This letter was written by George Augustus Thatcher (1806-1885), an anti-slavery and temperance advocate who settled in Bangor, Maine about 1822. Thatcher was married (1832) to Rebecca Jane Billings (1813-1883), a cousin of Henry David Thoreau. Rebecca’s parents were Nancy (“Ann”) Thoreau (1789-1815) and Caleb Callender Billings (1799-1868). It is said that when the poet Thoreau came to visit his cousins in Maine, he went on long walks with George A. Thatcher in the wooded timberlands along the Penobscot River.
Thatcher wrote the letter to his Bangor acquaintance, Jones Perkins Veazie (1811-1875) — a merchant ship owner whose family made their fortune in the lumber business. Reference is made in the letter to Veazie’s wife, Mary Jane (Winslow) Veazie, and to their son, Samuel Jones Veazie (b. 1839), who would have been about 5 years old at the time.
Addressed to Jone P. Veazie, Bangor [Maine]
Sunday, March 23rd 1845
My dear friend,
Alone in a strange land and far from home and kind friends, I have it in my heart to write you a letter expressive of my friendship and interest in your behalf and I trust you will receive it in the spirit of kindness and affection by which on my part it is dictated. For some reason or other which I cannot account for, I have had you upon my mind at times for a week past, and I should do injustice to my own feelings did I not express to you the sincere desires of my heart, particularly for your spiritual welfare, tho’ I am not indifferent by any means to your temporal prosperity, but I cannot get out of my mind the undying and immortal interests of your soul. I ought to say in the first place that I have reason to be ashamed that I have been so backward in avowing these feelings to you whilst we have been so long & intimately acquainted, but you are aware I suppose, of the fact, that there is among Christians a lamentable backwardness in this respect, and I have to plead guilty in your case to say the least, but however indifferent I may have seemed to be to your eternal welfare, I assure you, my dear friend, that I am now sincere in wishing that you may become interested in the great salvation of the gospel. I shall take it for granted that you believe in the existence of a Righteous God and in the Revelation which he has made to man through his holy word — that you believe in the retribution of another world, and the necessity of that great change which we must experience in order to see God in peace.
Christ told Nicodemus when he came to him by night, “you must be born again” which is as true of you and me, as it was of him. We must be renewed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit operating upon our hearts. we must humble our hearts at the foot of the cross of our blessed redeemer and believe on Him to the salvation of our souls and that compromises the whole duty of man. This done, with an honest heart, and the favor of God will be bestowed. The plan of salvation, as well as its terms, are very plain and simple, so much so that it is generally a matter of astonishment to the converted soul, that it was not seen and adopted before. “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Here we see salvation depends upon believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is his own instruction, who taught as never man taught. Now then, the question comes home. Have you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ to the Salvation of your soul? If so, you know it ___ the peace and joy and hope of a pardoned sinner never leave the soul in doubt upon this subject. If not, then my dear friend, let me urge you by all the motives which can be drawn from the worth of the soul, from a consideration of its immortality & from the consciousness which doubtless comes across your mind at times that all is not right. Let me urge you _____ expect to meet you at the judgement seat of God, and hope to share with you in the bliss of the blest, not to delay any longer those eternal interests which are now so eminently at stake and which if not soon secured it will be forever too late to look after.
In matters of worldly importance, you are not slow to attend your keen discernment and good practical common sense, lead you to look out for the interests of this life, and that is all well and right if done with proper motives; why not exercise something of that foresight and prudence in relation to your soul? I might add many reasons that crowd upon my mind why you should immediately attend to this thing. God has placed you in a very responsible situation as a husband & a father. THe interests of other souls are entrusted to your care. Look at that dear little boy and remember that he is receiving impressions every hour that will be as lasting as eternity. God says “train up a child in the way he should go &c.” Are you obeying this command?
I must close for want of paper. I have not said the half I want to. I feel a great respect & friendship for you, such as perhaps I feel towards but few with whom I am not connected by kindred ties. I want to see you come and boldly & decidedly as I know you will on the Lord’s side. I want that we should side by side and shoulder to shoulder in this, as we do in the cause of human liberty. I want your countenance & influence or rather God demands it of you. Come, then, my dear friend to the immediate decision. “As for me & my house, we will seek the Lord.”
With my best regard to your esteemed wife, I remain your affectionate friend, — George A. Thatcher