The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 929 pages of information about The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss.

Were I to adopt the figurative language of Bunyan, I might date this letter from the land of Beulah, of which I have been for some weeks a happy inhabitant.  The celestial city is full in my view.  Its glories beam upon me, its breezes fan me, its odors are wafted to me, its sounds strike upon my ear, and its spirit is breathed into my heart.  Nothing separates me from it but the river of death, which now appears but as an insignificant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission.  The Sun of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approached, and now He fills the whole hemisphere, pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun, exulting yet almost trembling while I gaze on this excessive brightness, and wondering, with unutterable wonder, why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm.  A single heart and a single tongue seem altogether inadequate to my wants; I want a whole heart for every separate emotion, and a whole tongue to express that emotion.  But why do I speak thus of myself and my feelings? why not speak only of our God and Redeemer?  It is because I know not what to say—­when I would speak of them my words are all swallowed up.

And thus, gazing already upon the Beatific Vision, he passed on into glory.  What is written concerning his Lord and Master might with almost literal truth have been inscribed over his grave:  The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up.

* * * * *

II.

Birth and Childhood of Elizabeth Payson.  Early Traits.  Devotion to her Father.  His Influence upon her.  Letters to her Sister.  Removal to New York.  Reminiscences of the Payson Family.

Elizabeth Payson was born “about three o’clock”—­so her father records it—­on Tuesday afternoon, October 26, 1818.  She was the fifth of eight children, two of whom died in infancy.  All good influences seem to have encircled her natal hour.  In a letter to his mother, dated October 27, Dr Payson enumerates six special mercies, by which the happy event had been crowned.  One of them was the gratification of the mother’s “wish for a daughter rather than a son.”  Another was God’s goodness to him in sparing both the mother and the child in spite of his fear that he should lose them.  This fear, strangely enough, was occasioned by the unusual religious peace and comfort which he had been enjoying.  He had a presentiment that in this way God was forearming him for some extraordinary trial; and the loss of his wife seemed to him most likely to be that trial.  “God has been so gracious to me in spiritual things, that I thought He was preparing me for Louisa’s death.  Indeed it may be so still, and if so His will be done.  Let Him take all—­and if He leaves us Himself we still have all and abound.”  The next day he writes: 

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The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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