Prose Meditations by

Hannah Towgood Wakeford

The five prose meditations published in The Christian’s Magazine were copied from the bound volume that remained in the possession of the Wakefords at Andover and now resides in the Steele Collection; two meditations in that same volume remained unpublished. Wakeford’s meditations reveal her solid grounding in evangelical nonconformity and a mature faith as a teenager that puts her in a similar standing with her contemporary Anne Steele and other women writers within the Steele Circle. When writing about affliction in Meditation I, a frequent topic of meditative prose made popular by such seventeenth-century Puritan writers as Anne Bradstreet in New England, Wakeford adopts the biblical language and pose of the afflicted psalmist: ‘Lord! I Bless thy Rod: I bless the gracious hand that corrects me’. His ‘soft admonitions’ are applied ‘gently to rouse me out of my fatal lethargy’, she writes. In Meditation IV she exhibits an assurance of her faith (or her ‘election’) that would prove elusive to many nonconformists at this time. ‘The great God hath been seeking my soul’, she declares, ‘how often hath he offered himself to me; – And shall I, notwithstanding this, think I shall seek him in vain? No: he is as ready to be mine as I am to be his; nay, infinitely more so.’

For Wakeford's biographical notice on this site, click here; for her hymns, click here; for her poetry, click here. For the complete poetry, as well as prose and some letters, of Hannah Wakeford, see Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4 (pp. 107-16) and vol. 8 (pp. 81-104).

Meditation III

Hath the Lord cast off forever? Will He be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his Promise fail for Evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? – Certainly no: His truth endureth to all generations; his faithfulness can never fail: and though now he hides his face, he will again return, and bless me with his smiles. He hath loved me with an everlasting love, and with unwearied kindness will he have mercy upon me. – Oh, how do these words revive the fainting soul! what a cordial to my drooping spirits! It is this alone can chear me in his absence: and I bless my God, who hath given me so many gracious promises to build my faith and hope upon: but, oh! long, I impatiently wait for the beaming of his Love!

’Tis best to see my Lord at home,

And feel the Presence of his Grace.

Come then, my dear redeemer! dreadful are these delays, and thy absence an insupportable trial to a soul which once hath experienced thy love; come, and warm again this cold heart; enliven these dead affections. – But, alas! it is my coldness which keeps him back; my indifference which causes his absence. Was I more carefully to preserve his temple unpolluted, he would more frequently vouchsafe to inhabit it. Oh! may I endeavour, by his grace, which is always sufficient for me, to exclude every hurtful guest. – I now, Lord, renounce those traitors that would rob me of Thee: of Thee, my supreme, and my only happiness. Here, Lord, I am, ready with the utmost gratitude to receive and entertain thee. Oh come! and satisfy my longing soul.

Text: The Christian’s Magazine 5 (1764), p. 504-5; MS (listed as Meditation V) in STE 10/1, which differs in 16 instances from the printed text above.