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She had long been infirm, and often had been exercised with great pain; but she died chiefly of famine. It was, doubtless, partly owing to her bodily weakness, that her nature was so often overcome, and ready to sink with gracious affection; but yet the truth was, that she had more grace, and greater discoveries of God and Christ, than the present frail state did well consist with. She wanted to be where strong grace might have more liberty, and be without the clog of a weak body; there she longed to be, and there she doubtless now is.
She was looked upon amongst us, as a very eminent instance of christian experience; but this is but a very broken and imperfect account I have given of her: her eminency would much more appear, if her experiences were fully related, as she was wont to express, and manifest them, while living. I once read this account to some of her pious neighbours, who were acquainted with her, who said, to this purpose, that the picture fell much short of the life ; and particularly that it much failed of duly representing her humility, and that admirable lowliness of heart, that at all times appeared in her. But there are, blessed be God! many living instances, of much the like nature, and in some things no less extraordinary.
But I now proceed to the other instance, that of the little child before mentioned. Her name is PHEBE BARTLET, daughter of William Bartlet. I shall give the account as I took it from the mouth of her parents, whose veracity none who know them doubt of.
She was born in March, 1731. About the latter end of April, or beginning of May, 1735, she was greatly affected by the talk of her brother, who had been hopefully converted a little before at about eleven years of age, and then seriously talked to her about the great things of religion. Her parents did not know of it at that time, and were not wont, in the counsels they gave to their children, particularly to direct themselves to her, being so young, and as they supposed, not capable of understanding. But after her brother had talked to her, they observed her very earnestly listen to the advice they gave to the other children ; and she was observed very constantly to retire, several times in a day, as was concluded for secret prayer. She grew more and more engaged in religion, and was more frequent in her closet ; till at last she was wont to visit it five or six times a day; and was so engaged in it, that nothing would at any time divert her from her stated closet exercises. Her mother often observed and watched her, when such things occurred, as she thought moest likely to divert her, either by putting it out of her thoughts, or otherwise engaging her inclinations; but never could othserve her to fail. She mentioned some very remarkable in stances.
She once of her own accord spake of her unsuccessfulness, in that she could not find God, or to that purpose. But on Thursday, the last day of July, about the middle of the day, the child being in the closet where it used to retire, its mother heard it speaking aloud; which was unusual, and never had been observed before. And her voice seemed to be as of one exceedingly importunate and engaged ; but her mother could distinctly hear only these words, spoken in a childish manner, but with extraordinary earnestness, and out of distress of soul, Pray, blessed Lord, give me salvation ! I pray, beg, pardon all my sins! When the child had done prayer, she came out of the closet, sat down by her mother, and cried out aloud. Her mother very earnestly asked her several times, what the matter was, before she would make any answer; but she continued crying and writhing her body to and fro, like one in anguish of spirit. Her mother then asked her, whether she was afraid that God would not give her salvation. She then answered, Yes, I am afraid I shall go to hell! Her mother then endeavoured to quiet her, and told her she would not have her cry, she must be a good girl, and pray every day, and she hoped God would give her salvation. But this did not quiet her at all ; she continued thus earnestly crying, and talking on for some time, till at length she suddenly ceased crying, and began to smile, and presently said with a smiling countenance, Mother, the kingdom of heaven is come to me! Her mother was surprised at the sudden alteration, and at the speech; and knew not what to make of it; but at first said nothing to her. The child presently spake again, and said there is another come to me, and there is another, there is three ; and being asked what she meant, she answered, one is, Thy will be done, and there is another, Enjoy him for ever ; by which it seems, that when the child said, there is three come to me; she meant three passages of her catechism that came to her mind.
After the child had said this, she retired again into her closet; and her mother went over to her brother's, who was next neighbour; and when she came back, the child, being come out of the closet, meets her mother with this cheerful speech ; I can find God now! referring to what she had before complained of, that she could not find God. Then the child spoke again, and said, I love God! her mother asked her, how well she loved God, whether she loved God better than her father and mother, she said yes. Then she asked her whether she loved God better than her little sister Rachel.She answered, Yes, better than any thing! Then her elder sister, referring to her saying, she could find God now, asked her, where she could find God. She answered, in heaven;
Why, said she, have you been in heaven. No, said the child. By this it seems not to have been any imagination of any thing seen with bodily eyes, that she called God, when she said, I can find God now. Her mother asked her, whether she was afraid of going to hell, and if that had made her cry? She answered, Yes, I was ; but now I shan't. Her mother asked her, whether she thought that God had given her salvation : She answered, Yes. Her mother asked her, When. She answered, To-day. She appeared all that afternoon exceeding cheerful and joyful. One of the neighbours asked her, how she felt herself? She answered, I feel better than I did. The neighbour asked her what made her feel better. She answered, God makes me.
That evening as she lay a-bed, she called one of her little cousins to her, who was present in the room, as having something to say to him ; and when he came, she told him that heaven was better than earth. The next day, her mother asked her what God made her for? She answered, To serve him; and added, every body should serve God, and get an interest in Christ.
The same day the elder children, when they came home from school, seemed much affected with the extraordinary change that seemed to be made in Phebe. And her sister Abigail standing by, her mother took occasion to counsel her, now to improve her time, to prepare for another world. On which Phebe burst out in tears, and cried out, Poor Nabby! Her mother told her, she would not have her cry, she hoped that God would give Nabby salvation ; but that did not quiet her, she continued earnestly crying for some time. When she had in a measure ceased, her sister Eunice being by her, she burst out again, and cried, Poor Eunice! and cried exceedingly; and when she had almost done, she went into another room, and there looked upon her sister Naomi: and burst out again, crying poor Amy! Her mother was greatly affected at such a behaviour in a child, and knew not what to say to her. One of the neighbours coming in a little after, asked her what she had cried for. She seemed at first backward to tell the reason; her mother told her she might tell that person, for he had given her an apple: upon which she said, she cried because she was afraid they would go to hell.
At night, a certain minister, who was occasionally in the town, was at the house, and talked with her of religious things. After he was gone, she sat leaning on the table, with tears running from her eyes; and being asked what made her cry, she said, It was thinking about God. The next day, being Saturday, she seemed great part of the day to be in a very affectionate frame, had four turns of crying, and seemed to endeavour to curb herself, and hide her tears, and was very backward to talk of the occasion. On the Sabbath-day she was asked, whether she believed in God; she answered, Yes. And being told that Christ was the Son of God, she made ready answer, and said, I know it.
From this time there appeared a very remarkable abiding change in the child. She has been very strict upon the Sabbath; and seems to long for the Sabbath-day before it comes, and will often in the week time be enquiring how long it is to the Sabbath-day, and must have the days between particularly counted over, before she will be contented. She seems to love God's house, and is very eager to go thither. Her mother once asked her, why she had such a mind to go? whether it was not to see fine folks? She said, No, it was to hear Mr. Edwards preach. When she is in the place of worship, she is very far from spending her time there as children at her age usually do, but appears with an attention that is very extraordinary for such a child. She also appears very desirous at all opportunities to go to private religious meetings, and is very still and attentive at home, during prayer, and has appeared affected in time of family-prayer. She seems to delight much in hearing religious conversation. When I once was there
. with some strangers, and talked to her something of religion, she seemed more than ordinarily attentive; and when we were gone, she looked very wistfully after us, and said, I wish hey would come again! Her mother asked her, why? Says she, I love to hear 'em talk.
She seems to have very much of the fear of God before her eyes, and an extraordinary dread of sinning against him; of which her mother mentioned the following remarkable instance. Some time in August, the last year, she went with some bigger children, to get some plumbs in a neighbour's lot, knowing nothing of any harm in what she did; but when she brought some of the plumbs into the house, her mother mildly reproved her, and told her that she must not get plumbs without leave, because it was sin: God had commanded her not to steal. The child seemed greatly surprised and burst out in tears, and cried out, I wont have these plumbs! and turning to her sister Eunice, very earnestly, said to her, Why did you ask me to go to that plumb-tree? I should not have gone if you had not asked me. The other children did not seem to be much affected or concerned; but there was no pacifying Phebe. Her mother told her, she might go and ask leave, and then it would not be sin for her to eat them; and sent one of the children to that end ; and, when she returned, her mother told her, that the owner had given leave, now she might eat them, and it would not be stealing. This stilled her a little while ; but presently she broke out again into an exceeding fit of crying, Her mother asked her, what made her cry again? Why she cried now, since they had asked leave? What it was that trou
bled her now! And asked her several times very earnestly, before she made any answer; but at last said, it was because, BECAUSE IT WAS SIN. She continued a considerable time cry: ing; and said, she would not go again if Eunice asked her an hundred times; and she retained her aversion to that fruit for a considerable time, under the remembrance of her former sin.
She sometimes appears greatly affected, and delighted with texts of scripture that come to her mind. Particularly about the beginning of November, that text came to her mind, Rev. j. 20. °Behold I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open
the door, I will come in, and sup with him, and he with me. She spoke of it to those of the family, with great appearance of joy, a smiling countenance, and elevation of voice; and afterwards she went to another room, where her mother overheard her talking very earnestly to the children about it; and particularly heard her say to them, three or four times over, with an air of exceeding joy and admiration, Why it is to sup with God. Some time about the middle of winter, very late in the night, when all were 'a-bed, her mother perceived she was awake, and heard her, as though she was weeping. She called to her and asked her what was the matter. She answered with a low voice, so that her mother could not hear what she said ; but thinking that it might be occasioned by some spiritual affection, said no more to her; but perceived her to lie awake, and to continue in the same frame for a considerable time. The next morning, she asked her whether she did not cry the last night. The child answered, Yes, I did cry a little, for I was thinking about God and Christ, and they loved me. Her mother asked her, whether to think of God and Christ loving her made her cry? she answered, Yes, it does sometimes.
She has often manifested a great concern for the good of others's souls : and has been wont many times affectionately to counsel the other children. Once, about the latter end of September, the last year, when she and some others of the children were in a room by themselves, husking Indian corn, the child, after a while, came out and sat by the fire. Her mother look notice that she appeared with a more than ordinary serious and pensive countenance ; but at last she broke silence, and said, I have been talking to Nabby and Eunice. Her mother asked her what she had said to them. Why, said she, I told them they must pray, and prepare to die ; that they had but a little while to live in this world, and they must be always ready. When Nabby came out, her mother asked her, whether she had said that to them. Yes, said she, she said that, and a great deal more. At other times, the child took opportunities to talk to the other children about the great concern of their souls, so as