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MEMORIAL SKETCH OF MRS. ANNE M. PRINCE.
BY THE REV. THOMAS DICKIN.
“The memory of the just is blessed.” We cherish it to the praise of the great Saviour. 'Tis in His Name that we record the virtues of His saints. In the example, also, of a pious and God-fearing life there are many lessons to those who are struggling against temptation, and endeavouring to fulfil their daily duties. To these ends we subjoin the following record.
ANNE M. PRINCE was born in the year 1831, in the parish of Madeley, and baptized in the Church of the sainted Fletcher. Nurtured in the bosom of a truly Methodist family, she was brought up under the memories of the holy men of earlier Methodism, and was accustomed to meet beneath her father's roof such men as Dr. Bunting, Dr. Hannah, and William Dawson. She often looked back to the happy days of her girlhood, when she listened to their conversations and prayers.
From her childhood she was remarkable for sweetness of temper and gentleness of manners; manifesting the most devoted affection to her parents and her brothers and sisters. Highly conscientious and truthful, she was never known to be guilty of any false way or word. In very early life she enjoyed attending the ordinances of God's house, and greatly esteemed and loved the Christian ministers, with whom she was always a favourite. When ten years of age, she consecrated herself to the service of Christ, and became a member of the Methodist Society. Uniformly consistent in her conduct, she endeavoured to walk worthily of her Christian profession ; was attentive to her household duties, and her various studies, in which she made great proficiency. The Word of God was her constant study; she daily committed a portion of it to memory. A favourite copy of the Bible, which she carried with her for many years, was carefully read through on a regular system, year after year. For several years she was an indefatigable missionary-collector. When still young, she became a teacher in the Sunday-school.
In reference to her change of heart, whilst hearing those who could state the time and place of their conversion, she would say, “ I sometimes fear I am not in the right; I have not an experience of that nature ; I cannot remember the time when I did not love the Saviour."
God calls us by different ways : gradually, under the godly influences of the household, her mind was led to the hearty reception of Christ as her Saviour, and God as her Father.
At the time of her marriage, she drew up a set of rules for the management of her own devotional life and the guidance of her home. To this she felt herself particularly called, as three sons of her husband, two of whom were grown up, required from her all a mother's delicate tenderness and wisdom. She writes :"Yesterday, June 9th, 1856, Mr. Prince and I took upon us the solemn marriage vows in Madeley Church. We have since unitedly consecrated ourselves with all our powers to God, Who has hitherto been our Guide, and Who, we trust, will impart grace and strength to enable us to fulfil our vows to Him and to each other."
Amongst these rules were the following :
“1.-To make a practice of rising early, that God may have my first thoughts, and that my time for prayer and the study of His Word may be quiet, and uninterrupted by the cares and bustle of the world.
“2.-To have special reference to the Divine will in all things. “3.-To be punctual in every household arrangement.
“4.—To endeavour always to walk as becometh the Gospel of Christ; that my steady and consistent deportment may influence our household, that our dear boys and the servant may, with us, walk hand in hand to heaven.
“5.-In everything to give thanks : in trouble, casting all my care upon Him Who careth for me; and in joy, remembering always that every good and perfect gift is from above."
Acting upon these rules, she began at once to apply herself in serious earnestness to a wise discharge of her duties as a wife, and as a mother to the children of her husband.
Her example and devoted love soon had their reward : her godly counsel and earnest effort, by the grace of God, were made effectual to the conversion of her eldest son; and to the same holy influences, in subsequent years, others of her children trace the guidance of their steps in the way
As years passed on, other children were added to the family ; but these additional claims on her mother's love in no way diminished her devoted attention to all the interests of the elder children. With all of them, when they were absent from home, she kept up a very close and constant correspondence. Her letters, though often written amid busy engagements, were penned in the most pointed and orderly manner. She entered upon this, which she considered as one of her chief duties, with the most searching and definite care. Very quickly she established herself as the calm counsellor and friend of the up-grown members of her family, and by numberless letters addressed to them manifested the most affectionate interest in their domestic and spiritual welfare.
An excellent correspondent, she was always ready to administer counsel or consolation to any of her friends. Writing, shortly before her own death, to one who had been bereaved as her own husband was so soon and so unexpectedly to be, she says "Looking at these heavy trials from our stand-point, it seems hard indeed to acquiesce in the Divine Will, and we are tempted to impeach the goodness of the great Being, Who, having all power, might, we think, so easily have raised our loved ones, even from the very verge of the tomb. Yet mercy is behind all this painful mystery, and all will be made plain to the stricken heart in that glad day of re-union, when our Home is reached."
For some months before her removal, she often spoke of a fear of the nearness of death. On the night before she was seized with her last illness, she said :
-“ I feel so much afraid of the power of death; as if I could never have faith to meet such a terrible foe:" and on being encouraged to trust that help would be given for the dying hour, she replied, it was not so much want of faith in God's help, as a sense of her own weakness that troubled her.
When depressed with her mortal suffering, she often remarked, "What should I do without Jesus now! What a loving Saviour He is !” Passing under a heavy darkness, and while one of her friends was reminding her that she had already committed her cause to the loving, all-atoning Jesus, she exclaimed, “O, no! I cannot take my cause out of His hands—I can trust Him with all I have : but He hides His face now, and everything is dark. O that I could see the lovely face of Jesus again !” Prayer was offered
for her by her husband; the cloud passed quickly away, never to return. The Sun of Righteousness shone in upon her in full glory. On awakening at intervals during the night, she often exclaimed, “What a beautiful night I am having! I am so happy!” On being asked if she had got over all her fears, she replied, “ O yes ! I am quite comfortable : able to lie quiet, and leave all in Jesu's hands.”
About a week before her death, she said to her eldest son, “I think I am passing away : I cannot reason, or talk much; but I am passively lying in my Heavenly Father's arms, willing to go or stay, as He thinks best. Pray for me that, if it is His will to take me, there may be light in the valley.”
Uncomplaining under the stroke that was to sever her from the bosom of her family; grateful for everything done for her; giving God thanks for bringing around her so many kind friends ;-through all her illness the true Christian spirit shone brightly out.
For several nights before she died, her six young children were sent for, to hear the last parting counsels, and to receive their mother's prayers and blessings. During the last few hours of her life she requested to have read to her many sweet psalms and promises that had been her favourite portions of God's Word.
As the end drew nigh, one of her friends said, “Do you feel Jesus precious to you now?” she replied, “I do : I feel Him very precious.”
Several hymns were then read to her. The last one, to which she listened, was Newton's “ Name of Jesus.”
"Jesus, my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King;
Accept the praise I bring.
And cold my warmest thought;
I'll praise Thee as I ought.
With every fleeting breath ;
Refresh my soul in death !”
The music of that Name was a sweet refreshment to her. Raising her eyes, a smile of heavenly beauty passing over her face, with the sound of Jesus' Name still lingering upon her ear, she gently fell asleep, on January 21st, 1873.
REFLECTIONS AT THE OPENING OF THE YEAR.
"For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow ? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun ? A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting : for that is the end of all men ; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter : for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."— ECCLESIASTES vi. 12 ; vii. 1-3. We have here a problem clearly stated, with helpful suggestions for finding its solution. The problem is : Given-Man and Life; to find—“What is good for man in life.” “Who knoweth what is good for man in this life ?” How important that each of us should settle that question for one's self at the earliest possible moment! How important that each of us should form clear, intelligent and comprehensive views on this subject, and never lose sight of them, but guide and govern the whole of our actions, and shape our entire career in accordance with such views.
The question has a twofold aspect, -the one towards God, the other towards ourselves; the one respecting the dispensations of Divine providence, the other regarding our own course of action and habits of life. First, who knoweth what temporal circumstances are good for a man ? Whether it would be better for him to have been born in a palace, a mansion or a cottage ? Whether it were better that he should be endowed with genius and the rarer gifts of nature,-mechanical skill, capacity for command, statesmanship, oratory, the power of moving his fellow-men by the utterances of his lips, or by writing words which mankind “will not willingly let die,” and thus be marked out for distinction amongst his fellows ?-or should have allotted to him just the average amount of mental power? Whether he should be of robust constitution and commanding stature, like the first King of Israel ? or, like his namesake in the New Testament, his bodily presence should be weak? Whether, like the late Prince Albert, for example, he should be graced with manly beauty, entrusted with vigorous and vivacious health, adorned with all winning social accomplishments, wedded to a Queen, -leading to the altar the foremost woman of the age, with jewelled and sceptred hand, and character nobler than her station, and a heart richer than the whole exchequer of her empire, and “live joyfully with the wife of his youth” and see his children growing up around him towards hale and hopeful manhood, or a womanhood of goodness and of gracefulness; should live a life of publicity and popularity, of social and scientific usefulness, and then die suddenly “in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet,” amidst fireside felicities and regal splendours, with a well-won and world-wide reputation, with all his happiness and all his honours thick upon him? Whether thus, or far otherwise, like the great and good Doctor Watts, creeping through life in a puny, ungainly, decrepit body, in which were buried alive the warmest affections which yet could find no adequate response ; a sickly hypochondriac, unsoothed by wedded love, lingering out year after year, till he survived his intellectual powers, and yet doing wondrous work for Christ, and enriching his race by the productions of his strong, subtle intellect, and his brave, devout and tender heart ?
All these are questions which it is impossible for us to answer aright, because it is impossible for us to foretell what effect outward circumstances will have upon the formation of our character, which is the great purpose for which we are placed on earth at all, and the educating us for our position in that nobler world to which the present life is but the portico. But our happiness is, that all this is arranged for us, with unerring love, by the God of our life : so that we can confidently pronounce of all the circumstances and events which He chooses for us," Whatever is is best.” This, then, let us leave to Him, with adoring acquiescence in His all-wise and beneficent appointments, and concentrate all our anxieties on the other side of the question : What course of action is good for man? What habits of life are good for us? What are those objects which are really to be desired and steadily aimed at throughout the whole of life ?
Now, on this most important point, we are enriched with many invaluable suggestions by the passage we have chosen as our motto, the latter part of which seems plainly intended to guide us to an answer to the