A Short Account of Mrs. Ruth Hall. Arminian Magazine IV(1781): 477-480.
A Short Account if Mrs. RUTH HALL.
I was born at Woolly, near Barnsley, in Yorkshire, in the 1732. I thought that I lived to the best of my knowledge, till I was about eighteen, having always some measure of the fear of God, which kept me from outward sins, and from being undutiful to my parents; but I had no great concern about heaven or hell. I then lived with a popish Gentlewoman, who told me I was a Heretic, and that no heretic could be saved. This threw me into much trouble and perplexity; which was afterwards increased by a Quaker, with whom I lived at Leeds, who was continually talking against the Sacrament, against going to Church, and against the Ministers, whom I had always reverenced as the best of men. When I was about twenty, Mr. Murgetroyd began to read the Homilies in the Church. He read them every night that winter. I was deeply affected by some of them, particularly that on Good-Friday! What is said there concerning the sufferings of our Saviour, cut me to the heart. From that time my convictions grew deeper and deeper, till I was scarce fit for any business. I had hardly any natural understanding left, and no memory at all; so that if I went out to fetch any thing, I had forgot it, before I was half way down the street. I then, by the advice of my parents, who were afraid I should be quite distracted, removed to York. Here I left off reading religious books, and used all means to make myself gay and easy. But I could not; for whenever I went to Church, the Scriptures were as an arrow piercing my heart. So that I grew more and more uneasy, in spite of all that I could do. Finding no help in any thing, I one day asked one of my neighbours, What those People called Methodists were? And by a little persuasion was inclined to hear some of them preach. I went twice. The second time, William Shent was the Preacher.
When I looked at him, I was unusually affected. I thought, “I wish that man would speak to me! I could tell him all that is in my heart.” Soon after, he did speak to me, and I told him how I had been, and how I was, He said, “Young woman, you have been stifling conviction: you have been resisting the Spirit of God. If you die as you are now, you will certainly go to hell.” I said, “O Sir, do not lay so! for I cannot bear it.” He added, “But I have one word of comfort for you. God will not suffer you to die as you are. Continue to seek him in good earnest, and you will surely find him.” This was made a wonderful blessing to me, and shortly after I joined the Society.
Yet I found no lasting comfort, but felt the burden of sin increase more and more, till I had no hope left. I fully expected to go to hell, and knew it was just; yet I continued constantly in prayer. Many strove to comfort me; but it was in vain: I could receive no comfort. Thus I remained for two or three months, till March 1752. Then, for two or three days, I was as in hell, full of anguish and bitterness of soul. On March 20th, being in a great agony, I was crying to God to have mercy upon me, when I heard a voice, (inwardly or outwardly I cannot tell,) “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” I could not believe it. I cried out, “Me Lord! It cannot be me!” But it was repeated again and again, it may be twenty times, till I could not but believe it. I was quite overwhelmed with peace and love, and was unspeakably happy. From that moment I never could doubt at all, nor did I ever lose the love I then received. In March 1753, I married. Worldly troubles followed, which damped me a little, and inclined me to peevishness, so that sometimes for one, sometimes for two days, I was under a kind of cloud, not having so free and open an intercourse with God as I usually had. This concerned me much, and I never could rest, till the clear light returned. I was likewise concerned, that there should be any peevishness, or any sin in me, and longed to have it all taken away.
I had heard a great deal about Nicholas Manners, some believing what he said, and some disbelieving. In December 1756, I found means of talking with him. I asked, if he was not troubled by sin, or the temptations of the devil? He said, “No, not at all: I live as if there was no sin and no devil in the world.” He then gave me a particular account how God had dealt with his soul: which much increased my hope of perfect love, and my hunger and thirst after it.
In June last, I went to Leeds, and in the way called upon Samuel Massey, at Seacroft. He wept over me, and said, “O sister H—! God has a great work to do in you.” His words pierced my heart, and melted me into tears, so that I could hardly speak. At the same time I was so filled with the love of God, as I never had been before. And I felt no sin of any kind, so that I began to think I was fully delivered from it. I went and asked William Shent, “Can any one be thoroughly sanctified, and not know it?” He said “Certainly none can. For if the change at justification be glorious, that of full Sanctification must he much more glorious.” Then, I resolved never to rest, till I had as clear a witness of it as of my Justification.
When I returned to York, John Fenwick came and preached entire Sanctification clearly. This was food to my soul, which God applied, to my exceeding comfort. All the summer I was continually happy, and full of the love of God. Yet I had not that witness in myself, which I longed for, and expected daily.
One morning in July, John Johnson, in preaching said, “Before you can be entirely holy, it is absolutely needful, that you should be convinced of your unholiness.” Immediately I felt an unspeakable conviction of the holiness of God, and the unholiness of my heart. For about eight days I felt eternal things still nearer and nearer to me. I was full of hope and fear, and strong desire, and of uncommon, violent temptations.
Then I read over the latter part of the 36th chapter of Ezekiel, and saw the vast height, and depth of the promise, which strengthened me exceedingly. On Thursday, July 28, I was musing by myself, and saying in my heart, “Lord Jesus! what is it I would not part with for thy sake?” I thought, one by one, of my husband, my child, and all things I loved best. And I found they were
so little! They were nothing! I said, “Lord, I give thee all!” Immediately I heard as it were a voice, laying in my inmost soul, “Stand thou fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free.” I felt all evil, all fear, all darkness removed, and only fulness of light and love. I felt, and have done from that hour, an inexpressible oneness with God: such an union of nature with him, as it is impossible to describe. At the same time I felt violent pain in my body, as if it would burst asunder. But the joy over-powered it; for I found God making his abode in me. I have never found any decay since, but a continual increase in the knowledge and love of God. Three months after, I felt those words applied to my soul, in a manner I cannot express, They that trust in the Lord, shall be even as Mount Sion, which cannot be removed, but standeth fast for ever. From that time, I have been assured I shall not be removed: I stand fast in the Lord. I know he will never depart from me, nor shall I ever depart from him. Many times I know not what to ask for more: for I want nothing: I have Christ; I have All. But yet I do ask: I am always praying or giving thanks; for the Lord is always before me.