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William Evans.

The Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds online

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them, with whom we were at seasons refresh-
ed, and had humbly to rejoice in the Lord's
house of prayer. The visit was accomplished
under the covering of Divine love, and we left
Sheffield peaceably. May my soul ever be
clothed with humble thankfulness to the God
of my life, who hath mercifully regarded so
poor a creature; unto himbelongeth all praise,
and unto us abasement and contrition.

'* From Sheffield we went to Thorn ; and
staid a few days to rest at the bouse of my
companion's brother. Whilst there, there was
a violent storm of thunder and lightning, and
the largest hail-stones I ever saw. It was
thought some measured three inches round.
The dd of the sixth month we went to Ponte-
fract, and on first-day morning were at meet-
ing there, in which much close searching la-
bour was bestowed on a revolting people. We
left them under a belief of having faithfully



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180



LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



discharged our duty, and went to Ackwortb.
We were at the afternoon and evening meet-
ings there, owned by Him who uttered the
laneua^, ' Sufier little children to come unto
Die. There was a beautiful flock of children,
near two hundred, in very pretty order. My
spirit was much concerned for their preserva-
tion, and humble cries arose to the Fountain
of living mercies, to favour them with the
blessing of life for evermore. The 5th, in the
morning we attended the committee at Ack-
wortb school, and in the afternoon went to
Barnsley,and on the 6th to Burton, where many
of the neighbours came to the meeting, and
it was an open favoured time. The burial-
ground there is said to be the first that was
m the possession of Friends; and to have
been given by a sober man, who was moved
with pity, on seeing a corpse indecently treat-
ed. The 7th we went to Wakefield; the
meeting there was a low wading time ; but I
hope the states of the people were fully spoken
to : in the afternoon we went to Gildersome.
On the 8th, was a silent meeting ; but I hope
not an unprofitable one. We had the com-
pany of our dear friend Robert Walker. In
the afternoon we went to John Hustler's, near
Bradford, and on the 9th had a meeting at
Bradford, in which Truth arose, and we part-
ed under a degree of the Father's love. The
10th we went to Leeds, and lodged at my
cousin Gervas Storr's, where I received many
marks of kind attention. I was seized with
a violent attack of a complaint in my sto-
mach, which held many hours ; and had not
kind Providence been pleased to give a little
ea^e, it seemed unlikely that I could have
continued long; but He whose ways are ways
of wonder, and unsearchable, has a right to
use such mepns as will most effectually an-
swer the purpose he has in view. My mdis-
position brought me very low and weak, in
which state I was made submissive to the re-
quiring I felt from him to visit the families
at Leeds. This service was entered upon,
under the humble sense of the Master being
near ; who giveth to his little dependent chil-
dren, a degree of that &ith by which moun-
tains are removed, and hope and confidence
increased. My dear companion and myself
went to the families without any other com-
pany, and ia the various sittings had to tra-
vail deep, by which various states were mea-
surably opened ; and He, who remains to be
the good Samaritan, was pleased to convey,
through his poor unworthy instruments, the
searching wine; giving to declare to some
that, if they would sufficiently bear his cleans-
ing power, the healing oil would certainly be
administered.
" We had to feel for some, who, resting in



their moral righteousness, were in that mourn-
ful state of luke-warmness, which is hard* to
reach ; yet I hope some of these were arous-
ed, at least for the present. May they not
again sink into supineness. I should not omit
mentioning, that, though we had to be deeply
baptized for the dead, there is a faithful rem-
nant, with whom our spirits were refresh-
ed, being favoured to drink together of that
stream that makes glad the city and heritage
of God.

*' We left Leeds the 10th of the seventh
month, under a thankful sense of having been
in the way of our duty, enjoying that sweet
reward of peace, which encourage poor tra-
vellers to journey on. We took divers meet-
ings in our way to Lancaster ; and in most
or all of them we had deep travail of spirit,
under a sense of luke-warmness, and a world-
ly spirit. But blessed be that Name who yet
supports his depending children, who cry to
him, feeling that they have no might of their
own, and that without Him they can do no-
thing. In some of these meetings his power
raised the dead, and gave us afresh humbly to
bless his holy name.

« We reached Lancaster on the 20th. On
the next day was the week-day meeting, in
which my spirit was dipped as to the very
bottom of Jordan. Under this baptism, it
was clearly opened to me that I must visit
families in this place. O I how great was the
exercise. My dear companion was made
sensible that a fresh engagement had taken
hold of my mind, but I su&red the discour-
ager to come in, and gave Friends leave to
appoint some meetings forward, thinking if
the concern respecting Lancaster continued,
we might return. We staid the meetings at
Lancaster on first-day, in which we had an
open time. Divers states were qpened before
me, and I was enabled to deliver what was
given me, with strength, and I trust, with life.
The next day, we went to Yelland, and had
close labour there; then to Height. In the
meeting there, but little light was to be felt :
my spirit mourns for the lapsed state of the
church 1 Thence we went to Ulverstooe, and
the next day had a meeting at Swarthnoore,
which was a season of deep baptism ; but the
power of Truth arose, and divers states were
visited, the sincere-hearted encouraged, the
idle warned, and an affectionate invitation
given to the wandering prodigals. It was a
season of fevour. The next morning we
went to Hawkshead, and had a meeting. It
was a low time, my mind being much depres-
sed and under an increasing concern to visit
the femilies at Lancaster.

<<We, however, went on to Kendal, and
thence I wrote to my cousin William Dil*



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LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



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worthy infonniiig hhn that we could not pro-
ceed without returning to visit the fatniiies.
He acquainted the elders with it, and they ex-
pressed thdr unity ; and on first-day he men-
tioned it at the close of the morning meeting;
which, as we were told, so affected the minds
of Friends as to bring a great solemnity over
them. We staid the meetings at Kendal on
first-day, which were low baptizing seasons,
on second-day went to Lancaster, and on
third-day morning entered on the arduous
service before us. Deep were the baptisms,
and close the labour that were attendant, in
passing along; but under all discouragements,
we were helped to deal plainly, and to warn
ftithfuUy, as required. This, through Divine
lavour, was oAen attended with that power
which not only chained down opposing spirits,
but broke some of the visited into tears ; for
which we were humbly thankful to Him who
has the hearts of all men in his hand. There
is also a precious remnant in that place, with
whom our spirits were sweetly refreshed, and
from whom we received encouragement. Hav-
ing had about seventy sittings we closed the
service, and took leave of them at their week
day meeting, the day following, under the ten
d^ing influence of Divine love.

**We next went again to Kendal, calling
by the way to see our ancient friend, Thomas
Gawthorp, who was confined to his bed, by
an accident. We sat by him to satisfaction.
The heavenly frame of his spirit was to me
trnly comfortable, and a belief was fixed with
me, that he would soon be removed from works
to a joyful reward. We aAerwards heard that
he remained about two months and then sweet-
ly departed.

" On sixth-day the — of eighth month, we
were at the week-day meeting at Kendal, in
which strength was given to point out the dan-
ger of a worldly spirit, even amongst the well-
minded, if not guarded against. Next day we
went to Moreland, and had a meeting, in which
we were led into close labour, and to give an
awakening call to the lukewarm. Thence we
proceeded to Penrith, Terril, Mosedale, Cold-
beck and Wigton, having a meeting at each
place, the latter a favoured one, in which
Truth reigned. O, how gracious and good is
the Most High, to own, with his life-giving
presence, in order to gather and convince that
he delights not in the death of those that die;
but that he would have all to be saved 1 My
mind was often mournful on account of the
state of the church, and the secret language
of my soul was, ' By whom shall Jacob arise,
for he is small.' We went on to Holm, Kirk-
bride, Moorhouse, Carlisle, Sikeside and Sol-
port, in which places we had meetings.
^ The 4th of the ninth month, we set out



for Scotland, and on the 6th reached Kelso,
where we had an appointed meeting on the
7th, a season owned by the Master of our as-
semblies, who graciously blessed the bread,
and handed it forth, to the tendering of the
spirits of most present before Him who can
bless the provision of Zion, and satisfy her
poor with bread, giving them afresh to trust
in his holy name. Thence we went to Edia*
burgh, and were at the meetings there on first-
day, a close searching time. The next morn-
ing we set off for the north. Having cjx>ssed
Queen's ferry, which is about two miles over,
we travelled ninety miles, and got safe to Mon-
trose, and thence to Stonehaven, where we
had a favoured meeting. We had afterwards
an opportunity with two youths, to whom it
seemed a day of visitation ; and indeed we
were all tendered together, so that the current
of life ran sweetly, and warning, and caution
were also given. It was a season that I hope
will not soon be forgotten. We parted under
the*baptizing power of Truth, our own spirits
being sweetly refreshed. We then went to
Aberdeen and Old Meldrum. The two meet*
ings at the latter place were large and satis-
factory, many of the town's people being
there. I felt a concern to visit the families
belonging to that meeting, with so much weight
and clearness, that I dared not omit opening
the matter to Friends, who readily made way;
and my dear companion and myself, accom-
panied by James Anderson of Kelso, entered
on that service. The number of families was
about twenty, part of them scattered about the
country. I think our good Master was pleased
to give us an eviden<^ that the engagement
was right, and was near, in his condescending
love, to open the states of the different fami-
lies. I was led to deal with them in much
plainness, under the covering of that gather-
ing love, which I felt mercifully extended to
them. O, may the labour of the Lord's serv-
ants, many of whom have of late been sent
amongst them, be as bread cast upon the wa-
ters, and profitably found after many days. I
believe the good Seed is sown in many parts
hereaway. Whether it may visibly flourish,
I leave; but 1 believe the veil of prejudice is
rent in many minds. We finished the family
visit and returned to Aberdeen with the evi-
dence of peace. Almighty Goodness having
been mercifully near, in a manner that re-
duced all within me into nothingness before
him, and led into humble adoration and silent
thanksgiving. May my soul ever live under
a lively sense of his greatness, goodness and
mercy, and of my own weakness.

" Afler having an appointed meeting at Ab-
erdeen, a season owned by the Master of our
assemblies, we went to Ury, the plaoe where



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183



LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



Robert Barclay, the apologist, formerly lived.
His graDdson, Robert Barclay, and his wife,
not members of our religious Society, treated
lis with much respect. Then we proceeded
to Montrose. The road was hilly, and the
wind high and cold, which made travelling
fatiguing, but I could not think it hard, for as
I rode along my cup sweetly overflowed, so
that I was thankful I was there. May my
soul never forget such seasons of favour; but
ever dwell where the Most High condescends
to instruct his servants, namely, in the humble
paths of obedience ; that so a happy admit-
tance into rest, through the mercy of our dear
Redeemer, may be granted, when time to me
here shall be no more.

<* On first-day we had two public meetings
at Montrose, to which many of the town's
people came, and behaved well. In the morn-
mg, my spirit was deeply centered and awfully
abstracted, when, aAer a time of solemn si-
lience, I felt Truth lead forth to public ser-
vice ; and, I think, if ever Divine Goodness
caused the stream of the ministry to flow
through me, it did so that day. The afler
noon meeting was also a season favoured by
Him, who continues to own, of every nati(Ai,
tongue and people, those that fear him and
work righteousness. It was a day that called
for humble thankfulness to the Liord, who yet
r^ards the dust of Zion, and satisfies her
poor with bread.

'*The next morning we set out for Edin
burgh. In our way thither we crossed three
ferries, one of them about seven miles over.
We had an old leaky boat, contrary winds,
and a rough sea ; so that our passage was at-
tended with some danger; but through the
preserving power of Him who formerly ut-
tered the language of * Peace, be still,' we
were favoured to get safely on shore afier a
passage of about three hours and a half. My
dear companion and John Rutty, (a lad who
rode before Sarah Stephenson,) were very sick,
so that they were not so sensible of the dan-
ger as I was. Some of the waves were so
great that it seemed as if we should be swal-
lowed up in them. In this season of danger,
an inquiry took place respecting the state of
my mind, and afier a little time I felt a sweet
covering, which centered my spirit in resig-
nation to the Divine will, under which I could
do no less than bless and adore his holy
name.

<' We arrived at Edinburgh on an afternoon,
the next day were at the week-day meeting,
and the following day visited the families. We
had close, painful labour, as there was in some
a sorrowful departure from ancient purity.
Next day we reached Kelso, forty-one miles,
and staid the meetings on first-day : on second-



day set off for Newcastle, and got there on
third-day afternoon, about sixty*four miles.
We were about a noonth «nd two days in
Scotland, having travelled about five hundred
miles, visited the six meetings, and about
twenty-six femilies.

A concern to visit the families of Newcastle
Monthly Meeting came so heavily upon me,
that we laid it before Friends at their Monthly
Meeting, which was held that time at Shields;
and we there entered on the service. Our
gracious Father was pleased to furnish with
strength from day to day, so that we got
through there in less than a week, and teft
them under the feeling of peace, the evidence
of having been in the way of duty. We next
visited Newcastle, where are some valuable
Friends, with whom our spirits were many
times much refreshed, and we had some fa*
voured meetings there. The good hand is at
work among the youth, and I think, fitting
some for service. May the good Shepbeid
preserve them, and not sufler & destroyer to
mar the work ; but may it go forward to his
praise, and to the edification of the church ;
that so judges may be restored as at the first,
and counsellors as at the b^inning. There
are about forty families. Our dear friend
Mabel Wigham, who then lived at Newcastle,
told us, that when she heard of our coming,
her prayer, with tears, was that we might be
engaged to visit families in their Monthly
Meeting. She is a noble warrior in the
Lamb's warfare, and seems to be more con-
stantly dwelling with her Master than most.
From Newcastle, we went to Sunderland,
where we were deeply baptized for the dead,
and, thereby 1 trust, fitted to labour and deal
plainly ; but we found a remnant, who retain
their integrity. May they be preserved.
There were upwards of twenty families.
From Sunderland, we visited the meetings in
the county of Durham. We were at one at
*****, in which the lukewarm were warned,
and those, in whose minds tender desires were
raised, were encouraged to press after the
further knowledge of Grod, whom to know,
and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, is life
eternal. Then we went to ****, where we
had a close laborious meeting : but there are
a few who are contending for the faith. May
they be preserved steady. We had also a
meeting at •****, where some of the pro-
fessors of Truth seemed hurt, by giving way
to a worldly spirit. O, what can rouse some
from their lethargic state. May our gracious
Leader be pleased to utter an effectual call,
even that power by which Lazarus was raised
from the dead ; that they may not sleep the
sleep of death. How can those who, through
Divine mercy, have been favoured to taste of



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LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



188



the word of God, and of the powers of the
world to come* do less than moura and pray
for such, when admitted to the throne of
grace.

«*At this time the roads were bad, some
bogs in the way, and much snow, which
made travelling difficult, and tryine to tender
constitutions ; but we were enabled to bear it
beyond what we could expect, and got safe
to Kendal. Here I felt a necessity to open to
Friends a concern that had long dwelt with
nie, and many times greatly bowed my mind
under that power which baptized it into obe-
dience to the requiring, of visiting the families
of that large meeting. In low, doubting sea*
sons, discouragements prevailed; but as I
humbly kept to the gift, and trusted in the
giver, strength arose, and measurably dis-
persed the difficulties; so, in simple obedience
we proceeded in that weighty service. Our
gracious Father, being near, favoured with re-
newed help from day to day, and under many
deep baptisms, supported our spirits, enabling
us to minister what was opened in the deeps.
We had more than eighty opportunities, some
of which, I trust, neither the visiters nor the
visited will soon forget. May the Lord be
praised, who yet condescends to make use of
clay. There is a number of valuable Friends,
and some of the youth are promising.

" We went on to Lancaster and Preston,
and at the last meeting had the company of
our friends William Rathbone of Liverpool,
and William Dilworth; and there I felt an
engagennent to visit the families, under the in-
fluence of that love, which enableth to search
the camp, aod to deal plainly. Hence, visit-
ing some other meetings in our way, we went
to Liverpool. My mind was dipped very low,
and, under deep baptisms, we visited the fam-
ilies there, in which service Divine help was
near, and so we left that place peacefully;
yet with a mournful feeling of the state of
things being more painful than some years
before.

" We proceeded to Warrington, Frandley,
Morley, Macclesfield and Leek. At Morley
we had a large exercising meeting; but I was
favoured with strength to discharge my duty
honestly. At Leek I parted with my com*
panion Jane Shipley; and was joined by Mar-
tha Routh, of Manchester, in a visit to the
families of Crawshawbooth, du;. Hence Mar-
tha Routh went home, to prepare for a jour-
ney with me through Wales. William Rath-
bone went with me to Coalbrookdale, and as
I was under a concern to visit the families of
that Monthly Meetinff, he felt his mind drawn
to join in it. At the close of that service
Martha Routh came, and we went through
Wales ; and felt our minds drawn to visit the



families of Friends in the Northern part of the
principality. I reached home, by way of Bris-
tol, in the fifth month, 1781.''

It does not appear that our friend kept any
exact account of her journey through Wales ;
yet the following is probably a relation of all
the occurrences in it, which she thought pro-
per to note.

" From the New Dale we went to Welch
Pool, but I was very poorly in health, having
laboured hard, and taken but little rest. I had
also a violent cough, and my mind was dip-
ped very low ; but it was kept in much pa-
tience, though the prospect of going among
the Welch mountains, in so poor a state of
health, was discouraging. Martha Routh was
also poorly."

It appears to have been the time of some
Quarterly Meeting, held that year at W^elch
Pool, for she says, that on the 26th of the
third month, the Select Meeting began at nine
o'clock, in which some close advice was drop-
ped. At eleven o'clock was the meeting for
worship, in which Truth arose, the Gospel
spring being comfortably opened, by which
the Seed was visited, humble minds encour-
aged, and the lukewarm warned, in the awful
power of Truth. At one o'clock was the
meeting for business, and at four o'clock, a
public meeting in the town-hall.

*' The 24th we rode twenty-four miles, and
visited one family ; the 30th to Tyddiny-ga-
reg, eleven miles, and visited three families,
then went to Dolgelly, and had a public meet*
ing in the evening in the town-hall. In this
meeting Truth arose, but my mind was not
clear of the people, but felt that we must have
another meeting, which was a close exercise,
as my companions expressed no concern of
that sort. Before I gave up to mention it, I
was quite ill ; when on my telling the cause,
they readily consented to stay, and another
meeting was appointed to begin at nine o'clock
on first-day morning. We had a very solid,
favoured meeting, after which my mind was
much relieved. This town is nearly surround-
ed by mountains, one of which, I was told, is
four miles to the top."

This must be spoken of the ascending
road from Dolgelly. The mountain in ques-
tion is probably Cader Idris, the perpendicular
height of which is about two thousand eicht
hundred feet from the level of the sea. The
last named places are in Merionethshire.

''Those who have not been in a mountain-
ous country," continues Sarah, '* I think, can
scarcely conceive the awful appearance which
these prodigious hills make. To think of our
felk)W-creatures being scattered among them,
led me to contemplate on. the greatness and
goodness of God, who careth ft)r the work-



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184



LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



manship of his holy hand, not only giving
them food, but contentment, and visiting with
his life-giving presence, the greatest of all
blessings.

"After dinner we rode to Llwyn du, on the
coast, where a meeting was appointed to begin
at five o'clock. The people collected soon
after we got there, and life seemed to spread
on our sitting down ; so that I hope it was to
many a time of advantage. The 3d of the
fourth month we went to Machynlleth, where
we were desirous of having a meeting, though
no Friends lived there, and accordingly one
was appointed for the next morning at nine
o'clock, to which many people came. It was
a time, in which, I think, the Gospel power
was felt, and we left the place very peaceful.
We rode that afternoon to Esgair goch, and
visited the few families belonging to that meet-
ing, and had also a public meeting with them
to satisfaction. It was here that that worthy
servant and minister of Jesus Christ, John
Goodwin, lived ; but now the state of things
in that principality is very low. We did
nearly sympathize with the few concerned
ones, for they labour under many disadvan-
tages.

"At Esgair goch a cloud of distress covered
my spirit, but the cause why I thus partook
of the wormwood and the gall, was hidden
from me. In this deep baptism, I felt it was
a taste of what our Lord drank so very deeply
of, and I found him near in this suffering
state; not to take the cup from me, but to
make my spirit more willing to drink it. O,
my soul, mayestthou love it; for herein stand-
eth thy fellowship with God, pure obedience in
all things.

" We next rode eight miles to Llanidloes,
where my dear companion was so ill that her
recovery seemed very doubtful. She was not
at all anxious Tespecling it; but to me the
prospect of losing her in that lonely spot,
seemed a closer trial than that of laying down
my own life. But one morning, as I sat
greatly exercised before Him who raised La-
zarus from the grave, I was led into an awful
heavenly sweetness, in which I saw, in that
light that is unchangeable, that she would re-
cover, which greatly consolated my distressed
spirit."

The three last named places are in Mont-



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 40 of 104)