January 27, 1783. My Dear Child,
WANT of leisure, and not want of inclination, prevented my writing before you left home ; and t now take the first opportunity that has offered since you went from us. If I had no more correspondents than you have, you would hear from me very often ; nor can I expect to hear from you so often as 1 wish, because I consider you likewise have your engagements ; and though, perhaps, I am not willing to allow that your business is so important as some of mine, it must, and ought, for the present, to take up a good deal of your time. You have not only reading, and. writing and arithmetic to mind, but you work sprigs and flowers, and maps, and cut bits of paper to pieces, and learn a strange language, so that you are very busy to be sure ; for idleness and sauntering are very great evils, and doors by which a thousand temptations and mischiefs may enter. Your mamma and I are" well pleased with you, on the whole ; your affection is not lost upon us; we think we can perceive an improvement in you, and we believe the things in which you yet fail, proceed rather from inattention than from the want of a desire to please ; and we have a good hope that, as you grow older, you will outgrow that heedlessness which you sometimes discover- You are not yet a woman, but neither are you a child ; you are almost fourteen, and at that age a certain degree of thought and forecast may be hoped for, which it would have been unreasonable to expect from you. some few years ago. It has pleased God to give you a capacity for improvement; and, as you see we are. so situated, that neither your mamma nor I can bestow that time and attention upon you, when you are at home, which we would wish, 1 hope you will make the best use you possibly can of the opportunities you have at school. It is no pleasure to us that you should live so much from us, for we love you dearly, and love your company; but it is what we submit to for your advantage.
You desired me to send you news, when I should write; but I have little to tell you. The public news you will hear, I suppose, from twenty people; it is very important. The Lord is about to give us the blessing of peace. Neither you nor 1 can tell the value of this blessing, because we have not known the want of it. It is true, we have heard much talk of war, and we have heard of the calamities which war has occasioned ; but we have heard of them as things which have happened at a distance : bad we lived in America, we should probably have seen and felt them. We should have seen towns, villages, and houses in flames ; have heard the groans of widows and orphans around us ; have had every thing we call our own torn from us, and perhaps have been glad to hide ourselves in the woods, to save ourselves. Such 'has been the lot of thousands in the course of the war. If you remember the hurry, confusion, and terror which prevailed at the time of the riots, it may give you some apprehension of the case of those who Jive in a country which is the seat of war. Our apprehensions were over in a few days ; but they live in such alarms, or greater, from the beginning to the. end of the year. I hope, therefore, you will be thankful to God, if he is pleased to sheath the sword of war, and to put a stop to the devastations and the slaughters which have so long prevailed. Though you yourself have not been a sufferer, I wish you to cultivate a. feeling and benevolent spirit, a disposition to com-passionate, if you cannot relieve, the distresses of others. This, next to the grace of God, is the brightest ornament of human nature ; or rather, when genuine, it is one of the best effects and proofs of grace. It was the mind of Jesus the Saviour ; they who love him, will in a degree resemble him, and they only. A hard-hearted, unfeeling, selfish Christian, is a contradiction.
When you think what multitudes of mankind are suffering by war, famine, sickness, storms, earthquakes, and other calamities, let it lead your thoughts to die evil of sin, which brought all other evils into the world. But what is sin i I endeavoured to tell you last Sunday, from Jer. ii. 11. Sin is presuming to do our own will in opposition to the will of God, who is our Creator, Lawgiver, and Benefactor. By tin we affect independence of our Creator, affront the authority of our righteous Lawgiver, and are guilty of base and horrid ingratitude against our greatest and kindest Benefactor. If you could form a little creature and make it live, if it hated you and opposed you, slighted your kindness, and took a pleasure in displeasing you, would you not soon be weary of it, and, instead of feeding and taking care of it, be provoked to tread it under your feet ? But, O the patience of God ! though he could destroy rebellious men much more easily than you can kill a spider or a beetle, yet he waits to be gracious, and has so loved them as to send his own Son to die that they may live. Sin has not only filled the world with woe, but it was the cause of all the woe that Jesus endured. He groaned and wept and sweat blood, and died upon the cross, only because we had sinned. May I live to see you duly affected with the evil of sin, and the love of Jesus ; and what more can I ask for you ?
%.. I am, dear child,
Your most affectionate father»