So here's said letter. For its moving poetic quality alone, I think it merits posting. The things the author says about his religious experience (shades of the "Great Awakening" and Mr. Wesley, it seems) are quite touching and not out of place for this Lenten Season:
"Yesterday we had a bloody and obstinate fight, in which many were killed and numbers wounded. I have received two balls, one in my groin and the other near the breast. I am now so weak with the loss of blood that I can hardly dictate these few lines, as the last tribute of my unchangeable love to you. The surgeons inform me that three hours will be the utmost I can survive. Alas, too true was the dire presage that brooded in my mind, that we should never meet again on this side of an awful eternity.
During our passage from
Soon after we landed, God was pleased to speak peace to my soul. Oh the bliss, the unutterable joy that I then felt through the blood of the Lamb! How did I long to tell all the world what Jesus had done for me! But how did I long, yea, burn, to have you to taste and know the love of God in Christ Jesus! I would have given all the world to have been with you, to have informed you of the pearl of great price. As we shall never meet more in this vale of tears, let me impose this last, this dying obligation upon you; and if ever I was dear to you, let me beg of you not to neglect the last advice of your departing husband.
It is that you give yourself up to God, read the Bible and other good books, and be often found among them who inquire after salvation. And the Lord shall guide you in His ways. O endeavour to bring up the dear little ones in the fear of God. Never fix your heart upon the vain and unsubstantial things of the world. Heaven and the love of God are the only things that demand our hearts, or at least are worthy of engrossing them.
And you, my dear infants, though you have not the perfect knowledge of your worthless father, I beg of you to meet me in the realms of bliss. The God that blessed Jacob and Joseph shall bless you. Seek Him and He will be found of you; call upon Him, and He will hear and bless you. What has the world but sin and sorrow? The rich are oppressed with wealth; and the poor are groaning for the want of that which others are burdened with. The men in power are afflicted with holding the reins and guiding the helm, and the governed are oppressed with imaginary evils.
The life of a soldier is blood and cruelty, and that of a sailor is filled with dangers and deaths. A city life is full of confusion and strife; and that of the country is loaded with toil and labour. But the evil of all evils flows from our own sinful nature. Wherever we are, we may be happy; we have the key to bliss in our own breasts. The world itself never yet made anyone happy. God is the bliss and solace of a reasonable soul; and God is everywhere, and we have everywhere access to Him. Learn then, my dear children, when you grow up, to seek your permanent happiness in God, through a crucified redeemer.
My dear wife, should the spirits of the departed have any knowledge of things here below, and at the same time any intercourse with them, (though unseen,) how shall I rejoice to be thy guardian angel, to attend you, and smile to see you combat sin, conquer the world, and subdue the flesh. How shall I smile to meet you on the bright frontiers of heaven. These hands shall weave for you the wreath triumphant! I first shall hail you welcome to your native mansions! I first shall guide you to the celestial city, and introduce you among the jubilant throng, who tread the streets of the New Jerusalem. I first will lead you to the sacred throne of our God, where we will together bow, transported at the feet of the ever adorable Jesus. Then, then, will we strike our melodious harps of gold, in the most exalted strains of harmony and love. Then shall our love be consummated, refined, and eternalized!
"The world recedes, it disappears
Heaven opens on my eyes, my ears
With sounds seraphic ring:
Lend, lend your wings, I mount, I fly!
Oh! Grave where is thy victory?
Oh! Death where is thy sting?"
More would I say, but life ebbs out apace, my tongue ceases to perform its office; bright angels stand round the gory turf on which I lie, ready to escort me to the arms of my Jesus; bending saints reveal my shining crown, and beckon me away: yea, methinks, my Jesus bids me come.
Adieu! Adieu! Dear Love.
|The Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775|