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Journal of Ann Branson

CHAPTER X - 1868-71.


Death of her cousin, William Wright; and further remarks on the last days of her brother JacobAppointment of meetings from amongst FriendsHome exercises, and labors in that vicinityA visit to Springfield Quarter on a Yearly Meeting appointmentFurther exercises, and labor about homeA testimony against attending at fairsReligious service at ConcordDeath of Joseph Hobson, and remarks thereonDeath of Joseph Wilson, and her feelings concerning him.

After the death of my brother, I had a turn of dysentery, so as to preclude the prospect of attending our approaching Yearly Meeting, held in the Tenth Month; but when the time came for starting, through a grain of faith and the encouragement of my cousin, E. Wilson, I set out for Mount Pleasant. But several times whilst riding along I felt so weak and faint that it appeared almost impossible for me to reach my lodgings, and after getting there, and a return of the disorder, and the want of faith, made me think I had been presumptuous in leaving home in my weak, debilitated condition, and the probability seemed that I should be prevented from attending Yearly Meeting, and perhaps end my days where I was. But after the Physician of value had tried and proved me as to an hair's breadth, He quieted both mind and body, and strengthened me to attend all the sittings of the Yearly Meeting, and comforted my spirit therein, so that I could say as I have often said from some sense of the healing power of his holy hand who created me, nothing is too hard for the Almighty.

In the Eleventh Month, accompanied by my cousins, Asa Branson and Abigail Sears, I attended Salem and Springfield Quarterly Meetings, and returned in time to attend our own, which occurred in the same month.

Twelfth Month 17th.To-day heard of the death of my cousin, William Wright, aged nearly eighty years. He had been quite ill for some days, but appeared to be mending, and thought he should soon be well enough to need but little attention; but whilst sitting in his chair, his attendant perceived a change, and he passed away in a few minutes.

On hearing of cousin's deathhis disease being an affection of the heartI am solemnly reminded that I too who labor under the same disease, may pass away suddenly. Oh, I do earnestly crave that the Lord's hand may be so turned upon me, that nothing may stand in my way of acceptance when the solemn summons shall come. Thou knowest O Lord! that the earnest breathings of my spirit day and night are, that this may be my happy experience; be pleased, I earnestly pray thee, not to let thine hand spare me, nor thine eye pity me, until I am fitted for thy kingdom. Oh, Lord! look down with an eye of compassionate regard upon my brother's family, whom thou hast lately stripped of their father, and turn the hearts of the sons and daughters to thee, and enable the mother to see and feel more and more the necessity of taking the children and sitting down with them daily in solemn silent introversion of soul, waiting upon thee for counsel, for strength and help to pursue the right path, the path that leads to true peace.

It is now a little more than three months since the death of my dear brother, whose decease at that time was a very unexpected event in our neighborhood, but we have the consolation in believing that his affliction was sanctified to him, that he has been permitted through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus to join the church triumphant in heaven. Oh, gracious Father! thou hast dealt marvellously with me; thou hast been more gracious towards my soul than I can possibly set forth; I will therefore magnify thy name; I will call others to come taste and see that thou art good, as thou commandest and givest me ability. Thou hast I fully believe, answered the fervent petition of my heart and soul, and the fervent petition of my dear departed brother Jacob, that he might find acceptance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yea thou didst give me such a joyful feeling the evening after he was taken away, and didst, I believe, put this language in my heart as an evidence of his acceptance, viz: “Joy unspeakable and full of glory.” And thou didst give me to feel my spirit united to his in a song of praise to thee thou Holy One. Thou didst often put a prayer in my heart on behalf of this my beloved brother when he was in health, by day and by night. Thou didst enable me to raise a cry unto thee for the preservation and sanctification of this brother, as well as for the rest of my brothers who are still living. And now Oh gracious Father, deal with the rest of my father's family as thou hast with those taken hence, and leave us not; set judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plumb line in the temple of our hearts, and bring all things into a conformity with thy holy will. Amen.

19th.Attended the funeral of my cousin, Wm. Wright. It was a large gathering, and I was called upon by my Heavenly Father to warn the people assembled at the house of the deceased to set their spiritual accounts in order to meet the summons of death. It was under much bodily weakness that I spoke, yet I was strengthened to relieve my mind. Joseph Hobson spoke a few words at the grave, which appeared to have a solemnizing effect upon the people.

24th.Attended our Monthly Meeting, held at Guernsey. The weather being very cold, my health seemed hardly sufficient for a ride of ten miles over rough roads, but knowing the Lord could strengthen me, and enable me to perform all that He required at my hands, I set out and got to the meeting pretty well. After Monthly Meeting, I thought it right to remain at Guernsey, having a prospect of appointing a meeting or two a few miles from that place amongst those not in membership with Friends. The weather becoming increasingly cold, and my health poor, everything as to the outward appeared very discouraging, and had it not been for that grain of living faith which removes mountains, I should have given up the prospect. But about noon on the 25th, I queried with my cousin Joseph Wilson, at whose house I then was, if it was too cold for him to turn out and appoint two meetings, one on the 26th and the other on the 27th. I saw his faith was at a low ebb, as he afterwards confessed it was, but he made no objection, and turned out in the cold, and a stranger pretty much to the inhabitants of both towns where the meetings were to be appointed. After he started, the enemy was permitted to buffet me sorely for a little time; but the Lord, who knew that the desire of my heart was to serve Him only and alone in this matter, lifted up a standard against him, and spoke peace to my mind, and bade me trust in Him. He promised to still the piercing winds, and moderate the weather, and to strengthen me in body and mind, to perform the service, which promise He verified. Next morning the weather was much milder, and in the afternoon we went to Sewelsville, a distance of five miles, and attended the meeting to good satisfaction.

On the 27th we went to Hendrysburgh, a distance of nine miles, and attended the appointed meeting in that town, which was large and satisfactory. Many spoke to us after meeting in a very affectionate manner, showing that their hearts had been reached, and that they were thankful for the opportunity. As for myself, my mind was kept low, and humbly confiding in Him who had so graciously cared for and favored a poor worm, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus to the people, and enabling me out of weakness to become strong, so that I can say He doeth all things well.

Fourth Month 30th, 1869.The exercises of my mind have of late been so great, that I have feared I should not be enabled to endure them. Sleep has departed from mine eyes. Tears have been my meat day and night. The weakness and wickedness prevalent in the land, and my own weakness and shortcomings staring me in the face, are almost overwhelming to my soul. In a national capacity we have been scourged and afflicted, but we are not humbled. Pride and wickedness appear more prevalent than before the late bloody war, and that this should be the case, who can marvel, since war, to use the words of Robert Hall, “is a temporary repeal of every Christian virtue.” Yet, when we reflect that thousands and tens of thousands of our countrymen, have in the late struggle been sacrificed on the field of slaughter, and other ways, contrary to the benign religion of Jesus, which teaches us to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us, &c., and reflecting upon the destitute condition of widows and orphans, now suffering penury in consequence of this awful scourge, would it not seem reasonable to suppose, in view of these things, that more humility would be apparent than is to be found anywhere, whither our eyes or footsteps turn?

Fifth Month 7th.I long to be amongst the number who love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might, and their neighbor as themselves; and to feel that I really come up to this Divine requisition. Lord, have mercy upon me, and hasten the day when everything like the mountains and hills of opposition in my heart to the coming and setting up of the Redeemer's kingdom therein, may be laid low, and cast as it were, into the sea. I am a wonder to myself, so poor, so blind, so naked, so destitute of that which my soul desires, and yet having more than I deservehaving a little grain of living faitha little living hope, which keeps me from sinking into hopeless despondency.

10th.Oh Lord! be graciously pleased to keep me from falling a prey to the destroyer. Thou knowest he is daily and hourly seeking to take me captive at his will. I will trust in thee, O my God! hear my prayer and deliver me from sin and from Satan.

11th.O Lord! keep me faithful to known duty, and patient when thou art pleased to hide thy face, as at the present timeyet thou givest me ability to plead with thee for the continuation of thy mercy, which I acknowledge as a great favor. Amen and amen.

19th.Heavenly Father! be pleased to show me the way I should take in this critical time; yes, this time of great conflict between flesh and Spirit, between hope and fear. Be pleased to give me ability to say in sincerity of heart, Thy will, O God, be done in earth as it is in heaven, so I may be preserved from falling into the snares of the enemy on the right hand or left.

20th.Attended the funeral of M. K., a large and mixed assembly met on the occasion, and my God who hideth his face from me at times, so that my faith seems nearly gone, was pleased to raise me up out of a low place, and caused me to proclaim the gospel of life and salvation to the people, both at the house and at the grave of the deceased. My mind has been under much exercise of latter time, partly owing to the length of time which I have been holding a Minute from the Monthly and Quarterly Meeting for religious service in the West and in my own State; and since my return from the West, but little active service has appeared to be required. Only now and then the appointment of a meeting amongst others opens before me. Had a meeting about two weeks ago in the town of Cadiz, twelve miles from Flushing. This meeting was large and quiet, and quite satisfactory. Out of great weakness I was made strong by the Lord, my God. For some days previous to the holding of this meeting, the exercises of my mind and my great weakness were altogether indescribable, insomuch that the language of my heart often was“How shall I be able to bear the great weight and load of exercise resting upon me?

Sixth Month 23rd.Dearest Father! thou seest and knowest the great extremity I am in with regard to returning my Minute. O, be pleased to undertake for me, for thou knowest the depth, length and breadth of the enemy's baits. Oh, preserve me, I entreat thee, from falling into his snares, which are laid to take me.

28th.The Lord is a sun and a shield to those who put their trust in Him. He helped his servants of old, and forsaketh them not, even from generation to generation. When I said, my flesh and my heart faileth, thy mercy, O God, held me up. When I said, my foot slippeth, help Oh Lord, or I go down quickly into the perdition of the ungodly, and cast away, as did Saul, my shield, as though it had not been anointed with oil; then thou didst hear my cry and interpose thine arm of power. Thou didst lift up the light of thy countenance, and gave me to hope and trust in thee. I will extol thee, my God! O King, for thou doest for me great things, and that my soul knoweth right well.

Yesterday I had an appointed meeting at St. Clairsville, the county seat of Belmont County. It was held in the Presbyterian meeting-house, and pretty well attended by the inhabitants of the town. Out of weakness I was made strong in body and mind to declare the gospel of life and salvation to the people. Oh, what a dread had been on my mind with reference to this place, in the appointment of this meeting; but the Lord opened my eyes amongst the people, and opened my mouth to declare the whole counsel to them. After sitting silently for some time, this Scripture passage presented to revive: “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Then added, there is nothing in man as pertaining to his fallen nature, that can lead and guide him in the path of peace. Then what is it under the gospel dispensation that the Lord hath given to be a guide and leader to the people. Is it not that which was promised by the Most High through the mouth of his Holy Prophet, quoting Jeremiah, chapter 31st, verses 31, 32, 33. This law written in the heart, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes free from the law of sin and death, is given to be a guide and leader to the sons and daughters of men, under the gospel dispensation; even the Spirit of Truth which our Saviour promised to his disciples, should lead into all Truth. I adverted to the testimony of Judge Hale relative to the leadings and teachings of the Holy Spirit, and recommended all present to take heed thereto; that it never led any to deny the Holy Scriptures, nor the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross. I had to enlarge somewhat on this subject, and then to address the infidels, or speak to and of that class who deny a place of punishment hereafter for those who die in their sins, as declared and described by our Saviour, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. I had to set forth the nature of the one true and saving baptism, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost; how it cleanses the heart and is the only essential baptism, and that which John the Baptist declared must increase, whilst his watery and typical baptism must decrease. It was a very relieving opportunity to me. The people were quiet and attentive, and the meeting ended to satisfaction. Oh, may I learn to trust more and more in Him who hath all power in Heaven and in the earth.

Seventh Month 2nd.Gave way improperly to reflect upon others in thought and word, which left me weak and wounded. I find my greatest enemies to be those of my own household. If these gain the ascendency, then weakness and every hurtful passion may take possession of the mind.

Oh Lord! preserve me from the baits of the destroyer, whom thou knowest is more busily engaged to overcome my faith, and weaken my strength by the way, than almost at any former period of my life. Have mercy upon me, O God, I beseech thee, or my faith and hope will utterly fail. Be pleased to undertake for me, that I be not wholly overcome with those things that should be kept under foot.

Eighth Month 1st.What a stupid and benumbed condition we appear to be in relative to the soul's best interest. Oh Lord! be pleased to awaken us in some way to a sense of our spiritual condition; enable us to cry mightily to thee for help and strength to come up out of our graves of ease and unconcern.

Eleventh Month.Had an appointed meeting for the colored people of our neighborhood. It was well attended, and afforded relief to my mind. After this meeting I returned the Minute to the Monthly Meeting, granted me about eighteen months ago for religious service in the west, and in our own State. I felt that it was the right time, and ease and peace of mind attended me, which is more precious than all the treasures of the world. Friends have been kind and tender towards me in and under my exercises, which I esteemed a favor.

First Month 14th, 1870. —— is now on a bed of languishing, and probably near his end. My mind has been so exercised for him for some time past, that I cannot pursue my accustomed portion of daily labor. Oh Lord! if it seem good unto thee, have mercy on this afflicted man, who when time and opportunity were afforded to make his calling and election sure, has so far neglected this momentous concern, as to be unprepared for the final summons. Oh, forsake him not, but be pleased to prolong his life until his sins shall have been washed away in the blood of the Lamb, if consistent with thy will to show him mercy.

18th.Visited the sick man above alluded to, and delivered the message given me for him. Oh, how nature shrinks from disturbing the false rest of those who are so weak in body as ——, and yet, unprepared for their latter end. I had to tell this suffering man that this language had for several days rested on my mind concerning him“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Oh, how fearful I was to visit him lest I should say, or leave unsaid, that which I ought not; but I trust I did not. After bowing in vocal supplication by his bedside, and then desiring him to pray the Lord to preserve him from a false hope, and a false rest, I bid him farewell.

24th.How painful have been the exercises and conflicts attending my mind for some days past on account of the spiritual condition of some of my near relatives, and on account of the sins and iniquities abounding in the land. Surely, my concern for the dear children in our neighborhood, and in the family where I reside, could not exceed my present exercises and feelings of prayerful solicitude on behalf of the young people in general. Lord, have mercy upon them! is the daily breathing of my spirit, whilst I am often bowed down as in the dust on account of the things that are transpiringthings which the Truth does not own. I will go softly all my days in the bitterness of my soul.

28th. —— lingers, contrary to the expectation of his physicians and friends. What a mercy! Will the vital spark continue until he bows in reverent humility before the Great I Am; or will he refuse to let go of that which hinders his acceptance with the Beloved of souls, until the strivings of the Holy Spirit be withdrawn. Oh Lord! thy power is above all and over all, break in pieces the will of the creature and give strength and ability to say in the depths of humility, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Amen, and amen.

Second Month 1st.My sorrows are stirred within me. I have but little respite from affliction of mind on account of the sad state of things in Church and State. By revolting from the commands and precepts of Christ, and taking our own course, what a sorrowful state of things is presented to our view amongst those professing the name of Friends, and in the nation; murder, drunkenness and lying, and almost every other immorality seems to be on the increase; and my own weakness and apparently benumbed condition, adds to my affliction; yet amidst all, my Heavenly Father gives me some ability to cry unto Him for preservation. Will not a better and brighter day come?not perhaps before more judgments are poured out upon us.

18th.Yesterday was our Quarterly Meeting, held at Flushing. Silent in the forepart, except a few words from a youngish Friend. I am greatly satisfied with silent meetings. When the presence of the Lord is felt to gather the mind into stillness, what can be more strengthening?

Third Month 7th.In company with two other Friends, I paid a visit to the jail of Belmont County, and had an opportunity, by permission of the sheriff, with three individuals who had been convicted of murder. The first, whose name is Carr, is sentenced to be hung on the 25th of this month. He appeared in some degree to feel sensible of the great crime he had committed, but it seemed to me that a species of insanity attended him. My feelings were such, on being with this poor wretched criminal, as cannot well be described. He has certainly been a very wicked young man; he still looks young, and carries the marks of alienation from the path of peace in his countenance. He expressed a hope of forgiveness through the mercy of the Saviour. Under the feelings that pervaded my mind whilst in his room, I had vocally to supplicate the Father of mercies on his behalf, that He would be pleased to break in pieces the strong heart, and bring into a state of deep contrition, if mercy still remained in store for him. Carr made some sensible remarks; said he had made a full confession of his crimes, knowing that unless he did so he could not find forgiveness of his God. But whether his penitence is sincere or not, we must leave with Him who knoweth the hearts of all.

On my saying to him that had He attended to the teachings of the holy Spirit, which had often striven with him, showing him the evil and the good, and pleading with him to choose the good and forsake the evil, he would not have committed this great crime, he assented, and said he had felt this striving with him to which I had alluded, and that had he attended thereto he would not have been there, or words to this import.

We next visited Enoch Thomas, who had also been found guilty of murder in the first degree, but sentence of punishment has not yet been passed upon him. He appeared almost frantic with grief and anguish, but whether this grief was occasioned by a due sense of, and penitence for, the great crime he had committed, or whether through fear of the punishment that might be inflicted, the Searcher of hearts knows. The spirit of supplication was given me on behalf of the prisoner, which was vocally uttered. So also with the third, who had been sentenced to the penitentiary.

We next went to a room where five lads were confined; the youngest about fourteen years of age. He had shot a man intending to kill him, but missed his aim, yet severely wounding him. These boys, when we first entered the room, were very light and irreverent, but before we left, the one whose countenance was at first most defiant, appeared to change very much, and when I bid him farewell, he shook my hand for some time, giving evident tokens that his heart had been reached. I asked him pretty soon after entering the room, if he did not sometimes think of death, and what would become of him if the Lord should take him hence. He replied, that he did not think much about it. This he said in a very light manner. I told him he had known better days; he had been visited in mercy, and plead with by the good Spirit to forsake the evil of his ways, and had he yielded obedience thereto, he would not have been there. I exhorted him to repentance and amendment of life. He appeared to me to be the ringleader of the band in folly and irreverence, but his countenance fell, and so did his companions somewhat, and we parted with them, hoping that the exercise and concern on their account would not all be lost.

Before going into the prison, we had some conversation with the sheriff relative to capital punishment, letting him know that the Society of Friends did not believe such a mode of punishment compatible with the gospel dispensation. He said he would be glad if that law was done away, but whilst it was a law, somebody must execute it. We brought the matter close home to his feelings, and desired him seriously to consider the subject, and not to do that which was contrary to his conscience for any earthly consideration. I told him that the advice of Louis IX, King of France, to his daughter Isabella, Queen of Navarre, was on this wise“In that which is contrary to the will of God, you give obedience to none.” I said it would be far better to resign the office than wound the conscience, &c. He was respectful, and heard us patiently.

8th.Visited the Almshouse; had a religious opportunity with a considerable number of the inmates, including the Superintendent, Matron and daughter, to the relief of my mind, and the satisfaction of the visited as far as appeared. Before leaving, the attending physician came in, to whom the Lord gave me some counsel to impart, which he received respectfully, saying, when I bid him farewell, “I fully appreciate every word you have said.”

28th.All alone; the family having gone to attend the sale of a farm belonging to the estate of my departed brother Jacob. This is, or appears to me to be, the beginning of the scattering of this family and the property. I have been trying for some time to be brought into a state of quietude, relative to things over which I have no control, and the earnest breathings of my spirit for the spiritual welfare of the dear children, have been many and fervent, amidst the turnings and overturnings of things around. How necessary to take heed to the injunction“In your patience possess ye your souls;” but I have not on all occasions been watchful enough over my thoughts and words, when things have given me uneasiness, but have sometimes given way to express what had better have been left unsaid, which has been the means of wounding myself and injuring the good cause. I have not been careful enough on all occasions to mind this injunction: “Let your adorning be that of a meek and quiet spirit, &c.” I have remembered too, how the blessed Saviour demeaned himself“When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.” How different from this have I sometimes acted; have given way to reflect on others when I should have kept quiet and calm. Oh, heavenly Father! take hold of shield and buckler and stand up for my help, for thou alone canst preserve me from falling; take not cognizance of my evil to punish me in wrath, but remember mercy also.

Fifth Month 28th.A committee having been appointed by the Yearly Meeting to visit Springfield Quarterly Meeting and its branches, in order to judge of the propriety of laying down or continuing that Quarterly Meeting, I being one of that committee, attended that meeting on the 11th instant. There was a difference of sentiment in the committee on the subject; some being for attaching the members of that Quarter to Salem Quarter, and some for adding New Garden Monthly Meeting (a branch of Salem Quarter) to Springfield Quarter, and so keep up two Quarterly Meetings. The latter was my view of the subject, but some whose judgment I highly esteemed did not unite with it. Notwithstanding the difference of opinion, all appeared willing to weigh the matter, and wait until we could more fully unite as to what would be best to do. I felt rejoiced that none appeared disposed to push their sentiments upon those in opposition to them beyond the bounds of propriety and Christian condescension. Though there was decided opposition in judgment, yet no harsh words or bitter feelings were in the least manifest. May the great Judge rule and overrule in the matter, and cause the result to redound to the honor of Truth, let it be in what way it may, has been the fervent and chief desire of my heart.

Sixth Month 14th.This is a day of great trial, wherein faith and patience seem to be very closely proven. All that I seem able to ask for is, that my faith may not wholly fail, and that I may not become a castaway. And for my beloved relatives and friends, that they as well as myself may be so dealt with as to deepen in religious experience.

Oh, the lukewarmness and indifferency that prevails with regard to our soul's best interest. It seems to me that judgments, the judgments of the Lord, will not slumber much longer. But if some who have been remarkably visited, warned and invited to come taste and see that the Lord is good, do not yield obedience, they will have to taste of that which will be very bitter and hard for flesh and spirit to endure. My soul is often plunged into deep mourning, whilst it seems most proper and profitable to wear the sackcloth inward; yet I could cry aloud with anguish and sorrow of heart, for our undone and sunken condition as a people in general; at least it appears thus to me. Lord! hasten the day when, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, we may as a religious Society and as individual members experience more of the incomes of thy Divine presence in our religious meetings, as well as on other occasions.

27th.What shall I say? The Lord hath permitted distress to come upon me like a flood, on account of the evil doings of those for whom I have prayed often; yes, mourned and wept for them for years past. Is all over? Has mercy failed towards them because of their long and wilful rebellion against the light, grace and Truth, with which they have been visited? Oh, my soul, wait thou upon God, that thou be not swallowed up of overmuch sorrow. My hands hang down, and my knees smite together with weakness and distress. Lord help me, I beseech thee, and cause thy mercy, mingled with judgments, to awaken the transgressors, that so thy name may yet be praised by them.

Seventh Month 8th.I feel the necessity of letting my words be few and savory. Oh Lord! enable me to watch and pray, that I may not enter into temptation. I have been engaged for a few days past in transcribing an account prepared by my beloved cousin, Miriam Ellis, concerning her worthy mother, Abigail Branson, both the mother and daughter having been worthy ministers, belonging to Flushing Monthly and Particular Meetings. Oh, that others may be raised up in our little meeting worthy to fill their places.

23rd.The account above referred to was read in our last Monthly Meeting. I trust it will prove of some advantage to young and old. Previous to our Monthly Meeting I was from home about a week, during which I attended Short Creek Monthly Meeting. My communication in the forepart of the meeting was on the subject of sleeping. I alluded to this practice as being a weakness which might be and would be overcome were we daily concerned for the welfare and salvation of our immortal souls, and when I called it a weakness I felt a stop, and the language ran through my mindIs it not a wicked thing also to give up to go to sleep when we come to meeting to worship Almighty God? But I felt that some might think it too strong language to use in reference to this practice, to call it wickedness. I hesitated, but found I could not go on without thus expressing it“What if I shall call it wickedness, as well as weakness,” or words to this import. I felt that some were hurt, but I trust that the oil and the wine were not.

Eighth Month 23rd.What shall I write? The call this morning seemed to be to pen a few lines in this little book, but nothing presented to write. On opening it I found just one month had passed since I made any memorandum of my thoughts, words or actions in this way. Oh time, time, how precious; how exceedingly precious thou feels to me; and yet I seem altogether unable to employ thee, or appreciate thee aright. I feel so benumbed, so stupefied in regard to the best things compared with that which my soul desires to feel, that I fear I am farther and farther from the kingdom. Whilst writing this I am forcibly reminded of the expressions of a travelling minister to my dear mother, a few days before the death of the latter.

This female minister from England, being an entire stranger in our parts, after attending our Monthly Meeting visited my father's family; and in the religious opportunity she had with us, thus addressed my beloved mother: “Thou art not far from the kingdom of heaven, though the thought of thine heart is, that thou art farther and farther from it.” My mother was then in usual health, but on the 30th of that month she died suddenly, greatly to our surprise and grief; but not a shadow of doubt remained that she was safely landed.

It is nearly thirty-six years since that beloved mother died, and still this frail tenement of clay, then apparently near the grave, still lingers here under infirmities. Lord, be graciously pleased to prepare me for a sudden exit, or otherwise, for my latter end by a more lingering illness, as it may seem good to thee.

24th.Visited several invalids in the village of Flushing, some of whom I had been to see before. One who appears to be near the grave, and yet awful to consider, seems in no way prepared for the change. His countenance bespoke in some degree the situation of his mind. A settled gloom appeared in his looks, and what if I say (for so it seemed to me), that his very looks indicated a settled determination to ward off and reject everything like religious impressions or religious counsel. Oh, how my heart has yearned for this individual, but his case, both as respects body and soul, seems to be almost if not quite, a hopeless one.

25th.To-day, our Monthly Meeting was held at Guernsey. We went and returned the same day. After the business of the meeting was through, I requested the shutters opened, which was done. I endeavored to relieve my mind in regard to Friends attending fairs, and felt that I must discourage the practice, fully believing there is more harm than good resulting from them. Several Friends united with what I had to say, and I felt relieved of a burden after discharging my duty as faithfully as I could. The Lord only knows the exercise of my spirit for my own safety and preservation and for that of others.

Tenth Month 13th.The individual before mentioned was buried some weeks ago. He appeared to die as he had determined to live, without the fear of God before his face; cursing and swearing a short time before his death. Oh, awful situation. What language can set forth the dreadful condition hereafter awaiting such an one. On being told by a physician that he could not live, and exhorted him to set his accounts in order, he used profane language, calling the physician a fool, &c.

Oh, vain man, how just is the language of the prophet, when applied to the unregenerate and hardened condition of fallen man‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” What tender visitations of mercy are extended towards us. How kindly and graciously we are dealt with. How we are followed from day to day, and from year to year, with this inviting language “Return ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die, &c. But if we will turn our backs and harden our hearts against such calls of mercy, our houses will be left desolate, for the Lord hath declared that his spirit shall not always strive with man, because He also is flesh.” Though we are encompassed with weakness, having no power of ourselves to do any good thing, yet He who calleth us to glory and to virtue hath all power and wisdom, and such as close in with the light of Christ and follow it, these become strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, and enabled through this holy help to resist the temptations of the devil in all his various transformations; and are made more than conquerors over their spiritual foes through Him that loved them.

21st.My spirit is very sad and sorrowful. Be pleased, O Lord, to interpose thine arm of power for my deliverance from temptation. Our late Yearly Meeting afforded at times, comfortable and refreshing evidence that He who gathered us to be a people, had not forsaken us, blessed be his holy name. In the public meeting on Fourth-day, I felt it required of me to stand up and utter this language of the prophet Isaiah: “Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.”

After quoting this, I said, that the same inspired penman tells us in what way he waited for the Lord“In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and the remembrance of thee. We also must wait upon the Lord in the way of his judgments, knowing the temple of our hearts cleansed and purified by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, if we would be partakers of that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. The path to the kingdom of heaven is not a flowery path, it is by the way of the cross; it is through deep tribulations, through fiery baptisms, that we come to inherit the crown of life everlasting. Jesus Christ suffered not the ignominious and painful death of the cross to save us in our sins, but from our sins.

I had considerable to say in this meeting, but was not very lengthy, the subject and substance being briefly given in the above; after which I felt peaceful and easy. It is seldom I have felt it required of me to open my mouth in those large public meetings during the time of our annual gatherings, being rather baptized in spirit for the arising of the life-giving power and presence of Israel's unslumbering Shepherd. Under this exercise, I have often been led, fervently, though silently to petition the Father of mercies to bring us into that situation, both ministers and others amongst us, in which we might experience what true and living silence is, being afraid to open our mouths (such as are called to the work of the ministry) without the fresh anointing of the holy One for the service. As this is the living and fervent engagement of ministers, they will not be restless in, or ashamed of silent meetings; but being willing to be in the eyes of the worldly-wise as fools for Christ's sake, they will lift up the standard towards Zion, promoting the Redeemer's kingdom amongst men, setting an example of true and living worship, that worship which is in the Spirit and in the Truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. I thought we were favored at times in our late annual assembly to feel something of that true and living silence that is not at our command, in and under which, my heart did praise the Lord, and beg that He would still everything rising up, that would tend to mar, or disturb this holy solemnity that He was pleased to spread over us. Oh how my heart yearns for an increase of that pure and vital religion which characterized Friends in the rise of the Society. In the last sitting of the Select Meeting a singular testimony was given me to deliver which I deferred a little too long, but was enabled to relieve my mind, and felt peaceful and easy afterwards.

Eleventh Month 5th.My God! my God! be pleased to enable me to bear with Christian patience and forbearance towards others the trials under which I am now pressed down, on account of the conduct of those, for whose welfare my heart greatly yearns. Oh, thou who hast been merciful to my soul for years pastyes, through my whole lifecontinue, I beseech thee, to be near in this time of great need, when the mountains press sore upon me, and be with and round about those who take not counsel of thee, but follow their own understanding in regard to important matters, and forsake them not, but follow them in mercy that they may not become cast off. Dearest Father, thou who only knowest the distress of my spirit and heart, bore me up in days that are past under similar trials, and hast let me see that that which then weighed me down, and pressed me even out of measure, so that I almost despaired of life, came to be a burdensome stone to those who caused my distress, and when the dark valley of the shadow of death was to be passed through, the world and all that was therein could afford them no ray of comfort, and had it not been through thy adorable mercy extended in that critical, awful hour, they had died without hope. O God! sanctify through thy adorable wisdom and goodness our hearts; body, soul and spirit are thine, and into thy hands they are committed.

First Month Ninth, 1871.Another year has passed away and I still an inhabitant of this state of existence. What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits? I have been spending five weeks at Concord with my nephew and niece, Israel and Rebecca Steer, and their interesting family. Whilst there I was often reminded of the Apostle's advice“Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I strove to make this my aim and object in this visit, though it was not professedly a religious one; yet some opportunities for religious communication were afforded, in which the word of counsel, warning and encouragement were administered to those to whom it seemed my place to give it.

Whilst in that neighborhood, I felt a concern to see an individual, who was almost an entire stranger to me; yet a strong desire for his everlasting welfare pressed upon me; and I was favored earnestly to petition the Father of mercies, to make a way for my relief, if anything was required of me towards this individual in the way of religious communication. I felt no liberty to mention my concern to any one. The time was drawing near when I expected to return home, and the concern to see this individual still pressed upon me; when to my surprise he came to my nephew's and dined with us. On sitting down at the table, a weighty concern took hold of my mind that I might be faithful to manifested duty, accompanied with a passage of Scripture forcibly and livingly presented. I could eat but little, but before we arose from the table, I expressed what appeared given me to say, without any particular allusion to the stranger present, yet felt measurably relieved of the burden, and rejoiced that this opportunity was afforded; and could but marvel at the wisdom, and wonder-working power of the Almighty, who made a way for me when there appeared no way. Blessed be his holy name forever.

At one place where I visited whilst at Concord, near the time for leaving, a passage of Scripture forcibly and weightily presented to my mind, with an intimation to revive it in the presence of the family and friends with me. I hesitated, and reasoned, fearing it might look like implicating those present in a way and manner that did not fit them. But I found that if I left the house with a peaceful mind, I must be faithful to apprehended duty. I therefore expressed with fear and trembling what was before me, and felt peaceful and easy afterwards, without any anxiety to know why I was thus led; but was afterwards informed that the woman Friend who belonged to the house, and who was affected to tears by what was said, desired I would not feel uneasy because of my communication, that there was cause for it.

Third Month 9th.To-day attended the funeral of our beloved Friend, Joseph Hobson, who peacefully departed this life on the 7th. I several times visited him during his illness, and found him mostly engaged in earnest wrestling for the blessing of sanctification, and a preparation for the solemn close. Great were his conflicts of spirit whilst the enemy was assiduously endeavoring to cast him down below hope; but He who putteth to flight the armies of the aliens, and who ariseth for the oppression of the poor, and the sighing of the needy, was pleased to calm every troubled emotion, speaking peace to the weary and heavy laden soul. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. This dear Friend had long been an elder in our meeting, faithfully sounding the alarm when the enemy made his approaches, by introducing unsound doctrines and practices in the Society; and great were his exercises and grief on account of false brethren on the right hand and on the left; but the Lord hath taken him to everlasting rest, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. My soul has been deeply instructed, and impressed, whilst sitting in the room, and by the bedside of this dear Friend in his last illness. It plainly appeared to me that his deep exercises, baptisms and temptations were permitted and dispensed, not only for his good and enlargement and purification; but more especially to drive us home, who were surrounding himthat is, to look at our own spiritual condition, and search narrowly for that which hinders our acceptance with the beloved of souls. O how these words came home to my heart when he said to me, “I fear I am not deep enough.” It seemed to me that this very fear that impressed his mind on his own account, was surely for others, more than for himself. My spirit was then poured forth in vocal supplication, that the Lord would deepen us in the root of life, and raise up standard-bearers in our poor backsliding Society; to take the places of those who had been and were being removed from amongst us. Several times during the illness of this dear Friend, I felt constrained to appear in vocal supplication and thanksgiving by his bedside; which seemed rather remarkable to me, as I have long been shut up as to any vocal service in our meetings for worship. May I never presume to strive for an opening, when the Lord hath shut, or to shut, when He opens the spring of religious communication.

Fourth Month 3rd.Had considerable conversation on religious subjects with a member of the Methodist Society, touching ministry, worship and prayer. He plead the propriety of ministers receiving some compensation for their labors in the Church; but was opposed to great salaries, such as some demand and receive. I told him, the little or the much received in the way of pay for preaching, involved the same principle, and was contrary to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said to his disciples“Freely ye have received, freely give;” and instanced the example of the Apostle Paul, who labored for his own support, and that of others.

I told him, it was the prerogative of the Head of the Church, and belonged not to man, to choose and qualify for the work of the ministry, and no one has a right to choose or refuse for himself. The gospel ministry is free, and is exercised in demonstration of the spirit and of power. The apostle said, “That the gospel which was preached of me, is not after man. For I neither received of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We had some plain and interesting conversation, which I trust did not tend to the dishonor of Truth.

20th.To-day, had a short communication in our Monthly Meeting, both before and after the shutters were closed. In the forepart of the meeting, after my cousin A. B. had spoken, I arose and said“It is not for the dead that have died in the Lord that I mourn; it is not for the living that are preparing for a happy and glorious immortality that I grieve; but it is for those whose spiritual buildings are going up on a sandy foundation, which the storm beating vehemently against, must bring down. It is for these, and those who are in their false resting-places, that my spirit deeply laments before the Lord God of Hosts.”

After a short exhortation to all classes to examine their spiritual accounts, not forgetting or leaving myself out of the number, I closed, and felt in hopes that I had not hurt the good cause. Month after month my mouth has been closed in our Meetings for Worship, and deep have been the travail and exercise of my spirit on my own account, and that of my brethren and sisters in religious profession with myself. Oh, that I may be preserved by the power of God from taking my flight in this wintry season is, and has been, the feeble and earnest petition of my soul.

23rd.Attended Guernsey Meeting, where my mouth was opened in a little testimony for the Truth. I was reminded, and to speak of it, that the apostles of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for his blessed name's sake, who died for uswho bore the scoffing, scourging, spitting upon, and nailing to the cross, for poor fallen, finite and rebellious man; and rose again to save us, not in our sins, but from our sins. Are we willing to suffer, and to walk in the way pointed out by this blessed Saviour? Are we concerned, young and old, to follow Him in the way of his requirings? Obedience must be yielded thereto, if we would be owned and received of Him who is Lord of lords and King of kings.

I have trodden the slippery paths of youth; I have been surrounded with many temptations, incident to that period of life, possessed of a light, airy and proud heart naturally, I deeply feel for and sympathize with the young; but I can offer them no excuse for continuing in that state and condition in which, if called from works to rewards, they would be unprepared to hear the welcome language“Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Sixth Month 19th.Attended the funeral of my beloved cousin, Joseph Wilson, who departed this life in great tranquillity and peace of mind, on the 17th inst., about half-past six o'clock a. m.. His bodily sufferings were very great for a few days before his death, and for several hours before the close they were agonizing. But not a complaint escaped his lips, and his countenance was calm and serene. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”

This dear Friend had long filled the station of overseer and elder in our Monthly Meeting, and we feel that we have lost a father in the Church. His example and precept had long been such as to render him a bright and shining light to those acquainted with him; and the following language quoted at his grave-side by my cousin, Asa Branson, was no doubt entirely applicable to his situation, and doubtless was responded to in the heart of almost every one present who knew him: “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”

Seventh Month 17th.The exercises of my spirit are very great on account of the lukewarmness and indifference which prevails amongst us as a people, and individually in my own neighborhood and meeting, as well as other places. Oh, what will be the consequence? Parents and children joined together in lowering the precious standard of Truth. The former indulging the latter in great departures from that simplicity in dress, &c., which the Truth leads into; and any remarks now made specially against our members, young Friends joining in with the fashions of the day, and recommending the plain dress, &c., appears to be treated by some plain parents, with feelings of resentment; and by the children of such parents, with utter contempt.

My soul has been and is bowed down under an inexpressible weight, whilst I behold the gradual departure from the testimonies which cost our forefathers all that was near and dear to them in this world; not counting their life dear unto themselves, that they might finish their course with joy. Whilst under this weight of exercise, the consideration and query often comes up before me on this wise: How or what shall I do to be clear, and to promote the Redeemer's kingdom amongst men, according to the will of my Heavenly Father? There appears but little opening to labor in the ministry, or in counsel and exhortation in families, or in meetings. Keep me, oh Lord, in my right sphere! prevent my lips from uttering unsavory and uncalled for expressions, in this day of great trial; plunge me in the river of judgment, take away all the leprous spots from me, continue thy judgments, until a clean heart is created in me, and a right spirit renewed, then will I teach transgressors thy law, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Tenth Month 31st.Oh Lord, my God! have mercy on me, for my heart is sore troubled, thou only knowest how it is with me, and into thy hands I desire to be able to commit the keeping of my soul, as unto a faithful Creator, who will do all things well. Oh, cast not off, I pray thee, my prodigal brother; but turn thine hand upon him, I humbly pray thee, oh thou almighty and holy One, and bring him back, if consistent with thy holy will, into a state of true repentance. Oh, have mercy upon my poor wandering nephew, for whom my soul has been poured out by day and by night before thee. Amen, and amen.


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.