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Journal of Ann Branson

CHAPTER IV - 1847-49.


Visits families about homeGreat exercises of mindVisit to a sick neighborExercises continued, and the spring of the ministry in great measure closed upA visit to Miriam Ellis, on her death-bedThe funeral of Miriam EllisHer labors and concern relative to California gold-hunting.

Tenth Month.Various have been the exercises of my mind since I penned a line in this book of memorandums. Our annual assembly has been passed by for several weeks, and yet the state of things exhibited amongst us at that time is daily in my remembrance. When will better days arrive? is often the language of my heart. When will this people be sufficiently humbled, so as to “offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness, and true holiness,” as in days that are past? Oh, gracious God! thou hast permitted this people to drink the cup of trembling. Thou hast poured out thy fury upon us, so that we have become a byword, a taunt, and ridicule to all who behold us. Our enemies scornfully deriding us, say, where is their God? This hast thou permitted to come upon us because of our transgressions, and our many and grievous back-slidings; and yet we are not humbled in thy sight. Oh, holy and eternal One; my soul most of all craves, with respect to myself, and with respect to my people; that thy “hand may not spare nor thine eye pity” us, until thou make us what thou wouldst have us to beeven to speak the same language, by minding the same thing, by minding the dictates of thy holy Spirit, which “leads out of all error into all Truth.”

Twelfth Month 30th.It is cause of inexpressible gratitude to the Author of all our sure mercies that, although I have of late passed through a severe struggle between hope and despondency; yet I am at this moment able to lift up my head and with a degree of living and heart-felt thankfulness to exclaim“hitherto hath the Lord helped me.” In a late visit to some of the meetings in the two northern quarters, I sometimes felt great peace and quietude of mind; but most especially in the attendance of one appointed in a neighborhood where but few members reside. Such was the sensibly-felt presence, and flow of our heavenly Father's love, in, and after the meeting, that an anthem of praise, constantly filled my heart for some hours afterwards; even that feeling whereunto no sorrow was added. Blessed be God, who hath this day renewed a little grain of faith and hope in me. May I be accounted worthy of such a favor, through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.

Third Month 28th, 1848.Those who think they have any natural faculty, constitutional part, or principle inherent in them, whereby they are enabled to discover the way of life and salvation; or by such a faculty, or principle, enabled to walk in this way; have a different view of the natural mind of man from myself. I believe, as the Holy Scriptures declare, in relation to man in this natural state, “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” None who see and feel by the light and power of the gospel, their condition as it really is by nature, can say, they have any inherent holiness, constitutional part, or principle in them, to direct them in the way of life, and salvation. It is all through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, that we are favored to see ourselves as we really are in the fall; and to obtain victory over our natural corrupt propensities, and desires; and also the suggestions and temptations of the Adversary of our soul's peace.

Fifth Month 14th.To-day our Public Meeting was large; many attending who are not in profession with us. Oh, how my heart was bowed before the Lord in secret, silent prayer and praise. Earnestly was my spirit enabled to cry unto Him for his protecting power to keep down and restrain that which would be soaring above his true witness in the heart. Humble and contrite us, oh Lord! are the breathings of my soul, whilst my mouth is closed from vocal utterance. I felt very thankful at this time in the belief, that the Lord had not forsaken us: and blessing and thanks-giving are due unto Him, in that He raised up a people who in the beginning of this Society, were so eminently favored with his life-giving power and presence. Surely we should now, as a Society, be very differently situated if our hearts were more devoted to the Lordmore loosened from the things of the world, and set on things above. Oh, the unspeakable value of being brought into a capacity to worship God in spirit and in truthof silently adoring the Almighty One. What signifies all the noise of words, if that power which is the crown, diadem, beauty, and excellency of religious assemblies, be wanting. All without this is vain. No true enjoyment to hungry souls. If friends were more alive to the importance of possessing the Truth as it is in Jesusof becoming vessels fitted and prepared for the Master's use, how would He deign to meet with them as in former days; He would “beautify his sanctuary, and make the place of his feet glorious.”

Fifth Month.I cannot think that my Heavenly Father hath entirely forgotten me, or wholly forsaken me; though I am, or seem to myself to be, like a “pelican of the wilderness, or like an “owl of the desert,” or “alone as a sparrow upon the house-top.” Though my mouth is closed in our meetings, and I sit as a wonder to many, yet far, very far, from apathy of feeling or unconcern is my heart. The Lord knoweth, before whom I lie not, that my desire is to serve Him only, and Him alone; and although He seemeth to shut up his compassion from me oftentimes; yet the language of my spirit is“My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.” I look back upon the past, when He was pleased to manifest himself to me, so as to refresh me greatly; but now the recollection of those seasons adds grief to my sorrow, fearing as I sometimes fear, that I have, or shall by some misdemeanor, wholly cut myself off from a return of the beloved of souls.

Oh, how does my spirit crave in our Meetings for Worship, as well as at other times, that our beloved young people, as also the middle-aged, may be so wrought upon by the good hand of the Lord, as not only to give up their names to serve Him, but through the spirit of judgment, and of burning, become standard-bearers in his Church, that will go no more out; and yet when every feeling of my heart is prostrated on their behalf, as it often is in our religious meetings, how presumptuous would it be for me, either in vocal supplication, exhortation, or ministry, to open my mouth, unless a Divine command to speak was super-added to my exercise. Oh, that the Lord would lay his chastening hand upon them, and make them heirs of his Kingdom. “I will make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate,” is a language which I think some will have to realize in their experience, before they are prepared to give up their names to serve the Lord. Oh, hasten the work, thou preserver of men!

Eighth Month 9th.I feel like a prisoner in bonds. Last Monthly Meeting I obtained liberty to visit some families belonging to my own Monthly Meeting, and some who are not members; also to appoint some meetings amongst those not in membership with us. I have visited fourteen families and appointed two meetings, which afforded me some relief and peace, as respected those families and meetings. But oh, the conflicts of my spirit for some time past; the Lord only knows the trials to which I am subjected; the temptations, the buffetings, &c., of the unwearied enemy of my soul. In most of the families visited, and in the meetings appointed, a sweet and undoubted evidence was given me, that it was the Lord's requisition which induced this visit; and that He verified his promise which He made me when I set out, viz: “I will go before thee and be thy rearward;” yet since my way seemed to close up, the enemy has tried in many deep-laid plans to shake my faith in that all-protecting power which has so lately been to me as a sun and a shield, and who at times, whilst engaged in this little visit, enabled me “out of weakness to become strong,” to “dip my foot in oil, and to tread upon high places,” but proportionate to this feeling of trust, confidence and rejoicing in the Lord, hath since been my descendings, temptations and tossings, that I have been led to remember this language of the Psalmist, viz: “They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”

11th.Very poor and tried in mind, and my bodily strength small. Oh, when will better days arrive? I who, a short time ago, thought it my place to go from house to house, and from place to place, to encourage the people to seek the Lord with their whole heart, that He might be found of them. I who felt a holy confidence to declare unto them, not merely in words, but in power, that none ever yet trusted in the Lord and were confounded or disappointed; but those who sought Him with the whole heart, who dedicated their all unto Him, were amply repaid a hundred fold in this world, and in the world to come life everlasting. I who felt my soul poured forth in supplication for my peoplemy neighbors, and at times for the whole human family. I, who so lately felt at times the voice of thanksgiving and melody in my heart, unto which no sorrow was added. What am I now?a bruised reed, not capable of measuring or dividing anything aright. Oh Lord God of hosts; thou only knowest why thou hast permitted this fiery trial of faith to come upon me; give me patience to endure until thou arise for my help, for vain is the help of man. When thou hidest thy face we are troubled; when thou unveilest thyself, and showest us the light of thy countenance, there is no joy comparable thereto, blessed be thy name, I will yet hope in thy mercy; and oh enable me to wait all the days of my appointed time until my change come.

13th.Paid a religious visit to an individual who professes to believe that all religious denominations are doing more harm than good; and insists that a moral life is all that is required of man; that if people are upright in their dealings one with another, and do not commit any gross sins, it is all-sufficient for them. In this opportunity with him and his family, I had to reason with him concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. I had to tell him that my spirit travailed for none more than that class of persons who thus reasoned away religious feelings, and religious duties; that I well knew the bitter fruit such a course would produce; that I had seen the time when I thought a moral life might do for me; but when death stared me in the facewhen affliction's rod was laid heavy upon mewhen the hand of the Lord was laid heavy upon me, I then felt the need of religion; I then wanted that peace which the world cannot givethat peace which can satisfy the soul, and which cannot be obtained without a surrender of the whole heart unto the Lord; becoming prostrate before Him; sanctified and purified in his holy sight. I hope the opportunity will not be wholly forgotten, or of no effect. For a time he appeared to fortify himself against all that was said; but before the opportunity ceased, I believe, the power of truth came over him; his heart smote him, and, in spite of all his resistance, showed conviction. My spirit craves his return to the Father's house from which he has so widely strayed; that the Lord may bring him down into the valley of humiliation, and finally prepare him for death when it comes.

Tenth Month 17th.Various have been the conflicts and deep the baptisms and wadings of my spirit of latter time. I have felt it required of me in the late family visit in which I have been engaged, not only to go to a number of families who were not members of our religious Society, but also to some houses, whose inhabitants were entire strangers to me; and whose names were unknown, except by inquiry at the time; feeling attracted to the houses as we passed them, and feeling the woe if I did not give up to go in. Trying as this service was to flesh and blood, it is nothing to compare to a wounded conscience; for when I have shrunk from the fulfilment of my duty herein, it hath brought great distress upon my mind, so that I have been led to say for the sake of peace, “here I am Lord, do what thou wilt with me.” Previous to a late engagement in several families of this description, I was near three days at a Friend's house, shut up without any clear opening whatever; but the command was to be still. What will my friends say of me? was a query that often crossed my mind. But the answer of my Heavenly Father was on this wise“Thy time, thy health, and thy faculties are mine. I have a right to do with them and with thee as seemeth unto me good.” Thus did I remain, until a little opening appeared in a remote neighborhood, where a few members were scattered. After we arrived there and had visited most of those who were members, I felt hedged in on every side; and began to wonder whether I should ever get away from there alive; but as I endeavored to turn my mind unto the Lord, and to seek for strength and ability to do his will, it came into my mind to inquire of the Friend at whose house we were, concerning his children, who had married out of Society; where they were settled, and being informed that several of them were near-by, I soon saw I must go to their houses, as well as to some others which we had passed, to whose inhabitants we were entire strangers. This dedication, though greatly in the cross, yielded peace.

20th.Oh, gracious Father, my heart is greatly in need of thy healing balm. My spirit is wounded, and a wounded spirit who can bear. I have not been willing enough to suffer for thy precious truth's sake, for the sake of my dear Redeemer, who died for me. Oh! enable me to become resigned to thy blessed will, whatever it may cost me, dearest Father give me not over to a reprobate mind; for thou hast all power, and can enable me to drink the remaining bitter draughts which thou mayest dispense, or permit for me. Dearest Lord, remember mine affliction, and enable me to say in deed and in truth, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” in me, and by me, and through me, unworthy worm as I am. Oh! “let not thine hand spare, nor thine eye pity” me, until thou cause me to surrender my will in all things unto thy holy will. Dearest Father, look down with an eye of compassion, and behold my distress; and with the crook of thy love, in thine own way and time, turn this gloom into sunshine, and fit, and prepare me; though it be through great tribulation for a mansion in the heavens.

In my late family visit, I fear that I have not been willing enough at all times to bear my burden with Christian patience and resignation. The language of my heart hath often beenthou requirest hard things. Oh, Lord! if thou deal thus with me, take away my life, for my burthen is greater than I know how to endure. And I have felt the truth of this saying of our blessed Lord“Whosoever he be that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.” Yet I know not that I ever had more cause to marvel at the glorious manifestations of light and strength vouchsafed in times of great need, than in this visit. But in times of great proving, the exercise through which I had to pass, seemed sometimes almost insupportable; so that sleep was often taken from me; and the desire for food was not known: and now should further provings be necessary, and a requisition again to go forth, plainly manifested; I crave to become resigned to his will, who hath a right to dispose of us as seemeth unto Him good; though it may lead us to become as spectacles to the world, to angels, and to men. Oh, may the short space of my existence here be spent to the honor of my God; and may I count nothing too dear to part with for his blessed name's sake, that the winding up of my days may be peace.

28th.I feel it to be a time of great moment to me. The Isaacs are called for, and if I omit to surrender all up into the hands of the Lord, great will be my loss. I crave to become resigned to my Heavenly Father's will in all things; but of myself I cannot become resigned. Dearest Father, grant me resignation to thy will, and enable me to dedicate body, soul and spirit to thee, thine I am, and thine I desire to be, with acceptance, through thy well-beloved Son, who gave himself a ransom for me.

Eleventh Month 3rd.The enemy is continually endeavoring to persuade me that I shall never be able to hold out to the end; that I shall “one day fall by the hand of Saul.” But the exercise of my spirit is, when of ability to crave anything for myself; that the Lord would not spare me nor forsake me, but make of me just what He would have me to be. A few moments of sunshine now and then; and a calm and peaceful mind, which is at times my experience, convinces me how possible it would be for my Heavenly Father to change the storm into a calm, and the midnight gloom into the light of the glorious day. When the “Son of righteousness is pleased to arise with healing in his wings,” how glorious is his work and appearance in the heart. Or when He is pleased to hide himself, who then can behold Him; whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only. If the deep wadings, tossings, and conflicts of spirit, through which I have passed, and am passing; and may yet have to endure, only have a tendency to refine and purify me, and make me a vessel fit to bear the inscription of holiness unto the Lord, it will be enough. Oh, my soul rejoice and be exceeding glad because of these dispensations, if in the winding up of thy pilgrimage here, an admission into the realms of never-ending felicity, and joy, be given thee. “Count it all joy,” said an experienced Apostle, “when ye fall into divers temptations,” knowing that the trial of your faith is much more precious than gold or silver.

I know not that I have ever felt so broken to pieces before the Lord, as in the late family visit, in which I have been engaged; and for wise purposes known only unto Him; I have been kept from returning the Minute granted me in the Seventh Month last; though it is greatly in the cross so long to feel under the exercise of a visit, which I had hoped to get through with in a few weeks after obtaining liberty to perform it. But when I consider that for years previous to laying this prospect before my friends, it had at times dwelt with great weight upon my mind, I wish not now to draw back from making any visit to any one, or to any family which the truth requires; for I have often said in my heart in going from one house to another, greatly in the cross; surely the dregs of the cup of suffering will be wrung out, when this visit shall have been accomplished; and had it not been for the help of Him who layeth nothing upon us but what He will enable us to bear; if we look unto Him with a single eyehad it not been for his help, making a way for me where there appeared no way, I should have utterly fainted and given out. Blessed be his name, I will yet strive to serve Him more faithfully. Enable me, holy Father! to wrestle for the blessing until the break of day, that I may not be one of those who draw back unto the perdition of the ungodly.

18th.I have felt that it would be best for me to record my feelings of yesterday evening. After our Quarterly Meeting, which to me was a very trying one, having sat under a painful, lifeless, wordy ministry; a secret breathing was begotten in my heart on this wise“Oh, for the substance of religion, for the life-giving presence of Him whom we profess to serve.” Soon after which a solemnity of feeling and song of praise filled my heart comparable to this“My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour.” Such seasons of refreshment from the presence of the Lord, how humbling to one, the language of whose heart often is“My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God.” I crave that no poor, tried, distressed mortal man, woman or child may despair of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus; how have I been brought into sympathy, and my spirit travailed with, and for the afflicted, the tossed and the tempted; how have I been as it were in the deeps, where the weeds have been wrapped about my head; where no hand save that of the Lord's could succor. Oh, trust in the Lord, whoever thou art; and whatever thy trials may be, who art seeking after durable riches and righteousness; “trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength;” for out of the pit, and from the pit of despair, hath the Lord raised me up. He hath also “put a new song into my mouth, even praises to his name;” rejoice, oh my soul, with trembling; yea, rejoice and be exceeding glad that thy God hath not forsaken thee, hath not forgotten thee; when thou wast nigh the grave He raised thee up; when thou stumbled and fell like a weak young child, he raised thee up; when thy near and dear relatives, one after another, were taken from thee, He gave thee strength to bear the loss with resignation. And now, when thy way seems through a narrow and thorny path, He doth at seasons show himself marvellous unto thee; tremble thou before Him and keep the word of his patience, that thou may be accounted worthy, through the Son of his love, of protection and peace.

To-day, when returning from our Meeting for Worship, which to me was a solemn time in silence; this language sweetly revived in my mind“For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” Oh, this is choice food of encouragement and consolation, not to be trifled with, and lavished out to others; but for the sake of some poor, tried, tossed and tempted ones, who may think their way the most gloomy and discouraging of any other, do I record this; believing the Lord is able to change the fruitful field into a barren wilderness, and the barren wilderness into a fruitful field, and it seems to me that I can do no less than acknowledge his might, and his power, who alone is worthy of all praise and thanksgiving. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

22nd.Passed our Monthly Meeting under great exercise of spirit; not feeling at liberty to return the Minute granted me in the Seventh Month last to visit families. Oh, the wormwood and gall; if it be to reduce and humble me, thy will, oh God, be done.

Twelfth Month 3rd.To-day sat in our Meeting for Worship, with my spirit bowed down in supplication for light and strength to pursue the path of duty myself; and for the Lord's presence in our assemblies. Thought I could adopt the language of my dear sister Lydia on her death-bed, viz: “Surely I could not seek the Lord so earnestly, if his presence was not near me.” Oh, Lord, strengthen me to do thy will, that I may be thine here, and thine hereafter. Thy will be done in me, and by me, and through me. Amen and amen.

First Month 9th, 1849.Surely I have never been so long, and so much like a prisoner in bonds as of latter times. It is now nearly six months since I obtained liberty to visit the families of my own Monthly Meeting, and some not in membership with us. I have visited about one hundred and forty families; several of whom were not in membership with us, and some to whom I was an entire stranger. But for nearly three months past my way has been closed up, and no opening to return my Minute to the Monthly Meeting. Oh, gracious God! thou only knowest the depths of distress into which my spirit hath again and again been plunged; longing desires have been raised in my heart after thee, and to be found thy humble, dependent child. Oh, look down with an eye of compassion upon me; prosper thy own work; and let it take what strokes it may to purify me, “let not thine hand spare” me until thou art pleased to say, it is enough.

10th.On taking my seat to-day in our Week-day Meeting, my mind was quickly brought into a solemn consideration of our frailty and unworthiness, and I could not suppress the rising tear. An humble hope lives in my heart, that the Lord will not utterly forsake me; but when He hath tried me, I shall come forth the better for all my proving. Oh, how much better is one moment in his presence than a thousand void thereof; though they may be spent in the midst of our earthly friends, and those too whom we love; yet in the absence of the beloved of souls, how can my spirit but mourn? Oh, that I was more worthy, and willing to suffer for the blessed Truth. Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments. “Lord teach me to number my days, that I may know how frail I am, and apply my heart unto wisdom.” My spirit bowed in supplication for myself and friends, though no vocal utterance was required; and unless an express command to speak or a gentle intimation which may be distinguished from the voice of the stranger, let my lips be sealed in silence, and I not presume to utter words without that life-giving sound which renders that which is piped or harped, acceptable to the anointed ear and profitable to the people.

14th.I am brought into great extremity. Oh, Lord! look down with an eye of compassion upon me in my present condition. Thou knowest the distress that I feel, and how impossible it is for me to do anything towards relief without thy superintending and supervening power. Look down, I beseech thee, and gather my mind into a trustful, quiet, resigned frame. I ask not for any change in my outward circumstances, or for a multiplication of outward enjoyments; but for the continuation of thy protecting power and presence, to an unworthy worm of the dust. Thou knowest the extremity that I feel, and how liable I am, or may be, to cast away my confidence in thee, and sell that precious inheritance for a mess of pottagesomething for the fleshly part to feed upon. Oh, forsake me not, neither let thine hand spare me, but in wrath remember mercy.

18th.My mind is more calm and quiet than yesterday. Scarcely have I known such a plunge into the abyss of sorrow and distress. Scarcely could I refrain from crying aloud, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me;” “why art thou so far from helping me?” Verily, is there not a cause for my sorrow? When I look around and see the lukewarmness and indifferency prevailing amongst such a highly professing people as we are, and the zeal too which is not according to the knowledge of God, how can I but mourn? But this is not all. When I consider my own weakness and natural tendency to corruption, and how far short I have come of filling up my measure of suffering and exercise for the body's sake, which is the Church; how can I but mourn? Lord prove me and try me; make me white; fit and prepare me for a mansion in heaven, where all sorrow and sighing shall forever flee away.

28th.The experience of this day is worth recording. After a night spent in the most indescribable anguish of spirit, how hath the Lord interposed, and by his Spirit lifted up a standard against the floods of the enemy. On taking my seat to-day in our religious meeting; this language ran through my mind“I will bear the indignation of the Lord until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me.” Which was soon followed by this “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” Oh, how did the Lord still the tumult of my soul. He arose, and rebuked the winds and the waves, and behold there was a great calm. “Bless the Lord, oh, my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, oh, my soul, and forget not all his benefits; 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; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

Fourth Month 9th.Gracious God! Thou who, in days past, was my “Urim and my Thummin;” so that I had no need to ask, who it was, or what it was; knowing that it was thy light, grace, truth and power, over and above all in me, that enabled me to say in the midst of suffering, and prospect of severe trials and suffering“Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Oh! enable me, gracious Father, once more to bow down before thee in humble, heart-felt resignation and obedience to thy holy will; here I am, do with me, make of me, what seemeth unto thee good. Thou who seest my condition, grant light and strength to move and walk in. Dearest Father! forgive mine iniquities, pass by my transgressions, and remember my sins no more. Help thou the helpless; thou only and alone canst comfort, help and satisfy my soul. Lord! deliver me, I beseech thee, from mine enemies which war against my soul, and enable me to say“Thine is the power, and the wisdom, and the glory forever.”

Fifth Month 26th.Oh, holy Father! look down, I beseech thee, upon a poor, unworthy worm of the dust; enable me to follow thee in the regeneration. Thou knowest my frailties and shortcomings; have compassion upon me, for thou knowest the revilings of the enemy, and his temptations, and how impossible it is for me to escape his wiles, without thy immediate interposition for my deliverance. Thou knowest the scoffs, sneers and revilings of those who watch for my halting. Oh interpose, I beseech thee, and “let not thine hand spare nor thine eye pity,” until thou execute judgment for me.

Ninth Month 30th.The troubles of my heart are enlarged unless the Lord undertake for me; unless He take care of and preserve me, I shall surely sink below hope. Oh help, gracious God, and sanctify me, body, soul and spirit; for I am grievously oppressed.

Tenth Month 25th.“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions as a thick cloud and will not remember thy sins.” This comfortable language sprang up in my heart to the brightening of the gloomy prospect before me. The Lord only knows the extent of the misery and distress which my spirit suffers; and why it is thus with me. Lord be gracious unto me, and hear my supplication which I make day and night unto thee.

Eleventh Month 3rd.Surely my Heavenly Father has a special design concerning me to be accomplished in thus permitting the floods of unutterable distress to rise higher and higher, until it seems as if I was verging to that point where all consolation ends. Surely, there was wisdom in those words addressed to me a few years ago by a dear Friend on her death-bed, viz: “Thou hast been greatly favored; do not give out, nor give way to discouragement.” The enemy is permitted to tempt and try me far more than I have words to convey an adequate idea of. Surely it is mercy, everlasting mercy, that hath hitherto enabled me to hope against hope, to cast not away my confidence in the Lord. I can feel for the miserable, for the tossed, and the tempted; and it seems to me, that my spirit is in travail, and bound up in sympathy with the afflicted and distressed. Oh, my soul, struggle on and let not go thy hold, but ask for mercy, unutterable, everlasting mercy. I remember, when on a sick-bed several years ago, that the consolations of the Lord were so abundantly poured into my soul; and so great and wonderful did his might and majesty appear, that I thought, then, that I could trust in his mercy, no matter how dark and gloomy the days and years might be through which I might have to pass.

But alas! the manna gathered yesterday will not answer to live upon to-day. A fresh supply of that faith and confidence which enables us to call Jesus Lord, must be experienced; or where will we land? even in the labyrinth of doubt and dismay. Despair takes hold of me, and in vain I recur to any past experience of my life for consolation. If the Lord help me not, how vain is every sublunary assistance. A competence of the good things of this life; the choice blessings of faithful and interested friends fail, utterly fail, to afford that consolation which the hungry and thirsty soul is needing; and which if not obtained, all outward enjoyments will be of no avail. Strengthen me, oh holy Father, to trust in thee, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls; thou knowest that I desire to trust in thee, to love and serve thee above all. Oh! “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me,” that I may yet praise thee on the banks of deliverance; and prepare me to praise thee forever, whatever strokes it may take.

Eleventh Month.It has now been more than a year since I opened my mouth in our Meetings for Worship at home, except once. The Lord's name be praised, in that He hath kept me from offering a vain oblation in words; or like Saul, to offer before the coming of Samuel. Our dear friend M. Kite attended our last Yearly Meeting; and I think was favored to enter into sympathy with the suffering seed. How was her spirit clothed with exercise in the last sitting of the meeting, for those whose harps were hung on the willows, and who could not rejoice while the true seed was in bondage. My spirit, which had been bowed down with unutterable distress and exercise, said amen to her communication, and could rejoice that every “knee had not bowed to Baal, nor all kissed his image;” though it seemed that the floods of the dragon were poured out upon the true Church, to destroy, if possible, the true seed of the kingdom.

9th.My mind has been more tranquil for a few days past than for some weeks previous. Until the “Son of righteousness is pleased to arise with healing in his wings,” mourning must be my covering. When and whilst the Lord is pleased to keep the city, there can no harm befall it; but when He withdraweth his help, where shall we flee for succor, or when He veileth his face who then can behold him? My spirit has been mingling with the miserable, but when it feels calm and composed, confiding in the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, how great is the change. Shall I ever forget the days of mourning and nights of grief which I have passed through for twelve months past. Lord forgive the impatience of my spirit and the lamentations of my soul, for when the bridegroom is taken away, who can but fast?

14th.Visited dear cousin Miriam Ellis. Soon after taking my seat in her room, this language ran through my mind: “A holy solemnity, a holy convocation,”accompanied with a belief that the dear sufferer was preparing for, and nearly ready to be gathered into, a mansion in heaven. She expressed herself as being in a comfortable state of mind, saying, she had heard the language, and she thought that she knew the voice, which said unto her, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Repeating the passage, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are all thy ways, thou King of Saints, adding, “if any one ever had cause thus to exclaim, it is I.” She also dwelt with emphasis upon the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, saying, it was all mercyadorable, everlasting mercy, that enabled her to feel calm, and composed, when it appeared at times that her breath was leaving her, not feeling the least alarmed thereat. She also dwelt, at some length, upon the situation of our poor Society; expressing her belief, that those only who remain faithful unto the Lord, that experience “judgment laid to the line, and righteousness to the plumb line” in themselves, would be enabled to stand against the wiles of the devil; that he was trying to lay waste the whole heritage of God, but he would not be permitted to do it; that there would be a remnant preserved; but she believed Friends would have to come out of the mixture, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” had often been the language of her heart, particularly of latter time. She wanted Friends to stand plumb for the precious principles and testimonies given us to bear; and much more of a similar nature.

19th.Last Seventh-day, the 17th, was our Quarterly Meeting. After the shutters were closed, and near the close of the meeting, I had to speak a word of encouragement to the tribulated, exercised remnant amongst us, who are concerned above all things to serve the Lord faithfully; the desire of whose hearts is to be satisfied with nothing short of the Truth as it is in Jesus; and though these have to struggle long for the blessing, hoping at times even against hope; yet I had to express my belief, and I might have expressed my experience also, that the Lord would not leave nor forsake such as these; but keep them in the hollow of the hand. How hath He stretched out his hand for my help, in that He suffereth me not to become wholly a prey to the enemy, but has again rescued me out of the mouth of the lion, to speak well of his excellent name. “Lord, what shall I render unto thee for all thy mercies.” I feel, and have felt, that I am much behindhand in faithfully occupying the gift entrusted to me.

Twelfth Month 1st.A few evenings ago, as I sat considering my situation, suddenly and unexpectedly, my feelings became calm and composed, tranquil and serene; and a song of praise filled my heart; so that I said, I will trust in the Lord, and not distrust his mercy, however dark and gloomy the days and the nights. Surely something will grow out of the year's exercisean exercise that cannot be told to the full. My sorrow has often been so great, that I could scarcely refrain from crying aloud, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me;” yet now and then a comfortable hope, yea, a song of praise, fills my heart; so that I can scarcely refrain (as was the case a few evenings ago) from praising his name aloud. As I sat in meeting yesterday, the language revived, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And a trembling hope revived that if I struggle on, I might become one of these.

8th.To-day attended the funeral of my dear cousin, Miriam Ellis. Truly she was to me a precious friend; and we were united in spirit, one to another, as well as nearly related by consanguinity, and yet I could not shed a tear or weep for her. This language was sounding in my ears: “Weep not for me.” Her close was a peaceful, happy one; and no room is left to doubt that she has joined the heavenly host to ascribe thanksgiving and praise unto the Lord God and the Lamb forever.

18th.Went with others of the school committee to the school taught by J. S., and had some religious communication to hand forth to the children. I am almost a wonder to myself, and perhaps to others; so tried, proven and tempted; and yet I cannot feel peace without, now and then, encouraging others to seek after and persevere in the strait and narrow way that leads to life. Surely there is no other way to the kingdom of heaven than by the way of the cross; let others try to smooth down and present to the view of the young and rising generation, any other way or path than that of the cross to the kingdom. The testimony of my heart and experience is that there is no way short of becoming crucified to the world, and the world unto us, that will lead to peace. For this end came our blessed Saviour, even to destroy the works of the devil; and if judgment is to be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plumb line, where is the work to be begun and finished but in the temple of the heart. My heart sickens at the thought of the modifiers, that are rising up and are already risen up, to “sew pillows to all arm holes,” to make people feel easy with that which should be a burden to them; to make them think they can get to heaven without such a strict conformity to the will of God as the gospel of Christ enjoins. Oh! ye superficial daubers with untempered mortarye who sew pillows to all arm holes; trying to make the way to the kingdom of heaven appear easier than it is; as far as your ingenuity can devise; that having begun in the Spirit, we can be made perfect by the flesh; the time will come upon you, when neither you nor your daubing can stand the storm. The end will come and try your works and you; and it will be seen that your “covering is narrower than that ye can wrap yourselves in it, and your bed to be shorter, than that you can stretch yourselves on it.” You cannot cover yourselves with the covering that ye have devised, neither can you rest yourselves comfortably upon the resting-places that ye have made or chosen for yourselves; and as to the pillows that ye have sewed to the arm holes of others, these will be torn away, and great will be the astonishment and amazement of those who are deceived with your machinations; when they see you and your devices brought to naught; when they behold that nothing but the pure gold, the clean, white linen, the righteousness of saints will stand them instead in a trying hour. Then how will they lament that ever they were seduced and drawn aside to believe a lie; to believe that there is any middle path to the kingdom. How will they “be as when an hungry man dreameth, and behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty; or, as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.

22nd.Visited a merchant who has obligated himself to furnish money to a considerable company of men, to enable them to undertake the hazardous and unnecessary journey to California to get gold. For several weeks my mind has been so arrested and exercised with the subject, that I was apprehensive something would be required of me as a testimony against this procedure, but for a few days past the burden became so great that I could no longer doubt that I must raise my voice against it, and that, too, to the chief contributor and encourager of the project. Accordingly I endeavored to discharge myself faithfully, and have thus far been satisfied. Oh! the condescension of Israel's Shepherd in making a way for me where mountains of difficulty appeared; truly, I have no words to set forth his mercy to me. The fear of man was all taken away, and I had to speak very plainly to this individual, telling him that I believed the mind, will and counsel of the Lord was against the procedure, and that a great weight of responsibility rested and would rest upon his shoulders, that I thought if he would seek to know the will of the Lord herein, and obey it, that he would be helped to withdraw his support and encouragement from this measure. He received kindly what I had to say; acknowledged that he believed my motives were good in thus advising him, and he could not say but my sentiments were correct, but he had not viewed the subject as I viewed it, or he should not have engaged in it. I thought he felt the burden, in some degree, resting on his own shoulders, where it properly belongs; and I felt, in a considerable degree, relieved of a great weight. Several of the men, who are going, have families of children, and were in a comfortable way of living as to the outward. What folly, indeed, to leave a country where plenty reigns, and where the honest and industrious can procure a comfortable subsistence, to search for gold. Alas! alas! what will these poor creatures do when overtaken with affliction and distress, far from their friends and homes. Gold! gold! thou canst not procure a peaceful mind for them.


Journal of Ann Branson, A Minister of the Gospel in the Society of Friends. Philadelphia: Wm. H. Pile's Sons, Printers, 422 Walnut Street. 1892.