White, Sarah (1794-1836)
MEMOIR OF MRS. SARAH WHITE,
Of Hannington near Highworth, Wilts.
This amiable woman was born in the spring of 1794, at Stratton St Margaret, in Wiltshire. Her father was a farmer; and she attended with her parents at the Baptist chapel, and was steady and moral, but grew up without enjoying the power of religion.
In 1814, she was united in marriage with Mr. James White, farmer and landholder; and some time after, they removed to a farm at Hannington.
A short time before Mrs. White’s confinement of her fifth child, the Spirit of God strove powerfully; she had a clear sense of sin being exceeding sinful; and was fearful of dying in her confinement. She called upon God as out of the deep, and was saved from that she feared.
In March, 1825, she was confined of her sixth child; at which time Mr. White kept his bed, having been hurt by removing logs of timber; and after a great discharge of blood, he died, April 17, 1825, with a blooming hope of immortality. But it was an affecting scene: a widowed mother unable to close the eyes of her departed husband; and six children, all under ten years of age, coming to the mother, and asking, “When will father awake?” Mysterious are the ways of Providence!
Mrs. White, when restored to health, neatly dressed her six fatherless children, and Sabbath after Sabbath, took them with her to Hannington church. But not gaining much knowledge of salvation, she took her children and went two miles to the Independent chapel at Highworth, and felt her soul drawn out after God. Several publications were of service to her, and in particular, Mrs. Rowe’s devout exercises of the heart
For many years she was a God-fearing woman, seeking salvation, but remained a stranger to justification by faith, not hearing of present salvation; but was in the state described in Rom. vii. which ends with, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
On hearing the P. Methodists preach a free, full, and present salvation, she began to seek after it. And it being her father’s custom to have his children around him at each Christmas; she, at the Christmas of 1831, was at his house at Stratton; and hearing that the P. Methodists were to keep their Christmas in the chapel, away she went; and had not been long there before she found redemption through the blood of Christ. The painful disquietude was gone in a moment, and she could rejoice in hope of the glory of God. She exclaimed, “Glory to God, I came for a feast, and I have had one. Praise the Lord – O praise the Lord!”
She joined the society; and after a time was put in class-leader at Highworth. She was highly esteemed by the members, and filled that station in the church with faithfulness, diligence, and success.
When through affliction she has not been able to stand in the street, during preaching, she has gone to the house, and waited for the class; and they (the members) have found her on her knees, praying to God to bless the word, and pour out his Holy Spirit on the society.
November 30,1834, she fell into a decline, and her sufferings were great; but she knew that all things work together for good to them that love God.
At Midsummer, 1835, I found her afflicted with a cough, and having hardly strength enough to go into the hay-fields. But her soul was happy in God.
At Christmas, 1835, she, for a time, seemed as if in a dying state; but she praised God joyfully.
In May, 1836, she finally took to her bed, expressing a desire to be with Christ, which is better. She was tempted by the enemy, and her daughter Elizabeth was many times called on to assist her in fighting the good fight of faith.
June 1,1836, I visited her; and S. Timmins, travelling preacher, and uncle Richard White, local preacher, were there. It appeared to be the hour and power of darkness. But after singing, we joined in prayer, she got the victory, and was never after much tempted.
One day Elizabeth said, “Mother, you are a great sufferer; but one moment in heaven will repay you for all:-
‘There you will be cloth’d in white,
All your garments glittering bright;
Christ will wipe all tears away,
You will with him ever stay.’
“There you will sing, ‘Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us.’” Mrs. White shouted, “Glory, glory, glory. Come, my Jesus, come, and take my happy spirit home.” And after more discourse, she said, “I am waiting. Come, Lord Jesus, and come quickly, and take me to thyself.”
“O, my Betsy, cant you see those angels?” And pointing towards the feet of the bed, she said,
“See! – See!….O, my loving Jesus, I see thy glorious eyes! – thy bleeding side! and thy open arms, spread wide to receive my precious soul.” She then clapped her hands, and shouted, “Glory, glory.” She then said, “O, my Betsy, look at that golden chain. Cant you see it?” “No, mother, I cannot, but you can; and I believe the glory of God is all round about you; and, thank him, we feel it in our hearts.”
All the unconverted persons who came to see her, she warned to repent of their sins, and prepare for death. To the lukewarm she said, “It is an abomination to the Lord for any one to pretend to religion, and not to seek complete victory over sin, death, and hell.”
To her children she said, ‘Remember what your mother told you, on her death-bed; how she intreated you to live to God, and meet her in heaven.’
To her daughter Elizabeth she said, “O, my Betsy, my angel, you shine like an angel. You are as an angel in my sight. Yes, the Lord has been so good as to let me see your angel; and I have to tell you, that you will not be long after me – We shall soon meet again.”
“O, mother, that will be joyful, for parents and children in heaven to meet, to meet to part no more.”
Oftentimes she requested Elizabeth to sing:-
“ My soul’s full of glory,
Which inspires my tongue;
Could I meet with angels,
I’d sing them a song.
I’d sing of my Jesus,
And tell of his charms,
And beg them to bear me
To his loving arms,” &c.
June 15, Bro. Wigley, travelling preacher, with other friends, calling to see her, she manifested great regard for them, and said she felt the same union of spirit as when she had the privilege of meeting with them in the house of the Lord; and added, “O how precious is the love of Jesus to my soul. Through his victorious name, death has lost its sting, and the grave its victory. Bless you, my dear friends, I know I shall go to heaven, to
‘Range the sweet plains
On the banks of the river,
And sing of salvation,
For ever and ever.’”
That evening she had a great struggle for breath. But on a sudden, mustering all her strength, she shouted, “Glory, glory, glo-ry, glo-ry.” Then after being still a few seconds, she said, “Cant you see the glory? There it hangs. Tis coming down. – O, my Betsy, cant you see it? O do help me sing:-
‘My God, I am thine,
What a comfort divine!
What a blessing to know
That my Jesus is mine!
In the heavenly Lamb,
Thrice happy I am,
And my heart it doth dance
At the sound of his name.’”
Some, time before her death, her mouth being very sore, she asked if it were the white mouth ; and being informed it was, she rejoiced exceedingly, and said, “Now, my Lord, take the weary pilgrim home, I am ready.”
On the last day of her life she repeatedly said, “There’s my crown. Glory, glory! O death, where is thy sting? O where’s thy victory boasting grave? The victory’s mine – the victory’s mine. O praise the Lord, O praise the Lord.”
Elizabeth alone being present, Mrs. White said, “Let me be still, and I shall sleep in the arms of my Jesus.”
The last words she was heard to utter were, “My soul’s full of glory, which inspires my tongue. – Thank God. O praise him.” And triumphing over death, she entered into eternal life, June 17, 1836, aged forty-two years.
Sunday, July 3, 1836, I preached her funeral sermon at Stratton, from Gal. vi. 7, 8, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked,” &c. This text she chose a few weeks before; as also the hymns, which were 185, 259, 260, in the large book. The congregation was large, and many tears were shed.
1. Her trials. – The loss of her husband. – Unfaithfulness of servants. – Thoughtlessness of two of her sons. – The loss of a considerable part of her property. But she referred her cause to God, who is the Father of the fatherless, and Judge of the widow.
2. Her charity. – She was bounteous. Elizabeth was often sent with something warm, on a cold winter’s night, to the poor, afflicted, and destitute. The travelling and local preachers, for years, met with a kind reception at her house. Through the influence of many, our missionaries in Cricklade branch, in many places could get no house to preach in, nor bed to sleep on; and after preaching in the open air, have had to return, supperless, six, eight, and even ten miles. When I first went on this branch, she said, “Bro. Tripp, if you think our humble lodgings and fare, better than sleeping under the hedges, and living on haws and hips, you are welcome to come from any part of the branch, when you cant find a place to lay your head.”
3. Her daily devotion. – It was her custom for several years to spend one hour every afternoon, in reading, meditation, and prayer. And when her children have asked where she had been, her reply was, “I’ve business to attend to with my Father, which no one can do hut myself.”
4. Her faith. – She took firm hold of the promises, and made them as much her own as if she had heard God speaking to her from heaven, with an audible voice. I think I never knew any one put more confidence in God for every thing than she did.
5. Persecutions. – Her landlord threatened many times to turn her off the farm, if she continued to go to meeting, and take the preachers in. The clergyman often gave her a lecture; and others raised up reports. But none of these things moved her.
6. Her happy death. – The last fortnight of her life was spent in singing Halleluia, shouting glory, and in teaching others how Christians can triumph over death.
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 174-177.