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The first edition of this volume appeared in England in 1855, where it was printed for private circulation only. Many expressions of the interest that has been felt in its perusal, and of the value that has been attached to the record it contains, have reached the editor and the family of the departed. Several applications to allow its publication in America have also been received; and, after serious consideration, the editor feels that he ought not to withhold his consent.
In order that it may be more interesting and worthy of the largely-extended circulation that it is now likely to obtain, additions have been made, and particulars inserted, which a greater lapse of time from the occurrence of the events narrated, seems now to permit. A slight thread of biographical notice has also been introduced.
But it is not to this part, which merely serves to render the volume more complete, by enabling the reader to understand the circumstances by which the writer of the Diary was surrounded, but to the Diary itself, that the editor desires to commend attention, believing that those who enjoy to trace the operations and effects of Divine grace on the heart will find much that is interesting and valuable therein, and that the young may reap instruction and encouragement from the spiritual history of one who early and earnestly sought the Lord.
William Southall, Jr.
EDGBASTON, Birmingham, 2d mo. 12th, 1861.
Eliza Southall, wife of William Southall, Jr., of Birmingham, England, and daughter of John and Eliza Allen, was born at Liskeard, on the 9th of 6th month, 1823.
As she felt a strong attachment to the scenes of her childhood, and an interest in the people among whom she spent the greater part of her short life,—an attachment which is evinced many times in the course of her memoranda,—it may interest the American reader to know that Liskeard is an ancient but small town in Cornwall. The country around is broken up into hill and dale, sloping down to the sea a few miles distant, the rocky shores of which are dotted with fishing-villages; in an opposite direction it swells into granite hills, in which are numerous mines of copper and lead. There is a good deal of intelligence, and also of religious feeling, to be met with among both the miners and fishermen, Cornwall having been the scene of a great revival in religion in the time of John Wesley, the effects of which have not been suffered to pass away. A meeting of Friends has been held at Liskeard from an early period in the history of the Society; but, as in many other country places in England, the numbers seem gradually to diminish, various attractions drawing the members to the larger towns. Launceston Castle, so well known in connection with the sufferings of George Fox, is a few miles distant.
The family-circle, until broken a few years before her own marriage by that of an elder sister, consisted, in addition to her parents, of five daughters, two of whom were older and two younger than Eliza. Her father was long known and deservedly esteemed by Friends in England, and her mother is an approved minister. John Allen was a man of sound judgment and of liberal and enlightened views, ever desirous of upholding the truth, but at the same time ready to listen to the arguments of those who might differ from him in opinion. Moderate and cautious in counsel and conduct, firm, yet a peacemaker, he was truly a father in the Church. For many years he took an active part in the deliberations of the Yearly Meeting, and was often employed in services connected with the Society. He was known to many Friends on the American continent, from having visited that country in 1845 by appointment of the London Yearly Meeting. He was the author of a work entitled “State Churches and the Kingdom of Christ,” and of several pamphlets on religious subjects. He died in 1859.
John Allen retired from business at an early age; and a prominent reason for his doing so was that he might devote himself more fully to the education of his daughters, which was conducted almost entirely at home. Having a decided taste for the ancient classics, he considered that so good a foundation of a sound education ought not to be neglected. The same might be said of the older history and literature of his own country, including its poetry, in which he was well read; but he fully encouraged his pupils to become acquainted also with the better productions of the day, to the tone of which their younger minds were more easily adapted. Nor was education confined to direct instruction in the school-room. In a little memoir of John Allen, published in the “Annual Monitor,” we read, “In the domestic circle, the tender, watchful care and sympathy of the parent were blended with the constant stimulus to self-improvement of the teacher; and the readiness to sacrifice personal ease and convenience, in order that he might enter into the pursuits and amusements of his children, was united with an unremitting endeavor to maintain a high standard of moral and religious feeling. Thus by example as well as by precept did he evince his deep concern for their best welfare. As years passed on, his cordial sympathy with their interests, and his anxiety as far as possible to share his own with them, gave an additional power to his influence, not easily estimated.” Such were the simple and natural means of education employed. The aim was true enlargement of mind; and the desire was carefully instilled that the knowledge acquired should be valued for its own sake, not as a possession to be used for display. At the same time, care was taken not to destroy the balance between the intellect and the affections, so that, whilst the growth of the mental powers was encouraged, domestic and social
Eliza Southall possessed a mind of no common order; and hers was a character in which simplicity and strength, originality and refinement, were beautifully blended: diffident and retiring, she was best appreciated where she was known most intimately.
In very early life she manifested an unusual degree of mental power. When quite a little child, her earnest pursuit of knowledge was remarkable: she delighted in her lessons, and chose for her own reading a class of books far beyond the common taste of children.
Her ardent, impulsive nature was, to a beautiful degree, tempered and softened by a depth of tenderness and intensity of feeling, together with a warmth of affection, which bound her very closely in sympathy, even as a child, with those around her.
These sweet traits of natural character were so early blended with the unmistakable evidences of the fruit of divine grace in her heart, that it would be difficult to point to any time in her earliest childhood when there was not an earnest strife against evil, some sweet proof of the power of overcoming grace, and some manifestation of love to her Saviour.
Her own words sweetly describe her feelings in recalling this period:—“When I look back to the years of my early childhood, I cannot remember the time when the Lord did not strive with me; neither can I remember any precise time of my first covenant. It was the gentle drawing of the cords of his love; it was the sweet impress of his hand; it was the breathing in silence of a wind that bloweth where it listeth.”
The following instances of the serious thoughtfulness of her early childhood are fresh in her mother’s recollection. On one of her sisters first going to meeting, Eliza, who was younger, much wished to accompany her; saying, “I know, mamma, that R—— and I can have meetings at home; but I do want to go.” Being told that her going must depend upon her sister’s behavior, Eliza ran to her, and putting her arms round her neck, said, most earnestly, “Do, dear R——, be a good girl and behave well.” The dear child’s desire to attend meeting was soon gratified; and that morning she selected, to commit to memory, Jane Taylor’s appropriate hymn on attending public worship, especially noticing the stanza—
“The triflers, too, His eye can
Who only seem to take a part;
They move the lip, and bend the knee,
But do not seek Him with the heart,”—
saying, earnestly, “Oh, I hope I shall not be like those!”
At another time, whilst amusing herself with her toys, she asked, “Mamma, what is it that makes me feel so sorry when I have done wrong? Directly, mamma: what is it?” On her mother’s explaining that it was the Holy Spirit put into her heart by her heavenly Father, she replied, “But how very whispering it is, mamma! Nobody else can hear it.” “Yes, my dear,” said her mother; “and thou mayst sometimes hear it compared to a ’still small voice, and then thou wilt know what is meant.” She answered, “Yes, mamma,” and then continued to amuse herself as before.
The first remembrance of Eliza retained by one of her younger sisters is that of sitting opposite to her in the nursery-window while she endeavored, in a simple manner, to explain to her the source and object of her being. To the same sister she afterwards addressed some affectionate lines of infantile poetry urging the same subject, commencing,—
“Look, precious child, to Jesus Christ.”
The missionary spirit which filled her young heart was also evinced by her desire to possess a donkey, that she might distribute Bibles in the country places round about; and this was afterwards spoken of as the ambition of her childhood.
Together with the cheerful sweetness of her disposition, there was an unusual pensiveness, a tender care for others, which was most endearing, and often touching to witness. One day, perceiving her mother much affected on receiving intelligence of the decease of a valued friend and minister at a distance from home, Eliza evinced her sympathy by laying on the table before her some beautiful lines on the death of Howard. On her mother asking if she thought the cases similar, she said, “Not quite, mamma: J—— T—— was not without friends.”
So earnest was her anxiety for the good of herself and her sisters, that, when any thing wrong had been done, her feelings of distress seemed equally excited, whether for their sakes or her own. After any little trouble of this sort, her mother often observed her retire alone, and, when she returned to the family-group, a beaming expression on her countenance would show where she had laid her sorrows. Sometimes in her play-hours she would endeavor to prepare her two younger sisters for the lessons which they would receive from their father, and, when the time came for her to join in giving them regular instruction, she entered into it with zest and interest.
Many hours were spent during the summer in the little plots of ground allotted to herself and sisters out of a small plantation skirting a meadow near the house, and many others in reading under the old elm-trees which cast their shade over the garden-walk.
The spare moments during her domestic occupations which she was anxious not to neglect were often beguiled by learning pieces of poetry, a book being generally open at her side while thus employed.
Earnestness of purpose and unwearied energy were characteristics of her mind. Whatever she undertook was done thoroughly and with an untiring industry, which often claimed the watchful care of her parents from the fear lest she should overtax her strength. It was evidently difficult to her to avoid an unsuitable strain on her physical powers, whatever might be the nature of her pursuit,—whether her own private reading or other intellectual occupation. At one period her time and energies were closely occupied for some months in the formation of very elaborate charts, by which she endeavored to impress historical and scientific subjects on her mind. The collection and examination of objects illustrating the different branches of natural history was also a very favorite pursuit, in which she delighted to join her sisters. But the reader will best understand how completely any pursuit in which she became deeply interested took hold upon her, from her own account of her experiences respecting poetry.
While deeply feeling her responsibility for the right use of all the talents intrusted to her care, and earnestly engaged in their cultivation, she was equally conscious of the claims of social duty, and as solicitous to fulfil them, seeking in every way to contribute to the happiness of those around her, whether among the poor or among the friends and relatives of her own circle.
Her journal, while it exhibits an intense earnestness in analyzing the state of her own mind, and perhaps rather too much proneness to dwell morbidly upon it, also evinces the tender joy and peace with which she was often blessed by the manifested presence of her Lord. It unfolds an advancement in Christian experience to which her conduct bore living testimony, and proves that in humble reliance on the hope set before her in the gospel, with growing distrust of herself, her faith increased in God her Saviour, and through his grace she was enabled to maintain the struggle with her soul’s enemies, following on to know the Lord.
Thus it was, as she sought preparation for a more enlarged sphere of usefulness on earth, her spirit ripened for the perfect service of heaven; and six weeks after she left her father’s house a bride, the summons was received to join that countless multitude who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.”
The diary which was kept by the beloved object of this memoir, and the extracts from which form the principal part of this volume, is contained in several volumes of closely-written manuscript, and, taken as a whole, is a most interesting record of mental and spiritual growth. At times it was continued with almost daily regularity, but at others, either from the pressure of occupations or from various causes, considerable intervals occur in which nothing was written. It has been the endeavor of the editor to make such selections as may preserve a faithful picture of the whole. There is almost of necessity a certain amount of repetition, as in seasons of depression, when faith and hope seemed to be much obscured, or, on the other hand, when cheerful thankfulness and joy of heart were her portion; and in such places it did not seem right to curtail her words too much. Many entries referred too closely to personal and family matters to be suitable for publication, and the uneventful character of her life does not leave room to supply in their stead much in the way of narrative; but it will be remembered that it is the heavenward journey that it is desired to trace, not simply towards the land “very far off,” but that pilgrimage during which, though on earth, the believer in Jesus is at times privileged to partake of the joys of heaven.
The first volume of the series is entitled, by its author, “Mementos of Mercy to the Chief of Sinners.” Some lines written on her fourteenth birthday—about the period, of its commencement—may appropriately introduce the extracts.
6th Mo. 9th, 1837.—
Can it be true that one more link
In that mysterious chain,
Which joins the two eternities,
I shall not see again?
Eternity! that awful thing
Thought tries in vain to scan;
How far beyond the loftiest powers
Of little, finite man!
E’en daring fancy’s fearless
In vain would grasp the whole,
And then, “How short man’s mortal life!”
Exclaims the wondering soul.
A bubble on the ocean’s breast,
A glow-worm’s feeble ray,
That loses all its brilliancy
Beneath the orb of day.
Can it be joyful, then, to find
That life is hastening fast?
Can it be joyful to reflect,
This year may be our last?
Look on the firmament above,
From south to northern pole:
Can we find there a resting-place
For the immortal soul?
* * * * *
Where can we search to find its home?
The still small voice in thee
Answers, as from the eternal throne,
“My own shall dwell with me.”
And I have one year less to seek
An interest on high;
Am one year nearer to the time
When I myself must die!
And when that awful time will come,
No human tongue can say;
But, oh! how startling is the thought
That it may be to-day!
How shall my guilty spirit meet
The great, all-searching eye?
Conscious of my deficiencies,
As in the dust I lie.
How shall I join the ransom’d throng
Around the throne that stand,
And cast their crowns before thy feet,
Lord of the saintly band?
12th Mo. 6th, 1836. There are seasons in which I am favored to feel a quiet resignation, to spend and be spent in the service of Him who, even in my youthful days, has been pleased to visit me with the overshadowing of His mercy and love, and to require me to give up all my dearest secret idols, and every thing which exalts self against the government of the Prince of Peace.
4th Mo. 3d, 1837. Almost in despair of ever being what I ought to be. I feel so poor in every good thing, and so amazingly rich in every bad thing. Still this little spark of love that remains, seems to hope in Him “who will not quench the smoking flax.”
6th Mo. 4th. I have cause to be very watchful. Satan is at hand: temptations abound, and it is no easy matter to keep in the right way. To have my affections crucified to the world is my desire. The way to the celestial city, is not only through the valley of humiliation, but also through the valley of the shadow of death.
6th Mo. 11th. Many things have lately occurred which have flattered my vanity. I have received compliments and commendations: old Adam likes these things, and persuades me that I am somebody, and may well feel complacency. How needful is watchfulness! may the true light discover to me the snares that are set on every side.
7th Mo. 2d. May I be enabled to give myself up as clay into the Potter’s hand, without mixing up any thing of my own contriving; and in the silence of all flesh, wait to have the true seed watered and nourished by heavenly dew.
8th Mo. 2d. I feel humbled at the sight of my many backslidings and deficiencies. Oh, may He, “who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities,” in just judgment, remember mercy. If He does not, there can be no hope for me; but oh! I trust He will. “Let not Thy hand spare, nor Thine eye pity, till Thou hast made me what thou wouldst have me to be.”
8th Mo. 20th. Utterly unworthy! Oh, my Father! if there be any right beginning, if there be the least spark of good within me, carry it on: oh, increase it, that I may become as a plant of thy right hand planting, that I may become a sheep of thy fold. Assist me to present myself before thee in true silence, that I may wait upon thee in truth, and worship thee in the silence of all flesh, and know “all my treasure, all my springs, in Thee.”
10th Mo. 13th. We have just been favored with a visit from J.P., which has been to me a great comfort. At our Monthly Meeting
Page 8he addressed the young; and it seemed as though he spoke the very thoughts of my heart; and the sweet supplication offered on their behalf that they might be preserved from the snares of the delusive world, may it be answered.
4th Mo. 15th, 1838. I want to give up every thing, every thought, every affection, in short, my whole self, to my offered Saviour. Then would His kingdom come, and His will be done. Instead of the thorn would come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier the myrtle-tree. How precious, how holy, how peaceful, that kingdom! Oh! if I may yet hope; if mercy is left, I beseech Thee, hear and behold me, and bring me “out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon the rock.”
5th Mo. 26th, 1839. A beautiful First-day. Every thing sweet and lovely; fulfilling the purpose of its creation as far as man is not concerned. Birds and insects formed for happiness, are now completely happy. But ah! they were formed to give glory to God, by testifying to man His goodness. Ten thousand voices call upon me to employ the nobler talents intrusted for the same purpose. Nearly sixteen years have I been warned, and sweetly called upon to awake out of sleep: “What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, and call upon thy God!” How shall I account, in the last day, for these things? It is often startling to think how time is advancing, and how ill the day’s work keeps pace with the day. For even now, poor drowsy creature that I am, it is but occasional sensibility, with the intervals buried in vain dreams; and even at such times, my poor warped affections, and busy imaginations, crowded with a multitude of images, refuse to yield to the command, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I have, indeed, found that in whatever circumstances I may he placed, I can never be really happy without the religion of the heart; without making the Lord my habitation; and oh, may it be mine, through Christ’s humbling and sanctifying operations, to know every corner of my heart made fit for the dwelling-place of Him who is with the meek and contrite ones. Then shall the remaining days of my pilgrimage be occupied in the energetic employment of those talents which must otherwise rise up for my condemnation in the last day.
6th Mo. 2d. It is not for me to say any more “thus far will I go, but no farther,” either in the narrow or the broad way. In the former, we cannot refuse to proceed without receding; in the latter, if we will take any steps, it is impossible to restrain ourselves. Besetting sins, though apparently opposite ones, sad stumbling-blocks in the way of the cross, are unrestrained activity of thought and indolence: the former proceeds from earthly-mindedness; and the latter as a sure consequence from the want of heavenly-mindedness. Oh that by keeping very close to Jesus, my wandering heart may receive the impression of His hand, that the new creation may
Page 9indeed be witnessed, wherein Jerusalem is a rejoicing and her people a joy; then may I find that quiet habitation which nothing ever gave me out of the fold of Christ.
6th Mo. 9th. Alas! how shall I account for the sixteen years which have, this day, completed their course upon my head? What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? Shall I not, from this time, cry unto Him, “My Father, thou art the guide of my youth”? But, for the year that is passed, what can I say? I will lay my hand on my mouth and acknowledge that it has been squandered. Yes, so far as it has not been employed about my Father’s business. But, alas! it has been crammed with selfishness; though now and then He, whom I trust I yet desire to serve, has made me sensibly feel how precious is every small dedication to Himself.
6th Mo. 16th. The consideration of the peculiar doctrines of Friends having been lately rather forced on my attention, let me record my increased conviction of the privilege of an education within the borders of the Society; of the great value and importance of its spiritual profession, and the awful responsibility of its members to walk so as to adorn its doctrines, and shine as lights in the world.
Warmly as she was attached to these principles, she ever rejoiced in the conviction that all the followers of Christ are one in Him, and that, by whatever name designated, those who have attained to the closest communion with Him are the nearest to one another; and when differences in sentiment were the topic of conversation, she would sometimes rejoin in an earnest tone, the “commandment is exceeding broad.”
2d Mo. 2d, 1840. Time passes on, and what progress do I make, either in usefulness in the earth, or preparation for heaven? Self-indulgence is the bane of godliness, and is, alas! mine.’ This world’s goods are snares, and are, alas! snares to me. Coward that my heart is, when pride is piqued, I have not resolution to conquer my own spirit. Pride, indolence, and worldly-mindedness are bringing me into closer and closer bondage: the first keeps me from true worship by preventing me from seeking the help and teaching of the one Spirit; the second, by making me yield without effort or resistance to the uncontrolled imaginations which the third presents. And now do these lines witness that, having been called to an everlasting salvation, God, the chief good, having manifested His name unto the least of His little ones, my soul and body are for Him, belong to Him, to be moulded and fashioned according to His will; and that if I frustrate His purpose, His glorious holiness and free grace are unsullied and everlastingly worthy.
7th Mo. 12th. If I acknowledge my own state, it is one cumbered with “many things.” Alas! amid them how little space is there for the love of God! I have remembered the days when untold and inexpressible experiences
Page 10were mine; when a child’s tears and prayers were seen and heard before the throne! The stragglings of grace and nature have been great since then. I can look back to years of struggles and deliverances, years of revoltings and of mercies. It is like “threshing mountains” to meddle with the strongholds of sin; but mountains, I sometimes hope, will be made to “skip like rams.”
10th Mo. 5th. How long have I been like the “merchantman seeking goodly pearls”! Ever since reason dawned I have longed for a goodly pearl; though dazzled and deceived by many an empty trifle, I cannot plead as an excuse that I could not find the pearl. I have seen it at times, and felt how untold was the price, and thought I was ready to sell all and buy it, sometimes believed that all was sold; but why, ah, why was my pledge so often redeemed? I have been indeed like a simple one, who, having found a “pearl of great price,” cast it from him for an empty, unsatisfying show.
1st Mo. 17th, 1841. Very precious as have been the privileges vouchsafed the last two days, I can this morning speak of nothing as my present condition, but the extreme of weakness and poverty. On 6th day evening R.B. addressed us in such a way as proved to me that the Divine word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The chief purport was the necessity of a willingness to learn daily of the great Teacher meekness and lowliness and faithfulness in the occupation of the talents intrusted; “for where much is given, much will be required.” Yesterday his parting “salutation of brotherly love” was such as cannot be effaced from my memory; and oh, I pray that it may not from my heart. And now my prayer, my desire, must be for a renewed dedication. The separation, as R.B. said, from the right hand and the right eye must be made: the sacrifice which is acceptable will always cost something.
3d Mo. 8th. Oh, may I become altogether a babe and a fool before myself, and, if it must be, before others! God has been very graciously dealing with me.
3d Mo. 19th. Words must be much more guarded, as well as thoughts. This morning I am comforted with a precious feeling: “I will take care of thee.”
3d Mo. 27th. How does my heart long, this evening, that the one Saviour may be made unto me “wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption!” Teach me to keep silence, O God! to mind my own business and be faithful to it; to deny my own will and wisdom; give me the spirit of true Christian love, that my whole life may be in the atmosphere of love!
3d Mo. 28th. * * * To cease from my own works, surely in a very small degree, I can experimentally say, “this is the only true rest.” This blessed experience seems to me the height of enjoyment to the truly redeemed. Oh, a little foretaste of this sabbath has been
Page 11granted, when I have seemed to behold with my own eye, and to feel for myself in moments too precious to be forgotten, the waves of tumult hushed into a, more than earthly calm by Him who alone can say, “Peace, be still.” My tossing spirit has never found such a calm in any thing this world can give.
During her first attendance of the Yearly Meeting in London, in 1841, she wrote the following affectionate lines in a letter to her sisters at home:—
The crowds that past me ceaseless
Stay not to glance at me,
As falling waters headlong gush
Into their native sea.
But hearts there are that brightly
And light each kindling eye,
And home to them my thoughts return,
Swift as the sunbeams fly.
* * * * *
To home, to home my spirit hastes;
For why? my treasure’s there;
’Tis there her native joys she tastes,
And breathes her native air.
Oh, sweetest of all precious things,
When this wide world we roam,
When meets us on its balmy wings
A messenger from home!
From home, where hearts are warm and true,
And love’s lamp brightly burns,
And sparkles Hermon’s pearly dew
On childhood’s crystal urns.
Oh, sweet to mark the speaking lines
Traced by a sister’s hand,
And feel the love that firmly twines
Around our household band!
To one of her sisters:—
LONDON, 6th Month, 1841.
* * * * I lay still half hour, and read over thy tenderly interesting and affecting sheet, and poured out my full heart; but what can I say? How I do long to be with you, and see, if it might be, once more, our beloved uncle! But perhaps before this the conflict may be over, the victory won, the everlasting city gained, none of whose inhabitants can say, “I am sick.” And if so, dare we murmur or wish to recall the loved one from that home? Oh for that childlike and humble submission which is befitting the children of a Father of mercies, and the followers of Him who can and will do all things well!
After the Yearly Meeting, she thus writes in her Journal:—
6th Mo. 12th. Many and great have been the favors dispensed within the last five weeks. The attendance of the Yearly Meeting has been the occasion of many and solemn warnings and advices, and, I trust, the reception of some real instruction. But, truly, I have found that in every situation, the great enemy can lay his snares; and if one more than another has taken with me, it has been to lead me to look outward for teaching, and to depend too much upon it, neglecting that one inward adoration for the want of which no outward ministry can atone. But I hope the enemy has not gained more than limited advantages of this kind, and perhaps even the discovery of these has had the effect of making me more distrustful
Page 12of self. And, now, oh that the everlasting covenant might be ordered in all things and sure, and He only, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, be exalted over all, in my heart; and the blessed experience thus described, be more fully realized: “He that hath entered into his rest hath ceased from his own works as God did from his.”
6th Mo. 21st. Very early this morning the long struggle with death terminated, and the spirit of our beloved Uncle E. was released from its worn tenement. The stony nature in my heart seems truly wounded. May it not be as the wounded air, soon to lose the trace. My heavenly Father’s tender regard I have, indeed, felt this evening; but I tremble for the evil that remains in me. May I be blessed with the continued care of the good Shepherd, that I may be preserved as by the crook of His love. And now, seeing that much is forgiven me, may I love much. I feel that my Saviour’s regard is of far more value than any earthly thing; and oh that my eye may be kept singly waiting for Him!
The decease of her uncle was soon followed by that of his youngest son, Joseph E. In reference to his death, she remarks:—
7th Mo. 22d. He, in whose sight the death of His saints is precious, has again visited with the solemn call our family circle, and summoned away the sweetest, purest, and most heavenly of the group. Our dear cousin Joseph last night entered that “rest which remains for the people of God;” rest for which he had been panting the whole of the day, and to which he was enabled to look forward as his “happy home.”
7th Mo. 28th. Yesterday was one long to be remembered. The last sad offices were paid to him whom we so much loved; and oh that the mantle of the watchful, lowly disciple might descend abundantly upon us! Yet it is only by keeping near to the divine power, that I can receive any thing good; and, though yet far away, oh, may I look towards His holy habitation who is graciously offering me a home where there is “bread enough and to spare.”
4th Mo. 3d, 1842. He who has been for years striving with me, has lately, I think I may say, manifested to me the light of His countenance, and enabled me at seasons to commit the toiling, roving mind into His hand. This morning, however, I feel as if I could find no safe centre. Oh that I were gathered out of the false rest, and from all false dependence, to God Himself, the only true helper, and leader, and guide! How precious to recognize, in the light that dawned yesterday and the day before, the same glory, and power, and beauty, which were once my chief joy! But oh, I desire not to be satisfied with attaining again to former experience; but to give all diligence in pressing forward to the mark for the prize, even forgetting things that are behind.
10th Mo. Mercies and favors of which I am totally unworthy have been graciously
Page 13bestowed this morning, and, may I hope, a small capacity granted to enter into the sanctuary and pray. This week I have been unwatchful,—too much cumbered; yet, oh, I hope and trust, at times, my chains are breaking, and though I must believe the bitterness will come in time, the gospel of salvation is beginning to be tasted in its sweetness, completeness, and joy.
1st Mo. 1843. I desire that the privilege of this day attending the Quarterly Meeting at Plymouth, may be long held in grateful remembrance; that the language, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes,” may be my increasing experience. Conscious that the state of my heart, long wavering between two opinions, has of late been fearfully in danger of fixing to the wrong one of these, I would ask of Him who seeth in secret, and who is, I trust, at this very moment renewing a measure of the contrition, which, amid all my desires for it, did but gleam upon me this morning, to do in me a thorough work, to remain henceforth and ever.
2d Mo. 12th. About four weeks since, we had a precious visit from B.S., and it has been a sacrifice to me to make no record of his striking communications; but I have been fearful, lest in any measure the weight and freshness of these things should vanish in words; and I have never felt at liberty to do so.
In this year, she wrote but little in her Journal, and it appears to have been a time of spiritual proving; yet one in which she experienced that it was good for her “to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay herself upon her God.”
6th Mo. 16th, 1844. One week
ago was the
twenty-first anniversary of my birthday. In some
sense, I can say,—
“The past is bright, like those
So far behind my bark;
The future, like the gathering night,
Is ominous and dark.
“One gaze again—one long,
Childhood, adieu to thee;
The breeze hath hurried me away,
On a dark, stormy sea.”
Deeply and more deeply, day by day, does my understanding find the deceitfulness of my heart. Well do I remember the feelings of determination, with which I resolved, two years since, that this period should not find me halting between two opinions,—that ere this day I would be a Christian indeed. And looking back upon my alternating feelings, ever since reason was mine, upon the innumerable resolutions to do good, which have been as staves of reed, I must want common perception not to assent to the truth, that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” But, oh, it is not this only, which my intellectual conscience is burdened with: when I look at the visitations of divine grace which have been my unmerited, unasked-for, privilege, through which
Page 14I can but feel that in days past, a standing was placed in my power to attain, which, probably, now I shall never approach, the question does present with an awful importance, “How much owest thou unto thy Lord?” Seeing we know not, nor can know, the value of an offer of salvation, till salvation is finally lost or won; seeing that such an offer is purchased only by the shedding of a Saviour’s blood, how incomprehensibly heavy, yet how true, the charge, “Ye have crucified to yourselves the son of God afresh.” I know well that of many now pardoned, for sins far deeper in the eyes of men than any I have committed, it might be said that little is forgiven them in comparison of the load of debt that hangs over my head; and I have sometimes thought, that the comparison of debtors was selected by the Saviour, purposely to show that guilt in the sight of God is chiefly incurred by the neglect of His own spiritual gifts, not in proportion merely to the abstract morality of man’s conduct. It is certainly what we have received that will be required at our hands: and oh, in the sight of the Judge of all the earth, how much do I owe unto my Lord! This day, though I was not in darkness about it, seems almost to have overtaken me unawares. I was not ready for it, though I knew so well when it would come; and, oh, for that day which I know not how near it may be, when the account is to be finally made up—how, how shall I prepare? With all the blessings, and invitations, and helps, which the good God has given me, I am deeply, deeply involved. How, then, can I dream of clearing off these debts, when there can be no doubt that I shall daily incur more? Alas, I am too much disposed to keep a meum and tuum with heaven itself in more senses than one. * * * As to setting out anew on a carte blanche, I cannot. There lies the deeply-stained record against me: “I called,” and, oh, how deep the meaning, “Ye did not answer.” Yes, my heart did: but to answer, “I go, sir,” does but add to the condemnation that “I went not.”
6th Mo. 23d. This morning, I believe,
was, in measure, willing, though the “flesh was
weak.” I have thought of the lines—
“When first thou didst
thy all commit
To Him upon the mercy-seat,
He gave thee warrant from that hour
To trust his wisdom, love, and power.”
My desire is to know that my all is committed, and then, I do believe, He will be known to be faithful that hath promised. The care of our salvation is not ours; our weak understandings cannot even fathom the means whereby it is effected; but this we do know, that it indispensably requires to be “wrought out with fear and trembling.” The Saviour will be ours, only on condition of our being his. Religion must not be an acquirement, but a transformation; and surely that spirit, which could not make itself,
Page 15and which, when made by God, has but degraded itself, is unable to “create itself anew in Christ Jesus unto good works.” No, fear and trembling are the only part, and that but negative, which the spirit of man can have in working out its own salvation; but when led by the good spirit into this true fear, when given to wait, and held waiting at the feet of Jesus, it is made able, gradually, to receive the essential gospel of salvation; and so long only is it in the way of salvation as it is sensible of its constant dependence on the one Saviour of men.
May Friends, above all, while distinctly maintaining the doctrine of the influence of the Spirit on the heart, be deeply and personally sensible that there is but one Saviour, even Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom, as we are led to true repentance, I believe each one will be ready to think “I am chief.” The distinguishing practices of Friends, as to dress, language, etc. are in no manner valuable, but when they spring from the root of essential Christianity. This is certainly the great thing. “Cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter.”
I have been grieved to fear that some would resolve the vast meaning of “a religious life and conversation consistent with our Christian profession” into little more than “plainness of speech, behavior, and apparel:” then I do think it becomes a mere idol. The tithe of “mint, anise, and cummin” is preferred to the weightier matters of the law. But I am going from the point of my own condition in the warmth of my feelings, which have been deeply troubled at these things of late.
11th Mo. 18th. I believe it is one and the same fallen nature which, at one time, is holding me captive to the world; at another, filling me with impatience and anxiety about my spiritual progress; at another, with self-confidence, and at another, with despondency. Oh, the enemy knows my many weak sides; but I do hope and trust the Lord will take care of me. “Past, present, future, calmly leave to Him who will do all things well.” If the root be but kept living and growing, then I need not be anxious about the branches; but, above all, the root must be the husbandman’s exclusive care.
11th Mo. 30th. I believe I sincerely desire that no spurious self-satisfaction may be mistaken for the peace of God, that no activity in works of self-righteousness may be mistaken for doing the day’s work in the day. Oh, who can tell the snares that surround me? Yet I have been comforted this morning, in thinking of the declaration, “His mercies are over-all his works;” which I believe may be very especially applied to the work of His Spirit in the soul of man. Over this He does watch, and to this He does dispense, day by day, His merciful protection from surrounding dangers; “I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment; lest any hurt
Page 16it, I will keep it night and day.” Oh, the blessedness of a well-founded, watchful, humble trust in this keeping!
12th Mo. 27th. The mean self-indulgence of sleeping late has come over me again, though I found, a week or two since, after a firm resolve, the difficulty vanish. This morning I had no time for retirement before breakfast; and, should circumstances ever become less under my control, this habit may prevent my having any morning oblation. The weakness and sinfulness of my heart have been making me almost tremble at the thought of another year: how shall I meet its thousand dangers and not fall? In religious communications in our house, I am apt to look for any intimation that I could appropriate of a shortened pilgrimage; but very little of the sort has occurred: indeed, I expect my selfish wish will not be gratified, of escaping early from this toilsome world; but how rash and ungrateful are such thoughts! how much better all these things are in my Father’s hands! Oh, if I may be there too in the form of passive clay, and receive all His tutoring and refining, this will be enough: and should my future way be full of sorrows, heaven will bring me sweeter rest at last; when the whole work is done, when the robes are quite washed, when the fight is quite fought, and the death died; when the eternal life, which shall blossom above, is brought into actual health here, and real fellowship is made with my last hour.
1st Mo. 10th, 1845. I am inclined to set down the events of my little world for the past week; that in days to come, should it prove that I have been following “cunningly devised fables,” I may beware of such entanglements again; and that if they be found a guidance from above, their contemptibleness and seeming folly may be shown to be in wisdom. I have, from my childhood, delighted in poetry: if lonely, it was my companion; if sad, my comfort; if glad, it gave a voice to my joy. Of late, I have enjoyed writing pieces of a religious nature, though I must confess the excitement, the possession which the act of composition made of my mind, did not always favor the experience of what I sought to express. Two pieces of this kind I asked my father to send to the Friend: he liked them, but proposed my adding something to one. I had had a sweet little season by myself just before: then, sliding from feeling to composition, I thought of it all the rest of the evening, and when I went to bed, stayed some time writing four lines for the conclusion; after I was in bed, my heart was full of it, and I composed four lines more to precede them, with which I fell asleep. In the morning I resolved not to think of them till I had had my silent devotions; they came upon me while I was dressing, and, having forgotten one line, I stayed long making a substitute: then I retired to read, and, if possible, to pray, but it was not possible in that condition: I did but sit squaring and
Page 17polishing my lines; and having finished them to my heart’s content, I gave them to my father about the middle of the day, conscious, I could not but be, that they had “passed as a cloud between the mental eye of faith and things unseen.” Every time they passed through my mind, they seemed to sound my condemnation. My evening retirement was dark and sad; I felt as if any thing but this I could give up for my Saviour’s love; “all things are lawful, but all things are not expedient;” and yet the taste and the power were given me, with all things else, by God. I had used them too in a right cause, but then the talent of grace is far better. Which should be sacrificed? Why sacrifice either? I could not deny that it seemed impossible to keep both. But it might be made useful, if well employed. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” Now they are written, they might just as well be printed; but the printing will probably be the most hazardous part. I shall be sure to write more, and nourish vanity: or else the sight of them will cause remorse rather than pleasure. If I should lose my soul through poetry? For the life of self seems bound up in it; and “whosoever loveth his life shall lose it.” But perhaps it would be a needless piece of austerity; it would be a great struggle; it would be like binding myself for the future, not to enjoy my treasured pleasure. The sacrifice which is acceptable will always cost something. So I prevailed upon myself to write a note, and lay it before my father, asking him not to send them, trembling lest he should dislike my changeableness, or I should change again and repent it. My father said nothing, but gave me back the lines when we were all together, which was a mountain got over. I thought to have had more peace after; but till this First-day I have been very desolate, though, I believe, daily desiring to seek my God above all; and thinking, sometimes, that that for which I had made a sacrifice became thereby dearer.
After this striking and instructive account, which shows how zealously she endeavored to guard against any too absorbing influence, however good and allowable in itself the thing might be, it seems not amiss to remark that Eliza’s taste for poetry was keen and discriminating; and that her love of external nature, and more especially her deeper and holier feelings, found appropriate expression in verse. If some of these effusions show a want of careful finish, it must be remembered that they were not written for publication, but for the sake of embodying the feeling of the occasion, in that form which naturally presented itself.
The pieces alluded to in the foregoing extracts are the following:—
“WHAT I DO THOU KNOWEST NOT NOW.”
Hast thou long thy Lord’s abiding
Vainly sought ’mid shadows dim?
Lo! His purpose wisely hiding,
Thee He seeks to worship him.
Shades of night, thy strain’d eye
Have they; long enwrapp’d the skies?
He, whose word commands the morning,
Soon shall bid the day-spring rise!
Are ten thousand fears desiring
To engulf their helpless prey?
One faint hope, his grace inspiring,
Is a mightier thing than they.
Has the foe his dark dominion,
As upon thy Saviour, tried?—
As to Him with hastening pinion,
Lo! the angels at thy side.
Is thy spirit all unfeeling,
Save to sin that grieves thee there?
Thee He’ll make, his face revealing,
Joyful in His house of prayer!
Hast thou seen thy building falter
Can thy God thy griefs despise?
’Mid the ruins dark, an altar
Fashion’d by His hands, shall rise.
Thee, to some lone mountain sending,
Only with the wood supplied;
He, thy God, thy worship tending,
Will Himself a lamb provide.
Has He made it vain thy toiling
Fine-spun raiment to prepare?
’Twas to give—thy labors spoiling—
Better robes than monarchs wear.
From thy barn and storehouse treasure
Did He take thy hoarded pelf?
Yes: to feed thee was His pleasure,
Like the winged fowls—Himself.
* * * * *
“WHAT PROFIT HATH A MAN OF ALL HIS
THAT HE TAKETH UNDER THE SUN?”
Must we forever train the vineyard sproutings,
And plough in hope of harvests yet to come,
Nor ever join the gladsome vintage shoutings,
And sing the happy song of harvest-home?
Must we forever the rough stones be heaping,
And building temple walls for evermore?
Comes there no blessed day for Sabbath-keeping,
No time within the temple to adore?
In faith’s long contest have life’s
Bade calm defiance to the hostile sword?
But when, all beautiful upon the mountains,
Shall come the herald of our peace restored?
Must we forever urge the brain with learning,
And add to moral, intellectual woes?
Nor hold in peace the spoils we have been earning,
And find in wisdom’s self the mind’s repose?
Long have we watch’d, and risen
late and early,
Rising to toil, and watching but to weep;
When will the blessing come like dewdrops pearly,
“On heaven’s beloved ones even while they sleep?”
Since life began, our life has been beginning,
That ever-nascent future’s treacherous vow;
When shall we find, the weary contest winning
A present treasure, an enduring now?
Ten thousand nameless earthly aims pursuing,
Hope we in vain the recompense to see,
And must our total life expire in doing,
And never find us leisure time to be?
Has not our life a germ of real perfection,
As holds the tiny seed the forest’s pride?
And shall its ask’d and promised resurrection
In dreams of disappointed hope subside?
Yes, all is hopeless, man with vain endeavor,
May climb earth’s rugged heights, but climb to fall;
Ever perfecting, yet imperfect ever,
Earth has no rest for man—if earth be all.
Yet oft there dwell, in temples frail
Souls that partake immortal life the while;
Nor wait till death unbar heaven’s pearly portal,
For heaven’s own essence, their Redeemer’s smile.
_—12th Month_, 1844.
* * * * *
From the Journal relating to daily affairs, at this time, kept distinct from her spiritual diary, the following, and a few other extracts, have been taken. Never suspecting that this would see the light, she left it in an unfinished state. Had it been reconsidered, portions of it would probably have been altered; but it sufficiently shows her desire to understand the agencies of intellectual action, and the philosophy of knowing and acquiring. She recognizes the importance of systematic knowledge, questions the purpose and use of every attainment, and manifests throughout a desire that all the operations of the intelligence may subserve a nobler aim than knowledge in itself possesses:—
5th Mo. 16th. That life is a real, earnest thing, and to be employed for our own and others’ real and earnest good, is a fact which I desire may be more deeply engraven on my heart. It is certainly a matter of spiritual duty, to look well to the outward state of our own house. There are already many revolutions in my mental history, passed beyond the reach of any thing but regrets. As a child, play was not my chief pleasure, but a sort of mingled play and constructiveness; then reading and learning; I well remember the coming on of the desire to know. In a tale, false or true, I had by no means, the common share of pleasure—Smith’s Key to Reading was more to my taste. Poetry I have ever loved. History I am very dull at; a chain of events is far more difficult to follow, than a chain of ideas—causality comes more to my aid than eventuality. Well, the age of learning came: in it I learned this, that, and the other; but, alas! order, the faculty in which I am so deficient, was wanting, I had not an appointed place for each fact or idea: so they were lost as they fell into the confused mass. I am full of dim apprehensions on almost all subjects, but know little of any. However, it may be that this favors new combinations of things. I would rather have all my ideas in a mass, than have them in separate locked boxes, where they must each remain isolated; but it were better they were on open shelves, and that I had power to take them down, and combine at will. The age of combining has come; I feel sensibly the diminution of the power of acquiring: I can do little in that, but lament that I have acquired so little; but I seem rebuked in myself at the incessant wish to gain—gain for what? I must do
Page 20something with what, I gain; for, as I said before, I have nowhere to put it away. I love languages,—above all, the expressive German; but I know too little to make it expressive for myself. But my own mother-tongue, though my tongue is so deficient to use thee, canst thou afford no other outlet to the struggling ideas that are within; may I not write? I did write poetry sometimes: is it presumptuous to call it poetry? It was certainly the poetry of my heart; the pieces entitled “The Complaint,” and “What profit hath a man, etc.” were certainly poetry to me. But the fate of my poetry is written before. Perhaps it was a groundless fear; but still it has given it the death-blow. But may I write prose? I will tell that by-and-by. This has brought down my history in this respect till now:—
The learning age,
The combining age,
So far the intellect.
* * * I am conscientious naturally, rather than adhesive or benevolent. This natural conscientiousness, independent of spirituals, has been like a goad in my side all my life, and its demands, I think, heighten. It is evidently independent of religion, because it is independent of the love of God and of man. For instance, I form to myself an idea of my reasonable amount of service in visiting the poor. Have I fallen short of this amount, I am uneasy, and feel myself burdened; the thing is before me, I must do it: why? Because I feel the love of God constraining me? Sometimes far otherwise. Because I feel benevolence towards the poor? No; for the thing itself is a task; but because it is my duty; because I would justify myself; because I would lighten my conscience. I have called this feeling independent of religion; but perhaps it is most intense when religion is faintest. This latter supplies, evidently, the only true motive for benevolent actions. Then they are a pleasure: then the divergence of the impulse of duty from the impulse of inclination is done away; and I believe the love of God is the only thing, which, thus redeeming those that were under the law, can place them under the law of Christ. Though it is little I can do for the poor, I ought to feel it both a duty and a pleasure to devote some time to them most days. To see the aged, whose poverty we have witnessed, whose declining days we have tried to soothe, safely gathered home, is a comfort and pleasure I would not forego; and, though the real benefit we render to them must depend on our own spiritual state, their cottages have often been to me places of deep instruction.
The useful desire to learn, may be carried too far; we may sacrifice the duties we owe to each other, by an eagerness of this kind; nor, I believe, can we, without culpable negligence, adhere tenaciously to any plan of study. The moral self-training which is exercised by giving up a book, to converse with or help another, is of more value than the
Page 21knowledge which could have been acquired from it. Indeed, I am convinced we are often in error about interruptions. We have been interrupted; in what?—in the fulfilment of our duty? That cannot be; but in the prosecution of our favorite plan. If the interruption was beyond our control, it altered our duty, but could not interrupt it. Duty is the right course at a given time, and under given circumstances.
A subject, which has of late been very interesting to me, is that of the Jews. I am convinced that much, very much, is to be done for them by Christians, and for Christians by them; but I think the interest excited in their behalf, in the world at large, is, in many cases, not according to knowledge. An historical view of their points of contact with the professing Christian world, has long been on my mind; and I think it needs to be drawn by an independent hand,—in short, by a Friend. That “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and feed him as a shepherd doth his flock,” is confessed now on all sides. The when, the where, and the how, are variously viewed. But what will He gather them to? is a question not enough thought of. One wishes them to be gathered to the Church of England, another to the Church of Scotland; but I am persuaded their gathering must be to the primitive Christian faith. I say not to Friends; although I hold the principles of Friends to be the principles of primitive Christianity. For I do think a vast distinction is to be made between the principles of truth professed by Friends, and the particular line of action, as a body, into which they have been led, (I doubt not by the truth,) under the circumstances in which they were placed. My belief is, that the Jews are to be gathered to none but a Church built “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner-stone;” and that to such a Church they are to be gathered immediately and instrumentally, by the Spirit of God himself. A view of the manner in which they have been regarded and treated by professing Christians from the Christian era to the present time, and of their own feelings towards Christians and Christianity, if well drawn, would be valuable and useful.
This interest in the Jews led Eliza to devote much, labor, during several years, in collecting information relating to their history since the Christian era. Had her life been spared, she would probably have made some defined use of the large mass of material collected, which, whilst valuable as an evidence of deep research, is not sufficiently digested to be generally useful.
7th Mo. 3d. This evening I have finished copying the foregoing scraps, previously on sheets, into this book, that they may yet speak to me, in days to come, of His manifold mercies, whose “candle has ofttimes shone round about me,” and “whose favor has made me glad.”
7th Mo. 5th. I desire gratefully
Page 22to acknowledge the privilege of which we have this week partaken, in the occurrence of our Quarterly Meeting, and a most sweet visit from ——; full of love is —— to his Master, and full of love to the brethren, and even to the little sisters in Christ. Most kindly and tenderly he and his wife advised us, and myself, when we happened to be alone, to wait and watch at the feet of Jesus, from whom the message will come in due time, “The Master calleth for thee.” Manifold has been the expression of sympathy for us all this week, in the prospect of parting with our dear father on the Indiana committee, in about five weeks, and the comforting expectation expressed that his absence will be a time of sweet refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Oh, we have much to be thankful for in the grace that has been bestowed.
7th Mo. 9th. I have been much blessed the last few days; not with high enjoyments, but with a calm sense of dependence and trust on my Saviour, and assistance in watching over my own heart. This morning I have been tried with want of settlement and power to get to the throne of grace; but faith must learn to trust through all changes in the unchangeable truth and love of Jesus. I am sensible that this has been a time of much renewed mercy to my soul; and oh that if, as —— told me, the Lord has many things to say unto me, but I cannot bear them now, I may but be kept in the right preparation, both for hearing and obeying!
7th Mo. 27th. I am sometimes astonished at the condescending kindness of my Saviour, that he should so gently and mercifully “heal my backslidings and love me freely.” I think my chief desire is to be preserved alive in the truth, and growing in the truth; but sometimes, through unwatchfulness, such a withering comes upon me, I lose all sense of good for days together, and this nether world is all I seek pleasure in. Then there is but a cold, cheerless, condemning feeling, when I look towards my Father’s house; but when all life seems gone, and I am ready to conclude that I have suffered so many things in vain, how often does the gentle stirring of life bring my soul into contrition, into stillness! and He, who upbraideth not the returning sinner, reveals himself as “the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.”
The following lines describe her feelings at such a time as this:—
Then disconsolate I wander’d,
Where my path was lone and dim,
Till I thought that I was sunder’d
Evermore from heaven and Him.
Then it was my Shepherd found me,
Even as He had of old,
Threw His arms of mercy round me,
Placed me gently in His fold.
7th Mo. 29th. The expression,
I think, of William
Penn, “Let the holy watch of Jesus be upon your
spirit,” is a fitting watchword for me.
7th Mo. 30th. Oh, this must be the watchword still.
8th Mo. 10th. First-day morning. I was helped to cast away some of the weight of worldly thoughts last evening, and fervently to desire after the Lord. It is a blessing to have his manifested presence and love with us; but this is not at all times the needful or the best thing for us. To have the heart right with God, to commit my all to him, to live in the very spirit which breathes, “Thy will be done,” in and through me,—oh, this is to be alive in Christ; this is indeed the work of the spirit; this is to lose my life, that I may keep it unto life eternal.
At the Yearly Meeting of 1845 occurred the appointment previously alluded to, under which John Allen became a member of the committee which visited Indiana Yearly Meeting. As communication between Great Britain and America was not so easy and frequent in those days as at present, both he and his family very strongly felt the prospect of separation. In allusion to the appointment, Eliza writes, “My father allowed the business [of the Yearly Meeting] to proceed, but at length said that he felt too much overwhelmed to speak sooner,—that the subject touched his tenderest feelings, and that he felt very unfit for such an engagement, but that the sense which had been and was, while he was speaking, present with him, of that goodness and mercy which had followed him all his life long and blessed him, was such that he dared not refuse to do any little offices in his power for those dear friends with whom he should be associated.” She then gives an account of the receipt at home of the unexpected intelligence of this long journey, and of the calmness which eventually followed the shock to the feelings which it occasioned. After he had set out, she wrote an interesting account, too long to be given at full length, of what had passed in the intervening time,—the hopes and fears, the preparations, her father’s parting with his friends and their words of encouragement to him, with his own counsel and exhortations to his children. A few words of his last address to them may not be out of place:—“I earnestly desire for us all that when we shall meet again we may all have made some progress in the heavenward journey and be enabled to rejoice together in the sense of it. For you, my dear young people, especially, I earnestly desire that you may be preferring the best things, not setting your affections on trifling objects, but valuing an inheritance in the truth above all those things that perish with the using. * * * Be willing to be the Lord’s on his own terms, and prize above all things the sense that you are his; and you will be his, if you are willing to walk in the narrow way—the way of self-denial.”
It does not pertain to this volume to give any further account of this journey or of the mission in which he was engaged. The visit of the deputation is probably fresh in the remembrance of many Friends in the United States.
8th Mo. 24th. The great parting is over: the love and mercy of our heavenly Father sustained my dearest father and mother beyond expectation. On this occasion, when I have been helped back from a sad, lone wandering on barren mountains, I may learn, more deeply than ever before, the safety, the sweetness, of dwelling in the valley of humiliation. Oh, let me dwell there long and low enough. I ask not high enjoyments nor rapturous delights; but I ask, I pray, when I can pray at all, for quiet, watchful, trustful dependence upon my Saviour.
8th Mo. 27th. We have had a ride in the country this afternoon, and during a solitary walk of a mile and a half I had very sweet feelings. Jesus seemed so near to me and so kind that I could hardly but accept of him. But then there seemed some dark misgivings at the same time; as if I had an account to settle up first,—something I must do myself; the free full grace seemed too easy and gratis to accept of. But all this I found was a mistake. I thought of the lines—
“He gives our sins a
He crowns and saves us too,”
and of a remark I had seen somewhere,
Calvary, and wilt thou say that thy sins are easily
This evening in my andachtzimmer, I wished to pray in spirit; but not a petition arose that I could offer. I felt so blind, and yet so peaceful, that all merged into the confiding language, Father, Thy will be done!
[Footnote 1: Devotional retirement.]
9th Mo. 2d. On First-day, the twenty-first, I had a great struggle on the old poetry-writing question. I had written none since the great fight last winter; but now to my dearest father I ventured to write, thinking I had got over the danger of it. But when all was written, I was forced to submit to the mortification of not sending it. The relief I felt was indescribable, and I hope to get thus entoiled no more. My scruple is not against poetry, but I cannot write it without getting over-possessed by it. Therefore it is no more than a reasonable peace-offering to deny myself of it. * * * “And now, Lord, what wait I for?” Enable me to say, “My hope is in thee.” It seems as if the path would be a narrow one; but, oh, “make thy way straight before my face;” and, having enabled me, I trust, to give some things to “the moles and to the bats,” leave me not till I have learned “to count all things but loss, for the excellency of Christ Jesus my Lord.”
The following is the unfinished piece just alluded to:—
TO HER FATHER IN AMERICA.
And thus it was, as drew the moments nearer
That stamp’d their record deep oil every heart;
As day by day thy presence grew yet dearer,
By how much sooner thou shouldst hence depart.
Love wept indeed, though she might seem
Long ere descending tears the signs betray’d;
And the heart’s fountain was but so much deeper,
The longer was its overflow delay’d.
The page my unapt heart has learn’d
In the dark lessons which afflictions teach—
Oh, it were vain to try to utter truly
In the cold language of unapter speech.
That hearts when thus their very depths
Alone should know their bitterness, is well;
But, oh, my heart more joys than aches in learning
Another lesson, would that words could tell.
New depths of love in measure unsuspected,
Ties closer than I knew, were round my heart;
And half I thank the wrench that has detected
How thoroughly and deeply dear thou art.
And ’twas to tell thee this that
I have taken
The tuneless lyre I thought to use no more,
Yet once at thy returning may it waken,
Then sleep forever, silent as before.
And not more narrow than the dome of ether
Beams heaven’s unbounded, earth-embracing scroll;
Then be it thine and ours to read together
Of Him who loves not less than rules the whole.
And not more slow than was the bark that
To an untried and dimly-distant land—
Our hearts’ affections thither flew before thee,
And now are ready waiting on the strand.
—8th Month, 1845.
10th Mo. 1st. Much struck with the suitability of the expression, “under the yoke,” truly subjugated. not merely offering this or that, but being offered “a living sacrifice.” Oh for a thorough work like this! This is “when the yoke Is easy and the burden light.” I know almost nothing of it by experience, but think it is “now nearer than when I first believed.” For a day or two I have been given to desire it earnestly.
10th Mo. 12th. Evening. Many thoughts about faith in Christ. But oh for the reality, the living essence of it! We can be Christians, not because we believe that the blood of Christ cleanses from sin, but because we know the blood of Christ to cleanse us from sin.
About this date, in the diary of daily affairs, is the following:—
“A conviction has come upon me that, in all respects, now is the time to reform, if ever, the course I am now pursuing. Religion, the main thing, may it ever more be the main object; and then, as to moral, social, and other duty, oh, be my whole course reformed. ... From this time forth may I nightly ask myself these five questions. 1. Has my employment and economy of time been right? 2. Has my aim been duty—not pleasure? 3. Have I been quiet and submissive? 4. Have I looked on the things of others as my own? 5. Have propensities or sentiments ruled? I wish to give an answer, daily, to each; and now say for yesterday. 1. Some wasted time before dinner. 2. Pretty clear, 3. No temptation. 4. Pretty well. 5. Pretty [well] except at meals.”
In this concise and simple manner are these questions answered, almost daily, throughout the year, until, “finding that daily records of employment are of little use, and that the intellectual and spiritual could not well be longer separated,” she discontinued the practice, and recorded in the same book “any thing in either line that seemed fit to reserve from oblivion.”
Alluding to a religious magazine, she writes:—
“It is always pulling down error—seldom building up truth. Surely Antichrist comes to oppose Christ, not Christ to oppose Antichrist. Is there, then, no positive Christian duty? Are we never to rest in principles and practices of actual faith and love? or are we to be always on the offensive and negative side, stigmatizing all who act contrary to our belief of the truth as doers of the work of Antichrist? Antichrist, I fear, cares little for orthodox doctrines, but fights against the Christian spirit.”
9th Mo. 13th. Conflicting thoughts again. I long that there may be no building on any sandy foundation. But oh, the fitness that appeared to me this evening in the blessed Saviour to supply all my need. The one sacrifice He has been, and the one mediator and way to God He ever is,—His own spirit the one leader, teacher, and sanctifier; whereby He consummates in the heart the blessed work of bringing all into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Oh for a personal experience, a real participation in all this, a knowledge that He is my own and that I am His.
16th. Somewhat puzzled at myself. This has not been a spiritually prosperous day—passed just to my taste, much in reading, but not much, I fear, with the Lord. Yet I have had very loving thoughts of Christ this evening, and was ready to call Him my own dear Saviour, though I trust on no other terms than His terms, namely, that I should be wholly His. Some misgivings are come up that I am tempted to think Him mine when I am not in a state to be His; some fears lest Satan has put on the winning smiles of an angel of light; and yet where can I go but to Thee, Saviour of sinners? Thou hast the words of life and salvation; suffer me not to be deluded, but at all hazards let me be Thine.
Thou who breakest not the bruised reed,
forth in me judgment unto truth, and let me wait for
the law of life and peace from Thee.
9th Mo. 18th. Rode to Lodge to get ferns. Enjoyed thoughts of the beauty of nature, imperfect as it is, because one kind of beauty necessarily excludes another. What, then, must be the essence of that glory in which all perfection is beauty united? Thus these things must be described to mortal comprehension under contradictory images; such as “pure gold, like unto transparent glass,” &c.
9th Mo. 19th. I think harm is done by considering a society such as “Friends,” “a section of the Christian Church,” as societies are so often called. It can be true only by considering the “Christian Church” to mean professing Christians; but surely its true meaning is the children of God anywhere. Of this body, there are no sections to be made by man, or it would follow that to unite oneself to either section, is to be united to the body,
Page 27which cannot be.
10th Mo. 1st. I fear I have so long been childish and thoughtless, that I shall hardly ever be childlike and thoughtful. Oh for a little more care without carefulness!
10th Mo. 2d. Much struck with Krummacher’s doctrine of “Once in grace, always in grace.” “After the covenant is made,” he says, “I can do nothing condemnable. I may do what is sinful or weak, but my sins are all laid on my Surety.” True, if my will-spirit humbles itself to bear the reforming judgment of the Lord—but I think his doctrine utterly dangerous; his error is this, that “the covenant cannot be broken.” Now, suppose a Christian, therefore, in the covenant; he sins, then the Lord would put away his sin by cleansing him from its pollution and power, by the blood of Christ, who hath already borne the punishment thereof. But he may refuse this cleansing, in other words, this judgment, revealed within; not against himself, as it must have been except for Christ’s intercession, but against the evil nature in him, and in love to his soul. He may refuse this, because it cannot but be painful, it cannot but include repentance for his transgression, whereby he has admitted ground to the enemy. And if he refuse it, persisting in withdrawing his heart from that surrender, which must have been made on his adoption into the covenant, who shall say that the covenant is not at an end? Who shall say that the way of the Lord is not equal, in that, because he was once a righteous man, made righteous by the righteousness of Christ, “now, the righteousness that he hath had shall not be mentioned unto him, but in his trespass he shall die”? Far be it from me to say how long the Lord shall bear with man; how long he may trespass ere he dies forever; but I think it most presumptuous to suppose that God cannot in honor (for it does come to this) disannul the covenant from which man has already retracted all his share; though this, truly, is but a passive one, a surrender of the will-spirit to the faith of Jesus.
What good it does me to clear up my ideas on prayer! but there is a limit beyond which intellect cannot go. No one can fully explain the admission of evil into the heart. We say “it is because I listen to temptation;” but why do I listen, to temptation? Because I did not watch unto prayer. The Calvinist would say, perhaps, “Because I am without the covenant;” but he allows that a person may sin who is in it. Suppose I am one of these? The origin of evil must ever be hidden, but not of evil only; the moral nature of man must ever be a mystery to his intellectual nature, for it is above it. There is a natural testimony to the supremacy of the moral in man above the intellectual.
10th Mo. 8th. The charm of
book and pen has
been beguiling me of my reward; but now my soul
craves to be offered a living sacrifice.
10th Mo. 19th. The world was fearfully my snare yesterday,—I mean worldly objects, innocent, in themselves. These things only show the depth of unrenewed nature within. Though it slumbered, it could not be dead. My “wilderness wanderings,” oh, I fear they must be exceedingly protracted ere the hosts that have come out of Egypt with me fall; ere I can find in myself that blessed possession of the promised inheritance, which, I believe, in this life is the portion of the thorough Christian: “they that believe do enter into rest.” Why, then, do not I? Oh, it is for want of believing; for want of faith; I fear to trust the Lord to give me my inheritance and conquer my foes, and will not “go up and possess the land.” Then, again, in self-confidence, I will go up, whether the Lord be with me or not; and so I fall. But surely, surely it need be so no longer. I might devote myself to Christ, and He would lead me safely through all. The shining of the fire and the shading of the cloud are yet in the ordering of the Captain of Salvation.
20th. Exceeding poor; and
yet I rejoice in what
I trust is somewhat of the poverty of spirit which is
“Nothing in my hand
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
To the cleansing fount I fly:
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.”
21st. I feel myself in much
danger of falling,—manifold
temptations all round to love the world, and
how little stay within!
22d. Yet the Lord was kind, most kind, to me in the evening, constraining me to say within my heart, “Surely I am united to Christ my Saviour.” Oh, the joy of feeling that we are in any measure His! May I by no means withdraw myself from His hands, that He may do for me all that His mercy designs, and which I am well assured is but begun. This morning a crumb of bread was given me, in the shape of a sense that Christ is yet mine, but that He will be waited on in simplicity of heart to do His own work. Oh, the comfort of having a fountain to flee to set open for sin! hourly have I need of it.
11th Mo. 2d. I have felt deeply the necessity of the thorough subjugation of the will to the Divine will: if it were effected, all must work for good to me. Little cross-occurrences, instead of exciting ill tempers, would serve as occasions for strengthening my faith in God. When He giveth quietness, what should make trouble? ’Tis wonderful to think what long-suffering kindness the Lord has shown me! I can compare myself only to the prodigal son saying, “Give me my portion of goods”—goods spiritual; as if I thought once furnished, never again to have recourse to a father’s compassion. Oh, often have I wasted this substance in a very short time; but the Lord has reckoned better than
Page 29I in my self-confidence. He saw how I should have to come back utterly destitute, and again and again has had mercy. Oh that I might no more ask for a portion to carry away, but seek to dwell among the servants and the children of His house, to be fed hourly by Him, learning in what sense He does say to those who are willing to have nothing of their own, “All that I have is thine.”
12th Mo. 6th. Nice journey to Falmouth. Here we have been since Second-day learning our own manifold deficiencies; but this, under a genial atmosphere, is, to me, never disheartening,—always an exciting, encouraging lesson. ——’s kind words on intellectual presence of mind, and his animating example of it, have determined me to make a vigorous effort over my own sloth and inanity. I believe the first thing is to be always conscious of what I am thinking of, and never to let my mind run at loose ends in senseless reveries.
12th Mo. 25th. Seventh-day. I trust, now we are all together for the winter, there will be an effort on my part to help to keep up a higher tone of feeling, aim, and conversation: not mere gossip, but really to speak to each other for some good purpose, is what I do wish. What an engine, for good or evil, we neglect and almost despise! and if it is not employed properly, when at home, how can it be naturally and intelligently exercised when abroad?
Fourth-day, 31st. Called on a poor sick man,—he quietly waiting, I hope, for a participation in perfect peace, and penetrated with the sense that man can do nothing of himself. Surely this must be a step towards knowing what God can do. I hope he will be able to see and say something more yet; but I would not ask him for any sort of confession. It is a fearful thing to interfere with one who seems evidently in hands Divine.
Thus ended 1845. Oh that it had been better used, more valued, more improved in naturals, intellectuals, and spirituals! Oh that I had cultivated kindness and dutiful affection in the meekness of wisdom; and as an impetus seems to have been lately received to industry in study, etc., oh, may God give me grace to spend another year, so far as I live through it, in industrious Christianity too!
1st Mo. 7th, 1846. I should gratefully acknowledge the loving-kindness and tender mercy which, after all my wanderings, has again been shown: “I will prepare their heart, I will cause their ear to hear,” was sweet to me this morning. Though sometimes lamenting that I hear so little of the voice of pardon and peace, I have felt this morning that I have ever heard as much as was safe for me in the degree of preparation yet known.
1st Mo. 19th. Some earnest desires last evening, this morning, and in the night, to be set right in spirit. Struck with the text, “His countenance doth behold the upright,”—not
Page 30that the upright always behold His countenance: that is not the thing their safety consists in. “Thou most upright dost weigh the path of the just,” that is, of the truly sincere and devoted. Ah! how blessed that such an unerring balance should apportion the way of a finite and blind being!
3d Mo. 2d. Little E.P. died last week, aged three years,—a child whom God had taught. I ventured a little poem for his mamma, I think without harm. The poetry-contest, some time since, was doubtless useful as a check, but I seem to have lost the prohibition, and enjoy, I hope, innocently.
Sixth-day. School, more encouraged than sometimes: got on well with geography-class; visited various poor people,—feeling very useless, but some satisfaction. Oh, it were a sweet thing to do good from the right motive, as a natural effect of love. I fear I do my poor share more to satisfy conscientiousness; and that is a dull thing.
3d Mo. 17th. Faith small, world strong; but this evening something like grasping after “the childly life beyond.” A childly life I want. Oh for simplicity, faith, quietness, self-renunciation!
Yesterday rode alone to Wheal, Sister’s mine. Gave W.B. tracts for the girls. Thence to Captain N., to get his daughters to collect for Bibles. His nice wife seemed interested; said it was very needful. Many families had not a Bible there; the place a century behind the West. Rode home dripping, but glad that I had not been turned back. Learned part of the 42d Psalm in German.
3d Mo. 27th. What testimony of gratitude can I record to that tender mercy which has drawn near to me this evening? Oh that the “Anon with joy” reception may not be united with the “no root in myself”! I have thought of the Israelitish wanderings, caused by faithless folly in refusing to “go up and possess the land.” Oh, that lack of living appropriating faith may not thus protract the period ere my own passage through the spiritual Jordan, the river of self-renunciation, and death of the “old man,” into the Beulah of a thorough introduction to the sheepfold! It is easy to say that it would be too presumptuous to venture on the final, full, childlike appropriation of Christ; but, oh, presumption, I do deeply feel, is more concerned in the delay. It is presumptuous to put off, till brighter evidences and clearer offers of mercy, the acceptance of grace to-day.
4th Mo. 14th. The Lord has been kind to me beyond expression. Not rapturous feeling, but calm and peaceful confidence,—though sometimes almost giving way to “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” sometimes letting go faith; but, oh, He has been near through all; then when His face has shone upon me, how have I wondered that ever I loved the earth, more than Himself!
5th Mo. 3d. Bristol. On the
Page 31way to the Yearly Meeting. First-day. Most interesting meeting. I think the connection of evangelical doctrine with Christian worship is often not enough considered. The mere natural unsanctified dread or awe of the Lord’s presence is very different from that worship of God which is through Christ our Lord, who has made a way of access for us to the Father, who Himself loveth us. If this be overlooked, there is little essential distinction between Christian worship, and Oriental gnosticism—the delusion of raising the soul above the natural, by abstraction and contemplation of the Divine. This is the distinguishing glory of the gospel, that whereas the children of Israel said to Moses, “Speak thou to us, but let not God speak to us, lest we die,” Christ, his antitype, hath broken down for his people “the middle wall of partition,” hath abolished the enmity, and speaketh to us Himself as God, and yet as once in our flesh.
5th Mo. 10th. Letter from father, from Niagara. Awful spectacle, and most edifying emblem of His unchanging word of power whose voice is as the sound of many waters.
This evening had a nice meeting; my soul
for light and life in the assembly.
Of our dear father’s safe arrival
in Liverpool we
heard on our way to the train in the morning, and
now we settled in to expect him we had so long lost!
And, after meeting him in London and alluding to conversation with friends who called to see him, she says,—
“But with father the fact of presence, real meeting, actual talk, seemed more engrossing than the thing talked. Oh that I had a really grateful heart to the Lord for these His mercies!”
7th. [Alluding to a meeting at Devonshire House.] It is, indeed, “looking not at the things which are seen,” when we really accept with equal, nay, with greater, joy, His will to speak by the little as by the great, or by His Spirit only, when communion of truth is preferred to communication of the true.
5th Mo. 29th. And now that my London experience is over, as to meetings, preachings, prayers, what, oh, what is the result on this immortal spirit of mine, which has on this occasion been brought, as it were, in contact with some of the honorable and anointed messengers, with that which is good? And yet it is possible that contact may not produce penetration, and that penetration may not produce assimilation. I can unhesitatingly say, the first and second have been produced; but then these are but transactions of the time, not abiding transformations; and if these are all? But, surely, it cannot be; surely, when my heart melted within me, especially on Second-day morning, and I heard the word “and anon with joy received it,” some depth of central stone was fused into softness; some actual change, effected, that I might not have altogether “no root”
Page 32in myself. Sometimes predominated a fear that intellectual interest interfered with spiritual simple reception of good, that this would vanish when that was over; sometimes the responsibility of being thus ministered to was truly a weighty thought; for never more than on that morning did I so understand, “Go preach, baptizing.” Sometimes I thought that God had indeed brought me to this Yearly Meeting to make me then and there his own; and when I heard of passing by transgressions as a cloud, I was ready to think my own were indeed dissolving as one. I felt strongly the superiority of religion to every other thing, not merely for its external aim, God, but for its internal power on self, how these masterpieces of the human creation were not only made the most of by religion, but that it alone can make any thing of the whole man. How strongly do we feel, when with a clever, talented, irreligious man, that he has a latent class of moral powers which have not been called into action, that on this point he may be inferior to the veriest child; but God, who has made man for himself, has made in every man a royal chamber, for himself spiritually to dwell in; and if this be not reappropriated to him, (which is religion,) his capacity for the Divine is not exercised, and he is not only not made the most of, but his best nature is not even made use of. What a privilege to have intercourse with those in whom the very reverse is the case! What a stimulus to the little mind, to become not equal to the great, but proportionally Christianized—i.e. equally devoted! and this is Christian perfection; not to have arrived at the highest attainment of intercourse with God ever granted to man, but to have the will thoroughly willing God’s will. This is, indeed, better far than a mere knowledge of what that will is. But in some whom I have seen, there is a beautiful union of a high degree of this knowing and willing; and these are they to whom it is given to edify the Church.
* * * How shall I enough praise and thank the Lord, who has so condescended to my weak and sinful condition, that though my head perhaps knew all before, and my heart was disobedient, He has so brought me under the mighty ministry of His Word of life, that for a while all seemed melted and subjected, and my heart longed to accept Him and his reconciliation to me on the blessed terms, not the harsh terms, but the privileged terms, of my being reconciled to Him. Oh, what an error to think any thing harsh or hard in the requirements of the gospel! It is a mercy beyond man’s conception, that we are commanded, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”
6th Mo. 12th. Yesterday my twenty-third birthday. In the evening a song of praise seemed to fill my heart for the vast mercy shown me of late. God, who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved me when I was dead in sins, has truly begun to quicken my
6th Mo. 12th. Had a note from —— of kind spiritual interest; but I think she mistakes my want, which is more of practical than of theoretical faith. Have ventured to tell her, in a note, what I feel and have felt. I think many who have left Friends, and become more decidedly serious since, remembering that when Friends, the gospel was not precious to them, fancy it is undervalued by the Society. My note is as follows:—
My dear —– will, I hope, believe that I was not disposed to receive her affectionate lines in any other than that spirit of love in which they were written, and in which, I am persuaded, it is the will of our blessed Saviour for His disciples “that they all may be one.” Yes, my dear ——, I believe there is not a sentence in thine in which I do not heartily join; and while we are both seeking to believe, as thou says, “with the heart” in Christ our Saviour, “in whom we have redemption, through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” let us say not only, “Here is a point on which we can unite,” but here is the one bond of fellowship, which unites the whole ransomed Church, throughout the world, and especially those who love each other, as I trust we do. If we were more willing to let Christ be our all in all, surely we should more realize this blessed truth. Disputations on theoretical differences seem to me like disputes on the principles of a fire-escape among those whose sole rescue depends on at once committing themselves to it, since the most perfect understanding of its principles is utterly in vain if they continue mere lookers-on; while others, with perhaps far less head-knowledge, are safely landed. This, it seems to me, is the distinction between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, between dead creed and living faith; and every day, I think, more convinces me that it is “with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness.” As thou hast so kindly spoken of myself, and thy kind interest for me, may I add that what I have known, small though it be, of this faith, has been all of grace; nor do I hope or wish but that it may be, from first to last, of grace alone. If I love Christ, it is because He first loved me: because God, who is rich in mercy, has shown me the great love wherewith He loved me, when I was dead in sins; nor should I have had one glimpse “of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ,” had not God, who “commanded the light to shine out of darkness,” shined into my heart. And dark and sad has ever been the view of myself bestowed by that grace which brings salvation, long shining as it were to make my darkness visible; but this do I esteem one of His rich mercies, who will have no rival in His children’s hearts, and teaches us our own utter depravity and sinfulness; that we may, without any reserve, fly to Him, “who has borne our sins in His own body on the tree, that we might be saved from wrath through Him.” And if it
Page 34is of grace, that while we were yet sinners, “we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son,” it is by grace also, that “being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saveth us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” And here I find abundant need to take heed that I “receive not the grace of God in vain;” for truly Christ cannot be ours, if we will not be his. But though I have to lament many a revolt, and many a backsliding, and many a denial in heart of Christ my Saviour, yet the Lord, who turned and looked on Peter, has not forsaken me; the fountain set open for sin has been, I believe, set open for me; and still does He continue to “heal my backslidings, and to love me freely.” For the future I have sometimes many a fear, because of this deceitful heart of mine; and at others I can trust it in His hands, whose grace will be sufficient for me to the end,—that end, when I may realize, what I now assuredly believe, that the “gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And now, my dear ——, are we not one, essentially one, both one in Christ? I know that, uniting in the acknowledgment, and, above all, I trust, in the experience, of the great truths of the gospel, we differ in their applications and influences on subordinate points, and I believe this must be expected to be often the case while “we see through a glass darkly;” but we shall, I trust, “see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion;” and He will keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day. The Lord’s “commandment is exceeding broad,” and it is no wonder that our narrow minds cannot adequately appreciate the whole, or that, while we believe the same things, we sometimes view them in different order and proportion, often being nearer each other than we are aware. I fear much good is not done by discussing differences; at least, I find it calls up feelings which are not good, and I lose more practically than I get or give theoretically. May the Lord bless us both in our pilgrimage, and guide us in a plain path to a city of final habitation, where we shall not want sun, or moon, or any other thing than the glory of God and the Lamb, to be our everlasting light.
I could not be satisfied without replying to thy kind remarks and inquiries about myself and my hopes; but now, having said so much, I hope thou wilt not think it strange that I cannot argue on things about which we differ. I have not adopted opinions without reflection, and it has fully satisfied myself; but I have nothing to spend in controversy, which I always find does me a great deal of harm. I hope we now know enough of each other to rejoice in each other’s joy.
6th Mo. 16th. Last evening alone in the plantation. Sought the Lord. It was beautiful. Was not nature meant by Him
Page 35to work in concert with His spirit on our hearts? Or is the calming and soothing power a thing confined to sense and sensibility? I suppose the latter, but that religion appropriates these as well as all other faculties and parts of man’s nature, and, where he would have praised nature, bids him praise God, his own God in Christ.
6th Mo. 18th. I have thought this summer a time of critical importance for my soul, for eternity. I have felt, and sometimes spoken, strongly, but always, I believe, honestly, unless I have imposed upon myself. Thought I had accepted Christ. I thought He was my salvation and my all. “Yet once more” will the Lord shake not my earthly heart, but also my heaven, my hopes, my expectations, in Him. Will He convict me still of holding the truth in unrighteousness? How else can I explain to myself the pride which revolts from censure, the touchy disposition, the self-justifying spirit, the jealousy of my reputation, the anxiety to keep up my character? How else can I explain the inaptitude for the divine, the unwillingness to have the veil quite lifted from my heart, to display it even to my own eyes? Ah! is it not that there is still a double mind and instability in all my ways, still a want of that simplicity of faith, that humility, and poverty, and meekness of spirit, that can accept the gospel, still the self-righteousness (worse than “I am of Paul”) which assumes to itself “I of Christ”? Ah! if I may yet lift my eyes through Him who hath borne even the iniquity of our holy things, keep me, O Lord, from a wider wandering, till Thou bring me fully into the fold, the “little flock,” to whom it is Thy good pleasure to give thy kingdom.
7th Mo. 5th. * * * It is useless to conceal from myself that I have felt grieved at some, whom we might suppose grounded in the faith long since, appearing to keep the expression of sole reliance on the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, as a sort of death-bed confession. I know full well that religion must be an actual transformation of soul; but then the ground of our hope that this will be perfectly effected ere we depart, is the mercy of God in Christ, quite as much as our hope of forgiveness of actual sin, and final salvation. Oh, some do separate things too much, as if it were possible to err by too full a reliance on Christ; as if there was a danger that He or we should, by that means, forget the work of grace. Grace is grace throughout, not of works, but of Him that calleth. Still, I believe there must and will be variations in our modes of viewing the great gospel, the “exceeding broad” commandment. May we, as S. Tuke so beautifully said, “know one another in the one bond of brotherhood, ’One Lord, one faith, one baptism;’” without entering into nice distinctions and metaphysical subtleties. And may I, to whom temptations of this kind are naturally so accessible, be preserved in my own spirit from the snares of death, cleansed
Page 36“from secret faults,” kept from “presumptuous sins,” and hidden in the Lord’s pavilion from the strife of tongues.
7th Mo. 9th. I have been thinking much of the young women at the Union, and yesterday went to see them. A sad spectacle; but they seemed willing and glad to be visited, and I hope to go once a week to read to them, and to teach a few of them to read. Oh that my life were more useful than it is!
7th Mo. 18th. Oh, why was I induced to allow thoughts and reasonings to supplant worship! How they plead their own utility, and how like good is the thought about good! but then the dry, barren, unsatisfied unrest of soul that followed! Strange, that thought employed to so little purpose at other times should pretend to be so edifying in meetings. Reveries on probability, as being a mere relation between a cause and a spectator, or bystander; not between cause and effect. Thought it important touching free will and foreknowledge. God is certain of futurity—we are uncertain. Futurity is certain in relation to God, uncertain in relation to us—probable or improbable in relation to us, neither in relation to God; but neither the certainty nor the probability exists in future non-existent fact, therefore I take it they do not influence the fact. This, perhaps, is profitless; but I am glad to find that thought on this point always tends to confirm what I believe is the true scriptural doctrine in opposition to Calvinism. This was a natural reaction on the minds of reformers from the Romish doctrine of justification by works. They no sooner found that man cannot make his own salvation, than they fancied he could not reject it. They learned that it was freely given to some, and fancied that it could not have been freely offered to all.
7th Mo. 20th. Mere carnal conscientiousness is a poor substitute for love of God. The constant inquiry, “What must I do to keep an easy conscience?” is no proof of high Christian attainment; rather says the Christian, “What can I render for all His benefits?”
7th Mo. 30th. A visit to J. Harvey’s corpse. [A poor man whom she had frequently visited.] I have been much concerned about him in days past, and now can a little rejoice in his exceeding joy. An emaciated, sallow countenance, but speaking perfect rest. He spoke scarcely at all for some days. I saw him three days before his death, and could but commend him to one of the “many mansions;” but he could scarcely answer.
A few passages about this period, record Eliza’s desire for a friendship with some sympathizing mind out of her own family,—some one whose views, whilst tending to the same point as her own, would yet have the freshness of an altogether different experience. Not that she undervalued home affections, for that would have been quite contrary to her nature, but, after alluding to them warmly, she says, “At
8th Mo. 2d. Letter to M.B.
* * * Surely, whoever is not a true friend to himself and to his own best interests cannot be such to another. Here, indeed, if I may hope to have part or lot in the matter, the thing aimed at is high; but this does not insure its attainment, and there is great cause for care that the humiliating discovery of the discrepancy between the two, does not lead us to lower the one rather than seek to elevate the other. I have a strong belief of the importance of self-scrutiny and honesty with one’s own heart, of real willingness to know and feel the worst of one’s self, and sincerity of application to the true means of remedy. Perhaps the very sense of deficiency in this particular, makes me believe the more its value; but I dislike what I think to be the false humility of some persons, who, while seeming to claim the blessings of religion, would think it presumption to profess, or even expect, conformity to its standard. The presumption always seems to me on the other side; and yet who is free from it altogether? Very long it takes some persons—of whom I am one—to get through the seventh chapter of Romans. Many a time they get to the twenty-fourth verse, and stick in the twenty-fifth, looking wishfully over the barrier which divides them from the eighth chapter; and yet, if thoroughly willing to know the worst of themselves, they would perhaps find that it is because a part of a man’s nature may go so far, while it requires the whole spirit to make this last transition. I think I long for true humiliation in the evidence of my own deficiency here.
* * * * *
I did, indeed, enjoy the Yearly Meeting’s Epistle: it is a wholesome one in these days. How refreshing is it in thought, to abstract ourselves from the words and doings of men, and think of that one eternal unchanging truth, which can never be inconsistent with itself and which, though hid from the wise and prudent, is revealed to babes! Here I think the belief of the identity of our own character hereafter, comes in well, and should lead
Page 38us to consider whether we love truth absolutely, and not only relatively to the circumstances which will not exist then; and whether we can be happy in a land where righteousness and peace forever kiss each other. And may I, without vanity and just in illustration, quote from a rhyme of my own?—
While thus we long, in bonds of clay,
For freedom’s advent bright,
Upbraid the tardy wheels of day,
And call the slumbering light,
Do we no willing fetters wear
Which our own hands have made,
No self-imposed distresses bear,
And court no needless shade?
While our departed friends to meet
We often vainly sigh,
To hold in heaven communion sweet,
Communion large and high,
Do we, while here on earth we dwell,
Those pure affections show
For which we long to bid farewell
To all we love below?
For no unhallow’d footstep falls
Upon that floor of gold;
Those pearly gates, those crystal walls,
No earthly hearts enfold.
And if our voice on earth be strange
To notes of praise and prayer,
That voice it is not death’s to change,
Would make but discord there.
8th Mo. 10th. Strange vacillations of feeling; at one time on the point of trusting the Lord for eternity, at another, cannot trust him even for time. At one time would cast my whole soul on him; at another, will bear the weight of every straw myself, till I become quite overloaded with them. Oh, what a spectacle of folly, and weakness, and sin! A soul immortal spending all her powers, wasting her strength in strenuous idleness!
8th Mo. 16th. Very busy making things tidy, and resolved, almost religiously, to keep them so. I think I would not, for any consideration, die with all my things in disorder. Disorder must be the result of a disordered mind, and not only so, it reacts on the mind and makes it worse in turn.
8th Mo. 18th. People do not say enough of the need of consistency, when they speak of trusting in Providence instead of arms. It was consistent in William Penn, but it would not have been consistent in his contemporaries, who took the Indians’ land for nought. Providence is not to be made a protector of injustice, of which arms are the fitting shield. Oh that consistency, earnestness of character, were more valued!
8th Mo. 23d. Some true wish, may I say prayer, that Christ may now, now, blot out as a cloud my sins, even on his own terms, which, I am more convinced, do not consist of things required of us to give in exchange for his mercy, but are a part of that mercy, a part of that redemption. Yes, when sin becomes thoroughly a burden, as sin, then we see that grace would be indeed imperfect, if it was not to be a deliverance from the power,
Page 39as well as the punishment, of sin; and if we ask for grace, and yet cherish sin, truly we know not what spirit we are of, we wish not for complete salvation while we are asking for it. Mercy is a broader thing than our most earnest prayers suppose; yea, it is “above all that we can ask or think.”
8th Mo. Letter to M.B.
* * * How little it avails to know the theory of wisdom and folly, right and wrong, etc., just so as to occupy only the perceptive and reasoning faculties! What we want, what the world wants, I think, is the Christian version of the present so fashionable idea of earnestness, or, as I have thought it may imply, consistency of character. We get ideas and opinions in a dead way, and then they do not pervade our characters; we have but half learned them; they have influenced not our feeling, but only our knowing faculties, and then perhaps it had been better not to have known the way of truth. A full response is in my heart to the difficulty of keeping things in their right places, neither can I at all agree to the idea “that where the love of the world perverts one, the fear of it perverts ten;” at least, understanding the world to mean “whatever passes as I cloud between the mental eye of faith and things unseen.” Many a time has the book-shelf and the writing-desk been made a substitute for the oratory. As to friendship taking this place, surely the whole idea of a Church is based on that of Christian fellowship in its strict sense. Be it ours to know what that means, and then, if our love to Christ is the main bond of union, while that continues, we shall love him the more rather than the less on that account. But I know that friendship includes various other elements, and may we be sensible that if these are made the main things in our esteem, not only our faith, but our friendship too, becomes debased.
Respecting the seventh and eighth chapter of Romans, a believe I agree with thee; but lately I have had stronger feelings than I used to have about the distinction between defective religion and infant religion. The full feeling of our corruption must certainly precede the full reception of the Christian’s joy; and I believe we ought not to be too anxious to reduce to regular theory what is so much above our finite understandings as the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Still, I think there is, when it goes on as it ought to do, unobstructed, a completeness in all its stages. There may and ought to be a perfect infant, then a perfect youth, then a perfect man, and I don’t know how to apply to the advanced stage only; that blessed declaration which I sometimes think expresses the sum of Christian liberty, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Still, it will be quite time enough to reason about this when we have attained such an entirely childlike state; nor, I suppose, shall
Page 40we be long in discovering the privilege of which we shall then be in possession—“Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Then, doubtless, we shall be furthest from reasoning at all.
We have been much interested with the last volume of D’Aubigne. The imperfection of all the instruments is strikingly shown. Luther’s obstinate transubstantiation or consubstantiation doctrines, Melancthon’s timid concessions to the Papists, and Zwingle’s carnal warfare, ending in the tragedy of Cappel, and, as it seems, in the long delay of the establishment of the Reformation in Switzerland. D’Aubigne appears very sensible of this inconsistency: even the loss of Ecolampadius by a peaceful death he represents as a happy encouragement to the Church after the blow it had received; but I don’t think D’Aubigne a thorough peace advocate. He makes so much distinction between the Churchman and Statesman, that I fear he would allow of mere rulers and magistrates taking up arms on merely secular affairs, though he does not wish the Church to be defended by such. I should like to know thy impression of the early Christians’ opinion on war. Neander allows that a party objected to it, as in the case of Maximilian, A.D. 229; but says that very sincere Christians were soldiers in the Roman army, till Galerius required all soldiers to take part in the heathen ceremonies.
8th Mo. 26th. Oh, how shall I set forth His tender compassion, who has blessed me this evening with, I was going to say, the abundance of peace and truth? Oh, how near He has been, helping me to cast my all on Him, helping me to leave the things that are behind, yes, and the things that are before too, as far as self is concerned, and commit my future way and safety to Him! When His love has been made known, how have I been grieved by fears of future folly, fears, too, that have been grievously fulfilled. What a pretest this for harassing myself with fears that it will be so again! But, oh, these fears are very far from that fear which the Lord will put into His children’s hearts, that they shall not depart from Him. They have no preserving power over me; they are “of the earth, earthy,” and solely come from distrust of that grace which is ever-sufficient; from a desire to have a share myself in that victory which is Christ’s alone. Oh, if my incessant regards were to Him alone, He would take all care on Himself. “He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever,” and His faith is “the victory which overcomes the world.” Humility, true watchfulness, and self-distrust are diametrically opposed to this careful spirit: their language ever is, “I am nothing, Christ is all.”
8th Mo. 27th. Changed indeed; not any light to be seen in my dark heart. Yet I look up, I trust singly, to Him from whom it came yesterday; and thither may I look till again the day break. Can I say, in full sincerity,
Page 41“more than they that watch for the morning”? Alas that I am so versatile! Christian and worldling within a day. Oh for a deeper sense that I am not my own,—that I have no right to disturb the sanctuary of my own spirit when God has made it such,—that there is no other way than whole-hearted and honest-hearted Christianity to attain the heavenly kingdom!
9th Mo. 9th. Letter to M.B.
* * * Our wily foe finds every thing which produces strong emotion and commotion of mind a good opportunity for trying new temptations, and, at any rate, tries hard to keep us from committing all to a better hand than ours. I feel quite ashamed of the measure of his success with me; but surely we want a new sanctification every day,—a new recurrence to the grace that will set “all dislocated bones,” as J. Fletcher calls unsanctified feelings and affections. I was much pleased with this comparison, which I found in his life the other day. I think it is an admirable exemplification of the uneasiness and pain of mind they cause. But how very uncertain our frames of feeling are; sometimes thinking there is but one thing which we have not quite given up to God, and sometimes, with perhaps correcter judgment, lamenting, “all my bones are out of joint.” May we, my dear M., encourage each other in seeking help of Him who received and healed all that had need of healing.
9th Mo. 20th. Finished most interesting review of John Foster’s life. * * * Foster was a very deep thinker. He thought the boundary of the knowable wider than the generality do. This may be; but I fancy he does not always admit sufficient weight in his arguments to the manifest relations and actings of the unknown upon the known. He was Calvinistic; this, joined to a strong view of the moral perfection and benevolence of God, led him to the natural result of denying eternal punishments. Could he have seen more of the essence of a human spirit, as he doubtless now sees it, I venture to think that that mysterious personality, by virtue of which man may be said to choose his destiny, i.e. to embrace destruction, or to submit to be saved by the Saviour in his own way, that the perception of this personal image of God in man might vindicate the Divine perfection and benevolence, and make it evident that our “salvation is of God, and our destruction is of ourselves.”
10th Mo. 2d. Oh to be permitted any taste of that grace which is free—ever free; which brings a serene reliance on eternal love; which imprints its own reflection on the soul! Oh, be that reflection unbroken by restless disquiets of mind; be that image watchfully prized, and waited for, and waited in.
10th Mo. 5th. Some sweetness
in thinking how
much akin is “having nothing” to “possessing all
10th Mo. 14th. Talk with James Teare on the immorality of drinking. Query:—Is it per se a sin to drink a little? He does not affirm it in pure abstract, but says that no action can be purely abstract; and that as to uphold an immoral system is immoral, as the drinking system is immoral, as moderate draughts uphold the drinking system, and, in fact, cannot be drunk by the community without giving birth to drunkenness—ergo, moderate drinking is an immoral practice. He does not at all judge those who do not see it; only says they ought to accept light and knowledge, and he cannot doubt what would then be the result.
10th Mo. 17th. The above talk with J. Teare was a great satisfaction to me; we went that evening to his meeting, and after two hours of deep interest in a crowded meeting I signed the pledge, with a hand trembling with emotion. I could not trust myself to tell S. that the pleasure he expressed was but a faint reflection of mine. I have been expending two days in a letter to the Friend on “Distillation,” which I ardently hope to get inserted.
11th Mo. 3d. Last evening sweetly realized in some degree being in the Lord’s own hands; and this morning again enabled to cease from my own vain attempts and trust the Lord. Oh, the folly of the long trials I have made to do something, when I come before Him! It is all in vain. If I am ever saved it will be His doing, His free grace; and this moment can I call Jesus my Saviour. On Fifth-day I read Barclay’s fifth Proposition—pleased and satisfied almost entirely with it.
12th Mo. 5th. I have got my letter inserted in the Friend; the editor says my zeal has carried me too far as to means; he agrees as to the evil of the system. Oh that it were seen as it deserves! But how talk of abolition by law, and keep spirit-merchants in the Church? [See Friend, vol. iv. page 232.]
12th Mo. 11th.—Letter to M.B.
* * * Nothing, I think, loses by its foundation being tried. We see that in yet higher things it is needful and right often to try whether principle is firm; and, though sometimes we may tremble lest faith should fall in the trial, perhaps it would be more just to fear lest the trial should merely show it already to have fallen. What thou sayest about laying aside reasoning is very true; but how hard to do so! Saul’s armor doubtless it is, as says the little tract. How easy, comparatively, to let any want go unsatisfied, rather than that imperious reason which urges its claim with so many good pretences, which tells us truth will always bear investigation, and that if we cannot explain by our small faculties experiences in which the highest mysteries are involved, the experiences must have been fallacious! How different is this sort of voluntary and almost presumptuous
Page 43self-investigation from submitting all to the unerring touchstone! It is, indeed, very instructive to observe that our Saviour’s rejoicing in spirit was not over the subjects of some wondrous apocalypse, or over those endowed with miraculous power, but over “babes;” and that in the same way His lamentation was not that the Jews had refused His offers of any thing of this kind, but that they “would not” be “gathered” by Him as “chickens under their mother’s wing.”
It was the fault of my obscure expression, that when I spoke of my “painful reason” I did not make it apparent that I meant it of the faculty of reason, which has been a very unquiet occupant of my mind for some years past, and which has led me to the conclusion that our mental atmosphere, the whole system of feelings, affections, hopes, doubts, fears, perplexities, etc., is one which it is dangerous needlessly and wilfully to disturb. When once we have carelessly wrought up a storm it is not in our own power so quickly to lay it, and the poor mind is almost compelled to endure passively the disturbance till these unruly elements spontaneously subside, or something better interferes for its help. Surely, if there has been any resting-place given us, if our eyes have ever seen the “quiet habitation,” we ought to fear the excitement of any thing which, naturally breaks the equilibrium. I believe some people think imagination the unruly member among the mental parts; but with me it is the aforesaid offender decidedly. I hope I do not tease thee about teetotalism: it lies near my heart, and has done so for a long time; and though I too find it an effort sometimes to give up an evening to a meeting of that sort, it is such a comfort to be able to do any thing to show on which side I am, that I think I ought not to mind that.
1st Mo. 4th, 1847. Yesterday, and the day before, gently blest in spirit with having things placed more in their right position in my heart than for some time before. One evening I had toiled long in vain, could not overcome a sad sense of spiritual deficiency. It occurred to me that this might be the very best thing for me: then I opened my heart and welcomed it; and, oh, how did a smile of compassion beam upon me, and the grace that would not be purchased came in full and free! But it is infinitely important to watch for more.
Thus experiencing both “how to be abased” and “how to abound,” she learned to be satisfied with poverty, and recognized in barrenness, as well as in richness of joy and love, a guiding and purifying grace, leading on to the perfect life in Christ.
1st Mo. 10th. Letter to M.B.
* * * Oh for that simple faith which thou speaks of as mastering mountains of difficulty, and that not by might or power, but by its intrinsically victorious nature! I have sometimes been struck by the way in which this is asserted in the text, “This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.” It is taken for granted that there will be a contest and a victory; but if there is true faith the world will certainly be overcome: I mean provided the faith is held fast. It may be abandoned, or foes within may betray the citadel; but it will not otherwise yield to pressure from without. May we, if possible, encourage one another not to let go that small, and, it may be, famishing and almost expiring confidence, which hath, not only is promised, great recompense of reward. I little thought to come to any thing so encouraging when beginning a sort of lamentation over myself. But really there is so much that is deceptive in the deceptive heart; so many things, even our humility, that we once thought of the right kind, turn out to have been some refined manifestation of spiritual pride, that we may daily find, at least I do, that the question “Who can cure it?” follows its judgment as “desperately wicked,” with emphasis full as great as that of “Who can know it?” is prompted by the discovery that it is “deceitful above all things.”
* * * Job Thomas’s death-bed has long been an interesting one to me; and I think his parting address, especially seeing it is a translation from Welsh, conveys remarkably the impression of a mind beginning to be shone upon from the other world. On the other hand, death-beds of opposite characters, such as “Altamont” in Murray’s Power of Religion, carry a no less convincing evidence of the dark realities to come. When my father was in America he was much interested with hearing from a friend, a female connection of whom had lived in the house with Tom Payne, some account of the last hours of that wretched man, who appears to have become so fully sensible of his fatal errors as to have written a recantation, which some of his infidel friends destroyed. The account they gave to Cobbett was entirely false; as the friend related that he expressed to her the greatest sorrow for the harm that he had done, and, on hearing that she had burned some of his books, he expressed a wish that all had done the same.
[Footnote 2: For a farther account
see Life of Stephen Grellet,
vol. i. p. 163, Amer. edit.]
* * * Total abstinence, as well as many other good Causes, and the good cause, have lost a noble advocate in our honored and lamented friend J.J. Ghirney. It is hard to reconcile one’s mind to so sudden a summons; so little time for his sorrowing friends to receive those ever valuable and precious legacies, “dying sayings.” We have heard of nothing of that kind; and perhaps he was not conscious of the approach of death at
Page 45all. So much the brighter, doubtless, the glad surprise of the transition. Oh, how one longs for permission to look in at heaven’s opened door-way after the entrance of such souls!
1st Mo. 23d. To-day, writing rhyming Irish, appeal. It got the upper hand and made me sin—so unhappy about it. When I believe sincerely desiring to offer it up to the Lord’s, will, I grew easy to continue it. Perhaps it was a selfish and self-pleasing influence, but I think not so. I felt very glad afterwards to be able to ask to have all my heart consecrated by the Lord’s spirit; and I do believe that to rectify, not extinguish, the beat of oar facilities, is religion’s work.
This appeal on behalf of the poor Irish was never made public. It had occupied her thoughts very deeply, and, had she seen fit to publish it, might have been an auxiliary to the material efforts on behalf of the sufferers in which she, in common with many others at that period, was warmly engaged.
Many visits to poor people. In some I felt able to talk to them of heavenly things. I believe it is right to speak in love and interest, but never to out-strip our feelings. “I was sick, and ye visited me,” refers to a duty; and surely, when we are blessed with a knowledge of the way of salvation, and feel anxious for the salvation of others, it is right to do our endeavors; at the same time well knowing that God only can touch the heart. I believe that indifference and indolence do much shelter themselves under pretence of leaving God’s work to Himself. I have often learned salutary lessons in doing my little.
2d Mo. 19th. I have been musing upon “my sorrow was stirred.” Can it be that every heart is a treasury of sadness which has but to be stirred up to set us in mourning? Is it proportionate to the amount of evil? Does a certain amount of evil necessarily bring a certain amount of sorrow soon or late? Do we suffer only by our own fault, unless a grief is actually inflicted upon us? I think not. There may be mental storms, over-castings of cloud in the mind’s hemisphere, independent of the exhalations from the soil.
2d Mo. 23d. Letter to M.B.
* * * The truth is, that I was once fonder of reading than of almost any thing else. * * * I don’t know how to tell thee about the strangely sad impression that has followed, that “this also is vanity.” I know it is our duty to improve our minds, and I wish much that mine had been better cultivated than it has been, and yet some utilitarian infirmity of mind has so often suggested, “What use is it?” while I have been reading, that my zest for the book has been almost destroyed, and the very thought of the volume has been saddened by remembering what I felt while reading it. So that what E. Barrett says of light reading is true to me of Schiller and some others:—
“Merry books once read for pastime,
If we dared to read again,
Only memories of the last time,
Would swim darkly up the brain.”
I hope these feelings are not infectious, or I certainly would not inflict on thee the description. But do not take this as a general picture of me. It is a morbid occasional state of things; consequent, by reaction, on the exclusiveness of aim with which those things were followed. I learned sooner than I suppose many do, the earnestness, coldness, reality of life; and there has come an impression of its being too late to prepare for life, and quite time to live. However imperfectly, I have learned that to live ought to be to prepare to die; but, without stopping to describe how that idea has acted, a secondary purpose of being of some use to others has. I might almost say, tormented my faculty of conscientiousness. Don’t suppose that this is any evidence of religion or love. I believe it rather argues the contrary. Every attempt to do good ought to spring naturally from love to God and man; not from a wish merely to attain our beau-ideal of duty. Now, though I so much like reading, I did not seem able to make any use of it; for strangely confused were long my ideas of usefulness, and there has followed many a conflict between these two unsanctified tendencies. Perhaps they have done some good in chastening each other and chastening their owner. Do not think I prospered in either, for I have, as I said, a poor memory; and then I wanted to see fruits of my labors, and spent a great deal of time in making charts; one of the history of empires, one of the history of inventions and discoveries; the latter, especially, was not worth the labor. I have had a taste of many things, and yet, to speak honestly, excel in hardly any thing: the reason of this is partly a great want of order. I never attempted any thing like a “course of reading:” but, when I began a book, the book was the object more than my own real improvement. I read often D.E.F., before I had read A.B.C., and so grew confused, and then, if it is to be confessed, the childish pride of having read a book was not without its influence. Poetry in modern times has certainly become diluted in strength and value; but, though I have not at all a large acquaintance, I think there are many good modern poets. I much admire Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality,” as well as many of his shorter and simpler pieces—“The Longest Day,” for instance. There is a great deal of good instruction, as well as deep thought, in his poetry; but there is not, I think, very clearly an evangelical spirit; indeed, the “Excursion,” which is beautiful, is unsatisfactory to me in this respect. Longfellow I think not clearly influenced by religious principle, but I do not see any thing contrary to it. Some of his short pieces are like little gems,—so beautifully cut, too. Elizabeth Barrett’s [Browning] deep thoughts, rich poetical ideas, and thoroughly satisfactory principles, when they appear,  make her a great favorite with me and with us all. Even
Page 47her fictions, though so well told, are not wrought up, or full of romantic incident; but the tale is plainly used merely as a thread on which to string rich thoughts and lessons. How much this is the case with the “Lay of the Brown Rosary!” Even the sad pieces, such as the “Lost Bower,” end generally with a gleam of light, not from a mere meteor of passion or sentiment, but from a day-spring of Christian hope. Perhaps I am too partial, for I know that taste, which in me is particularly gratified with E. Barrett, will influence our judgment. Some of Trench’s poems, too, I think, are worth learning; his “Walk in the Churchyard” I particularly like.
3d Mo. 25th. Letter to M.B.
* * * But, oh, I do believe that if people did but accustom themselves to view small things as parts of large, moments as parts of life, intellects as parts of men, lives as parts of eternity, religion would cease to be the mere adjunct which it now is to many. * * * I am convinced that till it be made the one object of our earnest love and endeavors, till we have an upright heart, till the leader of the fir-tree points direct to heaven, and all lateral shoots not merely refrain from interfering, but mainly grow in order to support, nourish, and minister to it, we shall never have that perfect peace, that rest of spirit, that power to “breathe freely,”—conscious that we are as if not all that we ought to be,—which constitute the happiness of a Christian. But enough of this: don’t think I pretend to any such attainment, though I can sometimes say, “I follow after.”
I much admired that part of Jane Taylor’s “Remains” which describes her cheerful and unmurmuring acceptance of a humble quiet life, and her dislike of mere show and machinery in benevolence. I do not think the best public characters are those who accept formally, and for its own sake, a prominent station, but those who, following their individual duty, and occupying their peculiar gifts, are thereby made honorable in the earth. To them, I fancy, publicity is often an accident of small moment; and they who walk in the light of heaven mind little whether earthly eyes regard or disregard them. I do not, however, covet for any one whom I love a conspicuous path. There must be many thorns and snares.
4th Mo. 4th. Much interested with Hester Rogers’s life. The Methodist standard of holiness is full as high as Friends’—viz. the gospel standard. Struck with the accordance with G. Fox’s experience. He was asked if he had no sin, and answered, “Jesus Christ had put away his sin, and in Him (Jesus) is no sin.” This was a young man. He grew much afterwards, doubtless, in faith and knowledge. What would be thought of a person, especially young, who should profess so much now? Is the gospel changed? It is, or we lack faith in its principle. We do not perseveringly seek, determinately
Page 48seek, to know for ourselves what this high attainment is.
Nice visit at the Union on First-day. Congregation enlarged, notwithstanding substitution of Bible for Tract, and very quiet. Cornelius, a helpless sick man, seeming near death, melted my heart with his talk. I felt quite unfit to be called a “sister” by such a saint.
4th Mo. 10th. “To have had much forgiven” is, I can joyfully yet reverently record this evening, my blessed portion; and in the sense, which as a cloud of warmth and light now dwells in my heart, of the loving-kindness and tender mercy of God in Christ Jesus, I have been ready to say, in effect, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name,” “who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.” How is all given me gratis, without money and without price! Nothing is mine but confusion of face for my oft-repeated rebellions.
Oh, it is not that we can get salvation for ourselves; it is that we hinder not, refuse not, turn not from, but accept, wait for, pant for the free gift of our Saviour’s grace. “To Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly,” the work belongs. He can cause that even as sin hath reigned, so shall grace reign; and that as death hath triumphed, so shall spiritual and eternal life triumph also. Amen and amen.
4th Mo. 17th. How short-lived were the feelings I recorded at the close of last week! I believe an earnest talk with a chatty caller on minor matters, recalled my heart that same evening from its happy abiding-place. I have thought of the words, “Jesus Christ the end of your conversation,” and fear he is but a by-end of mine. It is hard to analyze our feelings: perhaps when discomfort from excitement and discontent is greatest, my sin is no greater than when in listless apathy and earthly-mindedness my thoughts are bounded by the seen and the temporal.
5th Mo. 24th. A solemn warning from Uncle R. on Fifth-day did me good. I was blessed with some degree of ability to use the words, “Into Thy hands I commit my spirit,” and though I feared to add, “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord of truth,” in its full sense, yet I have felt how precious were the words, “as unto a faithful Creator.” Oh, does He not say in these days, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it”? Is His hand shortened at all? Can we not have faith in our principles?
The following lines were written about this, time, in allusion to the marriage of her eldest, sister, and the funeral of John Wadge, an old and valued friend of the family. It was hoped that the cactus which had belonged to J.W. would have blossomed in time for the wedding; but the first flower only opened a fortnight afterwards, on the morning of his own funeral: and when, in a few years, the marriage of the beloved writer of the lines was so speedily followed by her own decease, the striking appropriateness of these touching verses could not fail to be remembered.
TO A CACTUS FLOWER.
Firstling blossom! gayly spreading
On a long-nursed household tree,
What unwonted spell is shedding
Thought of grief on bloom of thee?
For a morning bright and tender
They had nursed thee glad and fond;
Nay, the bud reserved its splendor
For a funeral scene beyond.
Who shall tell us which were meeter,—
Marriage morn, or funeral day?
What if nature chose the sweeter,
Where her blooming gift to lay?
Set in thorns that flower so tender!
Marriage days have poignant hours;
Thorny stem, thou hast thy splendor!
Funeral days have also flowers.
And the loftiest hopes man nurses,
Never deem them idly born;
Never think that deathly curses
Blight them on a funeral morn.
Buds of their perennial nature
Need a region where to blow,
Where the stalk has loftier stature
Than it reaches here below.
Not like us they dread the bosom
Of chill earth’s sepulchral gloom;
They will find them where to blossom,
And perhaps select a tomb.
Yes, a tomb; so thou mayst
With regretful feelings fond;
Not a tomb, however, seems it,
If thou know’st to look beyond.
10th of 7th Month, 1847.
8th Mo. 8th. We alone. Pleasant and quiet schemes have arisen (partly from reading Pyecroft, partly from having felt so much my own deficiencies) for thoroughly industrious study, and for keeping, if possible, externals and mentals in more order. Order, I believe, would enable me to do much more than I do in this way, without lessening those little “good works” which my natural, unsanctified conscience requires as a sedative; (alas that this is so nearly all!) but I have got such an impression of selfishness in sitting down to read to myself, that this, added to unsettlement from company, etc., almost puts study out of sight.
8th Mo. 16th. Letter to M.B.
* * * Though not only inability for, but even natural repugnance to good thoughts is often a prominent feeling, let us not think this a “discouraging experience.” What will be discouraged by it, except that self-confidence and self-reliance which are the bane, the very opposite, to the idea of faith? Surely it is for want of such a feeling, and not because of it, that faith is feeble. It is because we try to make those good thoughts and holy feelings of which Thomas Charles says so truly, “we are no more capable than we are of creating worlds.” I hope I do not presume too much in writing thus. How little can I say of the blessings of a contrary state! But how much would my heart’s history tell of the exceeding vanity and folly, and may I not add presumption, of attempting to do what Divine grace alone can do! How many a
Page 50painful and gloomy hour might have been cheered by the Sun of Righteousness, but for my obstinacy in trying to light farthing candles! But I believe there are generally other obstacles at the same time. We will have some beloved indulgence, some pleasures, of which perhaps the will is the chief sin, and which, if but willingly resigned, might be reconsecrated for our use and enjoyment; and then darkness and gloominess of mind follow, and we light matches and farthing candles to comfort us, while these very resources keep us back from seeking the radical remedy. How easy it is to write or tell the diagnosis of such a case! but to be reconciled to the true mode of treatment, the prognosis, as doctors say, there is the difficulty, while I doubt not Cowper speaks the truth:—
“Were half the breath
thus vainly spent
To heaven in supplication sent,
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
Hear what the Lord hath done for me.”
I have been much interested with Thomas Charles’s life; such an example of spiritual-mindedness, faith, and love. Dr. Payson’s death-bed is indeed a deeply interesting history. How we should all like to choose such an one! and yet, if but prepared to go, whether we depart as he did, or as poor Cowper, how true are the words of the latter, “What can it signify?” I have often thought these words very significant.
Of phrenology I have heard such conflicting opinions that only my own small experience would satisfy me of its general truth. I think only very weak minds need be led by it to fatalism. The very fact of so many propensities and sentiments balancing each other seems to show that the result is to be contingent on some other thing than themselves, as the best-rigged vessel on an uncertain sea, in varying winds, is under the control of the helmsman and captain, and may be steered right or wrong; and surely no vessel is built by an all-wise Hand which cannot be steered aright with grace at the helm.
8th Mo. 19th. Solemn thoughts yesterday in reading that solemn tract, “The Inconvenient Season.” In visiting I met with another affecting illustration of the unfitness of old age for beginning religion, in the senseless self-righteousness of poor old Mary N. She says every night and morning the prayers she learned when a child, which she evidently thinks an abundant supply of religion,—saying, “if people only do the best they have been brought up to, that is all they can need; and she never did any harm to any one.” Then there was poor Alice, who, notwithstanding her rank Calvinism, seemed refreshing in comparison. She knew she could not do any thing for herself; it was all grace; but then, “whatever I am, or whatever I do,” she said, “I am safe, unless I have committed gross sin, which I never shall.” Then poor M.L., whose only fault, she seems to think, is not having learned to read, though she knows
Page 51she is a great sinner, but then as good as says she never did any thing wrong. It was a sweet change to E.S., with her thankful and trustful spirit, and poor S., with his deep experience in the things of God. “It is a long time to suffer,” he said, “but the end must come, the time must wear away. I hope I shall have patience to the end, and I have great need to ask that the Lord will have patience with me. I hope I shall be fully purified before He calls me away.” He spoke solemnly on the tares and the wheat, as showing the mixture of good and evil growing together; that our being outwardly among the righteous will not secure our not being tares.
9th Mo. 2d. Went to see a poor woman at the Workhouse; she is full of joy in the hope of heaven, and possession of the present mind of Jesus. I said, “Many wish for it who have it not;” she said, “Perhaps they are not enough in earnest: it costs a few groans, and struggles, and tears, but it is sweet to enjoy it now.” Could the stony heart in me help melting, seeing her exceeding great joy?
Pleased with the sweet spirit that was in poor Alice, her trust, I think, in Christ alone, amid all her (as I think) mistaken thoughts of the church, sacrament, certain perseverance, &c. &c. I did not argue, but wished for us both the one foundation.
Of a peculiarly sensitive disposition herself, Eliza’s heart abounded with sympathy for the trials and sufferings of the poor. She was a welcome visitor at their cottages, where her kind and gentle though timid manner generally found access to their hearts; and whilst herself receiving lessons of instruction at the bedside of the sick and the dying, she was often the means of imparting sweet consolation to them.
In her desire to promote the spiritual welfare of others, she wrote two tracts, which were printed by the York Friends’ Tract Association. The first is entitled Richard Nancarrow, or the Cornish Miner, and traces the Christian course of a poor man whom she had frequently visited, and who had claimed her anxious solicitude as she watched his slow decline in consumption. In the second, entitled “Plain Words,” she endeavored to convey the simplest gospel truths in words adapted to the comprehension of even the least educated. She was warmly interested in the Bible Society, in connection with which, for some years, she regularly visited a neighboring village, besides attending to other objects of a similar character nearer home.
9th Mo. 10th. Letter to M.B.
* * * Setting our affection above is indeed the first thing of importance; and yet how utterly beyond our own power! We are so enslaved to sense and sight till He, who alone is able, sets us “free indeed,” that things around us can take that disproportionate hold on our hearts which makes work for the light of heaven to reduce things to their proper proportion in our view.
Page 52I have thought often of the text, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Oh, how much that implies, both of love and joyfulness to be aimed at in our service of our heavenly Father on earth. How high a standard! Can we hope ever to attain it? Surely we are to ask it, not as a millennial glory for the world only, (if at all,) but also as our own individual portion. It is more to be lamented that we do not realize this than that we do not realize Foster’s idea of the world to come, in which we, yes, we, our very selves, will be actually concerned. But I believe the two deficiencies are more connected than we are sometimes aware of; and perhaps the joys of a happy death-bed, the foretaste of heaven, of which we sometimes hear, are as much connected with the completeness of religious devotedness, often not till then attained, as with the nearness in point of time to a world of purity and joy. How striking is the earnestness shown in John Fletcher’s “Early Christian Experience,” in seeking mastery over sin, not as “uncertainly,” or as “beating the air,” but as one resolved to conquer in the might of that faith which “is the victory;” and how wonderfully was his after-life an example of “doing the Divine will as it is in heaven”!
9th Mo. 17th. Distress in the country great. What will all issue in? Surely in this, “the Lord sitteth on the flood; yea, He sitteth King forever.” Oh! if He be King in our hearts we shall not be greatly moved. There is comfort to the Christian, immovable comfort, in having his affections, his patriotism, in heaven. My own heart, I ardently hope, is not a totally devastated land. There is a rudiment still there which God looketh upon, and perhaps, though I know it not, his eyes and his heart are there perpetually. It is not meant to remain a rudiment: oh, no; as “sin hath reigned, even unto death, so grace should yet reign, even to eternal life.”
9th Mo. 27th. Perplexed about Irish knitting, because it is slave-grown cotton. It does not seem consistent to buy it; and yet I don’t know what to recommend.
9th Mo. 30th. Another month is at an end. Oh that I knew whereabouts I stand in the race! “’Tis a point I long to know.” Sometimes I have joy of heart, and then I tremble lest it be not rightly founded; sometimes tenderness of heart, and then I fear it is only natural feeling; sometimes fervent desires after good, and then I fear lest they are only the result of fear of punishment; sometimes trust in the merits of Jesus, and can look to Him as a sacrifice for sin; then I fear lest it is only as an escape from danger, not deliverance from present corruption; sometimes wish to fulfil actively my duties, then these same duties have stolen away my heart. Oh, how do I get cumbered with cares and many things, entangled with perplexity, or elated with cheer! I think I have honestly wished to be fed with convenient
Page 53food. Oh to be at the end of the race, or so near it as dear E. Stephens, by whose bed of pain and joy I could not but mingle tears. But why thus? Surely, O Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of thy poor creature. Thy help must have been with me when I knew it not, or life had been quite extinct ere now. Extinct it is not; and for this will I bless Thee, even that I am not yet cast out as an abominable branch, though so unfruitful. I fear it can be only by much tribulation that the enemy of my own house will ever be quelled; and perhaps salutary pains are sent, in the very perplexities of things which might be more ensnaring if all went on smoothly. I have declined more cotton goods from Ireland, and asked for woollen, which is one burden gone.
10th Mo. 7th. I believe study and taste must be kept very subordinate to duty. Enough, yea, heaven is this, to do my Father’s will, if it were but as it is done in heaven—all willing, loving, joyful service! Oh to be more like my Saviour! Surely I love Him!
10th Mo. 20th. If Martha should not have been cumbered with the outward attention to Christ Himself, cares for others on plea of duty can never be enough excuse for a peaceless mind. “They which believe do enter into rest.” Oh for rest this hour in Jesus’ bosom!
10th Mo. 21st. This book will present no fair account of my state if I write only in hours of comfort. I have passed through dark and sinful days—no hope, no love. I thought I must have wearied out the Saviour—that He had given me up for lost. Perhaps some self was in the feelings described in my last, and so this faithless sorrow came to teach me what I am. Oh that nothing impure might mix in the consolation which has visited me last evening and this morning, when the gracious regard of my all-merciful Saviour has been witnessed, some blessed sight of “the water to cleanse and the blood to atone.” Oh, how fervently I wish to be kept by faith in Him, in still deepening humility!
11th Mo. 27th. What would be my present condition but for the unchangeable faithfulness of my God and Saviour? Ah! how well may He say, “Thou hast destroyed thyself,” and yet how constantly add, “but in me is thine help.” Yes, though we ofttimes believe not, yet “He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself;” and so, where there is any thing of His own left in a wandering heart, again and again returns, “upbraiding not,” or else only in accents of the tenderest love: “O thou of little faith!” Often have I admired not only His great love as shown in the main features of redemption, but, if such a word is allowable, His minute loving kindness. Kindness—such a tender regard for the comfort and peace of the soul. Oh, the spiritual sorrows are far more from ourselves, our own wilful work, than from Him whose language is, “I the Lord do keep it,
Page 54lest any hurt it.”
12th Mo. 4th. Yesterday, in going to Plymouth with father and mother, read in my Testament of the Prodigal Son. Had no time to read before setting out, and was dull. Thought it no use to take out the book; but, oh, such a sweet contrition came over me, such a sense of being invited to return to my Father’s house, such a soft and gentle peace!
1st Mo. 15th, 1848. On the First-day before N. and F. left us, we had a sweet address (in meeting) from Uncle Rundell, on the grace which had been his “morning light, and which he trusted would be his evening song;” ending with his hope that all would be willing to “bear the cross,” that finally they might “wear the crown,” for it is the end that crowns the action. We thought it a farewell-sermon; and the joyful assurance in which it was uttered is precious to think of. On Third-day he walked with me in the meadow, but on Fourth-day sickness confined him to bed, and on Fifth-day he had lost all power of standing. Since then, he has been a patient helpless invalid, and constant and most interesting has been our occupation by turns, in waiting on him, gathering up his really precious words, and witnessing the yet more precious example and evidence of all-sufficient grace. Never may this season be forgotten by me, though not privileged to witness its close. To visit F., I left home in the First month, after a farewell to our precious uncle, which is not to be forgotten. He asked me if I was going the next day. I said yes, and that I was very sorry to leave him. He said, “Well, as thou art enabled, pray for me.” I said, “And I hope thou won’t forget me.” He replied, “It is not likely.” In the evening, as he sat by the fire, and spoke of my going to N. and F., he said, “Desire them, as they are enabled, to pray that I may be favored with patience and resignation to the end.” When I said I must try to bid him farewell, hard as it was, he said, “May the Lord go with thee. Keep to the cross; despise not the day of small things. The Lord may see meet to employ thee in His service, and I wish that every gift that He dispenses to thee may be faithfully occupied with.” A loving farewell followed, and I left—doubtless for the last time—our honored patriarch.
At Neath I spent more than three weeks, enjoying the great kindness of my brother and sister, and the beauty of the country, then dressed in its winter garb, and the feeling of being in some measure useful. I was also blessed, at the beginning of my visit, with more than a common portion of spiritual blessing; and I think the first meeting I was at there was a time never to be forgotten—silent; but my poor soul seemed swallowed up of joy and peace such as I had never before known, at least so abidingly. The calmness and peace, and the daily bread, with which I was blessed in my little daily works and daily retirements for some days, make the time sweet to look back on, but grievous that I kept not my portion, and again wandered from mountain to hill, forgetting my resting-place.
She afterwards accompanied her brother and sister to their new home at Ipswich.
From a letter to one of her sisters.
Ipswich, 3d Month.
My mind has been so full of you to-day that, though it is First-day evening, I must spend a few minutes in this way before I go to bed. The thought of father’s going homewards to-morrow and seeing you all, seems a stirring up and drawing tight of the interests and connecting bonds of our scattered race. Oh, I do dearly love you in my inmost heart,—though some of my letters may seem as if I had lost some home affections to root amongst strangers; but surely the new scenes of life which I have witnessed, since that cold frosty morning when I left you, have tended to make me value more than ever that precious treasure of household love. Oh, what were life without it? a wilderness indeed! and well is it worth all the pangs which it may cost us in this cold world. It is cheering to think of them as caused by contact of something warm within, as with the cold without; and far better it is to bear, than to be cooled down to the temperature of earth’s raw air. Thou wilt wonder perhaps at my writing in this way; but with me, though I may seem cold and dull in the common way, there comes a day, every now and then, when I find
“New depths of love,
in measure unsuspected,
Ties closer than I knew were round my heart.”—
And though they are saddened by many a regret for neglects and omissions and commissions toward you all, and that old petrifying selfishness which only grace can cure, I would not be without such days, and almost thank “each wrench which has detected how thoroughly and deeply dear you are.” I can hardly tell you what the thought of leaving N. and F. is to me, but this dark day begins to shadow itself.
* * * Poor dear old A.G.! What a change from her dark corner to everlasting day!—but not less from a kingly palace, if we knew the truth; and her shadowy abode had more light than many a palace, if we knew the truth of that too.
She remarks in her Journal, after her return home:—
I stayed at Ipswich three weeks after the birth of my precious little niece, Frances Elizabeth; rejoicing in her daily growth, and calm trustful fearlessness—a lesson which nothing ever preached to me so loudly before. Respecting my spiritual state at Ipswich, I would say that great blessings, and I would fear great ingratitude, must be acknowledged. Some evening hours in my chamber were exceeding sweet, and some meetings solemn indeed. * * * I returned in rich and flowing peace. Many a lesson I had through my four months’ absence, but none like that which awaited my return. My father met me at Plymouth; we reached home about eleven o’clock at night, and went at once to the chamber, where four months previously I last heard the voice of my uncle, and, though he still breathed, I was not to hear it again. He had sunk gradually for weeks, and now, though
Page 56his lips moved a little, a word could not be heard. His face was sunk and pallid, his breathing uneasy, and his eyes were closed. After a short time we left, and at four o’clock in the morning, without a struggle, his spirit passed quietly away to his “eternal inheritance.” “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.” I never, I believe, shall forget how forcibly came to my mind, as I sat beside his lifeless form, the words, “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living,” and my thoughts turned on many a solemn and blessed trust implied in them.
Her uncle, Samuel Rundell, died on the 4th of 5th Month, 1848, at the age of eighty-five. In the Annual Monitor for the following year is a short Memoir of his life.
It had been for some years a frequent occupation with Eliza, together with her sisters and cousins, to spend the long winter evenings with her aged uncle and aunt, and after the decease of the former these attentions were more constantly needed by the survivor. It was striking to notice Eliza’s cheerful alacrity to relinquish, when her turn came round, her favorite pursuits, often for some weeks together, in order to comfort and enliven the declining days of this aged relative.
7th Mo. —th. My mental condition a quiet but not painless one. I had been much favored, though in pain and trouble, amidst which I had a kind note from J.T., who says, “When at Liskeard, and since, I have believed that it might be said unto thee, ’The Master is come, and calleth for thee;’ and I wish, if thou hast been made sensible of this, it may be thy very earnest concern to sit at His feet in great humility of mind, that thou mayst hear from season to season the gracious words that may proceed as out of His mouth. It may be that in the ordering of His gracious designs, He may see fit, as He has done with many others, to allure thee and bring thee into the wilderness; but I have no doubt that He will also give thee vineyards from thence, and thou wilt be made sensible that indeed it is His own right arm that has and will bring salvation unto thee” Though at present incapable of feeling as I have done, yet, being desirous of finishing up my Journal, I must acknowledge that great and gracious have been the dealings of my heavenly Father with me, causing me to rejoice in Him who has done for me “exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or think,” chiefly in the way, which I have found a very blessed way, of enabling me to give up my own will to His, and to be subject in things little and great to Himself. As far as I have known the yoke of Christ, it is indeed a sweet and easy yoke; and the chiefest sorrow which I have found during my endeavor to bear it has been from my aptness to throw it off. The worst of snares are the most secret.
We are now quietly and unexcitedly at
Page 57home; and I wish industriously to do my little duties, and follow my little callings: of these the Workhouse women supply one of the most satisfactory to myself. They are a sad sight; but I feel that my small labors with them are not rejected, but desired, and I hope to a few at least they may be of some use. On First-days I now first read a short tract, then read in the Testament two or three chapters, verse by verse, with the women, then hear them say hymns,—which three or four learn gladly: this fills the hour. And once in a week I like to go in and try to teach those who cannot read. I have much felt, lately, that it is vain to try as a mere satisfaction to conscience to do these things, because we ought: it must be from a better motive—true keeping of the “first and great commandment,” and the second, which “is like unto it.” No busy doings at home or abroad will ever do instead.
8th Mo. 5th. 7th-Day. I must in thankfulness record free and great mercies this week. First-day was a happy one. In the morning rain and a cough kept me at home. I read the crucifixion and resurrection in different Evangelists, and cannot tell how meltingly sweet it was. Surely I did love Jesus then because He had first loved me. Sundry sweet refreshing brooks have flowed by my wayside, and some dry lonely paths I have trodden, (since,) but think He who is alone the foundation and corner-stone, immovable and undeceiving, has become more precious. Oh, how shall I be enough careful to trust him alone? I have got on a little with Gibbon’s Rise and Fall, and have begun Neander on the Emperors, finished one volume of Goethe with L., and begun Milton with M., and English history with R.
9th Mo. 2d. The week tolerably satisfactory; but how truly may we say, “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand”! This evening’s unexpected, unsought, unasked, free, gratuitous mercy has made the last two hours worth more than some whole days of this week. Oh, how kind is He who knows how to win back and attract to Himself by imparting ineffable desires after what is good, even to a heart that has grown dry and dead and worldly! I have thought that some measure of our growth in grace may be found in the degree in which our carnal natural reluctance to receive Christ back into our vessel, come how He may, is diminished. How full of significance is the inquiry, “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Blessed revelation; and well is it for those who feel ready to adopt the prayer, “Awake, awake, O arm of the Lord,” if they know the way of its coming. Oh, how does its acceptance presuppose an experience of something of the kind, so awfully set forth as from Omnipotence Himself!—“I looked, and there was no man, therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me.” Yes, it is when He sees that we have no human expectance or confidence left, and are, as it were, at our wits’ end; it is then that His own arm brings salvation, that
Page 58He says, “Stand still, and see the salvation of God; for the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Oh, how great the condescension which has given me a glimpse of “so great salvation”! But I have remarked that it never has been in answer to any questionings or searchings of my own. Some great perplexities I have had lately, being so unable to satisfy myself how far religion or its duties should be the act of ourselves—so confused about prayer, etc. Difficulties, hardly capable to be put into words, put me in real distress; but the good seems to be revealed, if I may use such a word, to another part of me; or, as I. Pennington would say, “to another eye and ear than those which are so curious to learn.” The Lord grant that I may at last become an obedient and truly teachable child; for that faculty, whatsoever it be, that asks vociferously, seems not to be the one which, as I.P. says, “graspingly receives," but is rather a hinderance to its reception.
10th Mo. 14th. Outwardly, the chief variety in my experience has been an interesting visit with my mother at Kingsbridge and Totness. A solitary walk in the garden at Totness, on First-day afternoon, I think I can never forget. No sunshine—though not mere darkness—was upon me during nearly all the week: yet I wondered to find that at Kingsbridge, though visiting was a constant self-denial, in withdrawing me from the earnest search in which I was engaged, I got on more easily than common, and felt much more love than usual to my friends. The first gleam of sunshine did not come through any man’s help, but in my lone matin the day after our return. I tried to cast my care on God, and on Seventh-day morning was favored with a blessed evidence that He did care for me. Since then it has not been repeated; but earnest have been my cries in secret to my heavenly Father, whose mercies indeed are great; and my lonely hours have been employed mostly in seeking Him, having little taste for reading of any general kind. One morning in particular, at Trevelmond, in the plantation, waiting for my father, was my heart poured out to God. Calmness has often succeeded; and then I dread the coming of indifference and coolness. Oh, this is surely the worst of states! I had rather endure almost any amount of anguish.
Yesterday, the probability that my course on earth may be short occurred forcibly. I recurred to the words quoted by J.T., “The sting of death is sin,” with encouragement to hope for “the victory.” However, the future is not my care. May I be the care of Him whose care the future is, and then——
10th Mo. 22d. At home with a cold, and may just record my poor spirit’s lowness and poverty amid, as I trust, its honest desires to become wholly the Lord’s. “Ye ask, and have not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts,” is surely true of spiritual food. We should desire
Page 59it that we “may grow thereby,” not from mere spiritual voluptuousness; and, oh, in my own desires for the will of God to be done, how often have I not known what spirit I was of! How often have I been tenaciously standing on the very ground that I was asking to have broken up and destroyed! A short lone meeting in the parlor, blest chiefly with humiliation, and this I would regard as a blessing.
Letter to ——.
I am tempted to spend a few lonely minutes in thanking thee for thy truly kind salutation, advice, and encouragement; though I fear to say much in reply. I hope and trust thou art not altogether mistaken in me: in one respect I know thou art not,—that I have seen of the mercy and love of a long-suffering Saviour, whom I do at times desire to love and serve with all my heart; and not the least of His blessings I esteem it that any of His children should care for me for His sake. I dread depending on any, even of these, which, as well as the fear of man, I have found does bring a snare; and as far as experience goes, I seem to have tasted more of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” than of the “tree of life;” which, however, I would fain hope, “yielding its fruit every month,” has some for the wintry season of darkness and of frost. Yes, my dear friend, thou hast rightly judged in this also, that the winter is sometimes very cold, and the night very dark. May thy desires for me be accomplished, that these may indeed work for my good; much as the utter absence of feeling would sometimes tempt me to think it the result of that worst of all sentences, “Let her alone;” to which the added memories of many a “mercy cast away” are very ready to contribute. Am I in this repining? I hope not; for every day brings fresh cause to acknowledge that because my enemies, though lively and strong, “do not quite triumph over me,” therefore I may still trust that He favoreth me. It is seldom that I write or speak in this way of myself. May we learn more and more of the utter insufficiency of any earthly thing, or of any power of our own to do what is essential for our salvation, and then, when we hang solely and entirely on the Lord Jesus, we shall be safe. Of this I feel no doubt or fear:—the fear is of having confidence in any thing besides, of spiritual pride, of self-sufficiency. Yes, I find self has many lives, and the very sorrows and humiliations of one day, if we do not beware, may become the idols of the next. “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence:” can such a language ever be used in vain-glory, while we remember “the wormwood and the gall,” which we now see to have been administered in fulfilment of His own words, “Ye shall indeed drink of my cup”? Indeed, it seems to me that nothing is too high, too good, or too pure for Satan to make use of, if he can but get us and it into his hands. May the Lord be pleased to rebuke this devourer for our sakes, and give at length to the often-desponding heart to know that Himself hath promised, “when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it,” and that the “God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet.”
12th Mo. 4th To the same.
* * * I am sorry for thy physical state, yet doubtless it is but the inverted image of a counterbalancing mental good, which is, or is about to be, perhaps to signify that
“God doth not need
Either man’s works or His own gifts; who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
It is surely not for the value of the service itself, that He calls for it so long and so repeatedly, till at last the iron sinew gives way: no, but for the sake of bending the iron sinew itself, and when it is bent in one direction, I conclude He does not mean to stiffen it there, but would have it bend perhaps back to the very same position as at first it was so hard to bend it from, with this one wide difference, that in the first case it was so in its own will, but now in His will. Perhaps thou thinkest I am darkening counsel: I do not wish to do so, but write just how things have happened to me in my small way. Ought we not to be willing to be bent or unbent any way? and if a bow is to “abide in strength,” it must be unbent when it is not wanted. But as we have all different places to fill, and different dispositions and snares, and besetments, we must not measure ourselves among ourselves.
It is indeed very good, as thou sayest, to be sometimes alone, and at times I trust I have found it so; but it has its dangers also, especially to me, who am perhaps more apt to make self of too much importance than to shrink from “due responsibility and authority.” Indeed, this latter word belongs not to me at all, and if I may but keep life in me, (or have it kept,) well indeed will it be. Oh, till we have grace enough willingly to do the smallest matters, thankfully to “sit in the lowest room,” meekly and patiently to be put out of our own way, and see our plans and intentions frustrated, and find ourselves of small account or value in the Church or in the world, yes, till we have grace enough to forget self altogether, “content to fill a little space, so thou art glorified,” I know not where is our claim to be followers of Him “who made Himself of no reputation.” I am very far from this. Couldst thou have seen how much hold the many small duties of my lonely week have taken on my mind, how little time I have found for the purpose for which we both value solitude, and how much my “lightly stirred” spirit has been hurried about from one object to another, I fear thou wouldst scarcely think even this note other than presumptuous. Oh, how should I be rebuked by the thought,
“One thing is needful,
and but one:
Why do thy thoughts on many run?”
12th Mo. 30th. To-day ends the week, and to-morrow the year. Very unfit am I to speak of it as I would. I have felt very happy on some occasions, yet I have feared lest what should be on a good foundation is yet but built of “hay and stubble.” If so, who can tell the fierceness of the fire that burns between me and my wished-for rest? There is no way to true safety but through it; and, oh, to part with all combustibles is very hard; but why waste a thought on the hardness, could it but be speedily and simply done? My old difficulty—what is duty when the sensible help of grace is out of sight—renews its strength. Doubtless to wait for it, and perhaps ask for it also; but how? Oh that I had crossed the great gulf from myself to my Saviour! Oh that I were in His hands and out of my own!
2d Mo. 3d, 1849. I have been sorely tried with apparent desertion and darkness; “yet not deserted” is my still struggling faith; and some consoling thoughts have visited me of days still I trust in store, when, “as one whom his mother comforteth,” the Lord will comfort me. Dear J.T.’s counsel has seldom been absent from my thoughts; but, manifold as have been my heavenly Father’s instrumental mercies, I never was more impressed with the absolute need of His immediate preserving care.
“Can I trust a fellow-being?
Can I trust an angel’s care?
O thou merciful All-Seeing,
Beam around my spirit there.”
And not less here, in this shady vale of life, than in the deep of death. Oh, how desirable, how infinitely sweet, to sleep in His arms, on His bosom! An early translation, if it were His will, would indeed be a blessed portion; but I do not expect such indulgence, and desire not to wish it. It is enough if I may know that “to live is Christ,” and that to die will at length be “great gain.”
2d Mo. 13th. Seldom does any appeal to my heavenly Father seem more fitting than this, “Thou knowest my foolishness;” and, oh, may His arm of mercy and compassion be one day revealed.
3d Mo.—th. Letter to ——.
* * * Oh, how desirable it is to be willing
made of much or of little use!
“And careful less to serve thee
Than to please thee perfectly:”
and, very far back as I feel in the race, and insensible of advance, I think we may be encouraged to believe that we make some approaches to the “mark for the prize,” if we have a clearer and more desirous view of the yet far-distant goal. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty, they shall behold the land that is very far off,” must have been addressed to one still “very far” from the promised land. Thus I scribble to thee the musings with which, in my now shady allotment, I try to encourage myself to hope; and which perhaps are as incorrect as the lament which the beautiful spring will sometimes prompt, “With
Page 62the year seasons return, but not to me.” It would, however, be most ungrateful to complain. To live at all is a great favor—an undeserved and unspeakable favor; and though it be a life of pain and weariness, and even grief, may it never become a life of thankless ingratitude! We who have tried our heavenly Father’s patience so long, dare we complain of waiting for Him?
4th Mo. 13th. Letter to M.B.
* * * However high be the capacity of the mind, it is humiliating to find what small things can distract it, if its anchor-hold be not truly what and where it ought to be; and who does not find the need of this being often renewed and made fast? The little experience I have had, that even a life comparatively free from trial, except as regards its highest significance, “is but vanity,” and the belief that it is so infinitely surpassed by another, has much modified to me the feeling of witnessing (might I venture to say of anticipating?) the transition for others or for myself. I nevertheless cannot say much from experience; for it has not yet been my lot to lose one of my own intimate or nearly attached friends, except where the course of time had made it a natural and inevitable thing; and I know there must be depths of sorrow in such events only fathomed by descending to them.
4th Mo.—th. Letter to M.B.
What a privilege it is to be permitted to expect and look for a better guidance than our own judgment or inclination, even in the small things of our small lives; small though they are, compared with the great events which are ruled by our heavenly Father’s will, how much is involved in them as far as we are concerned! and we need not measure the controlling care of Providence by the abstract greatness or littleness of any event. Compared with His infinity, the fate of an empire would be not more worthy of His care than the least event of our lives; but it is love—the same wonderful love that can comfort and bless the dying-pillow of a little one, in which we want more practical faith for our safe conduct through this uncertain life. Did we live in such a faith, it would be sweet and easy to die in it.
4th Mo. 30th. Bristol. Yesterday was a memorable day to me; the evening meeting found me very sad and burdened; when I thought I was made sensible of something like an offer from One who is infinite in power and love, to take this burden away, to bear it Himself, and to do in me His own will. There seemed something like a covenant set before me, that all this should be done for me on condition of my acquiescence with and subjection to that supreme will, that I should refuse neither to suffer His own work within me nor to do His manifested will. It may be that I stamp too highly what was most gently and calmly spread before my heart. It may be that the relief, the peaceful calm, which followed my endeavor
Page 63to unite with this precious proposal, was a mistaken thing; but I believe not. Strikingly in unison with all this was the evangelical and practical sermon of S. Treffry which followed, and my feelings in returning home and sitting down alone for a few minutes to seek a confirmation, were like a seal to all that I had heard in meeting. This morning I am far from rich or lively, but seem bound neither to doubt nor to complain; but only and constantly to endeavor to submit every thought of my heart to my dear Saviour’s will; and thus, after many a tossing, I have been enabled to say,
“I rest my soul on Jesus,—
This weary soul of mine.”
There may I ever be, O Lord.
5th Mo. 13th. First-day evening. Oh that here I might once more set up my Ebenezer, and say, “Hitherto Thou hast helped me, O Lord.” “My Father’s arms, and not my own, were those that held me fast.” Ah! my own hold in the last fortnight has often relaxed, though many a heart-tendering evidence have I had that “He is faithful that hath promised.” Yesterday morning when I awoke, dead as ever in myself, some sweet whisper of goodness at hand saluted my ear, and, oh, it was but a sound of the abundance of heavenly rain that soon made my heart overflow.
8th Mo. 4th. Letter to ——
* * * At our Monthly Meeting, only a few words from ——, advising young ones to be patient and submissive. And surely we may well be thankful to learn so wholesome a lesson, seeing how many sorrows we have often brought upon ourselves by the contrary disposition, and how faithful is the promise that “the meek He will guide in judgment and teach His way.” How contemptible, as well as sinful, that rebellious spirit sometimes appears (when we honestly weigh it) that wants to make in its own special favor exceptions to the wise management of our kind and gracious heavenly Father! Oh, why should we prolong our woes by such perversity, when we feel at times as if it would be our highest joy to be what He would have us to be, and our very meat and drink to do His will?
8th Mo. 13th. This evening we had a precious meeting indeed. A solemn silence, in which much had been felt, was followed by a fervent prayer from ——. Truly my heart’s response was, “Let thine own work praise thee.” Do I write too much if I record the blessing of ability to crave for myself this evening an increased knowledge of and obedience to the Shepherd’s voice, and that no disguise of Satan may ever impose on me for this?
9th Mo. 7th. Letter to M.B.
* * * I often wonder at the attractions so many find in merely following the multitude in their recreations. * * * Do we not sometimes find, if our honest wish is to refresh ourselves for duty, and not to escape from it, that even our rest and recreation is owned by a blessing to which one would not for all the world be strangers? How kind was He who had welcomed back his faithful twelve from their labors for others, when He said, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” But even then they were to learn no selfish indolence, and rest was quickly laid aside to share their morsels with thousands. If we were always His companions, did “all our hopes of happiness stay calmly at His side,” how would our sitting down to rest and rising up to toil be alike blessed! And then, when the scene is changed, and sorrow and care become our portion, the same who was our joy in prosperity will be our refuge in adversity; and “because thou hast made the Lord thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee.”
I write my wishes for us both; may it be thus with thee and me, and when it is well with thee, think of one who longs sometimes to know these things for herself. But how well it is that our safety is in other hands than ours! how often, had it depended even on our continued desire for that which is good, had all been over with us!
“Thy parents’ arms, and not
Were those that held thee fast.”
11th Mo. 4th. “Hunted with thoughts,” as J. Crook so truly describes it, “up and down like a partridge on the mountains,” often feeling in meeting as if nothing could be compared with the joy of resting in Jesus, a rest to which I am still much a stranger; no more able to command the mob of unquiet thoughts than to hush the winds. At other times, as this evening in my chamber, a sort of strained anguish of soul, wherein my desire has been that my eyes might he ever toward the Lord, that He, in His own time, may pluck my feet out of the net. The mental pain I have passed through makes some escape seem most desirable. If to lay down the body were all I needed to escape, and I were fit for it, how willingly would I accept such an invitation! But I dare not ask it, nor any other thing, but only that He who alone can, may make me in His own time what He would have me to be; and this evening I have been thinking that the painful feelings I suffered might be the means appointed for freeing me from the bondage of the worldly mind, and from those tormenting, hurrying thoughts. Oh, be it so; whether by means utterly incomprehensible to me, or not, be the needful work done. I trust the comprehension is not needed; and that the simplicity and submission which are needed may be granted me; and that still [if] my enemies be expelled, as I hope they will be by “His own arm,” (as dear J.T. said,) their presence will not be laid to my charge. Alas, that I am so often guilty of dallying with them! What wonder that the wilderness is so long and tortuous, when I reckon the molten calves, the murmurings, the fleshly desires?
1st Mo. 17th, 1850. Letter to M.B.
* * * Canst thou feel any sympathy or compassion for one who pleads guilty to the folly of a flurried mind, “wasting its strength in strenuous idleness,” and that, too, with open eyes, seeing its own weakness and despising it? One of the worst things such a folly includes is that it allows no leisure to the mind; whereas, I believe well-ordered minds, however much care may be placed upon them, can throw this aside, when not necessarily engaged, and repose in the true dignity of self-command. This is, I believe, some people’s natural gift; but it surely ought, by supernatural means, to be within every one’s reach if only the government were on the shoulders of the “Prince of Peace.” Oh, how much that means! What “delectable mountains!” What “green pastures!” What “still waters!” What “gardens enclosed!” What “south lands,” and “springs of water,” are pictured in that beau-ideal “on earth as it is in heaven”! Well my second page has spoken of a land very far off from the haunted region described in the first; but to “turn over a new leaf” is easier in a letter than in a life. Thy idea of the next ten years altering us less than the last will perhaps prove true; but, oh, the painful doubts that force themselves on me, whether the present channel is such that we can peacefully anticipate it only as deepening, and not as having an utter change of direction! How much harder to live in the world and not be of it than to forsake it altogether! So lazy self says; and, in turning from present duty, tries to justify itself by the excuse that it would willingly leave this world for another.
2d Mo. 4th. First-day evening. Little as I have felt inclined to put pen to paper of late, I thought this evening that some small memento might be left, as it were, at this point of the valley, just to say, Here were the footsteps of a weary halting pilgrim at such a time—one that brought no store of food or raiment, no supply of wisdom or subtlety, no provision for the way, nothing but wounds and weaknesses, household images, secret sins; but by favor of unspeakable long-suffering, continuing unto this day—and, as she would fain hope, not deserted. A. troop of thoughts doth grievously overcome her, and faint is her hope that she shall overcome at the last; yet does she desire to set up the Ebenezer, if not of rejoicing, which as yet cannot be, yet of humble hope, in a cloudy and dark day, that He who has said, “Light and gladness are sown for the upright in: heart,” will yet verify His promise in the day-spring of the light of His countenance, if any measure of integrity remain within. Oh, that He may keep, as the apple of His eye, that which a troop of robbers are watching to spoil, and may provide it with a hiding-place in His pavilion of love! And for one thing is my earnest wish directed to Him, that, unable as I am to direct my own steps aright, He would provide a leader for me, and a willing heart within me, and grant me enough of His guidance to keep me in the way, and enough of a willingness to walk therein and not stumble.
3d Mo. 7th, Letter to M.B.
* * * I know well that impatience will sometimes put on the pretence of something much better, and that we shall never run to good purpose unless we “run with patience.” Unhappily, a slow gradual progress is sadly opposed to my inconstant nature, and after one of the many interruptions it meets with, how prone am I to wish for some flying leap to make up for the past! It seems so hard a thing to get transformed, and therefore—strange inconsistency indeed—one would be translated. But truly it might be said, “Ye know not what ye ask.” * * * I have been interested with reading the early part of “No Cross, no Crown,” and especially the chapter on lawful self, where the receiving back again, as Abraham did Isaac, the lawful pleasures which had been resigned to the Divine will, is so nicely spoken of; and I do believe it explains the cause of half the gloom of would-be Christians. They do not quite refuse, nor quite resign their hearts, and so they are kept, not only without true peace, but without the enjoyment of those earthly goods which have been called for, not to deprive their owners of them, but to be restored in this life “an hundredfold.” How is it to be wished that these half measures were abandoned, and that if we have put our hand to the plough, we might not look back, as we so often have done, to the unfitting ourselves for that kingdom which is not only righteousness, but peace and joy. “That your joy may be full,” is plainly the purpose of our Saviour towards His children; and yet how many, as Macaulay says, “have just enough religion to make them unhappy when they do wrong, and yet not enough to induce them to do right.”
5th Mo. 28th. It is an unspeakable blessing to be permitted and enabled to pray. How can I be sufficiently thankful that it has been mine? Last night my heart was fervently engaged towards my God; and this evening, though the sense of my utter destitution and weakness was very painful, was it not a blessing if it led me to Him? I have thought of the test, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” There is danger in fleshly confidence; yet there is no strength, but a new danger in fleshly fear. Oh, I would be stripped of all fleshly dispositions of whatever kind, or however specious: they war against the soul; but because mine enemy has not quite triumphed over me, may I not believe that He favoreth me in whose favor is life, and whose is a faithful love? Oh for its perfect dominion in me! His will is my sanctification, my perfection. It is His “good pleasure to give me the kingdom”—even to me. Amazing grace! What in me but my greatest foe could hinder the full adoption of the prayer, “Thy will be done”?
6th Mo. 3d. The little measure of faith I have is not worn out, but rather purified and strengthened; but, oh, when I think of the reality, the momentous import, of the change of nature from
Page 67sin to holiness, which has to be effected, what a baptism may I not have yet to be baptized with, and what perils to pass through! Oh, if it might please my heavenly Father to shorten and hasten the process, and deliver me from earth and its dangers into a changeless state of safety and peace in His dear presence! But I do believe He would rather be glorified by living Christians than by only dying penitents. A watchful, holy life is His delight. Oh that this high calling may not be slighted or cast away! The near approach of my birthday has led me to look back over the brief notes of twelve months. The interesting details we have received of the Yearly Meeting remind me of what I felt at the conclusion of the last. The Lord has again been with the Church’s gathering, faithful as of old, and, where seats were vacant, hath filled His people with joy.
6th Mo. 5th. I wish simply to record how last night, when in bed, I was favored with a calm, watchful frame, and lay enjoying the mental repose till long after my usual hour of sleep. This morning at breakfast-time it was renewed, with a sweet sense of the willingness of our heavenly Father to enable His children to serve Him. He made them for that end: it is His will that they should do so. It cannot be that He will refuse them the indispensable assistance. How sweet was this feeling! but hurry, and too much care about little things, sadly dissipated me in the day. This evening I have had a gracious gift of some of those Sabbath feelings again, after reading the seventeenth chapter of Jeremiah. The verses referring to the Sabbath-day, and bearing no burden therein, were solemnly instructive. The utter inability of my natural heart to attain or retain such a state shows me the necessity of all being done for me through faith in Divine power, “His name, through faith in His name.” Oh for watchfulness unto prayer continually, and that the cumber of earth may be cast away! “Take heed that your flight be not in the winter,” has been my watchword, though how imperfectly obeyed! and if, through infinite mercy, the season be changing, if He who has faithfully kept me from utter death there-through is beginning to give me more of rest, oh, let me never forget the solemn addition, “neither on the Sabbath day.”
6th Mo. 13th. * * * I wish now to record the very solemn and encouraging visit of James Jones from America to our meeting this day. How wondrously did he speak of trials and afflictions, and the necessity of entire resignation through all! Though oceans of discouragement and mountains of difficulty loom up before thee, thou wilt be brought through the depths dry-shod, and be enabled to adopt the language, “What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest, and ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams?” Thou wilt be “led through green pastures, and beside still waters,” speaking of the call to service in the Church, which he believed was to some
Page 68in an especial manner in the early stages of life. I heard all; but such was my dejection that I seemed to receive little, though I could not but feel the power. I seemed incapable of taking either hope or instruction to myself. J.J. left us after dinner, and, on taking leave, took my hand in a very solemn manner, and, after a few minutes silence, said, tenderly, but authoritatively, “If the mantle falls on thee, wear;” words which will long live in my heart. Would that the power which sent them may fulfil them! None other can.
7th Mo. 1st. Last week at Plymouth Quarterly Meeting. An interesting time. I trust that which silenced and solemnized my spirit was something better than myself. What could I do but endeavor to lie down in passiveness under it, and crave that nothing might interfere to mar the work of the Lord? Much was said to encourage the hope that those who truly love the Lord will at length be brought into more peace and liberty in Him; that He will qualify them to fill just that place He designs for them in His house. Oh, how I long to become that, and that only, which pleases Him, that neither height nor depth might separate me from His love! And when I think of the deceitfulness of my heart, the danger of being lifted up seems so appalling that the former deliverance seems yet greater than the latter.
7th Mo. 23d. I have been glad to be released from some of my charges and cares, as well as to share the loving interests of home with all my dear sisters, and trust it is not all laziness which makes me shrink from engaging in new though useful objects. I seem to have much need of quiet, and have enjoyed many hours with dear F.’s precious children. Often, as now, I am very destitute, and sometimes very sad; but sometimes, though rarely, “all is peace.” Long shall I remember a moonlight half-hour, on Sixth-day, in the fields and garden, where I sat down to enjoy the cool of the day, and for a time all sorrow was far away, and the very “Prince of Peace” did seem to reign. Then did I feel I had not followed “a cunningly-devised fable,” and the precious words did comfort me, “If children, then heirs.” But, oh, how otherwise I often am! how utterly destitute! This day we have had a sweet little visit from ——. His encouragement to the tribulated children saluted my best life, overborne as it felt with the burden of unregenerate nature—ready to say, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” and, amid many a giving way to the worryings of earthly thoughts, struggling to say, “Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief.” Often have I remembered dear Sarah Tuckett’s encouraging words, “But through all, and underneath all, will be the everlasting Arms.” Amen, and amen.
8th Mo. 4th. Still, still amen, says my poor weak spirit, in the remembrance of “goodness tried so long,” of the faithful love of my heavenly Father, which melted my spirit
Page 69on the morning of Fifth-day week, with the blessed hope that I had not followed “a cunningly-devised fable” in seeking a nearer union with my Saviour. I little thought what was awaiting me that day—a very important proposal from ——, put into my hands by my father. After glancing at the contents, I laid it aside, to seek for a little calmness before reading it, and needed all that morning’s manna to strengthen my conviction, “Thou art my Father.” Into His hands I have sought to commit myself and my all, trusting that a covenant with everlasting love will not be marred by aught beneath the skies. Some precious feelings have I since enjoyed; “And one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father,” “Ye are of more value than many sparrows,” have been almost daily in my heart. On Sixth-day, after spending the afternoon in the country with a cheerful party, before going to bed, such a blessed sense of my heavenly Father’s presence and love was vouchsafed me, that every uneasy thought was swallowed up in-the precious conviction, “I know in whom I have believed.” This love did indeed appear the “pearl of great price,” and all else as “dust in the balance.”
8th Mo. 20th. Last week I was once or twice favored with a precious feeling of Divine love. At one time my earnest sense of need and desire to seek Him to whom I could appeal amid many a recollection of past transgressions, in the words, “Thou knowest that I love thee,” was most sweetly followed by the remembrance of the words, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” At another time the precious promise, “Because thou hast made the Lord thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee,” came livingly before me, and then I felt how far short of the terms I had fallen. Oh, how preciously did I feel the worth of an atonement! how my Saviour’s pardon did not only remove the burden of guilt, but really reinstate me in the privileges which my backslidings had forfeited, so that the promise of safety was still mine! * * *
9th. Mo. 20th. [Alluding to a visit from some friends.] How precious are these marks of our Father’s love! His eye is surely on us, and His hand too, for good. May we never, may I never, do any thing to frustrate His merciful designs! Very various has been my state—so dead and earthly, sometimes, that I may indeed feel that in me “dwelleth no good thing,” but now and then so filled with desires after God, that I feel assured that they come from Himself.
9th Mo. 26th. This afternoon, in a lonely walk, my sorrow was stirred, and I hope I prayed for mercy; but it has been hard to keep any hold of the anchor. But what! shall I leave my only Helper because of my evil case—my only Physician because of my desperate disease? I can take comfort in the thought that He knows
Page 70the worst, and that He has sworn eternal enmity to sin. Then, if He loves me, a sinner, He must be willing and able to save me; and Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man, that He may be the perfect divider between the sinner and his sin. Oh, what a work is this—which none but Omnipotent grace can do! Oh, be it done for me.
11th Mo. 20th. Letter to M.B.
her prospect of marriage.]
* * * How does such an occasion teach one the weakness of human nature, and our utter dependence on our heavenly Father’s preserving care, who “knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust.” And if we can in truth say, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence,” and endeavor to decide in His fear. I hope we may trust, that if it be not of Him, something will be provided for our rescue, and that if it be, He will remember His ancient promise, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
1st Mo. 4th, 1851. So very much has happened since I made my record here, that I scarcely know where to begin. Never did a year end thus with me. I had almost called it the most important of my life; and certainly it is so as regards time, and also a very important one as regards eternity. Now I find my hopes, my interests, my anticipations, my every feeling and affection, have a strong reference to another than myself—one whom I believe the Providence of a merciful, heavenly Father has led me to regard with esteem and love, as a sharer in the future portion of the path, of life.
Surely it has been a serious thing, much as I have fallen short in the duties of my present favored and sheltered lot, to consent to undertake responsibilities so weighty and untried; and yet I have cause to hope in the mercy of Him who has helped me hitherto, whose covenant is an everlasting covenant, even a covenant of peace, that shall never be removed by any earthly change. Oh that it may never be forsaken by me! Oh that every breach may be forgiven me! Oh that the wisdom that is from above may be my safeguard and director! How has it comforted me, in thinking of leaving such dearly-loved ones behind, to feel that one Friend above all others, whose love has been the most precious joy of my life, will go with me, and be with me forever, and, I trust, bind in that bond of heavenly love, even more and more closely, the spirits He, I trust, has brought together, and make us one another’s joy in Him!
Now that we are at home in the quiet round of duties and employments which have filled so many (outwardly at least) peaceful years, and that perhaps my continuance among them reckons but by months, oh for a truly obedient, affectionate, filial spirit, both to my heavenly Father and the precious guardians of my childhood! I have strongly felt that my highest duty towards him with whom my future lot may be linked, as well as my own highest interest, is to live in the love and fear of God. Many deficiencies I shall doubtless be conscious of! but if I may live, and we may be united in the love and fear of God, all, all will be well. Oh, then, to be watchful and prayerful!
1st Mo. 25th. Letter to M.B.
* * * There is much, very much, connected with any experience in these matters calculated to teach us that this is not our rest; and often have I thought, when pondering the uncertain future, that but for the small degree in which the hope of things beyond, steadfast and eternal, keeps its hold, I should be ready to sink; and then I think of kind rich promises on which I try to lay hold, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass,” and “As thy day, so shall thy strength be.” And so, dear M., I trust it will be with us all, if our trust be but rightly placed; and in this I fear I have sometimes, perhaps often, been mistaken. I am sure it is well to have this sifted and searched into, and none of the pains which must attend such a process are in vain. When we have learned more fully what and how frail we are, then we can better appreciate the help that is offered, and the abundant blessing of peace when it does come. The depth of our own capacity for suffering is known to few of us; and when we have made a little discovery of it, some short acquaintance with the dark cold caverns of hopeless woe into which it is possible to fall, even when all externally is bright and apparently prosperous, how thankful then should we feel for the daylight of hope!
Perhaps I am using strong language. I would not use it to every one, but I think thou knowest that words are feeble rather than strong to express what may be the real portion of one whom spectators look on as very happy; and I do feel sure that not a grief that can befall us even in this hidden world of ours, but may be the stepping-stone to a joy with which also a stranger doth not intermeddle; and how shall we sooner find it than by “casting all our care on Him who careth for us”? “He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust, and is touched with a feeling of our infirmities.”
3d Mo. 14th.—Letter to M.B.
* * * I am abundantly convinced that if we can find the right place and keep it, and endeavor to fulfil its duties, whatever they may be, there is our safety, and there is our greatest peace; and what a blessing to know in any degree where the knowledge and the power are both to be obtained! * * *
6th Mo. 21st. After a fortnight’s visit to my dear aunts, I followed Louisa to Tottenham. Many an occasion of deep instruction was offered to us at the Yearly Meeting; and yet from all this what remains? A solemn inquiry for all; and how much so for me, now that every principle of the heart and mind must prepare to encounter unwonted exercise and trial, now that I daily need all that I can have in a peculiar manner, and now that the future, amid the hopeful calm which it sometimes assumes, will sometimes almost frown upon me with lowerings of fear? Fear it is, not of others, but of myself, and fear of the ignorance or precipitancy of my yet but very partially regulated mind.
Page 72Oh for that other fear which only “is a fountain of life, preserving from the snares of death!” Oh for that love which casteth out the slavish fear, and maketh one with what it loves—first with that God from whom it comes, and then with those in whom it dwells! Dwell, oh, that it may, in our two hearts, their best, their first, their strongest, dearest bond, and dwell, too, in the hearts of those I leave behind, and cause that still and henceforth we may be “together though apart”!
The responsibility of having so important an office to fulfil towards any fellow-being as that of sharing in, influencing, and being influenced by all his wishes, actions, and tendencies, has felt very serious. * * * * Never before had I so strong a sense of the identity of our highest duty towards ourselves and towards each other; and that to live, and to be as and what we ought, in the best sense, is the chief requisite for influencing one another for good.
6th Mo. 24th. Though I have this morning been helped and comforted, I must confess much unsubdued evil has manifested itself even within these few days. The bitter waters within, the tendency to what is evil, the corrupt root, have sadly appeared.—Oh, there is the one cause, not minding enough the good part which shall not be taken away, and so disquieted at the loss or disturbance of lower things. “How shall we escape if we neglect (not only reject) such great salvation?” I was made mercifully sensible, last night and this morning, that such is our Father’s love, that His aim is chiefly to bestow, our duty to receive, that He calls and invites; but it is not that we may work a performance of our own, but receive His own good things. Oh, the folly, the ingratitude, of being inattentive to such a blessing! Oh, the rebellious pride of choosing our own self-will, and our own way, when the privilege may be ours of becoming the obedient and loving children of God—of receiving from Him the willing and the obedient heart which we may offer up to Him again, and which He will accept!
6th Mo. 30th. Letter to M.B.
* * * These “fill the past, present, and future” of these last months at home with many and various occupations and meditations. It is a blessing not to be more disturbed within, if it be but a safe calmness. Oh, that is a large condition; but how unsafe is all calmness resulting from shutting our eyes from the truth of our worst side! Yet I think when we can really be glad at the thought that our worst side is seen and known, there is some hope of remedy and of peace, and (may I not say?) alliance with the Physician who has all power and skill. Then only can we welcome any thing, however trying, which we can believe comes from His hand, or may tend to make us any nearer the pattern we strive for, or any more likely
Page 73to fulfil rightly the serious part we have to take in life.
7th Mo. 16th. I hope I do sincerely desire to seek for strength to cast my many burdens on Him who careth for me; and, oh, if I did but live in the spirit, and walk in the spirit, more faithfully, surely I should know more of what it is to “be careful for nothing,” but in every thing to make known my requests unto God. Quiet is most congenial. Oh that the few weeks remaining to me here, may all be given to Him who alone can bless! But this desperate heart—might it not well be despaired of? I trust I have got to this point, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” “Let me fall now into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are great,” and not into-human hands, nay, not my own. I thought I saw some sweetness in the words, “By His stripes ye are healed.”
7th Mo. 17th. Why do I not feel that nothing I can do is so important as what I am, and that things without had better be ever so much neglected, than things within set wrong for their sake?
7th Mo. 21st. Had very comfortable feelings yesterday in meeting. Oh, it was joyful to believe that God was near to bless and to forgive. This evening, I have longed to commit my soul and its keeping into my Father’s hands. Oh for a little more faith in His infinite, everlasting mercy! To come even boldly to the throne of grace, is the high calling even of those most in need of mercy.
7th Mo 26th. Letter to C.B.C.
* * * I hope that so far I have been favored with a measure of real help and good hope, though often sensible of multiplied difficulties and dangers, amid the desire to maintain such a state of mind and feeling as I ought. Perhaps the strong light in which I have often perceived how the best earthly hope may be blighted or blasted, even when all seems outwardly favorable, is a true blessing; and would that it might lead me oftener where all our wants can be best and only supplied! I know that self is the foe to be dreaded most, and that is so ever near, sticks so close, that there can be no remedy effectual that is not applied with the penetrating power and all-wise discretion which are no attributes of ours. And yet how often do we vainly try to help ourselves!
Two days after this, she wrote to her friend M.B. and alluded very feelingly to the prospect of leaving her old home and its associations. Ever taking a humble view of herself and of her fitness for the duties she was expecting to assume, she writes of
“feeling increasingly my deep unfitness and lack of qualification for so very responsible an undertaking as sharing in and influencing and being influenced by all that concerns another. May I be permitted the privilege of which thou hast spoken, that the Lord’s presence may go with us, and give us rest, and be to us a little sanctuary wheresoever we may come. Then all will be right. * * * So thou seest just where I am,—in need of faith and hope, and sometimes wanting all things, even amid circumstances which I can find no fault with. Farewell, dear M.; and if thou nearest that I get on well, or am in any way made happy or useful, one conclusion will be very safe, respecting thy unworthy friend,—that it is not in me.”
This closes a correspondence which appears to have been attended with much comfort and profit to the two friends.
8th Mo. 11th. The time flies, and then the place that has known me will know me no more, except as a sojourner and pilgrim to my father’s hearth; and yet I cannot realize it: could I, how should I bear it? This day, much as before, weak in body, death-like in mind; but this evening had such a desire for retirement—so undesired before—and such precious feelings then. Oh, I could go through much with this to sustain me, but I cannot command it for one instant; and, oh, how I felt that He alone can keep my soul alive, whose is every breath, natural and spiritual! Oh, what a joy to feel His Spirit near, the thick, heavy wall of separation melted away. Would that the way could, be kept thus clear to God—my life, my strength, my joy, my all!
Much that is very interesting has passed,—chiefly a visit from T.E. and his wife, of Philadelphia. The day they left us, we sat in silence round the dinner-table, till he said that words seemed hardly needful to express the precious feeling of union that prevailed. * * * It was very sad to lose them; and yet I never felt before so strongly how the individual blessing to each soul is not a merely being present, and recognizing, and rejoicing in such times as these. How the words of one that hath a heavenly spirit and a pleasant voice may be heard in vain!
8th Mo. 20th. How can I describe these eventful days? One lesson may they teach me, that God is love, and that whatever good thing I am blessed with is not in me. He has been so kind, so gracious, and I so very perverse, frequently so distrustful, so easily wounded; but He, as if He will not take offence, again and again has pity on me. How was I met and saluted with the words, “By Myself have I sworn,” as part of some promise! Then I felt and rejoiced in His faithfulness to all in me and in all the universe that is His. By Himself, then He will never fail; and I hope I shall be preserved by Him.
8th Mo. 21st. I was so grievously stupid last week, so unable to realize any thing—feared
Page 75when I should come to myself that it would be terrible; but no, it is not so: I have love for all, and I hope it will grow for all and take in all. It is not that one love swallows up another, as one sorrow does: yet I am very weak, and need daily help. Oh that it may not be withheld!
With this record her Journal concludes; and, in reflecting upon it as a whole, the reader can scarcely fail to observe the evidence it gives of progress in the Divine life, of growth, as it were, from the blade to the full corn in the ear, now early ripened for the heavenly garner; and perhaps in nothing is this progress more discernible than in the manner in which through many fluctuations she was enabled to look away from the suggestions of unresting self, which were so painful to her sensitive and conscientious spirit, and to stay her mind on her Saviour, entering into that rest which the apostle says is the portion of those who believe,—“a rest which remaineth for the people of God,” and which they only realize in its fulness who have accepted Christ as all sufficient for every need of the soul, not only pardon of past sins, but also of daily recurring transgressions, and whose trials and provings of spirit have led to the blessed result of increased oneness with their heavenly Father.
8th Mo. 21th. To her sister F.T. she writes, the day before her marriage,—
“I am still a wonder to myself,—so thankful for dear mother’s cheerfulness, and for the kindness and love of all around. I have taken leave of nearly all. Last evening we had a nice walk. Then for the first time I felt as if the claims of past, present, and future were perfectly and peacefully adjusted, to my great comfort.”
The walk to which this allusion refers is very fresh in the remembrance of her sister and of her (intended) husband, who accompanied her. Her manner was strikingly calm and affectionate; and as they returned home, after a pause in the conversation, she said, taking a hand of each,—
“I have heard of some people when they are dying feeling no struggle on going from one world to the other; and I was thinking that I felt the same between you. I don’t know how it may be at last.”
Strangely impressive were these words at the time; and when we remember that she never saw that sister again after the morrow, can we doubt that this preparation was permitted to soften the bitterness of the time, so near at hand, when this should have proved to be the final parting on earth?
In looking back to this time, there is a sweet conviction of the peace which was then granted her, which did seem something like a foretaste of the joys of the better home which was even then opening before her and upon which her pure spirit had so loved to dwell.
She was married, at Liskeard, to William Southall, Jr., on the 28th of 8th month, 1851. She was anxious that the wedding-day should be cheerful; and her own countenance wore a sweet expression of quiet satisfaction and seriousness; and the depth of feeling which prevailed in the whole party during that day was afterwards remembered with satisfaction, as being in harmony with what followed.
In a tenderly affectionate note, written from Teignmouth the same evening, she says, “I can look back without any other pang than the necessary one of having stretched, I must not say broken, our family bond;” and then she adds the sincere desire for herself and her husband, “Oh that we may be more humble and watchful than ever before, and that my daily care may be to remember those sweet lines which helped me so this morning,—
“When thou art nothing
Then thou art close to me.”
A fortnight spent among the lakes of Westmoreland and Cumberland was a time of much happiness. It was her first introduction to mountain scenery; and her letters to the home circle she had just left, contain animated descriptions of the beauties around her. A few extracts from these, showing the healthy enjoyment she experienced, and the cheerful and comfortable state of her mind, particulars which acquire an interest from the solemn circumstances so soon to follow, may not be unsuitably inserted:—
BOWNESS, 9th Month, 1st, 1851.
MY DEAR L.:—
* * * We had a lovely ride and ferrying over Windermere to Colthouse meeting on First-day. * * * I am almost well, and able to enter into these beauties. Will you be satisfied with seven sketches, such as they are, for this day?
I thought, as we passed Doves’ Nest, and read in the guide-book F. Hemans’s description of her dwelling there for twelve months, and how many sad hearts, beside hers, had come thither for a refuge from sorrow, what cause we had to be thankful for (so far) another lot; and yet, dear L., with all I see around me, my heart is very often with you, and turns
From glassy lakes, and mountains grand,
And green reposeful isles,
To that one corner of the land
Beyond the rest that smiles.
Beyond the rest it smiles for me,
Thither my thoughts will roam—
The home beloved of infancy,
My childhood’s precious home!
And yet somehow it is not with a reproachful smile that it looks on me, nor with a regretful heart that I think upon it. It is delightful to think of dear father and mother’s coming to Birmingham so soon, and of meeting R. this day fortnight.
To her Mother.
GRASMERE, 3d of 9th Month, 1851.
MY DEAR MOTHER:—
We have had a lovely day, and I scarcely know where or how to begin the tale of beauty. If there be any shadow of truth in the notion that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever,” we must have been laying in a store of delight which may cheer many a busy and many a lonely hour. Truly, as we have gazed upon the glorious mountains; looked down from the summit of Silver How, on the green vale of Grasmere, and the far-off Windermere; looked with almost awful feelings on the black shadowy rocks that encompass Easdale Tarn, (all that yesterday,)
Page 77and to-day, passed from waterfall to waterfall, through the solemn and desolate Langdales, under the twin mountain Pikes, “throned among the hills,” dived into the awful recess of Dungeon Ghyll, where the rock, with scarcely a crack to part it, stands high on each side of the foaming torrent, which dashes perpendicularly down the gorge, then out upon the sunny vale, and home through the brotherhood of mountains to our quiet dwelling of Grasmere; surely all this, and much, much more, has made the days very precious for present enjoyment and for future recollections. The moon is bright as ever I saw it, and we have lately returned from the smooth, still Grasmere, where there was hardly ripple enough to multiply its image; and where we could have sat for hours, nourishing the calm and solemn thoughts we had just brought from the quiet corner of the churchyard where we had sat by Wordsworth’s grave. It was growing dark, but we could just read on the plain slate head-stone the sole inscription, “William Wordsworth.”
* * * But I cannot make you fully imagine these scenes, so varied, so picturesque. How little pleasure I had in anticipating this journey, while those formidable things lay between! The thought of the mountains seemed not worth a straw, and now looking back to only this day week is wonderful. Home still smiles upon me like a lake that catches a sunbeam; and sometimes I feel truly thankful that the way that I knew not has led me here. * * *
The thought of seeing you is bright indeed.
Thy loving daughter,
To her Sister.
LODORE INN, 5th of 9th Month, 1851.
MY BELOVED M.:—
* * * I am glad to say that we still have very fine weather. At Keswick we were planning how we could see Frederick Myers, but that evening his widow was returning to the parsonage with her three fatherless children, and we could only look on the family vault in the lovely churchyard, the school-room, library, etc., and think of his anticipations, now no doubt so happily realized, of the “‘well done,’ which it will be heaven to hear.” A fine black storm hung over Skiddaw and Saddleback, and such a rainbow spanned it. The western sky was full of the sunset, and the lake lay in lovely repose beneath. Of the clouds we really cannot say more than that they are often very beautiful, and sometimes dress up the mountains in grandeur not their own; but I have seen none that might not be Cornish clouds.
I am quite well. * * * For my sake be
Thy very loving sister,
To her Father.
SCALE HILL HOTEL, 8th of 9th Month, 1851.
MY BELOVED FATHER:—
On Seventh-day, after breakfast at Lodore, we set off for a treat indeed—a canter up Borrowdale. The morning splendid. Keswick Lake sparkling behind us. The crags of Borrowdale in the blue misty sunshine of morning overhung by not less beautiful shades. We were quite glad to get to this sort of mountain scenery again, which we had so enjoyed at Grasmere, and leave smooth, bare, pyramidal Skiddaw and its “ancient” fellows behind. We at last ascended the steep zigzag which begins Sty Head Pass, confirming our resolution now and then by admiring the plodding industry of our mountain horses. It was indeed pleasant when the last gate was opened and we were safe within the wall of rough stones which headed the steep ascent, and we could wind more at leisure beside the foaming “beck” which runs out of Sty Head Tarn. This desolate mountain lake was soon reached, and the noble dark Scawfell Pikes—the highest mountain in England, (3166 feet)—were its majestic background. But that we had been gradually inured to such scenes, this would indeed have been the most impressive we have beheld. On we rode till deep shady Wastdale opened below us, and we found ourselves at the head of the Pass.
I have enjoyed this journey very much more than I expected, and the weather, on the whole, has been favorable. I think of you all with double affection, which accept very warmly from
Thy affectionate daughter,
To her Sister.
PATTERDALE, 11th of 9th Month, 1851.
MY BELOVED L.:—
* * * This delightful morning, Ulleswater, which we admired as much, if not more than any lake which we have seen, was of the brightest blue, and the valley behind as rich in loveliness, when we set off for Helvellyn. The top is just five miles from the Inn. At last the pony was tied to a stake, and we wound up the Swirrel Edge. The rocks are almost perpendicular, and strangely shivered, and we looked down on the Red Tarn sparkling in the sun with, as it were, thousands of stars. At last we reached the top, a bare smooth summit, whence the wide misty landscape stretched all around us. Six lakes should have been visible; but we were obliged to be content with the whole stretch of Ulleswater, eight miles behind us, Bassenthwaite to the north, and perhaps a bit of Keswick; but I would not have missed the scene for any reasonable consideration. Scott, of course, stood on the top of the hill looking down on the Tarn, with Striding Edge on his right. Alas! no “eagles” are ever “yelling” on the mountain, nor “brown mountain heather” is in sight—only common mountain grass.
On the top of Helvellyn she wrote the following lines in a sketch-book:—
How softly the winds of the mountains
“No chamber of death is Helvellyn’s dark brow;”
On the “rough rocky edge” are the fleecy flocks straying,
And “Red Tarn” gleams bright with a thousand stars now.
The “huge nameless rook” has
no gloom in its shadow;
It catches the sun, it has found it a name;
And the mountain grass covers like the turf of the meadow
The arms of Helvellyn and Catchedecan.
There is not on earth a dark city’s
Or vast mountain waste, where the traveller may roam,
That peace may not soothe with its balmy composure,
And love may not bless with the joy of a home!
To her sister.
ULVERSTON, 15th of 9th Month, 1851.
MY BELOVED M.:—
Thy very welcome letter yesterday met
soon, after returning from Swarthmore, where, of course,
we had a very different assembly from yours.
It was very interesting, having been at Pardsey Crags last week, where the thousands had listened to George Fox’s preaching, now to see Swarthmore and remember how things used to be when he “left the north fresh and green;” but G. Fox never saw the meeting-house. It was built, I believe, after his death, though the inscription “Ex dono G.F.” is over the porch. His black-oak chairs stand in the meeting-room, and his two bed-posts are at each side of the foot of the stairs. Swarthmore Hall is an ancient-looking, high farm-house, with stone window-frames, as we have seen it drawn. The Hall, where the meetings used to be held, looks very antique: black-oak panels remain in parts. Judge Fell’s study is just inside, and his desk in the window, whence he could hear what passed, though he never went to the meetings. The house is in sad repair. It seems strange to lay aside our daily companions, the map and the guide-book, and tarn our backs wholly on the mountain land, for the level and busy plains of England, with their “daily round and common task.” But I know that the bright and beautiful mountain-scenes will often come again before the mental eye—“long-vanished” beauty that “refines and paints in brighter hues;” and I hope the pleasure will long be gratefully remembered.
The new home was reached on the 16th, from whence she writes,—
To her sister.
EDGBASTON, 20th of 9th Month, 1851.
MY BELOVED L.:—
* * * I do not like to end this eventful week without trying to send you a few lines. * * * Please tell mother, with my dear, dear love, how very acceptable her note was, and how much I hope that her kind good wishes may be realized, and how frequent a thought of pleasure it has been while we have been setting things in order, that before long I may enjoy to show our little territory to her and father,—to have her kind advice and opinion about my little household. * * * I yet feel as strongly as ever a daughter’s love to the home of my childhood. When I think of you, I can fully share in the illusion thou spoke of, fancying that before long I shall be among you just as before. * * *
To her sister, P. Tregolles.
YEW-TREE ROAD, 9th Month, 1851.
* * * I could not have thought I should have felt so easy amongst so many, lately, such strangers; but every day I feel more strongly that on one nail “fastened in a sure place” many things may hang easily; and truly all treat us with such kindness, that I should be ungrateful not to value highly my connection for its own sake, whilst that on which it hangs grows firmer too. * * *
The remembrance of the cheerfulness with which Eliza Southall entered into the duties and cares of her new position in her adopted home has afforded cause for much gratitude on the part of those dear relatives who welcomed her there. Newly made acquainted with some of them, she won their love and esteem by her unaffected simplicity and the geniality of her sympathies; but, whilst she showed true conjugal solicitude in her plans for domestic comfort and social enjoyment, it was evidently her first desire to have her heart and her treasure in heaven. It was designed in the ordering of Divine providence that a cloud should very soon overshadow the bright promises of her arrival; and the following account of the illness which so speedily terminated her life will, it is hoped, convey a correct impression of the peacefulness of its close. It is compiled from memoranda made very soon after her decease, but is of necessity imperfect; the attention of those who contributed from memory portions of her conversation being so much absorbed by their interest in the conflict between life and death, and by the overwhelming feelings of an hour of such moment to some of them. Whilst it is hoped that nothing inserted may appear to go beyond the simplicity of the truth, it may be added that it seems impossible to convey in words a full and faithful idea of the holy serenity of her last hours, which showed that the work of religion had not been in vain in her heart.
With the exception of a slight cold, which soon left her, she appeared to be in her usual health and spirits. But it was so for only two weeks, and on Third-day, the 30th of 9th Month, on returning from a visit at Woodfield, she complained of not feeling well. The next day she was more poorly, and medical advice was obtained. The following morning she suffered much pain, but the remedies used soon relieved her; and, though she was not able to leave her bed, the symptoms did not continue such as to excite much uneasiness. She enjoyed hearing another read, and not unfrequently Isaac Pennington’s letters, or some other book, was in her own hand, and during occasional pain and uneasiness she would request to have some chapter in the Bible read, or a hymn of comfort. There was always an air of cheerfulness in her chamber, and the affectionate greeting with which each relative who visited her was welcomed was very precious. Few words passed of a religious nature, or such as to induce the supposition that in four more days earth would be exchanged for heaven, except one short remark to her husband in the evening: “I have been thinking of the text, ‘Then whose shall these things be which thou hast provided?’ they may not be mine much longer.” This was touching to his feelings, but was viewed as her wonted cautious manner of speaking of temporal things. There was nothing further in her remarks which showed that she regarded her case as a critical one.
On Sixth and Seventh days she seemed decidedly better—entering into the varied interests around her. The evening of the latter day was particularly bright and cheering, when she conversed cheerfully with her husband and sister and spoke of her plans for the future. She also listened with pleasure to some pieces of poetry which were read, and amongst them appeared to derive comfort from the hymn beginning,—
“Nearer, my God, to Thee—
Nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross
That raiseth me;
Still all my song would be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee—
Nearer to Thee!”
Early on First-day morning she seemed rather depressed, and requested her sister to repeat the hymn, “’Tis a point I long to know,” [Olney Hymns.] In the course of the morning she wrote a touching note to her beloved mother: it was her last effort of the kind:—
5th of 10th Month, 1851.
My beloved Mother:—
I have got permission to use a pencil in thanking thee for thy kind sweet lines which this morning’s post brought me. I am thankful for being so remembered by my own precious mother now so far away. * * *
It is a new experience to me to lie here so long; but, now that I am much better, and what pain I have is transient and easy to be borne for the most part, it is my own fault if the days are profitless. I quite hope, by the time father comes, to be able to enjoy his visit—and so I could now; but then it could only be in this chamber, already become quite familiar. * * *
We are so thankful to hear of thy amendment to this hopeful stage! I trust nothing will prevent thy being able to leave home with father; and then how soon we shall rejoice to see thee here!
Thy ever loving, and trying to be submissive,
Her medical attendant still took an encouraging view of her case, and she was so nicely in the afternoon that her husband left her to go to meeting. The evening was passed pleasantly, and the family retired to rest as usual. She continued very comfortable till about mid-night, when a very sudden attack of violent pain came on, which continued without intermission for about three hours.
Very affecting, during this time, were her earnest cries for patience and strength. “Oh that I had been more faithful! It is because I have been so unfaithful!” She was reminded that these sufferings ought not to be regarded in the light of punishment, but that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” Some texts were read at her request. “They are very nice,” she said, “but I cannot receive them all now.” Truly this was a time when all human help was felt to be unavailing, and when none but the Ruler of the waves Himself could speak a calm; and, if we may judge from the subsequent altered and tranquil expression of her countenance, her petitions were mercifully
The remedies resorted to, afforded temporary relief; and great was her thankfulness for the alleviation from what she described as anguish—anguish—anguish! But her strength was greatly prostrated, and for some hours she dozed—being only occasionally conscious. About nine or ten o’clock on the morning of Second-day, the pale and exhausted expression of her countenance convinced us that the time for letting go our hold of this very precious treasure was not far distant. Overwhelming as was this feeling, the belief that she was unconscious of her state added to our anxiety. We longed to be permitted an evidence from her own lips that she felt accepted through Christ her Saviour; though her humble walk with God through life would have assured us, had there been no such expression. Our desires were, however, mercifully granted, to our humbling admiration of that grace which had made her what she was.
About noon she roused a little, and, one of the medical men having stated that a few hours would probably produce a great change for better or for worse, her beloved husband concluded it best to inform her that she was not likely to continue long amongst us. She replied, with striking earnestness, “What! will it be heaven?” He asked if she could feel comfortable in the prospect, and she replied, “I must wait a while.” A few minutes of solemn silence followed, in which it is impossible to convey in words the earnest prayerful expression of her countenance and uplifted eyes, when it seemed as if, regardless of any thing around her, she held immediate communion with her God. She then said, “I feel a hope, but not assurance.” Her husband said, “Trust in thy Saviour, my dear.” “Yes,” she replied.
Soon after this, being asked if she would like her medical attendants to come into the room, she answered, “Oh, any one who wishes. I could speak to the queen.” After acknowledging their kindness to her, she addressed them in an earnest manner on the importance of devoting all their talents to the glory of God, so that their chief aim in their profession might be to serve Him. She alluded to the insufficiency of human skill and the emptiness of earthly attainments at such a time as this; adding, “But above all things serve the Lord.” They were deeply impressed with her great calmness and resignation.
She spoke to those around her in a striking manner on the unsatisfying nature of all things here. “Oh, they are nothing—less than nothing and vanity—nothing to me now;” earnestly encouraging all to prepare for heaven—to serve the Lord; quoting very fervently and beautifully our Saviour’s words, “’I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God.’ * * Upwards! upwards! upwards!—I hope we may all meet in glory.”
A short time afterwards, appearing a little discouraged, she asked, “Do you feel assured for me? can you trust for me?” And on being told that we felt no doubt, her diffident mind seemed comforted; “but,” she added, “I want assurance: I hope; but I don’t feel sure—I do hope in Christ.” The text was repeated, “’Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief.’” She was reminded that He died for all. She rejoined, “Then for me; but I have nothing of my own—not a thing to trust in, only in the mercy of God. I don’t feel any burden of sin—only of neglect. I hope it is not a false peace. Do you think it is?” Her aunt repeated, “’Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’” “Oh, precious!” she exclaimed: “though He hideth His face, yet will I trust in the Lord; I will trust in the Lord, for He is faithful—faithful—faithful! I have a humble trust, but no rapture. But I don’t feel sure that I shall die now; I cannot see how it may be.” Again and again were her eyes turned to heaven in earnest prayer, “If I die, oh, receive me to Thyself.”
Throughout her illness a holy feeling of serenity and love pervaded the sick-chamber: she affectionately acknowledged every little attention, and frequently expressed a fear of giving trouble, saying, one night, “What won’t any one do for love?”
No expression of regret escaped her lips at leaving her earthly prospects. Her possessions in this world were loosely held, and therefore easily relinquished for those enduring treasures which had long had the highest place in her heart.
Her heart overflowed with love to all around her, saying, “All is love;” and many were the messages she sent to her absent relatives and friends. “Give my dear love to father and mother: tell them how glad I should have been to have seen them; but how glad I am mother was not here! I know she could not have borne it. Tell them how thankful I am they brought me up for heaven. Tell them, not raptures, but peace. Tell them not to grieve, not to grieve, not to grieve! Tell them how happy I have been here; that I wanted for nothing.” To her sisters, “All love—nothing but love;” adding that she might have had much more to say, had she been able, “but I must not; I must be quiet.”
As the different members of her husband’s family surrounded her bed, she addressed each with a few appropriate words. Taking her mother S.’s hand, she said, “Thou hast been a kind mother to me: I can never repay thee. * * ” To her father S., who was absent, she sent her love. He, however, returned in time to see her. From his having left her so much better on Seventh-day, she feared he might be alarmed at the change, anxiously inquiring whether he was aware of it, and affectionately greeted him when he came, saying, “I am _so glad_ to see thee!” To one she said, “Dear ——, seek the Lord; seek Him and serve Him with a perfect heart.
’Why should we fear youth’s draught of joy.’
Tell her that verse from me. * * * " She inquired for J.H.; and, on his coming into the room, being rather overcome with her exertions, she said, “I am too weak to speak now;” but, waving her hand, she pointed her finger towards heaven with an almost angelic smile.
After a short pause, she renewed her leave-taking, adding, at its close, “Farewell—my best farewell! now I have nothing more to say. Farewell!” And a little after, turning to her sister, “Now, my dear R., there seems nothing to say—nothing but love—all love!”
She then asked for a few minutes alone with her dear husband, and took a calm and tender leave of him also.
Difficulty of breathing now became very trying to her; but again and again she tried to cheer us by the assurance that she had no pain—“only oppression: don’t think it pain.” The lines being repeated
“Though painful at present,
’Twill cease before long;
And then, oh, how pleasant
The conqueror’s song!”
she responded with a sweet smile, and exclaimed, “Oh, glorious!” She dwelt with comfort on the text, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” and once, commencing to repeat it herself, asked her sister to finish it.
No cloud now appeared to remain before her. “I don’t see any thing in the way,” she said. Her sister reminded her that the everlasting arms were underneath and above her, waiting to receive her. “Dear R.,” she replied, “she can trust for me.” * * She spoke at intervals until a few minutes before her departure, but not always intelligibly. On her dear husband’s asking her if she felt peaceful, she assented with a beaming smile, and soon after, resting in his arms, she ceased to breathe.
She died on Second-day evening, the 6th of 10th month, 1851. Thus, at the age of about twenty-eight years, and within six weeks after the happy consummation of a marriage union which promised much true enjoyment, was this precious plant suddenly removed, to bloom forever, as we humbly trust, through redeeming love and mercy, in a celestial paradise. The funeral took place at Friends’ burial-ground at Birmingham, on the following First-day; being only three weeks from the time she had first attended that Meeting as a bride. It was a deeply solemn time; but, amidst their grief, the hearts of many responded to the words expressed at the grave-side: “Now, unto Him who hath loved her, and washed her from her sins in His own blood, unto Him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever, Amen.”
“Why should we fear youth’s draught of joy,
If pure, would sparkle less?
Why should the cup the sooner cloy
Which God hath deign’d to bless?”]