Little Sarah Howley by John Wesley
MISS SARAH HOWLEY, when she was between eight and nine years old, was
carried by her friends to hear a sermon, where the minister preached upon
Matt. xi, 30, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light;" in the applying of
which scripture the child was mightily awakened, and made deeply sensible of
the condition of her soul, and her need of Christ: she wept bitterly to think
what a case she was in; went home, retired into a chamber, and upon her knees
she wept and cried to the Lord as well as she could, which might easily be
perceived by her eyes and countenance.
2. She was not contented with this, but got her little brother and sister
into a chamber with her, and told them their condition by nature, and wept
over them, and prayed with them.
3. After this, she heard another sermon upon Prov. xxix, 15 "He that, being
often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that
without remedy;" at which she was more affected than before, and was so
exceedingly solicitous about her soul, that she spent great part of the night
in weeping and praying, and could scarcely take any rest, day nor night, for
some time together; desiring with all her soul to escape from everlasting
flames, and to get an interest in the Lord Jesus: O what should she do for
Christ! what should she do to be saved!
4. She gave herself much to attending upon the word preached, and still
continued very tender under it, greatly relishing what she heard.
5. She was very much in secret prayer, and was usually very importunate,
and full of tears.
6. She could scarcely speak of sin, or be spoken to, but her heart was
ready to melt.
7. She spent much time in reading the Scripture.
8. She was exceedingly dutiful to her parents, very loath to grieve them in
the least: and if she had at any time (which was very rare) offended them, she
would weep bitterly.
9. She abhorred lying, and allowed herself in no known sin.
10. When she was at school, she was eminent for her diligence,
teachableness, meekness, and modesty, speaking little, but when she did speak,
it was usually spiritual.
11. She continued in this course of religious duties for some years
12. When she was about fourteen years old, she broke a vein in her lungs,
(as is supposed,) and often spat blood, yet did a little recover.
13. In the beginning of January, she was taken very bad again, in which
sickness she was in great distress of soul. When she was first taken, she
said, "O mother, pray for me, for Satan is so busy that I cannot pray for
myself; I see I am undone without Christ, and a pardon! O, I am undone to all
14. Her mother, knowing how serious she had been formerly, did a little
wonder that she should be in such agonies; and asked her what sin it was that
was so burdensome to her spirit? "O mother," said she, "it is not any
particular sin that sticks so close to my conscience, as the sin of my nature:
without the blood of Christ that will damn me."
15. Her mother asked her what she should pray for, for her? She answered,
"That I may have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; and that I may have an
assurance of God's love to my soul." Her mother asked her why she spoke so
little to the minister that came to her? She answered, "It was her duty with
patience and silence to learn of him."
16. One time when she fell into a fit, she cried out, "O I am going; I am
going: but what shall I do to be saved? Lord Jesus, I will lie at thy feet;
and if I perish, it shall be at the fountain of thy mercy."
17. She was much afraid of presumption, and dreaded a mistake in the
matters of her soul, and would be often putting up ejaculations to God, to
deliver her from deceiving herself. To instance in one, "Great and mighty
God," said she, "let my faith be a true faith; that I may not be a foolish
virgin, having a lamp, but no oil."
18. Her father bade her be of good cheer, because she was going to a better
Father; at which she fell into a great agony, and said, "But how do I know
that? I am a poor sinner, who wants assurance; O for assurance!"
This was her great, earnest, and constant request to all who came to her,
to beg assurance for her; and she would look with so much eagerness upon them,
as if she desired nothing in the world so much as that they would pity her,
and help her with their prayers. Never was a poor creature more earnest for
any thing than she was for assurance and the light of God's countenance. O the
piteous moan that she would make! O the agony that her soul was in!
19. The Lord's day before that on which she died, a kinsman of hers came to
see her, and asked her whether she knew him? She answered, "Yes, I know you,
and I desire you would learn to know Christ. You are young, but you know not
how soon you may die! and, O, to die without Christ is a fearful thing! O,
redeem time! O, time, time, precious time!" Being requested by him not to
spend herself, she said, "She would fain do all the good she could while she
lived;" upon which account she desired that a sermon might be preached at her
funeral, concerning the preciousness of time.
20. Some ministers who came to see her earnestly entreated the Lord to give
her some token for good, that she might die in full triumph: notes of the same
nature were sent to several churches.
21. After she had long waited for an answer to their prayers, she said,
"Well, I will venture my soul upon Christ."
22. Considering the pains and agonies that she was in, her patience was
next to a wonder: "Lord," said she, "Lord, give me patience, that I may not
23. On Thursday, after long waiting, great fears, and many prayers, when
all her friends thought she had been past speaking, to the astonishment of her
friends, she broke forth thus, with a very audible voice, and cheerful
countenance: "Lord, thou hast promised that whosoever come unto thee thou wilt
in no wise cast them out: Lord, I come unto thee, and surely thou wilt in no
wise cast me out; O, so precious! O, so glorious is Jesus! I have thee!
Blessed and glorious is Jesus; he is precious, he is precious! O, the
admirable love of God in sending Christ and free grace to a poor lost
24. Her soul then seemed ravished with the love of Christ. And while she
was engaged in magnifying of God, her father, brothers, and sisters, with
others of the family, were called, to whom she spake particularly as her
strength would give leave. She gave her Bible as a legacy to one of her
brothers, and desired him to use that well for her sake; and added, to him and
the rest, "O make use of time to get Christ for your souls: spend no time in
running up and down, or in playing: O get Christ for your souls while you are
young! Remember now your Creator before you come to a sick bed: put not off
this great work till then, for then you will find it hard work indeed: I know
by experience the devil will tell you it is time enough; and you are young,
and what need you be in such haste? you will have time enough when you are
old. But remember the words of a dying sister. If you knew how good Christ is!
if you had but one taste of his sweetness, you had rather go to him a thousand
times than stay in this wicked world. I would not for ten thousand worlds part
with my interest in Christ. O, how happy am I that I am going to everlasting
joys! I would not go back again for twenty thousand worlds; and will you not
strive to get an interest in Christ?"
25. After this, looking upon one of her father's servants, she said, "What
shall I do at the great day, when Christ shall say to me, 'Come, thou blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for thee?' and shall say to the
wicked, 'Go, thou cursed, into the lake that burns for ever!' What a grief is
it for me to think that I should see any of my friends that I knew upon earth,
turned into that lake which burns for ever! O that word, for ever! Remember
that for ever! I speak these words to you, but they are nothing except God
speaks to you too: O pray that God would give you grace!" And then she prayed,
"O Lord, finish thy work upon their souls: it will be my comfort to see you in
glory; but it will be your everlasting happiness."
26. On Friday, after she had had such lively discoveries of God's love, she
was exceedingly desirous to die, and cried out, "Come, Lord Jesus, come
quickly! Conduct me to thy tabernacle. I am a poor creature without thee; but,
Lord Jesus, my soul longs to be with thee: O when shall it be? Why not now,
blessed Jesus? Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! But why do I thus speak? Thy
time, my Lord, is the best: O, give me patience."
27. On Saturday she spoke but little, being very drowsy, yet now and then
she dropped these words, "How long, O blessed Jesus? Finish thy work, holy
Jesus: come away, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
28. On the Lord's day she scarcely spoke any thing. She requested that
notes of thanksgiving might be sent to those who had formerly prayed for her,
that they might help her to praise the Lord for that full assurance which he
had given her of his love; and seemed to be swallowed up with the thoughts of
God's free love to her soul. She often commended her spirit into the hand of
the Lord. The last words she was heard to utter were these, "Lord, help, Lord
Jesus, help! my Lord Jesus, blessed Jesus!" Thus on the Lord's day, between
nine and ten o'clock in the evening, she sweetly slept in Jesus, and began an
everlasting Sabbath, February 19, 1670.