Journal of Young Woman's Conversion to Methodism and Her Constant Internal Struggle That Followed. Sarah Ann Welch.
Journal of Young Woman's Conversion to Methodism and Her Constant Internal Struggle That Followed

Journal of Young Woman's Conversion to Methodism and Her Constant Internal Struggle That Followed

Baltimore, Maryland: 1838-1841. Item #2293

7 5/8” x 6 3/8”. Marbled paper-covered boards, morocco spine. 187 numbered pages, approximately 43,000 words in an easily read hand. Good: boards detached and heavily worn, text block split into four sections. This is the fascinating journal of a young woman, beginning when she was 18 years old. It documents her conversion to Methodism and her love and betrothal to her childhood playmate, Mezick. Sarah Ann Welch, from Baltimore, Maryland, was born in 1819 and was swept up in the evangelical revival that happened there at the end of the 1830s. She spent most of her time at the Wilk Street Church, though she also mentions a church on Caroline Street as well as one other. Her writing is often eloquent, but it's also rambling and frantic and frenzied, as she regularly battled the demon that was her brain. The journal begins in January 1838, where she wrote short entries that described going to school and with whom she interacted. On the second page, January 30th, her style changed abruptly and permanently when she wrote, “There is a great revival of Religion at Wilk Street. I do not think I ever felt so anxious upon this subject before. I feel the need of it and I know I can't be really happy without it, but I do not feel so sorry for my sins as I ought to feel and I cannot feel so anxious as I should, but I do hope that I may never be satisfied until I obtain it. ” A few days later she determined to never read another novel and she stopped wearing jewelry. A preacher assigned to her district, Gerard Morgan, took her under his wing and on February 6th she converted and wrote, “I do not feel so transported as I expected to feel, but there's such a peace and tranquility in my breast. ” That tranquility was an infrequent visitor, as Sarah regularly struggled with obsessive thoughts that she couldn't will out of her head. The battle often had to do with when she noticed taking pleasure in what was going on in the physical world, thinking it was to her spiritual detriment. These feelings would often boil up and overwhelm her, and she would rationalize her misery as being God's will such as this entry in March, 1840, “I wonder how it is that I do not always feel the emptiness of earth, as I feel it now. I feel strongly attached to some things, but they are not to be compared, in importance, to the interests of my soul. What matter is it if I have not all my foolish heart sometimes longs after for I shall soon, very soon have to die and leave all. I live and then it will be forgotten as a dream that has passed. I do not desire anything but what it pleases God to grant me, but I do sometimes think that I might have that which would make me happier here. I know it is in kindness that my Heavenly Father denied it me; and I feel no other disposition than thankfulness toward my heavenly father for it leads me to seek all my happiness from him and he is the only true source of happiness. I feel sad today but I like this feeling; it is a calm resigned feeling. ” Day after day, feelings of happiness would be replaced by dread: --“it has been a very happy day but I am so much afraid that I enjoyed myself so much in the society of my friends that it will take too much of my heart from God” --“I have been too much again drawn to earth. I do indeed want to love this world less but my heart will still cleave to it too much. ” --“I feel less disposed than ever for company. It is more pain than pleasure to me. Today after dinner I felt it so sweet to retire to my little room away from all the bustle and held conversation with my Heavenly Father and these lines came to my mind. ” A significant percentage of Sarah's writing related to her religious life, though we do learn a bit about her friends and family members and her fierce desire that all of them convert. When her father finally did, she wrote, “he was blessed last night at Wilk Street altar . . . When they went to the altar there seemed to be something like an electric shock went through the house: there was a shout! In the camp indeed. ” The journal is sometimes agonizing to read, especially when Sarah determined that she was simply a bad person and unworthy of anyone's love. Like anyone making such a commitment, she also expressed her doubts, “sometimes I am almost ready to conclude that there is no such sanctification as the Methodists preach, but is all imaginations. ” The last quarter of the journal contains another abrupt shift. On April 9, 1840, she announced her love for Mezick, a young man with whom she grew up and who is mentioned as a new convert earlier in the journal: “this has been an eventful night. O I ought to love my God for he has given me the being I love most in this world. I don't know how I feel. Mezick loves me. I have been thinking too much of him lately. O, I feel that I love him so very much. My Father thou seest my heart, thou knowest it is my sincere desire to love thee above all earthly joy. O guard me keep thine arms about me, help me to be resigned to thy will in all things. Mezick is dearer to me than life, but if it's the will of God, to deprive me of him I would give him up though it broke my heart. ” A few days later they were engaged. The tone of her writing did not change and her self-flagellation continued, except now the focus was almost entirely on the concern that her love for Mezick was harming her relationship with God: “this has been a morning of sad feelings to me. I cannot banish them. O Lord keep me from temptation, I had a most powerful one last night, and oh! What a mercy it is I was not overcome. I shudder to think of it. I feel that I am in danger. O how my poor heart has ached but I have not sinned. My affections cling too strongly to dear M. My all of earthly happiness is depending on upon him. O he is indeed dear, very very dear to me. ” A few days before she announced her love for Mezick, Sarah provided keen insight into her struggle, while being unable to apply the knowledge to her own situation. The following passage best encapsulated her daily torrent of ups and downs: “I have often thought it would be far better for us never to serve the Lord at all than to serve him with a half heart. Half-hearted service God will not accept; half-hearted Christians have just enough religion to make them miserable for they cannot with any peace partake of this world's enjoyments and they are not enough devoted to God to seek all their pleasure from him so they are in a strait betwixt the two, and can neither enjoy the one nor the other. May God preserve me from this state. I fear that I am fast approaching it. ” An exceptional and highly readable account of a young woman's struggle to balance her spiritual and terrestrial lives. This item is offered by Langdon Manor Books, LLC, antiquarian booksellers. Please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information and/or photos and we will respond promptly. We package our items carefully, ship daily, and have a no hassle returns policy--your satisfaction is guaranteed. 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Price: $2,750.00

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