The tour which John and Martha Yeardley made in and around Buckinghamshire, and which is mentioned at the conclusion of the last chapter, was undertaken in quest of a new place of abode. In a letter from Martha Yeardley to her sister, Mary Tylor, written on the 3rd of the Eleventh Month, she says: --
Thou art aware that we have thought, if way should open of going nearer to you, and of pitching our tent within the Quarterly Meeting of Buckinghamstead. We offered to purchase a cottage at Berkhamstead, but for the present that has quite fallen through: we therefore intend to rest quietly here for the winter, in hopes that in the spring or summer something may offer, either at B. or in that quarter, to which we feel attracted; yet desiring to commit this and all that concerns us into the all-directing hand of our great Lord and Master, who has a right to do with us what seemeth him good.
Not long afterwards they purchased a house at Berkhamstead, called Gossom Lodge, to which they removed in the Fourth Month, 1844.
Very soon after they had taken possession of their new dwelling, they made a circuit through the meetings of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, holding a few public meetings by the way: and the next summer they undertook a more extensive religious visit -- viz., to the six northern counties of England.
In the course of the same year we find them meditating a further removal, into the immediate vicinity of London. One of the few entries in his Diary which were made by John Yeardley during this period, speaks of the apprehension of duty under which they contemplated this change: it was written after their removal.
For some years past I have often thought the time might come when we might see it right to settle within Stoke Newington Meeting. This feeling now began (1845) to fasten more strongly on our minds than it had done before, and we thought it right to make an effort to let Gossom Lodge, and seek a residence at Stamford Hill; and we have reason to believe that in this important step our prayer has been answered, and that all our deliberations have been guided by that wisdom which is from above. Very strong is my conviction that our Heavenly Father is not unmindful of the outward circumstances of those who seek his counsel, and desire to act under the guidance of his Holy Spirit. We were favored to let our house at Berkhamstead without trouble; the very first person to whom we made it known took it off our hands: and with equal ease we found another dwelling at Stamford Hill, which I consider as a proof that our prayer was heard and answered in this serious step: the signs I had asked were granted.
They removed to Stamford Hill on the 2nd of the Twelfth Month, 1845. As soon as they had settled in, John Yeardley became seriously indisposed with his old complaint, which ended in the jaundice. In the course of the spring and summer of 1846 he repaired with M.Y. to Bath, and afterwards to Harrowgate, to seek a restoration of his health.
The waters of the last-named place proved, he says, very efficacious both to my beloved M.Y. and myself. My precious dear, he continues, suffered much in her health through the fatigue of nursing me during the winter. How my soul overflows with gratitude to my Heavenly Father that he has united me to such a partner, who takes more than a full share in all my sorrows; and, thanks be unto our God, we have often to rejoice also together in Him!
On their return from Harrowgate they visited many of the meetings in London and the vicinity, -- a service which they had always had in view, in looking towards a residence at Stamford Hill; and from the Eleventh Month, 1846, to the First Month, 1847, they were occupied in a religious visit to the families of the members and attenders of Gracechurch-street Monthly Meeting, in which their service was very acceptable.
The friends appointed to arrange the visits, says J.Y., have done so with willingness and efficiency, and we have, I believe, the help of their spirits. In passing from house to house, we are made sensible of our inability to render aid to others unassisted by the Spirit of our Divine Master. Wherever we have gone we have been received with kindness and Christian cordiality; and in thus being permitted to mingle our feelings with those who are bound up with us in religious profession, we feel sweet peace and comfort, and our hearts are filled with thankfulness to the Lord, that he has enabled us to do that which we believe he put in our hearts.
They returned the minute which had been granted them for this service on the 6th of the First Month. Many who read this Memoir will remember how the tidings of the death of Joseph John Gurney, who suddenly expired on the 5th, spread through the Society, and produced wherever it came an impression of sorrowful but heavenly solemnity. The event is referred to in the notice of this meeting which is contained in the Diary.
The meeting for worship was particularly solemn. The spirit of our dear departed friend J.J.G. seemed present with us. The event had impressed our minds with the awful uncertainty of time. My dear M.Y. ministered to our comfort, and so did dear -- -- . I was constrained, under a sense that the Lord had withdrawn many laborers from his vineyard, to lift up a prayer for the remnant that is left, to crave prosperity for the blessed work of grace in the hearts of all present, and to ask for more devotedness to the Lord's cause.
The next day they received intelligence of the decease of one of their Scarborough friends, whose dying words are worthy to be preserved in lasting remembrance.
1 mo.7. -- On returning from meeting we found a letter informing us of the sudden decease of Isaac Stickney of Scarborough. When the doctor attempted to give him brandy in his sinking state, he said, Doctor, don't cloud my intellect; if this be dying, I die in the arms of Jesus. These last words of my beloved and long-known friend are sweetly consoling to my spirit.
In the Second Month of 1848, John Yeardley again prepared to go forth and preach the Gospel in several countries on the Continent of Europe. He was accompanied by his beloved wife, partly in the character of a fellow-laborer, constrained by the force of Christian love to the same field of service, and partly as his companion and helper in countries where she did not otherwise feel herself called to labor. The course of their anticipated travel is described in the following extract from the Diary. They were unable, as it proved, to obtain admission into the Russian Empire; and this part of the mission was accomplished by John Yeardley alone, and at a later period.
1848.2 mo.8. -- At our Monthly Meeting at Gracechurch street, I proposed my concern to visit some parts of South Russia, particularly the German colonies; also some places in the Prussian and Austrian dominions, parts of Switzerland and France, particularly Ardeche, and a few places in Belgium, and to revisit parts of Germany. My precious M.Y. also was constrained in gospel love to tell her friends that she had long thought of a visit to France and Belgium; and, if health permitted, should think it her religious duty to accompany me to South Russia. We had the full unity of our friends, who expressed much sympathy and encouragement, to our great comfort. It is about twenty years since I first thought seriously that I might have to visit the Crimea, and for thirty years I have had a prospect of some parts of Bohemia. Truly the vision has been for an appointed time; and if the period be now come, I trust it is the Lord's time, and that his presence may go with us. Many have been the conflicts and deep the baptisms through which I have passed, before coming to a willingness to offer to do what I believe to be the will of my Divine Master. Feeble as are my powers, I desire they may be devoted to his cause for the remainder of my days; and I do esteem it a great mercy to have arrived at a clear pointing in this important prospect. May the blessing of preservation rest upon the beloved partner of my sorrows and my joys, and on myself; and may He whom we desire to serve heal all our maladies of body and mind!
While their attention was thus turned to foreign lands, a storm was gathering in France which in the course of this month burst upon Europe with extraordinary violence, and overturned or endangered half the thrones on the Continent. This convulsed state of the European nations rendered it needful for them to wait a few months before they commenced their undertaking. In the Seventh Month, John Yeardley speaks of having obtained the further concurrence of the church, and of the feelings which the immediate prospect of the journey awakened in his mind.
7 mo.1. -- At the Quarterly Meeting, and also at the Yearly Meeting of Ministers and Elders, our friends entered very fully into our proposed visit to the Continent. The expression of sympathy and full unity was abundant; there was a strong evidence of the good presence of the Lord being near during the deliberations, which proved a strength and comfort to myself and my beloved partner. The needful certificates are now all in our possession, and are expressed in terms the most appropriate and encouraging. My mind is deeply humbled at the near approach of our departure, in the present state of affairs on the continent of Europe: but I feel a confiding hope in the divine power for protection and safe guidance. May the Lord Almighty give us strength and resignation to commit our lives into his hand, and to say, Thy will be done. Amen!
This series of travels was the last in which John and Martha Yeardley were to be engaged as joint-laborers in their Lord's work. The health of the latter had been for several years seriously affected; and although she continued to take a deep interest in the spiritual condition of the countries they had visited before, and was enabled to the end to afford her husband the assistance of her strong sympathy and of her religious exercise of mind, the fatigue of constant travelling told more and more upon her enfeebled frame, and she did not long survive the accomplishment of this journey. John Yeardley, less advanced in years, and possessing a hardy constitution, had not yet lost the fire of his earlier days. The same spring and impulse was still strong within him which had animated him in former journeys, and which those who knew him in middle life will not fail to remember. Some of these will have before them the mental image of his person and manner -- the fixed resolution, the concentrated mind, the ardent and devoted spirit, which shone through his impressive countenance and his whole figure, when he was engaged in his Lord's work; and perhaps also they may call to mind the very words of faithful counsel, or of encouragement, drawn from the well-spring of gospel sympathy, which fell from his lips.
John and Martha Yeardley did not accomplish the extensive mission which now lay before them at one stroke, but in three stages, returning to England between each. The most prominent object in the first journey was Belgium; in the second, the Rhine country; in the third, they were called to sow seeds of Christian doctrine in lands lying beyond the limit of any former travel -- viz., in Silesia and Bohemia.
This was the first time that the Roman Catholic country of Belgium had called forth the exercise of their Christian charity. They left London in the Seventh Month, and spent about three weeks in travelling through the country, resting chiefly at Ghent, Brussels, Charleroi and Spa. They were accompanied as far as Brussels by Robert and Christine Alsop, and through the whole journey, by an ingenuous young man whom they had engaged to assist them, named Adolphe Rochedieu. The religious opening which awaited them at Brussels was very encouraging; few incidents which arose in the course of their numerous journeys were of a more animating character than the acquaintance which they made with the pastor Van Maasdyk and some of his flock. We give the narrative from J.Y.'s Diary and letters.
7 mo.19. -- H. Van Maasdyk paid us a long visit this morning. He was educated in a convent in Belgium, and becoming a priest, he exercised the functions which devolved upon him with much credit to himself, and to the satisfaction of his superiors, until the year 1836. He possessed a Bible in Latin, which he never read. He had the cure of a large parish, in which, down to the year above mentioned, there was not a single copy of the Scriptures in the Flemish tongue. About that time the colporteurs introduced the New Testament in Flemish, and some copies of the Bible, which greatly excited the priests, and in particular the bishop, who said the translation was mutilated and falsified, and commanded that the members of the Catholic Church who had received copies, should either burn them themselves, or bring them to the cures for that purpose. Van Maasdyk's parishioners accordingly brought their Bibles and Testaments (five copies) to him to be burned. He was zealous in the Romish faith, and had preached violently against the distributors of the wicked books, as they were called; and he was about to fulfil the command to burn them, when suddenly he felt something in his heart which restrained him, and he thought, I will at least first examine the foundation of the bishop's charges. He took up his Latin Bible, and placing beside it the copy in Flemish, began with the charge of mutilation. He found it not at all abridged. He then went to the charge of falsification, and found the two copies to agree with slight variations here and there; in fact, the modern translation proved to have been made from the Vulgate, which was the one in his possession. He read the denunciation of our Saviour, "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," and it struck him forcibly; he felt that he must say, "Woe is me, I am one of those who deceive the people." He read again, "There is one Mediator between God and man;" and here again his conscience smote him: "Woe is me, I teach the people in their confessions that the saints make intercession." His sorrow was so deep, that he thought he could die a thousand deaths rather than continue a Romish priest.
Now his persecution began. He was beloved by his flock, who entreated him not to leave them. After much conflict of mind, he wrote a decided letter to his bishop, who in the end gave him his dismissal. Still feeling himself called to proclaim the Gospel, he began to assemble the people in little companies, and to instruct them in the Scriptures. At the entreaty of his friends he settled at Brussels, where there was a wide field for labor amongst the poorest of the Roman Catholics, who speak only Flemish. His congregation consisted at first of some fifteen or twenty persons; but such was the success he met with, that they have been obliged four or five times in succession to seek a larger building, and his congregation now consists of 500. He is said to be one of the most powerful preachers in the Flemish language. It is delightful to be in his company; his heart is filled with gratitude, and his eyes sparkle with joy, when he is with those who love the Saviour. Nothing is paid him by his congregation; he has a little property of his own, and sometimes receives a little help from the Adolphus Society.
After a long conversation with him on the spiritual nature of worship, he took us to see some of his flock, with whom we had family sittings from house to house. This is exactly the class our hearts longed to visit; thanks be to our Heavenly Father who has thus opened our way.
20th. -- The meeting at Pastor Marzial's last evening was much larger than we had expected. Van Maasdyk came in unexpectedly after the service which had been held at his dwelling, and with him a part of his flock. Many of the company were those who had renounced Romanism; some of the young men interested us exceedingly. I had a deal of conversation with them as to their religious experience. There were several young Germans among them, who are residing in Brussels; with these I conversed in their own language, which was highly gratifying to them. As Pastor Marzial speaks English well, I clung to him in the hope of having him for an interpreter; but he encouraged me to speak as well as I could in French, as the natives like it much better, and consider it a compliment to their language. This made me very low, it being a company of well-educated persons, and I asked Van Maasdyk what I should do. I would rather, he replied, hear ten words from your own mouth, than ten thousand through the mouth of another; we shall understand you, and what comes from the heart goes to the heart. This settled the question; I gave myself up to the language, and was helped through. My M.Y. was favored in her communication. After a short address from M., I concluded the meeting with supplication, also in French. I do believe the Spirit was poured upon us from on high; many hearts were touched, and tears flowed freely from many eyes.
The Lord has indeed opened a wide door for us in this place; the dear people follow us from meeting to meeting, entreating us for an opportunity of the like kind in their own houses; but we must be watchful to see our own way. However, if the oil is staid, it is not for want of vessels, for what we have to communicate seems like seed cast into the prepared ground. May the Lord himself be their teacher, and carry on his own work; for it is most assuredly his. To those who are spiritually minded, to hear of a society holding spiritual views, is like marrow to their bones. It is not so much what we are able to say to them, but our being as living witnesses to the truth which these awakened people feel in their own hearts.
21st. -- Attended a meeting of Van Maasdyk's in the poorer district of Brussels; about seventy to eighty persons present, consisting of converted Romanists, seeking Protestants, and two awakened Jews. Two of the company were blind men, very pious, who gain their living by selling matches. Our friend read, explained, and applied the tenth chapter of John, in Flemish; he also interpreted for me a few words, which I spoke in German.
On their way to Charleroi, after passing through Mons, they traversed the great Belgium iron and coal country, where the people speak a patois but understand French. Here they made a free distribution of the religious tracts they had taken with them, and found an able co-adjutor in their postillion. When he understood what their object was, he allowed few opportunities to pass by without putting these little messengers into the hands of his fellow-countrymen.
At Charleroi, where they arrived on the 22d, they enjoyed Christian association of the most interesting kind, especially with Pastors Poinsot and Jaccard, and with Marzial, who followed them from Brussels. They seem to have found much more of the life of religion among the newly-awakened in Belgium than they had expected.
We have, says J.Y., good reason to believe that the burden we have so long felt for the inhabitants in some parts of Belgium was laid upon us by our Divine Master, who is now pleased to make way for us to throw it off; thanks be to his great name.
From Charleroi they went by Liege to Spa, where they procured a lodging in order to enjoy a period of needful rest. The tracts they gave away on the road were received with eagerness. Adolphe handed them out freely right and left, and when any one hesitated to take them, a significant nod from the postillion never failed to secure a ready reception.
The country from Namur to Liege, writes John Yeardley, and particularly from Liege to Spa, is beautiful, the road running along the banks of the Meuse, amid wooded rocks. These are the works of my Heavenly Father, but I sigh after the workmanship of his hands, created after his own image.
Passing over several incidents of religious intercourse and labor, we select a circumstance which illustrates the state of the country, and of their own feelings in relation to it.
Under date of Spa, the 2nd of the Eighth Month, John Yeardley says: --
My M.Y. made acquaintance with an interesting young woman in a shop, and gave her some of the Scripture Extracts. She came to us last evening, and remained some time conversing on the Romish religion. She had never seen the Bible. When we asked her what was the nature of the mass, she said she did not understand it, but she attended it because others did. We gave her the Bible used by ourselves, having no other at our disposal. Her eyes sparkled with joy at the newly-acquired treasure. Her heart is touched by the Spirit of God, and I humbly hope her eyes will be enlightened to seek for strength independently of her blind guides. I never saw and felt more sensibly the awful account the priests will have to give for thus deceiving the people in the things which belong to their salvation.
On the 3rd they quitted Belgium, and proceeded to Bonn. Here they had the pleasure of meeting their old friend, Charles Majors, formerly of Strasburg. In a walk which they took with him, they renewed the sweet intercourse of former days.
8 mo.5. -- We took a walk with Majors and his family to the top of "Mount Calvary," and mounted a steep hill pitched with sharp stones, on which the poor Romanists go barefooted, repeating prayers at each station, supposed to be as many as the times when our Lord rested when bearing his cross from the gate of Jerusalem to Mount Calvary. Having descended, we sat down at the foot of a cross, and spoke of Him who bore our sins on the cross in his own body. A desire was felt and expressed that the little company might ever dwell near to Him who died on the cross.
At Mannheim, John Yeardley writes: --
I took a walk in the public gardens, opposite the Hotel de l'Europe, where we lodge. All very quiet without, and I felt peaceful within myself, reading a chapter and sitting alone. The Spirit of my Divine Master was near, and I felt assured that there was something in this place with which we could unite.
They found here a little company, who met together without any regular pastor.
"They gave us", says John Yeardley, "a cordial reception, and their countenances indicated that they had been with Jesus; and, although scattered as sheep among wolves, they appeared to belong to the fold of the true Shepherd. After a few family calls, we were conducted to the house of a pious widow, where the meetings were usually held. As we were in haste, these Christian people kindly appointed a meeting for worship, to be held the same evening, to receive our visit, which, through divine mercy, proved like a refreshing brook by the way: the Saviour's presence being over us, his doctrine dropped like dew on the thirsty ground."
At Strasburg they found Pastor Ehrmann, and several other pious persons whom they had known in 1833, with whom and with some others they had much conversation on religious subjects, and were called upon to explain the views held by Friends, particularly on marriage, education, and the care of the poor.
"Before parting", says John Yeardley, M. Passavant asked for silence, and we had a sweet time of religious communion, in which consolation and encouragement were offered, and thanks rendered for the favor of being permitted to meet together, and for the favor of the Divine Presence.
Basle was their next halting-place. A letter written by Martha Yeardley from this city, contains some notice of the social and religious life by which their tarriance in foreign cities was characterised, and of her own peculiar position as a gospel minister.
The pious Spittler, she says, has just been with us; he is still full of faith and good works. M.L., whom we knew as a nice girl at Corfu, is married to a serious merchant of this place; a sister of C. Majors' wife at Bonn, with her husband, also resides here; and we have fixed to take tea with them and some of their friends to-morrow evening. My J.Y. is gone with a converted Jew, Spittler, and one who has been a missionary to Jerusalem, to a lecture this afternoon, where it is probable he may have an opportunity of speaking to those assembled. As it is to be all German, I excused myself in order to rest and continue my letter. I have deeply felt on this journey, as on others, that it is difficult for females to make their way as gospel ministers; we have always found it tolerated, but I am always sensible of a prejudice against it. On some occasions my J.Y. has explained our views on this important subject.
15th. -- Yesterday we went to see a remarkably interesting institution for missionaries, on the top of a high mountain, called Chrischona Berg. It was established by Spittler, and, is well worth the trouble of a little fatigue in getting to it. Twelve young men of the poorer class, who have offered themselves from a sense of duty to become missionaries, are there taught various languages, and retained until some field of labor opens for them to which they feel bound. It is also a working institution; they are taught various trades, in order that when they go out they may earn their living. After viewing the premises and hearing a lesson in Arabic, we saw the pupils assembled in the schoolroom. Instead of a hymn in English, which they had learned, we asked for a little silence, which was felt to be precious. My J.Y. then addressed them in German, and was much helped. The superintendent, a very interesting man, was in England for some time; and in consequence of a hurt received on the head in Malta, was sent to the Retreat at York, where he became acquainted with several Friends, Samuel Tuke in particular. Under the gentle treatment there he recovered, but he lost his wife and one child at York, and has left two others in England. I felt much for him, and ventured to offer him a little consolation, and also to express my interest for the institution, which Spittler desired him to repeat in German. -- (Letter to Mary Tylor, 8 mo.13.)
Whilst at Basle they visited Pastor Lindel, an old friend of theirs. He related to them that he had been some time before applied to, to join the Evangelical Alliance. "I told them," he said, "we have got further than you have. In looking over your rules, I observe there is a class of Christians in England whom you exclude; and we can receive them. Our bond of union extends much beyond yours; it embraces, without any distinction, all who love the Lord Jesus Christ."
From Basle they went to Berne and Neufchatel. Their visit to these favorite spots was, as at former times, accompanied by a good measure of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
18th. Berne. -- Many of our former friends having heard of our arrival, came this morning to our inn; and having called together a few other serious persons, we had a precious meeting. They have suffered much since our last visit; our hearts were dipped into sympathy for them, and our tears were mingled together. The Lord's presence was over us, and he caused the word of consolation, exhortation, and supplication to flow freely. Some precious souls whom we have known in this place have been taken to their rest since we last saw them. Soon shall we also be inquired after and not found! Lord, grant that we may be prepared to meet thee at thy coming!
20th. Neufchatel, First-day. -- The meeting was held in a saloon at our hotel, (Des Alpes). The room was quite crowded; we were surprised to see them continue to come in, by twos and threes together, at so short a notice. The unhallowed thought arose, Where shall we find bread to feed this multitude? But, thanks to Him who is the Bread of Life, he dispensed food to the refreshing of our souls. My M.Y. supplicated for us, and the gospel-word flowed freely: the meeting closed with thanksgiving by me.
Sad reflections on the political and religious state of the country oppressed their minds while travelling through Switzerland.
21st. -- In all the times we have visited Neufchatel, I never saw it look more beautiful. But the place was dull, and a depressed feeling manifested the life of religion to be wanting. Switzerland has suffered through the recent changes in the governments: infidelity is sorrowfully increasing. An abundant harvest has been gathered into the barns, and Nature everywhere smiles on ungrateful man. Woe to the nations when the ungodly bear rule! Persecution still rages in the Canton de Vaud.
Speaking of the great advantage which an acquaintance with the French and German languages afforded them, John Yeardley observes: --
How I long that some of our dear young friends in England might give up their minds and a portion of their time to the acquisition of these languages -- and, above all, give up their hearts to be prepared for the Lord's work! How wide is the field of labor!
From Neufchatel they proceeded to Geneva, and thence to Grenoble. Here they were received in the most open-hearted manner by the Protestant minister, Amand; but their feelings were severely tried by the martial display which the city presented.
26th. -- On arriving at Grenoble, we inquired the name of the Protestant minister, and called on him without loss of time. So soon as he understood the object of our journey, he offered us his chapel for a meeting; or, if it would be more agreeable to us, he would convoke a meeting in the schoolroom for to-morrow evening with a number of persons who usually meet there. We accepted the latter proposal. It is comforting to find such a brother in the gospel; but O for the morrow! how my heart fails me for fear! Lord, help us, and give us to trust in thee!
27th. -- This day is a day of suffering. The soldiers, the drums, the trumpets, with the shouting and dancing of the people, is enough to sink the heart of the reflecting Christian beyond hope, had he not a refuge in retirement before the Lord. The whole course of the military system tends to evil, and the corruption of manners.
The meeting was well attended, and they were thankful in being enabled to mingle in spirit with a company of sincere and pious Christians. The pastor called on them the next day. He had succeeded their good friend Bonifas, spoken of in the journey of 1843. Conversing with him on points on which Christians may differ, he observed, "The Church of Christ is like a great house built on a rock. There are different apartments for the various classes of Christians; but they are in the same house, and on the same rock, Christ."
After attending to some other gospel-service at Grenoble, they resumed their journey, held meetings in Valence and the neighborhood, and crossing the Rhone, entered Ardeche. A meeting which they held at Privas was an occasion of remarkable stillness and solemnity.
31st. -- There was a room filled with serious persons, who immediately settled into silence like a Friends' meeting: indeed, I wish our meetings in England were always times of as much good feeling. A chapter, the second of the Acts, was read; after which I supplicated, and my M.Y. spoke in testimony, as well as myself. M.Y. closed the opportunity in supplication.
They held another meeting at Vals, a village in the Cevennes mountains, near the town of Aubenas. Lindley Murray Hoag, from America, had had a meeting there not long before. There was no resident pastor, and the schoolmaster called on John and Martha Yeardley, and informed them that when no one was present to preach, the congregation were accustomed to read a sermon, the liturgy, and prayers. They explained to him their objection to written sermons, and he appeared to be sensible of the inconsistency of them with true gospel ministry, but alleged that the people would not be satisfied without having the greater part of the time occupied with "service." As they could not undertake that this should be the case, it was agreed that they should be informed when the usual engagements were concluded, and that the schoolmaster should give notice of their intention to hold a religious meeting. In the morning (First-day), unexpectedly, a young man arrived, who came to see if he could be established in the place as pastor, and the schoolmaster introduced him to J. and M.Y. He raised no objection to their speaking after the service, but the sermon which he preached, as they afterwards found, was on the politics of the day, and when it was concluded, they were still kept waiting during a conference which the consistory had with him. This delay, and their persuasion that the members of the consistory were not the men to sympathise with them in their religious exercise, was exceedingly proving to faith, and they entered the chapel under a pressure of mind almost beyond utterance. After a pause John Yeardley rose and spoke in French, in which he felt himself to be much helped; an influence superior to words was spread abroad, lifting up the messengers above the fear of man. Martha Yeardley followed, inviting the people to come under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ Jesus, and especially addressing herself to the mothers.
They remained at Vals a week.
Our lodging, says J.Y., is situated amid scenery the most romantic: high-planted rocks, deep glens, and purling streams. For reading and writing we spend much time on a spacious open gallery, protected from the penetrating rays of the sun by a roof; and in the interstices are creepers, vines, and flowers, delightful and airy.
11th. -- This has been a trying week. I have been low in mind and suffered much in body, but, thanks to a merciful God, I am restored to comparative health, and my beloved one is better. The peasants who inhabit the mountains can only come to the town on First-days; and as they live dispersed in places almost inaccessible, we concluded to wait over another First-day to see some of them at Vals. We had them invited to the schoolroom. A small number only assembled, but it was a feeling time: I hope a few were instructed, and we were satisfied in having done what we could.
From Vals John and Martha Yeardley proceeded to Nismes, where they had some interesting service, both within and beyond the little Society of their fellow-professors. The account given by J.Y. of the way in which one of their evenings was spent may be transcribed.
15th. -- The wife of De Hauteville came to invite us to spend the evening with a few religious friends, who met at her house for reading the Bible. We had known the pious young woman years before, and were most easy to accept the invitation. The little company mostly knelt down, and waited some time in silence; and then a young man offered a short and sweet prayer. The fourth chapter of the Hebrews was then read, and nearly all present offered a sentiment on the subject, in meekness and in love, though they did not agree in their interpretation. They spoke one after the other, until all seemed tired; looking earnestly at me, as wondering what I would say, not having spoken on the question. At length one of the company asked my opinion. I felt freedom at once to say I found no difficulty in the matter; I could well understand the text, but I could not understand their interpretation of it. This remark surprised them, and raised an air of pleasantness on every countenance. My remarks on the passage closed the subject, and I think they were accorded with in the general. Stillness was then had, and myself and dear M.Y. spoke to the company. There was a precious feeling, and we were glad in not having missed uniting with such spirits in passing an hour or two instructively together.
The service which remained for them to do before returning to England consisted chiefly of religions labor amongst the Friends of Congenies and the vicinity, and in printing and distributing a large number of tracts. They found the Society of Friends in a drooping condition as to spiritual things, and in going round to their little meetings, Martha Yeardley felt it to be her last visit, and she labored to clear her conscience towards those among whom she had long been conversant, and for whose eternal welfare she felt deeply concerned.
They returned to London on the 20th of the Tenth Month.