The Grace of God Manifested in an Account of Mrs. Crosby. Methodist Magazine XXIX (1806): 418-423, 465-473, 517-521, 563-568, 610-617.
Editor’s Introduction: Sarah Crosby was born in 1729 in Leeds. Like many of the women of early Methodism, she was drawn to religion early in life and seems to have come under the influence of a dissenting minister before hearing George Whitefield preach and converting to Methodism. Originally a Calvinist Methodist she was suspicious of John Wesley’s teaching but later came to know him personally and accept his doctrine of “Christian perfection.”In 1750 Crosby married and in 1752 she became a class leader for the first time. In 1757 her husband left her for good and Crosby moved to London – then the center of Methodism in England. While in London Crosby came in contact with several women who were to become vastly influential in Methodism – becoming a kind of spiritual mother to them. Sarah Ryan was a member of her class, and she also was the spiritual advisor to Frances Mortimer (later Pawson) and a young Mary Bosanquet, advising the latter in how to best deal with a father who disapproved of her growing involvement with Methodism.
In 1761 Crosby first experienced the call to preach when, while leading a class meeting in Derby, nearly 200 people showed up instead of the usual 30. Unsure about the propriety of speaking to such a large crowd but realizing that she could not speak to each individual personally, Crosby recounts that she “gave out an hymn, and prayed, and told them part of what the Lord had done for myself, persuading them to flee from all sin.” Afterwards she wrote John Wesley, asking for his advice and, in a letter dated Feb. 14, Wesley wrote, “I think you have not gone too far. You could not well do less. I apprehend all you can do more is, when you meet again, to tell them simply, ‘You lay me under a great difficulty. The Methodists do not allow of women preachers; neither do I take upon me any such character. But I will just nakedly tell you what is in my heart.’… I do not see that you have broken any law. Go on calmly and steadily. If you have time, you may read to them the Notes on any chapter before you speak a few words, or one of the most awakening sermons, as other women have done long ago.” In so doing Wesley both maintained the conservative line against women’s preaching, but tacitly acknowledged Crosby’s “extraordinary call” and authorized her sharing of her “experience” in public.
Crosby continued to travel and preach over the rest of her long life. In fact in December 1777 she records that, in the course of the past year she had rode 960 miles, preached at 220 public meetings, 600 private meetings, written 116 spiritual letters of advice. Furthermore, Crosby was deeply involved with the most important community of Methodist women who gathered around Mary Bosanquet Fletcher at Cross Hall in Madelely. At various times Crosby, Sarah Ryan, Mary Tooth, Ann Tripp, and Elizabeth Mortimer were all part of this community in Yorkshire that, among other things, operated an orphanage. Towards the end of her life Crosby moved back to her hometown of Leeds where she lived with Ann Tripp. She died October 24, 1804 at the age of 75 and an account of her life, along with extracts from her voluminous diaries (transcribed below) was published in a highly edited form in the Methodist Magazine in 1806. Unfortunately the larger autobiography from which the account was extracted has been lost to history.
The GRACE of GOD Manifested,
In an Account of Mrs. Crosby, of Leeds
To the EDITOR.
Islington, Jan. 7, 1806.
MANY have expressed a desire to see some account of that Mother in our Israel, Mrs. Crosby. Her valuable papers, which would more than fill a large volume, have, by her surviving friend, Mrs. T. been put into my hands; from which I have selected a few of those parts that relate chiefly to her own experience. Her account of many of her labours, and the difficulties she had to encounter, while seeking the good of precious souls, in that way to which she believed she had “an extraordinary call,” I have been obliged to omit, as too voluminous for your valuable publication; but hope what is here transcribed, will tend to quicken many to seek that degree of communion with God which she enjoyed.
Permit me to add, for near 36 years, I have been favoured with the particular friendship of this blessed woman, and for zeal for the glory of God, love to precious souls, manifested by unwearied labours, faithfulness in reproving what she thought wrong, and a happy facility in encouraging souls to struggle up the lull of holiness, have found few to equal her, but her praise is in all the
churches: she lives in the memory of thousands: many who are gathered home have cause to bless God they ever knew her, as well as many who are still engaged in the glorious warfare. But
I will detain your Readers no longer, from a narrative, written by my dear friend, in a letter to Mr. Wesley, giving an account of her awakening, &c. and, therefore, praying we may all more actively, “follow them, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises,” I hasten to subscribe myself,
Your unworthy Sifter in Christ,
E M [Elizabeth Mortimer]
London, August 7, 1757.
Rev. and dear Sir,
YOUR desire lays me under the blessed necessity of recollecting past mercies. From my childhood I had desires to serve God, and in particular to love Jesus Christ, and often wished I had lived when he was upon earth, that I might, like Mary, have sat at his feet, and followed him, whithersoever he went. I also often felt a painful wish, that I might be as good as ever any one was; and, on seeing funerals, would often say, “When I die, what will become of my soul: if I were but sure of going to heaven, I would not care what became of my body.” Whenever I feared punishment for a fault, I prayed fervently against it, and do not remember to have been blamed much, or corrected, except when I forgot to pray. Yet was I extremely rude and heedless, so that some who knew me feared for me. But, O Lord! thy thoughts are not as our thoughts!
When I was about 14 years of age, I began seriously to think I must not live as I had done. Accordingly, I went to church on week days, learned forms of prayer, and did many things for a time, but was always subject to bondage, through fear of death, saying, in my heart, “O! that I might never die, or that I knew God loved me!” Nevertheless, I found in me a strong propensity to delight in finding, dancing, playing at cards, and all kinds of diversions; but this I endeavoured to check from the beginning, not because I thought it sinful, but because I found, the more I give way to these things, the more unhappy I became.
About the age of 17, while sitting alone, I was struck, as I thought, with death; being seized with a cold trembling from head to foot, which increasing, I directly fell on my knees, and prayed the Lord to forgive my sins, and save my soul. All that I knew to be sin was then placed before me; so that I had but little hope of mercy. But while I laid myself down to die, my strength came to me again, for which I was very thankful, and made great promises
to live to God; but did not begin to put them in practice till some months after, when, reflecting on many things, I discerned in my soul an insatiable thirst for happiness. At first I thought it consisted in the abundance of things pertaining to this life; but was soon clearly convinced, if I possessed the whole universe, I should still be as far from happiness as ever.
A little after this, I was providentially brought to hear Mr. Andrews, a Dissenting Minister, who preached from these words, Isa. lxii. 3, “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God:” from which words he shewed, 1st. That Christ was so, and, 2dly, every Christian through Christ. I found my soul so drawn after God, at this time, that I determined to be a Christian at all events, and to hear this Minister at all opportunities; for I thought there was not such another man upon earth: I had many difficulties to break through; but was fixed to lose my life, rather than not hear him.
I now began earnestly to drive against every thing that I knew to be sin, and to practice all known duties; and I continued instant in prayer, for it was the very delight of my soul to pray at all times, and in all places. I also searched the Scriptures, as I had time, day and night; but the more I read, the more I was convinced I was not a Christian; yet I could not fear hell; for although I knew I was not fit for heaven, I firmly believed I should not die till God had made me fit. And, whenever I was oppressed, these words were my support, I know that my Redeemer livith. Hearing Mr. Andrews observe, that, without an interest in Christ, we could not be saved, I believed him, but thought I must make myself good, in order to come to Christ. Innumerable were my thoughts concerning God, myself, and the things of God, for upwards of two years. At the end of this time, finding myself worse, in my own apprehension, than when I began this new course, I was more distressed than ever, and knew not what to do; till at length I resolved to ask Mr. Andrews how I might get an interest in Christ. After asking me several questions, he told me
I had an interest in Christ, and that where God had begun a good work, he would carry it on. I believed what he said, and instantly felt my burden removed, and the peace of God flow into my heart. For several days my soul had felt an heavy burden, and I expected to hear Mr. A. say, “You have done all that you can do, and must now perish.” I now praised God, and was amazed that I should have an interest in Christ. What! such a wretch as I, be saved by grace!
I was 20 years old, within a week, when God revealed his Son in my heart, and now I thought all my sufferings were at an end. I laboured to persuade all with whom I converted, to come to
Christ, telling them there was love, joy, peace, &c. for all that came to him.
I now feared neither earth nor hell; and as to temptation, I scarce knew what it meant. My soul was happy and I desired only to suffer and die for him, who had revealed himself in my heart.
Soon after this, I was persuaded to hear Mr. Whitefield, and many blessings God gave me through him: in particular, while he was shewing the marks of one, whose sins were forgiven. I found them in myself, and this caused me to rejoice more abundantly; for, till then, I had not heard of such a thing: only of having an interest in Christ.
A fortnight after God spake peace to my soul, I was seized with, I believe, a rheumatic pain in my arm, from my elbow to my shoulder, so that I could not move it. This continued more than a week, during which time I often prayed the Lord to give me power to stretch out my arm, and was tempted to think I had no faith, otherwise I should immediately do it; but hearing my sister was near death, I was obliged to go into the country, and being grieved on account of my arm, not knowing how I could travel with it, while I was getting myself ready to go, I was suddenly enabled to lift it to my head, and felt no more pain than I do at this moment, nor have I felt any since. This filled me with a joyous surprise, and more abundant confidence in God, which supported me under a trial that I was soon called to pass through.
From this time for about two months, I had a persuasion, I should not live long; and the chief ground of it was, that I was at such a distance from God in my heart, and had not the mind which was in Christ. I was told, there was no deliverance from sin here: that I was in my first love, but should not always remain so. I thought, if there be no deliverance from sin here, then I must die, for I cannot rest without a fuller union with Christ, and it is better for me to die than not to be made like him my soul loveth. Accordingly, I wrote a letter to Mr. Andrews, and chose, as a text for my funeral sermon, Rev. xxi. 4, from which passage I desired him to preach when I died. Believing my time would be short here, I was willing to make the best of it, and often sat up till three or four in the morning, to write, read, and pray. At the end of the two months just mentioned the Lord laid his hand on Mr. A. His life was despaired of, which, when I heard, I immediately retired, and, falling down before God, sincerely desired and pleaded with the Lord, that he would take my life, and spare his; using this argument, that he might be instrumental of much good to others, but that I could do no good to any. But God answered me, “My thoughts and ways
are not as yours.” From which I had no hopes of his life, and also gave over all thoughts of my own death for the present, being then convinced I had more to do and to suffer, before I could enter the everlasting kingdom.
From the time I was justified, I had much conversation with a person, (who was afterwards my husband,) respecting Mr. Wesley and his Works, but my prejudices were strong against him. I read his Appeals to Men of Reason and Religion, and thereby begun to entertain a better opinion of him. Soon after, his Sermon on a Catholic Spirit was put into my hands. I liked it much, and longed to experience all that was there recommended, allowing it to be the truth. But I met with many discouragements, and was surrounded with persons, who did all they could to keep up my prejudices, and as yet their efforts prevailed.
About eight months after I had found peace with God, one Sunday morning I was awaked by a voice that seemed to come from the clouds, and reached my heart, filling it with peace and Joy, expressing several times, I will make with thee an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David. This was an hour before preaching at the Tabernacle. I said, I will go to the Foundery first, for I want to see Mr. W. He preached, but, as I thought, with no power. I remembered nothing he said, but this, “If it be possible for God to give us a little love, is it not possible for him to fill us with love?” This I have reason to remember; for I answered, in my heart, “Yes, it is possible, but he will not do it.” Mr. W. was just then going to Ireland, and I heard him no more for eight months.
A short time after this I married, and can truly say, my ultimate end in so doing was to live more to the glory of God, which, by his over-ruling providence, has been accomplished. Before this I desired to suffer, but now I began to do so in reality; and because I can hardly bear to reflect on some of my trials, much less relate them, I shall pass over what I now went through in silence: it is sufficient, God knoweth it all. The Lord had before allured me, now he began to lead me into the wilderness. I found I had still a barren and uncultivated heart. Satan often suggested, that I was not justified, and that my faith was all a delusion. But I thought, “If I am not justified, there is no such thing as justification.” Still, however, I was not happy: I was like Noah’s dove; nor found I, in the whole creation, ought whereon to rest my foul.
During this time, I frequently heard Mr. C. Wesley, and was often much comforted under his ministry, I thought, “It is possible for God to fill a soul with love; and, if he will fill me, sure I am willing to receive.” But I knew not myself, though I painfully
felt my want of purity of heart. I now read Mr. J. Wesley’s Sermon on Christian Perfection, and was convinced, if this were what he meant by Perfection, God could and would make me thus perfect: but I felt much need of that faith and patience which inherit the promises. I was greatly tempted, and often thought what I felt was a judgment from God, for speaking against Mr. W. and that the Lord, to humble me, would help me only by him. Soon after he returned from Ireland, I went to speak to him, and freely acknowledged all I had said and thought against him. Immediately I joined the society, and it was unto me according to my faith, for I never spoke to him without a peculiar blessing.
The Lord now shewed me, more deeply than ever, that my inward parts were very wickedness, and that I was as an unclean thing before him: yet I prayed to know myself as I was known of God, for I could not bear that he should see a sink of sin
within me, and I not know it myself. Whatever damped my hope of holiness was like separating my soul from my body, for I could no longer be any farther happy than I was holy, and it was often impressed on my mind, that, after I had suffered awhile, I should be made perfect.
I had still reasonings about predestination, till, (after a deliverance from great temptation,) God applied this verse to my soul by the power of his Spirit:“Infinite, unexhausted Love! Jesus and Love are one: If still to me thy bowels move, They are restrain’d to none,”
Since that time I have had no doubt but grace is free for all. This has been well for me; for, in times of great distress, I have said, “Could I believe God made one soul to be damned, I should believe I was that soul.” But I cannot believe he did.
Many times I was tempted to curse the day that I was born, and often spoke unadvisedly with my lips. In the depth of my distress I cried, My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me? For I saw, as it were, the flames of hell surrounding my soul. And once in particular, after I had so said, falling down on my face before the Lord, Jesus appeared to the eye of faith, and spoke those words to my soul : Lock on him whom thou hast pierced, and mourn. Immediately the words were fulfilled; for I seemed to be permitted to wash his feet with tears, whose blood had flowed for me.
For three years especially did I drink of the cup of trembling; being afflicted, tost with tempests, and not comforted. Sometimes I said,“Who shall tell me, if the strife, In heaven or hell shall end?”
During this time I denied myself in all things, and took up my cross daily, being not so much grieved that God gave me, (as I thought), more trials than others, as that I did not bear than like a Christian. For,“Obedience was my pure delight, To do the pleasure of my Lord.”
Even now I found no happiness but in obeying God, and constantly endeavoured to walk in all his commandments and ordinances blameless. Yet I was deeply sensible, without love it would profit me nothing.
At this time I often painfully felt the sins of all mankind, as well as my own. For the more conscious I was of the depravity of my own soul, the more was I constrained to say: “Lord, what havock has sin and Satan made in thy world!” From the love I felt
to those I knew to be equally fallen from original righteousness with myself, I often desired to be instrumental in turning them to God, and never had a moment’s peace any longer than I endeavoured to aim at this wherever I came.
God continued to give me a still deeper knowledge of myself; and most of the evils which I heard of in others, I felt in some degree in my own heart , but pride, self-will, anger, and unbelief, were most predominant. And in my most trying times, I never found help but by falling down before God, freely confessing all my wretchedness, and then asking if he could and would save such a wretch, for his Son’s sake?
I had one friend, who always succoured me in my distress. But he did not know half my trials. Besides, I feared trusting in an arm of flesh, therefore often kept my troubles to myself, and found the Sinner’s Friend to be mine. I can truly say, I have often kneeled down before the Lord, as wretched and miserable as I can conceive it possible for a soul to be on this side hell, and risen again with the peace and love of God in my heart. When I have asked the Lord, “Why I was thus afflicted?” it was often suggested, “For the good of others.” Then I have said, “I will gladly suffer it all.”
I know not that, for almost seven years after I knew the Lord, I was ever a day together without being tempted; and the inward conflicts I endured day and night, added to outward labours, and constant abstinence, weakened my body, and hurt my constitution much. But I have often been thankful that, amidst all my temptations, I was scarce ever tempted to doubt of the Divinity of Jesus Christ; and one reason is, because I have so often found that, when I have been surrounded with an host of foes, and could find no other help in earth or heaven, his mighty Name has set me free.
During this time of trial, however, the Lord often comforted me by applying his promises to my soul, causing me to hope for his perfect love, and once spoke most powerfully to my heart, in those words, “Every plant which my heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted up;” so that then, and at many other times, I had as clear a witness that I should be fully sanctified before death, as that I was then justified. At other times I doubted it but still determined that the struggle, but with life should end.
I again now enjoyed much peace, and was often warned of a greater trial coming upon me than ever I had experienced. Once in prayer, I seemed to be taken into heaven, and permitted to lean on the breast of Christ. He seemed to weep over me, because there would be but an hair’s breadth between life and death to my soul, in the trial that was coming. Yet my Lord assured me, if I were
faithful in this trial, he himself would be my portion in time, and in eternity. My soul was melted down before him; I prayed I might resign my breath then, through fear I should not endure the fiery trial.
Soon after this the Lord shewed me that an idol was in my heart still, which I thought I had given up long before. But I now found I could no more give it up than I could reach heaven with my hand; therefore I prayed God to command me, rather to pluck the eye out of my head, or cut the arm from my body, because I could more easily obey him in that, than give up what he required. The Lord now shewed me, that I was the vilest of the vile; for, by tracing this to the root I discovered such a depth of wickedness, as before I knew not to be in me; and I plainly saw, it was only owing to his mercy and restraining grace, that I was not outwardly as bad as any; therefore, I was under greater obligations to love and serve him alone; and, from this time, I believed that a sinful thought, indulged by me, was more abominable in the fight of God, than all the sins committed by unawakened persons. Till now I knew not the time that I had not a desire to love Jesus Christ; but now I saw, if I could have found happiness in any creature, I should never have fought him, which base ingratitude caused me to abhor myself still more.
During this time all the sensible comfort I felt (more than from hope), was once in prayer, when these words were applied to my mind, “When thy flesh and heart fail, I will take thee up.” Frequently, however, in the midst of my sufferings, when I could find no help from any other quarter, I have found relief in reading or singing Mr. C. Wesley’s hymns, which, as well as many of your (J. Wesley’s) sermons, have been special blessings to me.
I was now convinced, that I had hitherto fought knowledge more than the love of God, which error I prayed God to forgive, promising I would now seek his love alone. I often said, not all the creatures on earth, nor all the angels in heaven, can help my soul! None but Jesus Christ can save me. At length, one day, while I was sitting at work, the Lord Jesus appeared to the eye of my mind, surrounded with glory, while his love overwhelmed me: I said, this is the power I have waited for, and was“Constrain’d to cry, by love divine, My God! thou art for ever mine.”
I now felt my idol was beneath my feet, and so it has remained ever since. My soul seemed all love, and I desired nothing so much as to lay down my life for others, that they might feel the same. This was about three years and an half after I was justified, and for the three years following, God gave me to
walk in the light of his countenance, until the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleansed me from all sin. From this time, I had no fear respecting my perseverance; and when you have said “The greatest trial may come at last,” my heart has answered to God, “Thou wilt never more hide thy face from my soul, as thou hast done in times past.” And since then I have never doubted my justification before God.
Soon after I was made a Leader of a class, an office which I was tempted to think God did not require me to undertake. I knew none but he could enable me to guide souls aright; and, therefore, prayed much to know, whether I was not doing the will of others, or my own, rather than his will, beseeching him to answer me by giving some one a great blessing. But he shewed me, while on my knees, that I should be tried, thwarted, and contradicted; and that the evil must be purged out of my own heart, before I should see much fruit respecting others. This satisfied me for a time, and I went on doing all the good I could to all that came in my way, bearing many burdens in my body and mind, and all the injuries offered me from others; and making this my motto, Do well, and suffer ill.
The greatest of my sufferings now was, that I had not always a witness that I pleased God. I no more thought hardly of any thing I met with; but received all as from the hand of God, blessing him from the ground of my heart, for accounting me worthy not only to believe in his name, but also to suffer for his sake. And I could truly say, “I wrestle not now, but trample on sin;” but might add, I wrestle with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places, and was often much distressed thereby: I was willing, however, to endure it to the end of my life, if I knew it were the will of God.
I now began to meet with trials from an unexpected quarter. But God had taught me, by this time, to be amazed at nothing but his goodness; I, therefore, accounted all things but dung, that I might so win Christ as to attain to a resurrection from dead works, to serve the living God in spirit and truth, continually. Often did I tell the Lord, my soul should never know rest, till I was saved from that root of bitterness I felt within.“And day and night my ceaseless cries, Did to the Mercy-Seat arise: Come, thou holy God, and true! Come, and my whole heart renew.”
The trials I now met with wore not on account of my seeking my own good; but because I sought the good of others. I could easily have shunned them, if I had dared to lay down the cross:
But I now loved the cross of Christ more than my life; nevertheless, I was much tempted to think, I went too far; but some Scriptures were often deeply impressed on my mind, through which I dared not act otherwise than I did. And I was often as clearly convinced as of the shining of the sun, that the time I spent in endeavouring to do good to others was God’s; and that, if I would not give it him in this way, he would take it either by sickness, or some other Providence, from which I might easily discern his will.
At one time, fearing I did wrong, because the fruit did not appear to be answerable to the labour, while I was praying, God shewed me two pieces of ground, wherein two persons had sowed seed. The one sprung up immediately, and was covered with young green plants: the other did not spring up at all for some time, and then but in a small degree. But he made sensible, that the last might take deeper root, and bear more lasting fruit; and if it should not, every one should receive his own reward, according to his own labour. I mention these particulars, to show the amazing condescension of God, and because all the trials I met with now, were on account of my meeting classes, band, and visiting the people. From this time I walked in glorious liberty, and“Nothing sought beneath, above, Happy, happy in his love.”
It seemed now only needful for God to speak the word, and sin should be no more! Sometimes I thought he had done this; but then I feared deceiving myself, and continued to pray that he would seal me his, in the bonds of an everlasting covenant. Once, when I was kneeling down to pray, it was suggested to my soul with much power, “Ask what thou wilt, and I will do it for thee.” My soul was amazed, and replied, “Lord, I ask nothing in earth, or heaven, but perfect holiness;” and this I was assured I should receive. My heart seemed now to be dissolved in love; the presence of God surrounded me, and I have slept as in the arms of his love.
I was fully assured I should be finally saved; but what I wanted was, that God would shew me whether he had taken the root of sin out of my heart, and sealed me by his Spirit.
Not long after this, as I was praying, my soul was overwhelmed with the power of God: I seemed to see the Lord Jesus before me, and said, “Lord, I am ready to follow thee, not only to prison, but to death, if thou wilt give me strength;” and he spoke these words to my heart, “Feed my sheep.” I answered, “Lord, I will do as thou hast done; I will carry the lambs in my bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
From this time I continued happy for some months, till one that loved me, said, “You go too far; you bring many pressures upon your mind, and destroy your body; others do not so, and God does not require it of you.” On this I reasoned, and thought, perhaps, I do go too far, and judged myself to much the more unfit for heaven, for all I had said and done for God; and this was an inlet to such floods of temptation, as it is not easy to describe; and I often deplored my loss of the delight and happiness, which I before enjoyed in my Beloved, mourning all the day long, as one that mourns for her first-born; determining, however, never to rest till I know the true state of my soul, by a witness clearer than the noon-day sun. I often asked the Lord, what I could do, or leave udone, and was willing to want all earthly comforts, so I might enjoy his constant presence. But unbelief wrought powerfully: I could not cast myself, as aforetime, on my precious Saviour.
I was often constrained to say, “O that my day of Pentecost were fully come! O that God would deliver me from this bondage of original corruption.” Once, in this time of trial, the Lord showed me, that he was preparing me for a greater blessing than I had ever had. After this, when I was at prayer, I could indeed say,“I loathe myself when God I see, And into nothing fall, &c.”
and felt myself joined to the Lord in one Spirit. I then saw my Pattern go before me, and read these words as in the traces of his feet, “Christ also suffered, leaving us an example;” and Lord, “Lord, I desire to suffer with thee, and for thee, but am not able;” and was answered, “As thy day, so shall thy strength be.” My soul exulted in God; and, from this time till it was fulfilled, these words were in my mouth and heart:“Burst the cloud, descend the storm, And come the fiery hour!”
And now the fiery hour came, but how shall I relate it? In an instant of time, from a small trial that happened to me, feeling yet the man of sin within, I was in such an agony of body and soul, as it is not easy to conceive. In an hour and half, I had hardly life left in me; though I found additional strength given me for the trial, but for several days, my body was as though it had been beaten. I often said, however,“Thou Man of Griefs, I fain would be, Perfectly conform’d to thee.”
To give an account of all the fiery darts and suggestions I was assaulted with at this time, would be impossible; but the most painful was, that God had shut out my spirit from his presence
for ever; compared to which misery, I thought, had Ministers and people trampled me under their feet, it would have been as nothing. Satan now suggested, “Will you ever exalt Christ again? Will you dare to say, God is Love?” I answered, in my heart, “I will exalt Jesus Christ; I will say,
God is Love, while I have breath.” Then said he, “Where is now his love to let you suffer thus?”
In the midst of these exercises, however, the Lord lifted up my head, and often enabled me to say, in faith, “Although the fig-tree do not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vine, or herd in the stall, &c. yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation; for when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
I now perceived God had restrained the tempter, and began to enquire, “What condemnation is there in my soul? There is no condemnation for those that are in Jesus Christ. How is it, that, in all I have suffered for these three years past, I have not felt the least inclination to turn back from the path of life, or entertained one hard thought of God?” I then appealed to him: “Lord, dost thou not know that all my aims and intentions are upright before thee?” And I felt a witness in myself it was so. I further thought, “Has not Jesus Christ bore all my sins in his own body on the tree? And has he not bore my original, as well as my actual sin? If so, has he not answered for all my deviations from the perfect law of God too? Then God cannot be merciful and just, and send my soul to hell; I shall never go there!”
I now felt my soul fully cast on the Lord Jesus, and found rest, which before I had not known, while peace and love filled my heart.
The day after, at church, the Lord shewed me, that many things which I had thought were sins, were only temptations and also what a little thing it was for him to take the root of sin out of my heart. I feared to believe he had done it; but asked a token, and prayed he would stamp me with his Spirit’s seal, and speak to my soul at his table; and was refreshed with these words:“There, there we shall stand, With our harps in our hand, Interrupted no more, And eternally sing, and rejoice, and adore!”
The next day I could not help believing, God had taken full possession of my heart; for though I felt myself weaker than ever; yet the Lord was my strength. I enquired, How is my will now? Before I felt it had not much power over me; but now it was quite resigned to the will of my Lord. I felt my soul as
a vessel emptied, but not filled. Day and night I was amazed at the blessed change my soul experienced; but I said nothing to any one, because I was not, as yet, sure what the Lord had done for me; though I had always promised, if the Lord would but fully save me, I would declare his goodness, although I believed it would expose me to various exercises, both from Ministers and people.
A few days after this, reasonings were suggested to my mind, with regard to what I ought to do, in order to please God. Immediately I kneeled down, and besought the Lord, if he were my God, to lift up a standard against the enemy, and answer me from his Word, which I then opened on my knees, on these words, Isa. lx. 18, 19, 20. I then believed God would be a light unto me: directly he brought to my remembrance, how often he had shewed me, how I ought to walk to please him.
I now prayed much, that God might shew me, if he had taken away the root of sin from my heart; and also, if I had been saved from sin in the temptations that were past. And he shewed me, as many waters cannot quench love, neither could the floods drown it, so neither had these floods of temptation he had brought me through, quenched the love he had given me to himself; for that it was the love that never faileth.
I was now exceeding happy; yet I prayed the Lord, if any farther witness was necessary, he would give it me. Soon after the glory of the Lord shone around me. I saw, by faith, the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit had often given me such views of the Saviour, and of his love and mercy to every upright soul, as had filled me with unspeakable Consolation; but now I was assured of the Father’s love, and could not help saying, They are three, and yet but one God; in glory equal, in majesty co-eternal. I then said in my heart, and with my lips, “O! thou holy Triune God!” The Spirit then powerfully spake to my soul, saying, “I will dwell in thee forever.” I said in my heart, “There is no fear in love; perfect love casteth out fear.”
From this time I was more established in the truths I had been taught, and which I now felt the Lord fulfilling in me. I no longer scrupled to declare the great work he had wrought in me; and, after so doing, generally felt he afresh shone on my soul. I walked in light and liberty; and, blessed be God, continue to do so, but I long for more. Frequently he allures me, he will manifest himself more fully than he has yet done. This I am waiting for, and beg leave to subscribe myself,
Your unworthy Child,
EXTRACT from Mrs. Crosby’s Diary
JANUARY 31, 1761. On the 7th I left London, and the 8th, reached Derby. I met a few friends, and we were truly sensible of the presence of our divine Master. This is as yet a barren place, but my Lord has made it as the garden of Eden to my soul. I have had many blessed interviews with the King of kings, and have sat under his shadow with delight, while his fruit has been sweet to my taste. On the 17th, I had a profitable time in conversation with a friend: and was much blest in meeting a few
who, I believe, desire to save their souls. Saturday the 24th, I was much quickened in prayer: my soul was deeply sensible of the presence of God. I saw great perfection in him, and many imperfections in myself, which I desire to be saved from. I felt my soul humbled before him, and had also power given me to rejoice with joy unspeakable, and great liberty to pray for friends and all mankind. Praised be the Lord, who maketh this house an house of prayer. This morning I rose much refreshed at six, and humbled myself before the Lord for the unprofitableness of my dreams: found the presence of my Lord while reading, and all the day enjoyed calm and steady peace.
Sunday, Feb. 1. This morning I was poorly in body, but the Lord was present with me, especially in prayer. At church I found him near, and was truly thankful for the opportunity of going to his table. In the evening I was much afflicted by a sense of the presence of my Lord, while I met twenty-seven people in class.
Sun. 8. This day my mind has been calmly stayed on God. In the evening I expected to meet about thirty persons in class: but to my great surprise there came near two hundred. I found an awful, loving sense of the Lord’s presence, and much love to the people: but was much affected both in body and mind. I was not sure whether it was right for me to exhort in so public a manner, and yet I saw it impracticable to meet all these people by way of speaking particularly to each individual. I, therefore, gave out an hymn, and prayed, and told them part of what the Lord had done for myself, persuading them to flee from all sin.
Friday 13. This day being appointed for a public Fast, I humbled myself in prayer. In the evening I exhorted near two hundred people to forsake their sins, and shewed them the willingness of Christ to save: They flock as doves to the windows, tho’ as yet we have no preacher. Surely, Lord, thou hast much people in this place! My soul was much comforted in speaking to the people, as my Lord has removed all my scruples respecting the propriety of my acting thus publicly.
Wednesday l8. Yesterday I visited a dying person: met two classes, and was much engaged with friends: my Lord was with me.“O how shall I thy goodness tell, Saviour, which thou to me hast shewn!”
I have been all this day kept in perfect peace, and in the evening, was much drawn out in prayer for myself, and all my dear friends, O my Jesus, thou art my all in all!“Sink me to perfection’s height, The depth of humble love!”
Friday 20. I arose this morning happy in God. In prayer with a dear friend, my heart was melted into love and tenderness with desire for the prosperity of all the children of my heavenly Father, particularly his messengers. For these seemed as if I could have wept my life away before him. I found much of the Lord’s presence all day, and was thankful for a disappointment I met with in the evening.
Tuesday 24. I rose very weak in body, and grieved in spirit for one who had given way to Satan. I commended him and myself into the hands of God, and found my soul kept in peace. I was much comforted in the evening by the coming of brother G—h: with whom I had some profitable conversation.
Wednesday 25, brother G. preached this morning at five. I was thankful to hear the Word of God preached here, and also to find that faith, hope, and love, abode in my heart. Most of the day I have been engaged in outward things, and do not find as much nearness to God as usual.
Thursday 26, this morning I rose in the spirit of prayer, and with strong desires to be more devoted to God. I have been praying for more humility: my Lord shewed me the way to increase therein, was to consider myself the servant of all for Christ’s sake. O that I may never more forgot it. I was much blest while writing to some friends.
Good-Friday, March 20, I was very ill this morning, but enabled to go to Church, and commemorate the death of my precious Lord. In the evening I read a sermon on the occasion to several persons, who were met together, and went to bed weary but happy in God.
Sunday 22, I was very weak this morning, but found the Lord near in family prayer. All the day my soul was happy. In the evening the Lord was very present while I prayed and exhorted many sinners to turn to God: they were much affected. I found nearness to God in private prayer: my strength of body began to return, and has increased every since.“Praise the mighty Jesu’s Name: Thee, the Friend of sinners, sing, Whose love is ever new.”
Wednesday 25. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” Blessed be thy name, thou hast kept me in perfect peace this day, and enabled me to humble myself before thee on account of many past follies. Let me sink in the abyss of love divine!
Monday, April 13. O my God, thou hast been pleased to try the faith of thy poor helpless creature this week past; but thou remembered we are but dust, and puttest thy everlasting arms
beneath me. In my journey to London, I met with the greatest trial I ever had, at least, that which gave me the most pain. pray thee to reward the kindness of the friend that was with me, and in this ma see thy loving kindness to so poor a worm as I. Amazing are thy providential dealings, O my God!
Sunday, May 22, 1763. This has been a good day to my soul. I could join with Mr. C. Wesley, in acknowledging the more grace a person has, the more he knows of his own meanness and poverty, distrusting himself while he trusts wholly in Christ. This mark I have, as Mr. C. W. explained it. I come to the Lord empty, not full; poor, not rich, and weak, not strong. Alas! how pour and weak I am, who can tell but he that judgeth righteous judgment! I seem to myself to be all infirmity, and can truly say, “No good thing dwelleth in my flesh.” I am not, indeed, torn by wrong tempers, or sinful desires: in this respect I have rest; and not only in this: for my confidence in the Lord is strong and increaseth daily, as also my love to him and his dear children: but I have one want, one desire, which is yet unsatisfied, and that is, that I may always live in the spirit and mind of Jesus. O who can conceive the degree of mildness his precious heart felt to poor sinners, or the tenderness of love that melted his breast towards his own people: or that fervency of delight he enjoyod in communion with his heavenly Father? O Jesus, explain this to my heart!
June 29. This day I was grieved that I could not get more time for retirement. As soon as the way opened, I embraced the opportunity: my soul was truly humbled, and, full of holy shame, adored him, who sitteth upon the circle of the heavens, and ruleth all the inhabitants of the earth. I felt myself under an extraordinary influence of the spirit of love to Jesus and his children, for nine hours.
July 6. This is a day that ought to be remembered by me, because my dearest Lord and Master has given me to lie at his pierced bleeding feet, and, by faith, to bathe them with my tears. I rejoiced to think he had taken my nature upon him, by which means alone I can have access to and fellowship with God. In the sight of his blissful countenance I then saw how just it would be in him to cast me off for over, for my base ingratitude and unfaithfulness to the Bridegroom of my soul. Surely none deserve hell so much as I. O infinite love! Free, boundless grace shall be my theme through all eternity! I, even I, possess a divine confidence within my breast, that all my sins are swallowed up in that boundless ocean. In my own eyes I am stript of all that nature can admire itself for, or delight itself in. I have nothing to say before heaven’s glorious King: but that “I am empty, poor, and base, yet, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.
The power to do this is thy gift, O Lord, increase it!” I find liberty with God, and freedom with God, and freedom from creatures, Jesus is my All: yet I enjoy the communion of saints. When a question occurs to my mind, Is there no glorying in all this? I reply, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Christ.” My soul says concerning itself, as the Jews of our Lord, “Crucify me, crucify me.”
August 8. Gracious Lord, how shall thy poor creature praise thee? Help me to “take the cup of salvation, and call on the Name of the Lord.” What great mercy hast thou shewed me this month past! Thou hast often taken me into thy banqueting house, and thy banner over me has been love. Now I sit under thy shadow with great delight. O blessed Jesus! thou hast also greatly humbled me before thee, giving me to remember my past sins and follie.May I this life improve To mourn for follies past; And live this short revolving day, As if it were my last.
This thou knowest is the one desire of my heart. O what hast thou done for me! What a great deliverance hast thou wrought! Lord, make me pure, spiritual, holy. Mould, as thou wilt the passive clay. Sweetly and quietly to live in thy will, and prove that God, my God is love, is my request. Wilt thou not grant it? Lord, increase my faith, for, “Whate’er I ask in faith I have, as sure as God is true.”
Love constrains me to say, that under some particular exercises, I have made my requests known to him, and have not been sent empty away. Jesus has redressed my grievances, and taken away the desire I once had for an earthly friend. Now I only want this and every thing else in my Lord’s will. He gives me to find in himself, the kind, the tender, faithful, and profitable Friend I have long wanted.“What can I desire beside? Jesus for my Friend I claim! Jesus is my faithful Guide, Happy in his love I am.”
SUNDAY, May 1, 1768, full of faith and expectation, I met the band. Jesus made me his mouth unto the people, and poured the spirit of love, zeal, and wisdom upon me, for their instruction. In the last prayer, he so abundantly revealed his glory to the eye of my faith, as melted my soul before him and them: they catched the holy flame, while tears of love overflowed my eyes. O! the great, the glorious love, wherewith the Father himself loveth us! A taste causeth my soul to melt in desire and love before him. I prayed with the family, and B. T. prayed: my simple faith and access to God was much increased. I wanted my Lord to tell me he had sealed me his forever. My soul seemed all faith: all the promises shall be fulfilled in me, I shall “no more on this side Jordan stop, but now the land possess.” The prayer is filed in heaven; the grant is sealed; I wait the answer from above. I believe, without doubting, that the Lord will more abundantly overshadow my soul with his love. “I trust, and am not afraid; for the Lord, Jehovah, is my strength and my song: he also is become my salvation.” My unbelief is buried in my Saviour’s grave. “It shall no more rise:” But
564“Out of his grave the saint shall rise, And grasp, thro’ death, the glorious prize.”
Victory! Victory! This is the victory, even my faith. Thine is the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Monday 14. This was a day of fatigue in outward employment, but I had inward rest. In the night, Sister R. was taken very ill; but soon our Lord poured a spirit of prayer on us all. I believed before, but now I was assured we should go to live in Yorkshire. While I prayed, the Spirit of faith rested on me. I felt the Lord very near, and in his light saw, that he had already appointed the place where we should pitch our tent, though as yet unknown to us; and as I said, “Lord, guide us:” he answered in my heart: “The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones, and be unto us as a place of broad rivers and streams;” while his light, as the brightness of the sun, shall shine upon our path. O! that I may be ever thankful for this favour!
Thursday, July 14, 1769. I unfeignedly thank my Lord, for all the fatigue of body and mind his powerful hand has helped me through since I last recorded his mercies. Before we left Laton-Stone, we had a time of suffering, and our journey into Yorkshire was trying to the flesh; but our Lord brought us safe hither, at the appointed time. Since we came to this place, it is impossible to describe our sorrows, or satan’s assaults; yet hitherto hath the Lord helped us, and our confidence in him is greatly increasd. From the first I always believed, it was the will of God, we should come and settle in Yorkshire; but never did I discern satan oppose any thing with more violence and constancy than he has done this. My prayer has been, that he might not be suffered to frustrate the Divine will, and I believe he shall not; but “that out of the eater shall come forth meat;” and “when our Lord has tried us, we shall come forth as gold.”
Feb. 2, 1773. It is sixteen years this day, since my husband went from me, and from that time I have believed I should see him no more in this world; but from that very time, thou, my God, haft been my Husband, Father, and Friend. My wants have been richly supplied out of thine abundant fulness through Christ Jesus.“I need no more, who all possess In Jesu’s heart-felt love.”
O! that I had been always strictly faithful to my best of friends! But thou passest all my follies by.
Thou seest, but thou imput’st them not.”
My Saviour’s meritorious blood has washed them all away. I am freely, abundantly forgiven. Let my added life shew forth thy praise.
April 2. I was much blest in private prayer this morning, and very thankful for finding no clouds between God and my soul. I was amazed to think, with what ease and freedom my soul approaches its God! I have no tormenting fears of death, or of any thing else, and yet I feel myself all infirmity and weakness. Surely this is a mystery the Spirit of God alone can explain. It seems, according to that word, “The spiritual man judgeth all things; yet he himself is judged of no man.” To be spiritually-minded is life and peace, though in the midst of infirmities. O! the virtue of the precious blood of Jesus!
Monday, Nov. 1. My soul is delighted with the presence of my loving God. I taste in thee celestial sweetness. Surely, “All weight’s in this, O! let me live to thee!” and where thou pleases; all thou doest is right. I have offered myself up to thee this morning, to send me into another land, if thou pleasest. I am willing to leave my native land, and all my friends, to follow thy order; for my rest is all in thy will. I believe thou wilt fit me for all thou called me to: my trust is in thee, and all my blessings come from thee. May I be careful for nothing, but cast all my care on thee.
While conversing with some friends, I found a persuasion, which has lately rested on my mind, much increased, viz. that though we had prayed much for blessings, we had not praised God, as we ought to have done, for those which he had conferred on us. And, in particular, we were all made sensible, we had not borne testimony simply and plainly, at all proper times, to the great salvation God had wrought in us; nor praised him for it, as it was our duty to do; and that, therefore, we had some times suffered loss in our souls. O! that the time past may suffice! Lord, help me to be thy witness in this also. A field of light opened before me; and, by persuading every one I spoke to, to praise God for what he had done for them, my own soul was lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Jan. 1, 1774. Glory be unto thee, my Almighty Father, my eyes are again blest with the sight of a new year! With this new year, O! my good God, let me begin afresh to praise thee! I freely offer myself up unto thee: guide me by thine eye, instruct me by thy Providence and thy Spirit, for I am thine: thou hast accepted me, although the most unworthy of all whoe’er thy grace received: keep me at thy feet till thou shalt take me up to call my crown before thee, O! thou holy, triune God!
Sunday 2. I rose before six, and had a sweet morning. I opened upon the 8th verse of the 143d Psalm, which set my foul on fire with Divine Love. O! how good thou art! I had a comfortable ride to D—-r, about ten miles, with a friend. It was the strongest frost I ever knew. We had a good meeting, with many simple people, and rode home in the evening. I was almost starved with the cold, but sweetly happy. Our conversation was on the great love of Jesus: self-denial, and taking up the blessed cross.“To the cross, thine altar, bind Me, with the cords of love.”
Tuesday, May 23, 1776. I have enjoyed some sweet, solemn seasons lately. I see myself encompassed with mercies, which sinks me into the dust, while I am lost in the praises of my God. I have been thinking, if my Lord should call me to die for his truth; to be a martyr would be a high honour conferred upon a worm, of which I am not worthy; nor have I grace enough to choose it: but I can trust him to give me strength for all he requires. Glory for ever be given to his adorable Name, I have sat under his shadow with great delight, while writing to dear B—- R—-. My soul has been dissolved in Divine love.
Sept. 23. I met a few persons at five; and afterwards had a very extraordinary time from 11 to 12, alone, with Jesus. My soul was melted into gracious tears, while all within me praised his holy Name. I told him all my heart, and he soon answered some of my prayers: tears of love o’erflowed my eyes, and these words were sweetly brought to my mind:“Come, saints, and drop a tear or two, On the dear bosom of your God.”
As soon as I arose from my knees, those precious words were applied with power to my heart:“God is my all-sufficient Good, My Portion, and my Choice: In him my vast desires are fill’d, And all my powers rejoice.”
Thursday, Oct. 14. I had a blessed meeting at six, and afterwards a good time in band, with the married women. I spent a comfortable afternoon with the loving people at —–, and met a house full at six: it was such a meeting as several of them never enjoyed before. I have not often had such a one. My Lord so poured on me the spirit of prayer, as I know not how to describe. I thought I could have died for sinners, my God put such a desire into my heart for their salvation. Most of them were much affected. Hundreds of tears were shed, and the cries of many ascended
up before our Lord. Several were more deeply awakened than they had ever been before, and some filled with hope of his near approach. The powerful presence of Jehovah filled the house. O! how shall a worm adore thee? Thou hast taught me to give all the glory of thy grace to thee, my God, and my All.
Wednesday, Dec. 31, 1777. Glory be unto thee, my Lord, who hast brought thy poor helpless creature to the end of another year. How shall I thank thee for all thy multiplied mercies! I have not improved either my time, or talents, as I wish I had, nor profited by my mercies, as I ought to have done. Yet, blessed be my gracious Father, I have great cause to be thankful on many accounts. I have lived, (adored be my kind Saviour), a life of heaven upon earth, and made some use of my time, and multiplied mercies. If I know myself, my one desire has been to glorify my Lord, in thought, word, and deed, and to serve his dear children: in doing which I have many times taken up my cross many ways; some of which can only be known to my Saviour. My strength I ascribe unto thee, my Lord God. Thou hast enabled me, from the first of last January to the fourth of this month, (December,) to ride 960 miles, to keep 220 public meetings, at many of which some hundreds of precious fouls were present, about 600 private meetings, and to write an 116 letters, many of them long ones: besides many, many conversations with souls in private, the effect of which will, I trust, be “as bread cast on the waters.” All glory be unto him, who has strengthened his poor worm. Since the 4th I have employed myself chiefly in retirement, and in assisting the little flock at Whitby.
April 23, 1778. O! how good thou art, my Lord, thus to bless an helpless worm! While praying alone, my spirit was overpowered with the Divine presence: my soul melted within me, with love to my Lord, and very fervent desires for the salvation of precious souls, especially the souls I had lately been called to speak to in five or six places. Sure I am that prayer, and those tears, cannot remain unanswered. It seemed as though I could not live, if Jesus did not save sinners. Several very dear friends were much on my mind, for whom I poured out my very soul before God. I had a solemn, happy day, and in the evening a good meeting with many attentive people, to whom I spoke a little from the 23d Psalm.
Saturday, May 9. Glory be unto my Lord, who has taken me into his banqueting house, and his banner over me has been love. I abode on my knees an hour and half, and was penetrated with the Divine presence, while all my foul seemed dissolved in, love. O! how precious was my Jesus. I felt, I loved him above
all his creatures, though he poured much love into my heart for my friends also, and for all his creatures. How good is God! Words are too mean to speak thy worth: let silence praise thee for the mercy this day manifested toward the most unworthy.
The latter end of September, 1799, Mrs. C. writes a short JL narrative of the Lord’s gracious dealings with her, both as it respects grace and providence, and adds, “I have neglected to record many of my journeys and labours; also the blessed manifestations of his love, and divine communion, both day and night, which I have often been favoured with, during these last 20 or more years, for various reasons. Let me never forget or neglect to be thankful to thee, the blessed Author of all my mercies, for the multiplied favours thou hast bestowed, and art increasingly bestowing!”
I am now near 70, and have lived near six years in this house, (at Leeds:) I have found, and still find it, a peaceful habitation, a quiet resting-place, both to soul and body. I am often afflicted with painful infirmities of body, and am not altogether without temptations of different kinds, though I am assaulted with few, very few that interrupt my peace: yet sometimes they hinder my joy in God; but my soul, in general, dwells in peace and love. I live by faith on Jesus, my precious Saviour, and find my last days
are my best days, not one of all the good things the Lord hath promised, having failed.
Blessed be my Lord, he enables me to meet two classes, of about 50 persons each, every week, and two or three band. He inclines many to come, who have long met with me, though they live at a distance. May our Lord abundantly bless their precious souls, and help us all to live in love, and in the will of God, and then in heaven for ever.
Monday, Oct. 14. Bless the Lord, O, my soul! that fixes the bounds of thy habitation, and causeth the streams of his mercy to flow around thee. I sink into my own nothingness and feel thou, O Lord! art all; What praise is due to my Almighty Father, the Lord of heaven and earth! My soul is free for action: I would glorify thee, but my strength faileth, Thou acceptest the will, for ever blessed be thy adorable Name, and raisest up many helpers in thy church. “O! bless and prosper them in thy good work! I thank thee, that, though I can do little now, others can do much. Grant prosperity to Zion, and send by whom thou wilt send.“Love destroys the selfish passion, Love destroys the carnal mind, &c.”
October 30. This ought to be a day of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving, for the long-suffering of the Lord. It hath proved salvation to my soul. It is now 50 years since I first felt the love of God so shed abroad in my heart, as to assure me of my interest in Jesus Christ. I then first beheld his smiling face, and rejoiced in his salvation. What greater cause have I now to rejoice! The Lord is still my salvation; he hath helped me through various trials: through snares and temptations his hand has preserved me: he hath called me to prove a greater salvation, a fulness of love. O! how shall such a worm as I am, give praise to thy glorious Majesty? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord for more.“For more I ask, I open now My heart to embrace thy will.”
Nov. 7. Glory be unto my gracious Lord, who hath helped me through a life of 70 years: thou hast brought me through multiplied cares, temptations, and snares: thou hast humbled me, and proved me, and shewed me what was in my heart, and done me good in my latter end. Goodness and mercy have followed me all my days, and I shall surely dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
This birth-day is a day of thanksgiving, mixt with humiliation, for my little improvement in holiness, considering the advantages I have
enjoyed for many years; and for my Lord’s abundant love, who hath often permitted me to “sit with Jefu’s Priests and Kings.” I have lately had many gracious visits from my Lord, and solemn times in meeting my classes and bands, rejoicing hope of meeting my friends, where pain and parting shall be no more.
I have lately found much weakness: the outward man decayeth, but the inward is, I trust, renewed day by day. All glory be to my God! What he intends to do with me, I know not; I leave it all to him, and“With all his saints I join to tell, My Jesus doth do all things well.”
I have found Mr. Pawson’s preaching very profitable this last week. O! that the great power of God may defcend among us! We think ourselves highly favoured with Preachers: May our Lord fill all our souls with his pure love! I am surrounded wiih mercies, though the most unworthy. My dearest friend, sister Tripp’s care of, and kindness to me, is not the least. May God reward her, and never let her want a friend to assist her weakness, if I should be first called home, as it is most likely I shall, being many years older than she is.
Jan. 27, 1800. Blessed be God, I have had a good beginning this New Year: the last, probably, I may ever begin in this world. O! that it may be the best I ever had! I thank my God, I have no desire but to devote myself to him. I am surrounded with mercies: Lord, help me to improve them to thy glory. I long to possess a greater fullness of thy Spirit, free from enthusiasm, on the one hand, and lukewarmness and formality, on the other; and proclaiming a calm acquiescence in thy will. Let all my pains be sanctified, that thou mayest be glorified by my patient suffering. I have lately felt much weakness of body, but my soul rests in God.
Tuesday, June 3. Bless the Lord, O! my soul, and all that is within me, praise him for my daily mercies. I am full of rheumatic pain in this nearly worn-out body: I also feel frequent pains of mind, in sympathizing with some dear friends, in illness, and other troubles, still believing that all things shall work together for good to them and me. I have enjoyed many reviving seasons for these last few months, blessed me my Lord! But I long for deeper manifestations of the Divine nature. O! when shall I be overwhelmed with thy delightful presence!
Jan. 21, 1801. Glory be to God, I have great cause for thanksgiving this New Year. O! that mercy may rejoice over judgment, and sinners humble themselves before God, from the King to the beggar! May we all become beggars at a throne of grace,
and confess that our sins are the causes of all our national sufferings. It is painful to reflect that many are perishing for want of bread, on account of the high price of corn, notwithstanding the large contributions which have been made to help them. O! when wilt thou, O! Lord, arise, and say, as thou once didst, “I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people, and am come down to deliver them?” Surely, because of swearing, wasteful living, and many other sins, our land mourneth. O! Lord, send forth the Spirit of repentance throughout the nation, that the Spirit of faith may follow, and heal our sinful wounds that peace and plenty may cause the voice of thanksgiving and melody to be music for the King of Kings. On the first day of this year, while praying in my class, the Lord gave me such a manifestation of his loving presence, and such an assurance of his favour, as melted my soul into love. My friends partook of the blessing, and we praised our Lord together. On the Sabbath-day, I was too ill to attend publicly to renew my covenant with my Lord, among his people; but being alone, I offered myself afresh to him, who is the Leader of his people. He graciously shewed me, my present call was patiently to suffer, with resignation, all the will of God; offering praise and thanksgiving to him, who has poured a spirit of praise into my soul.
Feb. 21. For some time I have suffered much affliction of body; but, glory be unto God, as my day, so has my strength been. He has supplied me with patience and resignation, under the most painful disorder I ever felt. One day I was giving myself up to him, and thinking, “Is this affliction what my Lord intends shall take me home?” He said to my soul, “The patient abiding of the meek shall not be cut off.” I believed he would bring me once more through, and now I am pretty well again, though I believe it my duty, and find it my privilege to live in daily expectation of being takon from earth to heaven. My mind is sweetly happy in God; but often much pained for the poor, and on account of the awful times we live in; but thou, Lord sittest above the water-floods.
I have been looking over the of my experience, written in the year 1757, and feel gratitude to my kind Lord, for bearing with me in my temptations, and so graciously helping me, from time to time. I acknowledge the propriety of the Poet’s observation:“Strong trials must the self-willed temper break, But gentler methods will instruct the meek.”
Sunday, March 15. I was much pleased and profited this morning, by the salutary advice Mr. Greenwood gave us: dearness of provisions, and scarcity of work, make the times very trying.
Afterwards, as I was pouring out my soul in secret before my Lord, I was deeply affected with the wants of the poor, and the state of our nation. It seems as if all the powers of earth and hell were risen up against us, and as if it were impossible for us to escape their fury, or conquer so many nations now united against us, and bent on our destruction; unless our gracious Lord will appear for us; and, in answer to the prayers of his people, take the matter into his own hands, and fight our battles for us, by the winds or seas; or find a way to us unknown. My very soul was poured out in pleading with the Almighty for our King and nation; and, while begging our adorable High Priest to intercede for us; as a nation, upon which he had poured such multiplied mercies, and purged away the sins of so many of its inhabitants, by his own most precious blood, my soul was divinely assured, and sweetly happy in believing, that the intercession of Jesus shall save the nation. My soul was sweetly filled with faith and love: breaking forth in praise and thanksgivings, adoring the. God of my salvation. Glory, glory be unto his name for ever.
July 4. I feel much of the spirit of praise, on reviewing the feelings of my mind, recorded in February. O! how gracious was my Lord to condescend, at that time, to comfort my pained mind, by imparting such a measure of faith in his goodness and power to answer prayer! He hath answered the prayers of his people, and we have all cause to praise him for it. Still the intercession of Jesus is powerful for our nation! Blessed be thy holy Name, my trust is still in thee: my dependence is upon thee, and shall be for ever. At present, I long for closer acquaintance and communion with the blessed spirits above: nothing appears so desirable; yet I am willing to forego that great happiness, as long as my Lord is pleased to enable me, in any way, to forward his kingdom upon earth, or spread the favour of his Name; so that other sinners may be saved.
Feb. 2, 1802. Many and great have been the mercies my good God has bestowed on his poor unworthy worm, since I last thus recorded them. I have also endured many pains of body, and am never wholly free from pain, nor do I expect it, as I am now in my 73d year. Yet my Lord deals very tenderly with me: I have much to be thankful for; I can always read, many times bear to write, and often to work, &c. Still I am able to meet my classes and bands: O Lord! help me to live every day, as though I knew it would be my last.
Feb. 20. Last Saturday morning I had a divine dream. I thought I was sitting in a room with several Christian friends: A Preacher was speaking; but so low, I could not hear what he said;
but I felt a great degree of Divine power descend, and said, very low. “O! the glory! O! the glory!” My soul was so penetrated with the presence of God, that my flesh trembled like a leaf, and my tears flowed like rivers. Roused by the power I felt, I stood, and said, “This is the time for the Lord to display his glory.” Then, looking up to God, I said, aloud: “The Lord will deluge the whole earth with his glory! O! the glory! O! the glory!” which last words I continued repeating till I awoke, and some time after.
Sunday 21. The sermon and last prayer were quickening seasons: many were much blest. Mr. B. seems so very desirous, in every sermon, to stir the people up to more earnestness, that it often seems as if the glory was descending: Every time last week, he agonized with God in prayer, in a very extraordinary manner, and spoke sometimes so plainly of the hindrances to salvation, as was much blest to many. It appeared as though the time drew near for the Lord to display his power, and overwhelm our souls with his glory.
From this time, I do not find Mrs. Crosby wrote any more in her Diary: but such was her zeal for the glory of God, and her love to precious fouls, that, amidst all the increasing infirmities of age, she laboured on, encouraging all that fell in her way to be wholly devoted to God, until our Lord took her to join that blessed company, for which she had been so richly matured by grace.
A letter from her dear friend, Mrs. Tripp, gives the following account of this blessed soul’s entering into her Master’s joy:
“My dear Friend,
“In compliance with your request, I will now endeavour, in as brief a manner as I can, to give you an account of the Lord’s dealings with my beloved friend, a short time previous to her decease; but as I had not the least thought, even to the last hour of her life, of that event taking place so soon, many of her sayings, which were strongly expressive of her confidence in the
Lord, and joy in the opening prospect, which she had of soon being with him, have quite slipped my memory: But ‘her record is on high.’ Glory be to God, the stroke, though in some respect sudden and unlooked for by me, was not so to her. All the week preceding her death, she was often indisposed; but did not abate any thing of her usual exercises, and her spirit seemed often on the wing for glory; for she frequently sung more than she had done for months, so that I said, ‘I think, my dear, you have tuned your harp afresh.’ One verse she sung with great delight, as I well remember, was
616‘Heaven is my inheritance, I shall soon be taken hence; As the stars in glory shine, God and Christ and all are mine.’
“Several times in the week, she said, ‘If I die soon, remember such and such things. Thursday and Friday she met both her classes, as usual related to them a dream she had had on the Wednesday night, which is mentioned above. In one of the classes, she said, her time here would not be long, and repeated, ‘Who first shall be summoned away; my merciful God, is it I?’ And said, she found herself more allied to heaven than earth; for though she had many friends here, she had more in glory. On Saturday she wrote two letters, went to the select band the evening, and bore a blessed testimony for her Lord: Though very poorly, she rose on Sunday morning, and went to the preaching at seven; and said, she found her spirit sweetly refreshed under the word. At breakfast, she began again the subject of dying soon, mentioned some little things she could like to have done, and some, concerning which it had given her pain, that she had not been able to accomplish them. I think it was then she said, ‘I have nothing that holds me here now, but you, my dear; but God will be with you.’ She went again to the preaching in the evening, and stayed the society-meeting, but returned very ill, with a pain in her chest. We gave her something, which relieved her; but in the night, the pain returned again with violence, attended with shiverings, and cold sweats as if she were dying. We sent for the Doctor, who said she was very bad, although he hoped she would be brought through; but she said, ‘Without a change, I cannot continue long;’ and began praying for her bands, classes, friends, and the church of God; that they might all meet above. Being requested to spare herself, she said, ‘My dear, if I go now, I have neither doubt, nor cloud: I know I am going to glory. I have been asking my Lord for a. promise, and he says, I will never, never leave thee.’ Her weakness was such, she could scarce be kept from fainting during the greater part of the day. Towards evening we conceived great hopes of her recovery, as the Doctor said her pulse was good; and she began to breathe with less difficulty. A little before she expired, she said to one that was present, ‘If I had strength, how I could praise him!’ But at eight o’clock, without a groan, or struggle, the closed her own eyes and mouth, and sweetly fell asleep in Jesus. This was October 24, 1804, on the eve of her spiritual birth-day, which was 55 years ago, and she was aged 75 (within a week.) So composed was her countenance, that, when dead, not the least trace of death was discernible on it.
617‘Fill’d up with love and life divine, The house of clay, the earthly shrine Dissolves and sinks to dust: Without a groan the body dies, Her spirit mounts above the skies, And mingles with the just.’
Mr. Taylor preached her Funeral Sermon to a crowded audience, from Rev. xxi. 4, a text she had chosen for the purpose, soon after she was justified. To draw a just character of her, would require a more able pen than mine; but after so many yes close intimacy, and thorough knowledge of her, I think it a tribute due her memory, to say, she was a sincere lover of truth, a pattern of Christian simplicity; and had such ardent love to Jesus, and zeal for his glory, as have been possessed by few. Being dead, she yet speaketh, and will live long in the affections of those who had the happiness of her particular instructions and intimacy. Most of the first Methodists are gone to their reward; but the residue of the Spirit of is with the Lord. O! that he may pour it down upon the present and rising generation of Methodists, that we may imitate those that are gone, in their self-denial, deadness to the world, love to God, and zeal for his glory.
Thus you see, my dear Friend, I have endeavoured, though in a very feeble and imperfect manner, to give you a short sketch of the last moments of one, whose loss, I deeply feel; and whose memory I revere. Much more might have been said, with truth. But may he, who only can, accompany this with his blessing, and to him shall be the glory. Believing you will unite your prayers to with mine,
I remain, with sincerity and respect,
Your obliged and affectionate Friend,
Chilcote, Paul Wesley. Early Methodist Spirituality: Selected Women’s Writings. Nashville: Kingswood, 2007.
Hindmarsh, D. Bruce. The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005.
Krueger, Christine L. The Reader’s Repentance: Women Preachers, Women Writers, and Nineteenth Century Social Discourse. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.
Mack, Phyllis. Heart Religion in the British Enlightenment: Gender and Emotion in Early Methodism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008.
Tolar Burton, Vicki. Spiritual Literacy in John Wesley’s Methodism: Reading, Writing, & Speaking to Believe. Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 2008.