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´╗┐Title: Memoir of Old Elizabeth, A Coloured Woman
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoir of Old Elizabeth, A Coloured Woman" ***

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                            OLD ELIZABETH,


                           COLOURED WOMAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there
  is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

                                                          GAL. iii. 25.

       *       *       *       *       *


                 COLLINS, PRINTER, 705 JAYNE STREET.



    In the following Narrative of "Old Elizabeth," which
    was taken mainly from her own lips in her 97th year, her
    simple language has been adhered to as strictly as was
    consistent with perspicuity and propriety.

I was born in Maryland in the year 1766. My parents were slaves. Both
my father and mother were religious people, and belonged to the
Methodist Society. It was my father's practice to read in the Bible
aloud to his children every sabbath morning. At these seasons, when I
was but five years old, I often felt the overshadowing of the Lord's
Spirit, without at all understanding what it meant; and these incomes
and influences continued to attend me until I was eleven years old,
particularly when I was alone, by which I was preserved from doing
anything that I thought was wrong.

In the eleventh year of my age, my master sent me to another farm,
several miles from my parents, brothers, and sisters, which was a
great trouble to me. At last I grew so lonely and sad I thought I
should die, if I did not see my mother. I asked the overseer if I
might go, but being positively denied, I concluded to go without his
knowledge. When I reached home my mother was away. I set off and
walked twenty miles before I found her. I staid with her for several
days, and we returned together. Next day I was sent back to my new
place, which renewed my sorrow. At parting, my mother told me that I
had "nobody in the wide world to look to but God." These words fell
upon my heart with ponderous weight, and seemed to add to my grief. I
went back repeating as I went, "none but God in the wide world." On
reaching the farm, I found the overseer was displeased at me for going
without his liberty. He tied me with a rope, and gave me some stripes
of which I carried the marks for weeks.

After this time, finding as my mother said, I had none in the world to
look to but God, I betook myself to prayer, and in every lonely place
I found an altar. I mourned sore like a dove and chattered forth my
sorrow, moaning in the corners of the field, and under the fences.

I continued in this state for about six months, feeling as though my
head were waters, and I could do nothing but weep. I lost my appetite,
and not being able to take enough food to sustain nature, I became so
weak I had but little strength to work; still I was required to do all
my duty. One evening, after the duties of the day were ended, I
thought I could not live over the night, so threw myself on a bench,
expecting to die, and without being prepared to meet my Maker; and my
spirit cried within me, must I die in this state, and be banished from
Thy presence forever? I own I am a sinner in Thy sight, and not fit to
live where thou art. Still it was my fervent desire that the Lord
would pardon me. Just at this season, I saw with my spiritual eye, an
awful gulf of misery. As I thought I was about to plunge into it, I
heard a voice saying, "rise up and pray," which strengthened me. I
fell on my knees and prayed the best I could the Lord's prayer.
Knowing no more to say, I halted, but continued on my knees. My spirit
was then _taught_ to pray, "Lord, have mercy on me--Christ save me."
Immediately there appeared a director, clothed in white raiment. I
thought he took me by the hand and said, "come with me." He led me
down a long journey to a fiery gulf, and left me standing upon the
brink of this awful pit. I began to scream for mercy, thinking I was
about to be plunged to the belly of hell, and believed I should sink
to endless ruin. Although I prayed and wrestled with all my might, it
seemed in vain. Still, I felt all the while that I was sustained by
some invisible power. At this solemn moment, I thought I saw a hand
from which hung, as it were, a silver hair, and a voice told me that
all the hope I had of being saved was no more than a hair; still,
pray, and it will be sufficient. I then renewed my struggle, crying
for mercy and salvation, until I found that every cry raised me higher
and higher, and my head was quite above the fiery pillars. Then I
thought I was permitted to look straight forward, and saw the Saviour
standing with His hand stretched out to receive me. An indescribably
glorious light was _in_ Him, and He said, "peace, peace, come unto
me." At this moment I felt that my sins were forgiven me, and the time
of my deliverance was at hand. I sprang forward and fell at his feet,
giving Him all the thanks and highest praises, crying, Thou hast
redeemed me--Thou hast redeemed me to thyself. I felt filled with
light and love. At this moment I thought my former guide took me again
by the hand and led me upward, till I came to the celestial world and
to heaven's door, which I saw was open, and while I stood there, a
power surrounded me which drew me in, and I saw millions of glorified
spirits in white robes. After I had this view, I thought I heard a
voice saying, "Art thou willing to be saved?" I said, Yes Lord. Again
I was asked, "Art thou willing to be saved in my way?" I stood
speechless until he asked me again, "Art thou willing to be saved in
my way?" Then I heard a whispering voice say, "If thou art not saved
in the Lord's way, thou canst not be saved at all;" at which I
exclaimed, "Yes Lord, in thy own way." Immediately a light fell upon
my head, and I was filled with light, and I was shown the world lying
in wickedness, and was told I must go there, and call the people to
repentance, for the day of the Lord was at hand; and this message was
as a heavy yoke upon me, so that I wept bitterly at the thought of
what I should have to pass through. While I wept, I heard a voice say,
"weep not, some will laugh at thee, some will scoff at thee, and the
dogs will bark at thee, but while thou doest my will, I will be with
thee to the ends of the earth."

I was at this time not yet thirteen years old. The next day, when I
had come to myself, I felt like a new creature in Christ, and all my
desire was to see the Saviour.

I lived in a place where there was no preaching, and no religious
instruction; but every day I went out amongst the hay-stacks, where
the presence of the Lord overshadowed me, and I was filled with
sweetness and joy, and was as a vessel filled with holy oil. In this
way I continued for about a year; many times while my hands were at my
work, my spirit was carried away to spiritual things. One day as I was
going to my old place behind the hay-stacks to pray, I was assailed
with this language, "Are you going there to weep and pray? what a
fool! there are older professors than you are, and they do not take
that way to get to heaven; people whose sins are forgiven ought to be
joyful and lively, and not be struggling and praying." With this I
halted and concluded I would not go, but do as other professors did,
and so went off to play; but at this moment the light that was in me
became darkened, and the peace and joy that I once had, departed from

About this time I was moved back to the farm where my mother lived,
and then sold to a stranger. Here I had deep sorrows and plungings,
not having experienced a return of that sweet evidence and light with
which I had been favoured formerly; but by watching unto prayer, and
wrestling mightily with the Lord, my peace gradually returned, and
with it a great exercise and weight upon my heart for the salvation of
my fellow-creatures; and I was often carried to distant lands and
shown places where I should have to travel and deliver the Lord's
message. Years afterwards, I found myself visiting those towns and
countries that I had seen in the light as I sat at home at my
sewing,--places of which I had never heard.

Some years from this time I was sold to a Presbyterian for a term of
years, as he did not think it right to hold slaves for life. Having
served him faithfully my time out, he gave me my liberty, which was
about the thirtieth year of my age.

As I now lived in a neighborhood where I could attend religious
meetings, occasionally I felt moved to speak a few words therein; but
I shrank from it--so great was the cross to my nature.

I did not speak much till I had reached my forty-second year, when it
was revealed to me that the message which had been given to me I had
not yet delivered, and the time had come. As I could read but little,
I questioned within myself how it would be possible for me to deliver
the message, when I did not understand the Scriptures. Whereupon I was
moved to open a Bible that was near me, which I did, and my eyes fell
upon this passage, "Gird up thy loins now like a man, and answer thou
me. Obey God rather than man," &c. Here I fell into a great exercise
of spirit, and was plunged very low. I went from one religious
professor to another, enquiring of them what ailed me; but of all
these I could find none who could throw any light upon such
impressions. They all told me there was nothing in Scripture that
would sanction such exercises. It was hard for men to travel, and what
would women do? These things greatly discouraged me, and shut up my
way, and caused me to resist the Spirit. After going to all that were
accounted pious, and receiving no help, I returned to the Lord,
feeling that I was nothing, and knew nothing, and wrestled and prayed
to the Lord that He would fully reveal His will, and make the way

Whilst I thus struggled, there seemed a light from heaven to fall upon
me, which banished all my desponding fears, and I was enabled to form
a new resolution to go on to prison and to death, if it might be my
portion: and the Lord showed me that it was His will I should be
resigned to die any death that might be my lot, in carrying his
message, and be entirely crucified to the world, and sacrifice _all_
to His glory that was then in my possession, which His witnesses, the
holy Apostles, had done before me. It was then revealed to me that the
Lord had given me the evidence of a clean heart, in which I could
rejoice day and night, and I walked and talked with God, and my soul
was illuminated with heavenly light, and I knew nothing but Jesus
Christ, and him crucified.

One day, after these things, while I was at my work, the Spirit
directed me to go to a poor widow, and ask her if I might have a
meeting at her house, which was situated in one of the lowest and
worst streets in Baltimore. With great joy she gave notice, and at the
time appointed I appeared there among a few coloured sisters. When
they had all prayed, they called upon me to close the meeting, and I
felt an impression that I must say a few words; and while I was
speaking, the house seemed filled with light; and when I was about to
close the meeting, and was kneeling, a man came in and stood till I
arose. It proved to be a watchman. The sisters became so frightened,
they all went away except the one who lived in the house, and an old
woman; they both appeared to be much frightened, fearing they should
receive some personal injury, or be put out of the house. A feeling of
weakness came over me for a short time, but I soon grew warm and
courageous in the Spirit. The man then said to me, "I was sent here to
break up your meeting. Complaint has been made to me that the people
round here cannot sleep for the racket." I replied, "a good racket is
better than a bad racket. How do they rest when the ungodly are
dancing and fiddling till midnight? Why are not they molested by the
watchmen? and why should we be for praising God, our Maker? Are we
worthy of greater punishment for praying to Him? and are we to be
prohibited from doing so, that sinners may remain slumbering in their
sins?" While speaking these few words I grew warm with _heavenly_
zeal, and laid my hand upon him and addressed him with gospel truth,
"how do sinners sleep in hell, after slumbering in their sins here,
and crying, 'let me rest, let me rest,' while sporting on the very
brink of hell? Is the cause of God to be destroyed for this purpose?"
Speaking several words more to this amount, he turned pale and
trembled, and begged my pardon, acknowledging that it was not his wish
to interrupt us, and that he would never disturb a religious assembly
again. He then took leave of me in a comely manner and wished us
success. After he was gone, I turned to the old sisters who by this
time were quite cheered up. You see, said I, if the sisters had not
fled, what a victory we might have had on the Lord's side; for the man
seemed ready to give up under conviction. If it had not been for their
cowardice, we might have all bowed in prayer, and a shout of victory
had been heard amongst us.

Our meeting gave great offence, and we were forbid holding any more
assemblies. Even the elders of our meeting joined with the wicked
people, and said such meetings must be stopped, and that woman
quieted. But I was not afraid of any of them, and continued to go, and
burnt with a zeal not my own. The old sisters were zealous sometimes,
and at other times would sink under the cross. Thus they grew cold, at
which I was much grieved. I proposed to them to ask the elders to send
a brother, which was concluded upon.

We went on for several years, and the Lord was with us with great
power it proved, to the conversion of many souls, and we continued to
grow stronger.

I felt at times that I must exercise in the ministry, but when I rose
upon my feet I felt ashamed, and so I went under a cloud for some
time, and endeavoured to keep silence; but I could not quench the
Spirit. I was rejected by the elders and rulers, as Christ was
rejected by the Jews before me, and while others were excused in
crimes of the darkest dye, I was hunted down in every place where I
appointed a meeting. Wading through many sorrows, I thought at times I
might as well be banished from this life, as to feel the Almighty
drawing me one way, and man another; so that I was tempted to cast
myself into the dock. But contemplating the length of eternity, and
how long my sufferings would be in that unchangeable world, compared
with this, if I endured a little longer, the Lord was pleased to
deliver me from this gloomy, melancholy state in his own time; though
while this temptation lasted I roved up and down, and talked and

I often felt that I was unfit to assemble with the congregation with
whom I had gathered, and had sometimes been made to rejoice in the
Lord. I felt that I was despised on account of this gracious calling,
and was looked upon as a speckled bird by the ministers to whom I
looked for instruction, and to whom I resorted every opportunity for
the same; but when I would converse with them, some would cry out,
"You are an enthusiast;" and others said, "the Discipline did not
allow of any such division of the work;" until I began to think I
surely must be wrong. Under this reflection, I had another gloomy
cloud to struggle through; but after awhile I felt much moved upon by
the Spirit of the Lord, and meeting with an aged sister, I found upon
conversing with her that she could sympathize with me in this
spiritual work. She was the first one I had met with, who could fully
understand my exercises. She offered to open her house for a meeting,
and run the risk of all the church would do to her for it. Many were
afraid to open their houses in this way, lest they should be turned
out of the church.

I persevered, notwithstanding the opposition of those who were looked
upon as higher and wiser. The meeting was appointed, and but few came.
I felt much backwardness, and as though I could not pray, but a
pressure upon me to arise and express myself by way of exhortation.
After hesitating for some time whether I would take up the cross or
no, I arose, and after expressing a few words, the Spirit came upon me
with life, and a victory was gained over the power of darkness, and we
could rejoice together in His love.

As for myself, I was so full I hardly knew whether I was in the body,
or out of the body--so great was my joy for the victory on the Lord's
side. But the persecution against me increased, and a complaint was
carried forward, as was done formerly against Daniel, the servant of
God, and the elders came out with indignation for my holding meetings
contrary to discipline--being a woman.

Thus we see when the heart is not inspired, and the inward eye
enlightened by the Spirit, we are incapable of discerning the mystery
of God in these things. Individuals creep into the church that are
unregenerate, and after they have been there awhile, they fancy that
they have got the grace of God, while they are destitute of it. They
may have a degree of light in their heads, but evil in their hearts;
which makes them think they are qualified to be judges of the
ministry, and their conceit makes them very busy in matters of
religion, judging of the revelations that are given to others, while
they have received none themselves. Being thus mistaken, they are
calculated to make a great deal of confusion in the church, and clog
the true ministry.

These are they who eat their own bread, and wear their own apparel,
having the form of godliness, but are destitute of the power.

Again I felt encouraged to attend another and another appointment. At
one of these meetings, some of the class-leaders were present, who
were constrained to cry out, "Surely the Lord has _revealed_ these
things to her" and asked one another if they ever heard the like? I
look upon man as a very selfish being, when placed in a religious
office, to presume to resist the work of the Almighty; because He
does not work by man's authority. I did not faint under
discouragement, but pressed on.

Under the contemplation of these things, I slept but little, being
much engaged in receiving the revelations of the Divine will
concerning this work, and the mysterious call thereto.

I felt very unworthy and small, notwithstanding the Lord had shown
himself with great power, insomuch that conjecturers and critics were
constrained to join in praise to his great name; for truly, we had
times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. At one of the
meetings, a vast number of the white inhabitants of the place, and
many coloured people, attended--many no doubt from curiosity to hear
what the old coloured woman had to say. One, a great scripturian,
fixed himself behind the door with pen and ink, in order to take down
the discourse in short-hand; but the Almighty Being anointed me with
such a portion of his Spirit, that he cast away his paper and pen, and
heard the discourse with patience, and was much affected, for the Lord
wrought powerfully on his heart. After meeting, he came forward and
offered me his hand with solemnity on his countenance, and handed me
something to pay for my conveyance home.

I returned, much strengthened by the Lord's power, to go on to the
fulfilment of His work, although I was again pressed by the
authorities of the church to which I belonged, for imprudency; and so
much condemned, that I was sorely tempted by the enemy to turn aside
into the wilderness. I was so embarrassed and encompassed, I wondered
within myself whether all that were called to be mouth piece for the
Lord, suffered such deep wadings as I experienced.

I now found I had to travel still more extensively in the work of the
ministry, and I applied to the Lord for direction. I was often
_invited_ to go hither and thither, but felt that I must wait for the
dictates of His Spirit.

At a meeting which I held in Maryland, I was led to speak from the
passage, "Woe to the rebellious city," &c. After the meeting, the
people came where I was, to take me before the squire; but the Lord
delivered me from their hands.

I also held meetings in Virginia. The people there would not believe
that a coloured woman could preach. And moreover, as she had no
learning, they strove to imprison me because I spoke against slavery:
and being brought up, they asked by what authority I spake? and if I
had been ordained? I answered, not by the commission of men's hands:
if the Lord had ordained me, I needed nothing better.

As I travelled along through the land, I was led at different times to
converse with white men who were by profession ministers of the
gospel. Many of them, up and down, confessed they did not believe in
revelation, which gave me to see that men were sent forth as ministers
without Christ's authority. In a conversation with one of these, he
said, "You think you have these things by revelation, but there has
been no such thing as revelation since Christ's ascension." I asked
him where the apostle John got his revelation while he was in the Isle
of Patmos. With this, he rose up and left me, and I said in my spirit,
get thee behind me Satan.

I visited many remote places, where there were no meeting houses, and
held many glorious meetings, for the Lord poured out his Spirit in
sweet effusions. I also travelled in Canada, and visited several
settlements of coloured people, and felt an open door amongst them.

I may here remark, that while journeying through the different states
of the Union, I met with many of the Quaker Friends, and visited them
in their families. I received much kindness and sympathy, and no
opposition from them, in the prosecution of my labours.

On one occasion, in a thinly settled part of the country, seeing a
Friend's meeting house open, I went in; at the same time a Friend and
his little daughter followed me. We three composed the meeting. As we
sat there in silence, I felt a remarkable overshadowing of the Divine
presence, as much so as I ever experienced any where. Toward the
close, a few words seemed to be given me, which I expressed, and left
the place greatly refreshed in Spirit. From thence I went to Michigan,
where I found a wide field of labour amongst my own colour. Here I
remained four years. I established a school for coloured orphans,
having always felt the great importance of the religious and moral
_agri_culture of children, and the great need of it, especially
amongst the coloured people. Having white teachers, I met with much

My eighty-seventh year had now arrived, when suffering from disease,
and feeling released from travelling further in my good Master's
cause, I came on to Philadelphia, where I have remained until this
time, which brings me to my ninety-seventh year. When I went forth, it
was without purse or scrip,--and I have come through great tribulation
and temptation--not by any might of my own, for I feel that I am but
as dust and ashes before my almighty Helper, who has, according to His
promise, been with me and sustained me through all, and gives me now
firm faith that he will be with me to the end, and, in his own good
time, receive me into His everlasting rest.

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