His Diary unfolds his spiritual exercises and his natural feelings in the prospect before him.
3 mo.17. -- The last two months have been to me an awful time of deep conflict of spirit, arising out of a prospect of a religious visit to some places in Asiatic Turkey, and parts adjacent. I do not know when I have had more conflict to arrive at a clear pointing. I prayed earnestly and waited long for that clear pointing of Divine Wisdom, without which I can never move in concerns of this importance. In the end, I am thankful to say, the cloud was removed and the sun stone with brightness, and no longer was my poor tried mind left in doubt as to the line of religions duty; and before mentioning it to any one, I communicated it to the Monthly Meeting in the Second Month. Much unity and sympathy were expressed, and the certificate ordered. It is now signed, and is a sweet document, short and explicit.
I see and deeply feel the perils and sufferings which await me, in venturing on untrodden ground, as it regards any minister of our Society, and to such a distance, and among, for the most part, an unbelieving people. But I can and do look forward in calm confidence, trusting, as I have ever done, in the aid and protecting care of my Heavenly Father, whose cause I desire to serve, and whose will I wish above all other things to do. My earthly career can never end better than in the work of my Divine Master; and should it be his will to terminate my life in the Arab tent, I shall have more consolation there than in an English home under the stinging sense of a dereliction of my religious duty.
I am giving all my leisure hours to learn something of the Turkish language, for travelling purposes, and for a little social intercourse. Ever since this concern fastened on my mind, it has been connected with having the company of my young friend from the South of France, Jules Paradon.
May the Lord grant me resignation, faith, grace, and strength to do his holy will; and then, whether it end in life or death, his great name shall be praised. This testimony I record in gratitude and love to the mercy of my God. Amen.
Before leaving England, he paid a visit to Staines.
4 mo. 20. -- I went down to Staines, and spent two weeks with Margaret Pope, which sojourn proved a strength and comfort to me. This dear friend is a succorer of many, and, I can truly say, of me in particular. We had several pleasant drives, and made friendly visits to the neighboring meetings and Friends. I also applied pretty diligently to the Turkish language.
Amply provided, by the kindness of many friends, with whatever could administer to his wants or ease the roughness of Eastern travel, John Yeardley left his home on the 15th of the Sixth Month. He arrived at Nismes on the 17th, and was joined there by Jules Paradon. His Diary supplies some notes of the voyage to Constantinople.
23rd. -- Malta. Here we arrived at 4 o'clock this morning, after a favorable passage; thanks to the Preserver of our lives; great is his mercy and his love. My heart is filled with deep thoughtfulness, and I am very anxious to procure an interpreter, either at Smyrna or Constantinople. My faith is weak, but I trust the Lord will provide.
On descending the lower deck adjoining: the large saloon, I found my faithful companion in calm but very earnest conversation with the commissary of the ship and a passenger of respectability, the Spanish consul of Smyrna. They had sifted from Jules the object of our journey, and when they found it connected with a religious mission, they both attacked him earnestly and showed themselves really opposed to the truth. But my young friend stood his ground well, and maintained the Christian religion. The opponents were both Romanists. They quieted down before the close, and treated us respectfully the remainder of the journey; we parted with them at Smyrna. I am thankful to have in my companion such a defender of the faith.
27th. -- We arrived at Smyrna this morning, and in order to meet some of our Christian friends to whom we had letters of recommendation, we met them after their worship. Edward Van Lennep, the Dutch consul, and his brother Charles, the Swedish consul, received us with great kindness and cordiality through the letters from one of our Members of Parliament. It was very sweet to find these two brothers so imbued with religious feeling; they gave their hearts to help us in our prospect.
On the 30th John Yeardley and his companion landed at Constantinople; they found the heat and noise of the city very oppressive.
The people in the streets, says John Yeardley, are numerous beyond all description; thousands, and tens of thousands, standing, sitting, running, following, or pushing one against the other, talking and shouting in the ceaseless noise of the Armenian, Turkish, Greek, Syriac, Italian, French and English languages. The services of my dear Jules are most valuable: he makes his way with every one through his earnest kindness to serve the good cause.
When passing through the islands, he adds, the prospect was extremely beautiful; but my mind was always anxious in the prospect of the long journey before us; but the mercy of my God is great, and deeply humbles me in thankfulness for his goodness. -- (Letter of 7 mo.4.)
Very soon after their arrival, walking several hours in the heat of the day, John Yeardley had a slight attack of sun-stroke. The effect appeared quickly to pass off, and he was able to perform such religious duty as opened before him in the city and its immediate neighborhood.
Diary.7 mo.4. -- We made a call at Bebek: Dr. Hamlin had gone to the city, but Dr. Dwight received us kindly. These two dear Christian, friends called on us yesterday. This morning we attended the meeting in the Armenian chapel, and at half-past 1 we had a full company in the same meeting-house. They received in a free and brotherly disposition what I was favored to express in gospel freedom; I concluded in supplication. A kind and Christian man interpreted with simplicity into the Turkish language. The morning service was in the Armenian. We have already had many calls from these loving Christian friends in our hotel. What a mercy, and how encouraging, to be thus received in gospel by strangers!
Respecting this meeting Jules Paradon says: --
About thirty-five or forty were present. Our dear friend's communication was short and simple; it breathed love to all. In fact, what he seemed to have most on his mind in all his public communications was, to show his hearers how much God loved them in even giving his own Son for them, and the high privilege we can enjoy in loving him.
They went also to Has-Keui, where J.Y. desired to have a meeting with the girls of the school; but many had left for the vacation, and he was obliged to give up his intention.
On the 10th they went to Brusa, in Asia Minor, six hours by steam-vessel across the Sea of Marmora to Moudania, and six on horseback from Moudania to Brusa. The land journey was oppressive. A narrow path winds through a very rugged country; and there is only one halting-place, a guard hut, where they took a cup of coffee, the only refreshment the inmates had to offer. John Yeardley suffered much in this day's journey.
He had two meetings in the Protestant meeting-house at Brusa: --
Both, says Jules Paradon, took place after the usual service, which was expressly made short. The hearers, to the number of about 120, were impressed and interested to hear and see our dear friend come from so far to visit them in the love of the gospel. Twelve or fourteen men came two evenings to see us at our lodgings; and on both occasions our dear friend addressed them very sweetly. The heat tried him very much, but he felt pleased and happy to be helped to sympathize with so many simple, kind-hearted people.
At Demirdash (six miles from Brusa), he had a short religious opportunity with a few persons.
On their return to Constantinople, finding that a box of luggage he expected from London, containing a tent and other equipments, had not arrived, without which he could not pursue his journey into the interior, he employed the interval in visiting Isnik, (the ancient Nicomedia,) and Bargheghik, two places in Asia Minor, not far from the coast. Accordingly they started early the next day, and reached Isnik late in the evening, weary and exhausted, having been able to procure very little refreshment on the way. They proceeded to Bargheghik the day following; John Yeardley walking about four miles in the middle of the day, with which he was extremely fatigued.
He had a meeting, continues Jules Paradon, late in the evening, which proved highly interesting. About thirty men and one woman attended. Our dear friend encouraged and consoled the weak and the afflicted. The next day we returned to Isnik, having to bear the heat of the sun from half-past eight till three in the afternoon. We had a meeting the same afternoon at half-past four, towards the close of which he felt weak, and seemed to end his address rather abruptly.
The fact was, that paralysis had supervened; and on his return the next day to Constantinople, his bodily and mental strength were seen to be rapidly diminishing. He still clung, however, to the desire of accomplishing the object which lay so near his heart, and could not be satisfied without going to Bebek to consult his missionary friends about his journey into the interior. Probably they perceived that he was totally unequal to the effort, and advised him to relinquish it; for on his return to the city he was induced to abandon the thought of proceeding farther, and to turn his mind towards home. On the 23rd he said, If after what had been done he was permitted to go home, it would be a satisfaction.
On the 26th they embarked for Marseilles. John Yeardley bore the voyage well, walking on deck every day, but becoming continually weaker. They arrived at Marseilles on the 4th of the Eighth Month, and passed through France as rapidly as his state would allow. On the evening of Second-day, the 9th, he was favored to reach Stamford Hill; and though unable to speak, he recognized several of his near relatives, and signified his pleasure in being once more at home.
He continued to sink until Fifth-day, the 11th, when he quietly breathed his last, an expression of peace resting on his venerable face. We may say, with one of his most intimate friends on the Continent, when he heard of his decease: -- "So our beloved friend has been called to enter into his Lord's joy. Now he will see God, to whom he often used to pray. 'With thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light.'"
His remains were interred at Stoke Newington, on the 18th of the Eighth Month.
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Of the fruits which John Yeardley has bequeathed to us in the history of his life and Christian experience, none perhaps are of higher value than his diligent improvement of the talents he possessed and his steady and persevering pursuit of what he had in view. It is not so much what abilities a man has that determines his place in society, and the amount of his influence, as the use which he makes of them. Of this truth John Yeardley was a striking example. We have heard him say, in one of his early diaries: "I have clearly seen, for what service I am designed in the church militant here on earth; therefore, through the assistance of divine grace, I hope to pursue nothing but in subordination to this main design." The service to which he was called was the Christian ministry; and, laying aside every meaner ambition, and indeed every other object, he addressed himself to preparation for this service as the labor of his life. He cultivated those habits of mind and body, and confined himself to the acquisition of those branches of knowledge, which, while they left his heavenly gift free and unsullied, would best subserve the exercise of it.
His industry and perseverance were remarkable. In none of his pursuits were these qualities more conspicuous than in his study of languages. It cost him, especially, an almost incredible amount of labor to master French. The slight elementary knowledge of this language which he acquired at Bentham cannot have given him so much as an insight into it; his acquaintance with it may be said to date from his visit to Congenies, when he had reached his fortieth year. Yet, by indefatigable exertion, maintained during many years, he became able to write and speak it fluently, though, not correctly, and even to preach without an interpreter. The difficulty which he encountered in the acquisition of languages, from the late period of life at which he commenced, was enhanced by his ignorance of Latin, that best trainer of the youthful faculties, and by a natural inaptitude for the memory of words. A proof of the latter occurred when, with his quick-witted wife, he was occupied in conning over the Italian and Modern Greek Grammars, in preparation for their journey to the Ionian Islands. The difference in their natural capacities in this respect is shown in her playful expression; "I got my lesson in half an hour; while John has been three or four hours over his, and does not know it yet."
But although slow in study, he was quick and shrewd in the observation of actual life. This was apparent in his daily converse; and it may also be continually traced in his Diary, where, describing those with whom he became acquainted in his numerous travels, he seizes, on the prominent feature of their mind or manners, and with a word affixes to each his own particular mark. Of the hundreds of individuals who rise into view one after another in the course of these journeys, scarcely two are alike; a result which is, perhaps, due as much to the pen of the writer, as to the inherent diversities of the human character.
To this shrewdness of observation, he added a racy humor which those who knew him in his hours of relaxation and familiarity will not easily forget. His mind was stored with quaint and pithy phrases, and apt illustrations, which he not unfrequently seasoned with his native idiom, the broad Barnsley dialect. His north-country pronunciation, indeed, never entirely forsook him; and the singular graft of German which he made upon it during his residence abroad, caused it to be commonly supposed, by those who were strangers to his history, that he was a native of Germany.
The same moral constitution that enabled John Yeardley to pursue his objects with indomitable perseverance, sometimes betrayed him, as may easily be imagined, into a tenacity of purpose, bordering upon obstinacy. To the same strength of will also, acting on the defects incident to a neglected education in early life, must be attributed those strong prejudices which were at times to be remarked in him, and of which he found it extremely difficult to divest himself. But it was the triumph of grace, that whilst these faults of character and disposition remained for the most part only as a hidden thorn, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, the virtues to which they were allied, and all the faculties of his mind, were consecrated to the service of God and of his fellow-man, and his whole nature was enlarged, refined and elevated, by the all-powerful energy of the gospel.
"Very sweet and instructive are our recollections of the humility of his walk amongst us, and of the liveliness of his ministry, marked as it was by much simplicity, love and earnestness." To this testimony of his Monthly Meeting, all who were accustomed to hear him will readily subscribe.
We are able to append some notes of a few of his public testimonies, which we give as likely to be at once gratifying and instructive to the reader. The friend to whom we are indebted for them informs us that "the notes were written immediately after meeting, and are as nearly the words used as his memory would furnish." He adds, "They bring before the mind's eye and ear the face and voice of a dear departed friend, and, I believe, a true and enlightened servant of the Lord."
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(8 mo, 1850.)
Keep thy heart, with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. -- (Proverbs iv.23.)
We often are made to feel the force of this truth, when we have been unwatchful, and some cross occurrence has tried our tempers. How often we are made to see, and to show before others, what manner of spirit is in as.....
Sometimes we are favored with such clear convictions of the worthlessness of mere worldly possessions and pursuits, and such delightful realizations of the happiness of seeking to do the Lord's work, that we are ready to express our astonishment that any human beings can be found so foolish as to devote their energies to the pursuit of things which never can give satisfaction, and which must needs perish. And then, perhaps, we are brought into a state of darkness and despondency, to show us our utter helplessness and unworthiness, and the need there is for every one of us to "keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."....
Every individual, no doubt, has his own particular path of duty, which is designed to promote his own best happiness and the well-being of all mankind. How important for each to follow that path in watchfulness and obedience, that the work may not be marred! How important to keep the heart with all diligence, that the issues of life may be in accordance with divine will!
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(9 mo.1, 1850.)
Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty. -- (2 Chronicles xxxi.10.)
These words have been impressed upon my mind this morning, and I have thought they were instructive, in a spiritual sense. I believe, if we were more earnest in bringing offerings into the house of the Lord -- if each one of us was more diligent in contributing his share, and doing his part of the Lord's business, -- we should have less anxiety about worldly things; we should have faith in the Lord's providence, and, not only spiritually, but naturally also, we should have "enough to eat and plenty left."
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(11 mo.24, 1850.)
In looking at the world around, we may be apt to think that the day is very far off when the Lord's kingdom, shall be established in peace: but to those who, through the regenerating power of Christ, have become subjects of the Prince of Peace, that day has commenced already; and whatever storms may rage without, they will experience peace within. For "he will keep them in perfect peace whose minds are staid on him, because they trust in him."
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(9 mo.19, 1852.)
John Yeardley addressed the children with much feeling, telling them to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ in all their ways -- to let him carry them in his bosom, and to run to him in danger or trouble, as they would to their tender mothers.
* * * * *
You sometimes are restless in these meetings, not knowing how to keep your thoughts fixed on heavenly things, and perplexed for want of some visible means of instruction. I believe your tender Saviour may often feed you, even while in this state, with food convenient for you. But remember, dear children, that he is always calling to every one of you, Come unto Me. Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not. O! come to him, my precious lambs, and he will feed you, and "lead you beside the still waters, and make you lie down in green pastures."
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(12 mo.8, 1854 At a Funeral.)
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. -- (Isa. xxxv.10.)
In the pain of parting with the beloved object of our heart's affection, we forget the rejoicing which welcomes the ransomed spirit to its everlasting rest. But when the time is come for the Lord to pour in the healing balm into the sorrowing soul, then we find a little comfort. ....
"Watchman! what of the night? Watchman! what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return; come." There are many in this company in the morning of life, enjoying the prospect of many days, and forming many plans for the future, with all the ardor of their youthful minds. May the present occasion prove the morning of their spiritual day; and may they remember that the night cometh as well as the morning.
How thin is the partition which separates the present state from that of eternity! We mourn over those who are taken away from us, and we fancy we are left alone. But we are called to be one in Christ. I have great faith in the communion of saints, in the union of saints on earth with saints in heaven. And we are all called to be saints by walking in faith, by leading a life of holiness in the fear of the Lord. We say our beloved friends who have gone before us are dead. They are not dead: they have but just entered into life. Let us not mourn, then, as those who have no hope. Let us rather rejoice with them and for them, and so live that we may be among the ransomed of the Lord, who shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
"Anno Domini 1657. Though superstitious minds doe judge amisse of this buriall plane, yet lett them know hereby that the Scripture saith, The earth, it is the Lord's. And I say soe is this, therefore seeing we, and by his people also sett apart for the churches use, or a buriall place, it is holy, or convenient and good for that use and service, as every other earth is. And it is not without Scripture warrant or example of the holy men of God to burie in snoh a place; for Joshua, a servant of the Lord and commander in chiefe or leader and ruler of the people of God when he died was neither buried in a steeple-house now called a parish church, nor in a steeple-house-yeard, but he was buried in the border of his inheritance, and on the north side of Mount Gaash, as you may read; see Joshua, the 24th chapter, and the 29th and 30th verses. And Eleazer, Aaron's son, who was called of the Lord, when he died, (they buried him not in a parish house, nor a steeple-house yeard, but) they buried him in the hill of Phinehas, his son, which was given him in Mount Ephraim, as you may read, Joshua, the 24th, the 33rd v. And these were noe superstitious persons, but beloved, of the Lord, and were well buried. And soe were they In Abraham's bought field, Genesis, the 23rd chapter, the 17, 18, 19, and 20 verses: though superstitious minds now are unwilling unto the truth to bow, who are offended at such as burie in their inheritance or bought field, appointed for that use."]
"Il nous eut ete bien doux de prononger les moments de la voir encore, mais la sagesse demande que tout se fasse avec ordre; voila pourquoi notre chere enfant vous est confiee plus tot; que le seigneur l'accompagne et vous aussi, precieux amis; nous vous confions tous trois a la garde divine, et nous vous assurons encore ici de l'affection Chretienne qui unit nos ames aux votres en Celui qui est le lieu indissoluble.
M. A. Calame."
Locle, 24 du 9 mois, '33.]
"We started on a bright, hot sunny morning; and a pleasant drive, through the vines and under the agreeable shade of double rows of fruit trees, brought us to the place of destination. At the first farmhouse where we alighted the people were busy at their out-door work, which, however, on hearing of the arrival of strangers, they soon left, and came to welcome the travellers with outstretched hand and smiling countenances. They soon gave proof of their hospitality, by ordering us to be served with fruit, milk, and butter-bread, nor were we allowed to depart before partaking of a cup of coffee. The master of the house was an intelligent, pious man, and gave us much information as to the state of religion among the people. After wending our way from village to village and from house to house, we returned to our lodgings, favorably impressed with the piety and apparent sincerity of this simplehearted people."]