Scofield, Hannah (1806-1837)
MEMOIR OF MRS. HANNAH SCOFIELD,
Hannah, the youngest daughter of Samuel and Ann Cowley, farmers, of Hulland-ward-intak, in Belper circuit, was born May 12, 1806. Her parents, invited by a friend, went to hear the P. Methodists; were deeply impressed with the word, joined the society at Mercaston, and their house has been a home for the preachers to the present day. Her father, faithful unto death, has received his crown of life. Her mother is still amongst us, and is an ornament to her profession.
Hannah, when a child appeared to have a mind above her years. At the age of fourteen, by hearing the P. M. preachers, who generally make the young a distinct part of their ministerial labours, she, by hearing them, was convinced that she was a fallen creature; and that notwithstanding the many excellent qualities she possessed, a change of heart was necessary. And through sincere and earnest prayer, she obtained the pardon of her sins; “even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” She applied to herself the following words:-
“When I awoke and saw
My sins in dread array;
The terrors of the law,
Did fill me with dismay;
But he in mercy did appear,
And banished every slavish fear.
Soon as I could believe
His every promise true,
I pardon did receive,
He form’d my heart anew;
And joy did all my heart o’erflow,
When I his pardoning love did know.”
From this early age, her path was that of the just, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Possessing uniform piety and talent for usefulness, she laboured to make herself useful by all the means in her power, and at length was asked to speak in public. To this she felt reluctance; but making it a matter of prayer, she obtained a clear conviction that it was her duty to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ; and her success in the conversion of sinners to Christ was apparent to all.
On one occasion she writes, “Being planned at C. H., I found a crowded house. I spoke from John iii. 14. 15. I had great liberty; and while I was speaking the power of God descended, and it was none other but the house of God, and the very gate of heaven to our souls. During the service, a daughter of the house, who had been long afflicted, was enabled to lay hold of the blessing of salvation; her soul was made free, and she rejoiced in the God of her salvation.”
The last time she preached was in Brampton chapel, (Chesterfield) when two souls were converted to God. Her preaching talents were of no ordinary kind. Her understanding in divine things was of a superior kind. Her memory was strong and retentive; she had a quick mental perception, and a considerable measure, of discrimination: so that her subjects were generally such as bore on the conversion of sinners. But still she gave to each a portion of meat in season.
Her appointments had great weight on her mind; hence, scarcely any circumstance could induce her to neglect them; no unfavourableness of weather could daunt her; but through cold and storms she pressed her way. The last time she had to preach in Brampton chapel, Bro. Tims endeavoured to dissuade her from it, on account of her weak slate of health. But she would preach, as a suitable supply was not at hand.
Her punctuality to the various means of grace was remarkable. Not-withstanding the extensive business in which she was engaged, and her numerous family calls, she regularly attended the house of God. And often has she been heard to remark, that, at the approach of the hour of prayer, her difficulties seemed to increase; but, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” was her first principle; and all other things had to give way to it. And the commencement of the Divine ordinance of whatever kind it might be, generally found her in her seat.
Her zeal in the prayer meetings was great; especially in those held after preaching service. She was always ready to labour; and the influence which attended her prayers, evinced that the intercourse between God and her soul was open, and she had what she asked.
In visiting the sick she was very useful. She talked to them in the most kind, affectionate and faithful manner; and then brought them to the throne of grace; and with unusual earnestness and fervency, pleaded the virtue of that blood which cleanseth from all sin. Then assisting them a little in the pecuniary way, her visits were rendered a general blessing.
Her attachment to the P. M. connexion was singular: she sought on all occasions to promote its interests, and extend its influence. No sacrifice was ever considered too costly for her to make for its welfare — no expense was spared to increase its prosperity. The preachers were objects of her care and solicitude. In her house they found a hearty welcome. And not those in the circuit only, but generally in the connexion. Many who may read this, will remember her kind hospitality.
Her benevolence was extensive; she was a real Dorcas, full of -good works and almsdeeds which she did. The widows of the society have come to the preacher’s house since her death, weeping and showing the coats and garments which she gave them, while she was yet with them. And when informed of her death, a poor local preacher said, “I shall lose all my sixpences now. She never met me but she gave me sixpence.” Indeed the extent of her charity was only known to God and herself.
Her influence in the society was extensive and of the best kind, as she was surely “a peace maker.” If any unpleasantness arose, it was her greatest grief; and she would endeavour by all means to put it away; and would sacrifice any thing but a good conscience to restore peace and unity.
As a wife she was industrious and frugal. Mr. Scofield says, when little had been done in business, and she did not feel what she considered sufficiently weary, she would have been dissatisfied. But when fatigued by the labours of the day, “Now,” she would say, “I can lie down and rest contentedly.” Never did she do any thing of importance, to which he had the least opposition; or resist, however contrary to her inclination, any thing he wished to be done.
As the mother of a rising family, she felt a serious responsibility. Knowing how impressible the minds of children are, and how susceptible of an unfavourable bias, she studiously avoided presenting before them any thing either in word or action, that had any tendency to awaken in their minds the least desire of vanity. But being well qualified to “Teach the young idea how to shoot,” and aware at what an early age the human mind is capable of being moulded into form, she sedulously applied herself to the religious training of her children. She never imposed upon them any galling austerities; but endeavoured to render her religion inviting; and she
“Allured to brighter worlds and led the way.”
When they had committed a fault, she took them alone, and set their sin before them in such a manner as generally melted them into tears. Then she kneeled down and prayed with them and for them.
In her last illness there was seen in her deportment a mature developement of the fruits of the Spirit.
Patience had its perfect work. Never was she heard to murmur, or wish her sufferings less.
Her resignation to the will of God was remarkable, considering her circumstances and situation. Surrounded with a rising family, in the midst of worldly prosperity, and the prospect of extensive usefulness. These things conspired to bind her to this world; and for a time exerted an influence on her mind; but sometime previous to her death she was perfectly resigned.
Her faith was strong. No distracting fears disturbed the tranquillity of her mind. No fearful apprehensions of the future agitated her soul; but she enjoyed a real substantial peace, which, at times, “flowed as a river.”
A few days before her death she was visited by Bro. Tims, to whom she expressed herself in terms of the strongest confidence and assurance. A few hours before her departure, Sister Tims visited her, when she gave testimony to the truth and power of religion, that it could support the mind when every other prop was gone; that it could comfort the soul when every other source was dried up; that though in the valley and shadow of death, she feared no evil, but could say,
“How blest the righteous are
When they resign their breath.”
Being informed that Bro. Jefferson wished to know how she was, she said. “Tell Mr. Jefferson, I am faint yet pursuing.” Then collecting her remaining strength, to tread the powers of darkness down; to tread down all for God. And in the fulness of her joy, exclaimed,
“The pearly gates are open wide,
And I shall enter in.”
She then sunk down through weakness. When a little recovered she gave a charge to Mr. Scofield relative to the children. But this touching a tender chord, she desisted, saying, “I know you will.” Then lifting up her voice, she prayed, “Lord, bless my children. — Lord bless my children.” These were her last words, and her happy spirit took its flight, to be with Christ which is far better.
“Calm was her exit
Night dews fall not more gentle to the ground,
Nor weary worn out winds expire so soft.”
She died the day after her delivery of her fifth child, of a consumption brought on by the influenza. Her death took place October 31, 1837, at the age of thirty-one years, five months, and nineteen days.
Her funeral was numerously attended, even by many of other denominations, she being generally respected. There was also a large attendance of members from the country places. It was a solemn time, and I believe good was done
The procession sang from the door to the church, with good effect; for the streets were crowded to witness the solemn scene.
At the grave the scene was indescribable. At the conclusion of the burial service, they sung with an appropriate tune, Hymn 487, large book,
“Farewell dear friend, a long farewell.”
The emotions which had been smothered all the day, now became ungovernable, and could no longer be restrained; and there was a general burst of mourning and weeping. Scarcely was their an eye but was moved to tears. But of many of the society it might have been said, “They mourned with a very great and sore lamentation.”
Her death has been improved at several places in the circuit; even the most remote villages, where she scarcely ever went, would have a funeral sermon, and their wishes have been complied with.
The following is a letter to the writer, from a member of her class; who was for years acquainted with her; I beg leave to subjoin it entire: this letter says:
“In regard to poor Mrs. Scofield, I scarcely know what to say. I have frequently been at her house; but my stay was usually so short that I had not the opportunity of observing her much. Yet I always thought her the most angelic being I had ever been acquainted with: she was always so ready to give up her own way — so entirely free from selfishness — so patient —so cautious and charitable when speaking of others — so uniformly kind — so submissive to the will of God —so confiding in his promises — so thoroughly convinced that he would do all things well, that I have frequently pronounced her to be the most inimitable woman I had ever met with, and have often wished and prayed to be like her.
As a class leader, I loved her dearly. Her manner was so kind and sympathising; and her addresses to each member were so appropriate, that she sometimes appeared as if she could read the heart.
In the pulpit she always appeared with great timidity. Yet she never shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. Her exhortations to sinners, were most earnest, and in the true spirit of her Master. She seemed to spare no labour nor toil, so that she might win souls. Indeed she has often appeared in the pulpit, when she has been in a very poor state of health. But she entertained such a deep sense of the value of immortal souls that she could stop at hardly any thing.”
(Signed in behalf of the Circuit Committee.)
Jonathan Tims, President.
Wm. Jefferson, Secretary.
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 253-257.