Слике страница

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, her activity almost inaction, in the abounding desires of her soul to alleviate the miseries, and to increase the comforts of the poor, the destitute, and afflicted.

Let no one think this picture the painting of fancy, or the coloring of partial affection. It is sober truth; a real character.

To know the latent springs of such external 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 from her devotional exercises, will form 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.

In connexion with such a publication, it is thought that a short sketch of her life will prove acceptable; a life chiefly distinguished by her continual dependence on God, and his unceasing faithfulness and mercy towards her.




ISABELLA MARSHALL (afterwards Mrs. Graham) was born on the 29th day of July, 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 had assiduously attended, bequeathed her a legacy of some hundred pounds. In the use to which she applied this money, the soundness of her judgment thus early manifested itself. She requested it might be appropriated to the purpose of giving her a finished education. When ten years of age, she was sent

[ocr errors]

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 had 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 Eldersley, once the habitation of Sir William Wallace. There Isabella passed her childhood and her youth. She had no precise recollection of the period at which her heart first tasted that the Lord was gracious. As long as she could remember, she took delight in pouring out her soul to her God.

In the woods of Eldersley she selected a bush, to which she resorted in seasons of devotion under this bush, she was enabled to devote herself to God, through faith in her Redeemer, before she

had attained to 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 always 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 she was admitted by him to the sacrament of the Lord's supper. 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 was ordered to join his regiment, the Royal Americans, then stationed in Canada.

Before they sailed for America, a plan had been digested for their permanent residence in that country. Dr. Graham calculated on disposing of his commission, and purchasing a tract of land on the Mohawk river, to which his father-in-law, Mr. Marshall, and his family, were to follow him.

The regiment was quartered at Montreal for several months, and here Jessie, the eldest daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Graham, was born. They

[ocr errors]

afterwards removed to Fort Niagara, on Lake Ontario, and continued in garrison there for four years; here Joanna and Isabella Graham were born. Mrs. Graham always considered the time she passed at Niagara as the happiest of her days, considered in a temporal view. The officers of the regiment were amiable men, and attached to each other. A few of them were married, and their ladies were united in the ties of friendship. The society there, secluded from the world, exempt from the collision of individual and separate interests, which often create so much discord in large communities; and studious to promote the happiness of each other, enjoyed that tranquillity and contentment, which ever accompany a disinterested interchange of friendly offices. This fort being in a situation detached from other settlements, the garrison were consequently deprived of ordinances, and the public means of grace; the life of religion in the soul of Mrs. Graham was therefore at a low ebb. A conscientious observance of the sabbath, which throughout life she maintained, proved to her at Niagara as a remembrance and revival of devotional exercises. She wandered, on those sacred days, into the woods around Niagara, searched her bible, communed with her God and herself, and poured out her soul in prayer to her covenant Lord. Throughout the week, the attention of her friends, her domestic comfort and employment, and the amusements pursued in the garrison, she used to confess,

« ПретходнаНастави »