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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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being very weak and her voice low, she was
understood to say, " death-bed ; — I am pass-
ing away ; — Lord take me."

Asking what o'clock it was, and being told
about one, she said, <* Time passes slowly."
Feeling increased difficulty of breathing, pain
in her stomach and great oppression at her
chest, she said, *^ Give patience :" with which,
that she was largely endued, those around her
could witness. Again she asked the time of
the day, and said, " I love quietness, don't let
me be disturbed." Soon after, finding herself
sinking fast, she seemed desirous of taking
her last leave of those around her, and sa-
luting them with her dying lips, said, *' Fare-
well, farewell,"

Previously to her departure, her conflict of
body had some time subsided ; and a few min-
utes before seven o'clock in the evening, in
the sixty-fourth year of her age, quietly and
sweetly she ceased to breathe. Here, reader,
pause.......

Dwell on the closing scene, and taste the



blessedness of the death of those who die in
the Lord I

An abstract of the Testimony qf the Monthly
Meeting of WiUshire.

Our much beloved friend Sarah Stephen*
son, a member of this meeting for upwards
of thirty years, having been one whose exam*
pie preached sweet instruction, we desire the
remembrance of it may have the same influ-
ence, and be a further incitement to follow
her, as she followed Christ.

She was entrusted with a gift in the minis-
try about the twenty-eighth year of her age.
In the exercise of this weighty calling she
was often engaged, under the persuasive influ-
ence of Gospel love to labour with the youth,
for whose preservation in true simplicity, she
felt strong and afiectionate aoUcitude: that
they might dedicate all to Him who loveth an
early sacrifice, of which she was a great ex-
ample. Her ministry was sound, tending
much to raise into dominion the hidden life.
Her path was often in the deep; and by
such baptisms, she was enabled to minister to
the states of the people in the power and efii-
cacy of the Gospel. Leaning on the arm of
All-sufficiency, she was made an eminently
useful instrument.

To adopt the expressions of a testimony we
have received from New York, we can say,
'< She was peculiarly qualified to nx>ve with
propriety in that great work of going from
house to house: a meek and quiet deportment,
a mind clothed with a spirit of love, and af-
fectionate solicitude that all might be gathered
within the Divine enclosure, being conspicuous
traits in the character and conduct of our be-
loved friend."

With the afflicted, whether in body or mind,
who came under her notice^ she was a true
sympathizer. She frequently said she wished
not to outlive this tender sensibility ; and she
manifested it to the last. Near her close,
she said she had great satisfaction as she
passed along, in having imparted of her little
to those that had less.

In the sixty-third year of her age, she
opened to Friends a prospect which she bad
long kept secret, of paying a' religious visit to
Friends in America. This undertaking seem-
ed arduous; more especially as her natural
strength at that time had much declined ; but
as she observed, it seemed of no consequence
to her where her lifb might close, so that
when the solemn period came, she was but
where and what she ought to be.

She was much satisfied with having come
to that land, which appears by a message,



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LIFE OF SARAH STEPHENSON.



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which, a few days before her closey she seemed
desirous to be conveyed to Friends in' her na*
tive land, and commissioned a Friend with the
(bllowing : ** I feel a salutation of Gospel lore
flow towards them; and have thankfully to
acknowledge that I have met with those among
faithful Friends here, who have felt as fathers
and mothers, brethren and sisters ; that I find
the Lord^ tenderly concerned baptized travail-
ing children, to be the same everywhere ; and
though from niy present weak state, it is rather
unlikely I shall ever see them again in muta-
bility, I am perfectly satisfied with being with
Friends in this land, and quite easy as to the
issue of this my present indisposition ; desir-
ing the Lord's will may be done."

During her illness she said that^ though it
was desirable to her to go, yet if it were the
Divine will that she should again be raised
up, and introduced to her arduous line of ser-
vice, she had felt sweet submission to it. But
her work was mercifully'cut short in righte-
ousness ; and the sacrifice of a willing mind
accepted by Him who thus manifested his
love unto the end.

She breathed her last the 26th of the fourth
month, 1802, aged sixty-three years, a minis-
ter about thirty-six years. Her remains were
interred in Friends' burial-ground in Philadel-
phia, the 29th of the fourth month. As there
is cause to believe she answered to the de-
scription in the inquiry, <* Who is that faithful
and good servant, whom the Lord shall make
ruler over his household, to give them their
portion of meat in due season;" we have
[also] the consoling belief that the annexed
blessing was her reward; ^'Blessed, I say
unto you, is that servant, whom his Lord,
when he cometh, shall find, so doing."

Signed in and on behalf of the aforesaid'
meeting held at Melksham, the 14th of the
twelfth month, 1802.

The Ibllowing is an extract of a letter to a
Friend in England, written by the deceased,
firom the city of New York.

" Although, my dear, we are very far out^
wardly separated, this is not able to prevent
sweet union of spirit, and humble intercession
for strength to advance towards the holy city,
where the saints* solemnities are kept. O,
the joy that will there be revealed, and for
ever remain, without alloy! That our poor
feeble spirits may be daily engaged in this
humble fervent travail, is the desire of my
soul : that so, through adorable mercy, we
may be fiivoured to meet, never to part ; and
with the just of all generations, unite in the
glorious song of Moses and the Lamb !"



Testimony of the Monthly Meeting of Philadel'
phia^ for the Southern District^ held the 26th
of the fast month, 1803, respecting Sarah
Stbphehsoh.

Wb are engaged to give a short account of
our beloved deceased friend, Sarah Stephen-
son ; who, with the concurrence and unity of
the Monthly Meeting of Wiltshire, the Quar-
terly Meeting of Gloucestershire and Wilt-
shire, and the Yearly Meeting of ministers
and elders in London, embarked on a reli-
gious visit to Friends in North America. She
arrived at New York in the eighth month,
1801, and although frequently under bodily
indisposition, engaged in a family visit to
Friends of that city, which we understand
she was enabled to perform much to their sat-
isfaction. After this service, feeling her mind
drawn towards Philadelphia, she, with her
beloved companion, Mary Jefierys, came to
this cit^ on the 9th of the second month last,
much mdisposed ; she was, nevertheless, en-
abled to attend divers of our meetings, in
which she was engaged in the exercise of her
gift, to edification and comfort. Afler some
time, she opened a prospect of visiting the
families of Friends of this meeting, which
was cordially united with : she had not pro-
ceeded far in this service, before her indispo-
sition increased so as to confine her to her
chamber. During her illness, some account
was taken of divers lively expressions, which
may afibrd encouragement and benefit to sur-
vivors, viz : — She said to a Friend, " I am
now in my sixty-fourth year; thirty of which
I have been closely engaged in endeavouring
to fulfil my little mission — If I had but one
talent, as I have endeavoured to improve it, I
hope I shall be accepted." The Friend re-
marked, that her bed had been made in sick-
ness : " yes, said she, wonderfully so." Being
asked how she felt herself respecting her re-
covery ; she answered, " I have no prospect
of it: I believe I have finished the work."
And at another time — ** There is nothing in
my way but my dear child," nrteaning her
companion : then, addressing herself to her,
added, *Vbut, my dear, thou had nothing else
to expect when we lefl home :" then said as a
consideration that comforted her, '* It is a fk-
vour I shall leave her amongst Friends who
will extend their tender care." Upon its being
proposed she should take something, she said,
"my friends propose things which I some-
times comply with, but it seems precious to
look towards a release." After a time of
stillness, she said to her companion, " Oh I
ray dear, I have been sweetly comforted in



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LIFE OF BENJAMIN BANGS-



my good Master's presence-" She frequently
acknowledged the kindness of her friends,
and expressed her desires that the Lord would
reward them, and often mentioned how quiet
she felt.

At another time she said, " It gives me no
pleasure when any one speaks of my recovery
being likely ; I have a humble hope it would
be well, if it pleased my good Master to take
me now ; and if I stay longer, it cannot be
hetter — I have no desire for continuance
here."

The last day, 26th of the fourth month,
early in the morning, the conflict of nature
increasing, she said, in a patient disposition,
^< This is wearing work :" ailer a coughing^ fit,



being much exhausted, ** It will be well, let it
be which way it may ; and that is better than
all the world. It seems as if it must be nearly
over now, I have so little strength left ;" then
making a little pause, seemed to be uttering
praises — ^"How good! How goodl" After
awhile she said, <<I cannot say much, but
my King reigns." Soon after which, she
quietly departed this life, io a full assurance
of a happy change ; leaving a sweet memo-
rial in the minds of many of those who had
opportunities of observing her humble deport-
ment and instructive conversation.

Her body, after a season of solemnity, was
interred on the 29th day of the fourth month,
1802.



MEMOIRS



OP THE



LIFE AND CONVINCEMENT



or



BENJAMIN BANGS,



A UlNltmSR OF THE GOSPEL, LATE OF STOCKPORT, IN CHBSHIBS.



I WAS born in the parish of Longham, in
the county of Norfolk, the Ist of first month,
1652, of reputable parents* My mother had
nine children, of whom I was the seventh ;
my father died when I was so young that I
can remember little of him*

My mother was left a very sorrowful widow,
with all her nine children at home, and a con-
siderable farm to manage; and troublesome
times through an unsettled government, made
things still more difticult to her, yet she con-
tinued in that station for some years ; but we
growing up, and having been brought up to
business, and our mother inclining to a more
retired life, she, by the advice of several with
whom she was intimately acquainted, pursued
her intention, and after deliberate considera-
tion, disposed of her effects. Those of us
who were grown up and fit for service, were,
by the advice and concurrence of our dear
mother, put into reputable places, three of the



youngest still continuing at home under her
care and instruction. She was very carefiil
to teach us to read and write, and was not
wanting to inculcate the principles of religion;
for she was a very pious and religious woman,
was well educated in~ her youth, both as to
writing and literature, and in other things re-
lating to her sex, exceeded many.

S^ was daughter of a clergyman whose
name was Thomas Green, he had the benefice
of Royston, in Hertfordshire, where he lived
and died, being a man of no small repute, and
at his death was much lamented by his par-
ishoners. I coming to that town, several of
the ancient inhabitants, hearing whose grand-
son I was, came to pay me a visit, and in
giving a relation of my grandfather, wept at
the remembrance of him, saying, he vras a
very pious man, and never extorted any thins
from his hearers, but accepted what they would
freely give him.



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215



My dear mother, thoagh always brought
up ia that way, after the beheading of kiog
Charles I., when other teachers were intro-
duced, declined gotog to hear them, although
much sought to by them. She would often
tell us, that she saw so much deceit and
hypocrisy covered under the pretence of reli-
gion, that she could not by any means join
with them; but did believe the Lord would
raise up a people who would be more agreea-
ble to his will. She waited to come to the
knowledge of these, and would sometimes be
hinting at a people that were come forth, who
were great sufferers for their religion; and
said she did not know but these might be
those whom God had raised up, to stain the
beauty of the pictures of those feigned reli-
gions, that were so much then in vogue.
These were the people called Quakers, of
whom she had yet but little knowledge.

Hearing there was one of them lived about
six miles from her, she had a desire to pay
him a visit; she knew him before he was
called by that name, and he also had some
knowledge of her. Accordingly one day she
took me to ride before her, and entering into
sonoe discourse with him, she being a wise
woman, quickly found his zeal to over-run
his knowledge, which opportunity proved ra-
ther to her hurt than benefit. She staid not
long, I being still on horseback, but presently
mounted, and we had not rode far before I
perceived she ^as under some uneasiness, in-
timating she had met with a disappointment
in what she expected.

After king Charles* restoration, she observed
that the clergy, who had turned to be Non-
conformists, now returned to be Conformists
again; from which she concluded, that re-
wards and benefices were more in their view
than the solid part of religion ; so that she
continued in a retired way of life for a con-
siderable time afterwards. But hearing of the
continual sufferings of the people called Qua-
kers, it raised a stronger belief in her, that
they were come to the knowledge of a Divine
principle, which so powerfully supported them
in the time of their affliction ; and she grew
more desirous of some conversation with that
people ; in order to which she inclined to re-
move to the city of Norwich, where I shall at
present leave her, but shall have occasion to
make mention of her hereafter.

When I was between eleven and twelve
years of age, I was much given to divert my-
self in running, wrestling and foot-ball play-
ing, which was much practised in the part of
the country where I lived, and my company
was very much desired by such. But my
good mother, whose care was continually
over her children for their good, would often



drop some words that tended to lead us to a
more serious way of .life, which had oflen the
desired effect, preserving us from that profane
way which too many fell into, both in their
words and conversation, to the great dishon-
our of God and true religion.

Being one day by myself, not far from the
place of our habitation, I met with such a vis-
itation, as. I had been altogether ignorant of
before, in which a sweet calmness spread
over my mind ; and it rose in my heart, that
if I could but keep to this, what might I grow
up to in time? It much affected me, and
rested with me for some time, and I ac-
quainted my mother therewith. She greatly
rejoiced at it, and encouraged me to retire to
it ; and I then had a full intention to do so.
And when my companions got about me,
pressing me to do as I used to do, although I
had some inclination to answer their desires,
I found something in me that laid a restraint
upon me, and prevented me from complying
with their solicitations. But through contin-
ual importunities, and a natural inclination to
a spirit of liberty, I came by degrees to lose
much of the sense of that visitation, which
now and then, upon serious reflection, caused
me greatly to mourn for the loss I had sus*
tained. Through often gratifying my youth-
ful desires, and going from the instruction of
my inward guide, I found a gradual decay as
to religion to attend, even until at length I
came to be left to myself.

I was now between twelve and thirteen
years old, and inclined to go to some trade,
which my nf^other encouraged, but acquainted
me, that it onust be to some handicraft ; for
she considered that it would be imprudent to
put me to any business, in which a stock
would be wanted to set me up when I came
out of my time. For although she had some-
thing to support herself, yet having four sons
and five daughters, none of them could depend
upon receiving much from her. We were all
of us pretty well brought up, both in reading
and writing ; and although we who were the
younger were most behind, yet we were able
to signify our minds one to another by our
pens.

My mother desired noe to acquaint her
what trade I most inclined to. I told her I
was willing to go to any, and at last con-
cluded to be a shoemaker, saying^ I thought
it would take but little to put me out, and I
should have something wherewith to get my
livelihood. She commended my thought, and
there being one about a mile from our house,
who had then a pretty fair character, we ap-
plied to him. He readily embraced the pro-
posal, and I was bound to him for five years,
and five pounds was paid to him. But it hap-



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LIFE OP BENJAMIN BANGS.



pened we were mistaken in my master^s cir«
cumstances ; for before I had been with him,
I believe^ a whole year, he in a private man-
ner informed me that be was got into debt,
and had not wherewith to answer his credit-
ors ; and being afraid of imprisonment, had
no other way to escape it but to go off; and
told me if I would go along with him, he
would take as much care of me as of himself,
desiring me to keep this secret ; and if I in-
clined to go, he would have me take leave of
my mother, but to be sure to conceal our in-
tentions.

This was indeed a very hard pinch upon
me; but I considered that five pounds were
gone, and I little the better for it, and so it
was better for me to embrace the ofler. He
having a brother of the same vocation, we all
concluded to go together; and I went and took
leave of my mother. But my parting with her
was with great reluctance, and she said to me,
<< Child, it will not be long before I shall see
thee again ;" so with an heart very full I re-
turned.

The next night about twelve o^clock we set
out, and got the night following within a mile
of Edmundsbury in Suffolk : the next day we
came to that town, and having but little mo-
ney with us, we sat down there to work. Our
stay was not long before we made our way
for London; at which place we arrived in
about three days, it being soon after the great
fire in 1666. The city lay as an heap of
rubbish, and all hands at work; for they
fiocked up out of the country from all parts,
there being work enough for all. My master
and his brgther fell presently into work, but I
was fit for little there, and to live and do no
thing was very uneasy to me. We three
dwelt together in the name of brothers, and
my master stood in some fear of me, lest I
should make a discovery, although I was no
ways inclinable to it; so I took an opportunity
to tell him, it would neither do him nor me
any good, for me to live after that manner
doing nothing, and said if we could find a
good workman of his own trade, I did not
doubt but he would take me for a time.

It was not long before we found such an
one, who, upon seeing me, was very willing
to take me ; so to him I went, and staid with
him three years or something more, in which
time I understood my business pretty well,
and was a little ambitious in my mind to be-
come master of it. After I left him, I got
into the company of the best workmen, which
caused me to spend what I got amongst them,
although I then earned considerable.

A short time before I left my place, a very
hot persecution began against the dissenters.
I then dwelt in Stepney parish, not very far



from Ratcliff meeting-bouse, belonging to the
people called Quakers. Sir John Robinson
was then lieutenant of the Tower, and being a
person maliciously bent against the said peo-
pie, he one day sent a company of his soldiers
with orders to break into the said meeting*
house, and to take out what seats, &c. they
could find, and burn them. Soon after this,
he, with another justice of Stepney parish,
concluded to come and break up their meeting
on a first-day. Upon this account the militia
was raised, and some companies of foot also
came from the tower, and a great many
wardsmen were ordered to appear armed with
halberts, amongst whom I was one, not by in-
clination, but by order of my master; although
indeed I had a secret desire to see what would
be done. Besides these forces there came a
multitude of spectators. Some. of the last
came in love, to see if they could in any way
be serviceable to the sufferers, and others
were evilly inclined to get what they could
from them.

Those who appeared in arms had orders to
let all the Quakers come in that would, but to
suffer none to go out until the justices came;
who, when they approached, treated the Qua-
kers with very rough language, calling them
rogues and rebels, for meeting there contrary
to law, and began to take their names. After
this was done, they were permitted to go out,
and they not pulling off their hats to the jus-
tices, the rude people in the yard plucked
them off, and threw them over the wall ; but
they who were friends to them saved what
they could, and restored them to the owners ;
others who had a mind to make a prey, got a
good hat and left a bad one.

Sir John took a distaste against three of the
said people, I think, for something they said
to him, and ordered a mittimus to be made to
send them to New-prison. The warrant and
prisoners being committed to the care of the
constable to convey thither, he ran about to
find some wardsmen to assist him, when all
were gone but me and one more ; and in oar
way the prisoners made a stop in White-chapel,
by the leave of the constable, to get some re-
freshment and to take a copy of the warrant.
Whilst we were there, one of them came to
me and said, " Thou hast an innocent coun-
tenance, and dost not look like-a persecutor."
I said " No, it was much contrary to my in-
clination;" they then answered, *'We believe
thee, and freely forgive thee." This had an
effect upon me, and begot some tenderness in
my heart towards them.

It was late before we delivered them to the
keeper, who said, I know not what to do with
them; several others being brought to him
from other parts of the city that day. When



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we returned back it was late, and pasding
through Ratcliff-highway the watchmen seized
aod examined us, and threatened to put us
into the Round-house, for being out at that
time of the night ; but the constable acquaint-
ing them with the reason of it, they let us
pass. It was but a few days after this, that
several soldiers were sent from the Tower to
pull down the said meeting-house, of which
they made very ruinous work.

Although I was now in a loose way of liv-
ing, yet I had some secret touches of that
which was good, which raised a desire in me
to go to some religious meetings, but cannot
say that I got much benefit thereby ; for lib-
erty was still most grateful to me. But the
good example I had in my childhood did all
along rest with me, by which I was preserved
from the profane way of life, that was too
much practised in those times as well as now.

My worthy mother, who now resided at
Norwich, had conversation with the people
called Quakers, of whom she entertained so
good ao opinion before; and being thoroughly
satisfied that they were got to what she want-
ed, she readily embraced the principles they
professed, and sat down with great satisfac-
tion io their meetings. Three of her children,
who about this time lived with her, were also
convinced of the Truth, and they lived in a
great deal of love and unity one with another.
Being fully satisfied, that she was come to
the ground and foundation of true religion,
she became very much concerned for the rest
of her children, and being ready with her pen,
wrote to acquaint them that she had met with
what she had long wanted ; and amongst the
rest she rememl^red me, and wrote to ac-
quaint me with what people she had joined
herself, as well as those children then with
her ; and there being so many good opportu-



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 47 of 104)