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The Testimony of Friends in Yorkshire

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.

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