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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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gomeryshire. From Llanidloes to Builth, in
Brecknockshire, the distance is not more than
an easy day's journey ; and the latter town
about seventy miles from Bristol, a journey of
a few days might bring her into the neighbour-
hood of her own habitation. William Rath-
bone had kept them company as far as Llanid-
loes; and it does not appear that they visited
any meeting in South Wales.



That at Builth was a public appointed one,
of which Sarah gives nearly the following ac-
count :

"The 6th of the fifth month we had a meet-
ing at Builth, not in a meeting-houae, but in a
very convenient grave-yard. Notice having
been given in the neighbourhood some days
before, many well-behaved people came. The
ground was smooth, and of a gradual descent
At the upper end was a stone seat all the way
along, and about the middle of it hung ivy
like a canopy, under which we sat. On both
sides were stone seats, which were filled by
some of the people ; while others sat on the
grass. The weather was very favourable,
and beholding the gravKy of the people, and
the feeling of solemnity that covered the as-
sembly, lk>wed our spirits, and led humbly
to implore Him that had compassion on the
multitude formerly, and would not send them
empty away, that he would be pleased to
break the bread of life amongst us, and
bless it.

" A season of favour it was, for the Lord,
who hears the cry of his suppliant children,
was graciously pleased to answer our request;
for which our spirits were awfully bowed, and
blessed his holy name, who is worthy for ever.
When the meeting was over, a solid elderly
man came to us and said — This has been a
glorious day. Indeed the minds of many of
them were affected. We recommended them
carefully and quietly to attend to what they
felt. May it please the Lord, in the abound-
in gs of his love and mercy, so to leaven them
into his nature', that they may be sanctified
throughout, in body, soul and spirit."

She delivered up her certificate in the sixth
month, 1781, when, as she had done on a
former occasion, she acknowledged the sup-
port which she had experienced, and described
the services in which she had been engaged.
She particularly remarked, that she firmly be-
lieved the Seed of Grod was sown in Scotland,
and said that her returning through Wales,
and visiting Friends in their cottages among
the mountains, were as a cordial in her re-
membrance.

It was probably soon after her return from
this long journey, that she wrote the following
memorandum :

"1781. — As my soul was led into awful
stillness and gathered into abasement, I was
favoured to feel that in the quiet attentive
state, the Lord is pleased to prepare the soul
to hear the language which was proclaimed
by the angel, * Worship (5od ;* — awfully lead-
ing under the covering of the Holy Spirit, to
adore and worship Him, whose glory the hea-
ven of heavens cannot contain."

The two following pieces will close all that



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LIFE OP SARAH STEPHENSON.



186



remains to be added, respecting the exercises
of this devoted servant, in the year 1781.

«* Eleventh month, 1781. My mind was
stripped, and dipped exceedingly low for many
days, so that all Divine comfort seemed to
have led me. Under this proving dispensa-
tion I was tempted to believe that I was cast
off; and as this belief prevailed, the clouds
of darkness and distress increased. I then
thought I should be thankful to be removed,
if I might but die like the beasts of the field.
But whilst under this distress, sitting still one
evening, the Lord was pleased to cause a per-
fect calm to cover my mind, and brought
before me his wonderful preservations and
deliverances, one aAer another, from my
childhood to the present time, as clearly as
if written in large characters : at the behold-
ing of which my soul was humbled, and faith
in the mercy, goodness and forgiveness of
God, began to spring up in my soul, and mer-
cifully caused the clouds of despair to dis-
perse. I believe my being thus led to feel a
state wholly stripped of hope in the mercy of
God, was in order to lead me into tender sym-
pathy with poor souls thus tried.

" Twelfth month, 1781 . O, that pure stream
which is clear as crystal, proceeding from the
throne of God, which impregnates the soul
with its precious virtue, by which it becomes
heavenly, and, in time, like the king's daugh-
ter, 'all glorious within!' Thus the soul, being
espoused to Christ, how glorious the union !
Happy in time, and unspeakably glorious in
eternity, where the heavenly host sing, glory
and honour, riches and power, to the Lord
Grod and the Lamb, for evermore, world with-
out end I"



CHAPTER V.

Vmte famUiet at Wortester, and in her own
Monthly Meeting-^^visits Ireland with Hannah
Bevington — decease of Isaac Chray—^meets with
Thomas Cash, John Pemberton and Thomas
Ross — various family visits, particularly at
Cork,

The oocurrences of the years 1782 and
1783, of which any account is preserved, are
few. Early in the former year, our friend
▼isited the families of Friends in Worcester,
and was afterwards engaged in a like service
to those of her own Monthly Meeting. In the
latter she had Mary Powel for a companion :
who was also with her in 1783, on the same
service, in some other parts of Wiltshire, par-
ticularly at Salisbury. The same year, she
l>aid a similar visit to the Friends of some
meetings in Somersetshire ' and Gloucester-

VoL. IV.— No. 6.



shire. In these visits she had the company
of her sister, Hanneih Stephenson.

Hitherto, the travels of Sarah Stephenson,
though extensive, had been confined to Great
Britain ; unless we except her residence, while
young, in the Isle of Man, which was not on
an errand similar to those which occupied her
riper years. But in the spring of 1784, she
crossed the sea, and entered on a visit to
Friends in Ireland. Of this visit she has
left an account, which is given to the reader
in the following pages, nearly in her own
words.

" On the 9th of the second month, 1784, 1
laid before Friends, at our Monthly Meeting
at Melksham, a concern which I felt for going
to Ireland ; which being united with, a certifi-
cate was prepared and signed at the following
Monthly Meeting, held at Devizes, and also
at the Quarterly Meeting the 22nd of the third
month.

" I left Melksham the 14th of the fourth
month, and went by way of Hampton, Tewks-
bury, Worcester and Shrewsbury, having fa-
voured, tendering opportunities at divers of
these places, and reached Holyhead the 23d.
I felt many discouragements and bufietings at
times, but my gracious Preserver rebuked the
destroyer, or I fear I should have been over-
set. The 24th, the wind being contrary, no
packets sailed to-day. I have remembered
the great attainment of the apostle, respecting
his being in all states content. May my mind
be centered in the Divine will, and in that qui-
etly rest.

" My companion, Hannah Bevington, feeling
a desire to have an opportunity with the in-
habitants, and knowing of no convenient place
in the town, we walked to the steeple-house
yard ; and when the people came out, we
stood by the market-cross, a spot that com-
manded them in general as they passed, and
I think the power of Truth was sensibly felt
to be extended towards them. As soon as we
felt ourselves at liberty, we withdrew, and re-
turned to our inn. The wind soon became
favourable, and we sailed about three o'clock
in the afternoon, and had a fine passage, but
I was very sick, yet favoured with quiet re-
signation. The tide did not serve for the
packet to go over the bar ; so we got into a
wherry to go up the river, aboiit five miles.
It rained very hard, and I was very wet, and
took a severe cold, which confined me several
days. We arrived at Dublin the 26th, after
a passage of about twenty-three hours. I was
confined by indisposition until the 2nd of the
fifth month, at the house of my kind friend
Joseph Williams, and then went to meeting at
Sycamore-alley, and felt strength to deliver
what seemed my duty. I think it was a fa-
24



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186



LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



voured meeting. The Half-year's Meeting
began on the 3d, and I attended the different
sittings, which concluded on the 6th, and on the
7th, we set off for the north, and arrived on
the 8th at Rathfriland, fifly-seven Irish miles.
On the 9th, was at meeting in the morning, in
which the states of some were opened and
spoken to : and another meeting in the afler-
noon, a season in which Truth spread, for
which my soul doth bless His holy name who
is worthy for ever. The 1 1th we had a wading
meeting at Moyallen, but were enabled to
leave with the people what seemed our duty.
On the 12th I was so unwell, that my com-
panion went without me to a meeting appoint-
ed at Lurgan. I believe my indisposition was
permitted m best wisdom, for I was not clear
of Moyallen; and the ISth being the week-
day meeting there, we attended it. It was
larse and a favoured time, in which I was set
at liberty and felt very peaceful. We had
also other opportunities more select, and one
at our lodgings, in which condescending an-
cient goodness covered our spirits, and we
were favoured with the droppings of celestial
rain. The 16th we proceeded to Lurgan, and
had a meeting there, and so on to Bally hagen,
Li8burne,and other places in that quarter. On
the 20th, at a meeting at Lisburne, my mind
was led into an earnest travail, and it was
mercifully regarded by our gracious Master,
who moved my spirit in his love, to stand np
with the language of Christ to his immediate
followers, * Children have ye any meat?' Truth
spread, and led to deliver close things, but
under the tenders of sodening love, which
seemed to melt many minds, and much con-
trited my spirit before Him who condescends
to make use of mean and contemptible instru-
ments. We went to Hillsborough, Antrim
and Ballymena, and had a meeting in each
place, brides other opportunities, in which
best help was near, enabling us to discharge
our duty. As we were on the way to Balli-
nacree, we were met by a Friend, who came
to inform us of the death of our dear friend
Isaac Gray, from England, whom we had met
at Lisburne on the 18th. The sudden re-
moval of this our dear Friend, greatly affected
my companion and myself. He was to be
buried the next day at Charlemount. The
rooming of the day on which he died, he
complained of feeling unwell, with pain in his
breast or sftomach, for which something being
given him, he desired his companion and
Friends to go to meeting. The Friend who
staid to wait on him, observing him lie still,
supposed he was asleep, and his companion,
for fear of waking him, did not go immediately
into the room after meeting, but took a littler
walk into the fields. On his return, he wasj



met by a Friend who told him that dear Isaac
was dead, and it was supposed, had been so
for some time.

" On the 27th, we rode to Coleraine, and
had a meeting there ; and on the 28th to To-
berhead, where was a large meeting, mostly
of other societies. It was an open time, and
I hope satisfactory. We were at our valuable
friend Gervas Johnson's, where Isaac Gray
had died the second-day before. The being
there so soon afler his death afresh afiected
our minds ; may we learn, under proving dis-
pensations to say. Not our wills, but thine, O
Lord, be done. We afterwards went to Dun-
gannon, and from thence to Ballyhagen. Tho-
mas Cash of Morley, in Cheshire, who had
been Isaac Gray's companion, was with us
there at meeting, a season owned by the
Master.

" The 1st of the sixth month, my mind
was very low. May I profit by every dispen-
sation permitted to attend ; for indeed varied
and deep are the provings of the poor servants
in this day of deep degeneracy. After meet-
ings in some other places, we attended the
province meeting held at Ballyhagen. My
mind at this time was much impressed with a
sense of its being reauired of us to visit the
families of Friends belonging to Grange meet-
ing; but I was desirous to weigh it still fur-
ther. So we went to some other meetings,
but I could not be easy to proceed far, any
other way ; therefore returned to Grange. We
attended the week-day meeting on the 9th, at
the close of which our concern was mentioned,
and way was made for accomplishing the visit.
We began the arduous service on the 10th, and
I was favoured with an evidence of being in the
way of my duty. O, holy Father, keep my
soul stayed on thee, and permit nothing to
draw my attention from thee, but be pleased
to enable me to obey every manifestation of
duty. And O, my soul, mayest thou be in-
structed, and whilst endeavouring to dress
the vineyards of others, not to leave thy own
undressed. The Idth, sweetly refreshed in
solemn silence. The 14th, to-day have had
several seasons of close labour and deep ex-
ercise, under which my spirit mourns for the
whole, unsafe state of some, and the insensi-
bility of others, desiring that all self-righte-
ousness may be stripped off, and their minds
brought into that state of self-abasement, with
which the Most High is well pleased : that so
sweet life io him may be experienced. The
20th, first-day, a very solemn meeting held in
silence. My mind was opened to view the
beauty, necessity, and excellency of knowing
every thought brought into the obedience of
Christ.

**At Dungannon we visited families, and



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LIFE OP SARAH STEPHENSON-



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left it with humble tbankfulneds^ believing we
liad beeiv enabled to get safely through that
arduous service, under which we had many
close baptisms, but were favoured to feel peace
as the reward of obedience in discharging
that duty which we believed our gracious
Leader required of us. We then went to
Oldcastle, Moat and Ballymurry.

^ The 4th of the seventh month, and the
first-day of the week, at meeting this morning,
my spirit centered in awful prostration and
travail for the people, and I felt the gentle de-
soendings of best love, accompanied with a
draft to stand upon my feet : and as Truth
opened my way, I spoke, and matter was
given, under the guidance of that Spirit which
not only leads safely forth, but also back to
the tent, with the reward of peace. O, my
God, be pleased to continue the guidance of
thy holy Spirit, and keep me as in the hollow
of thy hand, that I may be preserved in the
way of thy requirings. The 6th, I was at a
meeting at Moat, where we had the company
of our dear friends, John Pemberton, from
Philadelphia, and Thomas Cash. It was a
season owned by our gracious Leader. The
8th, at a meeting at Rathangan. Part of the
time there was a painful sensation occasioned
by the desire of some after words. It tended
to close our way, but after awhile I felt the
moving of Truth to public labour, and in sim-
plicity stood up. After speaking a few words,
the power arose beyond what I have often
known, through me, a poor creature. The
9th, was at meeting at Timafaoe, and visited
some families, and on the 11th, attended a
meeting at Edenderry, a season of deep tra-
vail ; £it life arose, and for a time dispelled
the clouds, and many were much broken.
Close things were spoken under the covering
of Gospel love, and I hope it was a good
meeting. From thence we went to Ballitore.
As I rode along, my mind was greatly strip-
ped, and very poor ; and feeling the low state
of Uiings, was much dejected by it. But O,
my gracious Father, be pleased not to leave
me, nor permit me to grow weary of sufier-
iog; but enable me to follow thee in the way
of regeneration. Wib lodged at Richard Shac-
kleton^s, and my mind became impressed with
its being our duty to visit the families ; which
we were enabled to enter upon under an awful
sweet covering of our heavenly Father's love,
and in an humbling sense of our own weak-
ness. We had some painful biborious sittings;
bot there is a remnant who are sighing and
mourning for the state of backsliders, and are
also oooteoding for the faith. With these our
spirits were refreshed. We visited the meet-
ing at Castledermot, and attended a burial at
Ballitore ; wiao were at another meeting there.



I had to caution against being anxious after
words, believing that, had if not been the
case at that time, we should have been much
more favoured with the company of Christ.
From Ballitore, we went to two or three other
meetings, in one of which, I had very painful
feelings, the pure Seed being greatly oppres*
sed. O, how did my spirit mourn, adopting
the language of that deeply tried prophet,
when he said, ' O, that my head were waters,
and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I
might weep day and night for the slain of the
daughter of my people.' We were enabled to
deliver what appeared our duty ; and in the
afternoon, a little consolation was given to the
few mourners in Zion.

"In the next meeting we attended, my
spirit was led into a deep travail, and (eeU
ing it my place to stand up, I was helped to
speak to divers states under the flowing of
best love; my companion also had a favoured
time, and my spirit was engaged to supplicate
the Almighty vocally ; which service is to me
very weighty; but I hope we may humbly
acknowledge that our gracious Leader was
with us to the contriting of our minds.

" At a meeting at *****, I felt the motion
of Truth to stand up, though in weakness ;
but Truth arose, and matter opened far be-
yond my expectation; so that many minds
were much tendered, and my spirit humbled
before Him who condescends to make use of
mean and contemptible instruments. In the
evening was at a meeting at *****. The
forepart was low, but life arose, and in some
degree of best authority, the backsliders were
warned, and in a manner that, I believe,
reached the witness. May they not sink into
a state of sorrowful self-gratiftcation, and have
to call to the hills and mountains for shelter,
when the dread hand-writing may be seen on
the wall. The few mourners and sorrowful
spirits were sympathized with and encour-
aged, the slothful were called to arouse from
their false ease, and I hope it was a favoured
meeting. The 23d my way was closed up
at Mouiitmelick meeting, by feeling a strong
desire in the people for words, and at the close
I felt it my place to tell them that I believed
they had prevented the handing forth of spi«
ritual bread, by not attending to the language
that saluted my mind early in that meeting ;
which was, study to be quiet, and mind thy
own business : to which I had endeavoured to
attend.

« The 29th, we went to Moat, and the 80th,
entered on the weighty service of visiting
fiimiiies there. Some seasons were much
owned by our gracious Leader, tending to en*
courage us, and to confirm the belief of being
in the way of our dear Master's requirings.



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LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON-



From Moat we went to some adjacent meet-
ings and back again, and visited some fami-
lies at Athlone and Ballymurry. We sat with
several persons who had been disunited for
misconduct. Afler one opportunity, one of
the family informed us how his mind had been
visited in a very extraordinary manner, and
he was thoughtful whether it might not be
best to tell the people, thinking it might be of
service ; but it seemed clear to me that this
was an artifice of the enemy, in order to draw
him from his own work, and proper business ;
and I strongly advised him to keep in the still-
ness, and feel deeply for the pure life, that
therein he might grow. He received the ad-
vice in love, in which we parted. The pro-
vince meeting began on the 14th, at Moat, in
which my mind was much exercised, and it
was a favoured time ; but I was weightily im-
pressed with a requiring to return to Oldcas-
tle, and visit the few families there, of which
I had informed my dear companion some days
before. Some Friends were going that way,
with whom we concluded to go, but my mind
was dipped very low under discouragement.
A valuable Friend who was there, understand-
ing the concern I was under, came and sa-
luted me with these words : ' I am glad that
thou art willing to do whatever thy Master
biddeth thee.' He was a man of sound judg-
ment and deep in spirit, and there was such
weight and sweetness accompanying the words,
that they entered my soul, and were as a cor-
dial. We set out on the 15th, and were that
evening at an inn, with several Friends in
company. While supper was preparing, our
spirits became deeply centered and baptised
in sweet silence, under such a covering of the
Father's uniting love, as very much contrited
us, and made us near to each other in the
covenant of love and life. The next morn-
ing we went to Oldcastte, and had cause to
believe that our return was in the ordering of
Divine wisdom, wbose right it is to dispose of
his servants, as it pleaseth him. We aAer-
' wards returned to Moat, and at a week-day
meeting, I took a solemn leave of Friends
there, reviving in their remembrance that
they had been invited, some of them in the
most persuasive language, to quit the paths of
error, and to obey Christ; but observing that,
if such would not be prevailed on, their blood
would be upon their own heads. It was a
tendering season to some minds present.

" We sat a considerable time in silence, at
Kilconnermore, on the 20th, and in great pov-
erty. Yet it seemed my place to stand up,
though in so much weakness that I thought
I had hardly strength sufficient-to do so ; but
I obeyed the secret motion of Truth; and
when on my feet had to speak on the advan-



tage of knowing Jerusalem to be a quiet habi-
tation, a place of succour in the day of storm,
when we should be searched, as with candles:
and though pretty close things opened, yet it
was under the power of love, so that, if I felt
aright. Truth arose into a good degree of do-
minion, and great tenderness was in the meet-
ing. O, my soul, thou hadst indeed much
cause to believe in the sufficiency of His pow-
er, who is the resurrection and the life. We
went to see five children that were orphans.
They were so tendered in the opportunity we
had with them, that they ^ould not forbear
weeping aloud. The dear children were re-
commended to read the Scriptures, and the
blessing attendant on obedience [to the Lord's
will] was set forth to them. O, may the visit-
ers and visited remember. and profit by such
condescending goodness, such favour from
adorable Mercy. The 25th, I was at a meet-
ing at Knock, where I stood up in much fear
and awful dread, under the feeling of different
states, and of a spirit that, Uko (^liah, defied
the armies of Israel's God ; but gracious Good-
ness clothed me.with strength to attack it, and
by his power it seemed, for the present, brought
under, for an awful covering was over the
meeting.

"The 27th we went to Limerick. The
29th being first-day, we sat two meetings
there. My spirit was sunk very low, and
stripped; but much exercised under an ap-
prehension of its being required of me to visit
the families. I informed tny companion how
it was with me, of which she had a sense
from the dipped state of my mind. The 81 st
being the day of the Monthly Meeting, we
imparted the concern to Friends, and as they
united with it, we proceeded on the visit, and
by the next second-day accomplished it. There
were about twenty-four families. My spirit
was much exercised in this service ; but re-
newed ability to labour was afforded, and dif-
ferent states I hope were rightly opened. On
the seventh-day came Thomas Ross from
America, and we had his company on first-
day, at the two meeting, also at one in the
evening at Thomas Mark's. He is a sweet-
spirited man-, much devoted to his Master's ser-
vice. We left Limerick the 6th of the ninth
month, in company with him, and took one
meeting in the way to Clonmel, in which my
mind was bent, in near affection, towards the
dear youth. At a meeting at Clonmel, dear
Thomas Ross was much fevoured in public.
My mouth was not opened, but I was led to
visit many in silence ; and a humbling pros-
pect was afresh opened, respecting visiting the
families there, of which I had a view when at
home ; but as the time of the Quarterly Meet-
ing at Waterford was nigh, we went thither ;



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LIFE OP SARAH STEPHENSON-



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where aldo were John Pembertob, Thomas
Cash, and Thomas Ross.

** Though the Lord at this time was pleased
to employ me in puhlic, and also in more se-
lect companies, yet deep were the conflicts



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