calculated on disposing of his commission, and purchasing a
tract of land on the Mohawk river, where his father-in-law, Mr.
Marshall, was to follow him. The letter subjoined gives the
interesting incidents of their voyage, and forms a pleasant
introduction to the character of Mrs. Graham at this period of
her life.

"QUEBEC, August 29, 1767.

"MY DEAREST PARENTS - This is the fifth letter I have written to
you, although I know it is the first that can reach you. All the time
I was at sea I kept a letter lying by me, in hope of getting it put on
board some vessel bound for Britain; but I have met with many
disappointments. We spoke several ships, but I never could get a
letter put on board. At one time I was told the wind was too high, at
another that the ship was at too great a distance, and so was put off
till I began to understand a more substantial reason, namely, that it
would cost the captain rather too much trouble.

"We have now, however, got safe here, after a tedious voyage of
nine weeks, and I will give you a short account of what happened
during that time.

"We sailed, as you know, from Greenock, June 10. For the first
five or six days we had fine weather and fair winds, and got quite
clear of land; after this, we had nearly six weeks of most tempestuous
weather, and the wind, except for about two days, directly against us.
The gentlemen after some time began to be very impatient; for my part
I should not have cared although it had lasted twelve months. I had
left all that was dear to me behind, except one dear friend, that one
was constantly with me, and although the rest of the company in the
ship was very agreeable, yet I was the great object of his attention,
and his invention was ever on the stretch to find amusement for me. It
is not possible for me to say with what indulgent tenderness I was
treated; but though I love my husband even to extravagance, yet my
dear friends whom I left behind have a large share of my heart. They
dwell on my mind in the daytime; and at night, when sleep lays the
body aside and leaves the soul at liberty, she on the wings of
imagination makes one skip over whole seas, and is immediately with
those dear friends whose absence she so much lamented during the day,
and in an imaginary body as truly enjoys you for the time as if really
present with you.

"The gentlemen on board soon found reason to be thankful for the
preservation of life, and got something very different to think of
than fret at the contrary winds. A leak sprung in the ship, which
alarmed them all so much that a consultation was held among them
whether if any ship came near they should hail it and go on board
wherever she was bound. I was perfectly unconcerned about the whole
matter, not being aware of the danger, which was kept secret from me
till we came on shore. I saw the men constantly pumping, but thought
it was what they were obliged to do in every ship. After coming to
land, on examining the ship, they found the leak to be so large that
one might put his five fingers into it; indeed, it seemed next to a
miracle that she kept above water; but every day of our lives may
convince us what dependent creatures we are. While God's merciful
providence protects us we are safe, though in the midst of apparent
danger; should he withdraw that protection but for a moment,
inevitable evils surround us, even when we think ourselves in
perfect safety.

"A proof of this we had in a most distressing event, which took
place about six weeks after we left Greenock. The wind was in our
favor, the day was fine, and we were all amusing ourselves on deck in
various ways, when Captain Kerr, who was standing close by us,
stumbling backwards, fell overboard. He got above water before the
ship passed him, and called to throw him a rope, but alas, no rope was
at hand, and before one was got the ship was out of his reach.
Immediately they threw over a large hen-coop, but, poor man, he could
not swim, so he soon disappeared. The boats were put out with great
expedition, and in less than a quarter of an hour he was found. You
may believe no means were left unemployed to restore animation; but
alas, the spirit had taken its final leave; it was no longer an
inhabitant of earth, not the least signs of life appeared. The day
after, being Sunday, his body was committed to the deep, from whence
it had been rescued the day before. Dr. Graham read in public the
church of England burial service. Every one on board seemed much
affected; I cannot tell you how much I was.

"About eight days after, we got to the Banks of Newfoundland;
while there the fog was so dense we could not see forty yards in any
direction, and the cold was excessive, notwithstanding the season of
the year. There were a great many islands of ice floating on the
water; I saw three within twenty yards of us, much larger than the
ship. The captain said if the ship ran against any one of them, she
would be dashed to pieces. And here, again, my former observation
holds good, for sure it could not be the art of man, either in the
dark night or in the dense fog, which could protect the ship flying
before the wind, through dangers so thick on every side of us. For
several days and nights we saw neither sun nor stars, which distressed
the captain much, for he knew not where we were, and apprehending we
were near land, was afraid of running upon some rock; so we were
obliged to cruise about till the atmosphere cleared.

"The sail up the river St. Lawrence is extremely pleasant. You
know how fond I have ever been of wood and water. This country, in
this respect, is quite to my taste, and could I only get half a dozen
of those friends I could name settled down on either side of us, with
five hundred pounds' worth of land to give to each, I should ask no
more in this world.

"When we arrived, the doctor's friend Mr. Findley came on board,
took us on shore, and brought us to his elegant mansion. He begged we
would look on him as an old friend, feel perfectly at home, and remain
with him as long as we could. Give my love to my dear boys;* you see
them often, I have no doubt. Do, my dearest mamma, write me soon, and
tell me all about them and yourself; and ever believe me, my dear
parents, with the greatest affection,

*Dr. Graham's two sons by a former marriage, who were left under the
care of Mr. Davidson, rector of the grammar-school of Paisley.

"Your dutiful daughter,

In a letter a month, later, Mrs. Graham refers to the gay and
fashionable circles to which they were introduced in Quebec, and
mentions her visiting the beautiful falls of Montmorency; but mourns
over the low state of religion, and the prevailing desecration of the
Sabbath. She adds:

"I have read Doddridge's Rise and Progress. I little knew what a
treasure Mr. Ellis put into my hand when he gave me that book. I
cannot say it is my daily companion, but I can with truth say it is
often so. Let my mind be in ever so giddy and thoughtless a frame, or
ever so much busied in those amusements I am engaged in, it makes me
serious, and gives my thoughts a different turn; there is scarce any
situation the mind can be in, but it will find something suitable
there. I must not, however, make remarks on the particular contents of
it; it would occupy more paper than I have to spare. I would have you
purchase the book; I am sure you would like it; and when you have read
it, it will be matter of great satisfaction to you that John and I
have such a treasure in our possession. In it are contained every
advice you could give us, and cautions against the temptations which,
on account of youth, company, and the country we are in, we are
exposed to."

They were expecting to spend the winter in Quebec, but were
ordered to Montreal, where Jessie, her eldest daughter, was born, and
where Mrs. Graham received intelligence of the death of her infant
son, who had been left with her mother in Scotland. Further orders
were soon received for the doctor to join the second battalion of his
regiment at fort Niagara, on lake Ontario; Mrs. Graham followed him,
and they continued here in garrison for four years, during which her
second and third daughters, Joanna and Isabella, were added to
her charge.

Under date of February 3, 1771, we find, from her own pen, the
following description of her occupations and enjoyments, in a letter
addressed to her beloved mother:

"My two Indian girls come on very well indeed. The eldest milked
the cows all summer; she washes and irons all the clothes for the
family, scrubs the floors, and does the most part of the kitchen work.
The young one's charge is the children, and some other little turns
when the infant is asleep. I teach them to read and to sew when they
have any spare time. As for me, I find I have enough to do to
superintend. You may be sure I help a little too, now and then. I make
and mend what is necessary for the family, for I must be tailor,
mantua-maker, and milliner.

"In the forenoon the doctor makes his rounds as usual. I generally
trot about till two o'clock, dress the children, order dinner, dress

Online LibraryIsabella GrahamThe Power of Faith Exemplified In The Life And Writings Of The Late Mrs. Isabella Graham → online text (page 1 of 30)