Christopher Healy.

Memoir of Christopher Healy, principally taken from his own memoranda online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryChristopher HealyMemoir of Christopher Healy, principally taken from his own memoranda → online text (page 1 of 18)
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AT friends' book STORE, 304 ARCH STREET.


The following Memoirs of our beloved Friend Christo-
pher Healy, it will be observed, are principally taken
from his own memoranda and letters. His fervent zeal
for the cause of Truth, so near his heart, is shown through-
out the volume, and his memory is warmly cherished by
those who still recall his loving council and gospel labors.



CHAPTEK I.— 1773 to 1793.

Birth and parentage. Early religious impressions. Attends
a meeting of Friends for the first time in, his fifteenth
year ; observations thereon. Successfully opposes the
doctrine of predestination. Called upon to adopt the plain
language and a 2)lain dress. Received into membership
with Friends, 9

CHAPTER II.— 1793 to 1808.

Marriage with' Alice Sheffield, and humble setting out in life.
Belief that he would be called to the ministry, and ex-
ercises preparatory thereto. Removal to the neighborhood
of Rensselaerville, N. Y. Removal to Middleburg, N. Y.
Observations on his employment as a teacher. Death of
his father. Appears in the ministry. Remarks on the
comfort experienced in the attendance of meetings for
worship, .......... 22

CHAPTER III.— 1808 to 1809.

Engages in a religious visit in Coeymans' Preparative Meet-
ing, N. Y. Remarks on the evils of the use of and traffic
in spirituous liquors. Warns a neighbor on account of
having a man who pretended to be a soothsayer in his
house. Strengthened in a time of deep trial by the unity
of his friends. Visits a man, and warns him against
preaching for hire. Removes within the compass of Coey-
mans' Preparative Meeting. ...... 36

CHAPTER IV.— 1809 to 1810.

Has a meeting in the Dutch settlement of Schoharie. Ex-
perience of tlie enjoyment of Divine favor. Remarks
on the sufferings and resurrection of Christ, ... 44



CHAPTP:K v.— 1810 to 1812.
Remarks on the preciousness of true unity. Religious con-
cern for the chihlren in liis school. Visits a sick woman,
a member among tlie Methodists, and attends her funeral, 54

CHAPTER VI.— 1812 to 1813.
Visits meetings and families near Rensselaerville, N. Y.
Visits Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting, and some meet-
ings in Connecticut. Letter of Dorcas Brown. Letter
of Lydia Weeks. Leaves' home to visit Friends and others
in Easton and Ferrisburg Quarterly Meetings. Death
of his wife. Letters of Mary Varney. Letter of Jolm
Wilbur, 59

CHAPTER VII.— 1813 to 1814.
Attends the Yearly Meeting in New York, Visits meetings
in P^aston Quarterly Meeting. Religious engagements
at home. Visits Friends and others in the eastern and
southern parts of New York, and in Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting. Incident related of his entering a ball-room, 78

CHAPTER VII I.— 1814 to 1824.
Marriage to Sarali Miller, of Bucks County, Pa. Pays a
religious visit to some parts of the New England States.
Pays asocial visit with lus wife in Pennsylvania. Holds
meetings in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Visits the western part of New York State, and some of
the Indian tribes there. Visits the Southern and Western
States. Again visits some parts of the Southern and
Western States. Interview with four men under sentence
of death at Goshen, N. Y. Removes to Bucks County,
Pa., and opens a school. Visits Friends and others in the
Northern and Eastern States. Visits Friends and others
in New York and L'pper Canada. Letter to his Avife.
Remarks after holding meetings with Indians, . . 9G

CHAPTER IX.— 1824 to 1828.
Remarks on the doctrines of Elias Hicks, and efforts used to

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stop the progress of anti-Christian sentiments in the Society
of Friends. Visits Friends and otliers in the Soutliern
States. Solemn meetings witli slaveliolders and slaves.
Letter of Nathan Hunt. Separation in the Society of
Friends caused by doctrines promulgated by Elias Hicks
and others. Attends New York Yearly Meeting in 1828, 108

CHAPTP:R X.— 1828 to 1831.

Embarks on a visit to Friends and others in Great Britain
and Ireland. Letter to his wife. Letter of Ann Jones.
Letter of William Evans, ...... 117

CHAPTER XL— 1831 to 1832.

Visits Ireland. Returns to England. Letter of Mary J.
Lecky. Letter of Sanniel Reynolds. Letter of Joseph
Thorp. Extracts from letters of C. Healy to his wife.
Letter respecting the character of C. Healy's religious
exercises in England. Remark of John Barclay on his
Christian fearlessness. Extracts from letters of Tliomas
Christy Wakefield and Jacob Green. Returns to America.
Notice of an interview with a young man in England on
the danger to Friends of joining with persons of other
religious denominations in benevolent associations, . 129

CHAPTER XIL— 1832 to 1838.
Visits meetings in Bucks Quarterly Meeting, Penna., and
in New Jersey. Visits Friends and others in New York
and New England. Extract from a letter to his wife.
Remarks on Divine judgments to be apprehended for the
treatment by the whites of the Indian and African races.
Visits meetings composing Abington and Haddonfield
Quarterly Meetings, also Shrewsbury and Rahway Quar-
terly Meetings, N. J. Visits Friends and others in several
Quarterly Meetings in Pennsylvania. Holds Meetings in
New Jersey, where no Friends were settled. Visits some
of the tribes of Indians in the West and North-west, and
Friends and others in Michigan. Extracts from letters to
his wife. Testimony of, to Christ inwardly revealed, :im
till- Inuiidation of the faith and practice of Friends, 143



CHAPTER XIII.— 1838 to 1841.
Attends Abington and Iladdonfield Quarterly Meetings, and
Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Visits tlie families of Friends
in Bucks and Abington Quarterly Meetings. Holds
meetings with the inmates of the County Poor-houses
in New Jersey. Remarks thereon. Visits Friends and
others in the northern and western parts of New York
Yearly Meeting, and in Ohio. Letter from B. W. Ladd.
Religious engagements at and near home. Incident con-
nected with a visit of Christopher Healy to the Yearly
Meeting of "Women Friends in New York. Letter of
Joseph Edgerton, .157


Anecdotes of the happy effects of faithfulness experienced
by Christopher Ilealy in the maintenance of the testimo-
nies of Truth to plainness of address, &c. Anecdote of his
humility in condemning a fault. Opposes the doctrine of
predestination in an interview with Paul Todd, . . 165

CHAPTER XV.— 1842 to 1849.
Visits Friends and others in the limits of Indiana Yearly
Meeting, and some of the Indian tribes in Wisconsin Ter-
ritory. Letter to his wife. Remarkable religious oppor-
tunities with Indians of the Brothertown and Stockbridge
tribes. Letter of Joseph Gibbons. Letter of Cutting
Marsh. Visits meetings in Iowa. Extracts from letters
to his wife. Attends meetings in Indiana. Letter of
Sarah Keese. Notice of religious engagements in Penn-
sylvania, New Jersey and New York, .... 176

Appoints public meetings in several of the New England
States, 204


Notice of some of his religious communications, and in-
cidents related by him, 219

Last illness and death, 233






HAViN(i for some time believed it required to leave
l)ehind me a relation of the dealings and tender mercies
of the Lord my God with ine from my young years, for
the encouragement of the sons and daughters of men who
may set their faces Zionward ; and also to bear my testi-
mony, that the Lord will bless and favor all those who are
obedient unto Him, with the reward of peace which this
world cannot give nor take aAvay, I commence this ac-

I was born, according to records obtained, on the eighth
day of the Tenth Month, one thousand seven hundred and
seventy-three, at East Greenwich, in the State of Rhode
Island. My parents were Joseph and Rachel Healy, who
were accounted honest people ; and who, when I was about
a year old, removed to the State of Connecticut into a

10 JOURNAL OF [1784.

town since called Montville ; where we lived about four-
teen yeans. Before I was eleven yeare of age, I often felt,
when alone, the judgment of the Lord upon me for my
disobedience — the secret stirrings of the grace and truth
of the Lord Jesus manifested in my heart. Which light
did teach me what I should do, and what I should leave
undone ; and when this judgment of God in my heart for
sin and disobedience was felt, I promised amendment
of life.

My parents not yet being so much concerned for our
spiritual welfare as they ought, gave us too much liberty ;
so that I, with some of my older brothers, went at times
to 2:)laces of diversion, where were music and dancing. —
Oh ! the mournful case of those that spend their precious
time in this way. I have since believed there is no amuse-
ment more destructive to the precious seed sown in the
heart, than this kind of diversion. Dear youth, remember
these words. Oh, you parents, guard your tender off-
spring. Watch over their inclinations. Much may you
do towards bringing them into an early acquaintance with
God, by carefully watching the tender impressions on
their minds, and faithfully discharging your duty, by in-
stilling therein the great first principles of religion ; and
that there is a God before whom all must give an account
at the close of life. How many children there are whose
minds call for good instruction ; such as may be compared
to bread to their state ; if parents are careful to give in
the Lord's fear, when openings may be made on their
susceptible hearts, they will not be charged with giving
them a stone ; but will be clear of their blood. I have
mourned for the dear children, since I have come to riper
years, in consideration of the neglect of parents and mas-
ters in not making the training of their children in the


law of the Lord their constant care ; and have remem-
bered the inspired huiguage, " Hear, O Israel : the Lord
our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord with
all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
niio-ht. And these words which I command thee this day
shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently
unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sit-
test in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." —
Oh ! dear parents, leave not your tender offspring ex-
posed to the dangers that are in the world, lest you be
cruel as the ostrich in the wilderness, that leaves her young
exposed to the foot of every passer by.

After I was twelve years old my father hired me out to
work at fjirming by the month ; and being often alone
and having many serious thoughts upon another Avorld, I
was Avell convinced that, if I died in sin, I could not be
happy. And I well remember in a severe tempest accom-
panied with thunder and lightning, in the night season,
when I was alone in bed, I had to examine into my
state and situation by the light which did clearly shine, to
show me how the case stood between me and my God.
And finding myself not fit to leave the world, oh ! how
faithfully did I promise, if the Lord would be pleased to
spare me to see the light of another day, that I would
follow Him Avitli all my heart. Sometimes these good
resolutions lasted many days ; though at other times when
the morning came, and things looked pleasant as to the
outward, I too often forgot my solemn promise made to
my God. Dear youth, be careful to keep to your coven-
ants made at such seasons ; for the Lord is well pleased
with an early sacrifice that is without reserve.

When I was between thirteen and fourteen years of

12 JOUKXAL OF [1780.

age, my parents firat made profession of religion ; my
father being convinced of the principles of truth — the
light of Christ shining in the heart of man — as held to,
and maintained by the people called Quakers : which
people, till then I had never remembered to have heard
of But my mother inclined towards those called tlie
New-light Baptists ; and was zealous that way. This last
named people were numerous where we then lived ; but
there were none of the Society of Friends in that part of
the country. And I, Avith the rest of my father's chil-
dren, who were all older than myself, except two brothers,
very often attended the Baptist meeting. Our father sel-
dom went to these meetings ; but I well remember many
times in evenings, after reading the Holy Scriptures and
other good books, he imparted much good counsel, which
has been remembered since to my benefit. I also recollect
a valuable book which my father bori'owed and brought
home, called Sewel's History of Friends, which he set me
to reading in. This book gave an account of Friends'
sufferings in early times, and how patiently they gave up
their lives for Christ Jesus' sake, their ever living Re-
deemer. These affecting circumstances which I read,
made great impression on my mind in those days; for I
was convinced it was the power of (iod that upheld and
supported these early Friends ; and I desired to be like
unto them. And oh! that we who profess to be led by
the same holy jn-inciple of divine light and life, may be
faithful and obedient thereunto.

I very well remember, though I was then quite a child,
the day my father brought SeAvel's History home with
him. If I was but a little fellow, yet I was quite a good
reader, and my father set me to read the book to him,
whilst he sat upon his bench making shoes ; for he was

1 788.] C U K 1 S T P II E R H l'] A L V . 18

bv trade a shoemaker. I recollect distinctly, as though it
was but yesterday, how much I was affected in reading
some parts of that book ; especially where it told of the
constancy which so many of those poor jieople, both young
and old, showed under suffering and cruel persecution. I
often had to stop reading, for I could not go on for weep-
ing ; and my sister Hannah, who was older than I, would
take the book and read till I was composed enough to go
on again. My childish sympathies were indeed very much
stirred up on account of these poor, innocent sufferers of
whom we read ; and I thought that if there ever were any
really good people in the world, these surely were some of
them. And I said in my heart, if the Lord should ever
make me a Quaker, like he did the peojile of whom we
read, and give me his testimonies to bear for the Truth,
that I also would be willing to suffer for His sake ; and
that I would rather lay down my life, and die for him,
than draw back and give up my religion because of per-
secution. And I now gratefully remember that the Lord
did, in his own appointed time, visit my soul ; and reveal
his dear Son in me ; and as I was made willing to bear his
yoke, and become obedient to the word of Life, that He
gave me from season to season, as I was able to bear them,
one after another of his precious doctrines to believe, and
more and more of his noble testimonies to uphold and
declare before the people, for his great name's sake.

And now I feel bound in gratitude to say, that He has
graciously enabled me to continue faithful to him, my
good Lord and Master, for nearly sixty years. It w^ll be
sixty years this coming summer since I first attended
a Friends' meeting. My brother John and I thought we
would like to go to a Quaker meeting, and as the nearest
one to us we heard was at Hopkinton, Rhode Island, we

14 JOURNAL OF [1788.

concluded one First-day morning that we would go to it.
I was not then quite fifteen years old. So after our very
long walk we went into the meeting; and when I saw
Friends sitting around me in solemn silence, I was much
struck with it, and Avith the very great difference there was
between what I now saw, and all that I had ever before
seen in religious meetings. In every meeting that I pre-
viously had been at, there had been no silence, no waiting
on the Lord, and no preparation for the solemn duty of
worshipping Almighty God ; but they went right away to
singing, or praying, or preaching ; and when they were
done, they hurried off without ceremony, and without
taking any time for solemn reflection, that they might
profit by what they had heard. But here all was changed.
When I looked over the meeting, and saw many peo-
ple sitting quietly around me, I asked myself this ques-
tion : What are these people doing? for they have not
yet heard preaching, or any good advice for them to be
thinking about. And I said, can this be Avorship? are
these people really worshipping their Heavenly Father?
I looked very attentively at the Friends in the gallery ;
and when I saw the solid gravity with which they sat, and
especially after I had observed that tears were trickling
down some of their cheeks, although there had not been a
word spoken, I said in my heart, surely these peoj^le have
something in them which I know nothing about. And I
felt an earnest desire in my heart, to know what that
something was ; and where they got it from ; and how it
was to be obtained ; that if it were possible I might get
some too, and come to know what it was, that made the
tears run down their faces, without any of the common
means having been employed to produce such effects. —
Thus the Lord began to open my spiritual eyes, by first


1788.] (JlIRISTOPlIEll HEALY. 15

kindling holy desires in my heart to know and understand
the mysteries of godliness ; and blessed be his holy name,
He not only raised these desires in my heart, but by the
inshining of his Holy Spirit, He gave me an understand-
ing of one mystery after another, as I was able to receive
it, until I was brought, through Divine Grace and by the
revelation of his light and love and power in my soul, to
set my seal to all the doctrines and testimonies which He
raised up Friends in the beginning to uphold before the
nations of the earth. No doubt the reading of Sewel's
History and other now forgotten incidents, prepared, in a
measure, my heart for the reception of their truth ; but
on this day I was first made sensible of a true convince-
ment ; and saw the dawn of the true gospel day arise in
my .soul ; and thus those principles and doctrines of life
and salvation began to be recognized by me ; and blessed
be my Stay and Holy Helper who has preserved me from
departing "from them, from that day to the jn-esent time.

After meeting. Friends showed great kindness to us
poor lads, and we had many invitations to dinner. We
went home with one, which would not take us out of our
way, and this Friend was indeed truly kind to us. He
told us that he would be glad to see us at meeting when
we should feel inclined to come, and pressed us to make
his house our home when we did come. His truly friendly
conduct to us made a deep and lasting impression on my
mind. This man was doctor Thomas Wilbur, the father
of my dear friend John Wilbur.

The following anecdote, though not in the memoranda,
is deemed sufficiently interesting to insert here :

" When Christopher Healy was between thirteen and
fourteen yeai-s of age, he attended a school in New Eng-


land, taught by a Presbyterian master, who heard them
every Seventh-day morning say their catechism. Tliis had
for some time been very irksome to the lad, the secret
witness testifying against it. In looking at the answer
that fell to his lot in the lesson one day, he found that to
the question, ' What are the decrees of God ?' he must
reply, ' That God's decrees are the wise, free and holy acts
of the counsel of his will, whereby from all eternity, he
hath, for his own glory, unchangeably /o?Tor(/at«erf what-
soever comes to pass in time,' &c. This doctrine of pre-
destination, in subversion of man's free agency, was what
his Bible had not taught him ; and he found that he must
decline these lessons ; but how to bi'eak his determination
to the master was the question ; yet, as his peace con-
sisted in it, he made the I'equest. In surj^rise, the teacher
desired to know why he wished to be excused from saying
his catechism, which he looked upon as next to the Bible,
if not equally sacred. The straitened boy could only
reply, that he did not feel easy to learn it. ' But,' said
the master, ' I cannot excuse you unless you give me a
reason.' At length Christopher had fairly to tell him he
could not learn liis catechism because it was not true. —
'Not true!' said the astonished master, who, although he
set great store by tlie lad, seemed almost horror-struck at
his declaration. However, finding him firm, he told him
that if he would make his Avord good by proving the
catechism to be false, he would excuse him hereafter from
these lessons ; and a time was ap]>ointed for the proof.

A time of deep trial the little fellow had till the hour
came, to which nearly all his school-fellows staid. But
Christopher, though so young, had read his Bible with
care, and had a retentive memory ; and the good Ileniom-
brancer brought to his recollection this passage of the

ITSil.] (' 11 R lST(t I'llER IIEALY. 17

prophet Jeremiah, where, speaking in the name of the
Mos^t High, it is said 'They have built the high places of
Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to
burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I
commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.' Show-
ing that these things were not preordained of God, but were
of man's own wickedness. The astonished schoolmaster
could only say, he 'did not think there had been anything
like it in the Bible.' However, he released the lad from
saying his catechism any more.

" Twenty-five years afterwards, when Christopher had
been recommended as a minister of the Society of Friends
about seven months, a concern came upon his mind to
visit the scenes of his childhood ; and having procured
the requisite credentials from his Monthly Meeting, he
came to this very spot, and appointed a meeting, to
which his old schoolmaster, and former schoolfellows were
invited and came. In this meeting he was led to relate
this anecdote, saying, ' and ye are my witnesses,' as he ap-
pealed to them, and detailed some of the dealings of the
Lord with him in drawing him tow'ards Friends, and open-
ing one by one their testimonies to his understanding. His
old master seemed rejoiced to see him, and clung to him
with affection; and his schoolfellows received him with
open arms."

Though but about sixteen years of age, he saw plainly
the danger of living an easy, unconcerned life in con-
formity with the fiashions and customs of the world, and
that the surrender of the will unto Him who endured the
cross, despising the shame for us, w^as called for in respect to
the use of the plain language and garb. That ancient pre-
cept seemed to be revived in his experience. " Put away

18 .lOURXAL OF [1789.

tlie strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and
change your garments." This he was strengthened, not
without trials to his incipient faith, to yield to ; and soon
found a path widely different from that of the world, and
the only right one for him to waliv in. But the Lord, Avho
had called for the sacrifice sustained therein, and in His
own good time changed the wilderness of trial and conflict
into a fruitful field ; and he was enabled to realize Avith
the eye of faith, that the Christian's home and treasure
are elsewhere than here ; and in consideration thereof he
faithfully practised that denial of self, and the maintenance
of the daily cross, which the Truth ever leads into, and
by which alone the peace of mind he so greatly coveted,

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Online LibraryChristopher HealyMemoir of Christopher Healy, principally taken from his own memoranda → online text (page 1 of 18)