Joseph C. (Joseph Cammet) Lovejoy.

Memoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 online

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How does our dear mother do ? You say in your let-
ter, that she enjoys good health. For this, the Lord be
thanked. She is a wonderful woman. You know this
already, but you do not know it so well as I do — I have
never seen her equal, take all her qualities together. So
pure, so disinterestedly benevolent a heart, seldom lodges
in a house of clay, and never, save in the boso»n of a mo-
ther. Great, I doubt not will be her reward in heaven,
for there is nothing here which can compensate for such

I have written b \i to Owen and to John, since I came


here — having had a letter from John, but not from Owen.
It is of them that I think more than of any of the rest of
the family. I have, sometimes, enjoyed great confidence
in the mercies and faithfulness of God, in relation to
their case. If He has had mercy on me, the oldest and
most guilty sinner of you all, why should I despair, or
even doubt of his willingness to receive them also. I
have thus far made it a rule to pray specially for them,
every night and morning, and, if God will, I intend to
continue this practice until my prayers shall have been
answered, or my voice shall have been " lost in death."
It seems to me as if they could not remain insensible,
could I but see them, and tell them how unspeakably pre-
cious is Christ to the penitent soul.

Your affectionate brother,


The latter part of May, and the month of June, were
spent in a visit to his friends in Maine. During this pe-
riod, our beloved father was suffering under deep mental
despondency. Allusion has been made to his case in the
letters which have been inserted. It is again mentioned,
in others which succeed. One is given also, written, as
it will show, on another subject.

Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. /., Aug. 21, 1832.
My dear and honoured Father.

I have this day received a letter from mother,
containing news, for which, I trust, I do in some measure
feel thankful to God. I can hardly allow myself to cred-
it it, and yet it is no more than I have prayed for, daily,
since I left home, and no more than I have, in a good
measure, believed would take place.

Mother says your health is " almost perfectly re-es-


tablished." I have tried to thank a merciful God for suf-
fering my heart to be gladdened with such blessed news.
I am sure that I am thankful to him, but oh, not as I ought.
Oh father ! is he not a God that showeth mercy and
keepeth covenant? Of all sins, it seems to me, that the
sin of unbelief is the most dishonouring to God. What
abundant reason have we, as a family, to praise and
adore the riches of sovereign love and mercy ? And
what reason have all the children, and I, above all the
rest, to humble ourselves, because, of our hardness of
heart and blindness of mind, so that all the goodness of
God could not lead us to repentance ? If I am saved
w^ell do I know it can only be by sovereign love alone.

I have reason to bless God, who gave me parents, that
faithfully instructed me in the knowledge of His holy
word from my earliest years, who prayed for me, with
many tears and strong cries unto heaven, and who gave
me away in covenant to God. All these things are
blessings too great to be expressed, and to them, under
God, do I feel that I owe all my hopes of salvation.

I do not, my dear father, enjoy that lively sense
of forgiving love, that communion with God, that I
could wish. Sin has yet dominion over me, and its
power is terrible. I used to think that when the heart
was once renewed, it was no longer subject to the temp-
tations of sin, and that it was as easy then to keep the
commandments, as it had been to disobey them. But,
either I was mistaken then, or I deceive myself now ;
for so far from finding it an easy matter to keep the law,
I cannot, or at least I do not, do it at all. It seems al-
most impossible to break away from my old habits of sin,
and one temptation returns upon another, until sometimes
I give up in despair. My heart appears an inexhaustible
fountain of sin ; for no sooner is one subdued than an-


Other takes its place, no sooner is one train of evil
thoughts banished, than another succeeds ; and every
day, and a hundred times a day, do I think that I am
growing worse and worse, instead of increasing in holi-
ness. It is at such times that I am beset with unbelief;
seeing my sins so great and numerous, I doubt that the
blood of Christ is sufficient to cleanse me from them.
And this is the sorest trial of all ; for when this hope
fails me then all is gone. And thus I live, hoping-,
doubting, fearing, ashamed of myself, and of my own
unworthiness, and yet not daring to trust unhesitatingly
in the merits of Christ. Do write me, my dear father, a
long letter, and deal faithfully with me. You know the
trials that await the Christian, and you know me and my
weak points, and those where Satan will be most likely
to assault me. Where else can I look for such faithful,
disinterested counsel, as from a father.

I spent nearly a week in Bath, at Mr. Ellingwood's.
He was very kind and friendly ; and, it seemed to me,
especially interested in your case. He spoke of the
missionary meeting at Fryeburg, and of the part which
you took, saying, that your remarks at the administration
of the sacrament, were the best he ever heard in his life.
Your affectionate son,


Theological Seminary^ Princeton, N. J., Sept. \bth. 1832.


Your letter of August 26th, was received with
emotions such as I cannot, and I need not attempt to de-
scribe. I think I did, in some measure feel thankful to
the Disposer of events ; but, oh, not as I ought. How-
strange that ingratitude and distrust, and cold affections
should ever find place in the hearts of Christians ! Is


not, my dear father, the sin of unbelief one of the most
heinous of all sins ?

I have never, since I have been old enough to think and
judge of such things, doubted that my father was a
Christian, and although all my notions on this subject
have been wretchedly crude, yet I could always under-
stand the declaration of the Saviour, — " All that my Fa-
ther hath given unto me, I will keep ;" and have, there-
fore, ever supposed that my father's case illustrated the
truth of the declaration, — " Whom the Lord loveth he

Do you not recollect father, when I was at home, that
I quoted to you the words of Manoah's wife, (my father,
as well as Manoah, knows what a blessing it is to have
a wife who can cheer and animate his drooping faith,)
that " If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not
have showed us all these things." It seems to me, if
there be a family in the world who ought to adopt these
words, it is ours. Sure I am, that it is not seemingly
possible, that any individual can do more to provoke the
Holy Spirit to leave him to his destruction, than I have
done. I cannot conceive of a person more likely to resist
all heavenly influences, than I was, when, as I trust, I
was found by a compassionate Saviour and constrained
to come in. Grace, sovereign grace, nothing else, / am
sure, could ever have rescued me.

And now, my dear father, I have to say, that under
God, I feel myself indebted for my hopes to the faithful-
ness and the prayers of my parents. Never can I enough
acknowledge my obligations to them, for dedicating me
to God in the blessed covenant, for their religious in-
structions so faithfully repeated, and for that example of
Christian conversation which I witnessed for more than-
twenty years. I am sure, that when you saw your chil-


dren growing up around you, and no appearance of any
effects of your long-continued labours, your faith must
have been severely tried. I was about to say, that I do not
see how you could thus have persevered ; but, I will not
say so, because, you had a covenant keeping God, in
whom to trust. What an unspeakably precious thing is
the covenant made with " Abraham and his seed." I
cannot, and I will not doubt that my dear brothers Owen
and John will yet be given to the prayer of their parents.
All in the Lord's own time.

The 12th of the month, I endeavoured to observe as a
day of thanksgiving to Almighty God ; and through his
grace, I was enabled to feel a good degree of thankful-
ness and some humility. It was a precious thought that
I was joining with my parents, and brothers and sisters
in the delightful work of prayer and praise. The 30th,
103d, and 104th Psalms I read and meditated upon with
a great deal of delight.

You remember, father, that I told you I should expect
to see you here next spring ; Sibyl's letter, just received,
tells me you contemplate, the Lord willing, to take the
trip then. Come here, and I will introduce you to one
of the best men in the world, — Dr. Alexander. He has
few equals that I have ever seen. Do write me a long
letter. Give me the advice, the counsel I need so much.
May the Lord God Almighty bless you, my dear father,
and reward you a hundred-fold for all your goodness to

Mother, — It seems to me there is no need of dear be-
fore that word, for it includes within itself all of endear-
ment that we can conceive. I have just left room
enough to tell you that my health is good, my situation
agreeable, and as for progress in my studies, you know
that I should not do justice to either father or mother,


if I did not make good progress in them. (This will
do to tell a mother.) Where is John ? I do not hear
from him at all. Brother Owen, I suppose, is now at
home. Tell him to love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Your affectionate son,


Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. J., Feb. \2th, 1833.
My dear brother Joseph.

Your letter, filled indeed with tidings of wo,
was received this morning. To the heart of a parent,
the loss of a beloved child gives a pang which, I suppose,
none but a parent can feel. Yet I most sincerely con-
dole with you on the affliction which it has pleased God
to send you. She was a pretty child, and one in whom
I felt much interest, when at home last summer. Her
age, too, was precisely that when children are to me
most interesting, and I doubt not, you found her every
day twining some new cord of aifection about your
heart ; but death, alas ! has at once rudely snapped
them all. Yet let this comfort you, that the hand of the
Lord has commissioned him to do this thing, and, if you
are his, it has been done in mercy. Reflect that if you
could, at the present moment, take in all the bearings of
the whole subject, if you could see what God sees, you
would plainly discern, that what has been done is best
both for you and the child ; and instead of shedding tears
of regret and unavailing grief, you would be pouring forth
from a full heart and streaming eyes, tears of joy and
thankfulness. When we have learned to have no will,
but the will of our heavenly Father, then we shall never
be disappointed : of this we are sure, because He doeth
all his will, and none can stay him. Some things we
can see here, and what we know not now, we shall


know hereafter. " I shall go to him, but he shall
not return to me," said David, and therefore he arose
and was comforted. God has been pleased to give
to little Sarah a short, and comparatively, an easy jour-
ney through this land of afflictions. How fast her little
capacities are expanding we cannot tell; but I have little
doubt, that she is drinking in full measures of happiness
in the presence of her Saviour, to a degree that we do •
not conceive of. Besides, if rightly improved, this event
will make you abetter man and a more successful minis-
ter, than you would othervi^ise have been.

My dear sister Sarah.

You weep for your child, and I would not ask
you to refrain from weeping ; for nature will assert its
supremacy in the bosom of a mother. The cords which
bind a child to a mother's heart are strangely intertwined
with her being ; and every nerve and every affection vi-
brates to the blow which tears them asunder. It was
your first-born, too. When your eyes first looked upon
the dear, departed little one, then was opened in your
heart a new fountain of feeling, sweeter and more deli-
cious, a thousand times, than you had ever before tasted.
Alas ! and that fountain must now again be closed.

True, my dear sister, but do you not know where to
go for consolation ? There is a fountain whose streams
are never dry ; and though one source after another of
earthly happiness may be cut off, yet this never fails.
And the less we drink from the polluted fountains of
earth, the sweeter will the waters taste.

What a beautiful and touching scene is that exhibited
to us in the Bible, in the case of the Shunamite woman.
She had left her child lying dead at home, and gone out
to meet the prophet. When he asked her, " Is it well


with the child ?" she answered " It is well." She knew
that her child was in the hands of the Lord who doeth
all things we-11. Now, if your little Sarah were still
living, and you were convinced that you ought to leave
her for awhile, and entrust it to the care of its father,
you would leave it with regret, but still entirely satisfied
that nothing would be left undone to secure its happiness ;
and this, together with the hope and expectation of
rejoining it, in a few days or weeks, would make you
comparatively resigned. Now are you not as willing to
trust its Heavenly Parent ? The child was his. He
gave it to you for a short space, and has only taken it
again. He is not only more disposed than its earthly
parent to take good care of the child, but he is infinitely
more able. Whatever is best for its welfare he certainly
knows and will certainly do. And however long the se-
paration may now seem to you, when you rejoin your
child in heaven, it will appear to have been very short.
I remember to have read, and greatly admired, a piece of
poetry on this subject, when a very small boy. It was
called " The Gardiner and the Rose Tree," and written
by a Mr. Pierce, a Baptist minister of England. It be-
gan :

' In a sweet spot, which wisdom chose
Grew a unique and lov^ely Rose," «fcc

I read it in an old magazine, but afterwards saw it in the
" Memoirs of Mr. Pierce." I think if you will get it,
you will find it aflfording you much consolation in the
perusal. The " Memoirs" may be found, I should sup-
pose, with almost any well-informed Baptist minister, but
if not, I suspect mother knows the piece by memory, and
can write it down for you. Or, perhaps, you are already
acquainted with it. But, my dear sister, the best source


to look for assistance to enable us to bear up under our
bereavements, is an Almighty Saviour. When he afflicts
it is for our good, and to prepare us the better for his
presence in eternity. When you shall have arrived at
heaven, you v^rill then find this very stroke under which
you mourn, was necessary to prepare you for your pre-
sent enjoyment. Say, then, and say from the heart, "It
is well with the child," " It is well with the mother."
Do write to me when your husband next writes ; not in
the same sheet I do not mean. May an Almighty Sa-
viour comfort and console you in this, your day of afflic-

Your affectionate brother,


Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. J., Feb. 20, 1833.
My dear sisters Sibyl and Elizabeth,

It will, indeed, be a mysterious Providence, if
Satan is so soon again permitted to triumph over our be-
loved father ; but we know that, though mysterious, it is
all done in wisdom. Those that will inherit the kingdom,
must do it through much tribulation. All these things
shall work together for good to them that believe. If
father is to be so severely tried, the rest of heaven will
be the sweeter. If God now hides his face, his presence
will appear the more glorious in heaven. And let us all,
my dear sisters, profit by the visitation of judgment.
Let us humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father as
he chastiseth us. How much lighter are his strokes
than our guilt ! And in the midst of afflictions how many
blessings does he bestow !

For myself, I would record it to the praise and the
glory of my Redeemer, that for the last month, or more,
I have been favoured with much of his presence ; his


loving kindness has been most abundant towards me.
When I think of his surpassing goodness, and of my
continual ingratitude, I am astonished and confounded.
Though I find myself every day and every hour grieving
his spirit and provoking him to anger, yet I find him
still pursuing me with mercies. When I have provoked
him to hide his face fromme, as soon as I humble myself
before him, he smiles and forgives. Oh, what a Sa-
viour ! And what a vile, ungrateful wretch am I that can
ever treat him with neglect.

I hope, my dear sisters, you find yourselves making
constant advances in a holy life. You have seen but
little of this world, but you have seen all. It has no good
to bestow. Delusive, vain, and transitory, it cheats the
soul that fastens upon it, of real and permanent enjoy-
ment in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Let us forsake
it then, ere it forsakes us, and garner up our affections
where they will be secure.

Nor yet do I mean that we should indulge in despon-
dency. Even this world, if rightly used, can minister hap-
piness to the mind. It is the " handy work" of God. It is a
glorious manifestation of his wisdom and goodness. As
such, the Christian should view it. It is not his home,
it was not meant for such ; but, it is a tarrying place,
where many refreshments abound, until we reach our
home in the skies. " Rejoice in the Lord always," said
David : and why should not the Christian rejoice ? Let
him keep humble, as it respects himself ; but let him tri-
umph and make his boast in God his Saviour. Cheerful
and contented let him live in the performance of every
duty, singing, as he journeys through life,

" We'll praise thee for thy mercies past
And humbly hope for more."


The way for the ransomed of the Lord to come to Zion,
is " with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.'^
Your affectionate brother,


In April of this year he received license to preach the
gospel, from the second Presbytery of Philadelphia.
Some months of the summer were passed in preaching
at Newport, Rhode Island, and as a temporary supply at
the Spring Street Church, New York. While at the
latter place, the tidings of the death of his father reached
him. On that occasion he wrote to the several members
of the family, as follows.

New York, August I9th, 1833.
My dear, dear Mother,

What shall I say to you ? How shall I at*
tempt to console you, under the afflicting hand of Provi-
dence ? — Dear mother, " It is the Lord — let Him do
what seemeth Him good." Mother, cannot you say so ?
Even now, when the hand of God is most heavily laid
upon you, cannot you kiss the hand that smites ? Your
husband sleeps the sleep of death, but mother, your Re-
deemer liveth, and has he not said to your dear departed
husband, and is he not saying to you, " Because I live,
ye shall live also." For my dear father, I have no doubt
that it is well with him. He was a Christian — his
whole life, but especially the last ten years of his life,
evinced it. God has dealt mysteriously with him — but
I doubt not he is now singing, a glorified spirit before
His throne. And why, then, should you mourn ? Mo-
ther, can^t you trust God ? Blessed be His name, that
you have long since learned to trust Him, and He has
never disappointed you. He has been your Friend,


and now He will enter into a still more endearing rela-
tion towards you. Thy Maker shall be thy Husband.

Had God taken your husband from you, without leav-
ing you any hope of his future blessedness, how much
more cause for grief would you have had then, than now.
And so I might find ten thousand reasons why you should
not mourn the exit of your husband ; but these and such
like, would rather convince the judgment, than affect the
heart. After all, the gospel, the gospel of the Son of
God, with all its glorious hopes, its rich promises, and
its bright anticipations, can alone minister true consola-
tion under circumstances such as yours. To these con-
solations, my dear mother, you are no stranger. He has
delivered thee in six troubles, and now, in this seventh
and greatest, he will not forsake thee.

And, mother, the time is short. You will soon join
your husband in Heaven — your three sons you will
meet there too. It may be that more of your children
may precede you — and it matters not — so that they are
prepared to go, the sooner God takes them from an evil
world, the better for them. But for you, dear mother, I
cannot doubt that a bright crown awaits you, when you
shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem. And in»the
midst of your bereavements, let it console you, that you
have faithfully performed the part of a wife and a mo-
ther. Hovv often have I heard my dear father say,
" Never had a man such a wife as I have ;" and I am
sure all your children will unite with m.e, in saying, never
had children a better mother. From my heart do I feel
this ; and now I have to say, that I hold myself bound to
devote my life to minister to the comfort of my dear, dear
widowed mother. I shall write to Joseph more particu-
larly on this subject. May God comfort you, my mo-
ther, may His grace console you in your afflictions, and


may He a thousand-fold compensate your loss in the
more abundant enjoyment of Himself.

Your most affectionate son,


New York, August 19M, 1833.

My dear sisters Sibyl and Elizabeth, and my dear

Dear Sisters and Brother,

We are orphans. God has taken from us, and,
I doubt not, to himself, our dear and honoured father.
After a life of many vicissitudes, and much and varied
suffering, he has laid down to rest in the tomb. It is a
heavy stroke to us all — but to him, as we hope and be-
lieve, the end of all his sorrows, and all his pains. A
sweet release from care and disquietude, and an intro-
duction to mansions of blessedness. Why, then, should
we mourn ? Rather let us give God thanks that He so
long continued to us the example and the prayers of
such a father. To you, my dear sisters, I can speak of
the consolations and the promises of the gospel, under
oui> present afflictions. I can bid you listen to the voice
of the compassionate Saviour, as he says, " Mourners,
dry your tears. It is I, be not afraid. What I have done
is all for your good. Though you see it not now, yet
you shall hereafter." If our faith, my dear sisters, is of
the right kind, we shall not only know that for this very
dispensation of God's providence, we shall hereafter
praise him, but we shall begin our song of assured grati-
tude even now. We shall not only yield a cold assent
to the words of David, but we shall adopt them from the
heart, " Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now
I learn to keep thy law — it is good for me to be afflicted.*


A letter from brother Joseph informed me of the sad
breach made in the family, and also that my two dear
sisters are much aifected by it. My dear sisters, I sym-
pathize with you, in all your griefs ; I, too, have lost a
father — a dear, an honoured father ; one to whom I am
indebted more than I shall ever know, till I stand with
him at the judgment seat of Christ. His prayers, his
faithful warnings and reproofs we have together shared,
and together are we deprived of them. But it is wrong
to mourn excessively. And I would not, if I could, this
day, recall our dear departed father. No ; let him sleep
in peace, in the tomb where his Saviour laid before him ;
a tomb, in whose dark vault the lamp of Christian hope
shines brightly. There let him sleep — the servant of
God who has finished his work — until the God whom, in
his life he served, shall come to waken him, and call him
to the skies. Weep not then, my sisters, weep not, for
it is well with our father. Blessed be God, we can say
and believe, it is well.

For you, my dear brother John, you would not hear
our father while living, will you not hear him, as he
speaks from the grave, " My son, give God thine heart."
Oh, my dear brother, live no longer without an interest

Online LibraryJoseph C. (Joseph Cammet) LovejoyMemoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 → online text (page 4 of 28)