Jones, Jane (nee Pitchford) (1797-1837)
MEMOIR OF MRS. JANE JONES,
(Wrockwardine Wood circuit.)
“Thy spirit, that so oft had known,
And commun’d with diviner things,
Hath risen to heaven’s eternal throne,
And ‘mid the choir angelic sings.
We may not mourn thy upward flight
To yonder calm and radiant shore,
Where glorious visions meet thy sight,
Where griefs nor ills can reach thee more.”
Mrs. Jane Jones, eldest daughter of John and Mary Pitchford, of Newport, in Shropshire, was born November 18, 1797. At an early age she was the subject of Divine impressions, and cherished a desire for the salvation of her soul. She was convinced of sin among the Independents, but was brought to the possession of peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, among the Wesleyan Methodists. Her parents, unacquainted with personal godliness, were opposed to her attendance at the Methodists’ means of grace, threw obstacles in her way, and, on some occasions, inflicted corporal punishment on the young penitent. *
But Jane was not to be stopped; heavenly light had dawned on her mind, Divine power influenced her heart; the gracious invitations of the gospel arrested her attention; and to abandon her favourite means of grace, to forsake the people she loved, and to discontinue the exercise of faith and prayer, where she felt most at liberty to believe and pray, she could not yield to; it regarding not only her present comfort, but also her future happiness. So she “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”
While under deep convictions of sin, Jane had to leave Newport, and reside in the country, where she was deprived of the public means of grace; the loss of which she sensibly felt, and sincerely deplored. But ere long she returned home, and earnestly embraced every opportunity of worshipping the Lord her God in the assembly of his people. She sought Him with all her heart; nor did she seek in vain; for he who hath said, “They that seek me early shall find me,” manifested himself unto her, as he does not unto the world, and enabled her to rejoice in hope of eternal glory. She joined the society, and by a consistent deportment manifested the sincerity of her profession, and the change of her heart. But the particular time when that happy change took place cannot now be ascertained; but it is the most probable that it was in her fifteenth year.
When about twenty years of age, she entered into the marriage estate with Thomas Jones. This proved an unhappy union to both parties. But those who are acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, attach but little blame to Jane.
In the summer of 1821, the Primitive Methodist ministers visited the town of Newport, and some of the adjacent villages; preaching the word of life with great effect to listening multitudes. Mrs. Jones was among their hearers, and was one of the first to minister to their temporal necessities. In a short time her mind became deeply impressed with the thought that she should he more useful among the Primitive Methodists, than she could otherwise be: accordingly she united with them; and always-considered her so doing as providential.
In her new sphere of action, Mrs. Jones soon began to exert herself in a variety of ways to do good. In class leading, a work for which she was eminently qualified, she became remarkably diligent and successful. At one time she had the care of three classes: one at Newport, one at Church Aston, and one at Edgmond. The care of these classes caused her much travelling, which, to her, was somewhat difficult, she being inclined to corpulency. But her zeal, her diligence, and perseverance, were of a high order. It was her delight to comfort them that mourn; to lift up the hands that hang down, and confirm the feeble knees; and to say to them of fearful heart, “Be strong;” assuring them that the Lord whom they sought would suddenly come, and fill their hearts with his glory. She took great pains to conduct the truly penitent to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Nor were her labours in vain, for she lived to see the societies at Newport and Edgmond in a state of considerable stability and firmness.
Mrs. Jones, too, was frequently employed in preaching the un-searchable riches of Christ; to do which, she esteemed her highest honour. And her zeal and labours in declaring to poor sinners the message with which she was intrusted by the Lord, and in testifying to all the gospel of grace, opening the sacred scriptures to the understandings of the people, and enforcing the duties of our holy religion, were often seen to call forth all the energies of her soul. “Who can describe the Unction and fervour with which she, on some occasions, appealed to the hearts of her hearers, – the anxiety which she displayed to alarm the careless and the impenitent, – the tenderness which she showed in speaking consolation to the afflicted, – the encouragement she presented to the timid, the dejected, and the wavering, – the reproofs which she sent home to the consciences of the backsliders, – the seasonable admonitions which she gave to the young and to the old, to the rich and to the poor, to all who were within the sound of her voice, – the un-com-promising fidelity, and unaffected earnestness, with which she testified to one and all repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Her benevolent mind was always devising liberal things; and, according to her ability, every religious institution in the neighbourhood shared her patronage and support; for although she had a peculiar attachment to the Primitive Methodists, with whom she was united, and amongst whom she zealously laboured for upwards of sixteen years, yet she always wished well to all other denominations of Christians, and rejoiced in their prosperity.
The poor and afflicted often received relief from her hand, as well as the best advice and consolation. And she found it more blessed to give than to receive.
Mrs. Jones was often subject to slight afflictions, and on some occasions to those that were severe. But she bore all with the greatest patience and fortitude, being fully resigned to the will of her heavenly Father. At length, to the sorrow of her friends and the church, her last illness commenced; but their loss is her gain. The following was supposed to have an unfavourable effect: on Sunday, July 9, 1837, she was appointed at Pickstock, about four miles from Newport; and the cottage being too small for the congregation, she preached in the open air, exerted herself much; and in a state of perspiration, set off in great haste to hear a stranger preach at Newport in the evening; and during that evening preaching she felt very cold. The next day she felt unwell, and grew gradually worse and worse, until her spirit returned to God who gave it.
Her disorder was pronounced a bilious fever, but it grew to typhus fever, followed by inflammation, &c., which baffled the skill of her medical attendants, and terminated in death, July 30, 1837.
During her last illness, she suffered, but murmured not; knowing that the Almighty, whom she served, and in whom she trusted, was too wise to err, and too good to be unkind. She appeared to cast her burden upon aim, who had promised to sustain her.
Being highly respected, persons of various religious denominations visited her, to whose varied enquiries she replied in language which proved beyond a doubt, her acceptance with God, her possession of present blessings, and .her blooming hope of eternal happiness. She knew in whom she had believed, and was persuaded that he was able to keep that which she had committed to him against that day. Her trust in God was firm.
A short time before she breathed her last, her brother tenderly asked the state of her mind. She replied, “It is well with my soul.”
“Do you feel the fear of death removed?”
“Yes, I have no fear, no doubt I am graciously preserved from temptation, and all that would disturb my mind.”
In this happy frame she lingered a few hours, and then fell asleep in Jesus.
Thus lived, and thus died, in fortieth year of her age, Jane Jones, a woman of great usefulness, well respected, and generally beloved. In her death we have lost an acceptable and useful preacheress; a diligent and persevering class leader; a generous and constant supporter of the cause of God; and a friend and entertainer of strangers. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
On Lord’s day, August 13,1837, her death was improved to a large and respectable congregation, in the Wesleyan chapel at Newport, which was kindly lent on the occasion, ours being too small. And on the Sabbath following, in our large chapel at Wrockwardine Wood.
* Her father was afterwards brought to God, and has since been called to his rest. Her mother was the first who opened her house to receive the Primitive Methodists, on their visiting Newport and its vicinity; and she became a mother in Israel to the infant cause in that place. For further particulars relative to this excellent woman, see the account of her life in the Primitive Methodist Magazine.
(Approved by the Circuit Committee.)
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 134-136.