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The Pilot�s Daughter:An Account of Elizabeth Cullingham

An Account of Elizabeth Cullingham

Francis A. Cunningham

Library of Alexandria
The subject of this little memoir was so well known to her neighbours, and to the many young persons with whom she associated, that I have felt sure a short account of her would not be unacceptable to them. They knew her quiet, virtuous, consistent, pious walk, and they will, I am sure, bear witness, that I do not over-state the blameless character which she maintained. This, as it was an example to Others, so it must be a cause of heartfelt rejoicing to her friends now that she has finished her course, and entered into her rest. To Others, this little history may have its use. It is not the account of a person of unusual powers of mind, or of attainment; nor of one placed in extraordinary circumstances, although she was blessed with pious parents, who watchfully instructed her in the truths of Religion, as well as taught her by their example. She had only the advantages which many young persons in every village and town possess, nor did she attain to any situation in life, which multitudes may not aspire to. But she gained a deep and well-grounded feeling of Religion. She learned the evil nature of her heart. She discovered and gained that treasure, which is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. She laid hold by faith on his merits. She was taught of the Holy Spirit; and the graces of the Spirit were in an eminent degree manifested in her life. She by the same power acquired the adorning of the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of the Lord of great price. She followed in the simple training of the ministry of the Church: neither seeking to wander from its pastures, nor exercising any want of charity towards those who differed from her, one of whom, attached to anOther denomination of Christians, her only surviving sister, and nearest friend, was her constant companion; with her she lived in perfect unity of Spirit. Her circumstances then had nothing in them out of the ordinary course of human life. She had temptations peculiar to her own character and disposition, and she met with the usual trials, which belong to her situation in life. She had her time of health, and of sickness. She was a daughter and a sister. She was engaged in a variety of pursuits both to gain her livelihood, and to do good to Others; but in every state,—without exhibiting any quality to which her friends and neighbours might not aspire,—she may be truly said to have walked after her measure in her Master’s footsteps, and to have adorned her Christian profession. The father of this young woman was James Cullingham. He had for many years been a Pilot. He was a man of somewhat original character. Throughout his life he had followed, without variation, the usual line of his calling, and faithfully discharged the duties of his occupation. The business of a Pilot on this part of the coast, is to take ships coming from the North to London. Then to return home again, to wait perhaps a few days till the opportunity occurs of anOther voyage. This kind of life is one of a good deal of temptation; but it did not prove more than this to him, for he passed through it without reproach, although somewhat unsuccessfully as to his own profit. In the depth of the winter, when the Northern Ports were frozen, his usual duties were suspended. It was in these intervals we had occasion to observe his valuable character. His season of rest was employed chiefly at home, reading various books; in his latter years, books of devotion; and he was rarely absent from the House of God. In the latter part of his life, he was in the habit, when at home, of having stated prayer three times a day; and he read the Scriptures in the order of the Calendar of the Prayer Book; at this period he also gave up all watching for the coming in sight of ships on the Sabbath day; always, however, being ready to go out to them, as his profession called him to do, if there was any actual necessity. On the week days at the prayers, as well as on the Sunday, he constantly attended the services of the Church. I shall long remember, during the last years of his life, (the only period when I knew him,) his respectable appearance, his attentive demeanour and the animation with which he made the responses out of a large prayer book, which was his constant companion, altogether manifesting the fulness of heart, with which he entered into the service of God. He was a fine model of a man, whose religion partook of the character of a former age. He was deeply serious, entirely practical, strict in his attachment to the Church; but his religious feeling, although it led him sometimes to a fearless reproach of sin in Others, did not so much draw him to aim at the conversion of his neighbours. He owed very much of the expansion of his religious mind to a social Prayer Meeting, at which he was a constant attendant. One of his family remembers the first deviation from that remarkable firmness which belonged to his natural character, on which occasion he came home from one of these Meetings, deeply affected, and witnessed by his tears, the impression he had received. He had one remarkable deliverance from Shipwreck. He had been called to take charge of a ship in distress which in the course of ten minutes must have perished, had it not pleased God to direct an instantaneous change of the wind. In this danger he felt himself calm and prepared for his end. He was, in after years, constantly sensible of this deliverance, and on two sheets of paper, nailed up in his bed room, he wrote as a memorial in his own large hand: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear; the Lord is the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid?” And “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart hath trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise him.” Psalm xxviii. 8. He was a man of undaunted courage, considering, that in his station of life, it was his duty to run any risks by which he might be faithful to his occupation, and acquit himself of the responsibility entrusted to him. Elizabeth’s MOther was a person of no common character. She had been left an orphan at sixteen years of age. She had spent many years in service, and at the conclusion of this time, had married. Her character was one of great decision, and warmth of feeling. She was a person of singular benevolence, and filled a valuable post amongst her afflicted neighbours, and in our District Society. Her great sympathy with Others, and her uncommon power of body and of mind, had led her to give up days and nights to nursing her neighbours. This labour eventually undermined, and permanently injured her vigorous constitution. Those only, who saw her in her afflictions, can be aware of the deep feeling which dwelt in her heart. She was in the habit of reading a variety of common books which fell in her way. I remember some very curious questions, which she once put to me on the family of an individual, which had figured in the History of England. Her piety was ardent. It was her habit to retire every afternoon to her chamber for prayer. She had not, perhaps, as much of adherence to the forms of the Church as her husband, although she was zealously attached to it, and a constant frequenter of its services. She was very peculiarly observant of statements of doctrine, made in the Public Ministry, giving the most marked preference to those which freely offered the grace of God to all. She had been led to very deep seriousness of religious feeling by the ardent piety and interesting death of her second daughter, who exemplified, during eleven weeks of painful sickness, an attainment in religion, which afforded the fullest assurance of her joyful entry into the everlasting kingdom of her Lord and Saviour. That daughter had taken a somewhat higher course of mental pursuit, than any of her family. She was accustomed to express her devout feeling in verse, and a copy book has been put into my hands, containing a variety of little poems, which at least shew her sweetness of mind, and her knowledge of religion. I cannot forbear quoting one of them, not particularly for its excellence, but because it serves to prove, in reply to the charge often made of ingratitude against the poor, how frequently a deep feeling of thankfulness may exist, which nevertheless gains no public expression. These lines are on the death of a venerable Clergyman, whom I myself knew to have been frequently foremost in acts of benevolence, and often, if necessity required it, willing to stand almost alone in deeds of enlarged charity. On the death of the Rev. J. G. Spurgeon, Rector of Oulton