Isabella Prentice

The Life And Testimony Of Isabella Prentice

Gospel Standard 1869:

Isabella Prentice, died at Oakham, Tuesday, April 20th, 1869, aged 45 years. 

I knew the subject of the present Obituary very well, as she was not only a member of my church at Stamford, but, previously to her marriage, lived in my service as cook for about six years; and therefore from my personal knowledge of her, and having heard from her own lips much of her own experience, I can so far testify to the truth of the account which she has given of it by her own pen in the following pages.

Like most of us, she had her infirmities; but taking her on the whole, and having, of course, had much opportunity for observation, I must say that I have rarely known a person who daily lived more under the power and influence of divine realities, or who had a clearer discovery or deeper view of the evils of her heart, and of the dreadful nature of sin generally, though for the most part kept tender and consistent in the fear of the Lord. Nor have I often known any one who saw and felt more distinctly and clearly the difference between nature and grace, or who knew more of the assaults of Satan and the power of inward temptation, and that none but the Lord was able to support under it or deliver out of it. Religion was with her not a thing to be taken up or laid down at man’s choice and will, but a solemn matter of life and death in which her soul often hung trembling as in a balance between heaven and hell. Under powerful temptations, especially to unbelief, the power of which, considering her clear and blessed experience of pardoning mercy, she felt almost more than any whom I ever knew, she sometimes sank so low as almost to despair even of life, and then again was blessedly raised up and enabled to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The way in which she was first brought to know me through a sermon of mine which fell into her hands when she was living in service at Newhaven, near Edinburgh, suffering under most distressing temptations was often viewed by her as a special interposition; and that she should be brought in the providence of God to live under my roof was not only one of the most remarkable circumstances which I have ever known in my life as regards myself, but, if I may so speak, was always looked upon by her as a matter of peculiar favour and thankfulness. But as all this will be seen more clearly from her own statement, and will come with more grace from her than from me, I shall not forestall it by any further observations of my own, but leave it to be detailed by her own pen. The following account of her history and experience is drawn up partly from a record of her own experience by her own pen, supplemented by reminiscences of my own from personal conversation at various times with her, partly from letters written by her at different periods to various friends, and partly by her bereaved and mourning husband. 

Joseph Philpot

“I was born in the year 1824 at the small village of Rochester, Northumberland. My father, whose name was Elliott, lived near the Carter Fell [The Carter Fell is a high hill, part of the range of the Cheviot Hills, on the border between England and Scotland. “Fell” means in Scotch a high hill or range of hills, fit only for pasturage and never ploughed.—Philpot], and was in partnership with Mr. Robinson, the Provost of Jedburgh, and Mr. Grainger, steward of the Marquis of Lothian, in carrying on some lime works on that hill. As they employed a great many men, and these were continually on the premises, my mother felt desirous of being confined away from home at a place where she might be quiet. This was the reason of my being born at Rochester. But in due time she returned to her own home, near the Carter Fell, where I spent the days of my childhood and girlhood, without being sent to school or obtaining any education. During this time, therefore, I was left to ramble by myself on the moors, and at times had many solemn thoughts that I should like to be good and go to heaven when I died, as I had heard that some children had gone to heaven. I felt, however, that there would have to be a great difference in me before I went there; but what was to work it, and how it was to be brought about I did not know. I had a desire to be good; but always felt a creeping bad opinion of myself, that I was not like other folks, but that there was something bad in me beyond everybody else.

“My parents continued to live at the lime-works for about 12 years, but as Mr. Grainger, a few years previously, had given up his share in them, and a year or two afterwards Mr. Robinson, the Provost of Jedburgh, had absconded to America, taking with him all the money he could lay hands on, all the debts fell upon my father, and he was disabled from carrying on the works any longer. During these twelve years, my parents kept putting off from time to time sending us to school, looking forward to a more convenient season, which, however, never came; for when we had an opportunity of going, we were so big that our pride could not bow to stand beside a child, and they gave way to us. But it was always a great grief to my mother for us to go into the world without an education, which we had to do. The first letter I sent to my mother I printed by copying letters from the Bible, which took me a fortnight before I finished it. But I sealed it up, and got some one to address it; for I could not bear the thought that any one should know I could neither read nor write properly.

“At this time, I had reached my nineteenth year, living in service at Edinburgh, where I had obtained a situation. My mind still being impressed about religion, though I knew not what it was, I embraced every opportunity of hearing the word preached, and, having liberty mostly to get out on the Sunday evenings, attended various churches and chapels. But being ignorant of the way of salvation, and not knowing where to go, I used to follow the crowd. I remained in service in Edinburgh six months, but feeling my health much impaired, I obtained a situation in Newhaven; and here it was that the Lord seemed to begin to work with some power upon my heart and conscience.

“At this time my mother was very poorly. My anxiety about her was great, and especially for her soul. I felt very anxious about her spiritual state, and often prayed for her, sometimes with sweet feelings, and a great desire for her to be right before she died. I was also led to pray for myself, and at times felt that spiritual things were the only things to be cared for. The weight of these things kept increasing, pressing upon me, at times, night and day, with a feeling, ‘O to be right; to be fit to die;’ when a strange, gloomy foreboding began to set in upon my mind, as if something dreadful was going to take place, and I could take comfort in nothing. At this time I once went down upon my knees to say the Lord’s prayer. I got out ‘Our Father.’ O I thought if I could say, ‘My Father,’ how happy I should be. I got no further with the prayer. I could not tell what to make of myself, nor what to do; for I felt I was not like other folk, for when I wanted to be good I was always saying something light or doing something I felt condemned for. As to ever attaining to be a Christian I felt very much discouraged, as I saw there was no stability in me, for I felt that to be a Christian I must be able to stand against every thought, word, and action that brought any guilt on my mind; but that I could not do. I thought that it was just like my nature to be so, not like other folks. One day I went to chapel to hear if the minister prayed for everybody in it, which he did, and I came away a little comforted. I was so priest-ridden that if I happened to meet a minister, if my clothes accidentally touched his, feeling that he knew so much and was so good, being a minister, it would gladden me. Or even if I could but put my foot into his footprints I felt that I had got towards something that was good. I once went to the chapel with the feeling thinking I would attend to every word the minister said, and try to carry it out in practice; which I tried, but did not succeed, for I seemed to want energy. Next Sunday I went again, and thought I would try once more; but the minister brought so many things forward which were necessary to be a Christian that I felt I could not manage it. At this time the minister, whose name was Marshall, of Leith, said, ‘At one time I dearly loved the United Secession Church; her doctrines were pure, &c., but now she is going headlong to the devil.’ He further said, ‘I throw myself out of her,’ and called his church ‘a pure Calvinist secession. [Most likely he meant that he joined “the Free Church,” as it was soon after the time (1843) the disruption took place. But though the best of the Scotch ministers no doubt joined the Free Church, it was not on the point of doctrine that the secession took place, but on the right of patronage and the power of the Civil Courts in spiritual matters.—Philpot] During this time my mother kept getting worse and worse. She was taken to Haddington, thinking a change of air would be beneficial. One night I commenced to write a letter to her. but I had an impression she would never see it, and on the following Monday my father came with the sad news that she was dead. She died the 18th day of May, 1846, which was a very great trouble to me. I thought, ‘Is my poor mother gone to hell?’ All creation seemed altered.

“On my way to her funeral many were my cries and tears. I felt an earnest longing to be ready to die, and had a great desire to sit down to the Sacrament, for I thought they were the only happy people that did so. But I felt I should like first to have my heart right; it seemed so changeable I could not manage it. Sometimes I felt humble, prayerful, and weeping; at other times hard, unfeeling, and proud. On this journey, which was a distance of 16 miles, I for the first time looked to heaven for help, and my desire was that God would humble my proud heart; which prayer, I believe, he heard and answered. My prayers previous to this time had been more duty, and my desires, I could not say whence they came; but this was a time of necessity; I wanted help, and that a change might take place in me. I had often thought that if anything would do it, it would be my mother’s death, and that nothing would have such a power over me as that. Her corpse was a trying sight for me, being the first dead body I had ever seen. My anxiety still went on as to what had become of her soul. A few days after, these words were impressed on my mind: ‘She has fallen into the arms of a merciful Saviour.’ I lost sight of her, and became very anxious about my own state for eternity. Everything now looked gloomy, dark, and dreadful. These feelings and apprehensions kept increasing, and had I had an opportunity at this time, I believe I should have gone headlong into sin to ease my mind. The last Sunday in May, 1846, when I arose in the morning, a dreadful blasphemous thought set in upon me to say to God; and it kept going on until about eleven o’clock, when I felt it like a sword through my soul, while I kept answering, ‘No! No! No! I will not, I will not; not for ten thousand worlds!’ Sometimes the enemy tried to make me think I had half done it, when I have turned in haste, and stamped with my foot, ‘No, Satan, to you and all the enemies of God be it said.’ This temptation continued sharp for several days, and often haunted me afterwards. I went to chapel in the morning of the above-named day, but could scarcely sit in the seat from the shock that the darts gave. I thought that of all the creatures that crawled upon the face of the earth, I was the most wretched. To think that I had such thoughts in my mind! No one was ever like me! I think the minister’s text was: ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ But I could listen to nothing. I had never felt a necessity of having close communion with, or help from the Lord only once before. I used to have a great desire to get into a place where no mortal eye could see, and no mortal ear could hear me; for I felt as if I wanted to shout out to get God’s ear, to have a word with him. I often used to go into a closet, and when I got there, nothing but groans no vent for them. The first cry that seemed to leave my breast and to have an entrance was, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ I kept getting worse and worse, and began to feel there was nothing in my heart but sin; it kept springing up like water out of the ground no end to it. Then the law was thrown open to me; I felt it to be God’s eternal law. I felt as if the very heavens spoke vengeance against me, that God would burst through upon my guilty head. I began to try to believe; but I felt it as impossible for me to believe as to take my arm and turn round the world. There seemed to be such a ‘will not’ that I could not.

“I kept going on still getting worse and worse, so that one day when looking at the fire I thought if I were put in it, it would be a faint resemblance of what I felt in my soul. At this time I could attend to nothing (I was in service at Newhaven; the family were all very kind; their forbearance when I look at it now was wonderful, as they never once found fault with me), for my distress was so great that I did not do half a day’s work in a week. Sometimes I dared not go to bed for fear that if I slept I should be lost in the night-time. About this time my father came to see me. He said he liked to see young people concerned about the thing that was good; ‘but,’ said he, ‘I am sorry to see such a young creature as you in such a state; you ought not to read Boston’s “Fourfold State.” He is very severe. People were different in his day from what they are now; they know better now than they did then, and are not so unruly. Look at Peter, David, Mary Magdalene, and Manasseh. They were all saved; and what have you to fear?’ I well remember that these words arose in answer from the depths of my heart: ‘Well, father, it is one thing to say there is a Saviour, and another thing to say I have one.’ Sometimes I felt like one thrown into the sea who had never learned to swim, but who just at times got his head above water and had time to breathe. About this time I got the loan of a sermon by one J. C. Philpot from a woman who shortly before had come from Dundee (at this time it was almost in every one’s mouth in the place that I was going ‘daft’ (mad) about religion). This woman said that this sermon, ‘Winter afore Harvest,’ had been blessed to several. I began to read it, and I thought, ‘O, here is one that has been in the very place that I am in, especially where he says, “O, wretch, madman that I am! I have ruined my soul! O, eternity, eternity!” It was just my very breathing. One day when I was reading where he says, ‘I believe the Lord usually gives a glimpse of his countenance,’ it was as if a sweet and blessed light, like a ray from heaven, shone upon the very page, and shone from it direct into my heart. O the change that was made! It was like the coming in of another world. The sweetness, the quietness, the peace are better felt than described. I constantly carried the sermon in my breast, used to take it out and take a peep at it, and mostly got something out of it that was some comfort. [I have seen the sermon, and it was almost worn out by being always carried in her bosom and so continually taken out and read.—Philpot] One day, some time after having a sweet feeling in my soul from reading it, I thought when I got to heaven I should know the writer, for I felt to love him, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I then thought he was dead and had been so for a long time, not having the least idea who he was or that he was then alive.

“But with all this occasional relief I still kept, for the most part, in my deep trouble, and was sometimes brought to that point that I thought every moment would be my last. One day I was so put to it that I kept repeating these words, ‘While the lamp holds out to burn,’ ‘While the lamp holds out to burn.’ Whatever words came into my mouth that were right, all the time of my temptations, I kept wording out to drown what was going on in my heart, lest a word should escape my tongue which would sink me for ever. But on that day, which I have just mentioned, I felt I must commit my soul into the hands of God the Father, as I thought he was greater than the Son, and it would be safest for me to do so. But in an instant God manifested himself to me as a consuming fire; and to speak literally, it was just as if half the globe were on fire. Then a Man appeared between us in the character of a Mediator, and the fire went down immediately. I saw then that God the Father could be approached only through this Mediator. I was generally, however, at this time in deep soul trouble, so that what with the wickedness and blasphemy rising up within and Satan’s temptations I could only compare my state to machinery that was in full go and a piece of iron was thrown in amongst the wheels, breaking the wheels, and yet the machine kept going in full force. I felt it, indeed, to be a ‘great tribulation.’ I have never felt anything since that I could call tribulation.

“One day, about this time, I was in very great trouble the whole day, so that I was completely worn out. I threw myself down on a hearth-rug, when a swarm of infernal spirits seemed to take possession of my breast, as if they were sucking and drawing the life-blood out of my soul. I had no thought to call on the Lord for help, nor any desire that I know of; for I was spiritually ignorant at this time as to what prayer was. Had any one asked me how I felt, and I was almost at my last breath, my answer would have been, ‘The devils are drinking up the life-blood of my soul, and I shall soon be in hell.’ But all in an instant they took flight, and I felt God’s everlasting arms were underneath me. I saw that in these arms there was no falling out; they reached from top to bottom. I rolled myself off the rug towards the window, and lay for some time. The rest and peace which I felt I cannot describe, for I was wearied out both in soul and body.

“At another time, when in very great trouble, I ran to the woman I got Mr. Philpot’s sermon from for her to go with me to see the minister that I sat under; but that evening he was not at home; and as I was coming back through the village, there was a show of two giantesses. There was music, crowds of people, and a great noise; but these words passing in my mind drowned all: ‘I come to judgment! Come to judgment!’ I got into the house, and threw myself down on a sofa, with these words: ‘I am done; I am done. If thou pleasest to send me to hell, I must go,’ when all in an instant a sweet peace and joy came into my soul.

“At another time I went to my minister. He said he must begin to get angry with me; I think it was, because I was so unteachable. He wrote out a few texts for me to read, two of them I remember were out of the 6th and 10th of Hebrews: ‘For it is impossible,’ &c., and ‘Of how much sorer punishment,’ &c. I felt the texts might be against me, for I was afraid my anxiety might leave me before I was in a right state for eternity.

“One day, when my mind was a little composed, I saw a Man, as I thought, sitting in the avenue of a plantation, as if in a chair, in a mournful, disconsolate, meditative state. It was twilight. I saw that that Man had to come and die for me before I ever had a being; and I got a further sight, yea, before the world was.

“Once I had to go up to Leith on an errand. Between New-haven and Leith there was a footpath, and on this path was a place not above a yard wide, with a precipice into the sea, which I had a great dread to pass. Sometimes I have stood trembling before I attempted it, lest a power should come upon me and I should throw myself into the sea; and when I have managed to cross it, how thankful I have felt that I had not drowned myself; that I was not lost yet! Once I had to go up into Edinburgh. The woman who lent me the sermon (Mr. Philpot’s) went with me. I was in great tribulation of soul. On our way we fell in with the minister’s (Mr. Fairburn’s) servant-maid. She began to question me; was cross with me. ‘What was the matter with me? What did I want to see Mr. Fairburn about?’ I could not give any good account of myself, and said but little; so we parted, and when I got upon Leith Bridge, I asked the woman if she would go up into the city for me. I would stay on the bridge until she came back. When she was gone, I happened to look up to the sky, when Jesus bowed the heavens and came down into my heart. The change which took place in my breast no one can understand but those who have felt the same. O the sweetness, the peace, the holy joy which filled my breast on my way home! I felt to carry Jesus in my bosom. I walked softly home, lest I should take an awkward step with my feet, and I might lose him. He continued with me for about an hour after I got home. Then I was in as great trouble as ever. It was all my unbelief. O if I could but believe! Sometimes I would gather all my evidences together to try to withstand my unbelief; and when I have got them mustered up together, I have said, ‘Lord, into thy hands I commit my soul and body for time and eternity; bind me to thyself as with bars of iron.’ I have thought, if it comes to be a trial, Satan cannot demand me now, for I have committed myself into the hands of Jesus. But I have looked into my heart, and all was gone again. Then I was in great trouble again for some days with temptations, my wicked heart, and unbelief.

“One day, in great trouble, I went into a dark closet and fell on my knees. What I was going to ask I do not remember, but all in an instant the heavens opened a place about the size of the sun, and through it a glorious stream of light came down into my soul. It filled every corner of my heart to overflowing, which moved my tongue to utter, ‘Abba, Father. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth I desire besides thee.’ Then he said, almost as with an audible voice, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love.’ By this time I was off my knees. I got out of the closet on to the kitchen floor, felt full, blessing and praising his name, my body all in movement, and my tongue uttering, ‘Bless, bless, bless!’ I felt my tongue too weak. It seemed to die in such glorious work of blessing and praising. Then I called upon everything that had being, and upon the hills and mountains to bless and praise his glorious name. I thought, had I a well-tuned harp, I could have danced for joy.

“After this I lost the sense of being upon earth and of bodily existence. God the Father seemed to stand at one side of a place which I cannot describe, and I stood at the other. He said, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee through the blood of my Son, past, present, and to come.’ I seemed to have no bodily weight. I seemed to sit and move in glory. I turned my eyes in one direction and saw a Sun in heaven; the waves of his glory went forth from him one after another, continually enlarging, when these words came up as from a bottomless eternity: ‘The eternal Son of God.’ [What a remarkable testimony is this to the eternal Sonship of Christ. Here is a poor unlettered girl who had never heard a gospel sermon in her life, utterly ignorant of controversy or even the very letter of doctrine, but taught by a divine revelation that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. What originality, force, clearness, and power are stamped upon her very language as she describes what she saw and heard. I have often thought since I first heard it from her own lips that it was one of the most special and glorious revelations, and most nearly approaching Mr. Huntington’s and Mr. Hart’s of all that I had ever heard or read.—Philpot] I looked in another direction and saw the fulness of the apostle’s words: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?’ I saw that the vehemency of eternal love must have its objects, that neither death nor life, &c., that nothing could separate. I turned again another way and these words were spoken: ‘Wherever there is the least desire towards me, that desire shall be granted.’ After this I seemed to be let down again under the vault of heaven. When here I looked through and saw the blazing, moving, rolling glory of heaven. At the same time I saw that any individual who was put into heaven, unless he was made meet for it, would be consumed in a moment in the blazes of glory.

Here I began to feel that I had a bodily existence. I felt afraid that I might go back again into the world, and I desired to depart, when instantly I felt in the Father’s bosom. He said, ‘It is no matter what thy sins are, I am satisfied with thee through my Son. Believe in him.’ Here I saw that it was a full and finished salvation, with which he was well pleased; that sin was, so to speak, of no consequence. He was so satisfied with his dear Son that he would take no notice of it. He rested in his Son, and I was to rest where he rested. I saw that I had nothing to do only to rest where he rested. I saw his whole heart was towards me. His gentleness and tenderness, I felt nothing on earth to be compared to it. I felt as if he made me his equal. The holy, humble familiarity which I had in his bosom there is not a literal figure that I can touch to explain it. Then he said, ‘Not yet; a little while’ (which was in answer to my desire to depart). ‘What thou doest, do to my glory.’ He then took me and handed me over, as it were, to his Son. I felt to cling to his bosom, and it seemed as if it required him to put forth a little strength to get rid of me. It was like a mother handing a child over to its father. After this an intimation was given me that my days of darkness should be many. When the vision was withdrawn and the sweet and blessed feelings produced by it had in some degree passed away, I began to look into my heart; sin began to work up and darkness to come on. I felt that sin was the cause of the darkness. The light kept dwindling away; sin was the cause of it until I was thrown back into pitch darkness. I can compare this manifestation to nothing but a person born blind, and all of an instant his eyes opened and set down under the meridian sun. I felt that the Spirit which enabled me to say, ‘Abba, Father,’ was the Spirit of light and love, and his operations and effects were like fire, a sin-consuming power. I further saw that God loved me even as he loved his own Son, for he loved me in Him.”


After so glorious a revelation of the Son of God, and such a clear manifestation of pardoning love to her soul, as was recorded in our last [issue], we should have expected that Isabella, the subject of our present Obituary, would have walked for some considerable time in the light of God’s countenance, and would not soon or easily have fallen back into darkness and bondage, as we shall presently find was the case with her. It is a point which I cannot undertake clearly to explain; but I may briefly mention two reasons which may, perhaps, in some good degree account for it.

1. The sovereignty of God must be ever borne in mind, who having intimated to her that her days of darkness should be many, might have seen fit, in his infinite wisdom, to give her a speedy and bitter taste of them; and having so signally manifested his favour and love to her, might have seen good, almost immediately afterwards, sharply to exercise her faith and patience.

2. But I think there is another way in which it may be explained. Her lot was at this period, and, indeed, for some years after, cast under a legal ministry, burdened with conditions and creature performances, by which she was ground, as between the upper and nether millstones the upper millstone of a conditional salvation, and the nether millstone of an unbelieving heart. Indeed, I do not think that I ever heard any person speak so clearly of the misery, the bondage, the darkness, and the confusion which, sitting constantly under such a ministry, and knowing of no other, brings into the mind of a tried and exercised child of God. And what made it in her case more particularly trying was, that for more than seven years of that time she was in the service of a minister of the Scotch Church, in the North of England, whose legal preaching harrowed up her very soul. But I shall here quote her own words. Speaking upon this point some years afterwards, in a letter to a friend, she says:

“Of all the sermons which I had heard or seen, I cannot say that, at that time, God had ever acknowledged any one by his Spirit to my soul but ‘Winter afore Harvest.’ Some which I have heard have made my soul to bleed for weeks together, and I have sunk so low that I thought I should never rise more. All this was by free-will doctrines; nor did I know that there was anything else preached in the world, until May, 1854, when some other of Mr. P.’s sermons fell into my hands.”

It will be seen from the account which she has given of her own experience in our present [issue], that the chief point on which she was so long and so deeply tried was that of faith. According to the preaching and teaching under which she sat, whilst Christ was held forth as a Saviour, it was always insisted on that it was by faith in him an interest was obtained in his salvation, and that this faith was, on our part, a mental act, which was more or less in our power to exercise, which it was, therefore, our duty to do, and that unless we did it we could not be saved. Nothing was said about the Spirit’s work in convincing the soul of unbelief, or that faith was the gift and work of God, or that when Christ manifested himself to the soul, his presence and power by the operation of his word, through the Holy Spirit upon the heart, raised up and drew forth a living faith upon him. But Christ was placed, as it were, at a distance from the sinner; and the people were taught that it was by a mental act on their part, which the minister called faith, that he was to be made use of; and therefore, that as Christ had done his part, which was to redeem, they, had to do their part, which was to believe. This was the preaching under which she sat, and, indeed, knew of no other; and thus for ten years she was under this dark and ignorant, legal and erroneous ministry, without any gracious books to help her, any spiritual friends to converse with, or any of those blessed helps which many of our readers have been favoured with.

I merely offer this as an explanation why, after such a glorious revelation of the Son of God and such a manifestation of pardoning love to her soul, she should have sunk so low as we shall find she did. But I will not any longer by any words of my own detain my readers from the account which she has herself so clearly and sweetly given of her own experience after her signal blessing. 

Joseph Philpot

“O if I could but believe. I sometimes called on a woman who was considered to be very religious. She was a Methodist, and often gave me counsel how to act, which was that I was only to believe; but I felt my ‘could not’ and ‘would not’ were so strong that I might as well take my poor puny arm and bend heaven and earth together as believe. Sometimes I would gather all my evidences together both from creation and what I had felt in my own soul; then in haste I would make the leap to believe, in spite of all the risings within. I felt that believing was the hinge on which salvation turned, and yet I could not or would not do it. I felt my ‘would not’ was as strong as my ‘could not,’ and was afraid I should pine away in mine iniquity (as the sermon said) and die. By this time I had become a public by-word. ‘She is going daft (mad) about religion.’ Tracts and books began to come from different quarters with full and free invitations of the gospel; but I could never taste the least sap out of any of them. One day I heard two women talking about me. The one said to the other, ‘Hasn’t she given up hope?’ Poor wretch, as I felt myself to be, bad as my state was, O how thankful I was I had not done that. One day as I was standing at a wash-tub I seemed to see Christ seated between heaven and earth, when these words pealed through heaven as if all heaven would hear them: ‘There is no salvation in any other but in Christ.’ I felt that unless I got hold of Christ I was lost for ever. I saw that every soul that did not get hold of Christ would sink for evermore. Now I saw there was no other way of safety; but O my unbelief! I would not, therefore I could not believe. The only books that seemed to have an edge to them were the Bible and Boston’s ‘Fourfold State.’ But when I began to read them temptations and my wickedness began to rise, and especially when I began to read the Bible. I could read Doddridge’s ‘Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,’ and James’s ‘Anxious Inquirer,’ which was considered one of the best written books of the day, and all the tracts, without feeling any disturbance within. Satan did not tempt me, nor did any wickedness rise. Sometimes when I have been reading the tracts I have felt, ‘O to believe.’ I have thrown myself down where I thought no one would see me on the road with my mouth in dust with ‘O could I but believe.’ Sometimes I had sweet and blessed feelings; but they did not last. No one seemed to know my state or comfort me except that dear man’s sermon (J. C. Philpot). One told me that someone had said it was conviction that was the matter with me. I wondered what it meant; but was at last led to understand it. But my unbelief was now my greatest trouble and burden. I could not take comfort in anything I had felt, because I thought I never had believed. I knew that the Father loved me and that his Son had died for me; but that I never had believed of myself. O what trials I had at it. I thought unless I believed myself, I could not or should not be saved, unless the Lord put forth his divine power and saved me in spite of my unbelief; but that I did not look for. O to believe to the salvation of my soul and be at rest. But I could not or would not. And yet I felt if I don’t believe in the Son of God I must be lost. No hope for me unless I believe. O if I could but muster strength and master my unbelief and hold on and listen to nothing of what my heart says, even if it should end in the damnation of my soul. I shall be lost if I don’t believe; but something kept always rising and strongly objecting to everything, so that I did not feel I had any ground to take comfort from anything I had felt until I managed to believe of myself; and to do that I could not or would not. I never heard any minister say anything about the power, or about an unbelieving heart, and the workings of unbelief. I felt a little comforted once, and it opened my eyes a little in reading Romans 8:7: ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;’ but I still looked into my heart to try to believe of myself. [By that blessed revelation with which she had been favoured, poor Isabella knew what a living faith was, and that when Christ manifests himself to the soul he brings faith with him, for he is both its Author and Finisher. But for want of clearer light she, according to the teaching she was under, was ever looking into her own heart to find faith there, which she was told she must have and exercise or she could not be saved. Many poor souls are held fast in this snare, which is the reason why we thus call attention to it. We are well satisfied that the tendency, if not the end, of all legal preaching is to thrust into presumption or drive into despair.—Philpot] 

“One day I was standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, and Satan seemed to stand at my left hand. He said, ‘You have a precious, never-dying soul;’ which I felt was a truth. Then he said, ‘Take care and not lose it.’ This was the only thing I was afraid of. Then he said, ‘Don’t believe in the Son of God. Many books tell lies, and so may the Bible.’ The pull here betwixt him and me will never be known until the great day. It was like a pound weight put into one scale and a pound weight put into the other. Sometimes one scale was up and sometimes the other. He wanted me to understand that it was all of his kindness towards me that he thus spake. I felt it not easy to resist it. Those who have felt something of it will know what I mean; but, however, I felt that I could not give up the Son of God. I said, ‘No, no, no,’ until he kept pulling stronger than ever. I again said, ‘No, no, no,’ until I see some other way of safety. Here I seemed so weak and he so strong. I had scarcely strength to say, ‘No;’ yet managed it. After this I was in a worse condition than ever, for now I dared not give up my soul to the Son of God, lest it should be lost; nor dared I give up Jesus, for there was no other way of safety. Here I remained for some time, not daring to give up one or the other. I went to see my friend the Methodist. She asked me how I was. I told her I was no better. She said, ‘You do not keep your comforts when you have them; it is only to believe; and they that believe not make God a liar.’ I felt that that was an awful state to be in.

“James’s ‘Anxious Inquirer’ advises the anxious reader to take it to a place alone where he may have freedom of action. One night, according to his advice, I did so; but I happened to open first the Bible on the 8th chapter of the Romans. The first verse caught my eye: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,’ and all in an instant such a sweetness came with it that I felt it all to belong to me. After this I looked into James’s book. I felt I could get nothing out of it; it only confused me. Sometimes when I have had the Lord’s presence, and he has withdrawn himself, I I have felt like an individual that from long illness is not able to stand on his own feet or to be left alone, lest he should fall against the wall. I felt my spiritual weakness so great, and the places of danger so many, that I have felt to stagger in soul, that I was not fit to be left without the Lord’s special keeping.”

During the time that she was passing through these painful exercises, she was living at Newhaven, near Edinburgh, where she continued for about 18 months; but was obliged, through distress of soul, to leave her place, not being able to attend to her work, and the next six months she spent among her friends. In the summer of 1847 she again went to service, and obtained a situation in the house of a Scotch minister in the North of England, where she continued, with the exception of a year and a half, during which she lived at Jedburgh, until in the mysterious providence of God she was brought to Stamford, which I shall now endeavour to relate from her own papers and my own reminiscences.

“In May, 1854, I first came to a knowledge of the truth being preached in the present day the same as the Lord had taught me. It had been, at times, for nine or ten years my prayer to the Lord, that if his truth was preached anywhere on earth the same as he had taught me, he would open up a way for me to go and hear it. I felt that if I had been the Queen upon her throne, and had to walk barefoot to the ends of the earth, I must have gone there. The first intelligence that I heard about Mr. P. (for till then I did not know that he was alive, but thought he had been dead many years) was, ‘He is a Methodist,’ I answered, ‘If they call him Beelzebub, my soul loves him.’

“But the way in which I first came to know more about him was this: My master’s son, in 1855, had gone up to London, and had either sent, or brought home, some books, on one of which there was an advertisement of sermons preached in London by different ministers, and amongst them were some preached at Eden Street by J. C. Philpot. Upon this I wrote a letter, addressed to Eden Street Chapel, London [It is one of the marvels of our Post Office that a letter so addressed should ever have reached its destination, for those who know Eden Street will at once recollect what a small, obscure street it is; and at this time, the friends had removed to Gower Street, and Eden Street Chapel was either shut up or in the hands of its present occupiers.—Philpot], and received in reply the following letter:

‘”Being now supplying at Gower Street Chapel, London, to which Chapel the friends that did meet at Eden Street are removed, I send you the address you ask for, and I hope you will obtain what you want. Had you mentioned the sermon, I perhaps could have got it for you; but if you send to Mr. Philpot, you will obtain one. You must direct: Mr. Philpot, Stamford, Lincolnshire.

“Yours in truth,

“Wm. Hatton.”

“In consequence of this letter I wrote to Mr. Philpot, and received from him the following answer:

“‘Dear Isabella, I am sorry that I have neglected so long answering your letter, but my time is much occupied…I have not a copy of the sermon concerning which you have written (“The Heir of Heaven,” &c.); but you can get one by sending six postage stamps to Mr. Gadsby, George Yard, Bouverie Street, London. You sit under error, and will only get distressed and confused by it. Salvation is wholly of grace, and there is no power in man to save his own soul. Jesus Christ has finished the work; he gives faith to his elect to believe in him, and they are saved by his blood and righteousness. If you can afford it, take in the “Gospel Standard.” It will cost you only twopence a month, and you will find profitable reading in it. Any bookseller will get it for you every month at Newcastle. I send you one of my sermons that I preached lately in London. Read your Bible as much as you can, and ask the Lord to teach you by his blessed Spirit.

“‘Yours sincerely,

“J. C. Philpot

“‘Stamford, April 26th, 1855.

“In the Jan. [Issue] of the ‘Gospel Standard’ for 1856, I put in the following advertisement:

“‘A respectable young woman is desirous of obtaining a situation in or near Stamford, where she may have the privilege of attending a gospel ministry. Address, I. E., O——, Northumberland.'”

Our space will not allow me to enter into all the particulars of her being brought to Stamford, and eventually coming into my service through the medium of this advertisement. I can, therefore, only briefly mention that it caught the eye of a gracious person who lived at that time as housekeeper in a family which attended my ministry, and that there being a vacancy for a servant, the cook having just been hastily and deservedly sent away, she drew to it the attention of her mistress. There were, however, several obstacles in the way of her obtaining the place, such as her being a perfect stranger amongst them, and especially the great distance, as Isabella at that time lived in the extreme North of England; but they were mercifully overruled, as no doubt the hand of God was in it.

But I shall here insert part of a letter written at this time by Isabella to the housekeeper in answer to one from her:

“Dear Miss R.,—I have a great desire to be in Stamford. I think it may be God’s will to bless his servant’s word to my soul. Were any child of God to ask me what I should like best to enjoy upon earth, I should say first that the smiles of God’s blessed countenance might overflow my heart, and next, to sit under Mr. Philpot’s ministry. Here I am burdened with duties and conditions, and not a spark of life in the preaching, and my own soul little or no better. I felt a little comforted on Monday in thinking of the Lord’s former lovingkindness to me in my distresses, when, so to speak, I could do no longer without him, that he might not cast me off; but my mind is unsettled.

“I am happy to hear Mr. P. is better. I believe it has pleased God to make him a blessing to many whom he never saw nor heard of. The sermon I got had been in the hands of many before I got it, and I was told by the woman who gave it to me it had been already blessed to several. 

“Isabella Elliott.

To the obstacles to which I have alluded, I may add another, that her mistress, when she found that Isabella wished to leave her service for the purpose of coming to Stamford to sit under my ministry, refused to give her a character, though she had lived with her eight years, and had had a Bible given to her “for faithful attention to duty.” But the lady to whom I have alluded as attending my ministry most kindly consented to take her without a character, though Isabella stated that she could easily obtain one from most respectable people in the place, and from the last two situations in which she had previously lived.

Matters then being now fully arranged for her to come to Stamford, she wrote to the housekeeper, who had taken great interest in her and ever proved afterwards a most faithful and affectionate friend, the following letter:

“Dear Miss R.,— I feel thankful in looking forward, if it is the Lord’s will to spare me to that time, that I shall hear his blessed word according to his will. I have begged for nearly 10 years that he would open up a way for me where I should do so, and, blessed be his dear name, I can almost read his providence towards me in looking back that it is his will for me to come. I did not even know that Mr. P. was in life till the month of May, 1854. I used to think on him with sweetness that he had joined the blessed company. I do feel it kind of Mrs. K. taking me in when cast out. I trust the Lord will give me grace to be faithful to her; and, dear friend, seek for me that this may be for his glory and my good. The reason why I was so long in answering your letter was that I was writing to America. I will give you a hint about it, and it is one thing I think I see the working of providence in. My friends were very anxious for me to go with them, and I may say I have every encouragement to go [I have understood that she had at this time a very eligible offer of marriage with one who was going to America with her friends.—Philpot],  and none to stay, so far as I could see. And some of them are, I believe, God’s dear children; but my mind was so against it, and the more I thought about it the more I felt against it. I have had several letters from them wishing me to go; the last I received in January was about that, and to let them know what I was thinking about it. I had told them by letter about dear Mr. P., and that I wished to be under his ministry if I could get, and it would come hard upon me if I had no hope in getting; for my soul is united to him. I have sometimes thought were I a dying, of all the friends on earth I ever had I should like best to speak to him; for he speaks to me as God did when he opened his blessed bosom the same kind of language. I feel he is God’s own sent servant. I trust he will bless his word to my soul and restore me again, blessed be his name. I have found his promise made good, a ‘present help in time of need;’ and with his blessed presence I fear nothing. That runs through everything, makes mountains plains and storms calms. God willing, I shall be with you on the 27th or 28th of May. I shall be at liberty on the Monday, and I think if the day be good I shall walk to Newcastle, which is just 30 miles from here. I can easily do it; if I enjoy my present health and strength.”

“Isabella Elliott.

There was, however, another obstacle still in the way, giving a fresh occasion to the Lord to appear in his kind providence on her behalf. When she had fully settled all the little claims upon her purse, her funds were reduced so low that she found that even by walking to Newcastle she would yet not have enough money to pay her fare thence to Stamford, and this continued up to 12 o’clock of the very day when she had fixed to start. But upon that very day, about half-past one o’clock, she received a letter from her brother, then residing in America, containing £2; and thus, instead of walking, she was enabled to take the mail gig to Newcastle, stayed there for the night, and started next morning by rail for Stamford, where she safely arrived.

She continued in the service of the lady to whom I have alluded 12 months, when, being considered not altogether suitable for the situation, she was not re-engaged, and thus there appeared a great probability that she would have to leave Stamford. But just at this very juncture the cook’s place in my family happened to be vacant, and I suggested, to use Mr. Huntington’s humorous expression to “the higher powers,” that we might take Isabella into our service. This suggestion was readily complied with, and as the offer was gladly embraced, she passed into my service, in which she continued about six years. She saw, I believe, the marked providence of God in thus giving her a home under the roof of one to whom she felt so deeply attached for his work’s sake; for I believe I may truly say that though amongst my many mercies the Lord has given me some most faithful, tried, and affectionate friends, yet amongst them all there have been none who felt more sincere and true affection for me than Isabella.

But I must here for the present stay my pen, as what remains to be told of her in life and death would occupy too much room for our present [Issue].


Isabella continued in my service for about six years, during which time I, of course, had much opportunity of conversation with her upon the precious things of God, and generally found her words weighty and profitable. She saw, I believe, the hand of God very distinctly in bringing her to Stamford, and under the sound of the gospel. But an extract from a letter now before me, which she wrote to a friend some time after she had come into my service, will show better than I can her feelings on this point:

“I feel my spirit to sink under a feeling sense of God’s goodness toward me, a rebellious, peevish, discontented wretch. How great it has been to give me to see that he loved me with an everlasting love, and gave his Son to die for me, that all my sins were forgiven through his blood, and that it was no matter what my sins were, he was satisfied with me through his Son. And after all, in his kind providence, to bring me to the place where my soul feels satisfied to be, with no desire beyond it below the sky. What goodness! How wonderful to me! It is too much for me! How I do lose myself at times, and lose sight, too, of his goodness and mercy to me all my life long! How highly favoured I feel myself to be where I am! I trust it is not lost, my being brought to Stamford. If I get to heaven I believe it will not be forgotten there. There are two things for which I feel thankful to God above everything —first, for his mercy to my soul, and next, for leading me to hear his dear servant, whose word he attended to my soul with, I believe, something of the same blessed power which rested on his Son when he came up out of the water. I felt my heart to sink under grateful grief this morning, to think what longsuffering forbearance, both from God and his children, I receive, and yet I am what I am.


On August 23rd, 1857, she was baptized at Stamford by my dear friend, the late William Tiptaft, and on October 18th, in the same year, I had the pleasure of receiving her into the church there, under my pastoral care, of which she continued a consistent and much-esteemed and loved member till her death.

During the period of her residence in Stamford, she wrote various letters to friends to whom she had become much attached, copies of which now lie before me. I shall, therefore, give from them a few extracts, which will serve to show the chequered path in which she was called to walk, and afford, at the same time, blessed evidences how the life of God was maintained in her soul:

“My dear Sister, What reason I have to be thankful to the God of all grace for his wonderful goodness and mercy to me, a poor, unworthy Scotch Gentile! I feel him, at times, a stay to my soul, a blessed support. O! To be ever looking to resting and leaning upon Jesus! He looked to the joy set before him. Has there not been something of the same joy set before us? Have we not tasted, felt, and handled that which has taken our whole soul? ‘Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.’ How wonderful, yet how true! O what a mercy to have a heart that loves Jesus! How worthy he is; how sweet is his dear name! Nothing to be compared with our dear Jesus; our blessed Redeemer, ‘who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver, in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.’ What a holy sensation his blessed presence creates! There’s no room in the breast for the world and time when he is there. My dear Jesus, O to be with thee for ever and ever! O to be thine when time shall be no more; and time seems nearly done, and eternity near! And is there not now a sweet, eager desire to feel the dew on the soul the dew of Hermon, the dew of the morn of an eternal day resting upon us?Do not our souls long for the day sweet day, the day of redemption?

“I feel myself a great sinner; blessed Lord, thou alone knowest how great. No man knoweth it. Forgive me, Lord, keep, teach, and lead. I feel that a profession of the name of Jesus will do no good unless it end in the salvation of the soul. But O how little the weighty things of eternity lie on my mind, and the things that are coming on the earth! Great realities! I feel that we slumber much in these things. Do we not? Time will soon be over with us. O that we were more delivered from ourselves, and united to Jesus by a living faith a faith that will lay hold on him, and draw supplies from him, meetening us for himself. My love to all sincere lovers of Jesus.

“Yours in love,


The following letter was written to a friend at Oakham, after a short visit there:

“My dear Sister, On the Monday after I saw you, my soul kept ascending all the day, uttering, every few minutes, ‘My Father, my dear Father, my blessed Jesus; my delight, my sweet Home!’ I should have had a very happy day had it not been for my sins at Oakham. Every time that my soul ascended, something that I had said wrong, or some one I might perhaps have offended, kept coming in and troubling my spirit. I wished I had been more careful. What trouble I had that I might have avoided, and what enjoyment I lost by my sins! In the evening I felt a holy delight in looking up and looking forward; yet I felt weak, and a fear that I should lose my feelings; that something would get the better of me. I can hardly describe it, only this I felt how little would make me fall. Plants in the garden of the Lord only grow under the influence of Heaven; but we are such fools, that as soon as we feel them (the bud) begin to grow, we begin to hug them, instead of looking up to him from whom their life and strength goeth and cometh. Next day I came into the wilderness of sin between Elim and Sinai. I cannot enter into particulars, but one thing I feel, this wilderness-travelling tries one’s mettle. No Egyptian ever got through it. No; and no Israelite ever would, were his lungs not helped above nature. He would breathe out his last in it. No mortal can help him. He cannot fly out of it. He needs his heart put right, and that cannot be done by any power below the sky before he can. A real Israelite cannot fly without his heart. We may and do try to encourage ourselves with the Lord’s promises, and former goodness to our souls, and try to fly, but down we drop again. Our heart must be set a-going to keep us on the wing. That’s the main thing. If the Lord and our hearts are in good trim, we need not fear anything either in earth or hell, saint or sinner. No, and we don’t. We can see and feel things in a different way then. ‘My Father will see to me; all is in his hands.’ The sweetest moments I have now upon earth are when I am weeping (breathing) after Jesus. I don’t get much beyond that; whom having not seen (naturally) we love and rejoice in what we hope to enjoy one day. [An esteemed friend has drawn my notice to a point on which this expression of Isabella’s affords me an opportunity to drop a word. It is with respect to that remarkable revelation with which she was favoured, as recorded in our October [Issue], and I wish it clearly to be understood that neither she nor I, when we have spoken of it together, believed it was anything she saw with the natural eye or heard with the natural ear. The natural eye can only see natural things, and the bodily ear can only hear bodily sounds; and though we would not and dare not limit the Almighty, yet when we speak of a revelation of Christ we do not mean any outward revelation to the natural senses, but a spiritual manifestation to the soul; and as this spiritual manifestation is not on the one hand anything revealed to the natural senses, so on the other it is not anything visionary or enthusiastic, but is a divine and blessed reality which is known but not understood, felt but not to be explained, but received by faith, anchored in by hope, and embraced by love.—Philpot] I was thinking this morning, my day of judgment is past, nearly 16 years ago. 


In looking over her letters, of which I have many now before me, I find in them such a sweet vein of living experience, and expressed in language so truthful and original, that it is much in my mind to insert some occasionally in our pages. I shall not, therefore, give any further extracts from them, but proceed at once with my narrative.

In the early part of February, 1863, she became acquainted, in one of her visits to Oakharn, with Mr. Henry Prentice, a member of my church there, and a widower, from whom, after some time, she had an offer of marriage, which she at once communicated to me. As I had seen a good deal of him during a long and painful illness of his former wife, whom I continually visited on her bed of languishing, and as I was a constant witness of his most patient kindness and affectionate attention to her, and saw how he was supported under his severe trials, I felt much esteem for him, and, therefore, could not but approve of the proposed union. Besides which, it did not take Isabella away from my ministry, and, as I could not anticipate that she could always continue under my roof, I was glad that such a proposal had been made, and could say of her and to her, in the language of Naomi, “The Lord grant that you may find rest in the house of your husband.” Fully, therefore, approving of the marriage, I agreed to join their hands; but, as the spring advanced, it pleased the Lord to lay upon me his afflicting hand, and my place was, therefore, taken by Mr. Cooke, of St. Albans, who was at that time supplying my pulpit. My own chapel not being then licensed, the Independent chapel was borrowed for them, and, in the presence of many of the friends, and most of the members of the church, they were united on Monday, May 11th, 1863.

Speaking of this event, her bereaved husband says, in the account which he has written of her death, “It was evident, from our first acquaintance, that our union was of the Lord, and I always looked upon her as a gift from him.” And I have heard him say in conversation that the years of his married life with her were the happiest years of his life.

But it is time for me to come to the narrative of her last days, and I am sorry that our space will not admit the long account now before me from the pen of her bereaved husband, which I must now, therefore, give in an abridged form.

“About six weeks after her last confinement she was awaked about one o’clock in the morning with a severe and most terrible pain in the back, which compelled her to rise. We thought it might go off, and so the day passed on; but the attack returned about the same time the next night, and again on the third. Medical aid was called in, and intermittent fever [A good deal of obscurity rested upon the nature of the disease; but a physician of Stamford gave it as his opinion that it was an affection of the spinal cord.”—Philpot], was for some time thought to be the cause of the attacks, as they were followed by a cold sensation, not exactly shivering, but approaching to it, so that sometimes she had scarcely an hour’s sleep in the twenty-four. As time advanced, the attacks became more severe: indeed, I may say, they were terrible, the intensity of the pain she had to endure being depicted in her face a mixture of grief and horror. The pain usually began to abate in about three-quarters of an hour; then followed the cold sensation, so that we were obliged to have a large fire, though in the height of summer; and though wrapped up in blankets, warmth could not be derived from either source. Then followed a profuse perspiration, so much so that I have seen the steam from her body rise up through three blankets and a counterpane; nor could she bear any of these to be removed, in consequence of the cold laying hold upon her. These attacks returned every twenty-four hours, and truly grievous it was to see her, and extremely painful to hear her cries, for she suffered agony. Various remedies were tried, but all were of no avail, for the fearful attacks still continued, and the cold sensation seemed to take deeper hold of her, so that I can safely, and with a good conscience, say, she did not average fourteen hours’ sleep a week for one year and nine months; for when the paroxysms went off, the restlessness which always followed prevented her either from lying in one position or from falling asleep.

“About three months before her death the torturing and agonising pain was taken from her, but she could not lie in bed, but sat on a chair night and day wrapped in blankets before a large fire. As regards the state of her soul, I never heard any one express such a fear of death, for she certainly was one of those characters of whom it is said that ‘through fear of death they are all their lifetime subject to bondage.’ Indeed before her illness she always spoke of death as if she would have something very formidable to oppose, and was so averse to go to the cemetery that she would not and did not go there for a long time before she was disabled by affliction. About this time she said, ‘I did not think dying was like this. O if I could but read my title clear,’ and at another time, ‘O for a look over Jordan.’ At this time she was much, tried from bed sores which, from her reduced frame, were a source of great pain, but I never heard a murmur escape her lips. Once much tried, but she repeated, 

“‘My dear Redeemer, purge this dross; 

Teach me to hug and love the cross; 

Teach me thy chastening to sustain, 

Discern the love and bear the pain.’

“On March 16th she said, ‘If I get well I shall be able to say, ‘It is good that I have been afflicted.’ Being asked why, she answered, ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have respect unto thy commandments.’

“On the 18th I asked her how she felt in her mind. She answered, ‘Nowhere; I would wait the Lord’s will either for life or death.’ She then said, ‘What do you think about me?’ I replied, ‘I think you are drawing toward your end.’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘What a mercy if the Lord should appear for you!’ ‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘but I must have patience.’ She then spoke of peace and confidence. ‘I feel a little of it now.’ On being asked which, she replied, ‘Confidence; but how my sins of youth and sins since being called by grace have been brought up before my eyes in awful colours. 

“‘Why me! Why such a wretch as me, 

Who would for ever lie in hell,

Were not salvation free.’

Then, ‘O Lord, have mercy upon me and lighten my darkness. I am thinking of what the Lord said unto me: “What thou doest do to my glory; thy sins are forgiven thee, past, present, and to come, through the blood of my Son; believe in him.” I have done nothing to his glory, and that is a great sin, but that’s included in the “past, present, and to come ” spoken to me when his blessed Majesty had his everlasting arms underneath me, when I could not pray nor knew how to pray. And must he not have his arms underneath me now?’

“March 30. My dear wife said, ‘I am much worse. My illness has been but a trifle to what is now; it now is death devouring. O that the Lord would gather together the waste places of my soul the waste places of Zion that he would acknowledge me. O mercy, mercy, mercy! I have great need of mercy. I have lived too loosely, but the Lord will hide pride from man. I have been very proud of my experience. The Lord will humble us. Man makes a vain show in religion, but when it comes to all, man has but very little religion.’ At another time she said, ‘My dear, if I should die under a cloud, don’t conclude that I have gone to hell.’

April 5. “Do you think I shall land safe?” (meaning in heaven.) 

14th. “O that my Father would take me, take me home in peace.” 

15th. “No variableness nor shadow of a turn; he is the same yesterday and for ever.” “What a base wretch the devil is; he insists that I have slighted the Lord.” At another time: “I want to be at home. Tis home, ’tis home, ’tis home.

“‘Soon shall this frame, dissolved in dust, 

In death and ruins lie;

But better mansions wait the just, 

Prepared above the sky.”

At another time:

“We walk by faith of joys to come, 

Faith grounded on his word;

But while this body is our home 

We mourn an absent Lord.'”

“On the morning of the 20th a great change took place in her for the worse. Her niece who was staying with us called me between five and six o’clock. When I came to her bedside I saw that she was in a convulsive fit, her eyes sunk and fixed with every appearance of death in her countenance. I sent for a dear friend of ours (Mrs. S. C.) to come immediately. But my dear wife was brought out of the fit and became sensible. She knew Mrs. C., and after a little began to talk and talked very fast, but owing to a complaint in her throat what she said was almost unintelligible, but she still kept talking. Mrs. C. then caught the words: “‘My God, the spring of all my joys.’ As she repeated them after my wife they were fully affirmed with, ‘Yes, yes.’ We clearly understood the first verse: and the last, 

“Fearless of hell and ghastly death

I’d break through every foe,

The wings of love and arms of faith 

Should bear me conqueror through,”

was particularly plain in the then state of her throat, and, I may add, emphatic. After this she seemed unconscious, gave one strong expiration, and then breathed out her soul, so to speak, into eternal rest and peace, about ten minutes to nine in the forenoon of the same day, Tuesday, April 20, 1869.

“On the following Saturday, she was buried by Mr. Knill, in the Oakham Cemetery, and, speaking of the departed, he said, in the course of his remarks, “I have, in conversation with her, had divine life communicated to my soul.” 

“Henry Prentice.

Some of my readers may, perhaps, feel disappointed that her end was not more glorious; but God is a sovereign, and we often find that those who have been much favoured and blessed in life, are not always or often equally favoured in death.

The following record of a conversation with her a short time before her death by one of the Oakham friends, who had seen much of her at various times during her residence there, will form a fitting close to this little Memorial of one who, through much tribulation, entered the kingdom of heaven, and with whom it was my privilege to walk for many years in the mutual bonds of esteem and affection.

Joseph Philpot

“A friend who felt true soul union with her, went to see her about two days before she departed, and found her lamenting her want of fresh manifestations of the Lord’s favour to her soul, and much felt darkness, saying with Job (Job 23:3-11): ‘O that I knew where I might find him,’ &c. *Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him,’ &c. But she held very fast 5:10: ‘But he knoweth the way that I take. When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.’ In conversation, she spoke of the Lord’s first work upon her soul in convincing her of her lost state as a sinner, and said: ‘I could not work that change. The Lord did it; and he will not deny his own work.’ She spoke of the blessed deliverance which the Lord gave her how he embraced her in his arms of love and mercy, and handed her over to the care of his well-beloved Son, in whom he declared she was all fair, and that he was well pleased with her in him. She said, ‘I tell the dear Lord he can never say to me in that great day, “Depart from me; I never knew you;” for he has acknowledged me as his many times, with the sweetest and most endearing words that language can express. He has said, “Underneath thee are my everlasting arms.” I cannot sink beneath them, can I? “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give unto them eternal life. They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:28, 29.) The Lord cannot deny himself; he is faithful. The devil, with all his craft and all his cruelty, cannot take away that blessed gift of grace, eternal life!’ It was most touching to see and hear her, in the emaciated state of her suffering body, how eagerly and earnestly she was summing up her tokens for good, putting the Lord in remembrance of what he had said unto and done for her, pleading with him for renewed testimonies of his love to put a seal, as she said, upon the whole work which he had wrought, and confronting the great enemy of her soul, telling him, ‘The Lord hath said, and will he not do it? he hath spoken, and shall he not make it good?’ The various Bethel visits to her soul were recounted; she encouraged herself to hope in his mercy, and said, ‘I see a glimmering light in the distance. I believe he will come again and receive me unto himself, that where he is there I shall be also.’ There was a deep, solid vein of spiritual experience in all she said, and a certain conviction communicated of the reality and intensity of her desire after the Lord which he would surely satisfy. She had a great jealousy for his glory, and would say, ‘He will leave the flesh nothing wherein to glory.’ She lamented how slothful she had been in the words he spake to her when he delivered her soul: ‘Do all to my glory.’ She lay self-abased and said, ‘I have done nothing to his glory; nothing as I would. I am a debtor to mercy above all he ever saved.’”

Isabella Prentice (1824-1869) was a Strict and Particular Baptist believer. She was a member of the church meeting at Stamford, under the pastoral care of Joseph Philpot, who also lived in his service as cook for six years, prior to her marriage. Upon receiving the blessing of Philpot, whom she came to regard as a father figure, she was married to Mr. Henry Prentice in the year 1863.