1828 -- 1833.
On their return home Martha Yeardley was attacked with a severe illness, consequent probably on hard travelling and bad accommodation during the journey.
Under date of the 18th of the Fifth Month, J.Y. writes: --
How circumstances change! Last Yearly Meeting we were in London with the prospect of a long journey before us, and now my dear Martha is on a bed of sickness, and I have myself suffered; but through all there is a degree of peaceful resignation in the belief that all is done well that the Great Master does, and that what He keeps is well kept.
Later in the day he thus continues his Diary: --
This has been a day of great trial on account of my dear Martha being much worse. My poor mind has been distressed at her weak state: I should sink under discouragement, did I not consider that He who sends affliction can support in it, and he who brings low can raise up in his own time, if it be his blessed will, to which all must be submitted.
In the Seventh Month he took her to Harrowgate, where her health became very much restored, and soon after their return they paid a religious visit to Ackworth School and to the families of Friends in Barnsley.
Some of the opportunities at Ackworth, writes John Yeardley, were seasons of much contrition of spirit; feeling deeply humbled under a sense of Divine goodness and mercy in restoring this large family to usual health after a time of deep affliction.
In the latter part of this year they were much occupied in establishing an Infant School at Barnsley; and also in collecting and remitting subscriptions to Mary Anne Calame for her Orphan Institution. In acknowledging to Martha Yeardley one of these remittances, M.A.C. writes thus:
May our Heavenly Father render thee a hundredfold what thy charity has prompted thee to do for my numerous family of children; and may his blessing rest on all those who have contributed to it.
We think of you every day, and we desire to live only to do the holy will of our God. Your visit has been a testimony of his love towards us; he has permitted that it should be blessed to us; for the remembrance of you carries as towards Him who is the finisher of our faith, where we mingle with you in the unfathomable sea of the divine mercy.
My large family is much blessed; good and happy tendencies manifest themselves in many, and in general peace reigns through the house. The assistant masters and mistresses walk more or less in the presence of the Lord; the governess [M. Zimmerling] especially grows deeper in the divine life: she is often ill, but she bears this cross, by the help that is given her from above, with much submission and faith.
Last month we had the pleasure of making a little journey to Berne and the neighborhood, to visit our friends there who love you so much. We heard that you had both fallen into the sea, and that thou wast ill in consequence. Thou mayst understand how the wishes of our hearts encompassed thee; I have felt my soul for ever united to thine in the Lord; and it seems to me that if my eyes should never again meet thine in this land of exile, I should speedily recognize thee in the happy mansions where the goodness of the Redeemer has prepared us a place. O, my sister, may he bless thee, may he bless John whom he has given thee to accomplish his work; may he open thy mouth and direct all thy steps, and give seals to thine and thy husband's ministry, and make you increase together unto the stature of Christ. -- (12 mo.14, 1828.)
The entries in the Diary at this period are not numerous: we select from them the following short memorandum: --
1829.4 mo.9. -- In our usual reading this morning, I was struck with these words: |If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.| (Matt, xviii.19.) A fervent desire was raised in my heart that we might unitedly ask for faith and strength to do the will of our Heavenly Father, and that his blessing and preservation might attend all that concerns us.
In the Fifth Month they attended the Yearly Meeting; and John Yeardley was present at the anniversary of the Peace Society.
5 mo.19. -- Attended a meeting of the Peace Society, much to my own satisfaction. It was truly gratifying to hear from those not in profession with us, such strong and decided sentiments against all war, as being not only inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity, but also contrary to sound policy. I am convinced public meetings are necessary to keep alive public feeling, as well as to excite individual interest. As it regards myself, I can say, before attending the meeting I felt but little concern with respect to this great question.
Soon after their return home, they were comforted by the intelligence that a few of those persons at Neufchatel who had so joyfully received their gospel message, had found strength to establish a meeting for worship. This information was contained in a letter from Auguste Borel, from which the following is an extract: --
He who tries the heart, and who knew the sincerity of my desires, deigned to hear my prayer on the 24th of February, when, without any previous understanding, we met four in number at my house at ten o'clock in the morning. This day is called with us Torch Sunday, and is a day of rejoicing in the world; and, if I ought to say so, during my carnal life it was to me a day of true pleasure, which I always looked for with impatience, because of the great bonfires which are then lighted, and which are seen from our city, illuminating every point of the wide horizon. It is my hope that the God of love, in the analogy of the spiritual order of things, may have kindled in our hearts his sacred fire, and will condescend to maintain and increase it in time and in eternity. Since that time we have continued our meetings without interruption: our number has not yet exceeded six or seven. We do not force the work, but, recognising that it is the Lord alone who has begun it, I feel daily more and more that He alone ought to direct it.
A portion of this summer and autumn was occupied by John and Martha Yeardley with holding public meetings for worship within the compass of Pontefract and Knaresborough Monthly Meetings. Amongst the notices in the Diary of these meetings, are the following: --
8 mo.16. -- A public meeting at Wooldale, to which name many more people than could get into the house. The Friends said they never saw so large a meeting in that place. Many of those present expressed their satisfaction by saying they could have sat till morning to hear what was delivered. It is an easy matter to become hearers of the word; but it was the doers of the word that were pronounced happy.
23rd. -- Meeting at Otley, in the Methodist chapel. It was not very full, but very solid and satisfactory. The last public meeting in this place was held in silence, which might probably be the cause of a small attendance on this occasion. It is bard work to bring the people to see and feel the advantage of silent worship: the time is not yet come, and perhaps never may. We must be willing to help them in the way pointed out, and try to strengthen the good in all; for if they are only brought to the Father's house, it matters not in what way or through what medium.
In the Eleventh Month they returned to the Monthly Meeting the minute which had been granted them, and received at the same time a certificate to visit some meetings of Friends in the midland and south-western counties.
Before they left home for this journey, they received intelligence that John Yeardley's early and intimate friend James A. Wilson was no more.
11 mo.24. -- My heart, says J.Y., is pained within me, while I record the loss of one with whom I have been for many years on the most intimate terms. He has long had an afflicted tabernacle and a suffering mind, which, I believe, contributed to his refinement, and prepared him for the awful change. He had been recommended to go to a warmer climate, and had taken up his residence at Glouchester, where he died, which prevented us from attending him in his last moments. He possessed much originality of character, joined to sincerity and genuine piety; and I doubt not he experienced the fulfilment of this promise: |Behold, I have caused thy iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.| (Zech. iii.4.)
On the 11th of the Twelfth Month they left home, and during the next two months were closely occupied in visiting various meetings from Yorkshire to Devonshire.
Their service commenced with an encouraging meeting at Monyash, in Derbyshire.
13th. -- The first meeting we attended was at Monyash. It was larger than we had expected, in consequence of strangers coming in, and proved rather a lively commencement to our spiritual course of labor.
On the 14th they held a meeting in the Potteries, in a cottage belonging to one of the few Friends in the place. Word having got abroad that strangers were expected, many of the neighbors came in, so that the rooms below-stairs were filled: it was a refreshing time. They found in the woman to whom the cottage belonged a bright example of piety and charity.
She has been, says J.Y., a cripple from her childhood; but is able to maintain herself by keeping a school for little children; she is not unmindful, also, to help her poorer neighbors out of her small earnings.
At Bristol, where they arrived on the 1st of the First Month, 1830, they rested a few days at H. and M. Hunt's.
We had, says J.Y. much pleasure in being in this family. Bristol is the largest meeting we have in our Society in England, and to me it was a very trying one on the First-day morning. I was much cast down after meeting; but we staid over the Monthly Meeting on Third-day, which afforded me relief of mind, and I left with as much comfort as I could well desire.
At Plymouth John Yeardley found an object of lively interest in Lady Rogers' Charity School, established to fit girls for becoming household servants. He was gratified with the good order, simplicity, and economy, which pervaded the institution. Martha Yeardley suffered much during their journey in Devonshire, from the inclemency of the weather; and a heavy fall of snow on the night of the 17th prevented their leaving Plymouth at the time intended. In consequence of this, they hired a lodging, and employed themselves in visiting the Friends from house to house, and in organising an infant school, which the Friends had long desired to see established.
On their return from Plymouth they stopped at Sidcot, where they spent some time at the Friends' school. Here the subject of offering prizes to children came under the notice of J.Y., and like all other subjects connected with education, engaged his serious reflection.
It would certainly be better, he says, if the basis of good actions could be laid in the children's minds on a principle of rectitude and justice, so that they might be taught to do well from a love of truth, and not from a fear of punishment or a hope of reward; but so long as human nature remains unchanged, a check against the one and an incitement to the other seem to be necessary, as a help to overcome the evil in the mind, until that which is good shall become predominant.
They returned to Yorkshire through Warwick and Leicester, and on reviewing the journey John Yeardley has the following reflections: --
2 mo.22. -- Almost all the meetings we attended on this journey of 800 miles are very small, except Birmingham and Bristol, and the life of religion is low among the members in general; which is not much to be wondered at, when we consider that many of those meetings are constituted [chiefly] of a few individuals who have had a birthright in the Society -- born members but not new-born Christians, without the power or form of religion, no outward means to excite them to faith and good works. If they neglect the spirit of prayer in themselves, it is not surprising they should grow cold in love and zeal for the noble cause of truth on the earth. But in the lowest of these [meetings] there is something alive to visit, and in going along we felt the renewed evidence that we were in our right allotment in thus going about, endeavoring to strengthen the things that remain; and though we have had to pass through much suffering, both outward and inward, yet we have also experienced times of rejoicing in doing the will of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
After the Quarterly Meeting in the Third Month they visited each of the meetings within their own Monthly Meeting, |thinking,| says J.Y., |a little pastoral care was due to our Friends at home, seeing we are often concerned to go abroad.|
In the Fifth Month they went up to the Yearly Meeting, via Lincolnshire, taking several meetings in the way. Among the subjects which occupied Friends in their annual conference this year was that of missions to the heathen, which, it was proposed by some, should he taken up by the Society.
The subject, writes John Yeardley, was fully entered into, and the interest was very great. Many Friends spoke their sentiments freely and feelingly, and the subject was taken on minute to be revived nest year. If this important matter were brought home to each individual of us, there would be more missionaries prepared and sent forth to labor; but we love ease and our homes, contenting ourselves with reading and talking about what is going forward in the great cause of religion and righteousness in the earth.
They returned home through the midland counties, visiting most of the meetings in Oxfordshire, and in the parts adjacent; which they had been unable to do the previous year in returning from the West.
It was comforting to us, John Yeardley says, to be with Friends in Oxfordshire, whom we had so long thought of. Many of their meetings are small; but there are a few individuals among them precious and improving characters, who, I believe, are under the preparing hand for greater usefulness in the Lord's church. With these we were often dipped into near union of spirit, which sometimes caused the divine life to rise among us to the refreshing of our spirits.
In the Sixth Month they again left home, being minded to see how the churches fared in the eastern part of Yorkshire. The point which most interested them in this tour was Scarborough, where they were attracted both by the town itself and by the little society of Friends. |It felt to us,| says J.Y., |very much like a home. We lodged at Elizabeth Rowntree's, a sweet resting-place.| (7 mo.4.)
At the same time that they reported to their Monthly Meeting the attention they had paid to this service, they received its sanction to undertake a journey in Wales.
It is truly humbling to us, writes John Yeardley, in describing this occasion, thus to have to expose ourselves, poor and weak as we are; but the cause is not our own, but is in the hands of our great Lord and Master. May he help us! (7 mo.19.)
They left home on the 7th of the Eighth Month, and spent the 11th at Coalbrookdale, in the company of Barnard Dickinson and his wife. From thence Samuel Hughes accompanied them as guide into Wales, and continued with them a week.
He proved, says J.Y., a most efficient helper in this wild country, knowing the roads well, and he was kind and attentive to us and our horse. The stages are long and hilly, and we are often obliged to go many miles round the mountains to make our way from one place to another. The road to Pales is over the moors; we scarcely saw a house for miles, except here and there a little cot, on a plot of ground obtained as a grant to encourage industry. These little dwellings were generally surrounded by a few acres of well-cultivated land enclosed from the moor. It is much to be regretted that the plan of cottage culture is not more generally promoted; wherever I see it practised I view it with pleasure, as tending to increase the comforts of the poor.
On the 19th they attended the Half-year's Meeting at Swansea. A Committee of the Yearly Meeting was present. Elizabeth Dudley was also there, with a certificate for religious service; and she and John and Martha Yeardley, finding that the errand on which they were come was the same, resolved to join company and travel together through South and North Wales. They were accompanied throughout the journey by Robert and Jane Eaton of Bryn-y-Mor.
As there are very few meetings of Friends in Wales, the chief part of their service was beyond the limits of the Society. They met with great openness in many places from the Methodists and other preachers and their congregations. From the notes which John Yeardley made of their religious labors in this journey, we select several passages.
9 mo.13. Aberystwith. -- Our first object was to inquire for a place of meeting. We found they were all engaged for that evening, which detained us here a day longer than we had expected; but this little detention enabled us to make acquaintance with two of the Independent preachers, to whom we became much attached in gospel fellowship, A. Shadrach and his son. The father preaches in Welsh, and the son in English. It was comforting to us to meet with two such pious, humble-minded Christians, laboring diligently to forward the cause of religion. They kindly offered us their chapel for the evening, and after the meeting they both expressed much satisfaction in having been favored with such an opportunity.
9 mo.15. -- We arrived pretty early at Machynlleth, which is a clean little town. We did not know but that we might have proceeded on our journey after having refreshed ourselves and our horses; but, E.D. feeling much interested for the people of the town, it seemed best to have a meeting with them. I walked out, and seeing a good meeting-house, inquired to what persuasion of people it belonged, and found it was an Independent chapel, and that the minister lived about a mile and a half in the country.
The prospect of being unable to make the people understand us was discouraging; for in the streets there was nothing to be heard but Welsh. However there was no time for reasoning, it being near twelve o'clock, and all must be arranged by seven in the evening. After some difficulty we found the preacher, a kind-hearted pious man, who readily granted his chapel, and undertook to act as interpreter should occasion require. This was the only place where we adopted the vulgar mode of giving notice by the town-crier, so common on all occasions in this country; but the time was short, and many of the people were not able to read our English notices, which we generally filled up for the purpose.
The meeting was pretty fully attended, and the people were mostly quiet, considering there were many who could not understand. When E.D. sat down the minister repeated in substance what she had said; for, not being used to speak through an interpreter, she declined his giving sentence by sentence. When he had done, I felt something press on my mind towards the poorer classes present, who I was sure could not understand English: so I stepped down from the pulpit, and placing myself by the minister, requested he would render for me a few sentences as literally as he could. This he did kindly, and, I believe, faithfully, to the relief of my mind. He then addressed a few words on his own account to the assembly and dismissed them. We regretted the want of the native language, as we could not have the same command over the meeting as would otherwise have been the case.
At Barmouth, instead of convening the people to hear the word, they had to exercise a Christian gift of a different kind -- the gift of spiritual judgment.
9 mo.19. -- On entering Barmouth we thought of a meeting with the inhabitants; but on feeling more closely at the subject the way did not appear clear; there was something which we could neither see nor feel through. This power of spiritual discrimination is very precious. How instructive it is to mark our impressions under various circumstances and at different times!
9 mo.25. -- At Ruthin we obtained information respecting the few individuals at Llangollen who profess with Friends, and set off to pay them a visit. We arrived at the beautiful vale of Llangollen to dinner, and alighted at the King's Head Inn, at the foot of the bridge, which afforded us a fine view of the Dee. There are at present only four or five persons who meet regularly as Friends. They live scattered in the country, and are in the humbler walks of life; but we thought them upright-hearted Christians who had received their religious principles from conviction. We saw them on First-day morning in the room where they usually meet, and again in the evening at our inn, and were much comforted in being with them. The room where they meet is in such [an obscure situation] that we should never have found it without a guide. We thought it right to procure them a more convenient room, which we did.
27th. -- In the evening we had a public meeting in the Independent Chapel, which was crowded; there is much openness in the minds of the people to receive the truths of the gospel. Before the assembly separated, we proposed to them to establish a school for poor children; several present their conviction of the want of such an institution, and the minister was so warm, in the cause that he proposed their commencing without delay.
28th. -- We went to Wrexham, and had a meeting in the evening. The notice was short, but the people came punctually, and a precious time it was. After it was over several bore testimony to the good which had been extended to them that evening, and were ready to cling to the instruments, inviting us to have a meeting with them when we came again that way.
This favored time, at the close of our labors among a people whom I much love, seemed like a crown on our exit from long-to-be-remembered Wales. My heart was humbled in reverent thankfulness to the Father of all our mercies, who had graciously preserved us in outward danger, and sustained us in many an inward conflict.
At Coalbrookdale they bade an affectionate and gospel farewell to the Friends with whom they had been so closely united in this long journey, and returned to Burton on the 20th of the Tenth Month.
In the Eleventh Month they made a circuit through Lancashire, taking all the meetings of Friends in course. They found |several meetings chiefly composed of such as had joined the Society on the ground of convincement, mostly in places where no ministering Friend resided.| In visiting one of these small meetings, John Yeardley relates a circumstance in the gospel labors of his friend Joseph Wood: --
We visited a little newly-settled meeting at Thornton Marsh, near Poulton in the Fylde. Our worthy friend Joseph Wood had the first meeting of our Society that was ever held in this part. It is so thinly inhabited that the Friends wondered at his concern to request a meeting; but one was appointed for him at an inn, I think a solitary house; a good many poor people came, and it was a most remarkable time. J.W. said afterwards he believed there would be a meeting of Friends in that neighborhood, but perhaps not in his time. It has now been settled about eighteen months.
This journey occupied them about two weeks, and on returning home John Yeardley makes the following animating remark: --
The retrospect of this journey in connexion with that of Wales afforded a sweet feeling of peace. We were often low and discouraged, but help was mercifully extended in the time of need. I often wish I had more faith to go forth in entire reliance on the Divine Arm of power, for truly in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
On the conclusion of this engagement followed a month of quiet but industrious occupation at home.
12 mo.25. -- A month has been spent in the quiet, in reading, writing, and many other things in course. Leisure being afforded, I have spent a good deal of time in reading diligently and attentively the Holy Scriptures, I trust to some profit.
After this seasonable pause, John and Martha Yeardley were much occupied with a projected change in their place of residence, which issued in their removal, in the spring of 1831, to Scarborough. The motive which induced them to make choice of this place, and the feelings under which the change was accomplished, are fully unfolded in the Diary.
We have for some time been on the look-out for a change in our residence. Inclination would have led us to remain in our own Monthly Meeting, but a strong impression that it might be right for us to remove for some time to Scarborough, has remained with us ever since we visited that place in the Seventh Month, and has always stood in the way of our fixing elsewhere, although very often have we tried to put it from us. We were so desirous to settle at C. [near Pontefract], that only five pounds a year in the rent saved us from taking the step. It was my prayer at the time, and always has been, that we might be rightly directed, and I had a hope that if it was not right for us to go to C. something might turn up to prevent it. And since we could not agree for the house which was offered us in that place, we concluded to go for a short time to Scarborough, and try the fleece there, under the belief that we should then be enabled rightly to determine. This I hope has been the case, for we had not been many days, I may say hours, in the town, before we were fully convinced it was the place for us to settle in.
Having made trial of Scarborough, they returned to Burton to arrange for their removal, which took place on the 7th of the Fifth Month.
We have now seen John Yeardley for many years in the devoted exercise of his calling of a gospel minister. It is instructive to follow him, as we are able to do soon after his removal to Scarborough, into his chamber, and see how, when alone with the gracious Giver, he was wont to regard the precious gift; how he lamented that he had not used the talent more diligently; and how his mind was enlarged to see the grace and power which the Lord is ready to bestow on those who seek and trust him with their whole heart.
6 mo.8. -- The important duty of a gospel minister has this day been brought closely under my consideration. It is most assuredly the imperious duty of those who are called to feed the flock, to labor diligently for the good of others. With respect to myself, I feel greatly ashamed; and it has occurred to me that should I he cast on a bed of sickness, or otherwise be deprived of an opportunity of exercising this gift, it would be an awful consideration, and cause of deep regret, that I had not better improved the time. The hardness of heart in others, as well as in one's self, is difficult to penetrate; nothing but the power of divine grace can reach it, and this requires not only waiting for, but also laboring to overcome the wandering and unsettled thoughts to which the poor mind is subject. Merciful Father, give me more confidence in the gift which, thou hast bestowed on me, and favor me with a greater portion of strength to minister thy word faithfully. |Who then is that faithful and wise steward whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.| -- (Luke xii.42, 43.)
Tenderly mindful of the religious wants of those whom they had lately left, so early as the Seventh Month John and Martha Yeardley revisited the several congregations in Pontefract Monthly Meeting. They were both humbled and comforted in the course of this visit.
We were, says J.Y., united in sympathy to many dear friends within the circle from whence we have removed, and I was strengthened to labor according to the ability received from day to day.
Since this little journey, he continues, we have been pretty much at home attending the meetings in course in the neighborhood. We are comfortably settled in our new abode, which feels to us really a home as to the outward in every respect; and in a religious sense we entirely believe it is our right allotment for the present.
In this new halting-place of his earthly pilgrimage, John Yeardley experienced an increase of freedom, of spirit, and of faith and joy in his Saviour.
10 mo.7. -- For a few days past I have felt my mind raised above the earth and fixed on heavenly things. I desire that the blessed Saviour may more and more be the medium through which I may view every object as worthy [or unworthy] the pursuit of a devoted Christian. I humbly trust this quietude of mind is in answer to prayer; for I have long supplicated for a renewal of faith, and that a little spiritual strength might he given me to rise above the slavish fear of man. My heart was almost sick with doubting; but on Fourth-day last a bright hope livingly sprang in my soul that I should yet be favored to attain to greater liberty in the exercise of my gift in the ministry, if I were faithful in accepting the portion of strength which is offered. Grant that this may be the case, dearest Saviour!
10 mo.23. -- My heart is filled with wonder, love and praise, in contemplating the goodness of Almighty God to his poor, unworthy creatures. When we have done all that is required of us, we are unprofitable servants; but how often we come short of doing this. And yet so gracious, so good, and so just is our Divine Master, that he suffers not the least act of obedience to lose its reward, but is continually encouraging and stimulating us to greater devotedness of heart.
The persuasion which he and Martha Yeardley entertained of the need there was in the Society for increased means of scriptural instruction, led them, soon after they removed to Scarborough, to propose the establishment of a Bible class. The plan was for questions on the Scriptures, to be given in anonymously in writing by the members, and answers to be returned in the same way at the next meeting. The scheme was at that time almost, if not quite, a novelty in the Society, but it was accepted with pleasure and confidence by the Friends of Scarborough, and the meetings were maintained for many years. There is an intermission in J.Y.'s diary at this period, but he makes allusion to the class soon after its establishment in a letter to his sisters S. and R.S.
Chapel House, 6 mo.30, 1832.
By way of a relaxation from haymaking this charming morning, I have been again perusing your affectionate notes, which you were so kind and thoughtful as to forward us by our dear brother and family. I felt the deprivation exceedingly of not attending the last Yearly Meeting, but quite think it may have been all for the best.
But I will proceed at once to the real object of my now addressing you, which is to say we cannot be satisfied without your paying us a visit this summer. We think we have much to invite you to. I think you would feel some interest in our Bible class: it becomes increasingly instructive and agreeable to all engaged in it. I so highly approve of this mode of Scripture instruction, that I think the time is not far distant when they will become more general. We meet once every two weeks when nothing intervenes to prevent.
The autumn of this year was taken up with a series of public meetings, mostly in the East Riding, in the greater part of which J. and M.Y. had the company of Isabel Casson of Hull.
In the Eleventh. Month, at the same time that they returned the minute which had been granted them, for this service, they laid before their friends the prospect of more extensive travel in the work of the Gospel than any they had undertaken before. The time was come for John Yeardley to pay that debt of Christian love to the benighted inhabitants of Greece which he had felt to press for years upon his mind; and at the same time he and Martha Yeardley believed it to be required of them to revisit some of the places of their former service, and to take up their abode for a while with companies of persons whom they should find like-minded with themselves; and also to perform the unaccomplished duty of visiting the Piedmontese valleys. Considering the extent of country over which they travelled, the varied nature of their labors, and the large number of serious-minded and sympathizing persons with whom they were brought into relation, this journey may perhaps be regarded as the most active and fruitful period of their lives. We are able, as we have so often been before, to read their impressions of duty, and their feelings, their hopes, doubts, and aspirations, in J.Y.'s simple and faithful Diary.
11 mo.7. -- Yesterday was our Monthly Meeting at Pickering, and to me a very memorable one. We stated to our friends the prospect of a visit to some of the Grecian Islands and the Morea, the Protestant valleys of Piedmont, and some parts of Germany, Switzerland, and France. It is about five years since I first received the impression that it would be my religious duty to stand resigned to a service of the above kind. For the last nine months it has not been absent from my thoughts for many hours together. It has cost me not a little to come at resignation; but my Heavenly Father has been very gracious, and has brought me into a willingness to do his will. If I know my own heart I have one prevailing desire, and that is to devote the remainder of my days to his service; and my prayers are very fervent that he may be pleased to give me faith, patience, and perseverance to do and to suffer all that his wisdom may permit to befal me. I am often ready to covenant with him to go where he may be pleased to send, even to the ends of the world, if he will strengthen me with his strength, enlighten me with his light, guide me by his counsel, and prepare me for glory. |If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.|
They left Scarborough in the Second Month, and spent the time which intervened before the Yearly Meeting in social visits in London and the neighborhood, in preparing for the journey and studying the modern Greek language.
Nothing, says J.Y., could exceed the interest which our friends take in doing all in their power to forward our views with respect to the important mission before us. -- (3 mo.4.)
A chief desideratum had been to find a Greek who should accompany them as guide into his native country. |Ever since,| says M.Y., in a letter of the Twelfth Month, 1832, |we have resigned ourselves to this arduous mission, my dear husband has frequently said, 'If we are to go into Greece, how I wish we might find some companion for the journey, some Greek to conduct us into his country, to us altogether strange and unknown!'| A letter from Stephen Grellet to William Allen, which was sent down to J. and M. Yeardley, was the opportune means of supplying this want. It spoke of a Greek girl then at the school at Locle, named Argyri Climi, who was exceedingly desirous of returning to Greece, and whose simple and teachable character recommended her at once to their attention. |When,| continues M.Y., |we came to this part of Stephen Grellet's letter, we were both deeply moved, believing that thus the way might be prepared before us.|
They communicated their thoughts on this interesting subject to M.A. Calame, proposing when they visited Locle to take A. Climi as their companion into Greece. During their sojourn in London they received a letter from A. Climi, written in French, in which that amiable young person signified the pleasure and gratitude with which she accepted their proposal.
Locle.29th of April, 1833.
Excuse the liberty which I take of writing to testify my great gratitude for your kind intention to take me with you and bring me back to my country. How could I have ventured to hope that I should have the happiness of being with such kind and beloved friends. I cannot express the joy I felt when Mademoiselle Calame made your proposal known to me. How great is the mercy of God! How often might he have turned away his face from me and cast me off; but instead of forsaking me he has looked upon me in mercy, and shown me that he wills not that sinners should perish, but that they should have eternal life. Was it not he who saved me from the hands of the Turks, and brought me to Switzerland, and placed me with charitable protectors, who are never weary of doing me good? And now he has crowned it all, by giving you to me as guides and protectors in my long journey, and that I may settle again in my own country.
The meeting in London at which their prospect of foreign travel was ratified, was a time of spiritual favor. With such credentials, and with a sense of the divine commission and guidance, clear and unmistakable, like that which John Yeardley enjoyed, many may be ready to exclaim, Who would not go forth on an errand like this to the ends of the earth! Such may be reminded, for their consolation, that if the will is laid as an unbroken offering at the foot of the cross; if all their powers are consecrated to the Lord, and his Spirit is suffered to penetrate and transform every part of their being; though a field of labor such as that which was appointed to John and Martha Yeardley may not be appointed to them, they will, in an equal degree, inherit the blessing of doing their Lord's will, and may rest in the promise, |They that wait upon Him shall not want any good thing.|
5 mo.21. -- Yearly Meeting of Ministers and Elders. Third-day morning. Our visit to the Grecian Islands, &c. claimed the attention of the meeting. It was a very precious time; a sweet solemnity prevailed; several Friends said afterwards, they thought they had never known quite so full an expression of unity and encouragement on any former occasion. What a favor it is to have the sympathy and concurrence of the church in such important concerns! My heart's desire and prayers are that we may be preserved humble and watchful, relying for help and strength on nothing short of our Divine Master, the holy Head of his own church. Whatever may befal us on our intended journey, I wish once more to record my firm conviction that it is the Lord's requiring, and come life, come death, I desire that my heart and soul may be given up fully to follow Him who laid down his own precious life for my sake, -- a poor unworthy sinner.