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The Missing Cross to Purity


Testimonies

Regarding the Life and Character

of

Thomas Ellwood

 

George  Bowles' Testimony concerning Thomas Ellwood

DEAR FRIENDS,

It is in my heart, briefly on this occasion, to commemorate the tender dealings of the Lord with His people in this latter age of the world, when it has pleased Him, in love to poor lost man, graciously to appear by the breaking forth of His glorious Gospel Day. By the secret Divine reaches of the Hand of God, which has been felt and seen in the light of it, many have been drawn in their spirits to seek after the Lord, and to enquire after the knowledge of the way of life and salvation; and blessed be His holy Name who was graciously pleased, by the shining of this Divine Light in the hearts of many to expel the darkness and rend the veil. Then was the arm of His mighty power made bare, for the gathering many thousands to the saving knowledge of Himself. In that day was the Lord pleased, according to His promise, to pour forth of His spirit upon sons and upon daughters; yes upon servants and upon handmaids, and many were made to prophesy; and being qualified by the Holy Spirit which they received, and were baptized by it into His Holy Name, became willing and were freely given up in obedience to the Lord and in bowels of tender love to the souls of mankind, in his power to preach the Gospel of life and salvation to those to whom they were sent, and many were turned from the darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, by their ministry. Among whom our dear deceased friend, Thomas Ellwood, was one, whose conscience was reached and awakened by the powerful ministry of dear Edward Burrough, as I have heard him relate, and as by the following writings will more plainly appear. Of that day and time, and the worthy instrument by whose ministry he was convinced and turned unto God and made sensible of the Divine principle of life and light in his own heart, have I heard him speak with great regard; and also of the sufferings which did attend him, after he received the truth, in his Father's family for the truth's sake; and how the Lord preserved him in that time, under the various exercises which he passed through for truth's testimony; which for Christ's sake he was conscientiously concerned to stand in, according to that plainness and simplicity which truth then led, and still continues to lead the sincere disciples of Christ into, by which they were distinguished from the world. Such was the plain language of thou to one, and refusing the hat-honor, for which dear Thomas Ellwood suffered not a little in that day, as by the following account of his life more fully appears. It would be well, if all who come up in a profession of the blessed truth in this time, were faithful in these and in the other branches of its testimony. Let all consider, whoever ignores the testimony of the truth, to a degree, is making void the sufferings of the faithful, and strengthening the hands of evil doers, who for the sake of their testimony loved not their lives to the death; but underwent cruel mockings, buffetings, stonings, whippings, stockings, revilings, imprisonments, and spoiling of goods; rejoicing in the Lord, that they were counted worthy to suffer, either less or more, for His Name's sake. In respect of which this my dear friend was a good example, he being a man of a steady mind and very patient in suffering, as well as faithful in his testimony for both, and took joyfully the spoiling of his goods, in which he was tried but a few years before his death. He was often concerned in defense of Truth's testimony, both against our professed adversaries, and also against the libertine spirit which appeared in some, professing the same truth with us, who opposed themselves against the good order and discipline into which the Truth led Friends. All which will abundantly appear from the books themselves that are in print, which he wrote upon various occasions, and upon several subjects, and let not his great labor and industry be forgotten in his writing those two historical volumes, relating to the Old and New Testament; a work truly great, and is, and may be of great use and service. By all which his many labors it may be perceived by the wary and enlightened reader that the Lord had endowed him with an excellent gift, and qualified him for the service of Truth, His Church and People; in which he employed the talent which the bountiful Lord had given him, to the honor of the great Giver, and to the comfort and edification of the Church of Christ.

But more especially were his services known to the brethren in this county of Bucks; most of whom have fallen asleep, and but few remaining here who knew him in his beginning, or his first services for the Lord, His Church, and People; among whom he was a zealous asserter of that excellent discipline the Lord had opened in, and led His people to, for the preserving of His Church as a garden enclosed. For which cause how did many of these libertines set themselves fiercely against them and shot their arrows at him; but the Lord defended him and covered his head in the day of battle and his bow abode in strength, and his bough spread over the wall and continued fresh and green. But a blast from the Lord came upon their evil work; and how have they melted away? How is their strength failed and their work brought to nothing?  But the blessing of the Lord is with His people, even with the Faithful, to this day whom He has preserved as a peculiar treasure to Himself. Blessed be His Holy Name forevermore.

It may be  truly said of this our dear friend, that as the Lord fitted him for His service, so that he was eminently serviceable in His Hand in the Church of Christ, particularly in these parts; of which there are many living witnesses, in this and the adjacent counties, of His great labor of love, having served the Church freely, with great diligence and faithfulness; the true sense of which touches me and often with the deeper sense of the great loss the Church has by his removal , but being also sensible through the Lord's goodness that our loss is his eternal gain, I feel in my heart an humble submission to the will of Him who does whatsoever pleases Him, both in heaven and in earth; and who shall say to Him, what are your doing? It is the tender breathing of my spirit to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would be graciously pleased, in pity and compassion to His poor people, to raise up, fit and furnish more faithful servants for His work and service, and make them zealous for His Name and Truth upon the earth, that the place of this my dear friend and other faithful servants of the Lord and His people of late removed from among us in these parts may be supplied; and that the spouse of Christ may, amidst all her tribulations, afflictions and sore exercises be made to praise the Lord and bless His Holy Name, who takes away one and raises up another and blesses His children with His goodness according to His promise made of old by the holy prophet, (Isa 44:3), saying, 'I will pour My spirit upon your seed, and My blessing upon your offspring'. Thus has the Lord preserved Zion from age to age. I doubt not, but am fully persuaded that He will still bless His people, and preserve Zion and deliver her from all her enemies.

My dear friends, brethren and sisters, although it is a matter of sorrow to us to part with our dear friends, especially those who have been serviceable in their day, and have faithfully served the Lord and His people in their generation, as it may, I hope, without just occasion of offence to any, be said of dear Thomas Ellwood, that he was a man who served the Lord in faithfulness and His people with cheerfulness and his neighbors with uprightness and integrity. Therefore both they and we have the greater loss; yet may we not sorrow unseasonably as those whose sorrow is without hope, but believing that the Lord has taken him to Himself in mercy, though it may be in judgment to some who were unworthy, let us all learn resignation to His blessed will, and say with holy Job, 'the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the Name of the Lord'. Dear friends, I may farther signify unto you, that it being my lot to be with this our dear friend, of whom I am speaking, almost every day of his last illness, I did observe in him, to my great comfort and satisfaction, a quiet composed frame of mind and spirit and resignation to the will of God. When I first came to him, which was soon after I heard of his being taken ill, which was the 24th of the second month, I found him very much disabled by the distemper, which was thought to be a palsy, that had seized him, especially on his right side, so that he could not stand alone, nor help himself but a little with his left hand, and his speech was also very much interrupted, insomuch that it was with great difficulty for the most part that he expressed himself so as to be understood. Some time after I came to him, there being also other friends with him, we sate down together under a weighty exercise of spirit, waiting upon the Lord in deep silence, with our eye to Him; it pleased the Lord eminently to appear among us, and to fill our hearts with the refreshing streams of His Divine Love, and to open the mouth of one of us in prayer and supplication; and the Lord was graciously pleased abundantly to refresh our spirits, to our mutual comfort in a living sense of Divine goodness; and this our dear friend expressed himself in great tenderness and brokenness of spirit, on this wise: 'I am sensibly comforted and refreshed in this visit'. That afternoon he, fixing his eyes upon me, with great earnestness of spirit expressed, as well as he could at that time, a great concern that was upon his mind for Truth, and the friends of it in several particulars; especially in relation to our own monthly and quarterly meetings, the writings of both which had been under his care for more than forty years. After which he was much eased in his spirit, and so continued to the last, so far as I perceived; often saying when asked how he did: 'I am easy, I am quiet.' He was often very tender in his spirit, expressing his resignation to the Will of God, whether in life or death, saying, “If the Lord has no more work for me to do, I am content and resigned to His Will; and my hearty farewell to all my brethren!” At another time, nearer his end, he said to us present, in much brokenness of heart, “I am full of joy and peace, my spirit is filled with joy;” or to that effect. For by reason that his speech was so weakened, several things could not be  well collected which he at times spoke, in a tender sense of the Lord's goodness; the sense which deeply affected some of us who were with them. My heart is sorrowfully afflicted at this time, in a sense of the great loss which the Church of Christ, in these parts especially, has by his removal. But in this I am comforted, in a living sense of the Lord's mercy and goodness towards him, in carrying him through his affliction in great patience and quietness; under which he was sweetly refreshed by the streams of Divine Love, and his cup was often made to overflow. We, who were present, being touched with a sense thereof, were comforted therein, being in a travail of spirit for him, and did in our measures truly sympathize with him under his affliction. I am fully satisfied he laid down his head in peace with the Lord and is gathered to his everlasting rest. He departed this life the 1st of the third month, 1718, about the second hour in the morning, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. He received the Truth in the year 1659, and lived in fellowship with the friends of it about fifty-three years. I think it may be truly said of him that as he lived so he died, the servant of the Lord and His people, and has left a sweet savor behind him, and his memory is blessed with the righteous forever. Amen.

George Bowles

The eighth month, 1713

 

A Testimony from the monthly meeting at Hunger-hill.

That the dead which die in the Lord are blessed of Him, we have great assurance of from John his writing to the seven churches, (Rev 14:13), where he tells them that he heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.” Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them, of which number we have no cause to doubt but this our dear friend is one; who was eminently serviceable in the Church of Christ. A man to whom the Lord had given a large capacity beyond many, and furnished him with an excellent gift, by which he was qualified for those services in the Church in the performance of which he did shine as a star, which received its luster and brightness from the glorious Son of Righteousness. He was wise but humble; condescending to the weak and ready to help where he saw and felt sincerity; but sharp to what he apprehended to be insincere and deceitful; for which cause he was not acceptable to hypocrites and disorderly walkers. Yet he was a man of very acceptable and agreeable conversation, as well as sober and religious, both in the Church and in the world, being of a free and affable temper and disposition, far from pretense, but of a courteous behavior and graceful carriage to all, and very serviceable to and among his neighbors. He was very near and dear to many of us, who were most intimately acquainted with him and his memorial is sweet to us. His services in our meetings and in the quarterly meeting for the county of Bucks were very great, and continued for many years; in which he showed great diligence, being of a ready mind, willing to serve the Church according to that ability which the Lord had given him; and his heart and house were open to his friends, and the monthly meeting was kept there more than forty years, and remains there to this day. Our loss is great by his removal. But in this we are satisfied, that it is his everlasting gain; being gathered, as we have good cause to believe, to his eternal rest. The knowledge we had of him, and the good account which we have received of him, in the time of his last illness, by those who were most constantly with him, and of his quiet and peaceable departure, does sensibly engage our hearts to acquiesce in the will of the Lord; and therein we have peace and comfort. He departed this life, the 1st of the third month, 1718, and was honorably buried in Friends burial garden at New Jordans, in the parish of Giles-Chalfont,  in the county of Bucks, the 4th day of the same month.

Signed by the appointment of the monthly meeting by is.

George Bowles,
William Grimsdall,
James Smith,
Daniel Wharley,
Daniel Roberts,
Abraham Barber,
Thomas Oliffe.

 

A Testimony from the Women's Meeting Concerning Thomas Ellwood

A concern is upon our spirits to write somewhat concerning our dear deceased friend and elder, Thomas Ellwood, who was highly valued by us for that wisdom and counsel which were with him; and being of a free and affable temper, ready to assist those who stood in need thereof, encouraged many to apply to him for advice under the many circumstances and various exercises that this uncertain world affords, which we have found to be for our good as we followed it. He was an early comer to meetings, seldom hindered by weather, though he lived three miles distant, when bodily weakness did not hinder of late years, being often indisposed as to his health. The monthly meeting was held at his house about forty years, and he always looked very kind and courteous on Friends when they came there, and took care and notice of the poorest, who came in sincerity. He was zealous for good order, and against such who, being in an apostatized spirit, opposed it; and may well be numbered among the worthies whose names are upon record for their valor; as is this our friend worthy to be, who never turned his back on such who opposed the Truth; but stood his ground, as his printed sheets on such occasions do show. As also his other works of several kinds do manifest how great endowments God had bestowed on him, yet we, who knew him in his conversation, are engaged to set forth how kind and condescending he was to the weakest capacity, and would help out when they wanted a word, that generations to come may learn how good it is to forsake all and follow Christ Jesus, as this our friend did, and the account of his life following shows; who not only gives wisdom, but teaches humanity also.

He was greatly respected by his neighbors for his services among them; his heart and doors were open to the poor, both sick and lame, who wanted help, and had it freely, taking care to provide things useful for such occasions, blessed also with good success, often saying, he mattered not what cost he was at to do good. Such lament their loss; what then may we do who miss him in an higher station, in his great service in the Church of Christ, but ever desire to be resigned to the will of the Lord, who preserved him through all his hardships to a dominion over false brethren. He is now out of their reach and of temptation too; on whose head the blessing asked for Josep, rests; who was as a fruitful bough, as his branch spread over the wall of opposition and his bow abode in strength; the hands of whose arms were made strong by the help of the mighty God of Jacob, to whom be the glory for what He has wrought in our day, whose own works praise Him forevermore. The tear of sorrow that we shed, for the loss of this our deceased friend, let them be remembered to bow our spirits, each of us into a Godly care, that we may come up according to our several capacities, to follow the Lord faithfully, in a goodly zeal for His honor; and so come to lay down our heads in joy and peace, as this our friend expressed he did.

This eminent servant of Christ was early convinced of the way of Truth, in which he continued to the finishing of his days; for the sake of which he soon became a sufferer, not only by imprisonment, for worshipping God in the assemblies of His people, but also from his father, by whom he was made an outcast for no other cause but for his faithful testimony in taking up the cross to the world's behavior and language. At which point he was invited by his much valued friend Isaac Penington to his house, where he abode several years until he married. He was a blessing in, as well as a great comfort and help to, that family; and by his wise conduct therein gained much esteem, not only from the elders but the youth whom he instructed in learning; and though most of them are by death removed, yet one still remains who from certain and experimental knowledge can commemorate his worth, being engaged thereto from a sense of the benefit of his good and wholesome advice, given at sundry times and many occasions. Which friendship continued firm to the last.

His natural capacity was large and his understanding in the things of God very deep; which excellent qualifications meeting in one, rendered him useful beyond many to his country as well as very serviceable in the Church; by both which he is, and will be, greatly missed. But he is gone to his grave in a full age, and gathered as a shock of corn in its season, having done his day's work faithfully. So that saying may be verified in him: the end crowns all.

His sickness was sudden, which soon deprived him of the use of his limbs; yet he retained the faculties of his inward and outward senses clear all along; and notwithstanding at times his pains were great, his exemplary patience and composed resignation was remarkably apparent to those that visited and attended him; so that their sorrow in parting with so dear a friend was intermixed with comfort in beholding the heavenly frame of mind by which he was adorned.

Thus after all his labors he entered into everlasting rest, and left many behind weeping, though not without hope that they shall again meet at the general assembly of saints, where the redeemed shall sing praises to their blessed Redeemer whose right it is to reign forever.

We have this further to add, namely, that our esteem of him was great because of that real worth that was in him through the operation of the mighty power of the Lord that separated him from the love of the world; so that he chose, with Moses, rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, and it pleased the Lord to fit him with wisdom and counsel so that he was able to give judgment in difficult cases, in which many of us have particularly received benefit, and therefore have cause to lament the loss we have by his removal. Oh, say our souls, that the Lord would raise up many more in his room to the praise and honor of the good husbandman. It is our desire that we who are yet behind, may be made able  to steer our course through this troublesome world, that when our end comes we may lay down our heads in peace with the Lord and leave a good savor behind us as this our friend has done.

This is written in true love and respect to the memory of our deceased friend as  it pleased the Lord to move upon our hearts. And being read and approved in our women's meeting at Hunger-hill the 4th of the eleventh month 1718, was subscribed on behalf of the said meeting by us.

Mary Baker
Mary Wharley
MaryLarcum

 

Concerning our dear friend, Thomas Ellwood of Hunger-Hill

He was much esteemed among good men. Good men in their day and station upon earth represent Him who made all things good in the beginning, who said, (Gen. 1:3), 'Let there be light: and there was light.' And also said (ver 26), 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' Oh, high favor! 'So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, (ver 27), and blessed them and gave them dominion under Himself.' For He was chief commander then, and so He is witnessed to be now where His heavenly image has again come into and men live in it as did this our dear friend, who did good in his day and generation. Counsel was with him, to give to such as needed and applied to him. He was of a tender spirit and had dominion over passion, over pride and over covetousness, as he was comfortable to and in his family. He was amiable in the Church of Christ, and a doer of good among his neighbors; and being an elder among and with the elders, he has not only gained a good report, but also the believing in the promised seed, which bruises the serpent's head. He was valiant in suffering for his testimony which he held in the Truth; and may not I say unwearied in his labors in the setting forth the fame and excellence of it; by which we see what the truth makes men to be who do come under the conduct of it; even as fixed stars in the firmament of His Divine power, who has caused the morning of his glorious Gospel day to break forth; and as with the day that springs from high in tender mercy has he visited many souls. Early did this our worthy deceased friend embrace it, as it appears by his testimony concerning that eminent and blessed messenger and minister of the Gospel, George Fox.

Now he, having endured the times of proving, and the days of tribulation and suffering, together with the perils and slights, and accusations of false brethren against whose ungodly work he was engaged to stand as a noble warrior in the defense of and for the glorious Gospel of Christ, not admiring men's persons but the worth of the Gospel power. Although he was endowed with parts and accomplishments above many, he was humble and grave; not self-seeking, but esteeming the power of Truth, though it did appear through poor instruments. He was honorable and honored for that he sought not his own honor, but the honor of Truth; not only by his sufferings for it and labors in it, but also, in standing firmly against the loose libertine ones, who would have thrust in among the lambs and flocks of Christ, in an unclean adulterating spirit, from the life of the true Shepherd and true Husband Christ Jesus. But to the tender hearted and sincere minded he was strengthening and comfortable. I knew him when I was but young, and I can truly say my heart has often been affected on his behalf, with thankfulness to the Lord, who made him as a strong pillar in His spiritual house, with many more of His dear servants and children who shall no more go out. His memory is in my heart esteemed beyond what I can write. Oh, surely! 'The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.' Psa 112:6.  'Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.’ Dan 12:3.

Elizabeth Richardson

HUNGER-HILL the 5th of the seventh month, 1713

 

Richard Vivers' Testimony Concerning Thomas Ellwood

He was a man of great wisdom and understanding, and the Lord, the Giver of it, being pleased to visit him in his early days, made choice of him, and, by the sanctification of His Holy Spirit, fitted and prepared him for His work and service, whereunto he was called. Although he did not often appear as a minister; yet in those meetings set apart for the affairs of Truth, he often appeared in great wisdom, having an extraordinary talent given of the Lord for that work, more than many other brethren; and faithful he was in waiting for instruction from God to improve the same to His glory and the Church's advantage; for nothing was more desirable to him than to be employed in the Lord's service. So  it pleased the Almighty to furnish him with understanding and strength faithfully to do his day's work. Now He has taken him to Himself, where his soul is at rest; and although our loss is his gain, therein I with many more am greatly comforted, for I can truly say I loved him in the Truth from the first of my acquaintance with him, and so it remained to the end of his course, being near forty years since we knew each other. Whenever we conversed together, our discussion was chiefly concerning heavenly things and the affairs of the Church; and I always thought my time well spent with him, although opportunity would not serve for so much of  it as I desired, had it been the will of God.

This I can say, according to my observation, he was a man true to his friend, and deliberate in the choice of his acquaintance, to whom he showed real love and sincerity of heart. He was one of a steady and sound judgment as to the things of God; often desiring that those who came among us, especially children of believing parents, might not settle down only in a form of godliness without the power, at which door the apostasy entered, but that they might be raised up to walk in that, in which the saints' fellowship does stand, which is the Light of our Lord Jesus Christ, enlightening every man that comes into the world. Then the ancient testimony of Truth will be more and more raised up in their hearts, and they being preserved of the Lord in it, it will more be maintained in its several branches, as in former days. Blessed be the name of the Lord, who has a people in these latter ages of the world, to whom He has given power to stand for His truth while on earth and to be tender of the honor of His name; of the number of whom this our deceased friend and brother was; who although dead his memory lives and will be preserved among the righteous in generations yet to come.

Richard Vivers

BANBURY, the thirtieth of the eleventh month, 1714

<<Continued to Ellwood's Other Poetry >>>>>

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