Ayliffe, Jane (1815-1837)
MEMOIR OF JANE AYLIFFE
Jane Ayliffe afforded a specimen of the blessed influence of religion in humble life, and has added one more to the number before the throne. During the period of her earthly pilgrimage, she was a blessing to the world, and an ornament to the church; and being dead, yet speaketh, by her example.
She was born in Rowde, in Wiltshire, in 1815, from whence the family removed to a farm two miles from Ramsbury, in the same county. When the Lord directed the P. Methodists to Ramsbury, it was noised abroad; and, she and others, prompted by curiosity, attended their ministry. She was affected under the word, and at a prayer meeting cried aloud for mercy, but that night was not enabled to venture her all on the Lord. But in a few days, at a class meeting, she fully believed, obtained pardon, was filled with the love of God, and could rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And on New year’s day, 1831, she joined the society. Her zeal for God was manifest; and, though she lived two miles distant from the means, she was diligent in her attendance, was beloved by the people, and possessed such faith and power in prayer that the chapel would be soon filled with the glory of God, and many have been much affected. She had a powerful voice for singing, and often sung,
“I’m glad I ever saw the day,
We ever met to sing and pray;
I’ve glory, glory in my soul,
Which makes me praise my Lord so bold.”
She soon found it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of heaven: her trials were various and many.
About two years after her conversion her friends were about to leave the farm, and remove to a mill at a considerable distance. And the idea of being separated from the people she loved, caused great anxiety of mind: and in the bitterness of her soul she cried to the Lord, “Open thou my way.” And she begged all the members to unite with her, and they held several special meetings for the purpose, praying and believing that God would hear and answer in her behalf. Nor did they plead in vain: the Lord put it in the heart of her father, and he apprenticed her to a dress-maker in a pious family, where she had every opportunity of attending the means of grace; and where one of the family, a young woman, was a member of society, converted about the same time with herself. They strengthened each others hands in the way to heaven, and soon began to teach and preach the word of life to lost sinners, and were made instrumental in the hands of God in helping to pull down the strong holds of sin.
In 1835 she was again called to pass through a trial of no small magnitude. Her father, mother, brothers, and sisters, (except one brother married and settled at Hungerford), were about to remove to America, and she was expected to accompany them. This was a trial indeed. She could see no way to avoid being totally separated from the people of God, whom she so greatly loved. She was also much attached to the family in which she was apprenticed, and was much esteemed and beloved by them. They prayed mightily to God that his will might be done concerning her, and that the blessing of heaven might rest upon her. She had about six months of her time to serve: but her mistress consented to set her at liberty to go with her friends to America.
The time for their departure was fixed, and they were at her brother’s at Hungerford. She took a farewell leave of her acquaintances, and her brethren and sisters in Christ, not expecting to meet them again in this world. She set out to Hungerford on a Saturday, with a heavy heart, expecting to leave on the Monday. She sincerely loved her friends; but her love to the people of God was so great that it caused her to shed many tears. Her heart appeared to be almost broken: and the consistency of her conduct had so gained the affections of the family with whom she lived, that she appeared as near to them as their own child. They could hardly bear the thought of bidding her a final farewell; and the young female, before spoken of, gained her father’s consent to go after her to Hungerford, and give her the offer to come back and take their house for her home as long as she pleased. She accepted the offer, took leave of her father, mother, two brothers, and four sisters, and returned, praising God for the deliverance he had wrought out for her.
The Ramsbury friends received her with joy, being fully persuaded God had heard and answered their prayers, and that he had a greater work for her to do. And she seemed to be more than ever devoted to God, and to lay herself out afresh for usefulness. She was instant in season, out of season; wept with those that wept, and rejoiced with those that rejoiced; and her labours were not in vain in the Lord.
May 14, 1836, while she was preaching at a camp meeting, a woman fell down under the word, cried for mercy, and found deliverance. Before this Jane had been exercised respecting her call to preach; but by this and other seals to her ministry she was encouraged to go on.
Soon after this her mind was greatly tried; she received a letter to say that her father died a few days after he landed at New York. Also the family being left fatherless in a strange land was to her a source of trouble: but she became resigned to the Lord, hoping it would be a means of bringing them all to the knowledge of salvation. In a short time another letter arrived, announcing the death of her pious mother and one of her sisters. This stroke was heavy indeed; and she exclaimed, that had it not been for the grace she enjoyed, she must have sunk under the burden. Had she gone to America, she would have been exposed to the same difficulties as the rest of the family; nor did she forget to praise God for his goodness in opening her way to stay in England. She pressed on in her Christian course, aiming at the glory of God, and the conversion of sinners, and the Lord made her labours a blessing to many.
In June, 1836, at the quarter-day held at Ramsbury, she was called upon to labour as an itinerant preacher on the Buckinghamshire mission. But thinking herself unequal to so important a work, she declined the undertaking. But afterwards felt her mind deeply wounded, believing she had sinned against God by her refusal; and she promised the Lord, if he in his providence should again open the way, she would go wherever be pleased to send her.
In a short time she was taken out by the Mitcheldever circuit; was well received by the people, and the Lord owned and blessed her labours.
In a few months she was seized with a violent cold, which soon brought her to the chambers of death. She removed to her brother’s at Hungerford, for change of air; and after a few days made her Ramsbury friends a visit, who were overjoyed with the sight of one they so dearly loved.
She left Ramsbury with the expectation of soon making another visit; but her illness rapidly increasing prevented it. But she bore her affliction with Christian patience and fortitude; and through the good hand of Providence, her temporal wants were abundantly supplied.
The people of God visited her daily, and were greatly encouraged to go forward in the ways of the Lord, by witnessing the support and comfort she derived from him. She would often exclaim, “O the blessedness of religion! — of knowing God! — of having a hope of glory!” She was enabled to rejoice in health, to rejoice in affliction, and to rejoice in death, having an assurance of mingling with the happy multitude who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
She was confined to her bed several weeks, during which the Ramsbury friends visited her. And on one of them asking how she was, she exclaimed, “I am going to heaven.”
The worthy clergyman of the parish of, Hungerford frequently visited, prayed, and conversed with her, pointing her to the precious promises left on record for the children of God.
About a fortnight before her death, the mistress with whom she had been apprenticed came to see her, and on her entering the room, Jane burst into tears, and they wept together. And Jane spoke of her death and funeral sermon; and of the many happy seasons they had enjoyed together; and of the hope of their meeting in heaven.
The last Sabbath but one before her departure, she was depressed in spirit, harrassed by the enemy, and she wept much. But in the evening the Lord filled her soul with his love, and she shouted and praised him until she was heard by people passing along the street. After this she was visited by many of the people of God, who constantly found her in a happy frame of mind, patiently waiting for her change.
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1837, she entreated her brother to listen to the advice of a dying sister, and meet her in heaven. Her happy spirit then took its flight to the paradise of God, in the twenty-second year of her age. And on Tuesday, Dec. 5, her loved remains were carried to the grave. Many of the Ramsbury friends attended her funeral. And on the following Sunday her death was improved by J. Alexander, to crowded congregations, in the afternoon at Ramsbury, and in the evening at Hungerford, agreeable to her request, from, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” And we have reason to believe good was done.
At Ramsbury every soul in the congregation appeared to be affected; the scene was such as had scarcely ever been witnessed at the place.
Jane was ever concerned for the prosperity of Zion. On this subject she was always ready to converse. For this she was always praying, anxious for the whole earth to be filled with the knowledge of God
(Approved by the Quarter Day.)
Notes by Edward Bishop, Mitcheldever circuit.
Sister Jane Ayliffe was well received among the people all through this circuit. The Lord was with her, and made her a blessing.
Of her sincere piety all were fully satisfied. Her whole conversation and conduct bore ample evidence that her eye was single, and her heart devoted ; she was therefore generally beloved.
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 413-416.