Columbia July 24th 1866
My dear Sons:
It is just five years today since your poor Mother closed her eyes on this world, to open them I humbly trust on a far happier and more enduring scene, the inheritance purchased by Our Blessed Saviour for those who believe on Him.
Let me conjure you by your loving remembrance of a Mother, who lived only for her children, and by your memory of myself, (for when these lines meet your eyes, I too shall have passed away) to give careful heed to what I now write and write too with the solemn feeling pressing on me that these may be the last words I may ever address you.
The first thing I would urge upon you, because I am convinced it is far the most important of all, in to, “seek a Kingdom of God and His righteousness” in a prayerful reading and studying of His Holy Word- where the way is plainly pointed out to those who seek-make this your very first object in Life- never lose sight of the ‘Life to come’ or Aim lower, and you will have gained that “Peace which passeth all understanding”, the peace of God!
I leave you in the firm confidence that you are all the lovers of Truth, and Honesty- I have never had reason to doubt this - Never sacrifice these two most precious Jewels of Manhood.
The events of the late war not only cut you off from obtaining anything more than the rudiments of education, but the destruction of my property has robbed you of the means of purchasing further instructions; upon your own individual exertions therefore does it depend, whether you will remedy your defects in this matter and attain such an amount of education as beseems your birth- You can do this if you will - building up little by little on what you already have, but building steadily, taking care to understand the ground thoroughly over which you go, and not one of you will have reached middle age without accumulating a stock of knowledge of which no gentleman need be ashamed.
Work-hard work-plenty of it is before you-take whatever offers, and go at it with your might-remember it is not for yourselves only you have to work, but for your dear Sisters also, whom I commend now to your especial care, and who, when I am gone, will only have you to look to- My sons, guard their purity as you would their lives- Never introduce under the roof which shelters them an immoral book or an immoral companion-banish every blasphemous and obscene word from their hearing and strive by your love and example to give them strength.
Be not ashamed of your poverty-you may by your own acts make it degrading, but it can never degrade you-So long, as you are striving to serve God in His appointed way, which involves the discharge of every duty to your fellow man, and are preserving your own self respect-you have a fund of wealth, which the richest on earth may envy-I have sometimes regretted that during the past troubles I did not look more to money getting, for your sakes, and also for your Grandfather, whom it grieves me to see dependent in his old age, but anything outside of my immediate vocation in the way of speculation I had no taste for, nor did I regard it as honorable or legitimate- besides the rage for speculation which indeed ruined our cause, was disgusting- Moreover I never doubted of success, in which event I should have had enough-Repinings now are worse than idle- they are sinful.
I append to this a list of such debts as I can recall- endeavor to discharge them out of what little property I leave, and should you succeed in life hereafter pay all, as I should have paid my Father's had I succeeded- Live in love with one another and let the younger look up to the elder- Two of you, James and Edward, I have named among my Executors- let the others assent cheerfully to what they determine, Let there be no quarrelling over my bones- In law matters always consult my friend Col. Tracy, a most safe and honorable gentleman.
Your Uncles and Dr. Raoul who are also named Executors, I beg you will always look up to- and from my good friend Wm. C. Bee, I am very sure you will never at any time receive any but most sound and Christian advice- To your good Uncle Morris and your Aunt Sue, you owe more than I can say, even the remnant saved of my property is due to their generous aid; always love and respect your Aunt Henrietta and Emma, who are most dear to me- and now my beloved boys, I commend you to that Kind Heavenly Father, who must be your chief and only trust- He has promised not to forsake the Orphan- To Him I resign you with the humble prayer that in that great day when Jesus maketh up his jewels, not one among my dear children may be among the lost- This I beg for Jesus’ sake! amen
Your affecte Father
To be read on the anniversary of my death
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