Transcript:Friend (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States)/Biographical Sketch: John Simcock



A transcript of the biographical sketch of John Simcock in The Friend. A religious and literary journal. (Philadelphia: John Richardson) 28 (1854–5): 28, 36. Available at HathiTrust.

Biographical Sketches,

Of Ministers and Elders, and other concerned members of the Yearly Meeting of Philadelphia.

John Simcock.

John Simcock was born in England, about the year 1639. His residence was at or in the neighbourhood of Stoak, in Cheshire, where, after he grew to manhood, he received the Truth, was made a confessor thereof, and a sufferer therefor, by fine and imprisonment. Of his education we know nothing, and of his convincement not much. It appears, however, from his declaration on his death-bed, that his mind had been brought under exercise, with earnest desires that the Lord would make known his way of truth to him. Having been bowed in solemn prayer, he threw himself on a bed, and immediately he heard as it were a voice speaking to him. Through the revelation of that voice, he was in a little time satisfied that the people called Quakers professed the way of Truth, and were walking therein. Being thus brought into the knowledge of the Truth, he was faithful thereto, and grew in grace.

In the year 1670, he, with various others, were fined for their religious meetings at Stoak and the neighbourhood. Thomas Badcock, the active persecutor, being taken sick, was brought under distress of mind for what he had done, particularly as respected John Simcock. Being grievously burdened in conscience, he sent for John, who visited him in love,—freely forgiving the injury he had received, and under the constraining influence of heavenly charity, praying to the Lord that his persecutor be forgiven by him.

Having received a gift in the ministry of the Gospel, he often suffered for exercising it. At one time he had £41 taken from him for preaching, at another time eight cows and eleven heifers, worth £90, and was fined also on other charges ; and was imprisoned for eighteen months for accompanying his wife to a public place of worship.

About the year 1682, he removed to Pennsylvania, and settled in Chester county. Smith says of him : “ His services here as one of William Penn's first council, one of his first commissioners of property, and one of his most trusty and trusted friends in the government, and afterwards as speaker and member of the assemblies, seems to have been very considerable. And his station as an approved minister among his brethren, through a long course of time, rendered him still more useful.”

Although much made use of by his Friends on important services in the church, and highly esteemed for his work's sake, he was not one who put himself forward ; neither claimed he honour of men. When he saw people spreading themselves abroad, and making much ado as if they were acting or suffering for Truth's sake, he would say sometimes, “ Truth needs no images.” He was one who kept the concerns of this life in proper subordination, and this was what enabled him when suffering for the Truth the spoiling of his goods, to bear it patiently. At one time, when his persecutors were seizing and driving away much of the stock of his farm, his servant maid, who was not a Friend, looking with wonder at his quiet endurance, exclaimed, “ How can you stand by and see them drive away so many cattle.” In reply, he said, it did not trouble him “ more than if they had been so many geese.” In the words of one of his daughters, “ he seemed to be of the Apostle's mind, and could rejoice because he was counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.”

One of the testimonies given forth concerning him says, “ He was as a nursing father in Israel, and tender over the seed of God. Wherever he saw it in the least appearance, he was a cherisher of it, although it might be in the young. He was a man who abhorred deceit and hypocrisy ever since I knew him. I have known him nearly forty years, and this I may say of him, that God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, made his ministry sound, edifying and helpful to me, and many others in the church of Christ. God had endowed him with a spirit of discernment and wisdom beyond many in spiritual things.

“ He was a great sufferer for Truth's sake, both in imprisonment and loss of goods in Old England. When it pleased the Lord to send his wife to the steeple houses to speak to the priest, or people, or for a sign, he went with her. For this they were both cast into prison, and continued there many months. The Lord made him willing to travel in Truth's service pretty much. Notwithstanding his great sufferings and travels, he was no ways chargeable to any, but was helpful to those who stood in need. He said before he died, “ he never took a penny on account of his service or suffering of any person whatsoever.”

John Simcock was one of the three persons appointed to visit George Keith, by the General Meeting of Ministers and Elders, on account of the false charges made against them by him, and he was also one of the committee who prepared the testimony of that body against him. Of his travels in the ministry, we have no certain account, but find abundant traces of his services in meetings for discipline. He appears to have been wise in counsel, skilful to oppose gainsayers, and prompt to support the Truth, and attack error. Thus he passed along, honoured by his friends, and lightly esteemed only by apostates from the Truth. His daughter says of him, “ He was a man for God ; yea, I may say, he was a man of God. He was very serviceable in his day and generation, ready and willing to serve Truth, and lend a helping hand to them that were weak. Many times he had a word of counsel and good advice to speak unto those that stood in need, which was very refreshing and comfortable to them. I know he was a man that was much concerned that good order and discipline might be kept up in the church of Christ. He will be greatly missed by the faithful who knew him, and were inwardly acquainted with him ;—it may be the unfaithful may not seem to miss him so much.”

Being taken sick, and lying at the house of his son Jacob at Springfield, waiting to be released, John Simcock gave utterance to many comforting expressions. On one occasion, after telling those around him he had a few words to deliver them, he thus spoke : “ In the beginning was the Word, and in that Word is life, and this life is the light of men. This Light, though some may and do slight it, is sufficient for a leader and conductor in the way to eternal salvation. I am a living witness of it. As John holds it forth to us, it is God, by which all things were made that was made. Yea, by this Word man was created after the image of God, in the state of innocence and true holiness, and so was placed in heavenly paradise. But man, by giving ear, and hearkening to the voice of the subtle serpent, lost the innocency and purity in which he was created, and so became as a degenerate plant, fallen from that state of holiness. But the great, gracious and merciful God, out of his own bounty and kindness, in consideration of the lost and miserable estate mankind were in, promised a Seed which should bruise the head of the serpent. This is the Seed of the covenant, and living Word which in due time took upon it the seed of the woman ; fulfilling the blessed promise made, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. Hereby man comes to be restored out of the state of the fall, and redeemed from under the power of darkness, and brought into blessed fellowship with his Maker ; wherein his love is true to God, and God the Father, through the Son of his love, embraces his redeemed in the arms of his loving kindness. Therefore, my friends, live in love, that you may be seen to be children of the Word, and as such, who, through the holy begetting of the Divine power of the heavenly Saviour, may ever be found dwelling in the love of God. See that you be sure to endeavour to keep to the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is love indeed, and will keep you in that peace and love which he gives his followers. I am a witness that it will keep in true and perfect love. If you keep to the Spirit of Christ, you will be dwellers together in love unto the end of time. This true love is a mark and badge of true discipleship, and [distinguishes] those who are followers of the Christ, the blessed, powerful, and eternal Saviour of the world ; he, who gave his life to be a holy ransom for mankind.

“ I am sorry I cannot have an opportunity to come to your meeting, to signify my love in Christ Jesus, and to say to them, to see that they live in true love, that they may be seen to be of those who are walking in the holy commands of our blessed Saviour and eternal Redeemer, Christ Jesus, the end of whose coming was to put an end to sin, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. So all might come to live together in heavenly love, in the holy love which travails and labours for the peace, welfare and everlasting good of all.

“ Now I desire my love may be remembered to Friends in general, and it is the desire and earnest prayer of my soul, that the heavenly spring of true love, and the stream of Divine life may ever be known to spring and run amongst those who would be accounted children of God and followers of Christ Jesus, our blessed Lord and eternal Saviour, who laid down his life as a ransom for fallen man, and an atonement for all them that would come to God by Him, the living Word and promised Seed of the covenant.”

On another time, addressing his son Jacob, he said, “ I have had many hard besetments with the enemy of my soul, since I knew the Truth, and have been in many straits and difficulties, and in great combats and buffettings for the trial of my faith. But the keeper of Israel is near to all them that wait upon and truly put their trust in him. And their faith being made strong in him, they are able to make war against the adversary of souls, and to fight the good fight of faith. For them is laid up a crown of eternal and endless joy, peace, and heavenly comfort, and glory. I may say in truth, that I have kept this living faith, and my soul has renewed cause to magnify the name of my holy Redeemer and powerful Saviour, in whom my faith has been made strong at this time. Holy, living praises forever be ascribed and given to His ever blessed name.”

During his illness, after mentioning to his daughter-in-law some particulars relative to his being led into the way of Truth in his youth, he spoke of the trials and besetments of the Christian, and the Lord's gracious purpose in permitting them to befal his children ; to prove their love, faith and obedience. He spoke of Job and his varied afflictions, and added, “ The end of all the Lord's dealing with his people in sending trials and hard besetments, is for the making man more pure, and that everything of self may be brought down, and removed out of the way, that so nothing may remain that will separate between man and his Maker.”

Looking towards his close, he said, “ There is nothing of terror or fear of death upon me, but I desire, if it be the Lord's will, that I may be removed out of this world.” He added, he believed that he should be taken, saying in former sicknesses, he had seen that he should recover, but it was not so with him in this.

He died in peace, First mo. 27th, 1703.