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MRS. MARY M. ELLIS.
Mrs. Ellis was born in St. Mary's Hill, London, on the 16th of October 1793. Before she was three months old she was deprived of her father, and thus thrown exclusively upon the care of her widowed mother, whose exertions for the promotion of her intellectual improvement, and above all, of her spiritual welfare, were unremitting. As, even in childhood, she exhibited indications of a ready and retentive memory, no pains were spared to store it with passages of Scripture, and a judicious selection of hymns. Scarcely, however, had the faculties of the child begun to expand when, in her eighth year, she was subjected to the loss of her truly excellent and affectionate mother. Short, indeed, was the period during which she had enjoyed the high advantage of maternal instruction, but, by the blessing of the Spirit of God, her mind had been early impressed with the importance of religion ; and the last words her mother addressed to her were indelibly engraven on her memory; “ Mary, don't weep for me, I am going to glory; we shall not be long separated; we shall meet again soon."
Thus, at a tender age, was this interesting child called to endure trials the most painful and heart-rending. She was now an orphan, cast upon the bounty of a gracious Providence, and she was soon enabled to adopt the language of the Psalmist as her own ;
66 When my
father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." She was taken under the care of a Christian lady, who kept a boarding-school, and who, by her unwearied kindness, endeavoured, in every possible way, to supply the place of a parent.
She now attended divine service statedly at Silver Street Chapel, situated in the neighbourhood of her residence; and although she always considered throughout life that her first religious impressions were derived from the instructions of her mother, she was accustomed to date her first decided determination to be on the Lord's side, from a sermon preached to the young, on Whit-Monday, in the year 1804, by her pastor Mr. Jones, from these words, “ I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me.” From this period she was regular in her observance of secret prayer, to which she had hitherto been a stranger. Anxious to acquire more knowledge of divine things, she joined a Sabbath school connected with the chapel, which proved of remarkable advantage to her. She made rapid progress in her acquaintance with the Bible. It was her companion by day, and at night she slept with it under her pillow, ready whenever she awoke, to apply herself anew to its sacred contents. It was also a favourite employment with her to commit hymns to memory, which she was often accustomed to repeat in her after years.
The kind Christian friend who had taken the charge of the orphan girl, removed to a pleasant village at a short distance from London, and Mary soon became a teacher in the school in which she had been a pupil. At this time, however, her piety began to decline in its warmth and vitality. In this state of mind, and in consequence of temporary illness, she left the house of her friend and became an inmate in the house of a relative, where she was denied the religious opportunities she had hitherto enjoyed. The consequences were very injurious to her spiritual interests. She became giddy, and thoughtless, and comparatively regardless of religion. This melancholy state of matters was not permitted to continue long. The Almighty mercifully interposed, and rescued her soul from apparent destruction. In the year 1812, her only brother, two years older than herself, commenced business on his own account in London, and requested her to become the companion of his home, and take care of its domestic arrangements. She readily accepted the invitation, not, however, without some painful convictions of concience in reflecting on her spiritual declension. On the evening of the day on which she entered her brother's dwelling, he reminded her of the Lord's kindness in ministering to their wants, and raising up friends to them when, as orphans, they had been thrown upon the world. He expressed to her, at the same time, his determination to sanctify the Lord in his dwelling, by rearing an altar to his wor ship, as the God of families as well as of individuals. He then read a chapter from the sacred Scriptures, and he and his sister knelt together at the divine footstool, pouring forth the language of fervent prayer and grateful praise. Affected by the striking contrast between her brother's frame of mind and her
she was seized with strong convictions of the sinfulness of her conduct in yielding so readily to the fascinations of the world, and losing sight of her Christian pro
fession. For a short time she was gloomy and desponding, and was even tempted to suppose that she had committed the unpardonable sin. At length it pleased the Lord to dispel the cloud which obscured her prospects and her hopes. The light of the divine countenance again shone upon her soul, and she became a habitual partaker of that peace which passeth all understanding
Thus revived and quickened by the blessed operations of the Spirit, she joined in fellowship with the church assembling in Silver Street Chapel. About the same time she became a teacher in that Sabbath school where she had formerly distinguished herself as a diligent and successful scholar. She engaged, also, as much as her domestic avocations would allow, in works of benevolence. The missionary cause, in particular, attracted much of her attention, and besides eagerly perusing the intelligence received, from time to time, in regard to the progress of the Gospel in heathen lands, she took a peculiar interest in diffusing it among her friends and acquaintances.
At this period of her life, it pleased the Almighty to visit her with an alarming illness, which brought her to the verge of the grave, but even in the utmost severity of her disease she felt entire confidence in the grace and goodness of her redeeming God. Her friends, to whom she had peculiarly endeared herself by the gentleness and kindness of her nature, were urgent in prayer for her recovery. Their
prayers were heard, and she was mercifully raised up from the bed of sickness, and apparent death, with resolutions more ardent than
ever, to follow in the footsteps of her divine Redeemer. The cause of missions now became the frequent theme of her meditations, and although she was dissuaded, by her friends, from dedicating herself to the work as a solitary female, an opportunity soon occurred, in the course of Providence, of testing the sincerity of her desires to engage in the self-denying employment. She became acquainted with Mr. Ellis, who was then preparing to enter the Missionary field, and consented to join him in the same benevolent enterprise. They were married accordingly, on the 9th November 1815.
To a mind so tenderly sensitive as that of Mrs. Ellis, it must have been peculiarly painful to bid adieu, perhaps for ever, to her country and her friends. Supported, however, by a power greater than her own, she set sail on the 23d of January 1816, for the South Sea Islands, in company with her husband, and Mr. and Mrs. Threlkeld. The ship in which they embarked was employed in conveying convicts to New South Wales, and some apprehensions were entertained lest their passage should, on that account, be uncomfortable. But the liveliness of Mrs. Ellis's faith, and her anxiety to be engaged in the work of the Redeemer, are finely exhibited in a letter which she wrote to her pastor, Mr. Jones, before setting out on the voyage.
“ Did we not believe that an over-ruling Providence orders all things for the best, we might be inclined to murmur at being sent out in a transport vessel, (for we find that the convicts are a desperately wicked company, they have made several disturbances already, and threaten mutiny on the voyage,) but we know that we are in the hands of God, and that he has the hearts of