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Piety promoted; in brief biographical memorials, of some of the religious society of Friends commonly called Quakers

HADWEN BRAGG was born at Whitehaven in Cumberland, about the year 1763. His parents, John and Margaret Bragg, were Friends in good esteem, of whose tender and pious care over him, in his early years, he often spoke with gratitude. Being placed as an apprentice with a respectable tradesman of his native town, who was not a member of our religious Society, he was exposed to temptations tending to lead into some deviations from the principles of his religious profession. This occasioned him much thoughtfulness; and as the termination of his apprenticeship drew near, he was increasingly concerned to seek after an experimental acquaintance with that power graciously afforded to preserve the dependent mind in the path of safety.

After the expiration of the term, he spent a short time in London, where goodness and mercy continued to follow him. The state of his health did not permit him to remain long there; yet he found in that great, crowded, and, to many an unwary youth, polluted city, those with whom he took sweet counsel; and being privileged with the instructive society of religiously-concerned Friends, his pious resolutions, and earnest aspirations after Divine aid, gained strength; and his tarriance there was a time of much profit to him.

On his return to Whitehaven, he had an advantageous offer of a share in the business of the individual to whom he had been an apprentice, which he thought it right to decline. This arose from a conscientious fear, lest, by being connected with one of different religious views, he should be induced to deviate from a strict adherence to testimonies which, though some may esteem them of minor importance, he had seen it right for him to bear. This step was a close trial of his faith, from the surprise which it occasioned to his kindly interested friends; and because, at that time, no other situation, as a necessary provision for a livelihood, presented itself,

After accompanying two women Friends on a religious engagement in Scotland, he visited the town of Newcastle upon Tyne, when an entire stranger to the place; and in the year 1788, concluded to fix his future residence there. On his entering upon the cares of life, he sought, and was favoured to find, wise and experienced counsellors, in whose society be took great delight; and it was his sincere desire to walk in the footsteps of the followers of Christ.

In the later years of his life, he was often led to look back, with feelings of pious gratitude, in contemplating that providential arm, which in his early years had protected, and which, at the period above alluded to, had guided him to this conclusion; and the various circumstances that marked his course, all tended to confirm his views of the advantage which those derive who seek Divine counsel in their outward concerns.

Such were his stability and consistency of conduct, that he was appointed by the monthly meeting to the station of an overseer, at an early period of life; and a few years afterwards, to that of an elder; offices of no small importance in the church; both of which he filled, with much propriety and usefulness, until the time of his death. The reverent frame of mind which he sought to attain in religious meetings, was often indicated by his countenance; and his lively exhortations in meetings for discipline, were impressive and instructive. By his faithfulness and prudent zeal in the affairs of our Society, carefully following what he believed to be the pointings of the Spirit of Truth, he was made instrumental in promoting the firm, yet tender exercise of the discipline of the church.

He was diligent in providing for his family, and executive in attending to his business, which was that of a linen and woollen draper, but was enabled to keep these outward concerns subordinate to higher duties; and, through watchfulness, was preserved from the injurious and engrossing tendency of worldly pursuits. He had many young men in his employ, as apprentices and assistants, whom he treated and watched over with a kind, parental care; possessing, in a more than common degree, the talent of rendering social conversation pleasant and instructive.

He was a man given to hospitality, and liberal in promoting works of charity; and being of a clear and sound judgment, of great urbanity of manners, and having his heart warmed with an expansive benevolence, he was very useful in assisting to conduct several institutions in the town of Newcastle, for the relief of distress, the instruction of the ignorant, and, the spreading of the knowledge of the great and saving truths of pure Christianity.

Thus he endeavoured to improve the talents with which he was entrusted, and to serve the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth; yet was he deeply sensible that it is only through the mercy of God, in Christ Jesus his Son, that we can know the remission of sins, and access to that grace wherein alone we can safely stand; and whereby, as its influence prevails, the evil propensities of our nature are overcome, and strength is afforded to persevere in the path of the just.

The illness which terminated the life of this humble Christian was a protracted one, and often attended with great bodily suffering; yet he was, through all, preserved in an unshaken confidence in redeeming power and love; many limes expressing the ardent desire which he felt, "to be sanctified throughout, in body, soul, and spirit."

In the early part of the fourth month, 1820, when taking leave of some of his relations, he spoke, in great tenderness and humility, nearly as follows: "I may commemorate the goodness of the Almighty to me all my life long, who hath abundantly blessed; and although I often feel poor, and very unworthy, his gracious arm is now felt to be underneath, to support in this season of trial." At another time, after a day or two which had been passed under much bodily weakness and depression, he intimated, that, though consolatory feelings had at times been permitted, yet it was then a season of proving; and, in the evening, inquired relative to that verse in Isaiah: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." The following morning he acknowledged, in much brokenness of spirit, the consolation which the preceding passage had afforded him during the night, and that peaceful feelings were again renewed.

At one time, when under great bodily suffering, he expressed the solicitude which he felt to be preserved from desiring any thing but what was best for him; adding, "When under severe pain, it is difficult to suppress the wish to be relieved;" and remarked on this, as on a similar occasion, that any little plaintive accents which might escape him, were not from an uneasy mind, being favoured to be free from all anxiety. A restoration to health, he said, would look grateful, for the sake of his dear family; yet dissolution appeared desirable, rather than long-continued suffering; but herein he evinced Christian resignation and patience.

His disorder assumed an increasingly serious aspect; and, on the 1st of the ninth month, his beloved wife, on expressing the anxiety of the family to do all they could for his relief, added, "But there is only One who can help." He replied, "Ah! no! there is but one source of support, and to that I look. I crave, I crave that the support hitherto extended may be continued; and that none may be dismayed by my sufferings. I desire entire resignation: is it not said, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him V Nothing but coming again and again to the footstool will do." A few days afterwards, upon a belief being expressed that, at times, he felt sensible support, he replied, "Yes; were it not so, I should be overwhelmed;" impressively adding, "I cast myself entirely upon a merciful and gracious Creator."

On the intimation of a hope being entertained that he had an unclouded prospect of happiness, he said, "Inasmuch as I feel no condemnation, mercy, nothing but mercy and goodness are near." On others of his relations coming into the room, he alluded to what he had just said, remarking, that though his soul had often had deep wadings, yet, not dismayed, he was enabled to place his dependence upon Divine mercy; that he felt his situation to be serious and awful; and a constant solicitude attended, that in nothing he might offend. This, he said, had been his state for months past.

On the morning of the 5th of the ninth month, 1820, the day on which his peaceful spirit was released from its afflicted frame, on reviving a little after a violent attack of sickness, he remarked that many had been the vicissitudes in his complaint; that it was wonderful to him that he was again restored; but continued, "I am not careful about another hour;" and upon his most endeared attendant saying, "Then thou castest thy care upon a merciful Creator," he replied, very emphatically, "Yes, upon a gracious God, in whom all around my bed may confide. Let all do their duty: keep in a tender, watchful, humble state of mind."

Articulation had now become more difficult; but that gentleness and gratitude which had been the clothing of his mind during a long and painful illness, shone conspicuously to the last. Whilst free from extreme suffering, he seemed centred in stillness, at times desiring that his quiet might not be disturbed. The words, " dear Jesus," were distinctly heard, when the connected aspiration was not collected.

Thus closed the earthly existence of one whose life was peculiarly marked by love to his fellowmen, and by a more than common interest in the peace and welfare of the religious Society of which he was a member ; and we may consolingly believe, that his purified spirit was mercifully translated to the realms of eternal bliss.

From brief biographical memorials

Linked toHadwen Bragg

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