By John Banks
in the county of Somerset, concerning John Banks, of Street, in the same county, deceased; who departed this life the 6th day of the Eighth month, 1710.
He was very zealous to the last to spread the Gospel and in all his exercises and afflictions he had the honor of God and good of his people in his eye. He devoutly labored in his gift and being an able minister of Christ was instrumental both to gather and confirm many souls in the truth. We have many witnesses who, with us, have partaken of the comfort of his labor. He was a good example and his conversation was pleasant and profitable. He was sharp against the obstinate opposer, but meek and gentle towards them who, in a sense of their shortness, were ready and willing to acknowledge the same.
Such was his concern for the Gospel that he did not spare himself to promote the truth. He was zealous against a lukewarm spirit, warning Friends, both by doctrine and example, to beware thereof, often reminding the young people of that fervent love which was amongst the brethren in the beginning. He was not insensible that a libertine spirit too much prevailed in many places, neither was he wanting to bear a testimony against it.
Friendly reader, whoever thou art or whatever thy state in the church may be, although the design of this is to demonstrate our love to the deceased, yet we also intend hereby thy edification. And in order thereunto, we would briefly say, first, if thou art a minister, attend on thy ministry and wait to know God's time, that when thou speakest it may be in his time. And keep to thy opening, that what thou speakest may be from the Spirit and with understanding. Thus wilt thou learn both when to speak, what to speak, and when to be silent, a principal thing for Gospel ministers to have the true knowledge of. And also thou wilt be preserved from a lifeless, unedifying ministry, which is a hurt, but never helps true believers. It is a living ministry which begets a living people. And by a living ministry, at first, we were reached and turned to the truth. It is a living ministry that will still be acceptable to the church and serviceable to its members. It is an excellent virtue in ministers, a seal and confirmation of their ministry, to be found in the practice of that which they preach to others. Such can in boldness say with the apostle, "Be ye followers of us, as we follow Christ."
Secondly, if thou art not gifted in the ministry, but a living witness of the virtue of truth and partaker with us of the like precious faith, we entreat thee mind thy place in the church, that thou mayest be found in obedience to the Gospel. Thus mayest thou come under a spiritual qualification for the oversight of others, which must be by taking heed to thyself, according to Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and" then "to the flock," &c., but first take heed to thyself. Why so much to myself? "I know the truth and am sensible of my duty," some may say. But give us leave to add that many are sensible of the good they ought to do, but neglect it.
Therefore, look well to thyself, that thy obedience keeps pace with thy knowledge, that so thou mayest not only be a hearer, but a doer also. This will give thee authority, that with clearness and boldness thou mayest advise them that are unfaithful and neglect what they ought to do. For he that hears and doth not, his building is not aright and cannot stand in the time of trial. Whatsoever thou mayest be, it matters not; for he that adviseth others, being faulty himself, must expect to meet but with a cold reception. Therefore, look well to thyself, neglect not the gift that is in thee, neither measure thy duty by another's neglect. It is too much a practice in this age to be influenced more by the worst than by the best of examples. But follow thou the footsteps of the flock of Christ's companions who are gone before.
So wilt thou come up in the place of some of the many worthy ancients who are gone to rest, amongst the number of whom this, our friend, may be accounted worthy to be reckoned as one who both bore the burden and heat of the day. Let it be thy concern to follow his example in faithfulness, not for imitation's sake, but for the Lord's honor. So wilt thou be fitted to enter into that blessed inheritance which God has in store for the faithful. That this may be thy portion, so wish and so pray thy fervent and Christian friends.
Signed by order of and on the behalf of the Meeting aforesaid, from Glaston, the 22nd and 23rd of the First month, 1710-11, by
Elias Osborne, William Horwood, William Jenkins, John Thomas, John Hipsley, Samuel Bownas, Abraham Thomas, William Alloway, Joseph Pinker.