Salvation by Grace Alone

Primitive Monitor-November 1912

LIFE AND EXPERIENCE OF MRS. SARAH HAMILTON ... Continued


     After the baptism was administered, they helped me to my uncle’s, but behold; he shut the door against me, and refused to let me in. I called to my daughter, but she gave me no answer. I now began to conclude, he that would live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.

     I was disowned by all, my former friends and relations in that place, and the minister, seeing me in that distressed situation, pitied me, and told me as long as he had one shilling of money left I should share part of it, and desired me not to give way to trouble of this kind. He then carried me away, and paid my board for three weeks; at the end of which time he came again, and baptized those fifteen persons before mentioned, for they all gave great satisfactory evidence of the work of grace in their hearts, and also brought a carriage for me to go with him to North Carolina, where I lived among his people three years; and a happy three years to my poor soul, though rejected by my natural relations. Yet I think I had daily communion with friends and relations, even Jesus, who was to me the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. I really enjoyed the peace of mind which the world can neither give nor take away; yea, this peace was like a river flowing from the hand of God. So great and inexpressible was this peace and happiness I then enjoyed, that all other happiness looked extremely despicable and unworthy my attention. The world, with all its gay and enticing charms, courted my affections to no purpose. I thought I had rather suffer afflictions with the people of God, than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, having respect to the recompense of reward, which I daily enjoyed; esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the ‘treasures of Egypt. Yea, I esteem the present afflictions not worthy to be compared with ‘the glory that shall be revealed hereafter, and I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness, and be possessed of all the pomp, grandeur, and affluence that this world can afford. I think, therefore, that however unworthy I may be of such honor, I wish to invite and exhort all who know not these things by happy experience, that they would try the experiment for themselves. You may think it strange that I talk as I do, but O, my friends, I long for your happiness, long to see you rejoice in the hope of the glory of God; yea, I long to see the saints on earth, join their rejoicing songs of praise to, God with the seraphic angels in heaven at the news of the return of one more prodigal.

     After living three years in North Carolina, as I observed, I began to think of my father and his family, all buried in misery and popish superstition, and willfully ignorant. I thought if it were possible, in case I could see them, that I might be an instru­ment in God’s hands of leading them to a considera­tion of the folly of their ways. I therefore felt very anxious about the matter. I also felt a natural affection for them. I also considered that my father was a rich man, and I, in a dependent situation, knew that if he had not lost his former regard for me, he would help me, notwithstanding our differences of opinion, and that he would delight to have me live with him. When I told my intentions to the brethren, they told me that I need not go away on account of being burdensome to them, for they were willing I should live with them as long as I wished; that I need not regard their expense, for they had as lief maintain me as one of their own children; for they said we were one, ‘but still, if I could not content myself to stay, that they would help me, which they did. I thanked them, and took my leave. I rode in a carriage, and the driver conducted very disagreeably. I resented his conduct towards me, and was angry with him, which gave me scruples. I was filled with doubts concerning myself, and began to think I was not a Christian, but a mere hypocrite, and had been trying to deceive myself and others, but I could not deceive God, for he knoweth all things. I had thought I never should be angry again, let what would happen to me. This gave great anxiety of mind, which lasted for a considerable’ time. We at length arrived within three miles of my father’s house, where I stopped in hopes that my father would send for me to come home. The next day my brother came to the house where I was, and the women of the house told me. The reader can hardly imagine the joy I felt to see my brother again, whom I had not seen for many years. I thought he would rejoice also to see me, and therefore went to meet him, and held out my hand as a token of friendship; but, shocking to relate, I saw in his face signs of disapprobation. He frowned, stepped back, and re­fused to give his hand, and said to me, “My father says you shall not enter his house, for you are a dis­grace to the whole family. He esteems you as a run­away and deluded heretic.”

     These reflections from my brother, you may well think, excited powerful sensations in my mind; to be disowned by my brother and called a heretic. Now came a fair trial of my faith and confidence in God. I concluded that the cause of their alienation of affection from me was because I was a Christian, and if so, it would become me to act like Christ, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, and when he was persecuted, threatened not. If think I can truly say, that all he said to me only served to engage my soul to give glory to God, that I was counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake, which I, through grace, was determined to do. But Satan tempted me to give up my determination to live devoted to God, and I was almost tempted to go to my father and feign a repentance of my dissenting from the Romish church. But no sooner had I looked into the con­sequences of it, than I took up my Testament which my brethren had given me, and had a desire to read some directions from God what to do, and the first sentence I read was, “He that forsaketh not father and mother for my sake, is not worthy of me;” and immediately I saw my duty plainly, and felt resolved to obey God rather than man. Nevertheless I thought I would go to the Romish church, where I might see my father, and that he might see me also; peradventure all his parental affections were not lost, and when he saw me in a reduced state of poverty and distress, it might possibly affect his heart; I accordingly went, but O, how my heart ached to see those stupid mortals bowing to their images and priests, expecting they had power to pardon sin. Shocking though! I even trembled at the sight, and could hardly content myself. As soon as the exercise was over my father came out. I went to him, but was so overcome that I could not speak for some time. At length I recovered strength, but could not forbear screaming, and fell down before him. But instead of exciting pity in him, he turned from me, as from a heretic unworthy of his notice, and would say nothing to me. I then went home again, and hired my board for a short time with what money I had left which my brother had given me for the expenses of the journey. Soon after, my father whom I still hoped had not lost all regard for me, sent a gentleman to me, who addressed me in the following language:

     “Mrs. Hamilton, your honored father sent me to state to you the condition on which he will receive you as his child again, and forgive you all your past disgraceful folly, which should not once be men­tioned against you. In case you comply you must return to the church from whence you have revolted, and confess your sins in revolting as you have, and renounce your frantic notions of witchcraft and Christianity, as you call it, and you shall become his beloved daughter, but if not, you must expect nothing from him, not even to own you as a daughter, for he is determined to disown you in case of your obstinacy.”

     I told the gentleman that it was impossible that he should disown me, for my name was on the re­cord with the rest of his children, and also that my looks so favored him that all who saw us would know for a certainty that I was really his child. But not withstanding all my confidence, I considered I must of a necessity leave that place soon, for my money was all spent, and where to flee I did not know, being destitute of any Christian friends there, which put me in mind of Nicodemus, who followed his Lord by night. But still I had great trouble of mind. I feared I was like Judas, who denied and betrayed his Lord for filthy lucre’s sake, in consideration of the temptation of which I spoke before concerning my going back to the Romish church with a lie in my mouth, notwithstanding I thought to serve God privately, which I now disapproved with great in­dignation. However, my father was unwilling to give the matter over so without another trial to re­claim me from heresy, as he named it. He there­fore employed a Romish priest and a certain Mr. Smith, who lived near me at that time; crafty men indeed. I had already lived there until my money was about gone, and my clothes were then selling at a low rate, almost nothing, and in this melancholy situation, not a friend to whom to tell my troubles, I had none but God to whom to appeal for redress of grievance. The woman of the house where I lived seldom spoke to me on any subject whatever. In this forlorn situation where to go or what to do I could not tell. One consideration still comforted me, I viewed God to be my friend, and would deliver me out of all my trouble in his own way, so I felt willing to place my dependence on him. One day, to my great astonish­ment, my landlady invited me to go with her on a visit. “Come,” said she, “Mrs. Hamilton, and go with me to visit Mrs. Smith today. Perhaps it may have a tendency to shake off this sober melancholy that seems thus to hang about you.” I accepted the invitation, not thinking of any plot against me. Mr. Smith began soon after I went in to talk with me con­cerning my faith and dissenting from the Romish church. I asked him if he believed the Bible. “I hope so,” said he. “Well, you recollect, sir, in Revelation, how St. John attempted to fall down and worship the angel, who said, ‘See, thou do it not; worship God.’ Now, if John was forbidden to worship the holy angel, shall, or can I fall down and worship a sinful priest? Jesus died and shed his blood to pardon my sins, and make an atonement, and now sits as an intercessor at God’s right hand. God forbid, therefore, that I should worship any other than the living and true God.” Upon which the Romish priest sprang from behind a curtain, where he had been concealed, in the greatest haste of passion imaginable.

     It so frightened me to see a man in such a rage that I rose to go out of his sight; but it dropped into my mind that there was now an opportunity when God would display his power, and that if the Lord would help me, I would now speak in vindication of his cause. I accordingly stepped back, and I really believe that the Lord assisted me in discharging my duty at that time; yet, notwithstanding all that was said, he accosted me with rough language, which is unnecessary to repeat. At this time Mr. Smith was so enraged, I saw he would turn me out of his house. I therefore went out of my own accord, and I believe if ever I prayed to God in my life, it was then. I had strength from God to talk to them, and my tongue seemed to be let loose, and my heart was enlarged. It seemed that my mouth was filled with arguments. The Scriptures flowed into my mind, text after text, as though the Bible was committed to my memory. It being in the city about two hundred collected before I was done speaking, after which I returned to my former residence. But my brother being fixed against me and the Protestant religion, raised a mob of considerable number to take me away by force, and what they would have been suffered to do had they prevailed in their design, the Lord only knows. But happily for me, the man of the house, fearing he should meet with difficulty in the case, took me privately out to a back place, where he had a horse prepared with a man’s saddle on him, the first horse I ever rode in my life. I rode as I could, and he led the horse seven miles, and left me with a Presbyterian minister, where I was treated with great respect and friendship. He told him how it was, and made him promise not to tell who brought me there. The minister concealed me in an upper room, and said he would expose his life to save me in case of need; therefore he told me to fear nothing. The next Sabbath he went to meeting, and informed the people concerning me, and they contributed fifteen dollars to my relief. After these things it came into my mind that my adopted daughter, who was then living in Springfield, Vermont, if I could find her, would afford me a home the little time I had to live in this troublesome world. With the assistance of my brethren from place to place, I at last arrived at Springfield, where I found to my grief that my daughter was dead, and her husband moved out of the country. But still I wish to inform my readers that religion shall, through God’s assistance, be my principal object, for I sincerely believe there is nothing more worthy of our highest regard and attention. And I resolved to pray for Zion still, let what will become of me.

SARAH HAMILTON.

WOODSTOCK, Sept. 26, 1803.

NOTE: The narrative ended here, but Mrs Hamilton found Christian friends and resided for the rest of her life among them in Woodstock, Vermont. She passed away on November 20, 1806.

Submitted by Elder David Montgomery


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