This letter was written by Rev. Mark Tucker (1795-1875), the son of David and Cyntia Tucker. He was an 1814 graduate of Union College and the Theological Seminary at Schenectady, New York. Her served as a Presbyterian pastor in Stillwater (NY), Northampton (MA), Troy (NY), Providence (RI), Wethersfield (CT), and Vernon (CT).
Mark was married first to Harriet Sophia Lord and had four children with her before her death in 1841. He took Eliza Palmer Dixon (1808-1867) in 1843 as his second wife. They had three children, one of whom was Fellows Dixon Tucker who enlisted at age 18 as a private in Company A, 16th Connecticut, but deserted following the disasterous repulse of his regiment in Otto’s cornfield at Antietam. He made his way to England and never returned.
Rev. Tucker wrote the letter to Walter Hubbell (1795-1848), the son of Abijah Hubbell (1761-1843) and Clarissa Fitch (1768-1841). Hubbell was a college chum of Tucker’s and an able lawyer in Canandaigua, New York. He was married to Eliza Maria Phelps (1798-1839) in 1820.
Addressed to Walter Hubbell, Esqr., Canandaigua, New York
Stillwater [Saratoga County, New York]
Monday, August 28th 1820
My very dear friend,
I have [been] waiting impatiently for a leisure that I might at least write a few words to give you the assurance of my warmest friendship & assign the reason why such friendship could remain silent so long. I learn from your last, most welcome, letter that you have ascertained it. Yes, my dear brother in the love of Jesus, it was only because my master had so much work for men that I appeared to neglect you. During those breathing pauses, which my almost exhausted nature required, I often thought of you & prayed for you under your heavy trials. I am rejoiced to hear that they have wrought i you the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Our gracious sovereign knows infinitely best what is of our good & you may always remark it that those trials which seem to be appointed for us are precisely those which we need. They are such a nature as to be adapted to our respective circumstances.
You have found out by this time, I presume, why God touches you in that place. Were you not in danger of forsaking the fountain of living water, & of looking to some broken cistern for refreshment; were you not some opposed to the sin of loving the creature more than God the Creator? I only ask, has not God take the most effectual means to stain, in your eyes, all earthly glory to make you feel the emptiness of earthly happiness, & the fleeting nature of earthly hopes. The lessons you learn in the school of Christ you will soon forget. While I sympathize with you in your afflictions, I divinely feel to rejoice that the Savior appeared to be fitting you for greater usefulness in the church: trials are unusually in proportion to the measure of faith: those who are selected as instruments of good to others are prepared by crosses & self-denial.
Moses was fitted for his station by 40 years’ seclusion & abstinence in the wilderness of Arabia. The trial of our faith is more precious than that of gold that perisheth. If it is the will of God, I hope your bosom friend may be spared & that you may both live to adorn the profession of the gospel & be instruments of promoting the honor of God.
God, my brother, has been placing me in another school, to learn wisdom. I have witnessed glorious things since I saw you. That great work which has been carried on in this place has been marked by no extravagances, no unusual excitement. It has been still, solemn, & powerful. It seems to have been assisted principally by the preaching of the gospel. Every faithful & well meant exertion that was made seemed to be accomplished with a blessing. It was confined to no particular class nor age. God has put honor upon his own institutions. lost the whole town has been visited. In about eight months, 200 have united with our church. Since I have been settled here — which will be three years next fall — 250 have been added to this church. When I think of what God has done for this people since I have been connected with them, I have reason to be deeply humbled for my own unfaithfulness & to bear continually upon my heart a sense of his great goodness. I hope you will not forget to pray for me that I may have wisdom & strength to go in & out before the people of God & not sin.
I am sorry to hear that any prejudices exist against Mr. [Evan] Johns. I know his character. He has continued as long with you as I expected. It is strange that foreigners will not learn a little more conformity to our habits & manners. It strikes me that a faithful & humble minister will try at least to become all things to all men that he may win some, as did Paul. Mr. Johns is an able preacher & might be extensively useful if he would lay aside that English stiffness & distance & become familiarly acquainted with the people of his charge.
I had very serious thoughts last year of leaving Stillwater because it was so large a field & I had so little time for study. But now the field is enlarged, my flock has nearly doubled, & I am bound to them by ties which it seems nothing ought to break. I have less time but more encouragement to preach. I have the promise that my strength shall be equal to my day, & all I have to do is to rest up it, & go forward. My family friends were never exactly pleased with my situation here — nor in any other point of view, than usefulness (which has governed me entirely) do I like it. I am very unfavorably situated as to ministerial intercourse & assistance which a young pastor feels sensibly.
I do not know of any person at present who is not settled that would be suitable for you, if left vacant, except it be [Benjamin Blydenburg] Wisner. He is licensed tho’ still at Princeton. He preached for me one sabbath while he was up. They were his trial sermons. They were very good — well studied tho’ rather too didactic. He speaks better than I expected. His preaching is very acceptable. He is still prepared & will take a very high stand. He will do for some place where they want great preaching & expect to hear nothing more for their minister till the next sabbath. He is a great student [and] has a great knowledge of theology. I have an idea he will yet be a professor for somewhere. If he fails any, it is in feeling & pathos. His sermons are better calculated to instruct the understanding than to touch the heart. He has a call from the congregation in New Brunswick, New Jersey — and I have heard it intimated that the people of the Old South in Boston had some notion, from recommendations which they had received of inviting him to come & preach with them awhile. I expect to see him this week & shall know.
Warner I saw this spring in New York. How he is doing, I am not able to say. I think likely very well. He has not yet made any attempt in public. _____ is with him & his brother. [Henry] Vandenberg is in Washington — a secretary to some office there. [Gideon N.] Judd is settled lately in New Jersey, not far from Newark. [George W.] Gale, who is settled in Adams, Black River Country, is about to be married this fall. The most of our class are scattered & lost in the great map of the world, never perhaps to be heard of till their names are read off at the judgement. Solemn thought! Under what different circumstances will the [paper creased] composed the list of our class, be called on that day. O, that we might so number our days as to apply our hearts into wisdom.
I do not yet give up all hopes of seeing you in the western country. Perhaps God will so order it that we may meet at your house. I hope so.
Give my affectionate regards to Eliza. Mrs. Tucker sends her best respects. I need not tell you how much gratified we should have been to have seen you here when you were down.
Yours sincerely in bonds of Christian love, — Mark Tucker