A New Year's Letter From Long Ago

Broughton Chapel, Hampshire, Anne Steele's church

Happy New Year! May you have the joy of walking with the Lord in the coming year.

I'm reading Sharon James' book, In Trouble and In Joy, which gives short biographies of four women: Margaret Baxter, Sarah Edwards, Anne Steele, and Frances Havergal. She includes excerpts from the writings of each woman. Hymnwriter* Anne Steele (1717-1778) penned this letter to her young niece, Polly, one New Year's Day:

My Dear Polly, 

It is a common complement at this season to wish a happy New Year, but my wishes for you reach further than a year, beyond the short revolution of time, which will soon pass away. I wish for you, my dear, a happy Eternity! The only way to it is by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, as you read in your Bible, "Whom to know is Life Eternal." O that your mind may be early improved by diving Grace with a sense of your need of this almighty Saviour and that you may be enabled to believe in him and obey him...don't go to bed one night or come down one morning without praying to God for his Grace. This advice I have given you before, but I fear you do not think of it constantly, and wish that this letter may help you to remember it.

I am, my dear Polly,
your truly affectionate aunt.

* Miss Steele's hymns include "Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul," and "Thou Lovely Source of True Delight."


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