Phoebe Palmer



CHAPTER VIII.

Dignified position — standing up with unpopular truth.


"And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life."

PAUL.

Perhaps some well-meaning friends will wonder that we should be willing to jeopardize the reputation of our work by presenting before the fastidious critic facts so extraordinary and so likely to be repulsed. To such we will say, that we have not reckoned without our host. We did not set out to write a popular book: had we commenced our volume in anticipation of this, we should not have chosen a theme which we so well knew would be reproving to the formal professor, whether of the ministry or laity.

Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have long since counted the cost of standing up with truth, however disreputable its form in the eyes of the multitude. He who was infinite in perfection, and was from eternity the adoration of angels, was to the eye of mortals, when on earth, "a root out of dry ground, having no form nor comeliness." Though he declared himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, few were disposed to follow him as the
Way, and fewer still were disposed to identify themselves with him as the Truth, and in outspoken declaration make the precious doctrines he taught their own. And though he assured them that the words he spake to them were spirit and life, yet not a few were ashamed of his words. And many are ashamed of them still. The true doctrines of the cross will never be popular.

We are, therefore, aware that we have chosen an unpopular subject — unpopular, because it stands linked with the throne of the Eternal, and which, if rightly apprehended and acknowledged, will result in the mighty overturnings of the kingdom of darkness, and in bringing about the speedy enthronement of Him whose right it is to reign. Can we imagine that a subject which, by an eye of faith, and in the light of Scripture, and reason, promises such achievements for Zion, will be popular with the children of this world, or with world-loving ministers and church members?

It is only with those whose aim it is to elicit truth, and whose unyielding purpose, with the dying Dudley A. Tyng, is to "stand up for Jesus," to whom we can hope to commend successfully the doctrines of this work. We have concluded, though at the risk of not publishing a popular work, to stand up with truth; and in so doing we have endeavored to ponder well the path of our feet; and in coming up to our present standpoint, we feel, through grace, that we tread firmly. We trust that we have arrived at Bible conclusions on a subject which we presume will never be popular with an unsanctified ministry or people. The true doctrines of the cross never were, nor will be, popular with world-loving professors.

In presenting before the Christian public, in this the nineteenth century, the remarkable incidents by which a daughter of the Lord, who, in fulfillment of the promise of the Father, had been endued with the spirit of prophecy, was constrained to yield obedience to the impelling power within, we record nothing more wonderful than may every where be met with in the Old and New Testament Scriptures. The God of the Bible still lives. In his holy fear, and in his name, it is our purpose to exhibit, in this volume, his faithfulness in pouring out his Spirit on his daughters and handmaidens. And we think, also, he would have us bring out facts before the members of his household, and more especially before his sons and servants, illustrative of the exceeding wrong of having thus long withstood the gift of prophecy in woman.

And if the Lord of the household, in the wisdom of his councils, has seen fit thus to discipline a daughter of the household, whose restiveness was not so much from an unwillingness on her own part to open her lips in the proclamation of the gospel as from the known restraints she would meet with from others, it is more than reasonable that the wherefore of his councils should appear. Too well did she know the tone of feeling which would prevail on the part of her brethren if she should speak of her convictions of duty in regard to a work in the prosecution of which she knew that most of her brethren of the same household would withstand her. If it was from an enemy that she was to meet these anticipated repulses, it were comparatively a light matter; but brethren belonging to the same household of faith with herself, she too well knew, would be unwilling that she should enter the same field with themselves, and would contest the point of her right so to do.

She well knew that other daughters of the same household had been thus seriously withstood in their work; that they had been constrained to withdraw themselves from those with whom they would have labored, and had gone to cultivate other portions of the field, and been compelled to estrange themselves from all their early associations in the household of faith. Can we wonder, then, that the act of committing herself to such a work should be worse than death?

But it is a
living sacrifice that God requires. Death, even though it were, as in the case of one whom we shall introduce, the death of a martyr, will not answer the requirements of the Lord our Redeemer, who would have the entire living being presented a ceaseless sacrifice on his altar. But how pitiful, before God and man, that a state of things should exist in the Christian church that would make a duty, so evidently ordained of God, as a characteristic of the last days, so crucifying to the female members of the household of faith. We feel verily ashamed before God and man in contemplation of the state of the Christian church in relation to this singularly important characteristic of the last days. And we do not wonder that through the exceeding subtlety of the adversary, even good-meaning men should have suffered themselves to assume an attitude which, though not in all cases utterly dissuasive, is far from being helpful in bringing about such a state of sentiment as may consist with the will of the Father in behalf of the claims of his daughters.

Mr. Wesley, in his journal, thus introduces the name of one of his female helpers, Miss Sarah Mallet, afterwards Mrs. Boyce:—

I was strongly importuned by our friends at Long Stratton to give them a sermon. I had heard of a young woman there who had uncommon fits, and of one that lately preached; but I did not know that it was one and the same person. I found her in the house to which I went, and talked with her at large. I was surprised. Sarah Mallet, two or three and twenty years old, is, I think, full as much devoted as Jane Cooper was, and of as strong an understanding. Of the following relation, which she gave me, there are numberless witnesses. Some years since it was strongly impressed upon her mind that she ought to call sinners to repentance. This impression she vehemently resisted, believing herself quite unqualified, both by her sin and ignorance, till it was suggested, 'If you do it not willingly, you shall do it, whether you will or no' She fell into a fit, and, while utterly senseless, thought she was in the preaching house at Lowestoffe, where she prayed and preached for nearly an hour to a numerous congregation. She then opened her eyes, and recovered her senses. In a year or two she had eighteen of these fits; in every one of which she imagined herself to be in one or another congregation. She then cried out, 'Lord, I will obey thee; I will call sinners to repentance.' She has done so occasionally from that time, and her fits returned no more.

Perhaps this was intended to satisfy her own mind that God had called her to publish salvation, in the name of Jesus, to perishing sinners, and to incline her to take up that cross which appears to have been more painful to her than death itself; but also to convince others that even now God hath poured out his Spirit upon his handmaids, and upon his daughters, that they may prophesy or preach, in his name, the unsearchable riches of Christ.


The author of Heroines of Methodism, in referring to this case, says, "Probably the experience of this young woman, and the wonderful dealings of the Lord with her, greatly helped to enlarge the views of that great man, Mr. John Wesley, upon the subject of female preaching. It is very evident, from his letters and conduct towards her, that he believed her, as a preacher, to be doing what the Lord required at her hands."

Says Miss M.,
At thirteen, I became a member of the Methodist society, and the Lord made known to me what he would have me do. But O, how unfit did I see myself to be! From that time the word of God was an unsealed book; it was my companion day and night. My love to God and souls increased. I have been often led to cry out, in the bitterness or my soul, 'O Lord, I am but a child; I cannot preach thy word.' But the more deeply was it impressed on nay mind, 'Woe is me if I preach not the gospel,' till my distress of soul destroyed my body.

"In my twentieth year, the Lord answered my prayer in a great affliction, and made known to others, as well as to myself, the work he would have me do, and fitted me in the furnace for his use. From that time I began my public work. Mr. Wesley was to me a father and a faithful friend. The same Lord that opened my mouth, endued me with power, and gave me courage to speak his word, has, through his grace, enabled me to continue to the present day. The Lord has been, and is now, the comfort and support of my soul in all troubles and trials. I have not, nor do I seek, either ease, or wealth, or honor, but the glory of God and the good of souls. And, thank God, I have not run in vain, nor labored in vain. There are some witnesses in heaven, and some on earth. When I first began to travel, I followed Mr. Wesley's counsel, which was, to let the voice of the people be to me the voice of God, and where I was sent for to go. To this counsel I have attended to this day. But the voice of the people was not the voice of some of the preachers. Mr. Wesley, however, soon made this easy, by sending me a note from the conference held at Manchester, 1787, by Mr. Joseph Harper, who was that year appointed for Norwich. The note was as follows: ["I have," says Dr. Taft, "the original document in my possession."] 'We give the right hand of fellowship to Sarah Mallet, and have no objection to her being a preacher in our connection, so long as she preaches the Methodist doctrine, and attends to our discipline.' After I was married, I was with my husband in the preachers' plan for many years. He was a local preacher thirty-two years, and finished his work and his life well.


Mr. Wesley's letters to Miss Mallet are very characteristic of the good old patriarch of Methodism, brief, terse, pungent, kind. And at the age of eighty-five he writes thus to this extraordinary young woman:—

I do not wonder you should have trials; you may expect them from every quarter. You tread daily on dangers, snares, and death; but they cannot hurt you while your heart cleaves to God. Beware of pride! Beware of flatterers! Beware of dejections! But above all, beware of inordinate affection! Those who profit by you will be apt to love you more than enough; and will not this naturally lead you into the same temptation? Nay, Sally, is not this the case already? Is your heart filled wholly with God? Is it clear of idols? Is he still the sole object of your desire, the treasure and joy of your heart? Considering your age, sex, and situation, what but omnipotence can keep you in the midst of fire? You will not take it amiss if I ask you another question: I know that neither your father nor uncle is rich, and in traveling up and down, you will want a little money. Are you not sometimes straitened? Only let me know, and you shall not want any thing that is in the power of yours affectionately,

J. WESLEY.



And in this connection we will bring before the reader yet another Spirit-baptized female disciple, who was richly endowed with the spirit of prophecy. She was an honored friend and correspondent of the apostolic Wesley; and not with a greater zest or with more affectionate entreaty would Paul have said, "Help those women which labored with me in the gospel," than this modern apostle would have enlisted the helpful sympathies of his brethren or sons in the gospel, for the sustainment of his female laborers, such as the devoted and eminently useful Mrs. Crosby, and others of like spirit, introduced in these pages. We will present to the reader a condensed view of the manner in which she was called to engage openly in the work of ministering to the saints, and calling sinners to repentance, and leave the reader to judge whether she had not received a commission from the Head of the church. She says, —

Once, when I was kneeling down to pray, it was suggested to my soul with much power, 'Ask what thou wilt, and I will do it for thee.' My soul was amazed, and replied, 'Lord, I ask nothing in earth or heaven but perfect holiness;' and this I was assured I should receive. Not long after this, as I was praying, my soul was overwhelmed with the power of God; I seemed to see the Lord Jesus before me, and said, 'Lord, I am ready to follow thee, not only to prison, but to death, if thou wilt give me strength;' and he spake these words to my heart: 'Feed my sheep.'


Dr. Taft, in his Biographical Sketches of Eminently Holy Women, says that Mrs. Crosby, of Leeds, was an itinerant, yea, a field preacher; that she generally held in the evening, and very frequently in the week days, a public meeting every morning at five o'clock, and also both in the forenoon and afternoon. On the Sabbath she generally went to the parish church, wherever she was, and held her meetings early in the morning, at one o'clock, and in the evening. The venerable Wesley, whom she always calls her father in the gospel, highly approved of her conduct, believing that she was one of those females to whom the Lord had given a dispensation to publish the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ.

When Miss Bosanquet (afterwards Mrs. Fletcher) established a kind of orphan asylum at Laytonstone, in Essex, Mrs. Ryan, Miss Tripp, and Mrs. Crosby were her assistants in this great work of Christian benevolence. These pious females began more fully to enter into the work of the Lord, by holding public meetings for reading, exhortation, and prayer. Many attended, and much good was done. At their first public meeting the Lord was eminently present, and two souls were Set at liberty from the guilt and bondage of sin.

After Miss Bosanquet was married to Mr. Fletcher, and she was settled at Madely, Mrs. Crosby continued to exercise her gifts in public, traveling from place to place. She kept a journal at intervals from 1761 to 1802. After her death her manuscripts fell into the hands of her friend Miss Tripp, thence into the possession of Mrs. Mortimer, (formerly Miss Ritchie,) and finally into the custody of Dr. Taft, by whom a considerable portion of them was published.

From an account of her awakening, conversion, and experience, given to Mr. Wesley, we make the following extract:
When I was about fourteen years of age, I began seriously to think I must not live as I had done. Accordingly, I went to church on week days, learned forms of prayer, and did many things for a time, but was always subject to bondage through fear of death, saying in my heart, 'O that I might never die, or that I knew God loved me.' Nevertheless, I found a strong propensity to delight in singing, dancing, playing at cards, and all kinds of diversions; but this I endeavored to check from the beginning, not because I thought it sinful, but because I found the more I gave way to these things, the more unhappy I became.

About the age of seventeen, while I was sitting alone, I was struck, as I thought, with death, being seized with a cold trembling from head to foot, which increasing, I directly fell on my knees, and prayed the Lord to forgive my sins, and save my soul. All that I knew to be sin was then placed before me, so that I had but little hope of mercy. But, while I laid myself' down to die, my strength came to me again, for which I was very thankful, and made great promises to live to God.

I was near twenty years old when God revealed his Son in my heart; and now I thought all my sufferings were at an end. I feared neither earth nor hell; and as to temptation, I scarce knew what it meant. I labored to persuade all with whom I had converse to come to Christ, telling them that there was love, joy, peace, for all that came to him. My soul was happy, and I desired only to live and die for Him who had revealed himself in my heart.

I often painfully felt the sins of all mankind, as well as my own. For the more conscious I was of the depravity of my own soul, the more was I constrained to say, 'Lord, what havoc have sin and Satan made in the world!' From the love I felt to those I knew to be equally fallen from original righteousness with myself, I often desired to be instrumental in turning them to God, and never had a moment's peace any longer than I endeavored to aim at this wherever I went. One day, while I was sitting at work, the Lord Jesus appeared to the eye of my mind surrounded with glory, while his love overwhelmed me. I said, 'This is the power I have waited for,' and I was

'Constrained to cry, by love divine,
My God, thou art forever mine!'

My soul seemed all love, and I desired nothing so much as to lay down my life for others, that they might feel the same. This was about three years and a half after I was justified. I now began to meet with trials from an unexpected quarter; but God had taught me, by this time, to be amazed at nothing but his goodness." From her journal we give the following extracts:— "In the evening (at Derby) I expected to meet about thirty persons in class; but, to my great surprise, there came near two hundred. I found an awful, loving sense of the Lord's presence, and was much affected, both in body and mind. I was not sure whether it was right for me to exhort in so public a manner, and yet I saw it impracticable to meet all these people by way of speaking particularly to each individual. I therefore gave out a hymn, and prayed, and told them part of what the Lord had done for myself, persuading them to flee from all sin.

We had a lively prayer meeting at five, a good band meeting at ten, and another at two; at five Mrs. C. walked with me to Beeston; at seven the house was full of people, and they obliged me to get into their little desk. I had great liberty in speaking, and felt my Lord exceedingly precious.

Sunday, Aug. 28. I had a good time at five. We met again at eight. I was blessed in hearing the first lesson (2 Kings xix.) read at church; so I read it again at one to a house full of people, and found it spirit and life to my soul, and have cause to believe it was so to many. After tea I met the select band. Some young men had come six, some ten, and some twenty miles. The Lord was present at every meeting.

Glory be unto thee, O Lord! Thou hast enabled me this year to ride nine hundred and sixty miles, to hold two hundred and twenty public meetings, about six hundred select meetings, and to write one hundred and sixteen letters, many of them long ones; besides many conversations in private with individuals who wished to consult me on the concerns of their souls, the effect of which, I trust, will be as 'bread cast upon the waters.'


Mrs. Crosby, after writing a short narrative of the Lord's gracious dealings with her, adds, "I have neglected to record many of my journeys and labors, and also the blessed manifestations of his love and divine communion, both night and day, which I have often been favored with during these last twenty years or more. I am now nearly seventy, have lived nearly six years in this house (at Leeds,) and have found and still find it to be 'a peaceful habitation and a quiet resting place,' both of soul and body. My soul in general dwells in peace and love. I live by faith in Jesus, my precious Saviour, and find my last days are my best days. I am surrounded with mercies."

Such a life, it might be anticipated, would end in triumph. The sting of death is sin. But sin had been washed away. The sting of death being destroyed, she joyously awaited the moment when she

'Might clap the glad wing, and soar away,
And mingle with the blaze of day."


Her ever-constant friend, Mrs. Tripp, gives the subjoined account of her entrance into the joys of her Lord:—

All the week preceding her death she was indisposed, but did not abate any thing of her usual exercises. Her spirit often seemed on the wing for glory, for she frequently sung more than she had done for some months; so that I said, 'I think, my dear, you have tuned your harp afresh.' On Saturday she wrote two letters, went to the select band in the evening, and bore a blessed testimony for her Lord. On Sunday, though poorly, she attended preaching forenoon and evening, but returned, after the evening meeting, very ill and in much pain. Daring the night she prayed for her classes, bands, friends, and the church of God, that they might all meet above. A little before she expired, she said to one that was present,' If I had strength, how I would praise the Lord!' But at eight o'clock, having closed her own eyes and mouth, she sweetly fell asleep in Jesus, October 24, 1804, in the seventy-fifth year of her age. So composed was her countenance, that when dead not the least trace of death was discernible.


"Out of great distress they came;
Washed their robes by faith below
In the blood of yonder Lamb,
Blood that washes white as snow;
Therefore are they next the throne,
Serve their Maker day and night:
God resides among his own,
God doth in his saints delight.

"More than conquerors at last,
Here they find their trials o'er;
They have all their sufferings past,
Hunger now and thirst no more
No excessive heat they feel
From the sun's directer ray;
In a milder clime they dwell,
Region of eternal day."