“It is hard for an active politician
to be a devoted Christian.”
~ 1840 ~
Jessamine County Kentucky
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Stampless folded letter sheet.
Black circular postmark:
Manuscript rate:
       Samuel Barnett Esqr
       Washington county

Nicholasville June 26th 1840

Dear father,
  I received your communication of the 13th on last Monday, and now sit down to answer it. I am glad to hear that you are all well. John wrote to me that you were living in Burgan’s house; and you told me that you have almost completed a house behind the store. How does Martha do for a housekeeper? Do you think that she made any improvement whilst at Washington? From what you tell me Hollands has come far short of getting out of debt in a year. How does he expect to do? I venture to predict that you and he will soon be on bad terms as you were before. But be careful to act towards him as a Christian.
  My session will be out in two months. In regard to the question that I proposed to you for consideration in my last letter, I now state that I have a serious notion of going to the Cherokees. In the first place, this is a day of missionary enterprize. The means are no doubt in operation which shall, through the blessing of God, effect the evangelization of the world. ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few’. Many laboureres are called for. Who shall go? Who are going? If it is the duty of any to go, is it not my duty? I think that I could not be better engaged than as a missionary. I may say that as far as I see now I will be a missionary. As long as God keeps me in this world I will labour for him. Whither shall I go? is the next question. Shall I stay in this country, or go to a foreign one? I wrote sometime since to Dr. Brown requesting him to inform me if he knew of any demand for missionary teachers. He answered that he knew that teachers were wanted, and that he would write to the East to the secretary of the board of on the subject and as soon as he heard would inform me. I expect another letter from him in a short time.
  To me the way to the Cherokees seems to be open. It is a Methodist mission. Young men who are members of the Methodist church are required. It is under the direction of the Arkansas conference.
  The compensation is the same as that allowed to travelling preachers. I will show you how I view your objections to my going.
  Your objections are first, that there are enough of young men to go who are qualified besides me, and secondly, that I would not be doing all the good I might do. As to the first objection; who are going? It may be that none will go; indeed it is quite probable, and shall these poor Indians be left destitute just because I quess that others will go? In respect to my being qualified to fill a higher station, I think that those very qualification should induce me to go. They would fit me for more extensive usefulness amongst the Indians. I could exert a much greater influence than those bring the whole weight of these qualifications to bear on the object of civilizing and evangelizing the Indians. I would look to a more extended sphere than that of a school. As to your second objection I answer. Of what use would I be in a college? It would be an easier and more honorable (in the world’s estimation) life for me. I would make more money. But suppose that I should be nicely fixed in a college. I would then have some such thoughts as these. Well, here I am well stowed a way. I have a good salary and it is sure. But there are the Indians. They have none to instruct them. They are perishing for lack of knowledge” If I had any moral feelings could I rest contented with these thoughts? As for the honours of the world I would care nothing about them. I wish to live as one who has here no continuing city here. I wish to live for reason. Your paternal anxiety for my welfare has betrayed you. Your objections are not well grounded. You do not wish me to remove from civilized society. But if it is the Lord’s will, will you not bid me God speed? When you answer this letter I shall determine. If I go I will start about the middle of October, I shall however wait for a letter from Dr. Brown. Perhaps the Lord may call me to some other part of his vineyard. His blessed will be done. You tell me that the democratic party think of taking you up as a candidate for the legislature this fall and ask my opinion on the subject. I would say this. You are a professed follower of Jesus Christ, and should do all to the glory of God. Ask yourself whether you could as much or more glorify God in a legislator’s capacity. A politician’s life is a dangerous one. Nine out of ten are injured. It is hard for an active politician to be a devoted Christian. And look into your own heart and ask youself what are your motives. Is there not pride there? A desire of the praise of men? Is there not a desire of gain? But we owe duties to society and you might consider them. On the whole commit the matter to God. Trust in him for his guidance. If you are taken up and elected carry with you the halls of legislation a high sense of your moral obligations, to be the friend of religion and order, not a blind party politician. Remember your danger and trust in God for his protection. For my part I would rather you would not be taken up.
  In a former letter I requested you to give me some information in relation to my mother’s death. Will you take the trouble to comply with this request in your next. Give me some notion to of the character of her piety through life. I have been studying Hebrew for a time and find it a very pleasant study. I intend to prosecute it.
  There is no news of particular interest about here at present. Times are hard and it is difficult to get money.
  I would like to know where Gist is. and Snell, Give my respects to all at home, and to Aunt Martha & grandmother when you see them. Tell Martha (sister) that she must write to me. Ask Hollands why he does not write.
  Be careful that the cares of this world do not draw you away from the narrow path that leads to heaven. Let us so live that an entrance may be administered to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I am your affectionate son
Wm G Barnett

To Mr. Samuel Barnett Esqr
PS Please to answer this letter immediately. If the mail does not start from Bentlysville send your letter to Bellville to be mailed.
Transcription: © Melanie Hamilton 2005

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