The following Memoir was provided by James W. [Bill] Hoskings
who gave his permission to post it to the web.
Transcription by Jane Devlin]



Mrs. Martha BARNES

Late of

Middletown, Connecticut


Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Middletown


The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. --
Ps. cxxi. 6.


Edwin HUNT

Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1834,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.
G.F. OLMSTED, Print., Middletown

Reprinted for

Martha Atkins BARNES was our 4-Greats Grandmother. To preserve her contribution to our family history we have had this Memoir reprinted as did our Great-Grandmother Sarah Barnes RATHBURN in 1864.

Robert Hoskins, Austin, TX -- James W. Hosking, Watertown, CT

                                        THE AUTHOR


Chapter I
Mrs. Barnes' Parentage -- Youth -- Marriage       5
Chapter II
Mrs. Barnes' Serious Impressions and Conversion 10
Chapter III
She becomes a member of the Strict Congregational
Church - Origin of the Strict Congregationalist
Chapter IV
Interesting incidents --------------------------------------------- 26
Chapter V
Unites with the Baptist Church -- Her Death 35
Chapter II
Conclusion ------------------------------------------------------ 40

Chapter I

Mrs. Barnes' Parentage -- Youth -- Marriage

          In what a varied light does Jehovah manifest himself, in the operations of his providence, considering in reference to mankind. There are not two persons placed in exactly similar situations and circumstances; for, while one is permitted to pass through the few days of his earthly existence, in the enjoyment of outward affluence, inward peace, and bodily health, another is deprived during the whole, or the greater part of his life of one or of all these blessing. This variety creates a difficulty; and to determine the reason of the Devine conduct towards individuals is beyond the limited comprehension of man. But although "clouds and darkness are around" the Almighty, "justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne;" yet we should be thankful for that revelation which assures us, "that all things work together for good to them that love God."

          It is a pleasing task to trace the steps of the pious through this world of sin and sorrow, and especially, to witness their final triumph over all their enemies in the hour of death. The temper and conduct of such, in the varied walks of life, discover the hallowing influences of the Holy Spirit on the human heart; and the changing situations and circumstances in which they are placed, in their progress to the holy hill of Zion, point out that ever-watchful providence which directs their paths; and their peaceful end is an encouragement to all who are fighting under the banner of Emmanuel.

          The biography of the humblest individual, if it were faithfully and wisely traced, would be found full of instruction. But the difficulty of so accomplishing the undertaking, lies not less, generally speaking, in the unavoidable dearth of materials out of which to compose the structure of the story, than in the want of fearless integrity to make an unvarnished use of them. Remote biography may be faithful; but it is rarely copious, often incorrect; recent biography may be drawn up for plentiful supplies of matter, but then, there are feelings of tenderness and deep interest, which can hardly be indulged to the full without some concealment of faults which ought to be stated, and some amplification of the excellencies which may be over-rated; all which is hardly consistent with fidelity. Contemporaneous biography is often written under the influence of personal or party leanings or prejudices, perhaps unconsciously entertained; and therefore indulged without suspicion. If anything of this sort should be discovered in the following pages, it is hoped the mantle of charity will be sufficiently broad to cover it.


          Mrs. Martha BARNES was the second daughter of Thomas and Martha ADKINS. She was born in Middletown, State of Connecticut, June 17, 1739. When she arrived at that age in which the mind usually opens to receive such impressions as the instruction administered, or the example exhibited is calculated to make, it was her high privilege to be favored with a mother's example worth of imitation and which pious instruction as made a deep impression on her youthful heart, operated as a check when otherwise she would have yielded to temptation, and troubled her when she did any thing wrong. This proves, if proof were needed, that children are not only capable of religious instruction, but are frequently the subjects of a gracious influence, at a much earlier age than is commonly supposed; and well would it be for the rising generation, were parents universally to subject the minds of their offspring, in their tenderest years, to the salutary bias of moral discipline, and constantly and carefully to instruct them in the things that make for their peace. In so doing, they raise the only efficient barrier against the incursions of the great adversary of God and man and the inroads of vicious example.

          Her restless spirit while a child, was often restrained by her mother; and the salutary prohibitions which this excellent parent was sometimes forced to impose, were decidedly beneficial, and were remembered by her daughter with gratitude in after life. In her earliest years, she indulged a strong relish for social amusements, and was remarkable for the exercise of unusually ardent feelings. That spirit of enterprise, and that indefatigable perseverance in the accomplishment of any purpose which she had formed, and of which her subsequent life furnished so many examples, she possessed when young.

          Her attachment to the friends of her childhood and youth, whose minds had not been brought under a religious discipline, induced her to cast off the fear of God, and to postpone a serious attention to the concerns of her soul, until (to use her own words) she was settled in the world. But when that event took place then something else occupied her thoughts, except at those times when danger seemed near, or the lightening shot across the heavens, and the thunder roared with a noise little less than terrible than the voice within, reminding her of her unfitness for heaven.

          She was married March 23, 1758, to Mr. Jabez BARNES.

Chapter II

Mrs. Barnes' Serious Impressions and Conversion

          Whatever variety there may be in the ways in which the Almighty manifests himself in the operations of his providence, we cannot fail to observe the various means that he employs, in order to accomplish the designs of his mercy in the salvation of those whom he calls by his grace. The preaching of the word -- the reading of the Scriptures -- the conversations of Christians -- and unlooked -for afflictions, are among the means which God employs for the conversion of sinners. An influenced arising from these means combined, seems to have operated on the mind of Mrs. BARNES.

          In the 38th year of her age, she was attacked by that scourge of our race, the small pox, and the apprehension of death with which she was then exercised, never could be described. The advice and pious admonitions of her mother came fresh to her recollections; and her neglect of that early counsel she thought would be her ruin. As is the case still with many in similar circumstances, promises of future amendment were made, and resolutions formed that, if the Almighty would spare her a little longer, she would serve him.

          Soon after her recovery from this sickness, on her way to Lyme, a town situated on the east side of the Connecticut river, to hear a noted preacher of the Strict Congregational Church, her horse stumbled, and she falling was very seriously injured. Her husband, not being very partial to, nor an admirer of the Separates, as they were then called, told her this was a judgment from God, sent to punish her for going to hear them. Her greatest distress, however, arose from the anguish of mind which she felt at the remembrance of the many promises made to God which she had broken, and resolutions which she had formed, but not kept.

          When so far recovered from the effects of this fall, as to be able to leave her house, hearing that a celebrated Indian was going to preach in the Presbyterian Meeting House, she went to hear him. His text was Gen. XXIV. 58, "And they called Rebekah and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go." The determined and unhesitating answer of Rebekah, struck the mind of our departed friend, and she adopted it as her own in relation to her future course in matters of religion.

          Her attachment to the Strict Congregationalists from this time increased; but her opportunities of hearing them were few. When deprived of the privilege of going to meeting, she, at this early stage of her religious exercises, spent the time in reading the Bible. On one of these occasions she came to the following passage, Prov. I, 24-27, "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you." The bitterness of soul which she then felt, and the agonizing convictions of guilt she then realized, she never could fully describe. Her sins, she said, appeared like a thick cloud before her eyes, and her soul was overwhelmed with a sense of the holiness and justice of God. .

          A divine light, to which her mind was before a stranger, flashed conviction, and the eyes of her understanding were opened and enlightened. In some cases this light is weak and indistinct, like the morning dawn, but it was not so in Mrs. BARNES. In her it was clear, enlightening the eyes, and powerful, converting the soul. The nature and demerit of sin she did not fully understand, until she was brought to compare it with the holiness and justice, the goodness and truth, the purity and requirement of that law, which she was lead to perceive she had awfully violated..

          No outward means of forms on earth, could communicate such a discovery of God, or produce such a conviction of sin, without the concurrence of this divine light and power to the soul. It is admitted that the passions may be wrought upon the outward physical means, so as to awaken some desires and endeavors to amend; but if these are not founded on a spiritual apprehension of Jehovah, they will sooner or later come to nothing; or the individual will be satisfied with a form of godliness, destitute of the power. This, however, was not the case with the subject of this memoir. The evil of sin was acknowledged by her; and the evil of her own heart was felt and deplored..

          When her eye met the passage of Scripture already referred to, the commandment came home, and by it she was slain. But by the agency of the Holy Spirit, she was blessed with such a discovery of all-sufficiency of Jesus, as fixed the eyes of her soul on him who "healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." This was the happy moment when her soul was comforted. When speaking of this she said, "The Bible and all nature seemed changed. The glory, the holiness, and the presence of God, seemed to fill the room." An individual passing the house at this interesting moment, she ran to the door, and in her peculiarly energetic manner she cried to him, "Man, man, stop and come to Christ, salvation is as free as water." To her believing and rejoicing heart, Jesus appeared just such as Savior as she needed; and a new view of the purity and holiness of God filled her soul with wonder and admiration..

          The Christian religion displays a scheme so vast and comprehensive in its extent, so wise and beneficent in its plan, so noble and godlike in its nature, as justly to excite the attention, and command the admiration of all who come within its influence. The tale unfolded in Holy Writ -- detailed with a sublime simplicity, is replete with instruction. the wonders of our redemption, exhibited in the glowing pages of the prophets and apostles, are inimitably fitted alike to exhibit the iniquity, and to point out the remedy, for lapsed human nature; and the sublimities of revelation, the terrors of hell and the joys of heaven -- all these happily and wonderfully adapting themselves to the feelings and the necessities of man, are calculated to arouse the dormant faculties -- to excite earnest inquiry -- to encourage such as seek salvation -- to develop and finally to mature the best feelings of the human heart. Here then is a field in which the subject of this memoir found ample range.

          It is no matter of surprise, that under the influence of these spiritual exercises, she longed for the return of the Sabbath; and when it came, her full heart exclaimed, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts." but she was not permitted to enter the courts of the Lord that day, unless she would go where, as she thought, the truth was not preached. This she declined, and therefore remained at home, and entered into solemn covenant to be the Lord's.

Chapter III

She becomes a member of the Strict Congregational
Church -- Origin of the Strict Congregationalists

          The spiritual enjoyment of Mrs. BARNES, an account of which will be found in the preceding chapter, did not long remain uninterrupted; for the enemy of her peace suggested that she was deceived. Her piety, however, did not consist in feeling; but there is no true religion without feeling; and the heart which has ever been suitably affected by the blessed truths, and the soul-stirring hopes of Christianity, cannot be satisfied with a dull insensibility, nor be at ease when it loses the ardor of its first love. As was natural in such a case, she went to converse with one whom, she had a right to suppose, could enter into her feelings, but in this she was mistaken. For to use her own language, "he not knowing any thing about the power of God, told me I was beside myself."

          With the result of this visit she was not only dissatisfied, but her perplexity of mind was greatly increased. Nor did she find relief until in the course of her reading she came to the eight chapter of Romans, that well-spring of consolation to the experimental believer, when light and comfort broke in, and filled and cheered her disconsolate mind.

          The joys of salvation being restored, she could no more kept this to herself than when she first found the Messiah. The Rev. Ebenezer FROTHINGHAM, then the pious and highly esteemed minister of the Strict Congregational Church, being a man of a kindred mind to her own with respect to spiritual exercises, she went to him to tell the story of the Savior's love, and soon after became a member of that Church.

          The connection of Mrs. BARNES with the Separates or Strict Congregationalists, induced the writher of this memoir to inquire into the origin and religious character of this denomination of Christians. And admiring their sterling piety, and recognizing in the principles of their separation from the Associated Churches in the colony of Connecticut, the great truth taught by our Lord when he said "My kingdom is not of this world," and the sentiment "that civil rulers, as such, have no authority from God to regulate or control the affairs of religion," he could not deny himself the pleasure of inserting a notice of that origin.

          It may be proper here to observe, that those laws to which it will be necessary to refer, which imposed burdens upon the separates and others, that neither they nor their fathers were willing to bear, and which legalized the direct interference of the civil authority in the proceedings of an ecclesiastical society, or the inalienable rights of a church consisting of individuals of acknowledged piety, have been either repealed or so modified that every man within the limits of the State may worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, a religious society erect a place of worship on the hill or in the vale without the assent of the County Court, or being subjected to the penalty of "forty pounds," and the churches elect and support their ministers in that way which in their opinion is best.

          The controversy which for many years agitated the Congregational Churches in New England, in respect to what was called the "Half-way Covenant," might have had some influence in bringing about that division which resulted in the organization of Strict Congregational Churches. But this was as the dust in the balance when compared with the pains and penalties inflicted on these self-denying and unyielding advocates of religious liberty, because they could not conscientiously acknowledge the right of the General Assembly of the state to control their consciences in matters of religion, a power given by the statutes of which the following quotations are extracts.


          "Be it enacted by the Governor, Council, &c. That when any religious society, allowed to be such by this Assembly, or established and approved by the laws of this State, shall by their votes declare it necessary to build a Meeting House; every such Society shall apply to the County Court in the County where such Society, or the greater part thereof, is situate, to appoint and affix the place whereon their Meeting House shall be erected and built.

          "And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall not be lawful for any of the Societies aforesaid, or for any part of such Society, to build or set up any Meeting House for religious worship, without procuring the County Court in the County were such Society is situate, first to ascertain the place for it, as in this Act is limited and provided.

          "And whosoever shall transgress this Order, shall incur the penalty of Forty Pounds, to the Treasury of such County.

          "Nor shall any person neglect the public worship of God, in some lawful Congregation, and form themselves into separate companies in private houses, on penalty of Ten Shillings for every such offence, each person shall be guilty of."

          Such was the religious Test Act in those days which "tried men's souls."

          The manner of settling and supporting a minister as by law prescribed, had in it something more offensive and repugnant to the views and feelings of the Separates, than what related to the building of Meeting Houses. They held "That a church regularly gathered, and covenanted together, have good right, full power, and lawful authority delegated to them by Christ their rightful King and Law-giver, to act and transact every thing within themselves, that is necessary for their well being as a Church of Christ."

          Among the things which they considered the most important as "necessary to their well being as a Church of Christ," were the right of choosing and supporting a minister in the way which they thought best. Therefore, the law of which the following is an extract, could not be by them conscientiously complied with.

          "Be it enacted by the Governor Council &c. That the inhabitants of any Town or Society, constituted by this Assembly, who are or shall be present at a Town or Society meeting, legally warned, shall have power by the major vote of those so met, to call and settle a Minister or Ministers among them, and to provide for his or their support and maintenance.

          "Provided, That no person be allowed to vote in any such Affairs, unless such person or persons have a Freehold in the same Town or Society, rated at Fifty Shillings, or Forty Pounds in the common list, or are person in full age, and in full Communion with the Church in the said Town or Society.

          "That the Minister or Ministers which have been or shall be so called or settled, shall be the Minister or Ministers of such Town or Society.

          "And all agreement which have been, or shall be made by the major part of the inhabitants of such Town or Society, qualified and met as aforesaid, with such Minister or Ministers, respecting his or their settlement and maintenance, shall be binding and obligatory on all the inhabitants of such Town or Society so agreeing, and on their successors, according to the true intents and purposes thereof.

          "And where any Town or Society within this State, shall have made no agreement with their Minister or Ministers for the sum of their yearly maintenance, and such Minister or Ministers do find him or themselves aggrieved by too scanty an allowance, every such Minister making application to the General Assembly, shall by said Assembly have ordered unto him or them a suitable and sufficient maintenance to be given him or them by the inhabitants of the Town or Society whereto he or they belong."

          The above extracts, with but one exception, are taken from the Laws of Connecticut as revised and published A.D. 1784.

          After reflecting on these Laws, and their inevitable tendency, we are led to the conclusion, that the cause of the organization of the Separates as a distinct body of professing Christians is to be found in the great principle, that the civil power had no jurisdiction over the conscience, and rather than relinquish this, they suffered "bonds and imprisonments."

          That they believed this noble doctrine is taught in the Bible, and proclaimed by reason, it is evident from the following statement found in a pamphlet published "in vindication their conduct in separating from the established churches." "We according to our judgment look upon the Ecclesiastical Constitution of this State, and the traditions thereof, to be a great departure from the order of the Apostolic Churches, as well as from the Platform of our forefathers in this land. and although they were called and importuned to take some step for reformation, they refused, and justified themselves in their Constitution and practice. Here we judge it necessary, and become our duty to withdraw from their fellowship and communion, so far as they had departed from the rule of God's word."

          The following epitome of a printed "declaration of their sentiments," may not be uninteresting to the reader.

          "First, As churches, we have ever acknowledged Westminster Confession of Faith, and Cambridge Platform of Church Discipline, as to the substance of them, to be orthodox systems of faith and practice. Yet, after all, we hold no creeds, or confessions of faith, to be binding upon us, and further than they agree with the word of God, contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

          "Second, It hath ever been our opinion, that unconverted, or unregenerate persons have no right to membership in the church of Christ so as to be admitted to the special ordinances of the Gospel. That for a person to feel in himself a right before God to membership in his visible church, it is necessary that he be well satisfied in his own mind, that his heart is disposed to love, fear, and serve God. In which things if the church be satisfied, they have good right to extend their charity to such an one, as a real disciple of Jesus Christ.

          "Third, We believe it to be the duty of all professing Christians, to let their light shine in the world, sot that their life and conversation, might be one continued preachment to others: but that every brother hath a right to set up to be a public Teacher, or exhorter in the church, we deny. It is our opinion, that all those brethren in a church, that have gifts given them, that are for the edification of the church, ought to be improved in the church, in their proper place, and to be subject to the government and direction of the church.

          "Fourth, We say, that in order for communion among churches, as churches of Christ, it is necessary that the churches so communing ought to make the christian profession, without which no body of society of people can properly be said to be a visible church of Christ. that the christian profession principally consists, in a professed heart subjection to Jesus Christ, as their rightful Lord and Sovereign, to be ruled and governed by his Law prescribed in his word."

          And they further declared, as already stated, "that a church regularly gathered and covenanted together have good right, full power, and lawful authority, delegated to them by Christ their rightful King and Lawgiver, to act and transact every thing within themselves, that is necessary to their well being as a church of Christ."

          About the time of the great revival in New England in 1741 and 2, a few individuals in the towns of Middletown and Wethersfield having embraced these principles, were formed into a church in Wethersfield, Oct. 28, 1747, and the Rev. Ebenezer FROTHINGHAM was at that time ordained their pastor. But as the principal members in Wethersfield, within a few years, emigrated into the State of New York, Mr. FROTHINGHAM removed to Middletown, and was installed over the Strict Congregationalists living there, about 1754. They were few in number, but increased considerably under his ministry. Mr. FROTHINGHAM remained the pastor of this church till some time in 1788. Field's Statistical Account of Middlesex County.

Chapter IV

Interesting Incidents

          The life of Mrs. BARNES did not abound with those enterprising, bold, daring, splendid actions or events which generally attract the notice of the multitude, still there were incidents, calculated to illustrate the grace and providence of God, and which brought into exercise that confidence in the Almighty which never shall be disappointed. If in these events, there is nothing that the man of the world admires, because he neither acknowledges nor recognizes the hand that rules the world, nor the Being who files "the bounds of our habitation," the pious can perceive the interposition of their Heavenly Father, and their confidence in Him is strengthened by every occurrence which shows that He is "a very present help in trouble."

Meets with Opposition - Asks of God a Sign

          In the early period of her religious course, Mrs. BARNES met with opposition from her husband, occasioned, not by any disrespect which he indulged towards christian institutions, but perhaps, by her unyielding determination to attend meeting where, as she thought, the pure gospel was preached, and her faith in its doctrines strengthened.

          Not knowing that it was written, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," the difficulties she met with led her to doubt her adoption into the family of God. In order to solve this difficulty, she adopted a plan which may appear to some presumptuous and in the opinion of others highly tinctured with fanaticism.

          On the Sabbath morning an unwillingness being manifested on the part of her husband to her going to what she called her own meeting, she retired into the orchard to pray, and asked God to give her the following sign if she was His child. "When I go back to the house, my husband be standing at the door, and say, come in, and prepare me some dinner, and I will carry to meeting in the afternoon." Whether there was nay direct operation of a super-natural agency in this matter or not, is left for others to decide, but the result was as she had requested, and to meeting he carried her, where she realized the truth of the Prophet's declaration, "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."

Perseverance and Confidence in God

          No threats, and no apparent danger could deter her from attending meeting with the then despised Separates. Shortly after the event just related, her perseverance and confidence in God were put to the test, and this appears to have been the last instance of direct opposition she had to encounter.

          On the Sabbath morning Mr. BARNES' usual objection to her going to meeting was named; she calmly replied, "In everything that is right I am willing to obey you, but you have no right to oppose my going to worship God, and to meeting I am determined to go." He rose from his chair, and pointed her to his musket which was standing in a corner of the room, and told her it was loaded with ball, and if "you do go to meeting," he said, "as sure as you do come back, you shall receive its contents." She told him of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, who were cast into the fiery furnace, and said, "The God who delivered them is the same I am going to worship, and I will go.

          On her way to meeting she felt as if it were the last day she had to live, and coming to retired place, she there stopped, fell on her knees, and solemnly renewed her covenant with God. The day, and its enjoyments, she never forgot so long as memory retained her seat.

          At the close of the afternoon service, she went to inquire of her minister, Mr. FROTHINGHAM, what she should do; whether she had not better go to her sister's house, and there remain until the displeasure of her husband should have subsided? Mr. FROTHINGHAM said, "No, go right home, and if he shoots you, you will be in heaven before morning." With this advice she complied. But who can describe her astonishment, when, instead of meeting her husband at the door, with the instrument of death in his had as she expected, she found him in tears. Her hope of his conversion to God, she traced to the events of that day.

Family Prayer

          About this time her husband, being a seafaring man, sailed to the West Indies, and there died of a fever. She was thus left a widow, with the charge and anxiety inseparable from a family of eight children. Her mind now became deeply impressed with the importance and necessity of commencing family prayer. Her oldest child was then about eighteen years of age, and the question often arose in her mind, "How can I pray before him?" She called her children together, related to them her religious experience, and how her mind had been exercised in relation to family prayer. Her son, in whose presence she thought it would be difficult for her to pray, said, "Mother, you pray with us, and we will all be still." From that day, to the time when her late sickness incapacitate her for the performance of this duty, it was never neglected.

Help in the time of need

          If Mrs. BARNES apparently had some faith in signs, which the following incident makes more than probable, it nevertheless may be excusable to her, inasmuch as many eminently pious ministers and others have been influenced in the same manner. Her own hands ministered to her necessities and to those of her children, so long as she had strength to labor. The wheel and the loom her hands were accustomed to turn and move. But at one time not having employment, and being destitute of some of the necessaries of life, she left her house, believing that God would provide the means whereby her wants and those of her children should be supplied. Coming to the corner of a certain street, she was at a loss which course to take. She then set up her walking stick, and resolved, that let it fall which way it might, that way she would go. In that direction she had not proceeded far when she met an individual who said, "Mrs. BARNES, you are just the person I want to see; my wife wants a rug weaved, if you will take the pay in provisions." When relating this incident herself, her eyes would fill with tears of joy, and her full heart exclaim, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped me.

How the Class for the Windows of a Meeting House
was obtained

          The First Baptist Church in Middletown was small at the time their meeting house was erected, but there were members of the Church at that period, whose liberality and piety are held in affectionate remembrance. Having progressed with the house so far as to be ready for the windows glazing, their funds were exhausted. Under these circumstances a meeting was held at Mrs. BARNES' house, to devise means whereby glass might be provided for the windows. All thought and said they had done as much as they were able, and could do no more. While the male members of the Church were speaking, Mrs. BARNES sat inquiring in her mind, "What can I do? One dollar is all I have in the house. I have neither butter nor sugar; and if I give this dollar, I shall have nothing to get any with." At length she determined to give it, and "trust to Providence for butter and sugar." She went to the drawer - took out the dollar - laid it on the table saying "There, brethren, this dollar is all I have; take it -- let it go as far as it will towards glazing the meeting house." The effect was powerful. Some of those who, a few moments before, said, "they had done all they could," now said "If Mother BARNES can give a dollar, I can give five dollars; and another said I can give" so much naming a certain amount; and sufficient was subscribed at that meeting to purchase the glass for all the windows.

          That Mrs. BARNES; confidence in God at this time was not misplaced, we learn from the following, "The next morning, while I was weaving I heard someone at the door calling me by name. I said, Who is there? It is your Sister BACON. Martha, it came into my mind last night, when I was churning, that you would want some butter, and I have brought you some. Well, I said, but I have nothing to pay for it with. My sister said, I don't want any pay, you are welcome to it. And before night I have more things sent than I needed; so the Lord more than paid me back my dollar."

Interest felt in the Burman Mission

          In the operation of the great benevolent institutions which distinguish the present age, and especially the mission to Burmah, the subject of this memoir felt a deep interest. The Christian Secretary, a religious paper published in Hartford, she highly prized, and of course, read with great attention. When reading Mr. JUDSON's Journal or Letters, she would frequently pause , and designing to implore the blessing of God on that devoted missionary, exclaim "Blessed be JUDSON." Many fervent prayers has she offered up in behalf of the benighted heathen.

          In a pecuniary way she could do but little -- she did what she could. Honorable mention is made by our Lord of a parallel case in Luke xxi, 1, 2, 3, 4. "And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all. For all these have of their abundance cast unto the offerings of God; but she in her penury hath cast in all the living that she had." An individual on his annual tour of collection for the Burman mission, called to see Mrs. BARNES, not intending to mention the object of his calls at other places; but she had been reading in the Christian Secretary what great things God was doing in Burmah -- her eyes sparkled with joy, and she said, "Ten cents is all I have in the world, you must have it for the missionaries." Give it she would, though much was said to convince her, that in her circumstances, it was not required.

          In the spring of the present year a small box called a missionary box, was given to her by Rev. Prof. H. of the Wesleyan University, who weekly deposited something in the box himself, and told her that if at any time she stood in need of what he or others might put into the box, to apply it to her own use. In July last, when her pastor made one of his usual calls, she took up her missionary box, and with an animated countenance, poured out its contents, amounting to $2.50, to be applied to the Burman mission. When told that she had better take it to supply her own wants, she said, "No, its not mine, it belongs to the missionaries."

Rare Fact

          From the 70th to the 92d year of her age, she was absent from meeting on the Sabbath, only two half days. Whether rain or shine, the sidewalk wet or dry, the sky clear or hazy, "Mother BARNES" was sure to be at meeting. It was her practice for the last two or three years of her life, before retiring to rest at night, to read a chapter in the Old or New Testament; and when she had retired, to review the chapter so far as her memory would serve, beginning with the first verse. Thus did she "remember the Lord upon her bed; and meditate on him in the night watches."

Chapter V

Unites with the Baptist Church. Her death

          In the year 1788, the Rev. Stephen PARSONS, became the Pastor of the Strict Congregational Church, of which at that time the subject of this memoir was a member. In 1795, Mr. PARSON's mind became much perplexed and exercised on the subject of believers' baptism; the result of which was that he and several of the members were baptized, and recognized as the "First Baptist Church in Middletown." This event made no small stir among the people. Some approved, and others condemned the course of the minister and his self-denying adherents. Among the latter was Mrs. BARNES, who afterward became so strong an advocate of a practice she then considered uncalled for.

          Being present when the ordinance of baptism was administered, as an individual said to her, "You will be baptize?" She replied in her own peculiarly energetic manner, "No, not I indeed; you will never see that. I don't believe the Lord requires it." The spirit of inquiry, however, on this subject had gone abroad; and among those who had their doubts as to the validity of sprinkling, administered either to an infant or an adult, for Christian baptism, was the pious and esteemed subject of this notice. That this should have been the case is not matter of surprise; nor are we to be astonished because many at the present day, who act differently, have their doubts on the same point, after reading the following concession from the pen of the Reverend Leonard WOODS, D.D., Abbot Professor of Christian Theology in the Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass. "It is plain," says this celebrated writer, "that there is no express precept respecting infant baptism in our sacred writings; the proof then, that infant baptism is a divine institution, must be made out in another way."

          A conversation which she had at this time with one of her children, served to increase her perplexity of mind on this subject. She told her son that he had been baptized when an infant; he answered, "I have nothing to do with that, mother; the Bible tells me to believe, and then to be baptized." Her inquires on this point became constant, and she read the Scriptures with close attention hoping to find something to support her former views, and to silence the advocates of immersion. But the result of her reading and reflecting on Bible statements and Bible facts was, a conviction that it was her duty to be baptized on profession of her faith. This took place sometime in the year of 1805.

          From the time of her conversion to God till she joined "the general assembly, and Church of the first born whose names are written in heaven," her religious course was remarkable for its uniformity. Christian principle became so deeply rooted and the habitual purpose of her soul was so firmly fixed that nothing seemed to shake her resolution. She selected "the old paths," and proved them to be the "good way;" she walked therein, and found "rest to her soul." She made her choice; it was "the good part," and was "never taken from her." She was, as stated in the Journals of the city in which she lived and died, "A consistent professor of religion, and her uniform piety, her Christian fidelity, her prompt and decided manner of administering reproof when needed, secured her the respect and esteem of all who knew her."

          Her spiritual exercises were not of that uneven and fluctuating cast, which leads us to contemplate their subject one day on the mountain top, and the next, down deep in the valley of doubt and bloom; but they were such as rendered her habitually cheerful, happy, grateful, contented.

          During the last few weeks of her life, she possessed the same calm and serene state of mind, that characterized the former years of her Christian course; and she came to the close with a will sweetly swallowed up in the will of God. The last words she spake with an audible voice were, "Bless the Lord, O my soul. Bless the Lord, O my soul." She died October 10th, 1834, in the 96th year of her age.

          Her character was not of that suspicious kind as to create doubts in relation to her final state. No one that I know of, called in question the sincerity of her religious profession; and if her closing hour was not marked by rapture, it was calm and peaceful. If it had the stillness of the setting sun, to those who knew her Christian character it had all its brightness. And when the dark cloud of death was hovering round, she was rising to a more glorious sky.

          Oh! How sweet to one whose little frail bark has been long tossed on the tempestuous sea of this world, and but for the safe guidance of the heavenly Pilot, would have been certainly shipwrecked, to arrive at the desired haven. And how do the very roughness and storminess of the way make the happiness of which she is now a partaker, doubly welcome. To sorrow for her, of for any Christian like her, with a worldling's sorrow, we cannot; and as to her body, though it crumble into dust, and mix with its kindred elements, yet at the command of Him, who is "the resurrection and the life," it shall rise again at the last day.

"Give glory to Jesus our head,
    With all that encompasses his throne:
A widow, a widow indeed,
    A mother in Israel is gone.
The winter of trouble is past,
    The storms of affliction are o'er;
The struggle is ended at last,
    And sorrow and death are no more."

Chapter VI


          The writer cannot conclude this memoir without mentioning a few prominent traits in the character of Mrs. BARNES. To say that she was without faults, would be to affirm what universal experience contradicts. Every person has something which he or she laments as a besetment -- an occasion of frequent regret, and which if not strictly watched over, will interrupt their christian progress. She was naturally of a warm temper, but her warmth was momentary. No sally of passion, no resentment, rankled her breast, which waited an opportunity to retaliate. She knew but in part, and was liable to err; but her errors were not willful sins against God, for she loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.

          Deadness to the world eminently marked her conduct. She was indifferent to its money, and its power; and regardless of its approval, except when connected with a good conscience. Frequently did she trace and admire the leadings of Providence, in regard to herself, and this tended to increase her confidence and fortitude. Her natural firmness and decision of character, strengthened and disciplined by divine grace, enabled her to meet with calmness and christian dignity, trials of the most appalling description, under which any ordinary spirit would have sunk in discouragement and dismay.

          Her attachment to prayer was strong. With her it was not the work of an occasional moment of leisure; it was a habit, the offspring of a deep sense of her dependence on God, and of the warmest affection to Him who is the object of prayer. When she appeared at the throne of grace, there was nothing like strangeness between the parties. He to whom her supplications were offered up, was considered by her in the character of a Friend and Father and in the breathings of filial confidence, she uttered the language of her heart. Hence to her there was nothing irksome, nothing like task work, in the duty of prayer.

          She was eminently a woman of "one book." To her the Bible was an invaluable treasure; and whether she read it herself, or listened to another reading it for her; or whether in the sanctuary of her God, the minister read and expounded it, she received its truths with ecstatic joy. It would be difficult to find a person who set a higher value on the Bible than she did. At morning, noon, and night it was her invariable companion.

          The place where Jehovah recorded his name, was, to her, "the house of God and the gate of heaven." Never did she suffer an opportunity to wait on him in his temple to pas unimproved, while she had the strength to attend. Her conscience, I believe, never had to reproach her with willful neglect of either the public or private ordinances of religion. And often did her feeble limbs bear her to the house of God, when many thought her attendance impossible. When she became so feeble and infirm (the result of age) that it would have been thought excusable for her to be absent, she would still be there. Often has she been seen there, when it was only after repeated and most laborious efforts that she could reach the place of worship; but having done that, all fatigue seemed to be forgotten, and she enjoyed the ordinances of God with peculiar delight. In her esteem, the tabernacle of the Lord was amiable; and her "soul longed, yea even fainted, for the courts of his house."

          In her character were strikingly exhibited intrepidity and fidelity in the cause of God. She was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, which had made her wise unto salvation; but loved its doctrines, and endeavored to practice all its duties, before both friends and foes. She followed her Savior through evil, as well as good report, and made it a matter of conscience to condemn sin in whatever garb it presented itself. The young and the aged, the rich and the poor, to whom she had access, were by her faithfully warned of its consequences, and exhorted to flee from the wrath to come. She was therefore enabled to say, a few days before her death, "When looking back on my past life, I see I have much to deplore; yet I have tried to be faithful to my fellow creatures. I cannot recollect one single individual with whom I have conversed, that I have not warned of the danger of sin, and told them to flee to Christ as the only refuge."

          These statements are mad, not for the purpose of honoring the dead, or of gratifying the vanity of the living, but to exhibit the fruits of that Spirit which the Almighty gives to them that obey him; to lead others to admire, not the subject of this memoir, but the grace of God which was in her; and if others are led by the exercise of the same faith, to enjoy the same salvation, evidenced by similar results, in life and death, the end will be attained.

Who has not felt some master-thought,
That through his bosom sprang like flame,
Ne'er while we live to be forgot?
We knew not how nor wence it came.

Some thought that swells the heart to pain,
That bids the tear in silence roll,
That tongue of man would speak in vain --
Some language of the soul with soul.

It comes, nay, in our idlest mood,
The lightest moment of our mirth,
The glorious stranger will intrude,
To tell us we are not of earth.

It comes like openings of heaven's gate,
To let its harpings on our ear;
To tell us, ere it be too late,
Dust as we are, our home is there.

To tell us of a form of light,
A wing-like rushing fire unfurled,
A might that in its Maker's might,
Shall flash at will from world to world.

Still brightening on from blaze to blaze,
Still rising nearer to the Throne;
Eternity before our gaze,
Tough King of kings, thy will be done.

          The following was not a part of the original book nor the 1864 reprint, but was felt to be of sufficient interest to include in this 1997 reprint.


          The following anecdote shows another side of Martha BARNES, her strong will and character. It is taken from the "History of Middletown and Long Hill", pages 153-6.

          "She rode on horseback into Middletown to make some purchases for her family. Among the purchases was a sheep's head and fluct (the heart and liver of the creature). She put the meat into a bag and laid it over the fence in the yard of Capt. Timothy SOUTHMAYD, a little south of the Savings Bank.

          A man seeing her put it there, took it and went off with it. When Mrs. BARNES came back and found it gone, she made inquiries about it and learned a man was seen going towards "The Farms" with a bag on his back. She put a whip to her horse and started after him. She met Capt. CLAY as she turned on Clay Corner Road and asked him if he had met the man. He said yes he had just gone over the Causeway Bridge. She replied, "He stole my bag and I mean to hide him."

          She came up with the man a half a mile up the hill and seeing the mark on the bag (a cloth bag) and knowing it was hers, she saluted him with "you dog, you have stolen my fluct." At the same time she drew her whip over his head and shoulders. He dropped the bag and ran for the fence, but not before he had received a mighty whipping from her quick hands."