John Woolman.

A journal of the life, gospel labours and Christian experiences, of that faithful minister of Jesus Christ, John Woolman : late of Mount Holly, in the province of New Jersey online

. (page 15 of 16)
Online LibraryJohn WoolmanA journal of the life, gospel labours and Christian experiences, of that faithful minister of Jesus Christ, John Woolman : late of Mount Holly, in the province of New Jersey → online text (page 15 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

vails among the people employed on the seas, so
affected my heart, that I may not easily convey
the feeling I have had to another.

The present state of the seafaring life in general,
appears so opposite to that of a pious education ;
— so full of corruption, and extreme alienation
from God; — so full of examples, the most dan-
gerous to young people, — that in looking toward a
young generation, I feel a care for them, that
they may have an education different from the
present education of lads at sea : — and that all of
us who are acquainted with the pure gospel spirit
may lay this case to heart, may remember the
lamentable corruptions which attend the convey-
ance of merchandize across the seas, and so abide

y^ohn WoolmarC s JournaL 233

in the love of God, that, being delivered from
the love of money, from the entangling expenses
of a curious, delicate, luxurious life, we may learn
contentment with a little ; and promote the sea-
faring life no further than that spirit, which leads
into all truth, attends us in our proceedings.


His attending the Yearly Meeting in London ; and after it,
proceeding toward Yorkshire, visiting several Quarterly
and other meetings in the counties of Hertford, War-
wick, Oxford, Nottingham, York and "Westmoreland ;
and thence again into Yorkshire, and to the city of York ;
with some instructive thoughts and observations, and let-
ters on divers subjects — His hearing of the decease of
William Hunt; and some account of him — His sickness
at York ; and end of his pilgrimage there.

On the 8th day of the 6th month, 1772, I lan-
ded at London ; and went straightway to the
Yearly Meeting of ministers and elders, which had
been gathered (I suppose) about half an hour.

In this meeting, my mind was humbly contrite.
In the afternoon, the meeting of business opened;
which, by adjournments, held near a week. In
these meetings, I often felt a living concern for
the establishment of Friends in the pure life of
Truth : and my heart was enlarged in the meet-
ing of ministers, meeting of business, and in sev-
eral meetings for public worship ; and I felt my
mind united in true love to the faithful labourers
now gathered at this Yearly Meeting.

15th of the 6th month, I left London, and went
to a Quarterly meeting at Hertford.

The ist of the 7th month, 1772. I have been
at Quarterly meetings at Sherrington, Northamp-
ton, Banbury and Shipton ; and had sundry meet-
ings between. My mind hath been bowed under

John Wooh?iaft' s yotirnal. 235

a sense of Divine goodness manifested amongst
us; and my heart hath often been enlarged in
true love, both amongst ministers and elders, and
in public meetings ; so that through the Lord's
goodness, I believe it hath been a fresh visitation
to many, in particular to the youth.

17th. Was this day at Birmingham ; have been
at meetings at Coventry, Warwick, in Oxford-
shire, and sundry other places ; have felt the
humbling hand of the Lord upon me ; and through
his tender mercies find peace in the labours I
have gone through.

26th. I have continued travelling northward,
visiting meetings ; — was this day at Nottingham ;
which, in the forenoon especially, was, through
Divine love, a heart-tendering season. Next day
had a meeting in a Friend's house with Friends'
children and some Friends. This, through the
strengthening arm of the Lord, was a time to be
thankfully remembered.

The 2d day of the 8th month, and first of the
week : was this day at Sheffield, a large inland
town: have been at sundry meetings last week,
and feel inward thankfulness for that Divine sup-
port which hath been graciously extended to me.

9th of the month, and first of the week, was at
Rushworth. Have . lately passed through some
painful labour ; but have been comforted, under
a sense of that Divine visitation which I feel ex-
tended toward many young people.

1 6th, and first of the week, was at Settle. It

23^ John WoohnarC s Journal.

hath of late been a time of inward poverty ; under
which my mind hath been preserved in a watchful
tender state, feeling for the mind of the holy
Leader; and find peace in the labours I have
passed through.

On inquiry, in many places, I find the price of
rye about five shillings, wheat about eight shil-
lings, per bushel ; oatmeal, t\velve shillings for a
hundred and twenty pounds ; mutton, from three
pence to five pence per pound ; bacon, from seven
pence to nine pence ; cheese, from four pence to
six pence; butter, from eight pence to ten pence;
house rent for a poor man, from twenty-five shil-
lings to forty shillings per year, to be paid weekly ;
wood, for fire, very scarce and dear ; coal, in some
places, two shillings and six pence per hundred
weight ; but near the pits, not a quarter so much.
Oh ! may the wealthy consider the poor !
■• The wages of labouring men in several counties
toward London, is ten pence per day in common
business ; the employer finds small beer, and the
labourer finds his own food ; but in harvest and
hay time wages is about one shilling per day, and
the labourer hath all his diet. In some parts of
the north of England, poor labouring men have
their food where they work ; and appear, in com-
mon, to do rather better than nearer London. In-
dustrious women who spin in the factories, get,
some four pence, some five pence, and so on to six,
seven, eight, nine or ten pence a day, and find their
ownhojise room and diet. Great numbers of poor

John WoolniarC s Journal. 237

people live chiefly on bread and water in the
southern parts of England, and some in the north-
ern parts ; and there are many poor children not
taught even to read. May those who have plenty,
lay these things to heart !

Stage coaches frequently go upwards of a hun-
dred miles in twenty-four hours. And I have
heard Friends say, in several places, that it is
common for horses to be killed with hard driving,
and many others are driven till they grow blind.

Post boys pursue their business, each one to his
stage, all night through the winter. Some boys
who ride long stages, suffer greatly in winter
nights ; and at several places I have heard of their
being froze to death. So great is the hurry in the v JjiaaJL
spirit of this world, that in aiming to do business
quick, and to gain wealth, the creation at this
day doth loudly groan !

As my journey hath been without a horse, I have
had several offers of being assisted on my way in
these stage coaches ; but have not been in them.
Nor have I had freedom to send letters by these
posts, in the present way of their riding ; the
stages being so fixed, and one boy dependent on
another as to time, that they commonly go up-
ward of one hundred miles in twenty-four hours ;
and in the cold long winter nights, the poor boys
suffer much.

I heard in America of the way of these posts;
and cautioned Friends in the general meeting of
ministers and elders at Philadelphia, and in the



238 y(?/i/i Woolman's y ournal.

Yearly Meeting of ministers and elders at London,
not to send letters to me on any common occasion
by post. And though, on this account, I may be
likely to hear seldomer from my family left be-
hind ; yet, for righteousness' sake, I am, through
Divine favour, made content.

I have felt great distress of mind since I came
on this island, on account of the members of our
society being mixed with the world in various
sorts of business and traffic, carried on in impure
channels. Great is the trade to Africa for slaves!
and in loading these ships, abundance of people
are employed in the manufactories ; amongst
whom are many of our society ! Friends in early
times, refused, On a religious principle, to make
or trade in superfluities ; of which, we have many
large testimonies on record. But for want of
faithfulness, some gave way ; even some, whose
examples were of note in society ; and from
thence others took more liberty : — members of
our society worked in superfluities, and bought
and sold them ; and thus dimness of sight came
over many. At length, Friends got into the use
of some superfluities in dress, and in the furniture
of their houses ; and this hath spread from less to
more, till superfluity of some kind is common
amongst us.

In this declining state, many look at the exam-
ples one of another, and too much neglect the
pure feeling of Truth. Of late years, a deep ex-
ercise hath attended my mind, that Friends may

J^ohn Woolman's Jourjial. 239

dig deep, may carefully cast forth the loose mat-
ter, and get down to the Rock, the sure founda-
tion, and there hearken to that Divine voice
which gives a clear and certain sound. And I
have felt in that which doth not deceive, that if
Friends who have known the Truth, keep in that
tenderness of heart, where all views of outward
gain are given up, and their trust is only in the
Lord, he will graciously lead some to be patterns
of deep self-denial in things relating to trade and
handicraft labour; — and that some who have
plenty of the treasures of this world, will example
in a plain, frugal life : and pay wages to such
whom they may hire, more liberally than is now
customary in some places.

28th of 8th month. Was this day at Preston-
Patrick, and had a comfortable meeting. I have
several times, been entertained at the houses of
Friends who had sundry things about them which
had the appearance of outward greatness : and as
I have kept inward, way hath opened for conver-
sation with such in private, in which Divine good-
ness hath favoured us together, with heart-tender-
ing times.

A deviation amongst us, as a society, from the
simplicity that there is in Christ, becoming so
general ; and the trade from this Island to Africa
for slaves, and other trades carried on through op-
pressive channels ; — and abundance of the inhabi-
tants being employed in factories, to support a
trade in which there is unrighteousness, and some

240 yohn Woolman' s Journal .

growing outwardly great by a gain of this sort : —
The weight of this degeneracy hath lain so heavy
upon me ; the depth of this revolt, been so evi-
dent ; — and desires in my heart, been so ardent for
a reformation, — that we may come to that right
use of things, where, living on a little, we may
inhabit that holy mountain, in which they neither
hurt nor destroy ; — and may not only stand clear
from oppressing our fellow-creatures, but may be
so disentangled from connexions of interest with
known oppressors, that in us may be fulfilled that
prophecy, '' Thou shalt be far from oppression."

Under the weight of this exercise, the sight of
innocent birds among the branches, and sheep in
the pastures, who act according to the will of
their Creator, hath at times tended to mitigate
my trouble.

The 26th of the 8th month, 1772, Being now
at George Crosfield's in the county of Westmore-
land, I feel a concern to commit to writing, that
which to me hath been a case uncommon.

In a time of sickness with the pleurisy, a little
upward of two years and a half ago, I was brought
so near the gates of death, that I forgot my name.
Being then desirous to know who I was, I saw a
mass of matter of a dull gloomy colour, between
the south and the east; and was informed that
this mass was human beings, in as great misery as
they could be, and live ; and that I was mixed in
with them, and henceforth might not consider
myself as a distinct or separate being. In this

y^ohn WoolmarC s 'journal. 241

state I remained several hours. I then heard a
soft melodiuus voice, more pure and harmonious
than any voice I had heard with my ears before ;
and I believed it was the voice of an angel who
spake to the other angels. The words were —
John Woolman is dead, I sooa remembered that
I once was John Woolman ; and being assured
that I was alive in the body, I greatly wondered
what that heavenly voice could mean.

I believed beyond doubting, that it was the
voice of an holy angel; — but, as yet. it was a
mystery to me.

I was then carried in spirit to the mines,
where poor oppressed people were digging rich
treasures for those called christians ; and heard
them blaspheme the name of Christ, at which I
was grieved ; for his name to me was precious.

Then I was informed that these heathen were
told that those who oppressed them were the fol-
lowers of Christ ? and they said amongst them-
selves. If Christ directed them to use us in this
sort, then Christ is a cruel tyrant.

All this time the song of the angel remained a
mystery. And in the morning, my dear wife and
some others coming to my bed-side, I asked them
if they knew who I was : and they telling me I
was John Woolman, thought I was only light-
headed : for I told them not what the angel said,
nor was I disposed to talk much to any one ; but
was very desirous to get so deep that I might un-
derstand this mystery.

242 yohn lVool?na?i's Journal.

My tongue was often so dry that I could not
speak till I had moved it about and gathered some
moisture ; and as I lay still for a time, at length,
I felt Divine power prepare my mouth that I could
speak; and then I said, *'I am crucified with
Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ
liveth in me : and the life which I now live in the
flesh, is by the faith of J;he Son of God, who loved
me, and gave himself for me."

Then the mystery was opened ; and I perceived
there was joy in heaven over a sinner who had
repented ; and that the language, — John Wool-
man is dead, — meant no more than the death
of my own will.

Soon after this I coughed, and raised much
bloody matter ; which I had not done during this
vision : and now my natural understanding re-
turned as before. — Here I saw, that people get-
ting silver vessels to set off their tables at enter-
tainments, was often stained with worldly glory ;
and that in the present state of things, I should
take heed how I fed myself from out of silver

Soon after my recovery, I, going to our month-
ly meeting, dined at a Friend's house, where
drink was brought in silver vessels, and not in
any other ; and I, wanting some drink, told him
my case with weeping ; and he ordered some
drink for me in another vessel.

The like I afterwards went through in several
Friend's houses in America, and have also in Eng-

yoh7i Woolma?i' s yournal. 243

land, since I came here : and have cause, with
humble reverence, to acknowledge the loving-
kindness of my heavenly Father, who has pre-
served me in such a tender frame of mind, that
none, I believe, have ever been offended at what
I have said on that occasion.

After this sickness, I spake not in public meet-
ings for worship for near one year ; but my mind
was very often in company with the oppressed
slaves, as I sat in meetings. And though under
this dispensation, I was shut up from speaking,
yet the spring of the gospel ministry was, many
times, livingly opened in me ; and the Divine
gift operated by abundance of weeping, in feeling
the oppression of this people. It being so long
since I passed through this dispensation, and the
matter remaining fresh and livingly in my mind,
I believe it safest for me to commit it to writing.

The 30th of the 8th month. This morning I
wrote a letter in substance as follows :
Beloved friend, —

My mind is often affected as I pass along,
under a sense of the state of many poor people,
who sit under that sort of ministry which requires
much outward labour to support it ; and the lov-
ing kindness of our heavenly Father, in opening
a pure gospel ministry in this nation, hath often
raised thankfulness in my heart towards him. I
often remember the conflicts of the faithful under
persecution, and now look at the free exercise of
the pure gift, uninterrupted by outward laws, as a

244 yohn Woolman's Journal,

trust committed to us, which requires our deepest
gratitude, and most careful attention. I feel a
tender concern, that the work of reformation, so
prosperously carried on in this land within a few
ages past, may go forward and spread amongst
the nations \ and may not go backward, through
dust gathering on our garments who have been
called to a work so great and so precious.

Last evening I had a little opportunity at thy
house, with some of thy family, in thy absence ;
in which I rejoiced : and feeling a sweetness on
my mind toward thee, I now endeavour to open a
little of the feeling I had there.

I have heard, that you, in these parts, have, at
certain seasons, meetings of conference, in rela-
tion to Friends living up to our principles ; in
which several meetings unite in one j with which
I feel unity ; I having, in some measure, felt
Truth lead that way amongst Friends in America \
and have found, my dear friend, that, in these la-
bours, all superfluities in our own living are
against us. I feel that pure love toward thee, in
which there is freedom.

I look at that precious gift bestowed on thee,
with awfulness before him who gave it : and feel
a care that we may be so separated to the gospel
of Christ, that those things which proceed from
the spirit of this world, may have no place
amongst us. Thy friend,

John Woolman.

yohn Woolman' s yournal. 245

I rested a few days, in body and mind, with our
friend Jane Crosfield, who was once in America:
was, on the 6th day of the week, in Kendal in
Westmoreland ; and at Greyrig meeting the 3Q>h
of the month, and first of the week.

I have known poverty of late; and been gra-
ciously supported to keep in the patience: and
am thankful, under a sense of the goodness of the
Lord toward those that are of a contrite spirit.

6th of 9th month, and first of the week. Was
this day at Counterside ; a large meeting-house,
and very full : and through the opening of pure
love, it was a strengthening time to me, and (I
believe) to many more.

13th. Was this day at Richmond, a small meet-
ing; but the town's people coming in, the house
was crowded. It was a time of heavy labour; and
I believe was a profitable meeting.

At this place I heard that my kinsman William
Hunt, from North Carolina, who was on a reli-
gious visit to Friends in England, departed this
life on the 9th day of the 9th month, instant, of
the small-pox, at Newcastle. He appeared in the
ministry when a youth; and his labours therein
were of good savour. He travelled much in that
work in America. I once heard him say in public
testimony, that his concern was, in that visit, to
be devoted to the service of Christ so fully, that
he might not spend one minute in pleasing him-
self: which words, joined with his example, was
a means of stirring up the pure mind in me.

246 'jFohn Woolman' s yournal.

Having of late travelled often in wet weather,
through narrow streets in towns and villages,
where was dirtiness under foot, and the scent
arising from that filth which more or less infects
the air of all thick-settled towns ; and I being but
weakly, have felt distress both in body and mind
with that which is impure.

In these journies I have been where much cloth
hath been dyed ; and sundry times have walked
over ground where much of their dye-stuffs have
drained away.

Here I have felt a longing in my mind, that
people might come into cleanness of spirit, clean-
ness of person, cleanness about their houses and

Some who are great, carry delicacy to a great
height themselves, and yet the real cleanliness is
not generally promoted. Dyes being invented
partly to please the eye, and partly to hide dirt ;
— I have felt in this weak state, travelling in dirti-
ness and affected with unwholesome scents, — a
strong desire that the nature of dyeing cloth to
hide dirt may be more fully considered.

To hide dirt in our garments, appears opposite
to the real cleanliness.

To wash garments, and keep them sweet ; this
appears cleanly.

Through giving way to hiding dirt in our gar-
ments, a spirit which would cover that which is
disagreeable is strengthened

Real cleanness becometh a holy people: but

J^ohn Woolman's journal. 247

hiding that which is not clean by colouring our
garments, appears contrary to the sweetness of

Through some sorts of dyes, cloth is less useful :
and if the value of dye-stuffs, the expense of dye-
ing, and the damage done to cloth, were all added
together, and that expense applied to keep all
sweet and clean, how much more cleanly would
people be !

On this visit to England I have felt some in-
structions sealed on my mind, which I am con-
cerned to leave in writing, for the use of such
who are called to the station of a minister of

Christ being the Prince of Peace, and we being
no more than ministers, I find it necessary for us
not only to feel a concern in our first going forth,
but to experience the renewing thereof in the
appointment of meetings.

I felt a concern in America, to prepare for this
voyage; and being, through the mercy of God,
brought safe here, my heart was like a vessel that
wanted vent ; and for several weeks at first, when
my mouth was opened in meetings, it often felt
like the raising of a gate in a water-course, where
a weight of water lay upon it ; and in these labours
there appeared a fresh visitation of love to many,
especially the youth. But sometimes after this, I
felt empty and poor, and yet felt a necessity to
appoint meetings.

In this state I was exercised to abide in the pure

248 J^ohn Woolman^ s y^ournal.

life of Truth, and in all my labours to watch dil-
igently against the motions of self in my own

I have frequently felt a necessity to stand up,
when the spring of the ministry was low, and to
speak from the necessity, in that which subjecteth
the will of the creature ; and herein I was united
with the suffering seed, and found inward sweet-
ness in these mortifying labours.

As I have been preserved in a watchful attention
to the Divine leader under these dispensations,
enlargement at times hath followed, and the power
of Truth hath rose higher, in some meetings, than
I ever knew it before through me.

Thus I have been more and more instructed, as
to the necessity of depending, not upon a concern
which I felt in America to come on a visit to Eng-
land, but upon the frgsh instructions of Christ,
the Prince of Peace, from day to day.

Now of late, I have felt a stop in the appoint-
ment of meetings, not wholly but in part ; and I
do not feel liberty to appoint them so quick one
after another as I have heretofore.

The work of the ministry being a work of Di-
vine love, I feel that the openings thereof are to
be waited for, in all our appointments.

Oh ! how deep is Divine wisdom ! Christ puts
forth his ministers, and goeth before them ; and
oh ! how great is the danger of departing from
the pure feeling of that which leadeth safely !

Joh?t Woolman' s journal. 249

Christ knoweth the state of the people, and in
the pure feeling of the gospel ministry, their states
are opened to his servants.

Christ knoweth when the fruit-bearing branches
themselves have need of purging.

Oh ! that these lessons may be remembered by
me ! and that all who appoint meetings may pro-
ceed in the pure feeling of duty !

I have sometimes felt a necessity to stand up ;
but that spirit which is of the world hath so much
prevailed in many, and the pure life of Truth been
so pressed down, that I have gone forward, — not
as one travelling in a road cast up, and well pre-
pared, but as a man walking through a rfiiry place,
in which are stones here and there, safe to step
on ; but so situated that one step being taken,
time is necessary to see where to step next.

Now I find that in pure obedience, the mind
learns contentment in appearing weak and foolish
to that wisdom which is of the world : and in
these lowly labours, they who stand in a low place,
rightly exercised under the cross, will find nour-

The gift is pure ; and while the eye is single in
attending thereto, the understanding is preserved
clear ; self is kept out ; and we rejoice in filling
up that which remains of the afflictions of Christ
for his body's sake, which is the church.

The natural man loveth eloquence, and many
love to hear eloquent orations : and if there is not
a careful attention to the gift, men who have once

250 yohn Woolman' s journal,

laboured in the pure gospel ministry, growing
weary of suffering, and ashamed- of appearing
weak, — may kindle a fire, compass themselves
about with sparks, and walk in the light, — not of
Christ who is under suffering, — but of that fire

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15

Online LibraryJohn WoolmanA journal of the life, gospel labours and Christian experiences, of that faithful minister of Jesus Christ, John Woolman : late of Mount Holly, in the province of New Jersey → online text (page 15 of 16)