For the Boston Recorder.
Died in Plympton, Oct. 16, Mrs. Mary Dexter, the wife of the Rev. Elijah Dexter, aged 37. She was the only daughter of the Hon. Nathaniel Morton, Esq. of Freetown, Mass. Favored with a mind for uncommon attainments, she early sought and obtained an academic education. Her natural disposition was uncommonly amiable; in her address was discovered such affability and sweetness, as always to secure esteem, and such dignity as to command respect. Her friends were numerous, and her engaging
address made the transient calls of strangers at her house, agreeable & pleasant. In early life she devoted her attention to the business of instruction, and for a series of years filled with honor and usefulness, the female department in some of our most respectable academies in the southern part of the State. She had the rare talent of securing the affections of her pupils, and of communicating with ease to their minds, a knowledge of the elementary branches of education, and of bringing them forward with a rapidity seldom equalled. She often lamented the general neglect of female education, and exerted herself beyond her strength, till confined by sickness, to wipe away this reproach so far as her influence extended. Blessed with a religious education, she was often the subject of serious impressions. Though she often felt that she was a sinner, it was not until the year 1808, that the Holy Spirit led her to see the native and deep rooted enmity of her heart against God; filled her with an awful sense of helplessness and ruin; led her to Jesus, the friend of sinners; enabled her “to accept the punishment of sins”; gave her submission to the will of God, and filled her with the hope of forgiveness, through the blood of Christ. Her mind was at once enlightened to behold the beauty and essential importance of the peculiar doctrines of the gospel; and the glory of salvation by distinguishing grace. Her character was peculiarly distinguished for Christian faith, always leading to obedience and the “maintenance of good works.” On account of the desolations of Zion in the vicinity of her birthplace, she did not unite with any particular church, until May, 1809. She made a profession at New Bedford, and became a member of the Church, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Holmes. Upon this her active mind was immediately employed to put in motion the most promising means of increasing “brotherly love” and personal piety among the members of the Church, yet in such a manner as never to be seen herself. She was an ardent friend and supporter of the Female Association in New Bedford, established for religious conference and social prayer. This was the first society of the kind in that place or its vicinity, and has provoked many Christian females to love and good works, inducing them to “go and do likewise.” While her heart rejoiced to see the professed Christian shine with the reflected rays of the Sun of Righteousness, she was often pained at beholding the moral degradation and wretchedness of many in the lower walks of life. With her hand filled with the fruits of her industry, and her soul beating high with the love of Jesus, she often repaired to the humble tenements of the poor, was received by them with a cordial welcome, and while she relieved their temporal necessities, never failed to direct them to the Savior’s Cross, the only wny to obtain imperishable riches. In these charitable excursions, she remembered “the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.” It was her study and delight to do good unto all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith. Reading the command of the ascended Saviour, and watching the advancing cause of Christian Missions, she viewed it as the sacred duty of every Christian, to bear a part, and that nothing this side the grave can destroy the obligation. She was the principal instrument in forming “The Heathen Friend’s Society” in New Bedford, the articles of which have been copied by all the Branch Societies. These branches have sprung up by her suggestion and concealed agency, in nearly all the evangelical churches in the vicinity. Much has already been accomplished by them in providing the means of sending the gospel to the savage and the pagan. It is not too much to say that she was a consistent Christian. In her last sickness, which was long and unusually distressing, she had new and unutterable discoveries of the glory and supreme Divinity of that Saviour to whom she had wholly consecrated herself. During the greater part of her confinement, Christian patience, submission, and holy triumph, shone in all their native beauty and superlative worth. Her conversation was instructing and animating to Christians who enjoyed the privilege of attending her in her sickness; nor was she unmindful of those who were strangers to Christ—they received some of their loudest calls from her living voice, faultering with the slow approach of death. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” In her death, her husband and children sustain an irreparable loss ; a numerous circle of relatives and friends are veiled in mourning; her correspondents have lost an affectionate and able epistolary writer; the church one of her brightest ornaments, and the heathen a persevering and successful advocate. The Rev. Mr. Holmes, of New Bedford, delivered an, appropriate and impressive discourse at her funeral, from Job 19, 21: “Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me.”
P. S.—Mrs. Dexter’s correspondents were numerous, and widely extended. It is believed that a small volume might be compiled from her letters and papers, which would be useful and gratifying, especially to her friends. Distant friends, who have enjoyed her correspondence, and have preserved her letters, are requested to do them up in small bundles, and transmit them by mail, to the Rev. Elijah Dexter, of Plympton, Mass.