|I.||The TESTIMONY of Friends in Yorkshire at their Quarterly Meeting, held at York the 24th and 25th of the Third Month, 1773
|II.||A TESTIMONY of the Monthly Meeting of Friends, held in Burlington, NJ; Read and approved at our Quarterly Meeting, held the 29th of Eighth Month, 1774.|
The TESTIMONY of Friends in Yorkshire at their Quarterly Meeting, held at York the 24th and 25th of the Third Month, 1773, concerning John Woolman, of Mount Holly, in the Province of New Jersey, North America, who departed this life at the house of our Friend Thomas Priestman, in the suburbs of this city, the 7th of Tenth Month, 1772, and was interred in the burial-ground of Friends the 9th of the same, aged about fifty-two years.
THIS our valuable friend having been under a religious engagement for some time to visit Friends in this nation, and more especially us in the northern parts, undertook the same in full concurrence and near sympathy with his friends and brethren at home, as appeared by certificates from the Monthly and Quarterly Meetings to which he belonged, and from the Spring Meeting of ministers and elders held at Philadelphia for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
He arrived in the city of London the beginning of the last Yearly Meeting, and, after attending that meeting, traveled northward, visiting the Quarterly Meetings of Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, and Worcestershire, and divers particular meetings in his way.
He visited many meetings on the west side of this country, also some in Lancashire and Westmoreland, from whence he came to our Quarterly Meeting in the last Ninth Month, and, though much out of health, yet was enabled to attend all the sittings of that meeting except the last.
His disorder, which proved the smallpox, increased speedily upon him, and was very afflicting, under which he was supported in much meekness, patience, and Christian fortitude. To those who attended him in his illness, his mind appeared to be centred in divine love, under the precious influence whereof we believe he finished his course, and entered into the mansions of everlasting rest.
He was a man endued with a large natural capacity, and, being obedient to the manifestations of divine grace, having in patienct and humility endured many deep baptisms, he became thereby santified and fitted for the Lord's work, and was truly serviceable in His Church. Dwelling in awful feel and watchfulness, he was careful in his public appearences to feel the putting forth of the divine hand, so that the spring of the gospel ministry often flowed through him with great sweetness and purity, as a refreshing stream to the weary travellers towards the city of God. Skilful in dividing the Word, he was furnished by Him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, to communicate freely to the several states of the people where his lot was cast. His conduct at other times was seasoned with like watchful circumspection and attention to the guidance of divine wisdom, which rendered his whold conversation uniformly edifying.
He was fully persuaded that, as the life of Christ comes to reign in the earth, all abuse and unnecessary oppression, both of the human and brute creation, will come to an end; but under the sense of a deep revolt and an overflowing stream of unrighteousness, his life has often been a life of mourning.
He was deeply concerned on account of that inhuman and iniquitous practice of making slaves of the people of Africa, or holding them in that state, and on that account we understand he hath not only written some books, but travelled much on the continent of America, in order to make the negro masters (especially those in profession with us) sensible of the evil of such a practice; and though in this journey to England he was far removed from the outward sight of their sufferings, yet his deep exercise of mind and frequent concern to open the miserable state of this deeply injured people remained, as appears by a short treatise he wrote in this journey. His testimony in the last meeting he attended was on this subject, wherein he remarked that we as a Society, when under outward sufferings, had often found it our concern to lay them before those in authority, and thereby, in the Lord's time, had obtained relief, so he to our notice, that we may, as way may open, represent their sufferings in an individual if not in a Society capacity to those in authority.
Deeply sensible that the desire to gratify people's inclinations in luxuries and superfluities is the principal ground of oppression, and the occasion of many unnecessary wants, he believed it to be his duty to be a patter of great self-denial with respect to the things of this life, and earnestly to labour with Friends in the meekness of wisdom, to impress on their minds the great importance of our testimony in these things, recommending to the guidance of the blessed truth in this and all other concerns, and cautioning such as are experienced therein against contenting themselves with acting by the standard of others, but to be careful to make the standard of truth manifested to them the measure of their obedience. For, said he, "that purity of life which proceeds from faithfulness in following the spirit of truth, that state where our minds are devoted to serve God, and all our wants are bounded by His wisdom; this habitation has often been opened before me as a place of retirement for the children of the light, where they may stand separated from that thwich disordereth and confuseth the affairs of society, and where we have a testimony of our innocence in the hearts of those who behold us."
We conclude with fervent desires that we as a people may thus by our example promote the Lord's work in the earth, and, our hearts being prepared, may unite in prayer to the great Lord of the harvest, that as in His infinite wisdom He hath greatly stripped the Church by removing of late divers faithful ministers and elders, He may be pleased to send forth many more faithful labourers into His harvest.
A TESTIMONY of the Monthly Meeting of Friends, held in Burlington, the First day of the Eighth Month, in the year of our Lord 1774, concerning our esteemed friend, John Woolman, deceased.
HE was born in Northampton, in the county of Burlington and province of West New Jersey, in the Eighth Month, 1720, of religious parents, who instructed him very early in the principles of the Christian religion as professed by the people called Quakers, which he esteemed a blessing to him even in his younger years, tending to preserve him from the infection of wicked children. But, through the workings of the enemy and the levity incident to youth, he frequently deviated from those parental precepts, by which he laid a renewed foundation for repentance that was finally succeeded by a "godly sorrow not to be repented of"; and so he became acquainted with that sanctifying power which qualifies for true gospel ministry, into which he was called about the twenty-second year of his age; and by a faithful use of the talents committed to him he experienced an increase, until he arrived at the state of a father, capable of dividing the word aright to the different states he ministered unto, dispensing milk to babes and meat to those of riper years. Thus he found the efficacy of that power to arise, which, in his own expressions, "prepares the creature to stand like a trumpet through which the Lord speaks to His people." He was a loving husband, a tender father, and was very humane to every part of the creation under his care.
His concern for the poor and those in affliction was evident by his visits to them, whom he frequently relieved by his assistance and charity. He was for many years deeply exercised on account of the poor enslaved Africans, whose cause, as he mentioned, lay almost continually upon him; and he laboured to obtain liberty for those captives both in public and in private, and was favoured to see his endeavours crowned with considerable success. He was particularly desirous that Friends should not be instrumental to lay burdens on this oppressed people, but should remember the days of suffering from which they had been providentially delivered, that, if times of trouble should return, no injustice dealt to those in slavery might rise in judgment against us, but, being clear, we might on such occasions address the Almighty with a degree of confidence for His interposition and relief, being particularly careful as to himself not to contenance slavery even by the use of those conveniences of life which were furnished by their labour.
He was desirous to have his own mind and the minds of others redeemed from the pleasures and immoderate profits of this world, and to fix them on those joys which fade not away; his principal care being after a life of purity, endeavouring to avoid not only the grosser pollutions, but those also which, appearing in a more refined dress, are not sufficiently guarded against by some well-disposed people. In the latter part of his life, he was remarkable for the plainness and simplicity of his dress, and as much as possible avoided the use of plate, costly furniture, and feasting, thereby endeavouring to become an example of temperance and self-denial which he believed himself called unto; and he was favoured with peace therein, although it carried the appearance of great austerity in the view of some. He was very moderate in his charges in the way of business, and in his desires after gain; and though a man of industry, he avoided and strove much to lead others out of extreme labour and anxiety after perishable things, being desirous that the strength of our bodies might not be spent in procuring things unprofitable, and that we might use moderation and kindness to the brute animals under our care, to prize the use of them as a great favour, and by no means to abuse them; that the gifts of Providence should be thankfully received and applied to the uses they were designed for.
He several times opened a school at Mount Holly, for the instruction of poor Friend' children and others, being concerned for their help and improvement therein. His love and care for the rising youths among us was truly great, recommending to parents and those who have the charge of them to choose conscientious and pious tutors, saying, "It is a lovely sight to behold innocent children"; and that to "labour for their help against that which would mar the beauty of their minds is a debt we owe them."
His ministry was sound, very deep and penetrating, sometimes pointout out the dangerous situation which indulgence and custom led into, frequently exhorting others, especially the youth, not to be discouraged at the difficulties which occur, but to press after purity. He often expressed an earnest engagement that pure wisdom should be attended to, which would lead into lowliness of mind and resignation to the divine will, in which state small possessions here would be sufficient.
In transacting the affairs of the discipline, his judgment was sound and clear, and he was very useful in treating with those who had done amiss; he visited such in a private way in that plainess which truth dictates, showing great tenderness and Christian forbearance. He was a constant attender of our Yearly Meeting, in which he was a good example and particularly useful, assisting in the business thereof with great weight and attention. He several times visited most of the meetings of Friends in this and the neighbouring provinces, with the concurrence of the Monthly Meeting to which he belonged, and we have reason to believe he did good service therein, generally or always expressing at his return how it had fared with him and the evidence of peace in his mind for thus performing his duty. He was often concerned with other Friends in the important service of visiting families, which he was enabled to go through to satisfaction.
In the minutes of the meeting of ministers and elders for this quarter, at the foot of a list of the members of that meeting, made about five years before his death, we find in his handwriting the following observation and reflections:
"As looking over the minutes made by persons who have put off this body hath sometimes revived in me a thought how ages pass away, so this list may probably revive a like thought in some, when I and the rest of the persons above named are centered in another state of being. The Lord who was the guide of my youth hath in tender mercies helped me hitherto; He hath healed my wounds; He hath helped me out of grievous entanglements; He remains to be the strength of my life, to whom I desire to devote myself in time and in eternity.
In the Twelth Month, 1771, he acquainted this meeting that he felt his mind drawn towards a religious visit to Friends in some parts of England, particularly in Yorkshire. In the First Month, 1772, he obtained our certificate, which was approved and indorsed by our Quarterly Meeting, and by the Half-Year's Meeting of ministers and elders at Philadelphia. He embarked on his voyage in the Fifth Month, and arrived in London in the Sixth Month following, at the time of their Annual Meeting in that city. During his short visit to Friends in that kingdom, we are informed that his services were acceptable and edifying. In his last illness he uttered many lively and comfortable expressions, being "resigned, having no will either to live or die," as appears by the testimony of Friends at York in Great Britain, in the suburbs whereof, at the house of our friend Thomas Priestman, he died of the smallpox, on the 7th of the Tenth Month, 1772, and was buried in Friends' burial-ground in that city, on the 9th of the same, after a solid meeting held on the occasion at their great meeting-house. He was aged near fifty-two, having been a minister upwards of thirty years, during which time he belonged to Mount Holly particular meeting, which he diligently attended when at home and in health of body, and his labours of love and pious care for the prosperity of Friends in the blessed truth, we hope may not be forgotten, but that his good works may be remembered to edification.
Signed in and by order of the said meeting, by
SAMUEL ALLISON, Clerk.
Read and approved at our Quarterly Meeting, held in Burlington the 29th of the Eighth Month, 1774.
Signed by order of the said meeting,
DANIEL SMITH, Clerk.