Letters of Rev. Samuel Dyer to his children
OF THE LATE
REV. SAMUEL DYER,
Missionary to the Chinese,
TO HIS CHILDREN.
Author of “Memoir of Rev. S. Dyer,” and
“China and her Spiritual Claims.”
JOHN SNOW, PATERNOSTER ROW.
TO THE JUVENILE COLLECTORS
TO THE MISSIONARY SOCIETIES.
My dear little friends, - Jesus Christ loved little children; for when his disciples wished the people not to bring them to him, he took them in his arms, and blessed them, to show the parents and his followers how much he loved their little ones. The true servants of Christ also love little children; and the late good missionary, Mr. Dyer, loved them much. You will think so, I am sure, when you read the following letters which he wrote to his dear little children. Read them attentively and very prayerfully. They are printed in hope, and with the prayer, that you may be benefited by them.
Richmond, May, 1847.
- 1 LETTER I To his son Samuel; on Eternal Life.
- 2 LETTER II To his eldest Daughter; on his Garden.
- 3 LETTER III To his youngest daughter; about heaven.
- 4 LETTER IV To both his little Girls; about missionary work.
- 5 LETTER V To his eldest Daughter; about a pious little girl gone to heaven.
- 6 LETTER VI To his eldest daughter; about a kind little girl.
- 7 LETTER VII About a monument for a little boy’s grave.
- 8 LETTER VIII His last Letter to his Children (perhaps the last he ever penned).
LETTER I To his son Samuel; on Eternal Life.
My dear little Boy, Your letter made papa's heart very glad, because I like you to ask me questions; and whenever you like to ask me a question, I will answer it with great pleasure.
You want to know the meaning of 'everlasting life:' now I could write you such a long letter about this, that my sheet would be quite full; yes, I think I could write a book about everlasting life, because it is so full of meaning. Now let me tell you a little about it. It means
No more pain. You remember how much pain you had, when your doctor put on a blister. You remember the pain, when your teeth were pulled out. Well, everlasting life means, no more pain. Again, it means no more tears. You know sometimes you cry because you are afraid that if you die, God will send you to hell: and if papa and mamma were to go and leave you, I am sure you would cry very much; and sometimes you cry when you are hurt. But everlasting life means, that God will wipe away all our tears, and we shall never cry any more. Again, it means
No more trembling for sin. You know you told me one night that you trembled for sin: now this is very right, because Jesus Christ tells us to repent, and trembling for sin is to begin to repent. Oh! if my little darling boy repents of his sins, this will make his papa and mamma's hearts very glad. But then we do not like trembling; and so, everlasting life means, no more trembling. Again, it means
No more separation. You see papa is obliged to leave you sometimes. But you would like me to be always at home. In heaven, I shall not be obliged to leave you,
But everlasting life means also to be like Jesus Christ; and to be with Jesus Christ; and to wear a crown which Jesus Christ will put upon our heads; and to sit down with Jesus Christ upon his throne; and to listen to Jesus Christ's kind voice; and to see Jesus Christ's beautiful face; and to wear the beautiful robe which Jesus Christ will give to us; and to hear the angels sing; and to sing too. Oh, my darling boy, I do hope you will pray to God to make you fit for heaven; because, sometimes I feel almost as if I should be sorry in heaven, if my little children were not there too.
The little sister which you never saw, she knows what everlasting life is, because she is gone to enjoy it. I am glad she is in heaven; but mamma and papa were very sorry to lose her, because when she died, we had no little baby left, for you were not then born: but now we have got three more little children I am glad she is gone; because perhaps if she was now on earth she might be a naughty girl, and not pray, and make me very sorry. But you know in heaven she cannot be naughty; and so she is safe for ever.
When I think about little Maria, who is buried at Penang, then I think I should like next year to go back to Penang, with mamma and you, and sisters; and I should like for us all to live there: and then, when all our -work on earth is done, to die there, and to be buried in the Missionary grave, close by your little sister.
Now I hope you will tell Burella and Maria something about everlasting life; and perhaps you could sometimes take them into my little study, and pray for them, that God would make them also fit for heaven. I am, my dear boy,
Your affectionate papa,
LETTER II To his eldest Daughter; on his Garden.
My dear little Lily, When God made you sick of fever, I thought that perhaps God was going to take you out of my garden, and to put you into his garden above the sky: but as he has made you nearly well again, I think perhaps he will let you stop in my garden a little longer. You know I call my family my garden, and mamma is the rose, the sweetest rose, because she is the sweetest flower in my garden; Samuel shall be the violet, because I am so very fond of that flower; you shall be the lily of the valley, because I want you to be humble; and Maria shall be the cowslip, because that is very useful: my little tulip God has taken, and put into his garden above, because it was a very beautiful flower; and perhaps if it had stopped longer in my garden, papa and mamma might have been too fond of it. But when God is pleased to take my rose, and my violet, and my lily, and my cowslip, and put them into his garden above the skies, you will there see my little tulip: and you shall all be more sweet, more lovely, more beautiful, more humble, and more useful than while you are in my garden here.
I am very glad God has made you well again; and I like you to love Jesus Christ more than me.
Your affectionate papa,
LETTER III To his youngest daughter; about heaven.
My dear little Maria, - I think you will be pleased to have a little letter from me. When we go to heaven, I suppose we shall have wings to go far away, and, if we have, we shall be able to fly back again. I shall be very glad if it be so; for I do not like to be so long away from you, and mamma, and Miss Buckland. And when I think that I must soon leave you again and go to China, I almost wish I had wings now; for then I would soon fly back again to kiss mamma and my little children. I suppose Ebenezer has almost forgotten me; give him a kiss for me, and tell him I hope to have a game of play with him soon.
Your affectionate Papa,
Malacca, April, 1843
LETTER IV To both his little Girls; about missionary work.
My dear little Girls, -I am now very far away from you; and sometimes I feel very sorry to be so far off, because, although I have a great many kind friends here, there are none like dear mamma, and Miss Buckland, and my little children. Sometimes, however, I feel happy, because we are all thinking how we can preach about Jesus Christ to the Chinese; and I have to write down in a letter all the things we wish to do; and when I am writing this letter, which is a very very long one, I forget for a little while that the great sea rolls between us, and a strong wind will not let ships come to Singapore. But when I leave off writing, then away flies my heart, and my thoughts go whither I cannot go at present. It is a hard work to be a missionary, and sometimes the missionary thinks he would like his work to be done, and to hear his dear Saviour call him to heaven. But, my little darlings, how would papa’s heart rejoice if, some day, you should be missionaries! How happy would papa be to see his children live – ‘to tell sinners round What a dear Saviour you have found!’ And if the work of a missionary were ten times harder than it is, papa would like each of you to have a missionary heart. Give my kind welcome to Miss Grant.
Ever your affectionate Papa,
Hong Kong, Aug. 1843
LETTER V To his eldest Daughter; about a pious little girl gone to heaven.
My darling little Lily, - I liked your letter very much indeed. Yesterday a gentleman gave me a little book; this book is about his little daughter, who is gone to heaven, and the book is for you to put into your library. I want you, my little maiden, to be a child of Jesus Christ; and then if he should let you get sick, papa’s heart would be comforted when he thought about you, and I should not be afraid to let you die. But if you do not love Jesus Christ, then if you were to die without loving him, papa’s heart would be sorry, and I think he would cry all day and night. O! my little darling, do ask Jesus Christ to give you a new heaert.
Your affectionate Papa,
LETTER VI To his eldest daughter; about a kind little girl.
My darling little Girl, - I think I promised to write to you a letter; but it must be a very short one, because I have so many letters to write. Yesterday I met with a very sweet little girl not much older than you. She listened very attentively to what I said, and then she began to think how she could be kind to me. So she went into the garden, picked the prettiest flowers she could find, and brought me a little nosegay. After chapel she took my hand, and did not like me to go away from her. But, as she knew I must go away very soon, she said, “I will pick another nosegay for you before you go, sir.” And go away she went into the garden, and soon came back again with some more flowers. Then I thought in my heart, I hope this little girl will be a very beautiful flower in God’s garden, and that some day God will take this little flower out of his garden here, and put it into his garden in heaven, and then it will be a flower that will never fade away. And you, my little maiden, and Samuel, and Maria, I want you all to be flowers in God’s garden, and I should wish you all to be like the lily of the valley. Perhaps you do not know why, but, if you do not, ask Samuel to tell you. I think he knows why. Kiss dear mamma for me.
Ever, my little Darling,
Your affectionate Papa,
LETTER VII About a monument for a little boy’s grave.
Hong Kong, Aug. 18th, 1843
My dear little Boy, -I have just now been drawing a plan of a little monument to be raised in the church-yard over a sweet little boy. His dear mamma was very sorry to lose her sweet babe; and she came to me, and said, “Mr. Dyer, I want you to do me a favour.” “Well,” said I, “I shall be very happy to do it if I can;” and so she told me she wanted a pattern of a neat little monument. As I never did such a thing before, I had to think how it was to be done. I have done it as neatly as I could, and I hope when the little babe’s mamma sees it tomorrow, she will like the pattern and set the mason to work. Ah, we might have lost our little baby when he was so sick, but God was very kind to spare him. And we might have lost you when you were so ill in England: but I hope you will live to preach the gospel to the Chinese. I read your letter, and was very much pleased to find that you keep up your Latin: this is doing what the Bible tells us, “not with eye-service,” &c., which text mamma will explain to you. One of our missionaries has just come through China in a Chinese dress. The evening he arrived he looked just like a Chinaman with a long tail. I think if he had been found out, he would have been put into a cage.
Your very affectionate Papa,
LETTER VIII His last Letter to his Children (perhaps the last he ever penned).
Canton, Oct. 4, 1843.
My darling children, Poor papa has been very ill, and can now scarcely write, because very weak. Yes, I thought I should never see my little darlings any more; and that poor mamma would be left alone; and my dear children have no papa any more. One day I thought I was just going to heaven. But God has been very kind to me he has made me quite well again; and I am coming back to Singapore in a few days in a ship called the Charlotte.
When I was ill, I could think about nothing but the love of God in sending his Son into the world to die for sinners. I thought I was a wicked sinner, but my sweet little Bible told me that Jesus Christ did not die for the good no, it was for wicked sinners like me; and that made me feel happy, very happy indeed. And you, my dear children, if you look into your hearts, you will see sin there; and if you cannot see sin there, ask God to give you his Holy Spirit to help you to see sin there, for I am quite sure sin IS there: the Bible says so; and you know the Bible is the book of God, who looks into your hearts. Then go to Jesus; oh! go to Jesus ; and so kind is Jesus that he will wash away all your sins in his own blood : and then how happy you will be when you come to die !
I am so happy to think that I shall kiss you all again soon. Accept my kind love, my little darlings, for papa loves you very much indeed, and dear mamma most of all, except Jesus Christ; for I must, you know, love him most, because he has done so much for me; and dear mamma likes me to love Jesus Christ best; and she loves him best herself; and so I hope do you.*
Ever your affectionate papa,
- The reader will recollect that the anticipation of this note was never realized; for on the 24th of October twenty days after the date of this he entered his rest.