Allenby, B. B., [?]
Autograph Letter Signed, Leeds, England, November 10, 1839 to “my dear friend”, Miss C. A. Lawrence, care of Thomas Lawrence, Geneva, New York

quarto, 3 pages, plus stamp-less address leaf, the letter is written in black ink, and then “cross written” in faded red ink, with almost all the words discernible, save for the signature.

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Allenby, possibly a New York clergyman living in England here gives advice to a young American woman thinking of becoming a missionary in Jerusalem, about the hardships and perils of missionary life in Singapore and Madagascar, vs. the duty to convert the “benighted heathen” of Africa and Hawaii.

           The recipient of the letter, and the advice it contains was Cornelia Ann Lawrence, a 29 year-old New York woman, who was debating whether to become a missionary in the United States or Jerusalem:

 

     “… a few of my private thoughts … In a paper which I received a short time since I noticed the death of a young lady whom I knew very well and with whom I had many conversations upon the subject of foreign missions, Mrs. Wood who died at Singapore at the very early age of 21. She left her dear parents, many kind friends, living Brother and sisters, her native land that she might do something toward advancing the Kingdom of her blessed Saviour, she left New York … June 1838, she was not permitted to stay long. God in his kind providence thought fit to take her to himself, she was fully prepared. There is certainly a mystery in Gods dealings with his children whilst we see so many of our Missionaries taken away by death, should we murmur, No! but to pray that it may be sanctified to the church and that many more may be raised up who shall devote themselves to the cause of Mission … the inquiry should be ‘Lord what will thou have me to do’. I am very glad dear friend that this subject has been so near your own heart and I trust with sincerity have asked, where wilt thou have me to go? Not that I would have you go to the Heathen, unless the path of duty was plain, but it will make you feel more for the destitute around you and make you more fervent in prayer for the spread of the Gospel, there is a great work at home yet to be done, labourers, faithful labourers are much wanted at home, and it is the duty of all to labour there, but not to confine ourselves entirely there, there must be Christians who will go forth and proclaim the good tidings of Salvation to the perishing heathen … there are many sacrifices connected with a Missionary’s life, but is it not a greater happiness to see our labours blessed than all the sacrifices that could be made. Gods command is, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature’. Has he not promised that he will give the Heathen to his Son for an inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession, how will the earth be converted unless Christians go forth and labour … It is the duty of some Christians to labour at home and of others to go abroad. With regard to yourself my dear friend … you will never regret following in the path of duty, even if it is with many great sacrifices. Jerusalem is an interesting portion of the world … you may and no doubt you will be made the instrument of doing much good. I have often thought and often wished that I was preaching the gospel to the poor benighted African or Sandwich Islander and Oh! What a privileges to have been engaged in the recent revival in the last named Islands … I would say dear friend if it is clearly your duty, go, do. The Heathen world demands your labours… True it is hard to part with our dear friends, perhaps never to see them again in this world but … It is only a parting for a little while at most, a few years and we must go the way of all the living, of dust we are and unto dust we must return, and it is very important that our time should be employed in the best way of advancing the cause of Christ… if you go you will never regret it, you will find plenty to do. The condition of the Heathen is indeed deplorable but how much more those at Home, surely the latter will have more to answer for than the Heathen but if they will not hear then go to those that will hear. If all Christians would only labour as they should, the world would soon have the Gospel sent to them, Dear friend, you have better advisers than I ever could be, you will certainly meet with opposition but continue in prayer with God that he would show you your duty, and when your mind is made up, ask God for grace to support you. You have no doubt read the lives of many missionaries, you see what hardships they have had to endure, what sacrifices they have made. Some even have sacrificed their lives to the work are you willing to leave all and teach the Heathen … if you go you may never reach your destined place or perhaps just to land and then die. Are you willing to forget many Christian privileges that you would enjoy? Trust entirely in God and say Lord I leave myself in thy hands do with me what seems the best in thy sight. I trust dear friend you can say yes… Your life is in the hands of God, if he thinks best he will direct you safely to your field of labour but whatever he does rest assured will be for your best interest. The souls of the Heathen are precious. How loud the call from them. ‘Come over and help us’, they have shown a willingness to hear the Gospel and while such a wide door is open it is our duty to enter. My God direct you and show you your duty … You may remember my reading out of the Missionary Herald last February … of the persecution in Madagascar. At the Mission meeting here a short time since I … spoke to two of the principal martyrs Rafaravavy and Simeon, the former suffered all but death. In the account I read it stated she was killed but it was not so, she escaped during a large fire that was raging, a little while before she was to have been killed… it was a solemn time when I saw them come in. I thought could I pass through what they have done. The Christians in the Island are still treated like dogs. May the time soon come when the heart of their Queen will be subdued and softened and when they may worship in their own way … Farewell dear friend let me know your decision…”