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Title: A Letter ... the Death of Mrs. Fletcher
Author: Tooth, Mary
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 "A Letter ... the Death of Mrs. Fletcher" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

FLETCHER***


Transcribed from the [1815 or 1816] William Smith pamphlet by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                        [Picture: Pamphlet cover]



                                 A LETTER


            To the Loving and Beloved People of the Parish of

                      _Madeley_, _and its Vicinity_,

                     WHO HAVE LOST A FRIEND TO PIETY
                             IN THE DEATH OF

                              MRS. FLETCHER,

                   _Widow of the Rev. J. W. FLETCHER_,
                          (_or de la Flechere_,)

                    LATE VICAR OF MADELEY, SHROPSHIRE.

                                * * * * *

                              BY MARY TOOTH.

                                * * * * *

    The sweet remembrance of the just
    Shall flourish while they sleep in dust.

    A Mother in Israel hast thou been, and thy works shall praise thee in
    the gates

                                * * * * *

                               IRONBRIDGE:
                    PRINTED AND SOLD BY WILLIAM SMITH.

                                * * * * *

                       Entered at Stationers’ hall.



A LETTER, &c.


_My dear Friends_,

KNOWING that it is your desire to hear something respecting the close of
the life of my invaluable friend, Mrs. FLETCHER, now in glory, and being
assured that none but myself can undertake the work, as I alone was her
constant companion, being separated scarcely a day for more than 15
years, I have endeavoured, (while my mind has been exercised with the
most painful feelings of heartfelt sorrow for the loss of the best of
friends, the wisest of counsellors, and the tenderest of parents,) to set
down a few circumstances relative to the close of a life surpassing in
usefulness most of her fellow mortals.

It was upon the 9th of December, 1815, a day never to be forgotten by me,
that my Elijah was taken to heaven.  O that the mantle might rest on me!
She had had many severe attacks from illness in various ways, in former
years, and sometimes was restored as by miracle; I therefore continued
hoping she would be spared this time also; nor did I give up that hope
till two days before her removal from earth to heaven.

Though she would be often saying to me, “My dear child, do not flatter
yourself that I shall be long with you, for I feel I am going;”—yet,
still willing to hope for what I so much desired, I continued thinking,
it may be the Lord will look graciously upon me, and save me from
drinking this bitter cup for a while longer: but on December 7th, I found
it necessary to render her more assistance than usual while rising in the
morning, and conscious that this was a mark of increased weakness, I
became greatly affected; and, having done all she at that time needed, I
retired to plead with the Lord that she might yet be restored; but, alas!
I had no power, and was constrained to leave it to divine wisdom to do
what he saw best; and before I rose from my knees, it was strongly
impressed on my mind,

    “The everlasting doors shall soon the saint receive,
    Among yon angel pow’rs in glorious bliss to live;
    Far from a world of grief and sin,
    With God eternally shut in.”

From that moment I gave up every hope of her longer abiding in the flesh;
though once or twice afterwards, my strong desire led me to plead, that
he who had raised the ruler’s daughter, the widow’s son, and dead
Lazarus, would yet restore her: but all the answer I could obtain was,
Divine wisdom cannot err.

For the last month of her life, her breath was more oppressed than usual:
it had been much affected for years, upon motion; yet when she sat still,
or laid herself down at night, she could breathe quite easy; but the
middle of November last her breathing was affected both while she sat
still and when she was laid down.  She had also a troublesome cough, that
disturbed her rest at night; and when this was the case, her strength
quickly declined.  She had had a wound for two years and 3 quarters in
one side of her left breast, which was at first supposed to be a cancer;
but her sufferings from this were not to be compared with what she
suffered from her breath.

Yet, with all that she went through, how did she labour for the good of
souls!  Many times she has gone to speak to the people, when she has
said, “It is like as if every meeting would take away my life, but I’ll
speak to them as long as I can; while I’ve any breath, and power to get
out, I’ll not spare myself.”  And truly she did not, as will be readily
testified by many hundreds who have been in the habit of attending her
meetings.

I am inclined to think, that the 24th of last July will not be forgotten
by a large proportion of the great numbers who crowded to hear her: she
explained the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.  It was the last monday
night she was able to speak to a listening crowd of attentive hearers,
some of whom had come many miles, but did not think much of the pains
they took, because of the spiritual good they derived from the
opportunity.  I remember she spoke in a peculiarly striking manner on the
necessity of being born again.  When she came to the 13th verse, “Watch
therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of
Man cometh,” and from the following verses respecting the Talents, she
enlarged much; powerfully insisting upon the right use of the
understanding, will, mind, or memory, with every affection; the right
application of time, with every penny of money; and the watching over the
tongue, which she observed might enjoy the honor of being God’s advocate,
but for want of watchfulness was, as the Apostle expresses it, “set on
fire of hell.”

But it is in vain for me to attempt to repeat any part of what at that
time was felt in many hearts.  She continued to meet her classes
occasionally, as she had strength for it, until the middle of October.
Her two o’clock sabbath-day meeting she spoke at on the last sabbath of
September: this was her last public engagement.  Many striking proofs we
have had that her labours of love in this way were not in vain; for it is
certain many souls were brought to God through her.  In one of her noon
meetings she read some account of the opening of her room for the
preaching of the gospel; and as I believe it will not be unacceptable to
you, I will insert it as it was put down by one present at the time of
its first being used for the good of souls, and the glory of God.

    The first sabbath in July, 1788, the room at the Vicarage in Madeley
    was opened; it had been for many years a barn, but was now fitted up
    for divine worship.

    The Rev. Melville Horne preached from I Kings, chap. ix, ver. 3.
    “And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy
    supplication that thou hast made before me; I have hallowed this
    house which thou hast built, to put my name there, and mine eyes and
    my heart shall be there perpetually.”  He observed how great was our
    privilege in being so favored with places and opportunities of
    quietly waiting upon the Lord, and the advantage of sitting under a
    pure gospel; and how much would be required of them to whom so much
    was given.

    He then sweetly invited us to turn our eye towards the living Temple,
    in whom we should be always sure to meet the Father’s love: and, in
    conclusion, read the part following the text, to the 10th verse;
    pointing out the covenant blessing on obedience, and the certain
    destruction which would follow the reverse.

    As soon as he had ended his sermon, before he had time to pray, he
    was suddenly called out to a funeral which was waiting, and left Mrs.
    Fletcher to dismiss the people.  She observed the solemnity of the
    occasion, and the great expectation she felt in her heart that the
    Lord would pour out his Spirit on the souls before him; and entreated
    them to look up, and open their hearts to receive it.  As an
    encouragement, she reminded them of the many prayers which for
    twenty-five years had been night and day offered up in their behalf;
    the purport of which was, that they might behold a reconciled Father
    in the face of Christ Jesus: that in the dedication of Solomon’s
    Temple, the people were called to eat and to drink, and to send
    portions to those who had none.  She also observed, all the glory of
    Israel, being outward, was but a type of the inward glory of the
    christian church.  Therefore, (said she,) this day God calls you to
    eat and to drink, yea, to take of the water of life, and that freely.
    But are some dry and barren?  He sends portions to them that have
    none.  She then added, I will speak freely: since I have been
    preparing this place, these words of our Lord have repeatedly come
    into my mind, “With desire have I desired to eat this passover with
    you before I suffer.”  This has caused me sometimes to think, does my
    Lord intend shortly to remove me to himself?  Be that as it may, I
    have a confidence that this place will be continued to your use for
    some years to come, and that the Lord will bless you therein.  And
    now I have two petitions to ask you, which I think you will not deny
    me.  My dear friends, my first petition is, that you would consider
    this day as a fresh covenanting with the Lord to be his without
    reserve, and that we may with one consent unite in a solemn vow never
    to draw back.  My second request is, that when I am laid silent in
    the grave, (which, be it sooner or later, most of you will probably
    see,) I ask you, at _that time_ to remember the transaction of this
    day, and whensoever you pass by this place, grant me a moment’s
    thought;—the carnal say, the tribute of a tear: not so with me; no,
    my beloved friends, I rejoice not in your tears, but in your
    happiness:—grant me then a moment’s thought, I will tell you what it
    shall be.  On the first sabbath, in July, 1788, beneath that roof I
    covenanted to be the Lord’s; then pause a moment, and say, “Thy vows
    are upon me, O God; I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I
    cannot draw back.”

    She then concluded this uncommonly solemn meeting with prayer, after
    singing the following hymn:

    Spirit of holiness descend,
       And consecrate this place;
    With thine Almighty power defend,
       And crown it with thy grace.

    Let it be stored with heavenly wheat,
       The harvest of the Lord,
    With sinners brought to Jesu’s feet,
       Obedient to his word.

    No more design’d for earthly good,
       Or product of the ground,
    May it be fill’d with sacred food,
       And thy high praise resound.

    Ye neighbours who surround this place,
       The message is for you;
    Despise not then his offer’d grace,
       Nor slight the heavenly dew.

    How many pray’rs in heaven are filed
       For Madeley favor’d flock;
    Behold a Father reconciled
       In Jesus Christ your Rock.

    Then let the joys of heaven abound,
       O’er Sinners brought to God;
    And many at his feet be found,
       All wash’d in Jesu’s blood.

    That voice which once you loved to hear
       Invites you from above,
    And bids you cast off every fear,
       And trust in Jesu’s love.

    Then let us vow to serve the Lord,
       And choose his holy ways;
    To walk according to his word,
       Devoted to his praise.

    And when the lips that call you now
       Are silent in the dust,
    Remember _then_ our solemn vow,
       And shew in whom you trust.

    For soon the Archangel’s trump shall sound,
       And summon us on high;
    The Shepherd with his Flock be found,
       And all our tears be dry.

Some circumstances occurring last summer, which brought to her
recollection afresh the solemn season of the opening of her room, 27
years before, she took the paper I have now been copying, and read it to
the people; and there is good reason to believe, that our heavenly Father
was pleased to make this also, such a season of refreshing to some then
present, that they will ever remember it with gratitude: indeed, all her
labours of love were, in a peculiar manner, blest of God.  Six years
after the opening of her room, the old church was taken down, and the
church service was performed in it till the new one was erected.

Amongst the numerous company that will have to ascribe glory to our God
for good received through her instrumentality, under that roof, I cannot
forbear saying, my hope is, that I shall stand among the ransomed of the
Lord, and say, “I was born there.”  Yes, my friends, I must say, the good
Lord made her the means of the awakening, conversion, and deepening the
work of grace in my soul: and while I give all the glory to my God for
the grace received, I cannot but feel much love to the channel through
which that grace was communicated.  Nor are my feelings in this peculiar,
they are the feelings of a number of lively souls, who bless God that the
sound of her voice ever reached their ears; and in whose affections she
will long live, and though dead yet speak.

On the 4th of September, 1808, she was to have had a meeting at six
o’clock in the evening, but was prevented through sickness; she therefore
wrote, the following note, for me to read to the people:

    _My dearly beloved in the Lord_,

    My delight is to worship the Lord with you, and many, very many,
    sweet times have we had together; but our unerring master has, at
    this time, been pleased to confine me by a greater degree of weakness
    than I ever remember before; therefore, by my pen, through the mouth
    of my dear friend, I take this method to assure you, I am with you in
    spirit, though absent in body; and I intreat you all to make trial of
    the ground whereon you stand: when sickness and death approaches,
    there is no comfort but in the love of God; I find none but what I
    derive from that source.  O that you would therefore do as Jacob did,
    be earnest with the Lord, that his love may fill your heart, as the
    scripture expresses it, the love of God shed abroad in your hearts by
    the Holy Ghost, given unto you.  If you get your hearts full of the
    love of God, you will find that is the oil by which the lamp of faith
    will be ever kept burning; love makes all our duty easy; a soul
    united as one spirit to the Lord, if temptation presents, has a ready
    answer; such a one instantly cries out, How shall I do this great
    wickedness, and sin against God? against Him in whom my soul
    delighteth?  Pray, my friends, pray much for this love; and remember
    that word, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in
    him.”

Thus did she, whether sick or well, labour for the increase of
spirituality in the hearts of the people: her eyes were always
heaven-ward, and whether at home or abroad, she was ever endeavouring to
draw souls to a closer walk with God.  She was often reminding us who
were about her, of the fulness that was to be obtained.  I shall not
exceed the; truth, if I say that none more fully possessed the happy art
of leading souls into a close internal walk with God, than she did; being
herself so experimentally acquainted with the path of righteousness, she
was well qualified to conduct others therein: and as to her own soul, she
was continually drinking more and more into the spirit of her Lord.  Her
capacious soul was always panting after deeper and deeper draughts of the
living water; frequently telling me what sweet openings the Lord had been
giving her, and what enjoyment in the filling and enlarging of her
desires.  She was ever desirous that souls would be looking for great
things from the hands of the Lord; frequently saying, “what pity it is
that any rest in low attainments, when so much might be gained; has not
the Lord said, Ask what you will, and I will do it for you.”  This last
sentence was one of those sayings of our Divine Master, in which she
delighted to the end of her course.  I believe there are numbers who
cannot forget with what energy she would recommend the wrestling Jacob;
and whatever duty she enforced upon the minds of others, she was
exemplary in practising herself.  It was always her custom, unless some
providential call prevented, to go from secret prayer to the class, and
from the class to prayer: thus did she habitually draw fresh supplies of
light and life from above; and when the seed was sown, her unwearied
supplications followed it.  Indeed she was a great lover of prayer, and
often continued in that exercise on her knees for such a length of time,
(white her strength would admit of it,) that I have sometimes gone into
her chamber to remind her how long she had been, fearing she would injure
her body; but on such occasions she has sweetly smiled, and said, “I
shall be none the worse for prayer; come, kneel down by me, let us pray
together.”  At another of these times, she has said, “No, not leave off
praying yet; my dear husband used to say, _let me wrestle till I die_.  I
can’t leave off yet, but come and join me; great things are promised
where two agree to ask in the name of Jesus.”  Many of these times have
become seasons of peculiar advantage: _my_ soul has cause to praise the
Lord both for her private, social, and public exercises.  A paper
containing some short hints for prayer, which I found in a testament that
lay by her the last week of her life, I will here insert.  She begins,
first in the morning, by asking permission to throw herself again at the
feet of her most gracious loving Saviour, and to praise him for
preserving her from every evil through the night, and for having brought
her to another day.  She notes as subjects of praise, a degree of ease,
eye-sight, hearing, the use of her limbs and understanding; and then
names, as heads for supplication, the power to walk with God, to take up
every cross, and to watch the tongue.

                     _Second time of private prayer_.

Intercession for our relations in England, Switzerland, Aleppo, &c. for
the spirit of prayer, light into my state of soul, increase of faith, for
power never to offend with my tongue, with praise and acts of
resignation.

                              _Third time_.

For a _ready_ mind to do all the commands of my God, for deep humility,
to be brought into the entire region of love, by the baptism of the Holy
Spirit, that nothing may remain in my soul but pure love alone; for
faithfulness in the use of every talent; light and liberty in the
meetings, and a special blessing on every member thereof; for the
children, the ministry, and the whole parish.

                              _Fourth time_.

Praise for the mercies of the day, intreaties for a spiritual night; that
the Lord would fulfil that promise, “I will bless them that bless thee,”
first, by returning all the kindness they have shewn to me; secondly, by
repaying any injuries I may have rendered to any by thought, word, or
deed, if on earth by such blessings as are most for their good, if in
heaven by adding to their crown so much more for what they had suffered
from me.

After mentioning these four times of private prayer, she then notices
praying with me before going to bed; at which time she says, “remember
all the sufferers who have recommended themselves to my prayer.”  The
paper concludes with family prayer, of which she says, “at each time of
family prayer, to read with profit, and to pray with fervor.”

I can witness with how much diligence she discharged this duty of family
prayer, always being remarkably careful that every one who worked in her
house should be present upon this occasion; for she looked upon it as an
opportunity of giving them a message to their souls: and times more than
I can number she has had such up stairs, that she might pray with them,
when her breath has been so oppressed that she has said, (while they were
coming,) “I do not know whether I can speak a word, but if I can I will.”
The last time the washerwoman and the gardener were in her study, her
prayer will not soon be forgot by the persons present; she was at that
time in a state of great bodily suffering, (it was only a few weeks
before her translation to glory,) and was not able both to read and pray;
I therefore read a short account of a pious man out of the Methodist
Magazine, and she prayed, mentioning each distinctly in such a clear,
striking, and forcible manner, as if fully persuaded she should never
pray with them again.  All was deeply solemn, and I could not help
observing, when we rose from our knees, I did not remember ever feeling
such at time before: she answered, “I want them to turn to God; I long
for the salvation of all around us.”

The gardener’s wife has since told me, that when her husband returned
home at night, he told her, “he never heard any thing like that morning’s
prayer.”

But it was not an uncommon thing for her prayers to be unusually blessed
to souls: many have come from far to see her, that she might plead with
God in their behalf; some of these, when they have come to her, have been
laden with guilt, a heavy load, but our good Lord has heard the voice of
her supplications, and so manifested himself as a sin-pardoning God, that
the mourners have been comforted, their sorrows have been turned into
joy, and they have left her habitation to go on their way rejoicing.  I
refer not in this to a solitary instance, but mention it as a
circumstance that was often recurring.

Of her I may say, every talent given was duly improved; for she did not
spare herself, but her strength, her time, and substance, she cheerfully
devoted to the benefit of the souls and bodies of others; and as her
prayers were very prevalent, so were her charities very extensive.  Upon
this subject, before I proceed, I feel it my duty to make one remark: I
have heard some persons say, “O she was imposed upon.”  But, as I knew
her better than any person now alive, I must beg leave to affirm, that
she was not the dupe of the designing; her good sense was equal to her
piety, and her charities were conducted with such a degree of wisdom,
that fraudulent cases, in a general way, were detected by her: though,
whenever a doubtful case occurred, she would say, “it is better to be on
the right side, and to give a trifle to an unworthy object, than run a
risk of overlooking one that ought to be relieved.”  Upon such occasions
no doubt the worthless have sometimes partaken of her bounty, but never
to any considerable amount.  She was one of a thousand for economy;
always sparing of expense upon herself, that she might have the more to
give to the household of faith.  She would often say, “God’s receivers
upon earth, are, Christ’s church and poor.”  When, I have proposed the
purchase of some article of clothing for her, she would say, “is it quite
necessary? if it is not, do not buy it; it will be much better to give
the money to some of our poor neighbours, than to lay it out upon me.”
Nor was this once only; it was invariably her conduct, and with great
truth it may be said, that

    “What her charity impair’d
    She saved by prudence in affairs.”

She was always remarkably exact in setting down every penny she expended.
She kept four different accounts, in which all she spent was included;
these four were, the house, sundries, clothes, and poor.  We have often
at the end of the year been astonished to find the house expensed so
small, considering how many had shared with us: at such times, she has
said, “It is the Lord who has blessed our bread and water.”  I have, in
former years, taken up the book in which she kept her accounts, and wept
over it, with the consideration, that I should one day probably have to
settle it alone; and now I have drank of the bitter cup.  A few days ago,
I entered upon the work; and I think it right, as a confirmation of what
I have before advanced, to state the difference between the expenses of
her clothes, and what she had dispensed to the poor.  On making up the
account of her clothes, I found the whole year’s expenditure amounted to
nineteen shillings and six-pence; this was every penny that had been laid
out; on her own person, for the whole year. {27}

I then made up the poor’s account, and found the amount to be 181l 16s.
1d thus liberally had she dispensed abroad.  But her desire of
communicating comfort to the afflicted, was very extensive: I do not
think she ever heard of a person in distress, but, if in her power to do
it, she, by some means contrived to send relief.  To comfort the
distressed, was always a real comfort to her.  With regard to this
world’s wealth, it was no more to her, than dust in the balance.  She has
often said, and I am sure with great truth, “Gold is no more to me than
dust; the gold of Ophir than the stones of the brook.”  At another time
she would say, “It is not so important what we have, as how we use it.”
Indeed she was truly diligent, so to occupy with this and every talent,
as to be always well-pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

Her love to every one was so abundant, that she was unwilling to find a
fault in any one; but, ever desirous of casting the mantle of love over
the failings of each, she would seek out the excellencies of those with
whom she was concerned, and would find an excuse for the conduct of any,
if the case would admit of it.  And while her kindness was thus
extensively manifested to all with whom she had any intercourse, her
gratitude to others who shewed marks of love to her, was no less; for
when her kind friends sent her any thing they thought would be
acceptable, it was her study to think how she could return them an equal
token of love; and if nothing was brought to her mind to do for them at
the time, she would say, “Well, if I can do no more for them, I can pray
for them:”—then would she fervently cry to the Lord, that he would repay
them for her, and impart to them spiritual blessings for all the temporal
good they had communicated to her.  I never knew her sit down to partake
of any thing that was the gift of a friend, without first praying for the
donor.  She would have thought herself very guilty to have omitted this,
but it was a thing she made such a point of, that I do not think she ever
forgot, even in one single instance.

And while her gratitude to the creature was thus evidently discerned, her
praise and thanksgiving to the Creator was still more abundant.  Never
was any one more completely sensible of surrounding mercies, or more
fully satisfied with divine appointments.  She has for a long time lived
in the spirit of praise, frequently saying, “What blessings has the Lord
bestowed upon me! how comfortable has he made me in my old age; though I
am left here, and my dearly beloved husband, and my Sally, my child, in
glory, yet I know no lack; for how has the Lord fulfilled that word,
given me so many years ago, _God will make you a comfortable habitation_.
{30}  And what a comfortable habitation has he made me! all is so
suitable, every thing that I want; and such a loving people, I may well
say I dwell among my own people: and that the Lord should bring you from
a distance, first to be my spiritual child, and now my careful
housekeeper, my tender nurse, my faithful friend.”

This was the way that in her common conversation she enumerated the
mercies of the Lord; and as the close of life drew nigh, the spirit of
praise increased more and more.  Not quite three weeks before she was
taken from us, she mentioned to some friends, a dream she had had many
years ago.  She dreamt she was going down a rough road, with a short wall
by the side of it, which she leaned upon, and called the wall of
salvation: all the light she had, while getting along with difficulty,
was a twinkling star.  She persevered to the end, but then found a
mud-pond, which when she saw, she thought, well, if this is the way, I’ll
plunge in; but while she was thinking to do so, in a moment of time, the
twinkling star became a bright comet; and by the blazing light it gave,
she discovered a clean narrow path by which she was instantly over, she
hardly knew how.  After our friends were gone, she said to me, “That
dreamt came so powerfully to my mind, I could not help repeating it; it
is being accomplished now.”  Several times after that evening, she said
to me, “I am going down the rough walk; this illness has been a long and
painful one, but I lean upon the wall of salvation, and the comet will
come.”  She seemed to be assured, from the time this dream was so
impressed upon her mind, that in an instant of time she should be removed
from a state of suffering to an inconceivable blaze of glory, that would
as much outweigh every spiritual enjoyment upon earth, as the comet in
her sleep outshone the twinkling star.

Before this last three weeks of her life, in which such a striking
application of her dream was made to her, the enemy had at times
suggested what a state of suffering lay before her, if at the end of her
affliction she should be long confined to a sick bed; or it might be that
I may be so wearied by long fatigue, as not to be able to assist her in
that helpless state; and to have had strangers about her would have been
a most peculiar trial.  But out of all this, how soon did the Lord
deliver her: indeed the trial never lasted long, for she knew

    “That as her day, her strength had been,”

and believed,

    “So it would for ever be.”

One day, when her sufferings were great, she said, “How sweet are the
words of the Apostle, The sufferings of this life are not worthy to be
compared with the glory that shall follow.”  And on the 11th of November
she mentioned the divine aid she found in these words, “Call upon me in
the time of trouble; so will I hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me:”
these were words she frequently mentioned, and sometimes would add, “Yes,
my Lord, I will call upon thee; and I shall glorify thee too.”

Another time she said, with peculiar energy, “They that trust in the
Lord, shall never be confounded.”  And one day, after naming some
sentences which she felt a spring of pleasure in, she added, with much
animation in her countenance, “And that given so many years ago now comes
with fresh power, _Thou shalt walk with me in white_: and when I
answered, how can that be, seeing I am not worthy? it was repeated, but
thou shalt walk with me in white, for will make thee worthy; I will
thoroughly purge away thy dross, and take away thy tin; everlasting life
is won, glory is on earth begun.” {34}

One night she spake of finding a powerful application of these words, “I
will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength
and my song; he also is become my salvation.”

On the 18th of November, with much animation she often repeated, “I am
thine, and thou art mine, a bond eternal hath us joined!”  On the 20th,
she said, “Just as I was waking, after my first sleep last night, I felt
these words come so powerfully, Sufficient is his arm alone, and our
defence is sure:—I instantly answered, _our_, what my friend and me? it
then seemed spoken again with still greater weight, Sufficient is his arm
alone, and our defence is sure.  This (continued she) was at the
beginning of the night, and a suffering night it has been; but a night in
which I have seen the pleasure of the Lord, and felt his goodness rest
upon me.”

Indeed, the goodness of the Lord, and the great things that faith will
do, were subjects on which she delighted to dwell.  I have often heard
her say, “The particular commission the Lord had given her, was to
encourage souls to believe:” and herein she was greatly blessed to many.

On the 23d, she many times repeated these words, which she said came to
her with unusual sweetness in the night,

          My Saviour and King,
          Thy succour afford,
          Thy righteousness bring;
    Thy righteousness wearing, and cleans’d by thy blood,
    Bold shall I appear in the presence of God.

All this day she had a great degree of fever upon her, and would
sometimes say to me, “What were the sweet words the Lord gave me last
night?”  As soon as I pronounced the first words, “My Saviour,” she would
go on with them, and add, “I feel the power of them, though my head was
so confused, with this fever, that I could not recollect them.”

She was always exceedingly affectionate to me; and as it pleased God
through her means, to kindle the first spark of spiritual life in my
soul, I ought also to say, that nothing has ever been wanting on her part
to increase the kindled fire, on the contrary, she was always a helper of
my faith, as well as the most indulgent friend: numberless are the times
she has expressed her strong attachment _to_, and great affection _for_,
me.  Never was any thing more expressive, than, on the 6th of December,
while looking on me with a look of the tenderest affection, she said, “My
faithful friend, my dearest friend, ten thousand blessings on her head.”
Several other times, especially in the last week of her life, with eyes
and hands lifted up to heaven, she would exclaim, “What shall I do for my
friend?”  She has for years been in the habit of repeating the following
verse;

    “Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
       Has made my cup run o’er;
    And, in a kind and faithful friend,
       Has doubled all my store.”

She would often be crying to God for a blessing upon such and such
particular souls; and all her relations, though so far from her in body,
were to the last interested in her prayers: she would frequently plead
with the Lord, that one day she might meet them all in glory.  Ever after
December begun, she was much inclined to doze, when the cough and the
oppression upon her breath would allow her a degree of ease: this she
would complain of, saying, “I lose my time; I want every moment to be
spent in prayer or praise.”

One day, I think the 6th of December, when waking out of a doze, she
said, “I am drawing near to glory:” and soon after, “There is my house
and portion fair;” and again, “Jesus come, my hope of glory:” and, after
a short pause, “He lifts his hands, and shews that I am graven there.”

On the 7th of December, taking my hand in her’s, she said, “My precious,
my invaluable friend, I have prayed that light and wisdom may guide you
in all, in every difficulty, and it will be so, I know it will; my prayer
for thee is heard, my choice friend.”  This afternoon Mrs. Harper called
to see her, but finding her much inclined to doze, she soon left the
room: when Mrs. Fletcher opened her eyes, and found she was gone, she
said, “O! she’s gone, without a parting word; I should have taken leave
of her.”  As Mrs. H. was but just gone, I called her back: she then took
her by the hand, and said, “May the Lord be abundantly with you, and your
daughter; and I pray for your son too.”  All this day, at every waking
interval, she would be saying, “What mercies!  Surrounded with mercies!
how full of mercies I am!”  All her soul seemed lost in love and praise.

The day following, the 8th, was as the day before, a day of praise for
fullness of blessing; after saying, “What mercies I am surrounded with!
the use of my hands, what a comfort! how different would it be if I was
not able to help myself; and with how many this is the case, who have
illnesses that take away the power of helping themselves with their own
hands; but I can use mine, and what a mercy!”—then, affectionately
looking at me, she continued, “and what a comfort art thou, my choice
friend! and the love of Jesus, O how precious!”  Mrs. Perks was this
evening in the room with her, but she was too heavy to converse; on Mrs.
Perks going, however, she came quite to herself, and said, “The Lord
bless you, your partner, and children.”  Mrs. Perks kindly offered to sit
up, but she would never hear of any one sitting up with her till (she
said) she felt the need of more help than I could give.  My sister, also,
was desirous of being in the room, but this she would not admit of.

All this day her breathing was exceedingly difficult: in the morning she
had walked into the other room, as usual, with only the help of my arm;
at the middle of the day she wished to go into the chamber again, and I
led her, as at other times; but she was now weaker, and I could scarcely
keep her from falling: I therefore asked her to sit down in a chair,
which she did, and I wheeled her back again: with this she was much
pleased, and said, the exercise had done her good.  At dinner she eat a
small bit of light pudding, with as much appetite as usual, but she had
taken very little for some time.  All the afternoon she was extremely
ill, either hot to a great degree, shivering with cold, or very drowsy.

But through all, her mouth was full of the loving kindness of the Lord.
She said she would not go to bed till after ten o’clock.  We always
prayed together before we went into the chamber, her breath being so
greatly oppressed: she prayed very sweetly, but short, and then said,
“Now you call upon the Lord; I can enjoy your prayer, though not able to
speak:” I did so, and found an uncommon degree of liberty while pleading
the gracious promises made to the people of God.  When I had ended, she
said it had been to her soul a peculiar time of enjoyment, while I was
calling upon the Lord; and concluded saying, “O this has done me good.”
In the afternoon, hearing that Dr. Yonge, (who has always shewn her the
greatest attention,) was ill, she twice prayed particularly for him.

When we were ready to go into the chamber, and it was after ten, I got
her into the chair, but she was now weaker than at noon; however I
wheeled her to the bed side, and could not but look upon her as dying;
and indeed so she considered herself, for when got into bed, she said,
“My love, this is the last time I shall get into bed; it has been hard
work to get in, but it is work I shall do no more: this oppression upon
my breath cannot last long, but all is well; the Lord will shower down
ten thousand blessings upon thee, my tender nurse, my kind friend.”

After these and many more kind expressions to the same effect, and having
embraced her, and put all her things as usual, she desired I would make
haste to bed.  I entreated her to let me sit up, repeatedly saying, “Do
let me watch with you this one night:” but with all the tenderness
imaginable, yet with that degree of firmness which made me unwilling to
urge the request further, she said, “Go to bed; you have done all for me
you can do, and you know you can be with me in a moment if I want you;
but if you sit up, it will make me uncomfortable: I cannot rest without
you go to bed.”  I told her I had a few things to do, before I could get
into bed; she replied, “Then make haste and do them, for I want you in
bed: I cannot rest till I know you are in bed.”  After I had made all the
excuses I could for remaining up, and looking upon her dear countenance
as long as her kind concern for me would admit, she still urged my going
to bed, and I therefore laid me within the bed-clothes, without taking my
own off; and when she again put the question, “Are you my love in bed?” I
answered “Yes:” she then said, “That’s right, now if I can rest I will;
but let our hearts be united in prayer, and the Lord bless both thee and
me.”

These were the last words her beloved lips uttered; for an hour after
this, about one o’clock in the morning of December 9th, the noise her
breath had so long made, ceased.  I thought, is she dropped asleep? it
immediately came to my mind, “Asleep in Jesus: see a soul escape to
bliss.”  I went directly to her bed side, where I found the beloved body
without the immortal spirit, which had entered the realms of endless day.
My feelings are not to be described; I clung to the casket of the saint,
I knelt down by the side of it, and cried to him who had just now called
home the spirit of my friend, that the mantle might rest on me.  At
length I thought I should injure her dear remains, if I did not call the
family up; I therefore went and called my sister and the servant, at half
past one; after which I sent for Mrs. Perks, who kindly came over
immediately.  I never left the chamber, while any thing could be done for
her: I had promised to be with her to the last, and the Lord enabled me
so to do.

Her countenance was as sweet a one as was ever seen in death.  There was
at last neither sigh, groan, or struggle, but all the appearance of a
person in the most composed slumber.  When I first undrew the curtain,
and saw her dear head dropped off the pillow, and looking so sweetly
composed, I could not persuade myself the spirit was fled, till I took
her in my arms, and found no motion left.  I then perceived, the moment
she had so much longed for, had arrived; for I think I have heard her
some hundreds of times exclaim, with the most vehement desire, “O, my
Jesus, when shall I fly to thy arms!”  She was always looking and waiting
for the happy moment when she should gain the blissful shore, and

    “See the Lamb in glory stand,
    Encircled with his radiant band,
    And join the angelic pow’rs.”

Well,

    “All that height of glorious bliss
    Her everlasting portion is,
    And all that heaven is her’s.”

For the last two years of her life she was remarkably partial to the two
following hymns of Mr. Wesley’s; but as the print of the book they were
in was small and pale, I wrote them out upon a sheet of paper, which lay
in a desk by her side, to the last.  These she greatly delighted in,
calling them, her sweet hymns.  As they are not in our common hymn books,
I here insert them.

                               FIRST HYMN.

    AND shall I, Lord, the cup decline,
    So wisely mixt by Love divine,
          And tasted first by thee
    The bitter draught thou drankest up,
    And but this single, sacred drop,
          Hast thou reserved for me.

    Lord, I receive it at thy hand,
    And bear, by thy benign command,
          The salutary pain:
    With thee to live, I gladly die
    And suffer here, above the sky
          With my dear Lord to reign.

    Here only can I shew my love,
    By suffering, my obedience prove,
          And when thy heaven I share,
    I cannot mourn for Jesu’s sake,
    I cannot there thy cup partake,
          I cannot suffer there.

    Full gladly, then, for thee I grieve,
    The honor of thy cross receive,
          And bless the happy load;
    Who would not in thy footsteps tread,
    Who would not bow with thee his head,
          And sympathize with God.

                               SECOND HYMN.

    JESUS! thy Sovereign Name I bless!
    Sorrow is joy, and pain is ease,
          To those that trust in thee:
    All things together work for good,
    To me, the purchase of thy blood,
          The much-loved sinner, me.

    With thee, O Christ, on earth I reign,
    In all the awful pomp of pain;
          But send me piercing eyes,
    Th’ eternal things unseen to see,
    The crown of life prepared for me,
          And glittering in the skies.

    As sure as now thy cross I bear,
    I shall thy heavenly kingdom share,
          And take my seat above;
    Celestial joy is in this pain,
    It tells me, I with thee shall reign,
          In everlasting love.

    The more my sufferings here increase,
    The greater is my future bliss;
          And thou my griefs dost tell;
    They in thy book are noted down,
    A jewel added to my crown
          Is every pain I feel.

    So be it, then, if thou ordain,
    Crowd all my happy life with pain,
          And let me daily die:
    I bow, and bless the sacred sign,
    And bear the cross, by grace divine,
          Which lifts me to the sky.

Having before mentioned the unwearied love and strong attachment she so
invariably manifested towards me, I will here insert a short letter or
two, which she wrote in different years, but each in the season of bodily
affliction, when, to human appearance, death was nigh at hand.  The first
was occasioned by my expressing a wish, if I died at Madeley, that I
might be buried in the same grave with her.  After we had been conversing
on the subject, I was called away from her, and on my return found on the
table, a paper, on which she had written the following words:

    My dear Friend,

    As you have expressed a wish to be buried in our grave, if you should
    continue to wish it, I here declare my _desire_ that it should _be
    so_.  You are to me a faithful helper, and as a gracious gift of
    providence, I esteem and value you: and my prayer is, that after my
    death you may meet with the same measure from others, that you have
    measured unto me.

                                                            MARY FLETCHER.

I think this was written in the year 1802 or 3, but not being dated, am
not certain.  The following, I think was in 1806 or 7, but it also has no
date.

    My dear and faithful friend,

    I wish to give you comfort, when I am taken from you; and to assure
    you how great a favor I consider your being given to me, in the place
    of my dear Sally, now in glory.  It is often said, God takes nothing
    from us, but he gives something better in the place; and so it has
    been, for though she was the most disinterested and tender friend,
    yet, in many things you are a still further help than she was able to
    be.  Your tender care and attention to me, encourages me to hope, you
    will never want assistance, nor be left friendless; for the promise
    is, “what you do unto another, shall be done unto you.”  We are
    joined together in the Lord, and shall therefore be eternally one.
    My beloved husband and me, my friend Ryan, my Sally, and you, shall
    be an eternal knot which can never be separated.  You know what
    proofs I have had that my friends in heaven do not forget me;
    therefore, believe we are waiting for you, yea, and longing to hail
    you on the shore.  I might have been far more useful than I have
    been; but I cast all my sins on my atoning God.  I pray the Spirit
    may richly be poured on you; and may showers of love and grace
    descend on the dear people.  You are called to labour _here_, and God
    will be with you.  I do believe the Lord will answer my prayer, by
    supplying all your wants.  I wish I could do more for you, but I
    commend you to him who hath said, “No manner of thing that is good
    shall be withheld.”

    Grieve not, my dear, for me.  You shall soon be with me; and perhaps
    I shall be oftener with you than you think for; the spirits of the
    departed are very near to us.  “We are come to them,” says the
    Apostle.

    The Lord bless and keep you, and return all your kindness a hundred
    fold, prays your most faithful

                                                       everlasting friend,
                                                              M. FLETCHER.

Another of these kind tokens of her love was dated February 11th, 1810,
at which time it was thought she would very soon be removed from us, but
the gracious Lord had compassion upon his people, and spared her to us
for above five years longer: and, O! how was every year fraught with the
fruits of righteousness.  Well, she laboured, and while she did so, kept
her eye upon the Saviour, whose example

    “She tracked, the world she disdain’d.
    And constantly trampled on pleasure and pain.”

But to return to her kind epistle, written with a view to comfort me in
the separation likely to take place:

                                                          Feb. 11th, 1810.

    My very dear child,

    The gracious gift of God to me, how do I feel for you, who I am
    sensible will feel a great deal in my loss; but I know the Lord will
    be with you, and count your every hair.  Let not Satan tempt you,
    that you could have done any thing more for me than you have done;
    for you have been the most tender creature in the world to me, and a
    great comfort.  I wish I could have done more for you in a temporal
    way, but my gracious father, who hath cared for me, will care for
    you, I am confident.  To his gracious protection, I commit you: we
    shall be one in spirit, though divided in the flesh.  You may perhaps
    stay a little behind me, to help the dear souls in Madeley, and I
    trust the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out on all you are called
    to do in his cause, and then we shall be again re-united to part no
    more.

                                            Your faithful friend for ever,
                                                            MARY FLETCHER.

The last of these loving remembrances was written two years ago, when the
wound in her breast was at the worst, and it was supposed she could not
survive more than a few days.

                                                         January 2d, 1814.

    My dearest and best earthly friend,

    I have only strength to say, I ask a thousand blessings on you, both
    soul and body.  God will stand by you: He will help you through all.
    I solemnly commit you into his hands, and He is faithful to keep that
    we commit unto Him.  We shall soon meet above, to part no more.  You
    have been to me the _best_ of friends, and God will reward you.

    I ever remain,

                                                 One with you in the Lord,
                                                              M. FLETCHER.

The last week of her life she wished to have manifested her love again in
this way, but writing had long been very fatiguing to her.  However she
asked me for the paper, but as I knew how difficult it was to her, I
said, “What is it you wish to write? let me write for you.”  “No, (she
replied,) it won’t do for you to write what I would say, but I think I am
too weak for writing now: I only wanted to put it down with my own hand,
before I am taken from you, how completely satisfied I am with all that
you have done, and how thankful I am that my papers are all in your
hands, and nothing to be printed but as you approve; and that I am fully
persuaded whatever trials you may have to pass through, God will be with
you.”  She was often telling me how confident she was, that the Lord
would make all my way plain before me; and has sometimes said, “In all
the painful circumstances you will have to pass through, your language
still will be, The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be
the God of my salvation.”

She left nothing undone, that the creature could do, to soften the stroke
of separation.  While she herself stood, as the pigeon on the house-top,
ready

    “To clap the glad wing, and tower away,
    To mingle with the blaze of day;”

her longing desire for that hour was frequently expressed by her
exclaiming; “O! my God, when shall I come to thy dear bosom!”  At another
time she would say, “My Jesus, and my all, I pant to see thee as thou
art; O come, and take me to thy loving breast.”  But, to write all her
lively animating expressions, would fill volumes: I must therefore desist
from recording any more of them, and conclude this account (which I have
many times wished some abler hand had been the writer of,) by mentioning,
that at the beginning of her christian warfare, she saw, as a plan for
her life, the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy, 1st Epistle, chap. v.
verse 10: “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up
children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’
feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed
every good work.”  And here I cannot but appeal to all you who have known
her, whether her life has not agreed with this description, which she
took as a rule for her conduct.  Is she not well reported of for good
works? has she not brought up children? has she not lodged strangers? has
she not washed the saints’ feet? has she not relieved the afflicted, and
diligently followed every good work?  These things you know she has done;
yea, has she not been abundant therein?  But did she value herself upon
any of all the works of righteousness she wrought?  No, by no means.  All
her salvation she ever ascribed to him who had loved her, and washed her
in his own most precious blood: therefore, with delight she would often
repeat,

    “Because that I can nothing do,
       Jesus, do all the work alone;
    And bring my soul triumphant through,
       To wave its palm before the throne.”

I must now conclude: but not without fervently praying, that the zeal,
diligence, love, and humility, with all that faith _in_ and active
dependence _upon_ the Saviour, that was in her, may dwell richly in each
of you: and trusting that I also shall be interested in your prayers,
that an abundant entrance may be administered unto me into the kingdom of
our God and Saviour, after that I have for a little longer done and
suffered his righteous will; that so I may overtake my company that’s
gone before, and safely arrive “where all the ship’s company meet, who
sailed with the Saviour beneath.”

Waiting for that happy day,

                                I remain,

        Your affectionate friend, and willing servant, in Christ,

                                                               MARY TOOTH.

                                * * * * *

The following hymn of Mr. Newton’s, being very expressive and suitable to
the occasion, was sung at Madeley, when the above letter was read there.

                                  HYMN.

    IN vain my fancy strives to paint
       The moment after death;
    The glories that surround the saints,
       When yielding up their breath.

    One single sigh their fetters breaks,
       We scarce can say, “They’re gone!”
    Before the willing spirit takes
       Her mansion near the throne.

    Faith strives, but all its efforts fail,
       To trace her in her flight:
    No eye can pierce within the veil
       Which hides that world of light.

    Thus much (and this is all) we know,
       They are completely blest;
    Have done with sin, and care, and woe,
       And with their Saviour rest.

    On harps of gold they praise his name,
       His face they always view;
    Then let us followers be of them,
       That we may praise him too.

    Their faith and patience, love and zeal,
       Should make their memory dear;
    And, Lord, do thou the prayers fulfil,
       They offer’d for us here.

    While they have gain’d, we losers are,
       We miss them day by day;
    But thou canst every breach repair,
       And wipe our tears away.

    We pray, as in Elisha’s case,
       When great Elijah went,
    May double portions of thy grace,
       To us who stay, be sent.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                  PRINTED BY WILLIAM SMITH, IRONBRIDGE.



FOOTNOTES.


{27}  I do not mean it to be understood, as though she never spent more
than this in a year; but this I must say, it was very seldom that her
clothes account exceeded five pounds per year, and in general it was
under that sum: she saw it a duty not only to avoid expending much in
this way, but was also very careful in the use of her clothes.

{30}  This refers to a dream which will be published when her life and
journals come out.

{34}  This also has a reference to what will be more fully seen when her
life is published.





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