TEXTS FROM ENGLISH RELIGIOUS HISTORY
WOMEN PASSING: DEATHBED AS MINISTRY IN THE MEMOIRS OF SUSANNA LIGHTFOOT
AND MARTHA THOMAS
ACCOUNT of the RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND SOME OF
that faithful servant
PARTICULARS OF HER LAST ILLNESS
and dying sayings,
compiled from the testimony given by friends in America, and from the minutes kept by her husband, and an intimate friend, who attended upon her
She was born in Ireland, on the 10th of first Month, 1720, and died at Uwchlan, in Pennsylvania, North America, 8th of 5th Month, 1781, aged 61, having been a Minister about 44 years
printed by John Harrison, Market Street
The following interesting Narrative, taken from authentic documents, is presented to the public as a testimony to the efficacy of Divine Grace, livingly exemplified in the experience of a dear and valued Friend; and is intended as an incitement to all to follow in simple obedience, as she did, the leadings and guidance of the Holy Spirit; so that they may be favoured to walk in the Light; and in the end to reap "the reward of the inheritance" - even eternal life, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Susanna Lightfoot (according to the account given by Friends of Uwchlan Monthly Meeting, in Pennsylvania, in their Testimony concerning her) was born at Grange, in the county of Antrim, in the North of Ireland, the 10th of the First Month (old style,) 1719-20; she was descended of religious parents professing the Truth: John and Margaret Hudson. Her father dying in low circumstances when she was young, she was placed out by her mother to earn her living by her own labour. Her mother nevertheless sought a portion in the Truth for her daughter, esteeming it the best riches. She lived to see the desire of her heart in this respect, in a degree, accomplished. For the tendering visitations of Divine love being mercifully extended to this our dear Friend, early in life, she happily closed it therewith, and witnessed an advancement in piety and godliness. Such was her love of the Truth and zeal for the attendance of Meetings, when young, that she would go many miles on foot to them; being an honest servant she laboured hard to make up the time to her employer. In these times her cup was often made to overflow with the goodness of the Lord to her soul; which she has frequently been heard to speak of with tenderness of spirit, for the encouragement of servants and others in low circumstances; and that the rich and full, who have horses to ride on, and are blessed both with the necessaries and conveniences of life, might prize their time and privileges, and bring forth fruits adequate to the favours conferred on them.
A dispensation of the Gospel was committed to her to preach, to which she gave up in the seventeenth year of her age; and we have reason to think she grew therein as a willow by the water course; for in the exercise thereof, with the unity of her friends at home, she went over to America, with Ruth Courtney, in the latter part of the year 1737, and paid a religious visit to Friends generally on that continent, be believe to good satisfaction.
From a valuable minister and contemporary, who was visiting meetings in Ireland in the neighborhood where she resided, we have the following account of her:
"I was accompanied by my dear friend, Susanna Lightfoot, then Hatton, to such meetings as she could get out to attend. The work of the Lord appeared to me to be deeply rooted in her. I was much affected with her inward fervency, and tenderness of spirit out of meetings, as well as her awful utterance in meetings.
"In 1742 she married Joseph Hatton, a linen-weaver. She had twins at her first confinement, and had them both to nurse herself. Robert Richardson, coming to the Half-year's Meeting at Dublin, collected from a few Friends about £30 for herself and her husband, which enabled them to open a huckster's shop in Lisburn. Whilst she was capable of attending it, the shop seemed likely to do well; but again having twins, and being obliged to nurse them both herself, she was prevented attending to the business. As soon as she could inspect the state of her affairs, she found them neglected and impaired, which fixed such a weight on her mind, that she went herself to the creditors and desired them to come and seize what was left, hoping there would be, as yet, enough to pay them, but thinking there would be little or nothing left over. Hereupon a Friend in Lurgan, who had about a three year's unexpired lease of a little land, with a cabin upon it, at a moderate rent, out of regard to her, offered her the remainder of his lease; which she accepted. Hither then, in a poor plight, they removed. When I was in Ulster, in 1749, their time on this spot was almost expired. I was often at Lurgan on this journey, passing and re-passing, and I daily went to see her, and always thought I got good by it. I ever found her in such an excellent frame of mind. Her husband kept two looms going, and she kept two cows, and they saved a little money; but seeing no prospect of any land to be taken thereabouts, except at an exorbitant rent, they both concluded to remove themselves and children to America, and while I was there, applied for a certificate. But diverse Friends were so affected with the thought of her leaving them that they contributed their cares and endeavours to get her resettled amongst them. Yet future trials and troubles were to attend her. Sometimes she had not a bit of food for herself or her children, nor a farthing to procure any. But, when reduced to the last extremity, and ashamed to make her case known, sudden relief would come in from one quarter or other. Besides, she underwent harsh and severe persecution for that testimony to plainness, against pride, and the violation of our Christian testimony, which was required of her as a duty. Through all these things, she grew brighter and more excellent in her ministry. Her situation continued in this destitute way until it was discovered by Friends of Leinster and Munster, on a national visit. She had then several invitations; but her way opened to go to Waterford, whither she was assisted by her friends to remove herself and family. She left Ulster, much regretted by the religious part of Friend in that province, amongst whom she had been a bright and excellent instrument. Not one in those large meetings rose up with that Divine authority and dignity that she did. In this journey, I was at two Province meetings, in Lurgan, after which Robert Richardson and I went to see Susanna. We found many Friends of the better sort in her cabin; a sweet silence arose amongst us; after which she preached the Gospel to us with such penetrating energy, that there were few, if any, dry eyes present. After her coming to settle in Waterford, she visited Carlow, Mountmelick, &c, &c. A friend put four guineas into my hand, and desired me to present her with them, which I did, but she refused to accept them, telling me she had others offered before, in that journey, but durst not receive them, being under no present necessity. Her children grew up, and many Friends conceived such an affection and esteem for her that her sons were readily taken as apprentices, gratis, and her daughter, or daughters, brought under the care of another Friend, in good circumstances.
"In the year 1759 her husband died, after which a Friend of Waterford dying, left her £15 per annum during her life; and in 1760, being constrained by the love of Truth, and having the concurrence of her friends at home, and of the Meeting of Ministers and Elders in London, she entered on a second visit to America, which for many years at rested weightily on her mind. In the Ninth month of the same year, she arrived, and visited Friends' Meetings generally throughout that continent, as far south as Charleston, in South Carolina, and to the eastern parts of New England, to the comfort and satisfaction of Friends, leaving seals of her ministry in many places; and after a labour of upwards of two years, embarked for England.
"In the summer following she visited Munster Province in Ireland. And on the 25th of the Ninth month, 1763, she was married to our Friend, Thomas Lightfoot, and continued fervent in spirit for the discharge of her religious duties, finished her visit to that nation by midsummer following.
"In the beginning of the Eighth month, 1764, she embarked at Cork with her husband and family, for the purpose of settling in America, and arrived in the Ninth month following, from which time she belonged to Uwchlan Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania, whereof she was a valuable member. Besides other religious services, she was engaged in the love of the Gospel, to visit many of the meetings of Friends, of that and the adjacent Governments; also the neighboring Yearly-meetings: and in the year 1774, went into New England with Elizabeth Robinson from Great Britain. In which visits her company and services were weighty, strengthening, and establishing to Friends. At diverse meetings previous to the breaking forth of the American war, she had, in an awful manner, to proclaim the approach of a stormy day, which would shake the sandy foundations of men, and many of the formal professors of our Society should be blown away. The last journey she took was to the Yearly Meeting at Third Haven, in Maryland, held in the Sixth month, 1779, wherein deep wading and wasting exercise, with feebleness of body, was her lot.
"Soon after her return home, a fit of illness contributed much to the breaking of her constitution, but the balm of sweet peace of mind was still her comfort and support. She recovered, so as to get abroad again to her own and many other meetings, about the country, and to the Yearly-meeting, in Philadelphia, though in a weak state of health. The last meeting she attended was the Select meeting at Uwchlan, the 27th of the First month, 1781, under increasing weakness of body, but to the comfort of Friends then assembled.
"She was an excellent example of steady waiting upon the Lord in silence, and out of meetings she was solid and grave in her deportment, instructive and weighty in conversation, watchful over her own family for their good, bearing her testimony against wrong things in them as well as others, of a discerning spirit, and when her lot was cast in families as well as meetings, she was often led to feel for and sympathise with the hidden suffering seed. Having passed through the deep waters of affliction herself, her eye was not unused to drop a tear for and with others in distress, either in body or mind, and she rejoiced in comforting and doing them good.
"She was a living and powerful minister of the word, careful not to break silence in meetings, until favoured with a fresh anointing from the Holy one; whereby she was preserved clear in her openings, awful and weighty in prayer. Her voice was solemn and awakening under the baptizing power of Truth.
"Many were the
heavenly seasons with which she was favoured during a lingering illness,
in some of which she was led to express herself in a lively edifying manner,
and often, with Divine pertinence, to the states of those who were present;
as also her belief that she should join the spirits of the just made perfect,
in that city, whose walls are salvation, and her gates praise."
"My dear wife
has for some months past been in a declining state of bodily health. In
the First month, 1781, she, with some difficulty, attended our little
Select meeting at Uwchlan, when she was livingly opened, and concerned
to drop excellent counsel to us. Indeed, in several such opportunities
of late, her appearances were such as gave us reason to apprehend her
stay amongst us would not be long. Her weakness has gradually increased;
she was this morning (2 mo. 2) seized with great affliction of body and
trouble breathing. When, being with difficulty settled in bed, I said
to her, My dear, thou art almost overdone.' She replied, Yes,
I have not had such a trying evening for a great while, but there is One
can relieve me, if it be His holy will.' Shortly after this conflict,
a calm and solemn silence ensued, and continuing a few minutes quiet,
with her eyes shut as if asleep, she began to make melody with her voice,
bespeaking heavenly joy, and then spoke, in a clear and audible manner
as follows: I have had a prospect this evening of joining the heavenly
host, in singing praises unto Zion's king, for which favour my soul and
all that is sensible within me magnifies that Arm that has been with me
from my infant days, and which cast up a way where there was no way, both
by sea and land.'
2 mo. 3rd. She was in great distress of body most of the day, and was frequently heard in a low voice, supplicating the Lord for the continuation of his help, and that she might be endued with patience to endure the afflictions he might be pleased to lay on her whilst here, saying, O! What would become of me now, if I had a wounded conscience, which I have not; the work with me is not now to do.' She frequently mentioned her sense of the purity of that place, into which no unclean thing can enter. Two Friends coming in, and asking her how she did, she said, I am hastening away as a post to the stage;' adding to such who have lived as we have done, (alluding to herself and her husband) it is hard to nature to part; but that may be made easy.'
2 mo 4th. She said to me, My dear, do I discover any signs of impatience?' I replied, No.' She said, Our Saviour suffered patiently.' She spoke of the necessity there was of being redeemed from all impurity, if we would enter the kingdom of heaven; and after a pause, alluding to her funeral, said, Perhaps, if the roads are not too bad, some Friends may attend from a distance,' adding, she believed it would be a good meeting. Having sent yesterday to Philadelphia for Dr. George Logan, for whom she had entertained an affection from his childhood; who asking her on his arrival, how she did, she replied, Hasting away as a post to the stage.' After a pause the doctor informed her he had brought her some medicine, which he thought might strengthen and relieve her if she was free to take it; to which she answered: If it is thy pleasure; but my dependence is on the Great Physician.' However, she took the medicine and was relieved by it.
2 mo 7th. About nine this morning a severe fit of coughing, attended with pain, came on. A Friend coming in, and asking her how she did, she said passing away,' and after a silent pause, added, If it will be any satisfaction to my Friends, I may say, I have never murmured at my being sick: He who gave life has a right to take it, when and which way he pleases; there is nothing for which I would desire to live, but to be with an affectionate husband, and to see Truth prosper. I feel as great a love to the testimony now as in my younger days, but it will not prosper with those who prefer their own gods before it. This winnowing day must come closer to the dwellings of some than ever it has done, even to the shaking of them from their gods of silver and of gold, hay or stubble, before they will give up in a proper manner.'
2 mo. 14th. This evening
she had a sweet heavenly time in supplication on behalf of the churches,
and particularly on behalf of the youth both here and in the land of her
nativity. Two young women who were present were much tendered.
3 mo. 3rd. Two or three friends coming in, she remarked that she had been confined about four weeks, and said, He who knows all things best, knows why it is so; but I may say, I have been mercifully favoured with patience and willingness to leave all to him who is the great I AM, and the Disposer of all things, before whom I have walked with humble diffidence from my younger years; I am still a poor diffident creature, and sometimes when I have heard servants make so free as to call Him Master, I have wondered and been afraid, lest I was not pure enough to call him so.' She spoke encouragingly to those about her, exhorting them to be faithful to the Lord, that they might witness that love to abound, which casteth out all slavish fear, that they all might be faithful to their gift; adding, If it should please Providence to raise me up, so as to get to Uwchlan meeting again, I may probably have something to say, as in one of the last meetings I was at there, I had, and was put by. One friend had a sense thereof and spake to me about it, and I thought I felt the spirit of another, which I was glad of for their sakes.' She said she remembered, when she was young, and at a meeting in the City of London, where she perceived the spirit of prayer to move from one end of the gallery to the other, before anyone would give up to it: O! It is a fine thing to sit in lively meetings, and to witness the holy oil to run as from vessel to vessel,' &c.
3 mo. 5th. She was
this evening much oppressed by a cough and difficulty of breathing. She
prayed for patience to endure the filling up the measure of her afflictions,
that she might be thoroughly fitted for her change; and be favoured with
an easy passage.
3 mo. 7th. This morning she sweetly sung to that Rock which had been her Ebenezer, frequently raising her hand, and laying it on her innocent breast, then flowing with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and after a season, spoke nearly as follows: When I have gone to meetings and sat down, and cast mine eyes over the people, - Oh! How I have been grieved to see the haughtiness of the young men, as well as the folly of the young women, gazing one upon another as if there was nothing to do, but just to come to meetings, to see and be seen. Will not the Lord visit for these things! Yea, surely he will, and bring to an account these haughty sons, and forgetful daughters. I have been grieved for these things when I have sat in meetings, as with my lips sealed; and yet there is a remnant even amongst the youth, who are near unto the life;' but she thought the number was smaller amongst the young men than the young women. The same day she made some remarks concerning the peculiarity of her trials in her youth. In her first coming forth in the ministry, her lot was cast in a poor part of the nation as to Truth, many pulling back, but few or none helping forward. She was taken as from the milking pail, earning her bread by the dint of labour and industry, and called to bear testimony against wrong things, through many difficulties outwardly, as well as perils from false brethren, to which some, even in this land, were not strangers; that some of her friends would have had her keep a journal or history of her life and sufferings, which, had she complied with, would have been a large one.
3 mo. 9th. This morning spake encouragingly to Peter Yarnall, who had, when young, forsaken the broad way, and taken up his daily cross, and who afterwards became a valuable minister among Friends.
3 mo 15th. A Friend from New York government paid us a visit, and was concerned in prayer by her bed-side; after which she had feelingly to repeat some of her experience and sufferings in her first coming forth in the ministry; and she also expressed a sense of the sympathy she had with our said Friend, in his extraordinary labours amongst us; upon which she, and all present, were broken into great tenderness. The Friend afterwards observed to me, that she was rightly led, and that her language was to him intelligible, and tended to his encouragement and satisfaction.
3 mo. 23rd. My dear wife urged me to go to the Spring meeting. She believed she might live some weeks, and it would give her pain if I did not go. Sundry subjects of great importance were to be considered of in the Select meeting; therefore, she advised me, and a mutual Friend, to go and get down deep. We went, and I returned home on the 28th instant, bringing with me my beloved young friend, Nancy Emlen. We found my dear wife in much the same low state of health as when I left her. I had, whilst in town, a letter from our son Joseph, in Ireland, with comfortable intelligence. On my reading it to her she said, with Jacob of old, "It is enough; Joseph is yet alive," construing the passage not only to mean a natural life, but also alive in the Truth. She had a hope it was in a good degree the experience of both her sons; and she frequently prayed that it might be more and more their happy portion.
4 mo. 2nd. This morning a committee of the Monthly Meeting visited our family. We held our meeting in the parlour, my dear wife being too weak to bear the exercise thereof in her chamber. Upon Friends taking leave of her, she spoke comfortably to them, to the tendering of all hearts present. This day, with much difficulty, she gave excellent advice to a grandson who came to see her. In the evening, lying in bed, under much oppression of breathing, she said, "O! To be ready for the midnight cry, behold the bridegroom cometh! Go ye forth to meet him; having oil in your vessels; having on the breastplate of Righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, and taking unto us the shield of Faith, whereby we may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked!" And a short time after, on my waiting on her, she said, "O my love! Thou art doing much more for me in the name of a disciple, than giving a cup of cold water; mayest thou be rewarded." After a little pause, she added, "It was nothing short of the invisible holy Hand that brought us together, and I hope nothing else will be able to separate us. We have mourned together, and we have rejoiced together; I once feared the powers of the earth, the dark confused powers, would have been suffered to part us, but now I think otherwise;" and many, yea, very many were her sweet persuasives, and exhortations to faithfulness, and to a deep indwelling with the Lord; to mind the pointings of His holy Finger; and then he would be more to me than she could possibly be.
4 mo 5th. Between twelve and one this morning, an alarming change took place with my dear wife; she being in great pain, said, "O may the staff still accompany the rod! As the servant of the Lord said, Thy rod and thy staff comfort me;' and may I say with Job, Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?'" And, after a season of sore conflict, and supplication that the best Help might be near to support, she had to say, "Glory! Glory! Glory! Be given to Him who alone can relieve the poor and the needy;" and with hands uplifted she triumphed in a heavenly song.
4 mo. 6th. Her friend, Nancy Emlen, remarks as follows: "Our honorable Friend is to all appearance drawing near to the conclusion of this life; her weakness is so great she can scarcely speak, nevertheless at times a Divine Power gives supernatural aid, and animates her to expressions, with a strength marvelous in our eyes; tending to the praise of, and confidence in that holy Help through which we are enabled to do all things whatsoever His wisdom appoints us to do. She has just borne the following testimony in language that I cannot do justice to, but the purport was: The Lord will search Jerusalem; he will thoroughly search the Quakers. He will blow away the chaff but the wheat - Oh the weighty wheat! He will gather into his Holy garner. It seems to me that many of the better sort amongst us are hastening to the grave; I do not repine at afflictions, for how small are they to His who suffered for us all, even in that trying moment when He said, My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?' The pure in spirit shall see God; I do not call myself one of them, but I have often been burdened with impurity - with impure spirits that bring darkness into meetings. O the professors of Truth! How often have I thought of their great privileges; how often have they been called unto, and watered, but yet remain unredeemed! - There is such an impurity about their spirits! If these refuse, they will be rejected, and others brought in. Many will be taken from the tail of the ;lough, and from the milking pail. The Lord will have his table filled. He will have a people that will stand for his great name. He will not own the high-flying Quakers; No, no! He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity in Jacob, or transgression in Israel, with any degree of allowance; but he will take care of his little ones; O Lord! Take them into thy bosom, and lead them safely along, even thy visited children, both in this country, and in the land of my nativity and in England; and when thou givest them a word to speak, let it be spoken according to thy command."
After some time, asking for a Friend, she said, "Anne, my dear, I had something to say to thee about the city, whose folly I would not call iniquity, but I believe, upon strict examination, it may be called the iniquity of laying out their dead. It has been a burden to me many times of late; when I have been there I have wondered at the pomp and vanity, and for no good purpose at all, but to be buried with the mouldering body. I don't doubt but it would amount to pounds; and how much better it would be to throw the money into some poor Friend's family than use it so. O I did not know but I should have mentioned it at the Yearly Meeting, but I got enfeebled, and I prayed it might rest upon some others, that it might be done, if not then, at some other time." She hoped the Friend would mention it, if it was on her mind. The Friend replied it had often been a burden to her. To which she added, "Oh! I had it to say to thee, and perhaps it will be a spur to thee."
In the afternoon she mentioned some of the words of Amos, viz: I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son, but I was a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit; low employment' "but," alluding to the passage in Hannah's song of thanksgiving, she said, "The Lord raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggars from the dunghill, to set them among princes. When I have been sitting in the high gallery among Friends, I have wondered at it, there were none of my predecessors, that I ever heard of did appear in the ministry, except my dear mother, before I had a being, as I was informed; and some said I got her gift. John Hunt prophesied of me before he knew me, in the meeting I belonged to, that there was there, who would not be concerned for purse nor scrip, neither two coats, but would go forth and publish the glad tidings of the Gospel."
At another time she said, "I believe I have a great deal to go through before I am released; for what cause I know not; may I be preserved in patience; whether it be on my own account, or to strike a fear in the beholders, I cannot tell, but this I know, that a death-bed is a searching thing. It is then that the grasshopper becomes a burden, and if so, what must great sins be?"
4 mo. 11th. On taking leave of her daughter, Susanna Judge, who was under a necessity of going home, she said, "If thou hearest of any sudden change do not be over much surprised, for about seven months past it has been a time of weaning by little and little, and thou well knowest we are to look for succour to that Hand which has been thy poor mother's support from her youth up, who has been one of sorrows, and much acquainted with grief; my latter days have been the easiest, but I have never forgotten the wormwood and the gall; and this I would have my Friends to know in the land of my nativity, as some there (though very few) said I should grow proud, if ever I grew rich. Therefore I would have them to know (not for my sake but for the precious testimony's sake) that the southern breezes have not yet soothed so as to make me forget myself. It is true this has been a pleasant spot to live in, with an agreeable companion, and I believe it was nothing short of the good Hand which so provided for me, but my heart has not been in it."
This evening she said she felt herself worse, and gave directions about her coffin, which was to be of oak, showing her humble attention to the wood most common in the land, rather than to the customs which have prevailed in this respect, and how she would have things ordered in laying her out, which was with exemplary plainness.
4 mo 12th. She desired me to attend meeting this day, saying, "My place is here to struggle with my bodily afflictions for a season." In the afternoon she said, "I thought the coast had been clear, that I might have launched out of time, into the ocean of eternity ere now, as a boat well fitted out, but I was mistaken, and now I am still resigned to His will, who has a right to do as He pleaseth with his own: I murmur not, nor dare to say what doest thou?" She continued some time speaking of the Lord's goodness to his people, concluding with lively supplications to Him whom the virgin souls love; that He would preserve His little lambs in His holy inclosure, out of the reach of the Devourer.
4 mo 19th. John Perry,
and divers other dear Friends were here. John sat and looked at her as
she lay in a quiet sleep, and being fearful of disturbing her, slipped
away without speaking to her. Upon being asked what he thought of her,
he replied that he thought she was a child of heaven, and desired none
might be too anxious for her long continuance here, but that her near
connexions might give her up cheerfully. When she awoke I told her John
Perry had been to see her, and desired his love to her. She said it was
acceptable, and bid me when I saw him, to give her love to him in return
and to address him in the language of Joseph to the butler, "When
it is well with thee remember me." The same morning, in the hearing
of a few friends, she cautioned against a light chaffy spirit getting
up in a show of religion; and was further led to thrash the hypocritical
ungodly Quakers. She signified that a terrible day would overtake those
sooner or later; After Friends were gone, I told her a tender mind then
present took part of her testimony this morning to herself. She answered,
she ought not to have done so, for she did not think it belonged to any
that were present, but the states of some individuals at a distant were
revealed to her in such a striking manner, that she could not help expressing
herself in that way.
Whilst suffering under a severe return of her illness, on my feeling her pulse, she signed to me to put my finger on her arm; and then with difficulty asked if I did not feel it there. I answered "Yes."
"Ah, then," she said, "There is reason to hope that I shall soon go. It was so with my dear aunt Elizabeth Jacob, and she was soon released; who was one eminent in her day for the turning many to righteousness; and is now reaping the reward of her labours. And oh! I hope soon to join her spirit, and the spirits of the just. O may the distant branches of her family walk in her steps. May her grandson, and his spouse, with their children, walk in hers, and dear Isaac's footsteps! O! My dear, remember my endeared love to them; gratitude still fills my heart to that family: also to Friends in Waterford, in general."
This, though an affecting day, is to be remembered, for the fresh descendings of heavenly love on my dear wife, supporting her in great distress of body, to the baptizing, in degree, the minds of all present, under the laver of Divine Grace.
5 mo 2nd. A day of more ease, which excited thankfulness. In the evening, as we were moving her, she prayed that she might be thankful enough; saying, there were ten lepers cleansed, and but one of them returned to give thanks; adding, "O that I may be of the thankful number."
5 mo 3rd. A distressing time in the morning. I could not leave her to go to meeting. Two young women called to see her. She was scarcely able to speak to them, but after they had taken leave of her, and turned their backs she, not knowing their names, told me she desired to speak with the tallest. On her returning, she tenderly exhorted her to faithfulness, though difficulties might attend it, yet the Lord would help her through; and to the youngest she said,
"Dear child, be humble, for it is in the low valley of humiliation the Lord will teach of his ways," &c. They both departed in floods of tears. The same evening, speaking of some who, full late, had paid regard to her painful exercise, and faithful exhortation. Concerning them she said, "Well would it have been for the old world, had they taken warning at the sounding of the hammer. In building the ark they might, peradventure, have thereby escaped destruction!"
5 mo 4th. Much difficulty and distress attended her this morning. She cried, "O come, dearest Lord! Take me to thyself, even into thy heavenly kingdom, of the joy of which I have a foretaste!"
5 mo 6th. First day of the week, with a sweet and heavenly voice, she said, "Oh thou Physician of value! Come quickly, and take me into Paradise, for I long to be with thee there."
5 mo 7th. Repeating her desire to be dissolved, if it was the will of her great Lord and Master, about midnight there appeared an alteration and the family were called up. On my coming to sit by her, she desired me to lower her head, and I should see how it would be; which I did. She asked for water in a spoon, which I administered several times, as she called for it, guiding it to her mouth with her hand, and perceiving some stir, she desired that all might be quiet. She then seemed composed, breathing with less difficulty, but sometime after, desired me to ask a person, who sat at a distance in the same chamber, what she thought of her. I did so, and returned for answer that she thought she would not be long here, but added, "That is no terror to thee."
She answered "no," and laying a considerable time without speaking, I asked her quietly if she wanted anything. She said, "No my dear heart!" Her son Robert, and Nancy Emlen, sitting by her, she reached forth her hand with a look of endearing love, and drew each to her and kissed them, saying, "O my son! Dwell under the weight!" This alluded to his confession made a few days before, that the uneasiness he had caused her through his transgressions was as a millstone about him, asking her forgiveness. Awhile after, she added, "Mayst thou be saved." She reached her hand, took hold of mine, and kissed it, to take her leave of me. I returned the salutation in the same manner without a word, then putting her hands under the clothes, as if going to rest, she in a short time passed away quietly, about the fourth hour in the morning, like one falling into an easy slumber.
Such awful solemnity attended our minds at that time as entirely forbade every degree of anxiety. Friends both far and near, being much affected, manifested great love and affection, in visiting her during her illness, which she frequently remarked with gratitude to the great Author of love, who had given her such place in the affections of his people.
It was the 8th of 5th month, 1781, that she departed this life. Her remains were interred on the 11th at Uwchlan, attended by a very great concourse of people, on which occasion a solid meeting was held; and was indeed a good meeting, agreeable to her prospect in the early part of her illness. It was the largest and most respectable funeral ever known there.
Our dear Friend, Samuel Emlen, on beholding her remains, which still retained a most solemn appearance, expressed himself audibly in the hearing of many people, as follows:
"Having served God in her generation, she is fallen asleep in the Arms of Everlasting Mercy: Oh! What a comfort!"
Although they who are departed hence, in the Lord, can receive no addition to their happiness, by any testimonial of their surviving friends, however just; yet to the wise in heart, precious is the memory of the truly pious and upright, whose humble walking in the fear of God has livingly witnessed against the appearance of evil in its various transformations. Their conformity in spirit and practice to the holy law of the Lord evinces the delight and benefit to be found therein; for "Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth (Psalm lviii.11)."
What scene in this
life more dignifies humanity? What school is more profitably instructive
than the death-bed of the righteous, impressing the understanding with
a convincing evidence, that they have not followed cunningly devised fables,
but solid substantial Truth; that there is a measure of Divine Light and
Grace in man, which, if duly minded and obeyed, is sufficient to preserve
through all the vicissitudes in life; to give him the victory over his
spiritual enemies, and in the end over death, hell, and the grave?
"Follow us as we have followed Christ."
Note: The two stories below are included in the story of Susanna Lightfoot but have no direct relationship to it. -ed.
While in Pennsylvania, William Penn undertook a journey through the province and territories as a minister of the gospel. Among the places he visited in this capacity was Haverford. An anecdote is recorded of him whilst going thither which is worth relating. A Friend of the name of Rebecca Wood, when a little girl, used sometimes to walk from Derby, where she resided, to Haverford meeting. One day as she was walking along she was overtaken by a Friend on horseback who proved to be William Penn. On coming up with her, he enquired where she was going, and with his usual good nature, desired her to get up behind him; and bringing his horse to a convenient place, she mounted, and so rode away. Being without shoes or stockings, her bare legs and feet hung dangling by the side of the governor's horse. Although William Penn was at this time both governor and proprietor, he did not think it beneath him thus to help along a poor barefooted girl in her way to meeting; and notwithstanding the maxims and customs of the world, these little kind offices to those in low stations in life, were so far from lowering him in the estimation of those he was appointed to govern, that perhaps there never was a governor who stood higher in the opinion of those governed by him than William Penn.
A Peaceful Profitable Old Age
In Virginia, near
James River, I met with an aged Friend, whose name was William Porter.
He was ninety-two years of age. He had then a daughter two years old.