“An Account of Mrs. Planche. [Written by herself sometime before her death.]”
Arminian Magazine August 1791, v. XIV, pgs. 416-423
I was born August 18, 1744. My father lived in Fort William, in the Highlands of Scotland. He had a place under Government, but the rebellion breaking out, the town was burnt, and he lost all his property. My parents had seven children, and as I was the only daughter that lived, I became my father’s darling. When I was very young, I felt the drawings of the Lord upon my heart, and had strong desires to love and serve him; but alas! I knew not the way and had no one to teach me. When I was about thirteen years of age, I dreamed one night, I was upon the sea, and the ship was lost, and all hands but myself, and after many struggles and great
dangers, I escaped to land upon a broke plank of the ship. When I got on shore many persons came about me, and took me away to a place where I had an awful sight of the sufferings of the damned. I cried mightily to the Lord to save me from this place of torment, and could see no way to escape; but turning about, I perceived a grace person, who looked earnestly at me; and enquired how I came into that dreadful place? I was afraid at first to speak, but taking courage, I told him all that had befallen me. I then thought he took hold of me, and brought me into a place of perfect safety, and after giving me many good instructions, which made deep impressions on my mind, he left me and I awaked in the utmost distress, but had no one to advise or instruct me.
I now sensibly felt my want of something to make me happy; but knew not where to find it, for I had no knowledge of Christ as the Saviour of lost sinners. Sometime after this my father removed to London, where I became acquainted with Mr. Planche and after some time we were married. He was a Swiss Protestant, but had no acquaintance with that religion which saves the soul. After we were married, I found it necessary to be acquainted with the French language, as many French gentlemen resorted to our house, who could not speak English. For this purpose I took a journey to France, where I continued for some months, and entered into all the fashionable vices of the French nation. Yet in the midst of all, I was at times exceedingly unhappy, and often thought, “If I die in this state I must be undone for ever.”
After I had lived ten years with my husband, his health began to decline, and he was advised to go to France, but he grew worse, and soon after died. He wished much for a Protestant Minister to pray with him, but as we knew none, I prayed with him as well I could, and was in great distress about his soul. It pleased the Lord to leave me a poor widow in a strange land; and when I returned to England to settle
my affairs, I found myself without any subsistence, for myself and child. My case at this time indeed seemed very hard; but the Lord was pleased to take this method to bring me to himself, and to humble my proud and stubborn heart before him.
About this time my dear mother died, and my father being left alone, I went to live with him. But how uncertain are all things under the sun! I had not been long with him, till he also was taken away by a sudden stroke, and with him all my worldly expectations. Yet how wise are all the dispensations of God! Being then at Hartley-Pans, settling my affairs, I providentially met with Mr. Hunter, and immediately knew him to be the very person I had seen in my dream above mentioned. After I had hear him preach twice, the Lord applied the word to my heart with great power, and I felt myself a lost, undone, helpless sinner.
My state of mind was now distressing. I had many doubts and fears, the burden of sin lay heavy upon my conscience, and I groaned under it. But the same blessed spirit which convinced me of sin, likewise opened to me the way of salvation through a blessed Redeemer, and the views I had of him under that character, filled my soul with a pleasing hope. I cam to his footstool with tears, and cried, “Save Lord, or I perish!” O how I longed to come to him; but found I was shut up in unbelief, and could not break my chain.
I was now going to Scotland, to live with my brother in Kelso. When I arrived there, I seemed strange to my relations, who wondered what had made the change in me; especially as I could not go with them into all the vain amusements of life, as I was wont to do. Here my outward trials were not a few, and my inward exercises very painful. I could hear of no Methodists nearer than forty miles, namely at Alnwick, and hearing that they preached there, I took a journey, in order to hear them. Here I met with Mr. Hunter again. I heard him preach several times, and the word was
spirit and life to me. I found a divine attraction upon my heart, and had many visits of God’s love; but I wanted justifying faith, and a clear sense of my interest in Christ, and determined not to rest till I found it.
Going out into the country to hear my friend preach, on the ninth of May 1781, the Lord then spoke peace to my soul. He took away all guilt and condemnation from my conscience, and shed abroad his love in my heart. I knew my sins were forgiven, and that I was accepted in the Beloved. O how precious was Jesus now to me! I did indeed love him with all the powers of my soul, and made a free-will offering of myself to him, to be his for ever. O what a heaven did I enjoy in his favour and love; and how did I feel my soul united to his dear people! I was determined to cast in my lot among them, though I was at forty miles distance. Mr. Hunter admitted me into Society, and I found this an addition of my happiness, that my name was among God’s chosen ones. My soul was abundantly blest in the few days I tarried at Alnwick. Every means was sweet to me, for I found my Jesus in them all. The dear Methodists in Alnwick were kind to me, beyond expression, and have been ever since. I pray God to reward them abundantly for the same.
When I returned to Kelso, I found exercise enough for all my grace. I was indeed in the midst of lions, and had not one I could speak to, that understood me. I now began to learn, that it I would go to heaven, I must bear the cross, and suffer persecution: and indeed I had a good share of the same; but my blessed Lord gave me strength sufficient to my day. I had a holy pleasure in suffering shame for his sake; and I felt it sweet to suffer with Jesus. “Sufferings lead unto the crown.” As I had no acquaintance with an Preacher, but Mr. Hunter, I frequently wrote to him to pay us a visit in Kelso; but the distance being so great, he seemed not inclined to it, therefore I took the liberty to write to Mr. Wesley, upon the subject, who desired Mr. Hunter to spend a few days in Kelso. He
came with some other friends from Alnwick; and when Is aw them, my heart rejoiced with great joy. He preached several times to great multitudes, who heard with the greatest attention. He paid us a second visit, and this laid the foundation for preaching the gospel at Kelso.
In June 1782, the Rev. Mr. Wesley in his return from Scotland to Alnwick, made his way through Kelso, and spent a night with us, and lodged at my brother’s. I cannot express the joy I felt when I saw him. He preached in the evening from Rev. xx. Ver. 11, and 12. O what I saw in hearing this great subject explained! The whole scene was opened to my mind, as if I had been standing before God’s flaming eyes. At five in the morning he preached from 1 Cor. Xiii, and gave such a description of love, as I never heard before. O, it was sweet to my soul! I clearly see that love makes a Christian; yea, love is heaven. Glory be to God, he has given me to taste of this love, which makes my soul truly happy, and lays me low at his footstool. “O love divine, how sweet thou art!”
I followed Mr. Wesley to Alnwick, and had the happiness of hearing him preach several times. I was abundantly blest in every means, but especially at the sacrament. I had marvelous views of my Lord’s sufferings and death for me the chief of sinners. I left Alnwick and went on to Newcastle, where I spend several weeks to great profit, heard much preaching, and got acquainted with many godly persons who were of great use to me. This was indeed a blessed season to me, I found I gained much ground, and received a good degree of establishing grace. I got stronger confidence in my blessed Jesus, and he was indeed precious to my soul.
I tarried at Newcastle till after Conference, having some hopes that Preachers would be sent to Kelso; but was disappointed at this time. I left Newcastle, and returned to Kelso; and cried to the Lord day and night, that he would be pleased to send the Gospel to this dark country. The Lord heard my
prayers; for some time after, Mr. Hunter being sent unto Scotland, came and preached at Kelso several times, and at many other places. He met with great opposition from every quarter; nevertheless the Lord began to work: several were awakened, and a few justified; so that we got a small Society formed, and I got companions in the good way. This was great consolation to me, so that I went on my way rejoicing; yet in the midst of all this I had many trials, storms without, and painful conflicts within, on account of the remains of sin in my nature.
I heard Mr. Hunter preach upon the subject of sanctification, and clearly understood there was a liberty to be enjoyed in the grace of God, which I had not yet attained. Although I never lost the evidence of my justification, yet I was at times very low, and my mind was clouded. I still help hold of my blessed Jesus, and often said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” After I had gone on thus for more than four years, I began to have a more painful conviction for a deeper work of grace in my soul. I had no doubt of God’s love to me, yet I felt myself very unlike him, and clearly understood that nothing unholy could dwell with him. I likewise saw in the clearest light all that provision treasured up in Christ for this great purpose; and that the end of his coming into the world was to save his people from their sins.
My soul was greatly encouraged in the views I have of these things to look up and hope for the salvation of God. I found my soul all on fire for this: I fasted, prayed, and wept: I wrestled hard for the blessing, till he in infinite mercy heard and answered my prayer. He came into my soul with such a display of his grace and love, as I never knew before. All my bands were loosed, and my spirit was set perfectly free. I felt an entire deliverance from all the remains of sin in my nature; and my previous Jesus took full possession of my heart. I found my soul sink down into such a state of near union and fellowship with him, as I am not capable of describing. My
soul was all peace, love, heaven. O my precious Jesus, what hast thou done for me, the very chief of sinners! Lord, not unto me, not unto me, but toothy name be all the praise!
This great change did the Lord work in my soul on the 11th of November 1786, about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, and I trust I shall remember the same for ever. Since that time, I have found an increase of all that he hath blest me with. I find my soul fixed and rooted in Jesus, and I hang upon him as a helpless child upon its parent for all its wants. I find I am in his blessed hand as a piece of passive clay, and can say in all things, “Not my will, but thine be done.” He gives me power to watch and pray, and guard that sacred treasure which he hath blest me with, till he shall call me hence to see his unclouded face, and to live with him for ever and ever!
[What follows is added by Mr. Hunter]
About two years ago, Mrs. Planche put the foregoing Narrative into my hands. If she hath written any more since that time, I know nothing of it. The last time I saw her before death, was at Alnwick, when I found she had entered deep into the spirit of true religion. She seemed to be all light and devotion, and spoke to me of the deep things of God, with surprising pleasure. She possessed a simplicity not found in many, so that she received good by every means. To this was joined such sweetness of temper and manners, as made her agreeable wherever she was; so that they would had no taste for religion, could not but be pleased with her.
A little after her return to Kelso, she caught a fever, and in a few days died. She had written to me some time before, believing she would die soon, and begged if I was in the country, to attend her funeral, and preach a sermon on the occasion. A dear companion who attended her in her last sickness, says, she spoke of death with great pleasure, and expressed a strong confidence in Jesus. Her soul was all light and happiness. “Not a cloud did arise, to darken her skies;’
and after nine or ten days sickness, on Sunday morning about eight o’clock, the twenty-second of November 1789, her happy spirit took its flight to Paradise, and to join the choirs above in singing praises to God and the Lamb for ever and ever.