Midwife in the Tire Swing
Joanna Southcott—Prophetess and Bride of Christ
There is no clear indication in Joanna’s writings whether her new messiah was Christ returned or something else altogether. When Joanna was pressed to clarify the issue via revelation, she answered that the Lord had advised her it was an impertinent inquiry and that He was expecting his new messiah would be given a polite greeting and hospitality no matter who showed up.
The year was 1750, and a celestial convergence attendant on not much announced a birth of no great concern—no omens, portents, comets, sunspots, elephant stampedes. Horatio Nelson was not yet atop his column, Napoleon a twinkle in the formless minds of prophesiers yet to be—and in Gittisham, Devonshire Joanna Southcott was born. Joanna was the fourth daughter of a yeoman farmer, and shortly blossomed into an apple-cheeked country lass.
She has visitations, a Voice speaks to her: “I have fresh things revealed to me every day. I am awakened every morning between three and four o’clock; I sit up in my bed till the day breaks; and have Communications given to me as soon as I awake.” [The voice began to make accurate prophecies about future events, both great and small.]
From time to time her mentor (the Voice) ordered certain of her writings to be sealed and locked in a large box, never to be unsealed until sent for by 24 Bishops of the Church of England in a time of great national danger, and then only subject to certain conditions. She is still revered by many as the most influential of the seven English prophets of the modern age. The BOX (the Ark of the Testament) contains the God’s teachings and advice on how to cope with the devastation and danger as foretold in the Bible, particularly in Revelations.
She became convinced that she herself was the destined “Bride of the Lamb,” the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation (12:1). In 1794, her voice had stated, “Now I’ll tell thee who thou art—the true and faithful Bride. “[She] turned to the established Church and wrote to a preacher named Joseph Pomeroy *, vicar of St. Kew in Cornwall, who had himself warned of perilous times to come.
“Various spurious boxes have been opened by Joanna’s enemies, but the Real Box remains in safekeeping, till the time comes for it to be opened.
“In 1813 when Joanna was 64 years old, she was shocked to be told by the power of the Most High, that she was to bear a Divine child, the long expected Shiloh. And when in due course her faithful followers learned from the testimony of various noted Doctors that she was indeed pregnant, without being visited by man, they prepared for the child a magnificent cot with all the hangings, baby clothes and accoutrements fit for a Royal Child.”
When the baby was due to be born, the unexpected happened. Joanna suffered many days of labour pains and on December 25th 1814, she “loudly exclaimed that the child was making its way through her side.”
—excerpted from the defunct [as of 2014] Panacea Society website.
More Marvellous than the First
Excerpted letter from Joanna to Rev. Mr. Pomeroy* [ca. 1803]:
“All the Bishops have been written to, that if they would come forward, or send twenty-four of their ministers, to meet the twenty-four whom the Lord has chosen, to have a fair investigation into all [Joanna Southcott’s] writings for seven days, if they could then prove they came from the Devil, they should be then given up to their judgment; but this the Bishops have declined, as they know it is a thing impossible for man to prove; so their silence gives consent that the writings are from the Lord. The Religious Society [The Society for the Suppression of Vice] have been appealed to likewise; and they are silent. So all their silence gives consent, that the calling is of God, and they cannot overthrow it. But this way that you acted to overthrow it was like throwing of oil into the fire, and made the flames burn the greater. So you have been the murderer of your own honour, and convinced me clearly that it was you and not me, that was deceived by the subtle arts of the Devil.”
Joanna performed admirably; she bankrolled a printing that forewarned the nation of the coming Napoleonic wars and of crop failures and disturbances at a time when there was as yet no hint of danger to England.
In her day she had a following of many thousands since the church to which she often pleaded to judge her words declined to do so. Her box was only supposed to be opened in the presence of 24 bishops of the Church of England: not an easy thing to arrange and the reason often cited by The Panacea Society as to why they had not opened the box in their possession.