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Andrew Fuller
His Thoughts on the Illness and Death of his Young Daughter Sarah
The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume I,
February 5 - June 4, 1786

     On February 5th, Fuller wrote: "Our dear little girl has this week much alarmned our fears. On Thursday morning the measles came out: we hope the illness may be carried off hereby. . . .

      "12. - Great are the mercies of the Lord towards us, who has now given me another daughter. Mercy and judgment both visit us. Now my fears chiefly turn on the child that is afflicted.

      "19. - My sabbaths, I fear, are spent to little purpose, I have so little love to God and the souls of men; but I felt much impressed to-night in catechising the children. I thought and spoke to them about my own dear little girl.

      "26. - Except Thursday, all this week has been miserably spent! I sin against God repeatedly, and yet remain wretchedly insensible. I tremble at myself, and have reason to do so much more.

      "April 16. - For this month past I have had great exercise of heart, on account of my poor little daughter. Sometimes pleading hard with God on her account; at other times ready to despair, fearing God would never hear me.

      "Lord's day, March 19, was a distressing day to me. My concern for the loss of her body is but trifling, compared with that of her soul. I preached and prayed much, from Matthew xv. 25, 'Lord, help me!' on Monday I carried her towards Northampton; was exceedingly distressed that night; went to prayer with a heart almost broken. Some encouragement from conversation with dear brother Ryland. I observed that 'God had not bound himself to hear the prayers of any one for the salvation of the soul of another.' He replied, 'But if he has not, yet he frequently does so; and hence, perhaps, though grace does not run in the blood, yet we frequently see it runs in the line. Many more of the children of God's children are gracious than of others.' I know neither I nor mine have any claim upon the Almighty for mercy; but as long as there is life, it shall be my business to implore his mercy towards her.

      "Me thought I saw, on Tuesday, (21,) the vanity of all created good. I saw, if God were to cut off my poor child, and not to afford me some extraordinary support under the stroke, that I should be next to dead to the whole creation, and all creation dead to me! Oh that I were but thus dead, as Paul was, by the cross of Christ

      "On the 27th, riding towards Northampton, I think I felt greater earnestness and freedom with God than I ever had before in this matter. I seemed likewise more willing to leave her in the hands of God. Some tender opportunities in prayer with her and for her. I now feel more of an habitual resignation to God. If I could take the reins into my own hand, I would not. I feel a satisfaction that my times, and the times of all that pertain to me, are in the Lord's hands. This also I have felt all along, never to desire the life of the child, unless it be for her present and eternal good. Unless she should live to the Lord, I had rather, if it please God, she might not live at all.

      "To-day I felt some encouragement in my work from hearing of a young man hopefully converted in hearing me preach.

     My time and attention are now much taken up with my poor little girl, particularly on the 28th. Exceedingly affected and importunate with God in prayer for her. I felt, indeed, the force of those words, 'To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.' Oh of what worth to an immortal creature, subject to eternal death! My heart seemed to be dissolved in earnest cries for mercy.

      "May 7. - I was tolerably supported under the approaching death of my poor child, which I saw drawing on apace. I saw I must shortly let her fall. With floods of tears, with all the bitterness of an afflicted father mourning for his first-born, I committed her to God, to his everlasting arms, when she should fall from mine.

      "21. - Death! Death is all around me! My friends die. Three I have buried within a fortnight, and another I shall have to bury soon! Death and judgment are all I can think about! At times I feel reconciled to whatever may befall me. I am not without good hopes of the child's piety, and as to her life, desirable as it is, the will of the Lord be done.

      "30. - But at other times I am distressed beyond due bounds. On the 25th, in particular, my distress seemed beyond all measure. I lay before the Lord, weeping like David, and refusing to be comforted. This brought on, I have reason to think, a bilious cholic; a painful affliction it was, and the more so as it prevented my ever seeing my child alive again! Yes, she is gone! On Tuesday morning, May 30, as I lay ill in bed in another room, I heard a whispering. I inquired, and all were silent . . . all were silent! . . . but all is well. I feel reconciled to God! I called my family round my bed. I sat up, and prayed as well as I could; I bowed my head and worshiped, and blessed a taking as well as a giving God.

      "June 1. - I just made a shift to get up to-day, and attend the funeral of my poor child. My dear brother Ryland preached on the occasion, from 2 Kings iv. 26, - 'It is well.' I feel, in general now, a degree of calm resignation. I think there is solid reason to hope that she has not lived in vain; and if she is but reared for God, it matters not when she died. I feel a solid pleasure in reflecting on our own conduct in her education; we endeavoured to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and I trust our endeavours were not in vain. Her visit to Northampton, too, was blessed for her good; she has certainly discovered ever since great tenderness of conscience, and much of the fear of God; great regard for the worship of God, especially for the Lord's day; and great delight in reading, especially accounts of the conversion of some little children. But all is over now, and I am in a good degree satisfied.

      "3. - To-day I felt a sort of triumph over death. I went and stood on her grave with a great deal of composure! Returned, and wrote some verses to her memory.

      "4. - Had a good day in preaching on these light afflictions. My mind seems very calm and serene, in respect of the child; but, alas! I feel the insufficiency of trouble, however heavy, to destroy or mortify sin. I have had sad experience of my own depravity, even while under the very rod of God!*
     * A narrative of this interesting child was written by her father, but as it contains little more than a detail of the events which are recorded in a more impressive form in the above diary, it will only be necessary to give the following extract:
      "At the time of her birth I committed her to God, as I trust I have done many times since. Once in particular viewing her as she lay smiling in the cradle, at the age of eight months, my heart was much affected; I took her up in my arms, retired, and in that position wrestled hard with God for a blessing; at the same time offering her up as it were and solemnly presenting her to the Lord for acceptance. In this exercise I was greatly encouraged by the conduct of Christ towards those who brought little children in their arms to him for his blessing." Speaking of her residence a short time at Northampton, he adds, - "During this fortnight I went two or three times to see her; and one evening, being with her alone, she asked me to pray for her. 'What do you wish me to pray for, my dear?' said I. She answered, 'That God would bless me, and keep me, and save my soul.' 'Do you think, then, that you are a sinner?' 'Yes, father.' Fearing lest she did not understand what she said, I asked her, 'What is sin, my child?' She answered, 'Telling a story.' I comprehended this, and it went to my heart. 'What, then,' I said, 'you remember, do you, my having corrected you once for telling a story?' 'Yes, father.' 'And are you grieved for having so offended God?' 'Yes, father.' I asked her if she did not try to pray herself. She answered, 'I sometimes try, but I do not know how to pray; I wish you would pray for me, till I can pray for myself.' As I continued to sit by her, she appeared much dejected. I asked her the reason. She said, 'I am afraid I should go to hell.' 'My dear,' said I, 'who told you so?' 'Nobody,' said she, 'but I know if I do not pray to the Lord, I must go to hell.' I then went to prayer with her, with many tears.

      "She was accustomed to pray over the hymn which Mr. Ryland composed for her. [The well-known hymn - "Lord teach a little child to pray," &c.] I used to carry her in my arms into the fields, and there talk with her upon the desirableness of dying and being with Christ, and with holy men and women, and with those holy children who cried, Hosanna to the Son of David. Thus I tried to reconcile her, and myself with her, to death, without directly telling her she would soon die. One day, as she lay in bed, I read to her the last eight verses of Revelation vii., 'They shall hunger no more, nor thirst, &c.' I said nothing upon it, but wished to observe what effect the passage might have upon her; I should not have wondered if she had been a little cheered by it. She said nothing, however, but looked very dejected. I said, 'My dear, you are unhappy.' She was silent. I urged her to tell me what was the matter. Still she was silent. I then asked her whether she was afraid she should not go to that blessed world of which I had been reading? She answered, 'Yes.' - 'But what makes you afraid, my dear?' - 'Because (said she, with a tone of grief that pierced me to the heart) I have sinned against the Lord.' 'True, my dear, (said I,) you have sinned against the Lord; but the Lord is more ready to forgive you, if you are grieved for offending him, than I can be to forgive you when you are grieved for offending me; and you know how ready I am to do that.' I then told her of the great grace of God, and the love of Christ to sinners. I told her of his mercy in forgiving a poor wicked thief, who, when he was dying, prayed to him to save his soul. At this she seemed cheered, but said nothing.

      "A few weeks before she died, she asked her aunt to read to her. 'What shall I read, my dear?' said her aunt. 'Read (said she) some book about Christ.' Her aunt read part of the twenty-first chapter of Matthew, concerning the children who shouted Hosanna to the Son of David."

      She died May 30, 1786, aged six years and a half.


[From Joseph Belcher, editor, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume I, 1845, rpt. 1988; pp. 50-52. Document provided by David Oldfield, Post Falls, ID. - Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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