Monday, February 19, 2007

Elizabeth Prentiss


I finished reading Elizabeth Prentiss’s biography about three weeks ago. There was so much to ponder in her story; so much that encourages and inspires. Here are a few favorite quotes:

On suffering:
“Indeed, I do thank my dear Master that He does not let me alone, and that He has let me suffer so much; it has been a rich experience, this long illness, and I do trust He will so sanctify it that I shall have cause to rejoice over it all the rest of my life….And may the glory of God be, as it never yet has been, my chief aim.”

On her love for her husband:
“I felt grateful to God for having granted me the rich experience of satisfied affection and almost tremble when I look my felicity in the face. What would have become of me if I had never known the happiness I have found in looking up to, leaning on admiring and loving you! We ought to bless God every day for our daily joy and solace in each other – and so we do, yet not half enough.”

On her love for ministry with her husband:
She felt that being married to a minister gave her“such lots of people to love and care for” and she was thankful for the “right to sympathize with those who mourn, to fly to them at once, and join them in their prayers and tears.”

On her sense of humor and playfulness:
The Prentisses chose to name their summer home in Dorset, Vermont, Kauinfels because as Elizabeth explained, “Kauinfels is a word that we invented, after spending no little time, by referring to a spot in a favorite brook as ‘the place where the old cow fell in’(Kau-in-fel); it looked so German and pleased us so much that we concluded to give our place that name.”

On turning 50 (at which I really chuckled, since I reach the half-century mark this year):
“I begin to feel antiquated, dilapidated, and antediluvian, etc., etc.”

On her hospitality, words written by a guest:
“What a delightful home she made! The ‘good cheer’ she furnished for the minds, hearts, and bodies of her guests was something remarkable. I shall never forget my visits…What entertaining stories she told! What practical wisdom she gave out in the most natural and incidental way! And what housekeeping! Common articles of food seemed to possess new virtures and new zest. I always went away full of the marvels of the visit, as well as loaded down with many little tokens of her kindness and thoughtfulness.”

On mixing the practical and the spiritual from a letter she wrote to a friend:
“I enclose an extract I made for you from a work on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was all the paper I had at hand at the moment. The recipe for curry I have copied into my recipe book…A queer mixture of the spiritual and the practical, but no stranger than life’s mixtures always are.”

On encouraging others:
“…the voice of a fellow-traveler always stimulates his brother-pilgrim; what one finds and speaks of and rejoices over, sets the other upon determining to find too. God has been very good to you, as well as to me, but we ought to whisper to each other now and then, ‘Go on, step faster, step surer, lay hold on the rock of Ages with both hands.’”

On the theme and goal of her life – the first verse of her famous hymn:
More Love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea,
More love, O Christ to Thee,
More love to Thee, more love to Thee.


That is my prayer, too. I am so thankful for Elizabeth Prentiss’s example. I am thankful, too, for those who have labored to give us, who live a century and a quarter later, the opportunity to know her.

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