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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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was not for some time, when the Monthly
Meeting appointed four Friends to pay me a
visit. They lefl me well satisfied with the
conference, and I joined the Society. M^
husband still went to no place of worship.
One day he said to me, " I would go to meet-
ing, only I'm afraid I shall hear your clack,
which I cannot bear." I used no persuasions.
When meeting-time came he got the horse,
took me behind him and went. For several
months, if he saw me ofier to rise he went
out ; till one day I rose before he was aware,
and then as he afterwards owned, he was
ashamed to do it.

From this time he led ofiT the practice, and
never hindered me from going to meeting.
Though he did not take up the cross, yet
his judgment was convinced ; and sometimes
melting into tears, he would say to me, '* My
dear, I have seen the beauty there is in the
Truth, and that thou hast followed the right
way, in which I pray God to preserve thee."
I told him that I hoped He who had given me
strength would also favour him. " O,'' said he,
*' I cannot bear the reproach thou dost, to be
called turn-coat, and become a laughing-stock
to the world ; but I'll no longer hinder thee."
This I considered a favour, and a little hope
remained that my prayers on his account,
would be heard.

We lived in a small house by ourselves,
which, though mean, and though we had little
to put in it, our bed being no better than chaff,
I was truly content. The only desires I had
were for my own preservation, and to be



blessed with the reformation of my husband.
He was connected with a set of men whom
he feared would make game of him, which
indeed they already did ; asking him when he
designed to commence preacher, for they saw
he intended to turn Quaker, and seemed to
love his wife better since she became one than
before. They used to come to our house, and '
provoked him to sit up and drink with them,
sometimes till near day, while I have been
sorrowing in a stable. Once as I sat in this
condition, I heard him say to his company,
" I can't bear any longer to afflict my poor
wife in this manner ; for whatever you may
think of her, I do believe she's a good wo-
man." He then came to me and said, "Come
in my dear, God has given thee a deal of pa-
tience : I'll put an end to this practice." This
was the last time they sat up at night.

My husband now thought that if he was in
any place where it was not known he had
been so bitter against Friends, he could do
better. I objected to this, fearing it would
not be for his benefit. Frequently in a broken
and afifectionate manner, he condemned his ill
usage of me. I answered that I hoped it had
been for my good, and therefore desired he
would not be afflicted on that account. Ac-
cording to the measure of grace received, I
did what I could, both by example and pre-
cept, for bis good. My advice was to stay
where he was, as I was afraid he would grow
weaker in his good resolutions, if he removed.

All I could say would not avail. Hearing
of a place at Bordentown he went thither, but
was not suited. He next removed to Mount
Holly, where he settled. We had each of us
a good school ; we soon got our house pretty
well furnished, and might have done very
well. Nothing seemed wanting to complete
my happiness, except the reformation of my
husband, which I had much reason to (ear that
I should not soon see. It fell out according to
my fears. He addicted himself much to
drinking, and grew worse than before. Sor-
row was again my lot, I prayed for patience
to bear my afflictions, and to submit to the
dispensations of Providence. I murmured
not ; nor do I recollect that I ever uttered any
harsh expressions except on one occasion.
My husband coming home a little intoxicated,
a state in which he was very fractious, and
finding me at work by a candle, he put it out,
fetching me at the same time, a box on the
ear, and saying, " You don't earn your light."
At this unkind usage, which I had not been
used to for the last two years, I was some-
what angry, and said, "Thou art a vile man."
He struck me again ; but my anger had cooled,
and I received the blow without so much as a
word in return. This also displeased him.



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LIFE OF ELIZABETH ASHBRIDGE.



and he went on in a distracted like manner,
uttering such expressions of despair as, he be-
lieved he was predestined to damnation, and
he did not care how soon God struck him
dead. I said very little, till at length in the
bitterness of my soul, I broke out into these
expressions : " Lord, look down on my afflic-
tions, and deliver me by some means or
other." My prayer was granted, but in such
a manner that I thought it would have killed
me. He went to Burlington, where he got
drunk, and enlisted to go as a common soldier
to Cuba, in the year 1740. I had drunk many
bitter cups, but this seemed the bitterest of
them all. I blamed myself for making such
a request, which I was afraid had displeased
God, who had in displeasure, granted it for
my punishment.

I have since had cause to believe that he
was benefitted by his rash act, as in the
army, he did what he could not at home ; —
he suffered for the testimony of Truth. When
they came to prepare for an engagement, he
refused to fight ; he was whipped and brought
before the general, who asked him why he
enlisted if he would not fight. " I did it,"
said he, " in a drunken frolic, when the devil
had the better of me ; but now my judgment
is convinced I ought not to fight, neither will
I, whatever I suffer. I have but one life, and
you may take that if you please, for I'll never
take up arms." He adhered to this resolution.
By their cruel usage of him in consequence,
he was so much disabled that the general sent
him to Chelsea Hospital, near London. With-
in nine months afterwards he died at this
place, and I hope made a good end.

I never thought him the worst of men. If
he had suffered religion to have its perfect
work, I should have been happy in the lowest
situation of life. I have had cause to bless
God, for enabling me in the station of a wife,
to do my duty, and now that I am a widow,
I submit to his will. May I still be preserved
by the arm of Divine Power ; and never for-
get the tender mercies of my God, the remem-
brance of which otien boweth my soul in hu-
mility before his throne. " Lord ! what was
I, that thou shouldst reveal to my soul the
knowledge of thy truth, and have done so
much for one who deserved thy displeasure ?
Mayest thou, O God, be glorified and I abased.
It is thy own works that praise thee ; and of
a truth, to the humble soul thou makest every
bitter thing sweet."



The foregoing account was written by
Elizabeth Ashbridge : the few particulars
which follow, were written by her last hus-
band and sent along with it.



Her husband had been gone two or three
years before she heard of his death. He left .
her nearly eighty pounds in debt, which by
law she was not obliged to pay, for want of
effects; yet as several creditors complained,
and said they would not have trusted him if
it had not been for her sake, she engaged to
satisfy them all as fast as she could. She set-
tled steadily to the business of school-keeping,
with which and her needle, she maintained
herself handsomely. She gradually paid off
the above debts, and had nearly discharged
them all during her widowhood, though she
travelled much in the mean time, as a min-
ister.

In the ninth month, 1746, we were married
at Burlington, West Jersey. The company
of each other was dear and delightful ; but
the time came when we must part. Suffici-
ently convinced that her Lord and Master
called for her services abroad, my heart was
willing to give up the darling object of its
love. Though it has pleased the Divine Will
to remove her without indulging my longing
desire to see her again, yet fully satisfied that
she is called from the troubles of time to a
happy eternity, I am resigned and enjoy a
grateful composure of mind. She lefl home
the 11th of the fiflh month, 1758, and died
in Ireland, the 16th of the fiflh month, 1755.
Aabon Ashbridge.



Abstract of a Testimony from the National Meet-
i^g ^f Ireland, held in Dublin^ concerning
Elizabeth Ashbridge.

In the year 1753, apprehending it required
of her to visit the meetings of Friends, in
England and Ireland, she lefl her habitation
with the consent of her husband, and the
unity and approbation of Friends as appears
by her certificate, and performed a religious
visit to many meetings in this nation, to the
general satisfaction of Friends ; wherein she
endured so much bodily hardship in travelling
and underwent so much spiritual exercise,
that she fell dangerously ill at the city of
Cork.

Afler recovering strength so as to be able
to proceed on her journey, she lefl Cork and
came to Waterford, to the house of our friend
John Hutchinson, where she remained very
much indisposed fbr the most part of fourteen
weeks ; and in that interval, was at the pro-
vince meeting at Clonmel, where she had ex-
traordinary service. From thence she got to
the county of Carlo w, to the house of our
friend Robert Lecky ; whilst there, some ex-
pressions which she uttered in an affecting



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LIFE OF ELIZABETH ASHBRIDGE.



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manner, were taken down in writing, and are
as follow.

The 7th of the fifth month, 1755, heing
sorely afflicted with pain of body, she ex-
pressed her fear of not being patient enough
under it, but several times desired she might,
saying, ** O dearest goodness, grant me pa-
tience till my change come, and then do not
forsake me. Lord of my life." Speaking of
what she had suffered, she observed, " words
could not express nor thoughts conceive, what
she had gone through during the past seven
months; for what cause the Lord only knew :
Although it had been so with her, yet she
would not have any to be discouraged, for
her master was a good master, and she did
not grudge su0ering for him. Though he
chastises his children, it is for some good end ;
sometimes for their own and sometimes for the
good of others." She said, " she did not re-
pent coming into this nation, being satisfied
she was in her place, and that it was the re-
quiring of Him who had supported her to a
miracle : and now it looked as if she and her
companion were sent to lay down their lives
in the cause of Truth," her companion Sarah
Worral havihg departed this life at Cork a
short time before ; *' that many faithful ser-
vants had been sufferers in this land, and as
they were not the first, so she thought they
would not be the last." Those who had put
their hands to the plough, she desired might
go on with courage, and said, '* God was on
their side; and that it was happy for those
who remembered their Creator in their youth."

Another time when in extreme pain, she
cried out, " Lord, look down upon me," and
begged, *' that patience, her old companion,
might not leave her ;" and said, " although
pain of body was her portion at present,
through the mercies of a gracious God her
mind was pretty easy." Sometimes she
feared she was not quite fitted for that glori-
ous mansion which she aimed at, and into
which nothing that is unholy can enter; yet
had a hope it was not in wrath she was chas-
tised, as she felt the touches of Divine love
to her soul : and said, *' she loved the Truth,
and those that loved it were precious to her
life, whether relations or others ; and that she
had sought it from her youth, and was thank-
ful for being preserved so as not to bring a
blemish on it, since she made profession
thereof, but had done what she could for it."

A Friend taking leave of her, she told him
^* Whether he heard of her life or death, she
hoped it would be well." Some Friends being
with her she said something of the singularity
of her trials, but that <* the hand that permit-
ted them, had an indisputable right;" to which
she seemed resigned whether in life or death,



hoping it would be well. She said, '<she
loved the Truth, and it had been hersupportj"
and desired those who had begun to walk in
it, " to keep close to it, and it would never
leave them."

She seemed thankful that the beauty of this
world and the enjoyments of it, were stained in
her view, and she made willing to give up all ;
the hardest to part with was her dear hus-
band, from whom she was so far separated ;
but even that was made easier than she could
expect. Being wished a good night's rest;
she said *' she did not expect to be free from
pain, but that every night the Lord sent, was
good ; and though uneasy, hoped they all
would be good nights, and when once the
gulph was passed she should have rest."

She said " she endeavoured to live without
a will ; and hoped she had borne her afflic-
tions with a degree of Christian fortitude."
Being in great pain, and asked whether she
would be settled ? she said " None could settle
her but one ; and in his own time, she hoped
he would." Then cried out, " Dearest Lord,
though thou slay me, I will die at thy feet ;
for I have loved thee more than life." She
gratefully acknowledged the care and tender-
ness shown to her, and counted it a high fa-
vour that the hearts of her friends were opened
to receive and sympathize with her. She
spoke of the exercises of mind she went
through before her convincement, and of the
time she got relief from great distress and
was enabled to make covenant with the Lord ;
" which time she hoped she should never for-
get, being desirous often to return to Bethel
and to remember the time of her espousals."
She acknowledged the advantage there was
*' in being deeply tried, and that it was the
way to be enabled to speak comfortably to
others."

Having grown weaker for several days, she
departed this life in a quiet frame, the 16th of
the fifth month, 1755, and on the 19th her
corpse, accompanied by many Friends, was
buried in Friends' burying-ground at Bally-
brumhill, where several testimonies were borne
to the Truth.

To this account of her last sickness and
death, the National Meeting of Ireland adds
this testimony :

" She was a woman of an excellent natural
understanding ; in her conversation cheerful,
yet grave and instructive ; she felt the afflic-
tions of others with a tender sympathy, and
bore her own with patience and resignation.

'* As a minister, she was deep in travail,
clear in her openings, plain and pertinent in
her expressions, solid and awful in her de-



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MEMOIRS OF RUTH FOLLOWS.



portment, and attended with that baptizing
power, which is the evidence of a living min-
istry; and which so evidently attended her
in the last testimony she bore in a public
meeting, in great bodily weakness, that most
or all present were reached and deeply affected
thereby, and a young wom^n was at that



time, convinced of the Truth ; which was as
a seal to the finishing of her service in the
work of the ministry ; and in which, being so
owned to the last, we have no doubt but she
now receives the reward of the faithful
servant, and is entered into the joy of her
Lord."



MEMOIRS



or



RUTH FOLLOWS,



LATE OF CASTLB DONNINGTON, LEIOESTERSHISE ,* FOR SIXTY YEAB8 ▲ MIKI8TBR
IN THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS:



EXTRACTS FROM HER LETTERS.



BY SAMUEL STANSFIELD.



PREFACE.

Having been favoured with the perusal of
the manuscripts and letters of Ruth Follows,
and believing that a selection from them would
be worthy of preservation, the editor has
ventured upon the present undertaking ; and
although it is upwards of twenty years since
the decease of this our dear friend, and there-
fore many of her remarks may not be so for-
cible as regards the particular circumstances
which occasioned them ; yet, being written un-
der lively feelings, and in themselves truly
valuable, they are evidently calculated to pro-
mote the cause of spiritual religion.

Her memory is precious to many who knew
her; and a desire has oilen been expressed
that something of her life and religious expe-
rience should be published for more general
benefit. In offering the present memoir of our
deceased friend, it is also apprehended to be
in accordance with her own desire, that an
evidence should remain of the sufficiency of
Divine grace in her own mind, and a testi-
mony of her travail and solicitude for the wel-
fare of others.



It has been the care of the editor to pre-
serve her remarks, as much as might be, in
her own words or manner of expression, as
being upon the whole, the best adapted to con-
vey instruction to the reader.

Her situation as to outward circumstances,
was an humble one ; yet her example of de-
votedness to the service of her Divine Master
was very conspicuous ; and in her beloved
husband she found a true helper, and one
ever ready to promote her religious views.

As a mark of the esteem she was held in
by her friends, the following notice of her is
extracted from the testimony of the Monthly
Meeting of Hardshaw East, respecting Mar*
tha Routh : viz. — " That in the year 1775, in
company with that valuable minister of the
Gospel, Ruth Follows, she visited the meetings
of Friends in some of the northern counties
and Scotland." And Martha Routh, in the
early part of her own memoirs, remarks, " I
of\en visited my dear and much tried friend,
Ruth Follows, and sometimes accompanied
her to neighbouring meetings ; her company
w€i8 useful, encouraging and edifying."

In the extracts from her letters, it is also



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MEMOIRS OF RUTH FOLLOWS.



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hoped much instruction will be found. They
manifest a tender solicitude, and great Chris-
tian care for the welfare of her own family,
which she continued to cherish while engaged
from home on religious service.
Liverpool, Fourth month Ist, 1829.



Testimony from Nottingham Monthly Meeting,
concerning Ruth Follows.

This our dear ancient friend, was the
daughter of Richard and Ruth Alcock, of
Weston, in Nottinghamshire, exemplary mem-
bers of our Society, who endeavoured to train
her up in a religious life and conversation ;
yet, it appears from some of her memoran-
dums, that she forsook their counsel and devi-
ated from the simplicity of Truth, when very
young; but being favoured with Divine visita-
tions, she was humbled and brought near to
the Lord, and in love with his chastisements.

In this state she was enabled, first to over-
come one thing and then another, and ex-
presses herself thus: — "Oh the peace that
my poor soul enjoyed when favoured with the
presence of the Almighty ! then could I say
rejoicing — ^ In thy presence there is joy, and
at thy right hand there are rivers of pleasure,
and that for evermore.' "

About the twenty-third year of her age, she
was united in marriage to George Follows, of
Castle Donnington, with whom she lived in
much harmony more than sixty years, and
though both of them were in low circum-
stances, yet being first concerned to seek
the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness,
they were blessed with health and strength
to labour honestly for their support, and wit-
nessed the fulfilment of the promise, that all
things needful should be added.

About the thirtieth year of her age, aflcr
much close exercise of mind, she was made
willing to appear in public testimony and soon
af\erwards believed it her duty to travel m the
work of the ministry, and at different times
visited most of the meetings of Friends in'this
nation, and was twice in Ireland.

In her conduct she was truly exemplary :
she was a diligent attender of meetings, even
when very infirm; a sound minister, rever-
ently waiting for a right qualification : her
testimony was lively, clear and edifying,
reaching to the witness in the minds of many.
She was a sharp instrument in the Lord's
hand against every thing that defiled his
house, and very desirous that (he camp might
be kept clean : — ^her words were accompanied
with power, encouraging the faithful to hold
on their way, and the unfaithful to return, re-
pent and live.
Vol. IV.— No. 1.



Being gradually on the decline for some
years, she suffered little bodily pain ; and
having done her days' work in the day time,
was favoured with a happy calm at the close
of life.

On the 3d day of fourth month, in the
ninety-first year of her age, she quietly de-
parted ; and on the 10th was interred in
Friends' burying-ground, at Castle Donning-
ton, in the county of Leicester.



SECTION I.



An account of her early experience^ including a
few journies after her first appearance in the
ministry,

A SHORT account of the Lord's tender deal-
ings with me, and how he visited my poor
soul when very young in years : —

My dear parents taught me, both by exam-
ple and precept, to live a sober and godly life.
My dear mother bore a faithful testimony to
the blessed Truth, according to the manifesta-
tion received from God, who enabled her to
be as a standard-bearer for his holy name;
and I believe I may say, she hath laid down
her head in peace, and is at rest from her la-
bours. Although I had such parents, and
was accounted much like my dear mother, yet
after she was taken from us I lefl her counsel
behind me, trod her testimony under my feet
and took a large swing in vanity, frequenting
such company as had like to have proved my
utter ruin. But blessed be the Lord ! he
closely followed me with his sharp reproofs,
and forever let my soul praise his holy name 1
stopped me in the midst of my career, and
took off my chariot wheels, so that I could
not overthrow nor yet keep the pure Seed in
bondage ; for he was pleased to let me see my
state, and very often did he make mc to con-
fess my sins before him, and with tears im-
plore his mercy ; and 1 can truly say, I wit-
nessed him to be a God hearing prayer. But,
oh ! yet was I unwilling to forsake my iniqui-
ty, and was for reserving a part, such as I best
liked ; but the Lord who calls for the whole
heart would not accept of a half-offering —
Agag must be slain, and all that appertaineth
to Amalek.

Thus was the Lord pleased to visit and re-
visit me; and truly do I desire that I may
never forget his mercies, which have been so
very largely extended towards me. And
blessed be his holy name! I was enabled
through the might of his power, first to over-
come one thing and then another; so that, by
degrees I was brought near to the Lord, and
made to love his chastisements. O, the peace
4



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MEMOIRS OF RUTH FOLLOWS-



that ray poor soul enjoyed when favoured
with the presence of the Almighty ! then
could I say with rejoicing, '* in thy presence
is fulness of joy ; at thy right hand there are
pleasures for evermore."

As I was thus made willing to obey the
Lord, he was pleased to bless my undertak-
ings ; and about the twenty-third year of my
age I was married to a young man far more
worthy than myself; and I can truly say, it
was because he was well inclined that I had
so much love for him as to have him for
my husband : and as it was our concern first
to seek " the kingdom of God, and his righte-
ousness," kind Providence was pleased to bless
us with health and strength, so that we could
honestly labour for the support of our bodies,
we not having much else to trust to but our
own industry. As our desire continued not
to esteem these lower enjoyments above those
that are unchangeable, but having food and
raiment to be therewith content, so I can say
we have not wanted, but have been favoured
beyond what we did expect ; and as we really
loved the company of good Friends, several
were sent to visit us, with whom we had com-
fortable meetings. How have our souls been
refreshed in the love of our God, for which
we have cause to bless his holy name, and to
be truly thankful that he has been pleased to
send his servants amongst us; desiring that
he may still raise up more such worthies, who
may be as valiants in Israel.

As 1 was thus brought near to the Lord and
his people, he was pleased to show me that he
had further service for me to do, which was
to bear a public testimony for his name. But
oh I the exercise this brought upon me, for I
found self was yet for being pleased ; I was
not willing to be counted a fool, and was for
being almost any thing so that the Lord would
be pleased without this, that I might not be-
come a gazing-stock to the world: but the
more I strove against it, the heavier was my
exercise. The Lord was pleased to afflict me
in a wonderful manner, which bowed my soul



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 6 of 104)