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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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cruelties, in deep vaults, in a private way,
are exercised on many of them? and how
lingering is that death by a small slow fire,
which those have frequently endured who
have been faithful to the end ?

How many tender-spirited Protestants have
been sentenced to spend the remainder of their
lives in a galley chained to oars, under hard-
hearted masters, while their young children
are placed out for education, and taught prin-
ciples so contrary to the consciences of the
parents, that by dissenting from them, they
have hazarded their liberty, their lives, and
all that was dear to them of the things of
this world ?

There have been in time past severe perse-
cutions under the English government, and
many sincere-hearted people have suffered
death for the testimony of a good conscience,
whose faithfulness in their day has ministered
encouragement to others, and been a blessing
to many who have succeeded them. Thus from
age to age, the darkness being more and more
removed, a channel at length, through the
tender mercies of God, has been opened for
the exercise of the pure gift of the Gospel
ministry, without interruption from outward
power, a work, the like of which is rare, and
unknown in many parts of the world.

As these things are oflen fresh in my mind,
and this great work of God going on in the
earth has been opened before me, that liberty
of conscience with which we are favoured,
has appeared not to be a light matter.

A trust is committed to us, a great and
weighty trust, to which our diligent attention
is necessary. Wherever the active members
of this visible gathered church use themselves
to that which is contrary to the purity of our
principles, it appears to be a breach of this
trust, and one step back toward the wilder-
ness ; one step towards undoing what God in
infinite love hath done through his faithful
servants in a work of several ages, and is like
laying the foundation for future sufferings.

I feel a living invitation in my mind to those
who are active in our religious Society, that
we may lay to heart this matter, and consider
the station in which we stand ; a place of out-
ward liberty under the free exercise of our
consciences towards God, not obtained but
through the great and manifold afflictions of
those who lived before us. There is gratitude
due from us to our heavenly Father, and jus-
tice to our posterity. Can our hearts endure,
or our hands be strong, if we desert a cause
so precious, if we turn aside from a work
in which so many have patiently laboured?
May the deep suficrings of our Saviour be



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446



LIFE OP JOHN WOOLMAN.



so dear to us, that we may never trample un
der foot the adorable Son of God, or count
the blood of the covenant unholy!

May the faithfulness of the martyrs when
the prospect of death by fire was before them,
be remembered ! May the patient constant
sufferings of the upright-hearted servants of
God in latter ages be revived in our minds !
May we so follow on to know the Lord, that
neither the faithful in this age, nor those in
ages to come, may be brought under suffering,
through our sliding back from the work of re-
formation in the world !

While the active members in the visible
gathered church stand upright, and the affairs
thereof are carried on under the leadings of
the holy Spirit, although disorders may arise
among us, and cause many exercises to those
who feel the care of the churches upon them;
yet while these continue under the weight of
the work, and labour in the meekness of wis-
dom for the help of others, the name of Christ
in the visible gathered church may be kept
sacred. But while they who are active in the
affairs of the church, continue in a manifest
opposition to the purity of our principles, this
as the prophet Isaiah expresseth it, is like " as
when a standard bearer fainteth." Thus the
way opens to great and prevailing degeneracy,
and to sufferings for those who, through the
power of Divine love, are separated to the
Gospel of Christ, and cannot unite with any
thing which stands in opposition to the purity
of it.

The necessity of an inward stillness, hath
under these exercises appeared clear to my
mind. In true silence strength is renewed,
the mind herein is weaned from all things,
but as they may be enjoyed in the Divine
will, and a lowliness in outward living, oppo-
site to worldly honour, becomes truly accepta-
ble to us. In the desire afler outward gain,
the mind is prevented from a perfect attention
to the voice of Christ; but being weaned from
all things, but as they may be enjoyed in the
Divine will, the pure light shines into the soul.
Where the fruits of that spirit which is of this
world, are brought forth by many who pro-
fess to be led by the Spirit of Truth, and
cloudiness is felt to be gathering over the visi-
ble church, the sincere in heart who abide in
true stillness, and are exercised therein before
the Lord for his name sake, have a knowledge
of Christ in the fellowship of his sufferings,
and inward thankfulness is felt at times, that
through Divine love our own wisdom is cast
out, and that forward active part in us sub-
jected, which would rise and do something in
the visible church, without the pure leadings
of the Spirit' of Christ.
While aught remains in us difierent from a



perfect resignation of our wills, it is like a
seal to a book wherein is written " that good
and acceptable, and perfect will of God con-
cerning us;" but when our minds entirely
yield to Christ, that silence is known, which
followeth the opening of the last of the seals,
Rev.viii. 1. In this silence we learn to abide
in the Divine will, and there feel that we have
no cause to promote but that only in which
the light of life directs us in our proceedings,
and that the alone way to be useful in the
church of Christ, is to abide faithfully under
the leadings of his holy Spirit in all cases, that
being preserved thereby in purity of heart and
holiness of conversation, a testimony to the
purity of his government may be held forth
through us to others.

As my mind hath been thus exercised, I
have seen that to be active and busy in the
visible gathered church, without the leadings
of the holy Spirit is not only unprofitable, but
tends to increase dimness, and where way is
not opened to proceed in the light of Truth, a
stop is felt by those who humbly attend to the
Divine Leader, a stop which in relation to
good order in the church, is of the greatest
consequence to be observed. Robert Barclay
in his treatise on discipline, holds forth, pages
65, 68, 64, <<That the judgment or conclusion
of the church or congregation, is no further
effectual as to the true end and design thereof,
but as such judgment or conclusion proceeds
from the Spirit of God operating on their
minds who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.''

In this stop I have learned the necessity of
waiting on the Lord in humility, that the
works of all may be brought to light, and
those to judgment which are wrought in the
wisdom of this world, and have also seen,
that in a mind thoroughly subjected to the
power of the cross, there is a savour of life
to be felt, which evidently tends to gather
souls to God, while the greatest works in the
visible church, brought forth in man's wisdom,
remain to be unproHtable.

Where people are divinely gathered into a
holy fellowship, and faithfully abide under the
influence of that Spirit which leads into all
truth, "they are the light of the world."
Holding this profession, to me appears
weighty, even beyond what I can fully ex-
press, and what our blessed Lord seemed to
have in view, when he proposed the necessity
of counting the cost, before we begin to build.

I trust there are many who at times, under
Divine visitation, feel an inward inquiry after
God, and when such in the simplicity of their
hearts mark the lives of a people who profess
to walk by the leadings of his Spirit, of what
great concernment is it that our lights shine
clear, that nothing in our conduct carry a



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LIFE OF JOHN WOOLMAN.



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contradiction to the Truth as it is in Jesus, or
be a means of profaning his holy name, and
be a stumbling-block in the way of sincere
inquirers.

When such seekers, wearied with empty
forms, look towards uniting with us as a peo-
ple, and behold active members among us de-
part in their customary way of living from
that purity of life, which under humbling ex-
ercises has been opened before them as the
way of the Lord's people, how mournful and
discouraging is the prospect! and how strong-
ly doth such unfaithfulness operate against
the spreading of the peaceable, harmonious
principles and testimony of truth amongst
mankind ?

In entering into that life which is hid with
Christ in God, we behold his peaceable go-
vernment, where the whole family are go-
verned by the same spirit, and the " doing
to others as we would they should do unto
us," groweth up as good fruit from a good
tree: the peace, quietness, and harmonious
walking in this government is beheld with
humble reverence to Him who is the author
of it, and in partaking of the Spirit of Christ,
we partake of that which labours and suffers
for the increase of this peaceable government
among the inhabitants of the world. I have
felt a labour of long continuance that we who
profess this peaceable principle, may be faith-
ful standard-bearers under the Prince of peace,
and that nothing of a defiling nature, tending
to discord and wars, may remain among us.

May each of us query with ourselves, have
the treasures I possess, been gathered in that
wisdom which is from above, so far as has
appeared to me I

Have none of my fellow-creatures an equi-
table right to any part of what is called mine?

Have the giQs and possessions received by
me from others, been conveyed in a way free
from all unrighteousness so far as I have
seen?

The principle of peace in which our trust
is only on the Lord, and our minds weaned
from a dependance on the strength of armies,
has appeared to me very precious; and I oflen
feel strong desires, that we who profess this
principle, may so walk, as to give no just
cause for any of our fellow-creatures to be
of^nded at us ; and that our lives may evi-
dently manifest, that we are redeemed from
that spirit in which wars are. Our blessed
Saviour in pointing out the danger of so lean-
ing on man, as to neglect the leadings of his
holy Spirit, said, " Call no man your father
upon the earth ; for one is your father which
is in heaven." Where the wisdom from above
is faithfully followed, and therein we are en-
trusted with substance, it is a treasure com-



mitted to our care, in the nature of an inherit-
ance from Him who formed and supports the
world. In this condition the true enjoyment
of the good things of this life is understood,
and that blessing felt, in which is real safety;
this is what I apprehend our blessed Lord had
in view, when he pronounced, " Blessed are
the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Selfish worldly minded men may hold lands
in the selfish spirit, and depending on the
strength of outward power, may be perplexed
with secret uneasiness, lest the injured should
at sometime overpower them, and that mea-
sure be meted to them, which they measure
to others. Thus selfish men may possess the
earth ; but it is the meek who inherit it, and
enjoy it as an inheritance from their heavenly
Father, free from all the defilements and per-
plexities of unrighteousness.

Where proceedings have been in that wis-
dom which is from beneath, and inequitable
gain gathered by a man, and left as a gift to
his children, who being entangled by the same
worldly spirit, have not attained to that clear-
ness of light in which the channels of righte-
ousness are opened, and justice done to those
who remain silent under injuries ; here I have
seen under humbling exercise of mind, that
the sins of the fathers are embraced by the
children, and become their sins, and thus in
the days of tribulation, the iniquities of the
fathers are visited upon these children, who
take hold of the unrighteousness of their fa-
thers, and live in that spirit in which those
iniquities were committed. To this agreeth
the prophecy of Moses, concerning a rebel-
lious people, " They that are lefl of you shall
pine away in their iniquities in your enemy's
land, and in the iniquities of their fathers shall
they pine away." Our blessed Lord in be-
holding the hardness of heart in that genera-
tion, and feeling in himself, that they lived in
the same spirit in which the prophets had been
persecuted unto death, signified "that the
blood of all the prophets which was shed
from the foundation of the world, should be
required of that generation, from the blood of
Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, which per-
ished between the altar and the temple."

Tender compassion fills my heart toward
my fellow-creatures estranged from the har-
monious government of the Prince of peace,
and a labour attends me, that they may be
gathered to this peaceable habitation.

In being inwardly prepared to suffer adver-
sity for Christ's sake, and weaned from a de-
pendance on the arm of flesh, we feel that
there is a rest for the people of God, and
that it stands in a perfect resignation of^ our-
selves to his holy will. In this condition all
our wants and desires are bounded by pure



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448



LIFE OP JANE PEARSON.



wisdom, and our minds are wholly attentive
to the counsel of Christ inwardly communi-
cated. This has appeared to me a habitation
of safety for the Lord's people, in times of
outward commotion and trouble, and desires
from the fountain of pure love are opened in



me, to invite my brethren and fellow-creataies
to feel for, and seek after that which gathers
the mind into it.

John Woolkan.

Mount Holly, New Jeney,
FoarUi month, 1772.



SKETCHES



OF THE



LIFE AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES



OF



JANE PEARSON;



EXTSACTED FBOM HER OWN MEMORANDUMS.



INTRODUCTION.

When those we have loved and looked up
to are taken from us, whatever belonged to
them becomes enhanced in its value. When
their Christian example is withdrawn, we of-
ten thoughtfully return to the circumstances
of their conscientious lives; when we can
no longer listen to their cheering conversa-
tion, we tenderly recur to their affectionate
sayings ; and when we hear no more their re-
ligious exhortations, to the written records of
their devout minds we are glad to have re-
course, as precious monuments of departed
piety-

These observations will apply with pro-
priety to Jane Pearson, the subject of this
short memoir. In her last letter to the writer,
she expressed a desire that he might look over
her papers when she was gone, and dispose
of them as be thought best. The use he is
now about to make of them, if he is not mis-
taken, the reader will approve. These memo-
randums of her pious mind, were all in her
own hand-writing, and appear to have been
penned under lively impressions. Among her
papers were also found several copies of
verses ; and as it will probably be acceptable
to the reader, a specimen or two will be given
in the memoir.



Of her religious experience, an opinion may
be formed from her writings ; and of her reli-
gious services, from the testimony of Pard-
shaw Monthly Meeting, which is introduced
at the close of her own memoirs ; yet some
readers may be inclined to know more of her
general character, and how she appeared daily
amongst us.

As a reverence for the Divine Being was
the leading feature of her mind, so the solem-
nity of religion was never lowered in her con-
versation. To some she might appear re-
served ; for as she has told me, when in her
walks she met with acquaintances, she could
not like many, stop and hold a discourse with
them which meant nothing. From these and
other circumstances, her deportment might
sometimes appear distant and restrained ; bat
in the circles of her friends, there were few
that unbended more freely.

On such occasions, her sentiments and even
the tone of her voice, had as much the hearty
expression of sincere good will, as any one I
ever met with, whilst her innocent cheerful-
ness with youth, and her entering most kindly
with them into their little concerns, endeared
her to this class, both as a mother and a cho-
sen companion. She was qualified for a com-
panion in the foremost ranks of virtuous so-
ciety; yet to those in the humblest sphere,



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LIFE OF JANE PEARSON.



449



she spoke with afiection and kindness: indeed
I have rarely met with one in whose deport-
ment were united such dignity and sweetness.

She seemed to retire from a thoughtless
world, to live in sweet seclusion with her
Maker ; and those who were set forward on
their heavenward journey, she hailed as fel-
low-travellers towards Zion : to her sisters in
religious fellowship, who went forth in humi-
lity and simplicity to advocate the cause of
righteousness amongst men, she held out the
language of endearing encouragement.

Of her own ministry it might he said, that
it was plain, powerful, baptizing and new.
When I say new, I hope none will suppose I
mean that she had any new doctrine to
preach ; for the ministers of Christ have no
new principles to set forth. I mean by new,
that her ministry was in the fresh openings of
life. I do not covet abundance in our meet-
ings ; a few wholesome crumbs, a little fresh
water from the pure spring, satisfy me ; yet I
do not wish to avoid the piercing of that Di
vine power, which would divide between those
things that please the Almighty and those
which please him not ; since such a division
must take place, or heaven will not be our
portion.

Her disposition was modest and retired ; yet
the reader will find in the following pages,
that for his instruction and encouragement,
she has in the sincerity of her heart, spread
before him some of her mental trials. The
conscientious mind, longing to be united to
Divine purity, has sometimes sore conflicts
with the evil principle within ; but when
through the power of the grace of God, evil
is overcome, the conflict is succeeded by un-
speakable joy. This, I trust. Christian state-
ment, it will appear, was verified in the expe-
rience of our beloved friend.

That a truly religious mind is assailed with
trials, we see from her own undisguised ac-
count. These trials arise from various cir-
cumstances; perhaps at times to prove the
foundation of our faith ; at other times, from
a fear of not obtaining what is of all things
most desirable, acceptance with the Almighty.
But it may be, that the greatest of all are the
trials which are needful, when a vigorous un-
derstanding and warm afiections are to be
turned from their natural tendencies into pure
obedience to the Almighty; to become fit in-
struments for proclaiming his Divine will.
This is like death ; like the breaking up of
nature, that the soul may become free, and
prepared for entering the holiness of heaven.
This at the time is hard to be endured ; but it
is followed by joy, peace, and unspeakable
satisfaction ; for surely, above all else to be

Vol. IV.— No. 12.



experienced here, is the enjoyment of Divine
favour to a pure mind.

The reader will find something of all this
set forth in the following pages, and may
read therein a profitable lesson in spiritual re-
ligion ; though with myself, he may not have
attained to the assurance of acceptance, like
her whose work is done; yet let us not forego
our confidence ; but in humility endeavour to
continue steadfast in the faith. This will be
like an anchor to our minds, so that when
others are tossed with the troubles of this
world, we may be favoured to hold our lot in
peace.

It appears from the testimony of those who
knew Jane Pearson during the greater part of
her life, that a solicitude for the glory of God,
joined to a care for her immortal part and the
future well-being of her fellow-creatures, was
with her paramount to all other considera-
tions. This is true piety. To these ends
she laboured in public and in private; and
dared not to shrink from her testimony for
God and his righteous law, by suppressing
what came before her. Though of a tender
and affectionate disposition, she did not with-
hold the just denunciations of truth against
iniquity. She did indeed pity the individual,
but she sounded the alarm in the ear of the
transgressor ; yet to those who were awaken-
ed to a sense of their sins, she joyfully an-
nounced the terms of reconciliation.

Early in life she married John Pearson of
Graysouthen, by whom she had three sons
and four daughters ; whom she watched over
with the tenderness of a mother ; anxious that
they should walk in the paths of innocence
and virtue, and in the holy religion of our
dear Redeemer. Two of her children died
before her husband, and the others followed
him to the silent grave, while she remained to
mourn with many tears. Deprived of the at-
tention and support of her husband and of all
her children, it might be supposed she would
sit sorrowful and alone under her afiSictions ;
but her age was cheered by two afiectionate
grand-daughters ; and her mind being recon-
ciled to the dispensations of Providence, her
disposition was not soured by her trials, but
even at the latest period of her age, which ex-
ceeded eighty years, in the company of inti-
mate friends, her conversation and manners
partook of the pleasantness and cheerfulness
of her prime. Her letters too were occasion-
ally lively, but more frequently fraught with
deep instruction.

The compiler was but a youth when he

first saw his excellent friend ; which was at a

Northern Yearly Meeting, when her ministry

impressed his mind. Several years elapsed

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450



LIFE OF JANE PEARSON.



before he spoke to her; and he little thought
that a faithful friendship would spring up be-
tween them. She then had an uncommonly
fine person; but it maybe said, that her mind
was superior, being concerned for the glory
of her Maker and intent on fulfilling his Di-
vine will. Her labours are now closed, and
we may believe she is receiving her reward,
in that state of purity and peace, afler which
her soul longed while on earth.

It is a serious consideration with the com-
piler, who is often doubtful whether he has
passed " the straight gate which leads to life,"
to trace the steps of our pious friend, into the
valley of humiliation and discouragement, or
to pursue her way in the ascent to the hea*
venly Jerusalem, and set forth the Divine
prospects she beheld there. Diffident of his
own judgment, how far these things are with-
in his province, he forbears to enlarge, leaving
her own remarks to speak for themselves ; but



on another point he is inclined to express his
opinion more freely. — Some minds may be
disposed to doubt the foundation of what is
advanced in some parts of the following
pages; to such the compiler would say, he
has long been fully of the persuasion that im-
mediate revelation has not ceased. He be-
lieves that the same Almighty Power who
presided at the time of Pentecost, who visited
Zacharias, Ananias, and Cornelius; continues
to manifest himself to this day. Believing
this, and knowing the superior mind and up-
rightness of the individual, concerning whom
he is now writing, he has no difficulty in be-
lieving what she has recorded. If any praise
is due, let it not be ascribed to her, but to Him
who is the Author of all good. This was the
fervent desire of our departed friend, in which
she is followed by

ThOXA3 W1LKIN8OK.

Yanwath, SeTeath month, 1816.



SKETCHES

or THS

LIFE AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES

or

JANE PEARSON.



SECTION I.

Her reasons for wriiing some memoirs qf her-
sey—Her birth and parentage— T%e state qf
her mind in very early life — Her resoluHon
not to open her mouth in the ministry — Her
marriage — The deep inward conflicts she en'
dured for not resigning herself to Divine dis-
posal till slie was made willing to obey — Her
first offering in the ministry — Her remarks on
this important office.

It has long remained with weight upon my
mind, to leave a few remarks respecting the
Lord's dealings, when he was pleased to lay
his hand in judgment upon me, for my back-
slidings ; hoping it may be of service to some
poor, tossed, afHicted, tempted, bewildered
mind ; for I do believe it would have been of



Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library: comprising journals, doctrinal treatieses, & other writings of members of the religious Society of Freinds → online text (page 97 of 104)