By John Banks
Since it pleased the Lord in his infinite love to cause his day to dawn and his truth to break forth in this nation of England, even in an acceptable time, when many were seeking the Lord and wandering like sheep without a shepherd upon the barren mountains of lifeless profession, seeking rest but finding none, many messengers have been raised up and sent forth to publish the glad tidings of the Gospel and to turn people from darkness to light, that they might find rest to their souls. Many of them, especially of the first rank, are fallen asleep. Among these our dear friend John Banks, the author of the following papers, was early raised and sent forth with the word of life and was a faithful laborer in his day, who gave up himself for the spreading of truth, spending and being spent in the service of the Gospel for gathering people to the knowledge of the truth, in which he was made an effectual instrument to many in this and other nations, particularly Scotland and Ireland.
Since the Lord was pleased to give me the knowledge of his truth, to which my education by religious parents was a good help, I always loved its messengers for its sake, as I did the author of the ensuing papers for his sound and savory testimony, which ministered grace to the hearers. He divided the word aright, according to their several states and conditions, of which he had a good discerning and could speak a word in season accordingly; like a good scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, who bringeth forth of his treasure things new and old. He was also one that ruled well, not only his own family, but in the church of God.
I knew him above thirty years, from his coming into the county of Somerset in the year 1677, and could then, though but a young man, set my seal to the truth of his ministry and witnessed the efficacy of it. It was with demonstration of the Spirit and power, he being endued from on high to preach the everlasting Gospel of life and salvation. I have often been comforted in meetings with him, especially about the time of his coming to settle in the county of Somerset.
One of the last duties we owe to the memory of such who have labored among us in word and doctrine, and for their works' sake have been worthy of double honor, is to publish their memoirs, as occasion offers, after their decease, in which, I confess, I have often been comforted, as commemorating the worthy and noble acts of the Lord done by them, and his goodness, mercies, and providences in preserving them, and carrying them over all opposition of men of perverse minds, and the persecutions and sufferings which have attended them for their testimony, and which have not been few in these latter days. This has always been the lot of truth and its witnesses, and was the lot of the author of this book.
The following journal and collection of his writings were sent to me by him in his lifetime with a desire that I and J. Field should take the care of publishing them after his decease, which we have carefully done. I have been comforted in reading them, by the sound, solid, serious matter contained in them, which I doubt not will have a witness in the consciences of all who read them in the fear of God. In them, he being dead yet speaketh, whose memorial still lives and will live among the faithful in a lively remembrance of him.
I truly loved him for his sincerity and uprightness, being a faithful man to the testimony of Truth, and concerned for good order in the church of Christ against disorderly walkers, and to keep things clean in Monthly and Quarterly Meetings from all that would defile or break the love and unity. When he grew weak in body so that he could not travel as in time past, though he got to several meetings beyond expectation but a little while before his death, yet his care for the church was not lessened, that all things might be kept well.
And at last having served his generation according to the will of God, he fell asleep and died in the faith and full assurance of a blessed immortality and eternal life. He laid down his head in peace with the Lord, in a good old age and full of days, aged about seventy-four, and is entered into the fruition and reward of his labors, and his works follow him.
London, the 12th of the Twelfth month, 1711.