Concerning the AUTHOR, and the following Book.
AS the memory of the just is blessed, so there is a justice due to their memories, who walked in the path of the just, which is as a shining light, and are the blessed who die in the Lord, who rest from their labours, and their works follow them, to their everlasting reward in the kingdom of heaven : or for the example and admonition of them they leave behind. And that is either by publishing their own memoirs of their lives, when they leave any, which is instructing, and often not the least edifying, or else by supplying that where wanting, in commemorating them otherwise, according to the example of the Holy Scripture, even concerning women as well as men ; the first of which is in the following relation, written by an early disciple of Christ in this gospel-day of her labours in it ; and so the less need of the latter, viz. to say much of the author ; her own book being a sufficient memorial of her, and what she was in her day; only as a necessary introduction to her account, I have this in short to premise concerning her.
I knew her, and was acquainted with her many years, being my country-woman; and I have this testimony that lives in my heart concerning her, that she was a religious exercised woman, always seeking the best things, and through the goodness of God, found him whom her soul loved. An honest, sincere, tender-hearted, zealous woman for God, and underwent many deep exercises inwardly, and also outwardly, by reason of contrary spirits who opposed the work of the Lord, and testimony of truth in his servants and handmaids, with whom she was often concerned, and bore a faithful testimony as the Lord laid it upon her, and made way for her, being a serious, weighty, concerned woman in her spirit, a true mourner in Sion for the abominations of the times. She had a solid savoury testimony for the truth, which she received early, and was faithful and diligent in it according to her gift, and was well received and esteemed for her service by the honest-hearted in and about Bristol, and Chew-magna, in the County of Somerset, where, and in the counties adjacent, her service mostly lay; till she and her husband and family removed to Hempstead, in Hertfordshire, in the year 1688, where she was well received, as by the following testimonies appear. And she used to come to my house at London, when she came to the yearly meeting, and I was often comforted in her savoury testimony, and to find that the Lord's presence was so fresh with her, in her latter days. And after several years abode at Hempstead, and labour and service there, and thereaway, she died in the Lord, and laid down her head in peace, in a good old age, in the year 1706, and of her age 72, and is undoubtedly entered into rest.
And as for the following papers written with her own hand, in relation to her life, labours, travels, exercises, trials, service, and sufferings, with desire they should be published after her decease, for the benefit of her children and others: they were some time since put into my hand to peruse, as falling mostly within the compass of my knowledge; especially that part in relation to her sufferings and imprisonment at Ivelchester, I being then a prisoner there for the testimony of truth, in the time of the great imprisonment for meetings, &c. in the year 1683, she being taken at a meeting at Chew-magna, with near thirty more, and sent to prison by that wicked persecutor, and under-sheriff of the county, John Helliar, of Bristol, at the instigation of the priest of the parish; both which were soon after cut off by death. The said priest Cross immediately thereupon, in a very remarkable manner, as is herein related; and the said Helliar, not long after being smitten with great terror and horror of mind for the violence he had committed on the people of God in that city, &c. keeping men to watch with him night and day for fear the devil would fetch him away; as I have been credibly informed he expressed. As another great persecutor there, R. Oliffe, who had made such spoil of the said people, as I heard, crying out he was damned, and that they should make restitution, i.e. to them he had wronged, which he was never able to do; and so both died miserable, and several others.
Such a thrifty trade, says one, is persecution, that it leaves men never a friend in heaven or on earth. Oh that others would take warning in time by such examples of divine vengeance, to avoid such things, and do no more so wickedly. For as the memory of the just is blessed, and the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance, so the name of the wicked shall rot; and wherever Helliar's name is mentioned, it stinks, as all persecutors do.
And according to desire, I have for the truth's sake, and the respect I had to her, and owe to her memory, carefully perused and put in order the following relation; which I have been comforted in reading of, being very solid, serious, weighty, matter of experience, warning, exhortation, and counsel, written in a good sense and understanding of the things of God, and mysteries of his kingdom, and very sound and savoury in the expression of it. To which is added, a short supplement of the last fourteen years of her life; collected chiefly form her son's account; with an epistle to friends, and a warning to others, formerly printed; all which I doubt not will have an answer in every conscience of such as read it in the fear of God; and hope it may be of service to her posterity, and benefit of others; and that it will tend to the glory of God, and the comfort and edification of his people; to whose perusal, in much love and sincerity, I recommend it, and all to the grace of God, which is able to build them up, and give them an inheritance among them that are sanctified; which is the sincere desire of, Reader,Thy real Friend,
London, the 21st of the 2d Month, 1711.
To Next Section: A TESTIMONY
From several Friends belonging to the Meeting, at Hemel, Hempstead, and the Parts adjacent, in the County of Hertford, concerning E. STIRREDGE, the 8th of the Third Month, 1711.
To Main Text: Strength in Weakness Manifest
I am not Amish or Mennonite, but some people who come to my website are interested in knowing more about these groups. I can recommend these books as authoritative and relatively inexpensive sources of further information.