My Dear Wife: - I am now at Jeremiah Browning's in Chatham, and in pretty good health, although I have been very unwell for several days since I left home. I have had another tossing on the waters in coming up the sound yesterday, and night before last it was so rough that we had to put into New London and stay the night, so thou may see that I have had some experience on rough water. I stayed last night at New York and came on to this place this morning. It is now very pleasant. I expect to attend Chatham Quarterly Meeting to-morrow, and perhaps meeting in Albany on First-day; and on Second-day morning, if nothing occurs to hinder, I shall look towards home sweet home, which I thought of much when I was so dreadfully sick among strangers. Oh, to me there is no place like home, and none so dear as those that compose the family circle. This is right, yet it is not a bar to our having proper love and respect for others, but every heart must have a center somewhere even in this world, though it may be supremely attached to the Great Source of all good. In wisdom we are made for society, and those who have no right connection with it, those who have no friends in whom they can repose confidence without distrust, are unfortunate indeed. One can realize this to some extent when away from home. These reflections lead me to consider in such degree as I can the vast amount of misery in the world, - yes, and all around us.
Selfishness often causes that part of the heart which lies nearest to others to become distrustful, cold and hard, caring only for themselves, or if they hold intercourse with others it is only for selfish ends. This state of things I call unnatural, and I believe it has been the principal cause of the present inequalities among men. It is the same disposition that prevailed in Cain.
I was led last night to reflect deeply on these matters during my wakeful hours; in my room I could hear distinctly the slang, profanity and confusion of one of those dreadful dens of misery that exist in large cities (as well as in some smaller ones), and I looked for the cause in human nature; I could not find it in diversity of talents, chance nor Providence; whence is it then? It plainly lies in man's perversion of the good works of God. It is difficult to point out many wrongs amongst men where inordinate selfishness is not at the foundation; I can upon this ground account for wars, slavery, hypocrisy and unchastened zeal in religion; it fills the jails and prisons, the alms-houses and such dens of hell as that from which I heard the cries last night. And I cannot wrap my cloak around me and pass on without deep sorrow, for they are of the human family, and my heart feels - yea, bleeds for them. May God open their eyes and have mercy on them. What honest human heart could bear the pang of knowing that a daughter was within those accursed walls, or that a son was venturing into those whirlpools of misery and death? I thank God that I can pray for them, and for all who have gone astray, and that he enables me to pray for my enemies - those who would slay me; and I greatly desire that I may retain this state of mind during my probation here. If the world would seek me to come into this condition the evils of society would soon be cured, for the gospel could do its legitimate work; the high would be abased by humility, the low exalted by hope, the sword would be beaten into ploughshares and the spear into pruning-hooks, and all could put on the beautiful garments of linen clean and white, even the righteousness of the saints. With much love, thy own,
Sunderland P. Gardner.
Chatham, Eleventh month 6th, 1856.
Eleventh month 9th, Fifth-day. - Attended the meeting held on the occasion of the burial of Betsy, wife of Reuben Dean, at Friend's meeting-house, Macedon, at the third hour in the afternoon. A season of favor, though in the fore part of the meeting great poverty of spirit.
14th, First-day. - A very low time with me this morning; deep felt poverty of spirit in my present state. Attended our meeting at the usual hour; silent suffering was my allotment. My state seemed to be best described by the language of Jesus: "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death."
Had an appointed meeting at the Baptist meeting-house, at Macedon Locks, at three o'clock in the afternoon, accompanied by my friends Abram Wilson, Stephen Hatfield and William Clark. It proved to be a highly-favored season, in which the gospel was livingly declared to a large and attentive assembly, which seemed to be impressed and solemnized in a remarkable manner. My bonds were loosed, and the Master led the way; the language of my soul is, "Blessed be the name of the Lord, for his mercy endureth forever."