This letter was written by Robert Hubbard (1782-1840), a native of Shelburne, Massachusets who became a Presbyterian minister and was installed as the pastor of the church at Angelica, New York, in 1812. He was the son of Rev. Robert Hubbard (1743-1788) and Lucy Hubbard (1755-1788).
I believe that the letter was written to Lucy Lyman (1797-1866), the daughter of Giles Lyman (1765-1848) and Mary Hubbard (1768-18xx). Lucy married Ebenezer Guernsey Hubbard (1796-1863) in 1846.
Addressed to Miss Lucy Lyman, Shelburne, County of Franklin, Massachusetts
Angelica [New York]
My dear sister,
I was absent from home when your letter arrived. The reading of it revived my recollections and feelings. I reproach myself severely that I had not written some time ago, but labor — joiner work — mason work — pairing — a house turned topsy-turvy — lassitude the result of fatigue — the writing of sermons, engagements to preach and visit families, and above all, a dreadfully procrastinating spirit prevented me from sending you a line though I believe not a week passed over my head in which I did not think of it and intend it soon. Oh, when shall I ever be delivered from a dreaming, confused, procrastinating spirit? I am persuaded that there is time sufficient allowed us for every purpose and for every work if we are diligent and pursue a right method. But I have the misery of possessing an undisciplined mind.
I have never learned to draw steadily in the team, day after day. I compare myself to a free-spirited horse of a light body, not only willing to go, but bent upon running until he is completely tired down, and then good for nothing until he has lain still long enough to recruit, and then he is for getting out upon full gallop again. Want of system and of persevering industry has nearly destroyed my usefulness several times. Nothing but the marvelous interposing grace of God has prevented its utter ruin. I assure you I would give more for your father’s active, steady, thorough-going industry than for the whole of Deerfield meadows with the home lots into the bargain.
But I am nothing more than simple Robert Hubbard, and when I consider my native volatility, my early desultory and trifling habits, my utter disinclination to everything like steady application to business, perhaps I have reason to be a wonder to myself. Certainly if I am a Christian at all or useful at all, I have reason above most men to feel myself a debtor to grace. I think I have felt and do feel often times my debt of gratitude to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I think I have been very particularly assisted in my labors during five or six weeks past. I have seemed to have new light, new strength — a new sense of the beauty, fullness, variety, fitness and divine energy of the Holy Scriptures. I have seemed to see in them a reality, a certainty, which has greatly helped me in discoursing to others. There has appeared to me, in a most convincing manner, the perfect safety of adhering to them in all circumstances, and the dreadful danger of departing from them in any particular though the fairest appearances should be offered to entice us away. I seemed to have a new impression on this point in considering the case of our mother Eve. On the one hand, the fair appearance of the tree, the supposed advantage of eating that she might become wise. Strong inducements to partake! What was against it? Nothing but the word of God. You can follow out the subject into other scripture facts. Just examine and you will find ample evidence of the safety of abiding by the word of God.
I have — if I am not deceived — received new encouragement of late to expect the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit upon my heart and upon my labors. I found it in the word of God and I have seen, I hope, some indications of serious attention, if nothing more, in places where I have preached. I have felt for some time past, more resolved than for years before to devote myself wholly to the work of the ministry, trusting in God to supply my wants and those of my family. For these I desire to give thanks to God and to devote myself to Him without reserve. May [I] be pardoned, assisted, guided, according to the holy scriptures of the abounding grace of the Father, through the mediation of the Son, by the light and energy of the Holy Spirit. I beg the prayers of my dear Shelburne friends to whose kindness I am much indebted. May the grace of God be with them.
We are well and we send love. Love to all. I have not room to specify. I owe letters to some in Shelburne, and to your brother Giles. I design to pay these debts before another six months passes away. I wish to have tracts and some children’s reward books purchased and sent to the Book Store of E. F. Backus, ¹ State Street, Albany. 30 or 40 of my sermons will be sufficient to send, or even a less number if they can be sold or exchanged for tracts.
— R. Hubbard
¹ Eleazer Fitch Backus (1770-1859) was a book publisher and shop keeper in Albany, New York.