This letter was written by Rev. Nelson Bishop (1802-1871), an 1827 graduate of Bangor Seminary. He was installed as pastor of the church in Clinton, Maine in 1828 and served there until his dismissal in June 1834. He afterward was connected with the Boston Recorder. He settled in Weathersford, Vermont in 1840 and from 1845 to 1865 was the editor and publisher of the Vermont Chronicle. He died of pleuro-pneumonia in January 1871.
Addressed to Rev. Absalom Peters, Corresponding Secretary of the Home Missionary Society, 144 Nassau Street, New York [City], New York
June 25, 1832
Rev. Absalom Peters
As the term of my commission has now expired, it may be expected that I should give some account of what has been effected during the year that is past. I would that I were permitted to give such an account as would cheer the friends of Zion. But I can tell of nothing of special interest like that which has been witness in many parts of our land. Here & there a drop of mercy has fallen for which we would be grateful to God.
In my last, I stated that no instance of conversion had occurred among us during the year. At the moment of making that statement, an instance escaped my thought (I can hardly tell why) which deserves to be mentioned. During the year, one of the oldest settlers — a man upwards of eighty years of age — has indulged a hope that he has passed from death into life. He has always been correct in sentiment but has lived so far from God as to be in some degree intemperate. On the 4th of July last at the anniversary of our Temperance Society, he came forward & united with it. Since that, he has indulged a hope. He appears to be decidedly on the Lord’s side & has in contemplation making a public profession.
Since my last, another instance has come to my knowledge. A young man was seized with a violent fever. I visited him & found him endeavoring to rest on the doctrine of Universal salvation. I conversed with him plainly & on leaving him, gave him the tract on Universalism written by Dr. Horace [Bushnell]. I would not, however, resist the apprehension that, surrounded as he was by Universalists, he not be led to wrest the scriptures to his own destruction. On reading the tract, he was so affected that he destroyed it. His conscience, however, afterward smote him for what he had done & he was led to read with _____ the Bible & other books until he became convinced that his condition was unsafe & that he needed something more than Universalism to save him. In this state of mind, he removed to another part of the town & then in connection with a Sunday’s meeting held by the Methodist indulged a hope. He will probably unite with them.
Our Sabbath Schools are increasingly interesting. We have in operation four. In one of them a Library has been commenced this season & books to the amount of 6 or 7 dollars have been procured.
The importance of having the gospel sustained here may be learned from a few facts. Tho’ the average number that attend meeting during the year is but about 100, yet from the last ______ I learn that in about 100 families who have no other regular meeting on the Sabbath, there are about 700 persons. The great mass of these have no fixed principle as to attending meeting. They are in this respect a floating population. Connected with these families there are also about 470 children under 15 years of age. Most of these receive very little religious instruction except what they may receive in connection with our Sabbath Schools. We indeed live in a barren region & may the Lord reign righteousness upon it & make it a fruitful field.
Yours truly, — N. Bishop