SETH AND FRANK JOSHUA
The Renowned Evangelists.
The story of their wonderful life work
by Rev. T. Mardy Rees
About This Book
These two mighty evangelists played a great part in the spiritual formation of Evan Roberts, as well as in the preparation of the Principality of Wales before the outbreak of Revival in November, 1904.
They were itinerant evangelists who held effective missions throughout Wales and beyond her borders, before and after the great Revival. Seth Joshua is best know for his direct influence on Evan Roberts at Newcastle-Emlyn in September, 1904. He spoke at a meeting which Evan Roberts attended. The young Evan heard the evangelist pray "Lord, bend us". The Holy Spirit said to Evan, "That's what you need". At the following meeting Evan experienced a powerful filling with the Holy Spirit. "I felt ablaze with the desire to go through the length and breadth of Wales to tell of the Saviour". Many see this as the beginning of the Revival.
DR. CHALMERS, in an address on Religious Biographies, exhorted his bearers to acquaint themselves with the memoirs of pure minds, of noble lives, of hearts warm with all the fervour and sunshine of the Gospel, and to do homage to the saints, conquerors, and soldiers of our Lord. This biographical volume is an attempt to do homage to the late Revs. Frank and Seth Joshua by one who enjoyed their friendship for many years, and who always regarded their marvellous ministry with profound admiration. Their life work demands something more than the brief obituary notices which appeared in the Press at the time of their passing.
The brothers were Great-hearts, and the record of their incessant labour should inspire the spirit of emulation. Both were equally successful as Evangelists and Ministers, but the name Evangelist had for them a special charm. They did not build upon the foundation of any previous workers, but erected from the, bare ground, first an altar, and then a magnificent temple. The marvel of it all fills one with wonder and delight.
Happy ''Frank and "Hallelujah" Seth, as they were affectionately called by their first converts, have won for themselves a distinguished position in the roll of eminent Methodist reformers, and their fame can never die.
They captivated our affection young and held it to the last. There was something so bracing and genial in both; and as for Seth he was a kind of Wil Bryan with holy unction. He was unspoilt by success, and "true to nature" in all conditions. Wil Bryan's advice to Rhys Lewis when he began to preach was a favourite quotation, and quite in Seth's style:
"Use your common sense, man, if you have common sense; and if not, do not talk about preaching. I confess you must mind your 'Begs' and 'Pegs,' and centre of gravity; but don't be as if you lived in a clock-case. You needn't be like a cockerel walking over the snow, for such a thing is not true to nature, and I can never believe that grace is contrary to nature - that is nature without sin. . . .. 'Trust in God and keep your powder dry,' said old Cromwell, and he was no duffer. If you attempt to carry out everybody's advice you will have to work overtime every day, and it will be 'Hic jacet' and 'Alas, poor Yorick ' with you soon."
Realising the treasures of Welsh literature Seth applied himself to the study of Welsh grammar at Newport, and acquired considerable proficiency in the language.
Our first intention was to publish a short biography of Frank and twelve of his sermons, but the death of Seth altered our plan, and it seems fitting to include in one volume the accounts of both brothers, who laboured together so long, and who were called hence to their reward within a period of five years. Their lives intermingled below, and their memory is for ever interwoven-a challenge and an example to this and future generations.
We gratefully acknowledge our indebtedness to Mrs. Seth Joshua for the loan of diaries and manuscripts; to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Williams for valuable information concerning Frank Joshua; to Messrs. Tom Phillips, A. L. Morgan) Tom Thomas, Evan Rees, the officers of the Forward Movement Hall, Neath, the Revs T. M. Lloyd and R. J. Rees, M.A., the Editor of the "Cymro," Mr. Alyn J. Rees, B.Sc, for preparing the Index, and several other friends.
Two successful soul-winners. --Family, origin and credentials. - Of Baptist stock. -Reformers of Monmouthshire. -Pontypool. - Early environment. -Parents. -Granny Walden. -Rev. David Roberts. -Seth 's exploits as boy. -British School-First occupation. -Runner, wrestler and boxer. -Frank kept at school.
WHEN two such successful soul-winners as the late brothers, the Revs.
Seth and Frank Joshua, appear, how natural the question: Whence came these men? What is their history? What were their credentials? They came from Pontypool, Monmouthshire, a town famed for its religious pioneers.
Their family history is enshrouded in obscurity, but it is believed that the first Joshua settled at Pontypool many generations ago, and was a craftsman, either at Allgood's Japan works or Hanbury's iron works. The suggestion of a Semitic strain is quite in keeping with the passionate earnestness of the brothers in their religious consciousness, Constructive skill has marked the several branches of the family, and many mechanics, engineers, and carpenters have borne the name of Joshua.
The credentials of the renowned evangelists came from no earthly authority, but direct from God. It seems almost incredible that two brothers without any previous academic training could have so gloriously succeeded. However, their mission was not to the privileged, but to the neglected and outcast. Constant service produced in them a marvellous soul-culture. Endowed with splendid physique and endurance, and a voice which was in itself a fortune, they improved their gifts by entire consecration. Their tone of voice implied a rich spiritual nature. If Whitefield could sway an audience with "Mesopotamia," the Joshuas could do the same with the "Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." To hear their reverent, throbbing, convincing, joyful rendering of that phrase was unforgettable. The secret of their great personal charm was the boundless grace of that full and free Gospel.
In our attempt to estimate their character we must needs glance at their early surroundings. They came of a sturdy Baptist stock, and were brought up in the atmosphere of religion and the traditions of the Puritan fathers. Monmouthshire has given illustrious religious reformers to the world since the fourteenth century, and not least among them stand the names of the Revs. Seth and Frank Joshua. John of Gaunt, the loyal supporter of John Wiclif, was a Monmouthshire man. His favourite residence was Grosmont Castle. Walter Brute, an Oxford graduate, and Lord Cobham (Sir John Oldcastle, martyred in 1418) were also natives of the county, and faithful followers of Wiclif. Walter Brute served nobly the cause of Free Religion. 'He became a farmer and preacher of the Gospel.
He was perhaps the first man in Wales to protest against the Papacy, false doctrines, and transubstantiation. The habit of conducting services in farmhouses long survived his day, and although persecution drove the religion of the Lollards under ground, .the family altar and secret meetings kept it alive until the days of Oliver Cromwell, when the Puritan religion had free scope. No historian can afford to overlook this background even when dealing with modern religion in the county.
Monmouthshire has glorious traditions in the realm of Free Religion, and the enthusiasm which one meets in certain districts is a heritage descended from generations of holy men and women who resisted and triumphed over adverse conditions. The spirit of William Tindale, who was born on the borders of Monmouthshire (if not in the county) pervades the territory of Upper Gwent. The ideals of these heroic pioneers were in the air breathed by Seth and Frank Joshua; and what shall we say of Pontypool, the town which gave the brothers birth? Valiant ministers laboured there assiduously for freedom of conscience, speech and the press. The Rev. Miles Edwards prepared the soil at Pontypool for a rich harvest. The spirit of the Chartists also helped to create the environment of the Evangelists. Trosnant had a tradition of art, for Thomas Barker, R.A. (Bath), and Benjamin, his brother, both eminent painters were born there, when their father was painter of figures and animal subjects at the Japan works. Considering all these things we see that the early surroundings of Seth and Frank were well chosen, and that down deep in their hearts abiding impressions were made.
Seth and Frank Joshua were the sons of George and Mary Walden Joshua, who lived at the chapel house of the Welsh Baptist Chapel, Upper Trosnant, Pontypool. There were six children, George, John, Caleb, Annie, Seth, and Francis James (Frank)! The last three Sons became ministers of the Gospel. Seth was born on 10 April 1858, and Frank on 15 December, 186I. Their grandmother, known as "Granny Walden," was caretaker of the above Welsh Baptist Chapel. She was a Puritan of the Puritans, well versed in Scripture and a strong character. Preachers loved to discuss Biblical texts with her, for she had an intelligent grasp of the Scripture, and of fundamental doctrines. Her grandchildren were regularly taught verses by her in their childhood. Seth seems to have been her despair on account of his rnischieviousness. He was "a broth of a boy." She often remarked that unless he altered his ways he would end his days on the gallows. The thought of such a tragic fate coloured the young boy's dreams, and robbed him of many a night's rest. Seth Joshua always warned people not to frighten children in such a manner.
The Rev. David Roberts, minister of the Baptist Chapel, was a powerful preacher, and exercised a wonderful influence over the brothers. Caleb entered the Baptist ministry, as we shall record later. Young Seth was fascinated by Dafydd Roberts's hwyl and mighty voice. He vowed that on a calm evening the preacher could be heard on a hill a mile off.
Despite his boyish pranks he desired secretly to be a preacher like Roberts, his grandmother's favourite theologian. Usually on a Monday morning Seth would crawl through the vestry window, enter the old fashioned pulpit, and before an imaginary congregation preach a rousing sermon, imitating the hwyl of David Roberts and his Bible-thumping.
Alas, his grandmother caught him in the act of preaching one morning; and believing that he was doing it in mockery threatened condign punishment. With her broom she intended to chastize him, but he escaped. In her impotent fury she hurled the broom at him, but fortunately just missed his head. "Thank heaven," exclaimed Seth, "that old broom missed the mark; and I have been in many meetings, where if dear old Granny could only be present to see the sight she would have shouted in her old Welsh way 'Gogoniant.'" The brothers attended a British School and paid one penny per week.
"Come or stop away, which you liked," said Seth, "and I stopped away."
How often he regretted his folly and wished that he might go back to school. He was conscious of a great handicap due to his truancy. The parents somehow allowed their impetuous son, Seth, to go his own-way without the needful direction in life. He was permitted to choose his own occupation; and anxious to earn an honest shilling he started himself. For three and a half years he drove a donkey. This was his first job, and he never regretted it. "I had more out of that donkey than I could get out of any College in the land. If I put his head one way he would put it the other; so I used to put his tail always toward the direction I wanted him to go. I bear many marks of his back kicks on my lower extremities. He was a great donkey to object. I maintain that if a man knows how to handle a donkey for three and a half years he is qualified to handle anything awkward."
His brother John was a driver on the Great Western Railway, therefore Seth asked for work at the Pontypool sheds. "What do you want to do, my lad?" Asked the official. "Drive an engine." "You must first go into the sheds and become a cleaner, and then fireman, and then a driver."
"Very well, sir," said Seth, and he began work on the Monday morning as cleaner. Immediately he became a leader among the boys at the sheds as thrower of balls of waste at targets. Sometimes the target would be a man's pipe and sometimes a ganger's lamp. It was well for him that he had winged feet to escape from the clutches of those he tormented as "mucky shotter." His swiftness as runner was noticed and he was encouraged to compete at sports meetings in the county. He won prizes at Pontypool, Newport, Abergavenny, and other places, and was regarded as the champion quarter-mile runner of Monmouthshire.
Eventually he joined the Pontypool football team as a three-quarter. In those days it was the three-quarter line and Seth was the three-quarter.
The fourth man has since been added. It came to Seth's lot often to make the last sprint and touch the ball on the line. He played for the team for many years.
Between training times he fell in with a gambling and drinking crowd.
Whilst in training for a race he was abstemious, but after the race was run gambling and drink claimed him. He became an expert in the art of selfdefense, for he was speedy on foot and in all his actions. Then matches followed, and when no boxing match was arranged a contest would be improvised in a back lane or long room or some other place. The first to "bring claret" from the nose, or somewhere else, was the victor. "And now when I look back upon it, I think of the grace that stooped so low to pick me up. Do not ask me whether I ever saw a tear in mother's eye? I saw hundreds. I was going headlong over mother's tears and the billows of father's prayers. How glad I am that mam and dad lived long enough to see my return home."
Frank his brother, the youngest of the family, never left school, and was altogether different in temperament.
Treforest. -Brothers in Church Choir. -Advent of Salvation Army. - Ted Rickett. -Dai Caravan. -Frank and Seth are converted. - Remarkable experiences. -Seth at Blaenavon. - Frank at Cinderford.
THE family removed from Pontypool to Treforest, where the father, a blast furnaceman, had found employment at the iron works. Seth became a carrier of pig iron. Equipped with a leather apron and leather cuffs he carried many thousands of tons of pig iron over the hot beds of the blast furnaces. If Monmouthshire had its evil temptations, the district of Treforest was much worse. Frank was engaged as a pupil teacher at a board school. Both brothers were fond of singing and joined the Glyntaff Church Choir, and the solo parts as a rule were entrusted to them. The Salvation Army settled at Treforest and placarded the place:
"This town will be bombarded." Such an advertisement was unheard of in connection with religion, and the boys talked together about it, Seth acting as ring-leader. He was the chairman of the "Free and Easy" at the Rickett Arms Hotel. The landlady, a widow, Mrs. Plummer, expected to see him present at all the convivial gatherings, because he never failed to keep things going. Seth could play the piano, sing, and do all sorts of things, and was undoubtedly a centre of attraction. He could not get over the news that the town was to be bombarded. "Boys," said he, "we are going to have some fun now. Look out! It has been pretty dead here for some time.' Are you going to see this bombardment business? Very well let's go down Sunday morning." That was the first time for Seth to see the Salvation Army, and he did not know what to make of it. Girls with tambourines, wearing scuttle-bonnets, and standing in a ring on an old piece of ground, and praying for "this wicked town." Wicked town and both he and Frank in the choir! Frank was the first to go to their meetingplace, called "the barracks." They were shocked at the thought of a "barracks" used for the worship of God. A comrade, Ted Rickett, told Seth one night when they were practicing for Christmas: "Seth, your brother Frank has got it on him." "What has he got, Ted? The measles or what? " "He is going to the barracks. Take my word for it he has got it."
Just then Frank came to the door and Ted asked:
"What will you have to drink, Frank?" With bowed head he answered: "I don't mind having a lemonade." Ted nudged Seth and said: "He's got it."
The following morning at work Dai Caravan informed Seth that he had been to the barracks, and that he saw Frank go up to the penitent form crying like a kid. "What is a penitent form, Dai?" asked Seth. "What does he want at a penitent form? Doesn't he come of a respectable family?" That evening he watched the procession, surmising that if Frank had been converted he would be with it. Frank was placed in the front rank, and his voice rang out clearly as they sang: "Fire away! Fire away!" This seemed beneath the dignity of one used to the Te Deum in the church choir. Seth felt ashamed of such conduct; but the thought came to him that Frank was going up and he was going down. Determined to choke the feeling he went to the Rickett Arms and banged the counter for a pint of beer, but the beer could not drown the thought. "It came up like a cork all the while."
A blue ribbon army campaign had just started at Pontypridd, led by Colonel Colwill, of America, Rev. John Pugh, W. I. Morris, Pontypridd, and R. T. Booth. Over two thousand signed the pledge. Seth had just won a billiard handicap, and as he was coming out of the New Inn Hotel, Pontypridd, his old friend Dai Caravan met him and said: "Come up to the Gospel Temperance meeting at the Wesleyan to-night, Seth." He went on condition that he might sit at the back. "Yes, sit anywhere, only come."
Seth's favourite argument at the time was that "drink is the good creature of God." Colonel Colwill began by saying: "I suppose there is someone here who says that drink is the good creature of God." His reasons for total abstinence carried conviction. Frank also was at the meeting and went up to the table, signed the pledge, and received a blue ribbon badge.
Seth with his strong bump of combativeness would not he beaten by his brother. Hundreds of people at the meeting were praying for Seth, for he was well known at Gelliwastad Chapel. When he marched forward to the table for his blue ribbon all clapped their hands with joy. Afterwards he called to see his sweetheart, who lived behind the chapel; and Ellen the cook, beholding the blue ribbon in his coat, went for a half-pint bottle of champagne. The sparkling drink said: "Drink, Seth, drink," and he was about taking the glass when his, sweetheart came out of a side door.. She sprang like a deer between him and the champagne and said: "Seth, play the man." This was "Mary, his good angel," whom he afterward married.
He gave up drink, smoking and bad language, and his old "pals" gave him up. Whilst walking about alone he passed an old mansion where Frank and others were holding a meeting. Good old Dai Caravan came out and said: "There's a revival meeting here, Seth, and your brother Frank was praying for you now." "Praying for me in public? Let him pray for himself in public, not for me. Look here, Dai, I am going down to Johnny Nokes' wooden theatre." Come on in here, Seth," implored Dai, "there's a beautiful meeting on." "Look here, Dai," rejoined Seth," you got me to go into that place at Gelliwastad, and I signed the pledge. I will stick to it mind, but I am miserable. I do not know what to make of it." He was in bad temper because all pleasure had been taken out of his life.
Nothing daunted, the loyal Dai besought him to enter the meeting.
"Perhaps you will get happy in here; come on in." Seth went in and the place was all alive, some leaping, some shouting: "Thank God I am saved." He knew them all, old bruisers whom he had punched and who had punched him, the rag-tag and bob-tail of Treforest, and all saying that they were saved. He could not understand it. Then a little girl stood and sang beautifully:
"I'm but a little pilgrim, My journey's just begun; They say I shall meet sorrow Before my journey's done.
The world is full of trouble, And suffering they say, But I will follow Jesus All the way."
He dropped his head as if shot, and said: "I am going to Hell! "He felt that he was in it already. The workers asked those who were not saved to go to the penitent form. Seth warned them not to put their hand on him, or they would rue it. He was in a wild temper, and no one came to him.
"The devil," as he put it, "was having his last kicks." At length he rose of his own accord and walked to the front. He knelt by an old broken chair, on old broken bricks, with a broken heart. When he rose he felt as if a great load had been rolled away from him. The tears fell like a stream, and Dai Caravan told him afterward that he left a pool of tears behind him. That night he went to bed supperless, and in the morning on his way to work the whole world seemed changed. Birds never sang as they did that morning. The springtime of grace had entered his soul. That night he stood outside the Rickett Arms Hotel, and was hailed by his old churns:
"Seth, come and have a drink." "Boys," he replied, "I have found another well; come and have a drink of it." In his own characteristic words:
"Thank God I took my stand then; it was neck or nothing." Young converts he always exhorted to stand firmly where they were wont to fall; and although Herod might seek the young child's life they would outlive him. "If only you will weather the first three months of your converted life, you will get on alright."
Without any college preparation he entered into the work of the Gospel straight away at Blaenavon, where he followed two men-who had a mission in the centre of Cinderford-Joblin and Holt. Frank went to Cinderford where he became exceedingly popular as Gospel singer.
Frank arrives at Neath, Fair Week, 1882. -Account of first Sunday morning service, by Dr. Davies. -Other reformers at Neath, Rev. William Davies and Rev. John Wesley. -Seth joins Frank at Neath. -The reason why. -Seth knocked sinners down and Frank, picked them up. - Archdeacon Griffith a true, friend- First Mission Hall. -Quaker supporters and others. -Worked without Secretary or Committee. - Wonderful provision for them. -Seth's wedding. -His description of first home. - Converted clowns and pugilists preach at Neath. - Summoned for Street obstruction. -Gaol threatened. -Fine paid by unknown friend.
FRANK Joshua, under the auspices of the Free Mission, Cinderford, was removed to the ancient town of Neath, in the county of Glamorgan, in September, 1882. His arrival coincided with the great pleasure fair held in the second week of that month, an old institution dating from the Middle Ages, and the rendezvous of thousands of people from the surrounding districts. The wonders of the 1882 fair have been long forgotten, but the fame of the Evangelist who had the courage to sing and speak in the open during the fair will never die. His handsome appearance and magnificent baritone voice captivated the crowd, and the new: mission became the talk of the town.
Some spoke disparagingly, saying that it was: a "novelty," "a flash in the pan," "unorthodox," and that it would soon fizzle out, but God was in that heroic adventure, and the exploits of the last forty-three years declare its divine origin.
The late Dr. Llewelyn Davies, who lived in Orchard Street, opposite the Gwyn Hall, at the unveiling of the mural memorial tablet in the Flail to Frank, the gift of an anonymous admirer, August 9, 1922, related the following incident concerning the Evangelist's first Sunday morning service in the town: - "I was in the surgery on a Sunday morning forty years ago when I heard a lovely voice singing outside. Strange, thought I, to hear singing on a Sunday morning, but on listening I discovered it was a hymn. I went outside and looked up and down the street, but I could not see anyone. Then I put on my hat and went as far as the Square. There at the corner where Lloyd's Bank is now I saw a fine looking young man with about half-a-dozen supporters. This young man was your late pastor, and he was playing an accordion and singing till the town rang. I watched the half-a-dozen grow into a procession, which paraded the streets singing, led by Frank Joshua. His faultless character and gentleness made him a mighty power for good. I do not think he had a temper. He was always so gentle and meek and sympathetic. What wonders have been wrought since that first Sunday morning service which I had the pleasure of attending in the Square."
Neath to-day is quite a cosmopolitan town. Local industries have brought together people from all parts of the country. Strangers were not so gladly entertained in the town in past generations. The burgesses were jealous of their ancient rights and protected them with rigour. The town, had its own laws in Tudor times; and old customs, die hard. Newcomers were suspect, especially in a religious sense. Some of the noblest religious benefactors in the history of the borough at first received scant courtesy- benefactors who afterwards have been canonised. Let two names suffice, those of the Rev. William Davies, curate of Llantwit, and the Rev. John Wesley. William Davies, a fervid religious reformer in the eighteenth century, encountered fierce opposition from the leading citizens because he protested against the low morals of the town and sought to improve them. Fortunately, Mr. Pinkney, the rector, would hear nothing against his energetic curate while he was alive. However, after his death Davies was removed from his office, but not from his work. His zeal took him into the houses of the people and the playing fields. The ruins of the old Chapel at Gyfylchi on the top of the mountain above Pontrhydyfen proclaim his fame, and the tablet at Bethlehem Green Methodist Chapel reminds the town of its deep obligation to him.
The Rev. John Wesley, who visited Neath in 1746, 1758, 1767, 1768, 1769 and 1781, met with wicked opposition at first, but subsequently became a welcome visitor. In 1746 "one man would fain have interrupted and had procured a drunken fiddler for his second." Wesley disarmed them, "so the gentleman stole away on one side, and the fiddler on the other."
There were multitudes of hearers at Neath during his last visits, for he was regarded as the prophet of God.
Frank Joshua received anything but a cordial welcome from certain old inhabitants at the beginning: He had to combat not "drunken fiddlers" but bawling and furious innkeepers. He also has been canonised, and may be called the St. Francis of Neath. Of the work begun by him we may say in the words of Isaiah, "The little one has become a thousand."
Several people have asked why Seth came to Neath after Frank, and not with him. From Seth's own lips we furnish the, answer: "Joblin and Holt, of Cinderford, took Frank to Neath, and although I had no means I said 'I will get there, and will save him from them.' Those two men wanted to exploit Frank's voice, and my purpose in coming to Neath was to save him out of their hands."
Seth and Frank joined together to labour in the town; and in their ministry may be regarded as Peter and John. They began at the spacious station square. "Neither of us could preach a sermon," said Seth. "I know now what a sermon is, but I did not know then any more than the man in the moon. Frank would sing, and I would pray, and then we would sing a duet, and then we would give our testimonies. Although we had no preparation, praise God, hundreds were saved." Frank used to say that Seth knocked sinners down and he picked them up. After the fearless fighter had done his work the peerless comforter took charge. Converts rallied to their standard, and the town was literally turned upside down.
Vestries were borrowed for meetings, and the Quakers gladly loaned their meeting-house in James Street. Could the walls of that old Quaker chapel but speak of those wonderful nights when souls were brought out of darkness into the light of Truth we should have thrilling epics. Every night after the meeting the women would set to and scrub the floors clean. Fortunately, an anonymous friend supplied the brothers with a tent, which was fixed at the corner of Alexandra Street, and filled to overflowing every night. Even when rain percolated through the canvas the crowd remained steadfast. It was not unusual to see women with umbrellas open inside the tent. Adverse weather had no effect upon the ardent worshippers. The Rev. John Griffiths, Archdeacon of Llandaff and Rector of Neath, took a personal interest in the evangelists and their converts. It was his custom to give them Holy Communion At St. David's Church at eight o'clock on Sunday morning, the converts marching thither in procession from the tent. Some busybody wrote to the Bishop stating that the people who thus partook of the Sacrament had not been confirmed, and the, practice was discontinued, but the Archdeacon's friendship was not affected. Love feasts were then observed regularly and they were seasons of rich blessing.
For some time the missioners met for worship at the old Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Water Street, but it was wholly inadequate to meet the growing crowds. It was there that I attended the first meeting held by Seth and Frank. How well I remember that Saturday evening when I was separated from my father by the singing crowd in the street and how we found each other later at Water Street Chapel. The fervent prayers and hearty singing still resound in my ears. The bliss of that first meeting is ever an inspiration. Unfortunately neither Seth nor Frank kept the records of those apostolic times. They were too busy harvesting souls to attend to diaries. The foundation stone of the first Mission Hall was laid by Sir H.
Hussey Vivian, Bart. M.P. April 17 1884. Its accommodation was for about one thousand people, with provision for a gallery to be fixed if necessary. The gallery was never erected, and the Hall is now used for weeknight services and Sunday School. Archdeacon Griffiths, the Prices, the Gibbins, and other well-known residents took a profound interest in the erection of the first hall. Archdeacon Griffiths arranged a bazaar at Alderman Davies's School, and the proceeds were a splendid nest egg for the new building. The hail was vested in a number of trustees, including Archdeacon Griffiths, Frederick J. Gibbins, and his brother, Henry Price and W. G. Hibbert. The people gave gladly toward the building fund for they had a mind to work.
For several years the brothers had neither secretary nor committee. The collections were taken away on Sunday night, but not counted till Monday morning. The bills for the week were paid on Monday, and when all the obligations were discharged the exchequer very often had only a few coppers left. Once the surplus was four pence and one halfpenny. How could they divide such a sum? "Frank, you take 2½d.
this week and perhaps it will be the other way next week." Thus they toiled for God without salary, but He provided great and wonderful things for them. In a happy moment of recollection in March, 1923, Seth told the people at the Hall: "On the other side of Jordan we are going to send a bill in, and you will have to stump up. Frank is over; he cannot send his bill in to you here. I will say this to his memory, I never heard a word of complaint from him in all my life."
Seth married the good angel who told him to "play the man" when tempted to break his temperance pledge at Pontypridd-Miss Mary Rees, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Rees, New Park Farm, Liantrisant.
Archdeacon Griffiths officiated in the presence of a large crowd at the Church of St. Thomas, Neath. The wedding had been fixed for Saturday, but the Archdeacon failed to return from London in time owing to another pressing duty, therefore the ceremony took place on Sunday morning, September 23, 1883. Mrs. Joshua had kept company with Seth for several years before his conversion, and was a member of the Church of England. Her own words are best heard a good deal about his running, wrestling, boxing and billiard playing, but Seth was always a gentleman.
He could not even then do a mean thing. However, I told him one night that I could never be his wife unless he gave up the drink, and he did.
The money he had saved for our wedding was spent on mission work at Blaenavon. We married sooner than we expected because the landlady, Mrs. Moore, was leaving the town and Seth was offered the house. When I look back I am filled with wonder and praise. It was a most amazing time, living by faith and yet wanting nothing. I never handled a salary till we went to Cardiff. When ever I wanted anything Seth would say "Pray first, Mary, and when you receive never forget to return thanks. His faith was endless."
Seth's description of his first home lingers in one's memory: "We landed in Alfred Street. Not a very flash place. There was no swank at all. All that I could do at that time was to rig up a room for Frank, and then another bedroom and the kitchen, which was more like a scullery. The front room had the blinds down. We started like that."
Mrs. Joshua called her husband "my spiritual father." "One day he turned to me, and asked, 'Mary, are you saved?' Surprised at such a question I said 'Well, you know, Seth, that I have been confirmed.' 'Yes, my dear,' he added, 'and vaccinated; but are you saved?'" He was the means of leading her into a fuller life and joy than she had ever imagined.
Frank and Seth were brought before the magistrates for street obstruction at the Pump, Penydre, and were fined. A great stir was occasioned in the crowded court by a woman convert, who cried, out: "Those men on the bench are men of sin. I know them and they know me. These men of God have saved me, and you on the bench would stop their good work; but you cannot."
The brothers refused to pay the fine and the alternative was imprisonment. At the time they were living in Alfred Street, and Seth had just married. "Well, this is a good beginning," said Seth. His wife prepared a substantial dinner, and the brothers talked about the service they intended holding in prison. If Paul and Silas sang praises at midnight in the Philippian gaol Seth and Frank would emulate their example. "Where are the police? They are a long time coming." A messenger brought the news that the police had intended to seize some of the furniture for the fine, but the crowd had taken the horse out of the shafts, and that the proposal had ended in a fiasco. Then another messenger came and informed them that they could not go to prison after all, because some unknown person had paid the fine.
Converted clowns and pugilists found an open door for preaching at Neath. Freddy Wilson and Dunn, both converted clowns, officiated at the Hall and attracted the multitude. Mrs. Joshua could relate some extraordinary tales about certain, odd, visiting-preachers whom she entertained at Neath.
Seth keeps a Diary, 1887-1890. -Programme of meetings for the week. -Open-air services. -Favourite spots in the town. -Fierce opposition. -Cottage prayer meetings. -Buying books. -Tract distribution. - Beech tree in Gnoll Woods. -Bibles sold at Neath Fair. -Preaching to showmen. -Sequah's visit. -Coal waggon as pulpit. -Crier's bell. - Family altar. -Gospel Temperance. - Evidence before Sunday Closing Commission.
FORTUNATELY, Seth kept a diary between the years 1887 and 1890, and his entries enable us to see with what diligence and prayer the cause was fostered. Great social reform work was carried on in the face of overwhelming odds in the spirit of triumphant faith. people wonder at the present activities of the Forward Movement Hall, but the seeds of such an abundant harvest were sown in tears beside many waters. The brothers and their co-workers desired intensely to possess God, and their desire has been granted. Both Seth and Frank were at their post of duty early and late.
On Sunday the following services were held: 7.30 a.m., prayer meeting; 10.30, open air; II; preaching; 2.30 p.m., school; 5.30, open air; 6, preaching. Meetings were conducted at the Hall every night of the week, including prayer meetings, Band of Hope, band practice, choir practice, holiness meeting and a number of open-air services. The brothers laid the greatest emphasis upon open-air work, and were most assiduous in their devotion to it. In the open they found scores of their most remarkable converts. Their brave example might be emulated by bands of earnest Christians to day with amazing results.
Many spots in the town have become consecrated ground on account of the earnest prayers offered in open-air services conducted in wind and rain. Under conviction of sin many seekers dropped on their knees in the middle of the ring.
"Held an open-air service near the lodging house. While singing the hymn, "Just as I am," a man came into the ring and gave himself to the Lord. He knelt down on both knees. I feel sure this was sincere."
Before public houses, in courts, lodging houses, the Cattle Market, Weigh Bridge, the Square, at the Pump, Penydre, Tynycaeau (Prospect Place),' Melincryddan, Briton Ferry, Neath Abbey, and Skewen, successful openair meetings were held.
Tuesday, 22nd Jan., 1889. "At 7.30 we held a splendid open-air service near the Falcon public house. Some drunken women were very much used of Satan, but the truth triumphed. Inside I was helped to speak on laying aside every weight. There was much conviction. Again Satan sent in a drunken man who persisted in striking matches to light his pipe.
Again, the Lord was the King of Kings."
On Saturday, 27th July, 1889, the police told the open-air company to move on from near the police station, then from the top of old Market Street, from Water Street, and from near the railway station. They were also much interrupted by a drunken man and .a Punch and Judy show, but through it all "we had a good time and Christ was exalted." On the 24th August they were ordered off by the police from a spot near the White Hart, and because there was no obstruction of street traffic they refused to move. The captain of the army suffered seven days' imprisonment for a like offence. Seth believed that the Mayor was responsible for police interference and was determined if possible to put out the light of open-air testimony.
"Monday, 3rd February, 1890. Visited several sick ones to-day. Great numbers are sick in Neath. Held an open-air service near the Falcon public house. Large crowds stood around. When I began to speak the landlady soon commenced to mock and jeer. I got warm and my voice became loud like a trumpet. As I raised my voice she raised hers. This drew a large crowd, and I had much liberty. In the Hall two souls sought mercy-a man and woman. The man came from the Public, so the Devil kicked, knowing what was going on."
"Wednesday, 2nd April, 1890. To day we stood in open air near the Shakespeare and Narrow Gauge. They thumped the pianos and made a noise inside to drown, perhaps, the convictions aroused in the consciences of those inside."
Good Friday, 4th April 1890. Was helped to-day to enter into the worship of my Lord. We had a service at II a.m., and one at 7 p.m. In the open air we were much opposed by a publican. While I was speaking he was very wrathful, but the truth triumphed. We afterwards had a very blessed meeting in the Hall when many spoke with power."
"Saturday, 5th April 1890. We stood near the Elephant and Castle. We were much interrupted by people in drink, and by a publican named Skinner. Most appropriate name for every publican."
Monday, 7th July 1890. This night we had a most fierce opposition while in open air. Two publicans got enraged. One danced in our ring and sang a comic song, while the other blasphemed fearfully and called us fearful names. He caught hold of me and pulled me about. The crowd, taking our part, broke in and pushed them. Our open-air was broken up. We marched to the Hall and were used in bringing one soul to Christ." One who jeered at them met a sad end in 1890. "To-night (Friday) I saw the young woman who jeered at us the last two Saturday evenings carried home dead. She had drowned herself in the canal. She has come to a sinner's end. I conducted a prayer meeting at Tynycaeau."
One Wednesday evening while an open-air service was being conducted a man with a performing monkey stood near. Seth wrote: "The monkey drew a large crowd, but only a few stood around the open-air until the man took his monkey away. It reminds me of the lunatic who exchanged a sovereign for a brass button.' As many as five cottage prayer meetings were held some nights. "Tom Lloyd and Frank reported good prayer meetings on the Green and at James Street" is a frequent entry.
When hostility was fiercest he wrote: "What I believe we need in these days is a special grace to enable us to keep pegging at it." They pegged at it till the opposition pegged out.
The brothers studied hard to feed their own minds and the flock. How pathetic to read the accounts of their book purchases at the second-hand stalls in the markets at Neath and Swansea. Seth's joy was unbounded when he brought home the works of Sibbes, Howe, Owen, Manton, Baxter, Wesley, Dale and others "Rose at six this morning and enjoyed reading Luke I and Dr. Sibbes' 'Bruised Reed' Went to Cardiff Exhibition and bought books. History of the Puritans and Manton. Much blessed in reading. Owen on Communion with Christ."
The converts were treated to a substantial diet of theology as well as singing. Every available means was used to bring the gospel before the people. Tracts were constantly distributed. Opposition served to intensify zeal and to increase the workers. "Hallelujah! gave tracts outside cookshop until nearly eleven o'clock. There was much opposition."
The brothers found quiet in the Gnoll Woods for study. Seth had his "beech tree" there, where he spent much time in prayer and meditation, as his diaries testify. "I see God In all things" he wrote in 1889, after a walk around the mountain at the back of the Gnoll. Well could he repeat the words of Emerson: - I laugh at the lore and the pride of man, At the sophist schools and the learned clan; For what are they all in their high conceit When man in the bush with God may meet.
No opportunity of bringing the Bible before the public was missed, and Seth sold Bibles at the Neath Pleasure Fair. "Thursday, Sept. 13th, 1888.
To-day was Neath Fair. I stood in the market selling Bibles. I had many a chance to drop a word, which I embraced. Frank, Mr. J. Ray, and others distributed tracts and conducted open-air work. I sold Bibles 'to the: value of £4 5s Id."
"Thursday Sept. 12th 1889. To-day I spent in the market selling Bibles. It is Neath Fair, and thousands of people are here. I sold £4 worth of Bibles, and gave a large number of tracts. Frank and others also distributed tracts."
"Thursday, 11th Sept., 1890. I had a stall in the market as in previous years for the sale of Bibles. I sold Bibles to the value of £5 9s. Id., and had many opportunities to speak a word for Jesus."
"Friday, 12th Sept., 1890. Caught cold in the, Fair yesterday."
On the Sunday after the Fair Seth and Frank spoke to the showmen.
"Sunday, Sept. 16th, 1888. Service amongst the shows in the Fair from 3.30 to 5 p.m. About 2,000 people." On Monday Seth suffered from his exertions, the sun having affected his head while speaking from the stage of one of the shows.
Souls were sought everywhere and at all times. Souls were the wages of Christ. If Sequah or any other popular vendor visited the town the enthusiastic brothers were there calling attention to the merchandise of heaven.
"Tuesday July 1st 1890. We are having, good services, but Sequah, who has come here, hinders the work by exciting the crowd and taking away the people." On Sunday, July 13th, "Sequah had a meeting at 8 o'clock in the Gwyn Hall, which was packed. The collection was in aid of our tent."
Seth made good use of Sequah; and his references to teeth extraction accompanied by brass band music were amusing."I am here to extract the teeth of the dragons of evil," said the preacher, "and Gospel truth is the pincers." He preached from Sequah's carriage on Sunday evening, July 20th, at 8.15 p.m. in the Corporation Field, to two thousand people. "I felt power while speaking. One backslider restored."
In May 1890, a coal waggon was borrowed, and they proceeded to preach at Cadoxton. The entry is characteristic. "Tuesday, 13th May. To-night we took a coal waggon, some chairs and a table over to Cadoxton, and held a gospel service there. 'A large number came and helped us, and the people of the village came out in a body. A number of young men had agreed to oppose, but when we commenced they lost power to act. We had a splendid meeting. Marched back to Neath behind the waggon. I feel led to continue this work." The service which began with the coal waggon as platform ended in a Gospel tent being fixed at Cadoxton.
"Friday, 18th July. Went in search of a field in order to erect the tent at Cadoxton. One man refused, but another door opened. We took back the seats and chairs from the tent this evening. 'Twas a most difficult work."
"Monday, 21st July. Erected the tent at Cadoxton this evening. I feel much opposition in this village. We had an encouraging meeting for the first."
"Tuesday, 29th July. Again we had a good meeting in the tent at Cadoxton. Mr. Howel Howells spoke from the incident on Mount Carmel. He was much helped."
"Friday, 8th August. We took down the tent at Cadoxton and fixed it at Skewen."
"Thursday, 14th Aug. Temperance meeting in the tent. Crowded. The Skewen Fife Band assisted. At the close a very large number signed the pledge. All the cards were filled and several more desired to sign." The following day was boisterous, and Seth worked hard to save the tent from the wind. This tent cost them £50, but was a great acquisition to the work at the Hall. Seth was conductor of the Brass Band, which was used for open-air services. For some time he used a crier's bell to announce open-air meetings, and the novelty of it attracted the crowds. He roused a whole street one Sunday morning by ringing the Bell and shouting "Fire! Fire!" People ran out of their houses asking, " Where, where, Mr.
Joshua?" "In hell," he answered, "and there you will all be if you don't attend the Sunday morning prayer meeting."
Seth and Frank carefully observed their seasons for private prayer. The family altar was kept in good repair, and all the church members followed their example. The ashes of indifference, worldliness, unbelief, tradition, were not allowed to choke the fire of this altar for they were taken outside the camp morning and night. "Martin Luther had so much work to do as a reformer that he could not hope to get through it without spending three hours a day in prayer."
Gospel Temperance was in the forefront of their ministry. Total abstainers alone could be members at the Free Mission. The brothers conducted successful Temperance missions in different parts of the country. W.H.
David, solicitor, Neath, accompanied them to Merthyr, Pontypridd, and other towns. The brothers spoke on the Temperance platform with Dr.
John Thomas, Liverpool, Plenydd, Rev. Morris Morgan, Dr. John Pugh, Rev. W. I. Morris, Pontypridd, and a host of others. Having heard a London orator on Temperance, "who spoke much but said little," Seth wrote on 4th March, 1889: "I lean more and more to the solid and the serious side of the Temperance question I rather think we defeat our ends when we make a meeting the occasion for jokes and mimicry. The subject to me is too solemn. However, it takes. This is an age of froth." He gave excellent evidence before the Commission on Sunday Closing in Wales, June 14th, 1889, based upon his experiences at Neath. Distressing disasters through drink were witnessed by them in the town. "Dr. - visited. Gifted man. Lost sight of Christ by reading philosophical works.
Drinks heavily. Fell downstairs. Once a preacher of the Gospel in Scotland. 'I hope,' he said, 'God has not given me up.'" If members by any chance disagreed at the Mission they were invited to the front to pray and make it up, and this method never failed. Posted up in a prominent place in the vestry may be seen a card with the inscription that it is quite as much a Christian duty not to take offence as not to give offence.
Moral condition of Neath. -Prayer for blessing, -Seth saves the Neath Y.M.C.A.-Some notable converts at the Mission. -Ton Thomas (Twm y Glomen), Charlie the Gipsy, David Thomas (Dai Mali), Maggie the Nuts. -Evan Rees, one of the four Founders of the Sunday School. -Jim Currie's escape. -The last groat in the house and the reward.
The moral condition of Neath weighed heavily upon their souls. "This town is corrupt," "This town is wicked," are entries often met with in Seth's diaries.
"14 Feb. 1887 (Monday). We spent a precious time in prayer at two o'clock to-day. We are praying for a general revival of religion in Neath."
Sat. 2 Feb. 1889. We all agreed to lay hold of God for blessing upon Neath. My soul is much exercised. I could not eat my dinner to-day on account of it."
"Friday, 15 Feb. There is a growing desire to see God's work revive. I feel sure God is not going to leave us much longer without His Divine blessing upon Neath."
"6 Aug. do. The deadness, of things weighed me down. I was not better until I wept away the heaviness and had much prayer."
At the close of 1889 he wrote: - "God has permitted me this year to see 455 souls seeking Christ." The previous year the total was 348, of whom 219 came forward at the weeknight services. Souls were saved at the 7.30 prayer meetings on Sunday mornings.
Seth gave short shrift to those who yielded a good work because of difficulties.
"Thursday, 13 Feb., 1890. Attended the annual meeting of the Y.M.C.A., * (Footnote: Jubilee services in connection with the Y.M.C.A. were held at Gnoll Road Chapel, October 13 1925, when Dr. Orchard, London, officiated.) Queen Street. Took the chair, and was helpful in hindering an effort to extinguish the Association altogether because of its £100 debt. I feel the Y.M.C.A. has a good work to do, and those who talk of burying it should go and bury their unbelief."
"27 Feb. I am convinced that utter indifference has settled down upon the well-to-do of this town. My heart is heavy while I think of the moneyhunger shown by so many professors of Christ."
His self-criticism was quite as impartial: "Have been led into close communion to-day. I find I am far too leaky. I get and lose too soon."
"Who can enumerate all the brands plucked from the burning at the Mission? Where can one find more interesting "human documents" than are to be found there? How difficult to select examples from such a host? The following were once "broken earthenware," but were wondrously restored by Grace early in the history of the Cause: - TOM THOMAS, locally known as "Twm Glomen" (Tom Pigeon), one of the early converts, has remained faithful to this day. Before his conversion Tom was a terror to the police of the town and was continually before the magistrates for fighting and drunkenness. "I have paid in fines enough to cover the cost of the old Town Hall."
On the last day of March, 1922, I called at his house to enquire after his health, for he had been captive for some weeks. Hearing my voice at the door he invited me into the parlour, where he was resting. "You see I am a bit of a gentleman to-day, living in the parlour," he said. "Come on to the fire, for it is a desperately cold day. March is going out like a lion, isn't it?" "Yes," I answered, "but you have a comfortable place here."
"True, but it was not like this with me forty years ago. Then I had no furniture except a few boxes. I was the biggest sinner in Neath. This is not bounce, remember, but the naked truth, and if grace saved a man like Tom Thomas, no man need despair." "Yes, you had a wonderful change," I remarked. "Unto Him be the glory for keeping me without a fall. Bear in mind that I have met with a thousand temptations during my pilgrimage, but I have been unceasing in prayer and work in order to keep the Tempter away." "And how were, you converted? Tell me about it." "With pleasure. Thank God that the Joshuas ever came to Neath. One Saturday night-it was the fair week in 1882-Frank Joshua was singing in the Square, ' Where is my wandering boy to-night? ' and although at the time I was under the influence of drink he got me. I had a godly father, whose Welsh Bible was always on the table beside the loaf of bread. I felt guilty, because I had caused the old people so much trouble, but I was brave and refused to be conquered by a hymn like that. I went back to the public house and had more beer. Then I took my Sunday allowance in a jar and went home. I fell asleep on the hearth but sometime during the night I heard a voice saying 'Tom, Tom, thou art gone far enough.' Thinking it was the voice of my poor wife from upstairs I turned on my side and went to sleep again. Once more I woke and heard the same words Then the voice sobered me, and I cried, 'Lord, is it Thou? Have mercy upon me and I will never touch the beer again.' I got up, opened the back door, and hurled the jar of beer which I had for Sunday against the wall outside and said, 'There, Satan, take that as the first clout from me, I have received many from thee.' Praise God, I have never looked back since. But I was tried severely. Passing the T--- public house, my old mates made fun of me at the head of the procession.
' Look at Tom leading; he is a beauty to lead. Give him a fortnight and he'll be back.' They poured beer on my head from a window upstairs, but I controlled myself and said, ' Thank God, it's outside me, boys, and not inside.' My dear wife and the baby in her arms were drenched with beer too, but we are nothing the worse to-day for such a treatment. The following summer I had to go to camp with the Volunteers and they gave me charge of the beer. I prayed earnestly for help to resist, for I would be in the smell of it every day, and thanks be to Him, He kept me. I was called all kinds of names by those with whom I used to drink. A bully came to me one day and would have hit me had I not been cautious.
'Forgive me this once, Lord,' I said, and I landed him one till he went sprawling. Then I was sorry, but he got up a better man. I knocked religion into him, for he joined the Salvation Army and became an officer."
CHARLIE THE Gipsy and his family were brought into the Kingdom by Seth and Frank. Charlie had a tent on Cimla Common. The children, Elvira, Tilly, Sally and Seth, were treated to their first Sunday dinner by Mrs. Seth Joshua. The Gipsy was a well-known character at the Mission.
DAVID THOMAS (Dai Mali) became one of the brightest spirits at the Mission. He was born at the Merra, and when he came to Christ could neither read nor write. His first prayer in public lives in the memory of some of his old comrades. "Lord, Thou hast a big job on hand now that Thou, hast brought me to religion; I can't read nor write. Thou must teach me" The prayer was answered speedily, for several members, as well as the Joshuas, taught the new recruit, and in six months "Dai Mali." could read very well and write a little. His continued application filled all, with wonder. In the open air he was most effective, for he had been redeemed from low depths of sin. As a collier he worked at Court Herbert, and soon after his conversion, the overman, Thomas Williams, noticed that Dai's boots had seen better days. "Dai," said he, "these boots are too small for me although made to measure. I wonder will they fit you?" "Fit me, Mr.
Williams, l am sure they will, for I have asked the Lord to have mercy on my poor feet." "Call for them, Dai, at my house on your way back from work." One evening David Thomas entered the ring at an open-air service and said: "Lord, make us shining Christians; we have been shining long in the service of Satan. Yes, Lord, shining like (what shall I say?)--shining like blacking" "Did I ever tell you the story of the conversion of MAGGIE THE NUTS?" asked Frank one day.
"No, but I should like to hear it."
Maggie was a strange character, a vendor of nuts and other things, which she used to hawk about in a basket. Before her conversion she lived in a lodging house in an old part of the town, and was addicted to drink. Late one night, and in a drunken state, she returned to town and found the front door of' the lodging house locked. Knowing of an old outhouse in the backyard she crept into it through the window. As soon as she reached the floor she felt herself instinctively in the presence of a strange animal. Poor Maggie felt the nose of the beast and its warm breath. In her terror she dropped on her knees and prayed: O Lord, save me and I'll never touch the drink again.' The animal withdrew from her and Maggie huddled up in the corner began to sing one of our Mission hymns. Some time during the night the owner of the animal woke up and heard the singing of the unfortunate woman. He got out of bed and listened. To his horror the hymn came from the outhouse where he had placed his performing bear. Terrified, he opened his bedroom window, and spoke soothing words to Bruin. Then he rushed down stairs and unlocked the door where his strange pet was lodged. To his utter amazement he found in the far corner the hapless singer and the bear lying down quietly. 'You can thank God, my woman, that you are alive,' said the man. 'I have,' answered Maggie, I know He has saved me from the beer and He has saved my soul the same time.' "Did you ever hear anything more thrilling?" asked Frank, "and Maggie kept her vow except once. She slipped on one occasion through strong drink, but afterward was a beautiful Christian. Her fall was atoned for, and her restoration was complete and, touching. She had great faith and in her way rendered remarkable witness."
Frank preached a funeral sermon in memory of Maggie and another wellknown character, Caroline Lloyd, who passed away about the same time.
EVAN REES was converted in the tent at Alexander Street, and has occupied a prominent position as officer from the start. He was one of the first four to found the Sunday School. His own class of girls was gathered from the meanest streets in the town. The proprietor of the "House of Lords" acted vilely toward the missioners and threw half a gallon of beer at them. All the members of that family died in distress. Evan Rees when young worked at Treforest and remembers a publican there, an exchampion, challenging Seth Joshua against anyone in the county for three things-running, wrestling and boxing. This aged and highly respected officer of the Church cannot mention the names of the two brothers without tears in his eyes. He is our authority for the following incident: - When the brothers were holding an open air service before the White Hart, a pickier who knew Seth at Treforest came up in drink. He entered the ring when Seth was speaking and began to defame the evangelist in vile terms. Seth listened patiently and then asked. "Well, Jim Currie, have you finished? You know very well, Jim, that if I could put my Christianity aside for five minutes how you would look." That was enough, for Jim made his escape as quickly as possible, and the service proceeded, not without some amusement.
While Evan Rees was at Seth's house one morning a man in poor circumstances came to the door for assistance. "Mary," said Seth to his wife, "I am giving away the last groat. The Lord will provide." Walking down the street a little later Seth met a gentleman who shook him by the hand and left a sovereign in it, "Here, Mary, paid sixty-fold already."
The Mission Choir formed and trained by Frank. -Secretary and Treasurer appointed in 1887. -Income in 1888. -Coal supplied in answer to prayer. -The brothers' genius for making friends. - Oscar Snelling and Captain Harvey. -Visits to Cornwall. - Excursions to llfracombe and Porthcawl. -Panic owing to a telegram. -CaIl to Bristol in 1888. -Rev. Caleb Joshua's visits to the Mission. -Neath Mission taken over by the Presbyterian, Forward Movement. -Frank ordained at Cilfynydd Association. - Well-organised church. -Prominent workers. -Second Hall built, 1903-4. -Mr. and Mrs. Frank Williams. -Effect of Great War upon Frank Joshua's health. -Death in 1920. -Memorial Cross and magnificent Organ. -Inscription.
THE Mission Choir was brought together and trained by Frank. . Sacred cantatas were performed at the Hall and in the outlying districts and the proceeds devoted to the funds of the Mission. Sometimes a choir from Glais or some other place would visit the Hall and give a concert for the same purpose. The good work done was recognised and many sympathisers rendered assistance, for the Mission was maintained entirely by voluntary contributions.
After about five years of hard struggling with finances the Mission appointed 'a secretary and treasurer, and this relieved the brothers of that which had become a burden to them. The financial report presented on 10 October, 1889, shewed that the expenditure for fifteen months from 17 June 1888, to 6 October 1889, was £379 3s. 11½d and the income £379 3s.
10d. "May my faith in days to come look back on this and be encouraged," wrote Seth. Direct answers to prayers for funds to carry on the work were numerous every year. On one occasion ten painters came and coloured the Hall for nothing. Mrs. Joshua wanted coal, and her husband told her, "Pray for it, Mary." During family worship they heard the tipping of coal before the house. Mrs. Joshua went out and asked the coalman for the paper and where was it, from. Thereupon a big woman with a big heart came to the door, and when asked if she had sent the-coal answered: "Hold your peace, woman, and thank the Lord. Anyway I had to get out of bed to send it." Both brothers possessed a remarkable gift for making and holding friends. The Rev. Oscar Snelling found them faithful friends to the end in his great mission work at Swansea. Seth witnessed many marvellous conversions at the Gospel Hall and the Albert Hall services. Captain Harvey, whose vessel from Penzance came up the Neath river to the quay at certain seasons, was a warm hearted friend. The evangelists held prayer meetings on board in his cabin. . On Friday morning, 10 May, 1889, Captain Harvey was found dead by the cook in his cabin on board ship at Taibach. He was with the Joshuas on the previous Monday and spoke at the Hall. Strange to relate, he told Seth: "If you hear in a few days that I am gone, you can reckon I am in glory." "He seemed to know his near approach. I went down with Mr.
and Mrs. Trott to Taibach to see him. He looked natural. I have lost a dear brother, a man after my own heart. . He is safe with Jesus."
Four visits to Cornwall were made by the brothers from Neath between 1888-1890. They were most enthusiastically received. On one occasion Frank took his harp, and as the boat conveyed them up one of the rivers many people thronged the banks to hear the Gospel sung and preached.
Penzance, Newlyn and other places witnessed wonderful seasons of refreshing. During the mission at Newlyn in October, 1889, Seth was taken ill and Frank had to work alone, yet not alone, the Lord being his great helper." The following entry is typical of Seth: - "Satan took advantage of my weakness, and told me I was going to die, and leave a young wife with a young family. His device was to get me to doubt my God's love, but I had the victory. I told him that a live dog was better than a dead lion." Eighty-four souls were brought into the light and Captain Harvey's son was one of them. On the way home to Neath he met a company of young men, emigrants to Canada who joined him in prayer and praise.
The annual outings proved exceedingly popular and helped to create a fine 'esprit de corps.' Two steamers, "Challenger" and "Privateer," were chartered in June 1889, at Swansea, for a trip to lllfracombe in July. The passage back to Neath was most rough. In connection with one of these annual trips the rumour spread in the town that the boat had gone down in the Channel. Someone who intended to return from llfracombe by the excursion boat wired at 2 o'clock: "Boat not arrived." The alarming news travelled quickly and all who had friends on board were smitten with terror. Neath was in a state of panic when two of the trippers walked into the town, "the observed of all observers." "How have you come home? Where are the others? How many are drowned?" were some of the questions hurled at, the bewildered men. "All are safe, of course, and enjoying themselves at the Mumbles," they said. "It was too rough to go over to Coombe (lIfracombe), according to the captain, so we put into the Mumbles, and we have walked home." The annual excursions were never complete without an open-air service. At Porthcawl they held very successful meetings on such occasions.
In December, 1888, the brothers received an invitation to settle permanently in Bristol, but they decided to remain at Neath, much to the delight of their followers. However, in the spring of 1891, Seth severed his connection with the Neath Mission and began his marvellous work on the East Moors, Cardiff. When he left, the Church at Neath was flourishing and well organised. Afterward Frank was the sole minister in charge. The cause continued to prosper, for he had with him a band of faithful workers.
The Rev. Caleb Joshua, * (Footnote: Born at Pontypool, 13 December, 1851; entered Baptist College, and was afterwards ordained at Desborough, Northants; in 1878. Removed to Landore, Swansea, in 1888.
Became pastor of Pearl Street Church, Cardiff, in 1899, where he ministered with great acceptance till his death. His son, the Rev. Clifford Joshua, U.S.A., is also a Baptist minister. Caleb Joshua was a good preacher and a great Christian gentleman. Died 28 July 1923. Mr. Ifano Jones, Cardiff, kindly supplied us with these facts re. Caleb Joshua.) Baptist minister, their brother, was a frequent visitor to the Mission when pastor of the Salem Baptist Church, Landore. Seth frequently refers to Caleb with affection in his diaries.
In the year 1901 the Free Mission Church, numbering 350 members and its minister, the Rev. Frank Joshua, were admitted into fellowship with the Methodists as a branch of the Forward Movement. The South Wales Executive met Frank and representatives of the church on the spot-Dr.
John Pugh, Rev. William James (Aberdare), Alderman John Jones Griffiths, Dr. J. Morgan Jones and Mr. D. J. Sims, After a prolonged conference it was resolved that the church be received, and the pastor as a duly qualified minister of the gospel, with a promise that he should not be removed without first consulting the wishes of the church at Neath. It was also agreed that the Executive would help to provide a large hall to meet the needs of the expanding church. Mr. Sims was authorised to purchase some old cottages near the first hall on the morrow of the conference and to bid up to £I, 500. Upon the site of these old ruins stands the larger hall with accommodation for about 2,200 people. It has held 2,500 people on many occasions. Every Sunday night the building is crowded. Frank was wont to say: "I am not a theologian, not having been to college, but I preach Christ crucified." Dr. Thomas Rees, Cefn, was deputed to question his views upon the great doctrines of religious faith-prior to his ordination- and his answers were so unexpected and wonderful that the reverend theologian turned to another well-known divine and said: "We have been quibbling all these years about these doctrines while our brother here has been acting upon them and getting magnificent results." Frank had no time to study apologetics. His apologetics were conversions.
At the Cilfynydd Conference of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Association the Rev. Frank Joshua was received as a fully-ordained minister on the motion of the Rev. J. Morgan Jones, seconded by Mr. John Lloyd. In his letter of application for admission Joshua stated that he did not take this step because he was not blessed in his work, for his mission was nevermore prosperous than at that time. He had been lately convinced that, however successful and undenominational a mission might be, there was no security for its future, as it depended largely on the lives of one or two persons, whereas, under the wing of a strong denomination like the Calvinistic Methodists it would be saved from extinction and become permanent.
The seven memorial stones of the new Forward Movement Hall were laid 5 November 1903 by the following: -David Davies, Esq., J.P., Maesteg; Mrs. R. A. Williams, Neath; Rev. John Pugh, D.D., Cardiff; Mrs. T. Grice Lloyd, Neath Abbey; Mrs. J. Fear Davies, Neath; Mrs. W. M. Jones, Neath; Rev. Frank Joshua.
The church has throughout been exceedingly fortunate in its officers and workers. The late Mr. T. Grice Lloyd was secretary for 25 years; he was also superintendent of the Sunday School, and a mural tablet commemorates the unique services rendered by him. * (Footnote: Sacred to the memory of Thomas Grice Lloyd, who fell asleep in Jesus on April 30, 1912. A pioneer of this Church, who also was Secretary for twenty-five years, and Superintendent of the Sunday School. He was much beloved for his Christ like life and character. A wise counsellor and friend. This tablet is erected by the members and officers of this Church. "Fought the fight, the victory won." "Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them."
Mr. Grice Lloyd was a fine product of the mission, being one of the first batch of converts. He went to hear the Joshuas out of curiosity, but remained an ardent admirer and pillar of the cause. Small wonder that his constitution gave way under the strain of his commercial and church work. Being chief official of the Main Colliery Company he would spend a week in Ireland, or France, or London, but was invariably back at his post on Sunday. Mrs. Grice Lloyd-the eldest daughter of Alderman Hopkin Morgan, C.B.E.- is still associated with the church.
The Rev. H. G. Howell, Newport, and the Rev. C. L. Perry were also early converts of the Neath Mission. Their great work in connection with the Forward Movement is well known throughout South Wales. The Misses Gibbins have rendered great services to the mission as leaders and workers. Mr. Edwin C. Curtis, Carey Hall, late town clerk, had a.
magnificent Bible class at the mission for several years until ill health compelled him to resign his position as leader. Mr. Fear Davies had charge of the Men's Bible class also, and Mr. R. A. Williams, Borough Treasurer. Mrs. W. M. Jones, Brooklands, as treasurer of the poor fund, has distributed large sums of money among the needy and unemployed.
Mrs. Fear Davies has always been a benevolent supporter of the evangelists and the mission.
The Sunday Schools in both halls-children in one and adults in the other-number over 650 scholars. Under the superintendency of Mr. H.
H. Williams these institutions are most flourishing. The secretary is Mr., George Cross. At the time of the last revival the membership of the church reached 850; at present it is about 500. The present general secretary of the church, Mr. M. Luther Morgan, has held this important office for twelve years; and the treasurer, Mr. C. F. Poole, has acted for a like period. The financial secretary is Mr. J. Huckstable, and the statistical secretary Mr. Sutcliffe.
Although the Rev. Frank Joshua lived a bachelor, his niece and her husband, Mrs. and Mr. Frank Williams, looked well after his comfort.
Mrs. Williams tenderly nursed her uncle during his last illness. Their hospitable home was always open to welcome all his friends. Great is their reward and honour.
Frank suffered greatly during the great world war, for a large proportion of the church and choir joined the army. The times were hard and trying, but he endured as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. The strain told upon him and his health gave way in 1919. He gradually became worse and died 13 September 1920, and was buried at Llantwit Old Churchyard, on 19 September, in the presence of one of the largest crowds ever witnessed at a funeral in Neath. Poor people and little children wept in the streets as the body was conveyed to its resting place. He had been to them a true friend and minister. The mission choir placed a marble curb over his grave with a marble cross lying prone. "He lived and died near the Cross" seems a most fitting inscription. His father and mother, and John, his brother, lie buried in the same grave. The father, George Joshua, was born at Pontypool 16 April, 1820. Died at Neath 20 November, 1899. The mother, Mary Walden Joshua, was born in the same town 16 February 1822. Died at Neath, 30 April 1894. A magnificent organ has been installed in memory of Frank. He had always desired an organ. Seth had the pleasure of seeing it opened and the cost defrayed. The inscription is particularly suitable: "To the glory of God this organ was erected by the love-gifts of the people as a memorial to the Rev. Frank Joshua. He faithfully fulfilled his ministry from the commencement of this Church in 1882 until his death in 1920. His musical gifts and splendid voice were not the least among other qualifications."
A fuller description should be given of his personality; therefore our next chapter shall be devoted to that subject.
Frank's personality. -Selflessness. -Charm of manner. -How he trained Bob Jones as conductor. -Studied in Gnoll Woods. - Huddersfield 'a favourite tune.' -Care for the poor. -Willing helpers. -Testimony of Police Superintendent. -Mrs. Penn Lewis bears witness. -His good humour. -" Count your blessings," an incident. -Adam, where art thou? - "Good at heart," his retort. - Are you converted? -A ruse that failed. -A bribe offered but refused. -The table loaned by a county policeman. -. A threat to shoot Frank.-A soldier fed.
"A faithful minister, A friend of the poor, A great singer in Israel, And a winner of souls, Faithful unto death."
THE above mural inscription at the Hall emphasizes the chief features of the Rev. Frank Joshua's character. The people of Neath on account of his radiant optimism called him "Happy Frank." Like Phillips-Brooks, he carried sunshine everywhere and although he came into contact with some of the most tragic cases conceivable he remained happy. Such a heritage points to a source other than that of natural endowment.
Temperament might account for much of "Happy Frank's" cheerfulness, but it was chiefly the gift of the Holy Spirit to him that he might do his difficult work. He always could draw a crowd, but his inspiration was not in the crowd but in the Gospel of good cheer. To him the spirit was paramount. Those who have sought to judge him by any other standard than that of the spirit have gone astray. In all his sermons and work he emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit. Self-seeking was unknown to him. To many his selflessness appeared weakness, but to-day it is, the secret of his greatness. His charm of manner can only be explained by the spirit he possessed. He was never weary at saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit. Breathe it freely, for it is your life and heritage." Frank might have been a poet for he had a playful fancy, and a good deal of invention and an ardent heart. The spirit of romance and poetry was in all he said and did. His life was one beautiful poem of joy and achievement. He lived his poems and therefore did not attempt to write them. He might have won fame as a singer, but he was content to use this moving gift to commend the gospel of grace. To him it was bliss indeed to sing for a whole evening: at his home to cheer a solitary wayfarer who had just repented and returned from the wilds of sin. "Gwynfa," the name of his residence, was peculiarly fitting. How many souls were delivered there from the bondage of iniquity by the melodies of jubilant faith and love and, made secure by the rapture of ecstatic joy. Those who came under the spell of his personality could not forget the experience. Mr. Bob Jones, the present conductor of praise at the Forward, Movement Hall, is a notable example. The singing robe of Frank seems to have fallen, upon his shoulders. Frank took great pains with Bob, believing that he was called of God to render conspicuous service. At the age of fifteen Bob and seven other young men went into the inquiry' room. "Young man, "said Frank, "God wants you. Will you do what He wants?" "Yes," was the answer.
At the age of eighteen the young man was asked to sing in the open air.
He selected the solo, "Behold me standing at the door," and broke down sadly in his first attempt. Frank believed that he would be a singer and trained him. On his return from the War, Bob visited his old pastor, who was then an invalid. "Take the choir till I return," said Frank, and there he remains since.
It cost Frank his all to cultivate personality. The affection and praise which the mere mention of his name evoke prove how potent and real was his personality. The poor in their sorrows turned to him for comfort.
His ministrations at funerals were truly remarkable. On such occasions his sympathetic feelings found full play. Even in his most joyous moments there was a minor undertone, which was most pleasing.
The welfare of the mission was his all-in-all. He helped to create it and lived entirely for it. His expositions were original, interspersed with good humoured comments from history and personal experience. Frank took great pains with his sermons, and the toil they necessitated may be imagined easier than expressed. After every written sermon there is a prayer. We quote one example. His Tuesday evening service was a feast of good things, in praise, prayer and experience. Several times we discovered him seated on the banks of the gurgling brook in the beautiful Gnoll Woods committing to memory the notes of his week-evening address. He was a child of nature who loved to meditate in her sylvan glades. A visitor to Wordsworth's home in the Lake District expressed a wish to see the poet's study. "I can show you his library," said the housekeeper, "but (pointing to the hills) his study is yonder." Similarly Frank's study was outside, near to Nature's heart. To this unsophisticated lover of nature God was speaking in flowers, trees and rocks. The spots where I spoke to him in Gnoll Woods have become shrines of blessed memory. Their solitude, beauty, and worshipfulness seem to suggest so much of that which was so attractive in his own character. Oft times such a sidelight as this helps us to appraise a man better than the fullest records of his public duties. We know not of a more delightful realm than Gnoll Woods, where a minister may "steal from active duties and embrace obscurity and calm forgetfulness."
With Frank life was a series of wonders. He wondered at nature and the new creations of Christ's gospel. "Great God of wonders," to the tune "Huddersfield," a favourite hymn with him, expressed his habitual spirit of surprise. What might not a "renaissance of wonder" accomplish in this our own generation? He could never get over the wonder of his conversion. "The Lord had done great things for him, whereof he was glad," and he expressed surprising gladness at all times. "The joys of nature," he said once, "should be taken to Jesus that He may bless them."
"We need Jesus in nature, if nature is to unfold her charms to us."
"Happy Frank" died a poor man, with just enough in his pocket to reach home. Money had no fascination for him for he freely gave it away. Such a generous nature was easily imposed upon by professional beggars, but he could never steel himself against appeals for help. Every gift was enhanced, for he gave cheerfully according to his means. Fortunately for him, the church treasurer paid his stipend weekly, but he never began any week with an over plus. The needy knew when he had been away for a week or a fortnight's mission and speedily relieved him of his rewards.
He constrained others also to give to the poor. If on his pastoral rounds he found a family without food he would walk into a grocer's shop and order provisions to be sent to the house at once; and it was his grateful boast than such a request was, never refused. Not a few Neath grocers helped him in this way. One afternoon he called at a furnisher's place and said : "You must put a bed in such and such a house within half an hour." "It cannot be done, Mr. Joshua." "But it must be done. I am going for the nurse." And it was done.
On one occasion a large number of seats had to be removed at the Hall and workers were needed. Frank entered the working men's club: and said: "I want twelve men to shift some seats. Who'll, come?" The number required volunteered gladly in order to assist him.
It is recorded of St. Francis of Assisi that when feasting one night with young princes of his own age he rose from the banqueting table and went out into the garden. When sought, he was found walking in the, moonlight with the entranced gaze of a lover. Asked "Are you in love?" He answered, "Yes, I am plighted to Poverty. No one seems to have wooed Poverty for a bride since the Master Himself, so I will woo her." In a sense Frank did the same, and the wonderful manner in which he was sustained reminds one of primitive days. He never possessed more than one pair of boots at a time, and this he gave away one night to a poor man who, called at his house for help. The following day he was in a predicament for he had a funeral to attend and the shops were closed.
Wearing the boots of Mr. Frank Williams be was enabled to attend the service but not in comfort, for they were several sizes too large.
In the opinion of some people Frank was vain, as regards his personal appearance, but we believe that what was called vanity was only a high estimate of his body, the "Temple of God," and a desire to hallow it.
There was no pride in his spirit. The outward man was but a reflection of the artist in his soul, for Frank was an artist to his fingertips. Sin was the only ugly thing in the world to him and he hated ugliness. He had a most winsome presence. The pale countenance told of the preaching passion, which consumed the ruddy bloom of health. "Preaching is self-murder," said the late Dr. Joseph Parker. Frank spared not himself in his public ministrations, and if be did not preach with the abandon of his popular brother Seth, his intense and earnest passion burnt him to the socket.
Superintendent Jones stated that "Happy Frank" was better than three policemen to stop street brawls. Mrs. Penn Lewis, the founder of the Christian Association for young women in Neath visited the Rev. Frank Joshua in 1893 and spoke about the great work to be done. That night Frank and a Church Army Captain knelt down in the bedroom and prayed for a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. Between the two stood a table with the candle and the Bible. After long agony the Bible was opened, when the following message flashed before their wondering eyes: "What are these two . . . upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zech. 4, 11-14). The following Sunday morning Mrs. Penn Lewis found the Mission Hall full of men and women at the early prayer meeting, led by 'Frank and the Church Army Captain.
Thus the work now carried on by the Christian Association for Women and Girls was inaugurated. * (Made Known for the first time by Mrs.
Penn Lewis at the Annual Meeting of the C.A.W.G. at the Forward movement Hall, 15th November 1925.) What a fund of good humour Frank possessed. With him good humour was a spirit. He never laughed at the weaknesses of other people; but the incongruities of human character and speech kept him bubbling with mirth. Humour helped him to drive home the words of soberness and truth. Never was the Gospel handled more reverently or earnestly than by Frank, yet his unfailing good humour could not be smothered. He knew how to influence his large congregations and how to surprise their feelings. In one sense humour is a surprise of the feeling even as wit is a surprise of the intellect. Laughter and tears were not far apart in his case.
Even Bunyan tells us "that some things are of such a nature as to make one's fancy chuckle when the heart doth break." Frank as an evangelist knew the chuckle and the heartbreak of the true soul-winner. On one occasion he asked the writer to assist him at an after-meeting. I approached an old woman 'who was reputed to be very worldly and matter-of-fact.' Well, Mrs. F. how do you feel to night? (It should be explained that Frank had appealed powerfully that night for decision).
"Quite well, thank you, Mr. Rees, and how do you feel?" At the close I complained to him of the spiritual blindness of Mrs. F. "Cheer up, my boy," said Frank, "I have had all kinds of answers from people."
His good humour endeared him to all young people, and to the end he entered heartily into their joys. Their affection for him was touching. In the field on Whit-Monday, when his Sunday School and Church turned out in large numbers, no one entered more heartily into the games. Full of initiative and tact he kept things lively. He could entertain young people in social gatherings fort hours, and well might he "thank God for the comical bone He had placed in his body." The need of relaxation was gladly admitted by him. Laughter renewed his spirit, and his laugh was contagious. He was not surprised to read that one of the Chancellors of the Exchequer had entered £1 to Jester for making mirth. He counted it well spent, for heavy responsibilities bring weariness and need a diet of sunshine.
Good humour with him was a wonderful asset. He could not help himself. It was like oil on troubled waters and a tonic to the downcast.
Someone who had heard Rowland Hill for the first time was shocked because he made people laugh during the sermon.
"True," was the rejoinder of a friend, "but did you notice how the next moment he made them cry also." The late Spurgeon, the greatest humorist of his age, confessed that rather than let his hearers become drowsy, or inattentive, he would have recourse to that wicked thing called humour. Frank knew more than any other what the ministry of tears implied, but he preferred the ministry of smiles. Good humour saved him more than once but his sally never made an enemy. The congregation was singing heartily one Sunday evening at the Hall, "Count your blessings." From the pulpit he noticed a prominent tradesman silent (Listening to the volume of praise I was, to tell you the truth) and said: "Bill, hasn't the Lord given you blessings? Sing up, Bill."
The incident illustrates how familiar he was with his members, and how he could prompt them to do what he desired. "Let the people praise Thee, O God, let all the people praise Thee," was the motto at the Mission.
Good humour was one of the few articles of his creed. He had a creed, but it was wrapped up in one name, Jesus Christ. A harsh, unfeeling conception of God was revolting to Frank's nature. "God so loved the world," he would say, "and we cannot narrow the phrase if we would.
We cannot change it and say God so loved the elect." This consciousness of eternal condescending love was never absent from his mind, subsequently he was over-flowing with good spirits.
When preaching a sermon on "Adam, where art thou?" He confessed that he had had a good foundation for his discourse in a humorous story narrated at a meeting of ministers. It was about a local preacher who had once taken the same text and began by saying: "According to custom I shall have three main divisions; I, All men are somewhere, "Where art thou?" II, Some men are where they should not be, "Adam, where?" III, If they do not change soon they will find themselves where they will not care to be; "Where?" How playfully he could "turn the tables" upon self-excusers. Once he was remonstrating with a man whose deal had been rather shady. In selfdefence the guilty one said: "You know, I am good at heart." "No," added Frank, "that is just where you are not good; if you were good there you would be good all over."
One evening he turned suddenly to a brother-minister and asked seriously: "Have you been converted, Tom?" "Yes," was the reply after a little reflection. "Good, but I have never heard you say so; that, is why I asked."
Satan was defeated in his attempt to injure this enthusiastic soul-winner, and on one occasion a woman who was a great sinner warned Frank. Late at night she called to see him at his house. "You know who I am," she said, "there ain't no good in me; and let me tell you, Mr. Joshua, at once, that I've not come to see you about my soul but to give you warning. Tomorrow night you will be called to a certain public house to see a sick woman. Don't go; remember my warning; don't go; for it is only a trick to ruin you. Good night, Mr. Joshua." "Good night, M---," said Frank.
He confided in a bosom friend and was advised to go with two or three other brethren. The following night the call came. How true still that "the Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them."
Years ago a most unworthy character desired Frank to support his candidature for a seat on the Borough Council. "Why do you come to me for support? You know very well that my principles are opposed to your way of living altogether." "I hope you will work a little, Mr. Joshua, to get me on the Council. I will write you a cheque for £50 if you promise me." "How dare you offer me a bribe?" "Well, if you won't have it for yourself you can have it for your Mission." "I could never support you, and I am sure I cannot after such an offer." That man before he went to his account with all his imperfections on his head was an offence in the nostrils of society.
When the Borough Police were ordered to prevent the evangelists holding open-air meetings in the street a table was loaned to them by a County Policeman, and in front of the County Police Station a huge congregation was addressed. That policeman afterward received rapid promotions and Frank smilingly used to tell him: "You are well paid for lending that table to the Lord."
On one occasion a constable was ordered by his Superintendent to prevent the brothers holding an open-air meeting at a particular spot.
"Move them on," said the Superintendent. "Sir," answered the constable, "Here's my coat and you can have it, but I am not going to order those men away." Afterwards the Superintendent confessed that it would have been forever on his conscience if they had been moved away.
"The next time he holds a meeting in front of my house," said the landlord of the G- public house, "I'll shoot him." Frank was informed, but he was not alarmed. The meeting was held as usual and fortunately there was no shooting. A short time before Frank's death an urgent request came from the Neath Workhouse to visit a dying man. "You do not remember me, Mr. Joshua," said the sick man. "No I cannot bring you to mind, my friend." "I am dying, and I want to ask your forgiveness. I am the man who threatened to shoot you many years ago if you held another service in front of the G." "The Lord forgive you, my friend. I had forgotten the incident, and forgive you freely."
Publicans changed their attitude towards him when they realized what good work he was doing. It was a pathetic sight the first Sunday after his burial to see the wife of a publican laying a beautiful wreath on his grave and shedding tears like rain.
One day Frank saw a soldier from the local War Hospital in the Gardens who had lost both hands. Immediately he invited him to his house. We know not what powers he possessed as chef, but he managed to make a pudding for the soldier, and when discovered in his room by his niece he was feeding his visitor with a spoon, and afterwards giving him a lighted cigarette. He was all things to all men and won many.
Although Frank kept no diary except for engagements, nevertheless, we could write more about him were it not for the exigency of space. This brief record must suffice for the time, and we must resume our story of Seth and his tireless efforts in mission work.
Seth Joshua and Dr. John Pugh. -Seth goes to Cardiff with a borrowed
tent in 189I. -Why he left Neath. -First tent at East Moors. -First
convert. -Neville Street, Canton. -Carpenter's loft. -Memorial Hall,
Cowbridge Road. -Cardiff "Shebeens."- Memorable experiences. -
Old Dan Rees. -Ordained in 1893. - Newport. -Cardiff. -Swansea. -
The opinion of Dr. Cynddylan Jones, "Best all round missioner I have
THE name of Seth Joshua will live long in the annals of the Forward Movement, for he rendered yeoman service to the cause both at its inception and afterwards. Dr. John Pugh, the pioneer of the Movement, found in him a loyal colleague. Seth's experience at the Neath Mission was invaluable in this new religious adventure of the Methodist denomination. No Crusader ever entered upon his task with greater abandon, zeal, faith and assurance of success. "Christ for all and all for Christ," was his motto. He had another plan when Dr. John Pugh approached him about joining in a mission at Cardiff. How heroic was that removal from Neath to Cardiff, with a young family, a borrowed tent, and no fixed salary. But why leave Neath when he was so successful and happy? Let his own graphic and pathetic words give answer: "One day I said to Frank, dear old mam and dad are old, and I feel I must leave you. The Church is going strong here now, so you get mam and dad to Neath and make a home for them, and I will go away and take the tent up to the Rhondda Valley. This is all I did, but a boy who will do that for his main and dad will never be forgotten. I don't want any praise, I simply cleared off. I met John Pugh at that time in Aberavon. 'Are you going with that tent away from Neath? ' 'Yes, Mr. Pugh, I am going to the Rhondda,' and he said: ' Do come to Cardiff, it is an awful place, come and join me there.' 'Well, give me a week to pray about it, and then perhaps I will come.' I prayed for a week and then sent him word I would come. I took the mission tent, and we placed it on East Moors, Cardiff. It was there the Forward Movement was born. John knew nothing about putting up a tent or swinging a sledge. I knew a good deal about it and showed him the way. To see him with his coat off, dear old man, he had lumbago for a month after it. We put a carpet down to finish it, good three or four inches of sawdust. Just as we finished it on the Saturday one of the rough ones of East Moors going by said: 'Hello, Guvnor, what is this, a boxing show? ' 'There is going to be some fighting here.' ' When are you going to start? ' 'Tomorrow morning at II o'clock.' 'To-morrow's Sunday,' he said. ' Well, better the day, better the deed.' ' Who's on? ' ' I have got to take on the first round.' 'Who's with you? ' 'Well, he's a chap called Beelzebub.' 'Never heard of him; who is he?' '' Oh, he is a smart one, I can tell you; come to-morrow morning.' ' I will be there, guvnor,' and strange to say he was there. When I had given out the first hymn, 'All hail the power of Jesu's name,' he knew he was caught. Old Beelzebub went over the ropes all right for that chap was converted that very morning."
After a short memorable time at East Moors he took charge of another tent at Neville Street, Canton, and his great personality immediately affected the district, and many people were attracted, to the Christ. From the tent he proceeded with his followers to a disused carpenter's loft, which proved to be a real upper room.
Dr. Pugh, the enthusiastic and tireless leader of the new Movement, procured the old Guest residence and grounds in Cowbridge Road, and the Memorial Hall was built on the site. Here Joshua toiled bravely, and gathered together a strong church and a large Sunday School.
Temperance also flourished under his personal care as well as other social work. His record of the odious "shebeens" must not be omitted.
"When I was at Canton there were clustering 'shebeens' all over Cardiff.
A woman was kicked to death in childbirth not fifty yards from, our tent.
Cardiff was an awful place in those days. There were places known as open-air clubs and I went down one Sunday to the biggest club of the lot.
Just as I got there a fellow sitting on a barrel shouted: 'Look at that chap from the Memorial Hall; there he is, he wants to talk to us. 'I shouted back: 'Let me come in and have a go.' I had been praying for an opening and I went in and I began. My blood was up. Pure unadulterated Welsh blood. The Irish section, bruisers, goal-birds, were there, sent by the brewers and the ' pubs ' with money supplied to smash the Sunday Closing. So I started. When they saw what I was doing one of them shouted: 'Begorra, he is preaching. Chuck him out. Let's get on with the blooming booze.' They had me out; I can see myself going. They would have you out too. But they did not get me far. When I got outside up went the old hymn again, 'All hail the power of Jesu's name.' Two years after that, when I was preaching on the Y.M.C.A. Lorry at the Hayes, Cardiff, a fellow came up to the platform. 'I shall be glad if you will let me have a word, sir.' ' Well, I don't know, my boy; are you a Christian?' 'Well, sir, thank God I am a bit of one.' ' All right, then.' I turned to the crowd and said: ' Here is a working man who wants to have a word.' He got up on to the platform and said; Well, mates, I bain't no public speaker, you know; working man I am like yourselves, but I want to say something. Some time ago this here man came down to the Hotel on a Sunday, and I was the chairman that day, sitting on a barrel I was. I knew him cause I lived in Canton, and he was the minister of a Canton Church.
The Irish section chucked him out, but he was not out long before he had chucked something out of me. Now I am on the Lord's side. I was brought to Him at the Cilfynycid Chapel, Pontypridd. That's all I have got to say.'" Seth used to call this convert "Old Dan Rees the beer cask."
Seth was ordained a Methodist minister in 1893.
In August 1895, he was removed to Newport to inaugurate the Forward Movement in that town. The Temperance Hall was engaged, and the place was crowded with an eager throng Sunday after Sunday. His advent to Newport was not agreeable to certain respectable professors of religion, but Seth Joshua was proof against cold receptions when on the King's business. Eventually the Great Central Hall was built. The Rev. C.
L. Perry acted as co-pastor at Newport, and succeeded the Rev. Seth Joshua when the latter returned in 1899 to the Memorial Hall, Cardiff.
After a few years Seth removed to Swansea, where his labours were signally blessed. The Forward Movement work was begun there in a large tent erected on the site of the present Police Station. Dr. Pugh purchased the Temperance Hall, now the Central Hall, which was opened in 1906.
Knowing what affection Seth had for Dr. Cynddylan Jones I solicited the great theologian's opinion of Seth as missioner, and was favoured with the following fine tribute. Many have praised the late Seth Joshua in Great Britain and America, but none with deeper feeling and fuller personal knowledge than the Grand Old Man of Welsh Methodism. The readers will be pleased with his note: - 6th August 1924.
Dear Friend, Mr. Seth Joshua was in my opinion the best all round missioner I have ever known. John Pugh took the lead in building mission haIls, but it was Seth Joshua that filled them. You may find others to occupy his place; I know of none to fill it.
With kind regards, Yours truly, J. Cynddylan Jones.
Two remarkable years, 1903-04. -Friends lost in 1903. -Connexional Evangelist, 1904. -A day at Langstone Park, shooting. - Reasonable recreation. -Visit to Shrewsbury, Coedway, Montgomery, Newtown and Welshpool. -Glasgow. -Illness. -Rev. William Ross, Cowcaddens. - Seth reads the mystics, Madame Guyon and Santa Teresa. -Driven to bare faith. -Rev. W. Ross at Cardiff. -Missions at Maesteg and Blaenycwm. -Visit to Rocking Stone, Pontypridd. -Moorland Road Hall. -Wrexham Mission. -Trevethin: -Sketch of sermon on 2 Cor. 5, 1. -Beaten oil. -Death of Rev. W. Ross. -Prestatyn. -Vale of Clwyd. - Pontnewynydd. -Hafod. -Sophia Gardens. -Interview with Revs. Thomas Law and F. B. Meyer. -Cinderford. -Llandrindod. -Profitable conversation. -New hall opened at Neath. -Gower. -Stripping for mission work,
The year 1903 was one of the most remarkable in his history. The Master granted him more blessing as missioner than he had seen for years.
Conversions took place constantly at his meetings, and as many as fifty were brought to Christ in one church. Unfortunately he neglected to keep a record of his work for some years, but at the close of 1903 he vowed if spared to keep a faithful record of his journeys and work.
"In 1903 I lost three friends by death-Mr. Michael, Swansea, Mr. Fear Davies, Neath, and Mr. Roberts, Cardiff; also dear David, my wife's brother. In Aug., 1903, I received a definite spiritual blessing at Llandrindod. My heart had been prepared for this by deep trial and experience. This year has been deeper and fuller in all kinds of experience than any former year of my life."
EXTRACTS FROM HIS DIARY FOR 1904.
In 1904 he entered upon his work as Connexional Evangelist, and was mightily blessed. At the close he wrote: "God be praised for the past wonderful year. It has been the most fruitful in conversions of all past years, and in personal experience the richest of all. Answers to prayer have strewn the pathway. Definite answers." In view of this declaration how interesting to glance at his labours. Fortunately, his diary for this year was kept, as he had vowed, and the entries are glowing with zeal for the good work. His first entry is characteristic: - "I Jan. (Friday). To-day I went to Langstone Court, near Newport, on a visit to Mr. Wm. Rosser. A large number of friends were gathered there for a New Year's Party. We enjoyed some hours' shooting there, and I managed to shoot a snipe, a pheasant and several rabbits. I returned home very tired, but the day was very pleasant. Having to begin work at Shrewsbury on Sunday, January 3rd, and travel on to Newtown, Montgomery, Welshpool and Coedway, I feel that a day like this is a great help to me. I am of opinion that I have been religious overmuch in not taking reasonable recreation. Now that I begin my new work as a Connexional Evangelist, and must work at high pressure, I must also insist upon breaking away from my toil in order to give mind and body proper rest. My one strong desire is to live out the consecrated life during 1904."
During his visit to Shrewsbury his hostess was Miss Jones, Edgebold Farm, "a very kind and hospitable sister whose house has always been open for the ministers of our denomination." On Sunday he preached at Frankwell, morning and evening, and at 8 p.m. in. the Working Men's Hall. "This was a meeting held by the Free Church Council, and the large building was crowded. It is an attempt to reach those who go to no place of worship. There are many thousands in this town who never go to church or chapel. I feel a spiritual depression when in this town."
That week he preached at Coedway, Montgomery, Newtown and Welshpool. Of the church at Montgomery he wrote: "My impression is that this church is the most spiritual in this Presbytery. I could see the grace of God and rejoice."
On Sunday (10th Jan.) he preached at the Memorial Hall, Cardiff, in the morning, taught at the women's Bible class in the afternoon, and preached at Grange-town Congregational Church in the evening. On the following Monday he was taken ill on his way to Ystrad, Rhondda. He preached and returned home to Cardiff quite in a fever, and was in bed for a week. This illness tested him sorely, as he had promised to conduct a mission at Cowcaddens, Glasgow. He wired to the Rev. J. E. Ray, Wrexham, to take his place.
His reflections on Sunday (17th Jan.) are notable: How strange it is to spend a day at home without preaching. Yet it cannot be a waste of time. The lessons I need are being driven home to me. Pride is brought low. Humility is being deepened. My frailty is made so clear and my dependence upon God increased. How easily the Almighty can dispense with the co-operation of so weak a worm. I see it all; yet I remember that the Lord once said: 'Fear not, thou worm Jacob, . . . thou shalt thresh the mountains, and make the little hills like chaff.' Although weak he left home for Glasgow on Tuesday (19 Jan.). "The journey was long and tiring. I was quite weak when I arrived, but was refreshed with news that the work had prospered at Cowcaddens."
He remained in Glasgow from 19th Jan. till 3rd Feb., and over one hundred souls were brought to Christ. His admiration for the Rev.
William Ross, Cowcaddens, was boundless, and Mr. Rose regarded Joshua as a prophet of God. The late Editor of the British Weekly, the Rev.
J. M. Ross, son of the Rev. William Ross, in a letter to the writer stated that he remembered with joy the visits of Seth Joshua and Dr. Pugh to Cowcaddens.
While at Glasgow Seth read "A Model of Prayer," by Madame Guyon.
"She is a great mystic, and I cannot say that I can follow her in every particular. But I have lived long enough to know that there is room for many varied experiences in God's kingdom. God manifests Himself to His chosen in different ways. As for myself, I find that I am being starved from all visions, emotions and sensations. Nothing comes to me by the observation of the senses. I am driven to bare faith." Again: "I was much blessed to-day while reading 'An Appreciation of Santa Teresa,' by Alexander Whyte, D. D. She was another mystic of the type of Madame Guyon."
At the last service of the Glasgow mission he took for his text Is. 62, 10, "Go through, go through the gates;" that is, conviction, pardon, consecration, crucifixion, Pentecost, abiding joy, service. " Step by step the whole congregation seemed to go through into these experiences, some into one, and some into another."
After his return he felt weary, yet wrote: "I find an increasing power to turn inward for communion. But my one great difficulty is to free myself from looking for emotions, feelings, and sensible manifestations. I see that it will be one long struggle to starve all these external things in order to live by faith."
Mr. Ross, who journeyed with him to Cardiff from Glasgow for treatment at Houghton's Hydropathic Home, attended several meetings and delivered addresses. On 6th Feb. they attended a workers' meeting at the Police Institute, Westgate Street, when Seth spoke on "The Soul's Prosperity." "Mr. Ross also took part with much grace and dignity. How rich and ripe is the experience of my friend. His voice is not the voice of a novice on any subject. It is a pleasure to sit at his feet."
During February he conducted missions at Maesteg and Blaenycwm, Rhondda. "This place called Blaenycwm is very much neglected. Satan seems to have made it his own hunting ground. Lord, help me to hunt also."
He needed inspiration for his lecture on 23rd Feb., at Treherbert, therefore he visited the Common, Pontypridd, and stood on the rocking stone, His own words will explain the visit. "All the valley lay before me and I saw the Egypt (Treforest) out of which God had brought me. I was much affected by the vision of the past, and found relief in prayer and praise.
This seemed to fit me for the meeting at Treherbert, and I never remember speaking and singing with more spiritual freedom."
"9th March. The opening services of Moorsland Road Hall took place today.
The afternoon meeting was very good. Rev. William Ross spoke. At 7.30 I was helped to speak upon 'The Conditions of a Successful Church.' This makes the forty-fourth Hall now opened. Praise God."
In March he conducted a week's mission at Wrexham (13th-20th) and his entry reveals his spirit. "I am very anxious about this mission, and can only lean on the divine strength for all help. The circumstances there demand much wisdom, caution, and self-control. I shall need to be selfcontained and to withdraw from the external in order to find a secret pavilion."
On March 21 he began an eight days' mission at Moorland Road Hall, The Moors, when fifty souls made a public confession of faith in Christ.
"This is the second time I have proved prayer effectual in a definite manner this year. At Spellow Lane Church, Liverpool, fifty souls came in the same manner."
"March 31. I enjoyed a walk up to Trevethin to-day, and was able to prepare a sermon on the words 'Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you to be reconciled to God,' 2 Cor., 5. (I) The believer's title-Ambassador. (2) The believer's standing-In Christ's stead. (3) The believer's object-To reconcile. (4) The manner in which the believer attains to it-' Beseech,' 'we pray you.'" "(1) The ambassador is invested with authority. He is a stranger in a strange land, and is responsible for the impression he gives of the country he represents. An ambassador is present to look after the interest of the kingdom he represents. His presence is a pledge of goodwill, and his recall means war."
"(2) In Christ's stead-Suggests dignity on the part of the ambassador; also responsibility on the part of those to whom he is sent."
"(3) Reconcile-Infers a breach, a quarrel. Sin is rebellion."
"(4) Beseech-It means tears, tenderness."
When he presented "beaten oil" the Lord greatly blessed him. A sincere attempt to use original matter brought satisfaction and joy. In April he preached at Cardiff, and Brynmawr, and conducted missions at Llanhilleth, and Tredegar.
"April 23. I heard on Newport platform that dear Mr. Ross had passed away at Glasgow. I have lost a dear friend. He was the embodiment of kindness, and the most loving man I have ever seen, and hence the most Christlike I have ever known. Poor Cowcaddens Church! There will be tears there to-morrow. Ross gave to those people his very life-blood.
Hundreds owe to him everything worth having. 'Dear brother, you were kind to me. May I emulate you and meet you in the better land.'" How intensely he felt the burden of souls. "May 7, Saturday. A great weight came on my soul to-day and remained until the night. After all had retired to rest I was compelled to stay up and wrestle in prayer. This continued until about two o'clock Sunday morning, when I felt convinced that the Lord had become my helper."
In May he conducted a mission at Prestatyn, North Wales (9th-16th), and fourteen declared their faith in Christ. Thence he proceeded to Denbigh. The Vale of Clwyd impressed him by its expansive scenery.
"Perhaps the Towy Valley is more lovely because of its river."
From the 25th of May till 1st June he and his wife rested at Pontnewynydd, and the old haunts helped to revive him for his next mission at Hafod, Rhondda Valley. He journeyed from the Rhondda to MachynIleth, where he spent two days, and then returned to Hafod.
"June 13 (Monday). I enjoyed a blessed time of reading and prayer in Sophia Gardens Field this day under a tree. Being wet there no people to disturb my meditations. From experience I find that freedom in prayer and readiness of matter largely depends upon Bible study. Communion with the written word seems to be a staircase up to communion with the living word."
About the middle of June he felt that a change was imminent, for he had unrest and foreboding. On the 17th of June he had a long interview with the Rev. Thomas Law and the Rev. F. B. Meyer, B.A., at the Memorial Hall, London. "We talked over some future plans connected with the Lord's work. The result of this day's consultation may mean much to me and to thousands more. Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah." While in London he preached at Jewin and Stratford.
The mission at Cinderford (25th June-8th July) proved exacting. Twenty were led into the light. Three open-air services were held on Monday night (4th July) in different parts of the town, and afterward one big procession was formed and marched to the tent. "One man who came out this night will pay for the whole mission. He heard us in the open air, and followed to the tent. Hundreds of such cases have I seen to prove the power of open-air work." During July he preached at Swansea, Cardiff, Kenfig Hill, Bethesda (Pem.), Saundersfoot, and Tenby.
In August he attended the Convention at Llandrindod Wells, and some of his observations are memorable. "My one fear is that many people are in danger of cultivating holiness at the expense of service. It would be a thousand pities to see people make holiness a substitute for work. Even prayer can become a substitute for honest work." "I am bound to record what appears to me another danger in connection with the teaching I heard. Not with the doctrine, but the manner in which people were invited to reach the experience. I consider it a dangerous thing to become too dogmatic with regard to the steps leading into the blessing of spiritual fulness. My opinion is that this land of milk and honey is reached by many separate paths, and that the Holy Spirit leads into this in His own way. The theory sounds right when you listen to it, but each soul must go onward in his own way. Preach the Truth and leave it to God's spirit."
"Aug. 7, Sunday. I listened to Dr. Pugh preaching twice this day. At night we held a mass meeting in the Rock Ground. There were between three and four thousand people present. I was greatly helped to speak and sing; so also was the Rev. Watkin Williams and Rev. Howell Howells."
Writing of preparation for the following Sunday we find "The preparation of the heart is of the Lord. My one desire is to adjust myself rightly-to become passive in the Divine Hand. Hindrances to service in mental distraction, heart severance and disturbance of spiritual balance can only find their re-adjustment by the calm which follows whenever there is a passive state obtained through fellowship." Tempted as he was to select such topics as would be considered popular by the visitors to Llandrindod, he overcame the temptation and preached from the words:
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
In conversation he became more reticent, believing that "there is a divine art in profitable conversation."
"I am thankful to find that my determination to avoid the repetition of stories and tales (without real profit) is now bearing fruit," The New Hall at Neath was opened in August, and Seth took part in the ceremony (18th, Thursday). It was a memorable day. "A red letter day in my history. I saw prayer answered, and plucked the fruit of much expectation."
Sunday (21st) he officiated at Bury Green, Gower, in the morning, and at Llangennith in the afternoon and evening. The country people heard him gladly. How characteristic his entry for August 23rd: "My holiday is now drawing to a close, and I long to strip for mission work proper." The last Sunday in August was spent at Rhyddings Hall, Swansea. "These last two Sundays were taken instead of Dr. Pugh, and in consequence of his illness."
Mission at Neath, Sept. 1904. -Cardiganshire. -Seth's prayers for a revivalist. -New Quay. -Newcastle Emlyn. -Full assurance of faith. - Blaenannerch, Evan Roberts's prayer. -Morriston. -Penffordd. - Cinematograph used. -. Llandudno, Seth and Frank. - Rhyl SETH visited Neath as Special Missioner (during 3rd – 15th September), and began with a fine open-air service on the Saturday night. On Sunday his heart rejoiced, preaching to 1,500 people. "Four young men came out for Christ at the evening service." The open-air march on Monday evening was magnificent, and reminded him of old times, over twenty years before.
A large open-air service was held on the Thursday, the great Fair Day, and multitudes assembled to hear the message and the singing. His leavetaking was touching, for the people of Neath had great affection for him.
"Many of them are my spiritual children of fifteen and even twenty years ago." Mr. Morris Clarke, Gellygaer Fawr Farm, entertained him during this visit, also his wife and three children, He had often asked for the mountain, like Caleb of old, and Cwmavon Mountain gave him inspiration to meet the crowds, which awaited him in the town beneath.
His mission in Cardiganshire has become historical, and his own words describe vividly the beginnings of the great Welsh Revival of 1904 - 5.
Seth Joshua was led of the Spirit to pray definitely for four years that the Lord might take a lad from the coal mine, or from the field, even as he took Elisha, to revive His work in Wales He prayed God to use an instrument whereby human pride would be humbled.
"16 Sept. (Friday). Prepared to-day for my journey to New Quay, Cardiganshire, and to Newcastle Emlyn, also Blaenannerch. I shall be away about a fortnight. The Lord come with me."
"17 (Sat.). Travelled to-day to New Quay. I should have changed at Llandyssul, but went on to Newcastle Emlyn by mistake. Took tea there with the Rev. Evan Phillips. On my return to Llandyssul the carrier had stopped there for me. It was a cold drive of fifteen miles, but I arrived safely about eight o'clock."
"18 (Sun.). There is a remarkable revival spirit here. I have never seen the power of the Holy Spirit so powerfully manifested among the people as at this place just now. My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour. It was easy to preach to-day. Several souls."
"19 (Mon.). The Revival is breaking out here in greater power. Many souls are receiving full assurance of salvation. The spirit of prayer and of testimony is falling in a marvellous manner. The young are receiving the greatest measure of blessing. They break out into prayer, praise, testimony, and exhortation in a wonderful way. Several souls."
"20 (Tues.). The Revival goes on. I cannot leave the building at New Quay until twelve and even one o'clock in the morning. I have closed the service several times, and yet it would break out again quite beyond the control of human power. Several souls."
"21 (Wed.). Yes, several souls, that is all I can say. I don't know the number; and they are not drunkards, or open sinners, but they are members of the visible church not grafted into the True Vine-not joined unto the Lord-not baptised into the Spirit. They are entering into full assurance of faith, coupled with a baptism of the Holy Spirit. The joy is intense."
"22 (Thurs.). We held another remarkable meeting to-night. Group after group came out to the front seeking llawn sicrwydd ffydd (the full assurance of faith). What was wonderful to me was the fact that every person engaged in prayer, with one exception. The tongue of fire came upon each. We lost all sense of time in this service."
"23 (Fri.). I am of opinion that forty conversions took place this week. It is as near as I can fix it. I also think that those seeking assurance may be fairly counted as converts, for they had never received Jesus as a personal Saviour before. Being constrained by the people I consented to stay this evening again, and a precious time we had. The affection and love of the people is touching to behold. I shall thank God for this blessed time to my own soul. I am saturated, melted, and made soft as willing clay in the hands of a potter."
"24 (Sat.). I did not get to bed until two o'clock, and was up at six to go with the carrier on my way to Newcastle Emlyn What shall I find there? Lord, come with me, for I hear Thou art kept outside the door in that town as at Laodicea."
"25 (Sun.). I tried to give them an account of the Revival at New Quay when in the pulpit this morning, but I broke down under the emotion resting on my spirit. Many others wept in the chapel, and there were signs here of a deep desire. I preached four times this day. Nothing has moved yet."
"26 (Mon.). There was a touch of power in the service to night, and a few moved toward the cross. I find scarcely a soul here in the joy of assurance.
It is a pitiable sight to me. When I tested the meeting only a small handful among hundreds could stand up to confess a present salvation. The witness of the church is nothing in this state. Some souls."
"27 (Tues.). A large number were blessed this evening. Some students received blessing and confessed salvation. The name of one was Sidney Evans. The Lord will certainly move this place. The yearning is here among the people. Several souls."
"28 (Wed.). About-fifteen young people from New Quay came all the way to Newcastle Emlyn to-day. I did not preach, but allowed them to speak, pray, sing and exhort as the Holy Spirit led them. The fire burned all before it. Souls were melted, and many cried out for salvation. Praise the Lord for this service. Many knelt in their seats, but I cannot say what the number was. The Master knows. Several souls."
"29 (Thurs.). I believe the total for this mission is certainly twenty souls.
Grand meetings, to-day at Blaenannerch and many cried for mercy. It was a remarkable thing to hear one young man, Evan Roberts. He caught at the words and prayed,' Bend me, 0 Lord.' * (Footnote: "Plyg ni, o Argwydd" [Bend us, O Lord], said Seth, and this became one of the most frequent petitions of the Revival.) By some mistake I was obliged to walk back to Newcastle Emlyn, and did not reach the chapel till 9.30. Satan was in this, but he did not gain all the victory. The people were still there, having been there since 7 o'clock. Wearied as I was I spoke to them until 10.30, and they listened to my experience."
"30 (Fri.). Returned home to Cardiff to-day, and arrived safely to find all my dear ones well. It is a joy to see them after these days of absence on mission work."
His next mission at Morriston (1-10th Oct.) was terribly hard. "I feel it all the more after what I have been privileged to witness." He had liberty in prayer, and there was concernment upon and among the people. Some desired to argue with him, but he refused to waste time. "Conviction deepens. Lord, cut deeper. Break in pieces." On the sixth day four people came forward, and on the ninth day seven. He remained with one soul till 10.30 one night till victory came.
From Morriston he proceeded to Penffordd with Mr. Morris Clarke, where he met the Rev. C. L. Perry. The cinematograph was utilised at Penffordd, Clynderwen and Gwastad before crowded audiences.
On the 16th October he began his mission at Saundersfoot "May the wind blow on Saundersfoot is my prayer." On the 17th Dr. Cynddylan Jones spoke on behalf of the Bible Society, and Seth sang "My Mother's Bible."
"A precious meeting. Eighteen souls were gathered in during this mission."
He preached at Alexander Road Chapel, Swansea, on the Thursday following (20th), when seven persons came forward.
Abertysswg was the next place visited, where he preached three times in the chapel on Sunday, and once opposite the hotel. "Six souls." Despite his remarks about sin in the district he said; "I think the collier a fine type of man, with the exception of the drunkards and blasphemers. I believe the colliers to be the finest body of working men in Great Britain." We may also add that the colliers considered the Rev. Seth Joshua a true man, and would hearken to him gladly whenever he visited the valleys. Both he and Frank, his brother, shared the duties of the mission at Llandudno (29th Oct.-4th Nov.).
Their first meeting was at the Town Hall and was full of encouragement.
Two men made public confession. Hundreds were turned away from the Hall on Sunday. Frank's singing proved most effective during the meetings. Over fifty professed Christ, and the missioners were filled with joy. The crowds each night were too large for the building.
At Rhyl (5th-15th) he did not meet with the success anticipated. "I feel dreadfully heavy of heart when a service passes without conversions. I had a hard day to-day. Hard to preach, hard to pray, and hard to restrain an outburst of testimony against the un-spiritual state of the church. Love must conquer. Love must guide. Lord, forgive me if my words burned in the heat of any other passion." At the last service he dealt with twenty anxious souls.
Sophia Gardens. -Mission at Ammanford, Nov., 19o4. -Llandilo. - Attack of influenza. -Satan fights him when weak. -Tabernacle, The Hayes. -Gorseinon. -Brynteg Chapel. -Strange experience. - Moriah C.M., Loughor. -Barry Dock. -Watchnight service at home, 1904. - Missions in 1905. -Barry Dock. -Edward Pugh. - Canton. - Tabernacle. -Pembroke Terrace. - Hoylake. - Torrey 's Mission at Liverpool. -Raby Farm. -Mold. -Pontypridd. -. Gipsy Smith. -New Quay. -Van overturns; wonderful deliverance. - Hallelujah! My soul is melted like wax.
THE last three missions exhausted his strength, and he returned home weary but happy. He was due in a few days at Ammanford, and he felt in his soul that great things were in store. On the day before leaving for Ammanford (Nov. 18) he wrote a page of wonderful pathos. "I enjoyed much fellowship to-day while in Sophia Gardens Field. This path alongside the River Taff has become sacred to me. I have seen the hawthorns blossom three years in succession, and fade again, as I have prayed along its shady path. I have wrestled for personal baptism of the Spirit, and for a national revival. It has come and I rejoice."
At Ammanford (19th Nov.) he found the ground prepared, and thanked God. Expecting to meet the workers on the Saturday evening of his arrival be was agreeably surprised to find the chapel full. Twenty people confessed Christ.
"20 Nov. (Sunday). This has been one of the most remarkable days of my life. Even in the first morning meeting a number were led to embrace the Saviour. In the afternoon the blessing fell upon scores of young people.
The crush was very great to get into the chapel. At seven o'clock a surging mass filled the Christian Temple and crowds were unable to gain entrance. The Holy Spirit was indeed among the people. Numbers confessed Jesus, but it is impossible to count."
"21 (Monday). We had great blessing this evening. The chapel was full of people and of God's power. Some most remarkable conversions took place. It is impossible to count. They fly like a cloud of doves to their windows. Many prayed aloud. At one time in the service there was a hush such as I shall never forget. The power at that time was divine."
"24 (Thursday). There were at least twenty conversions in to-night's meeting. It was a most remarkable service. The fire burned with great power. Again the people sang in the streets, and the service went on until nearly midnight, although it was freezing and the snow lay thick on the ground. Diolch i Dduw."
"26 (Saturday). To-day we visited Llandilo. About twenty came with us.
We sang in the Market Square, and then marched through the town. We held a meeting in the Town Hall. I caught a chill. It increased so much that my teeth chattered. I went straight to bed upon arriving back at Ammanford."
"27 (Sunday). Very ill to-day. Temperature 103. I find myself, talking, singing and praying while in a half-awake condition. I hear that the work is going on in the chapels. Praise God."
He was in a weak state for nearly three weeks owing to influenza and quinsey. His wife went to Ammanford and took him home to Cardiff.
"10 Dec. (Saturday). Every day I have been able to read of the Revival going on. Praise the Lord. His Holy Spirit is doing wonders. Satan has made a special mark of me lately. I have had fearful conflicts.
His fiery darts have pierced my armour at every point The coward! He has been fighting me on my back;" "14 Dec. (Wednesday). I was led to a meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Chapel, at Hayes to-night. The Rev. Dr. Charles Davies invited me to exhort the people in the after meeting. A most wonderful after meeting it was. Over fifty came to Christ. The Revival has come to Cardiff.
Hallelujah!" "16 Dec. (Friday). At one given moment (by an inspiration) the great congregation (at the Tabernacle) poured out into the street to sing, pray and speak. I never saw such a sight in my life."
"17 Dec. (Saturday). Travelled to Gorseinon to-day. Called at Neath and saw Frank. Rejoiced with him over the blessing they have received there.
Five hundred conversions at Neath. Praise God. Held a blessed meeting to-night at Gorseinon. Wonderful fire."
"18 Dec. (Sunday). Held three blessed meetings to-day. It is wonderful. I can't describe the power and the liberty in these services. At times it is overwhelming."
"20 Dec. (Tuesday). Meeting to-night at Brynteg Chapel, Gorseinon. A very strange experience was mine to-night. A prominent man stood up at the start of the service and declared that he had prayed that the Holy Spirit should not come to that service. 'Try to get the Holy Spirit,' he said.
' I will go outside, and when you have failed I will come back in, and the Spirit will come.' He went outside, and a wonderful sight I saw. The people confessed Christ on every hand. Prayer, praise and testimony flowed without stop for over two hours. Glory be to God."
"21 Dec. (Wednesday). There was no bad influence manifest to-night. The meeting went on in the power of the spirit, and great liberty came to the people to follow the promptings of the Spirit. It is impossible to watch these wonderful scenes and not remember the apostolic times in the church as described in I Cor, X., II. Most of those gifts are to be observed."
"22 Dec. (Thursday). We had a most profitable service to-night in Moriah C. M. Chapel, Loughor, when two souls were led to give themselves to Christ. This is the chapel in which the Revival began in this part of South Wales, and in which Evan Roberts first began to declare his experiences."
"23 Dec. (Friday). We had another service in Moriah Chapel this evening.
I gave the story of my conversion. Strange to say, I was able to speak at one time in Welsh, translating from English into Welsh. It came naturally."
"24 Dec. (Saturday). Returned home to Cardiff to-day. Many trains passed me laden with colliers going home for Christmas. In every compartment they were singing the hymns of the Revival. No drinking and no swearing."
"25 Dec. (Sunday). I preached to-day at Barry Dock, but never did I have a harder day. It was against wind and tide all the day."
Matters improved considerably before the end of the week.
"3I Dec. (Saturday). We held a watchnight service to-night at home.
There were present my wife, Beatrice, her husband and child, Florence, Gwladys, Peter, and myself. We blessed the Lord for another year of great blessing, and re-consecrated ourselves to His service."
"1 Jan., 1905 (Sunday). I enjoyed a good day at Barry Dock and preached with freedom. In the evening service three people came boldly to the front. The prayer of one man when he found the light was touching. Thus the Lord has stooped to use me at the start of another year. My prayer is that it may be the best of my experience."
"2 Jan. (Monday). To-night I gave the story of my life at Barry Dock HaIl.
Dr. Pugh and his brother, Edward, who had been converted at Crwys Hall on Sunday night, came with me. He told me he had seen a vision of his family in heaven, all complete except himself; and his mother called him, saying, ' Come, Edward, we are all here except you.' This broke him down and he came out."
"3 (Tuesday). To-night I visited Salem Welsh Church, Canton. It was a blessed meeting and several came out for Christ. Some were church members without assurance. It was indeed a revival meeting" "4 (Wednesday). My wife came with me to Tabernacle Church, Hayes, Cardiff. Wonderful audience and many conversions. It is indeed blessed to see the Revival going on so powerfully. Cardiff will certainly be moved before long. The flame is burning in six or seven churches now."
"5 (Thursday). I was at Pembroke Terrace Church to-night. It was a full meeting, but I felt a hindrance. The older people do not throw themselves into the tide of blessing, and the young are timid to move. I was helped to speak to them upon the conditions of receiving the Holy Spirit."
"6 (Friday). I again visited Salem Welsh Church, Canton. There was much opposition and most bitter scoffing, but the power over-ruled. The meeting was not fruitless. Two young men came out for Christ."
"7 (Saturday). Travelled to-day to Hoylake, Cheshire. Arrived about 7 o'clock, and gave an address in the Institute at 7.30. There was a good, full audience, and the people seemed full of expectation."
"8 (Sunday). The Lord was at work to-day. A Divine touch came into the 6.30 meeting, when three or four stood for Jesus. Also at the 8 p.m.
meeting in the Institute the power fell upon many. There were surely fifteen conversions. The lack is that of workers and soul winners. There are several here who have been led into the ministry of intercession."
"9 (Monday). We had a good meeting to-night, and ten souls came to Christ. At one time there was a strong Satanic power among several young people. They laughed and scoffed among themselves, and yet many of them were sobered before the end. A few came out for salvation, while others promised to think over it. We visited a few to-day and did good work."
"10 (Tuesday). Blessed times to-day at Hoylake, and many conversions."
"11 (Wednesday). We had another day to be remembered. One whole family of six has been saved."
"12 (Thursday). Many conversions. It is exactly like our Welsh Revival.
The same spirit, the same fruit, and the very same manifestations. I visited Torrey's meetings at Liverpool to-day. He asked me to give them an account of the work in Wales, which I did."
"13 (Friday). Many more conversions. There has not been one single meeting without fruit here at Hoylake."
"14 (Saturday). Rested to-day and went to Raby Farm, to the house of Mr.
Jones. Enjoyed the day very much. We caught fifteen rabbits."
"15 (Sunday). A lovely Sunday. We saw many turn unto the Lord this day, and the power was over all the services."
"16 (Monday). Gave the story of my life to-night, and at the close a large number came to Jesus. Over seventy names were taken down, and many others were saved but missed by the workers."
"17 (Tuesday). Preached at Mold to-night. Glorious service. Three conversions, young men."
"18 (Wednesday). Returned home from Mold. Found all well. Took part in the meeting at Tabernacle, Hayes, Cardiff, to-night."
"19 (Thursday). Went to Pontypridd. Spent much time with Gipsy Smith.
Took the overflow service in the evening, and took part in the afternoon service. Gipsy is having a wonderful mission. Praise God," "20 (Friday). Spent this day and evening with the children."
"21 (Saturday). Journey to New Quay (Card.). On the way from Llandyssil the van upset on a steep hill covered with ice. We were nine persons in a covered van, and were all upset. It was a most providential escape. Arrived some two hours late."
"22 (Sunday). Wonderful day to-day. Yes! One of the days of the Lord upon earth. Scores sought full assurance. The people prayed and praised as I have never seen done before. The Revival has broken out with a mighty sound."
"23 (Monday). To-night there was a wonderful scene in the Tabernacle Chapel at New Quay. Indescribable is the only word I can use: Even in the afternoon meeting at 2.30 a crowd came seeking the blessing, but at night it was a general breakdown. About fifty or sixty came to the front and all prayed aloud. The congregation also broke out in audible prayer.
It was a wonderful scene. People praised aloud in all parts of the chapel. I shall never forget the sight. Praise the Lord, O my soul."
"24 (Tuesday). To-night was a strange meeting. The noise went abroad about last night's service; A crowd came together, overflowing the chapel. I had great liberty to preach from the last clause in Lev. 17, IX.
About thirty came to the front, when the people showed signs of vulgar curiosity. The Holy Spirit was grieved and left us in great darkness. I was utterly broken down and wept. After about an hour the people who grieved the Spirit gradually went away, and about II p.m. a mighty rush of power came back. A crowd of sinners came weeping to the cross.
Everything broke up into praise, prayer, and great thankfulness. Bless God for this experience. It taught me many secret things of the Spirit."
"25 (Wednesday). To-day at 2.30 and at 7 p.m. we have had indescribable meetings. It would be impossible to record in writing the scenes witnessed. Hundreds are blessed. The power at times overwhelmed even strong men. It will never fade from my memory. Over and over again the front became crowded with weeping, praying people, especially old people. Praise the Lord, O my soul."
"26 (Thursday). To-day's two meetings were even more wonderful than those of yesterday. The power swept the chapel. God gave me power to preach on the house built upon the sand,' and it fell 'etc. Crowd after crowd of seekers came to the front, while the great congregation burst out into shouts of praise. It was like a boiling sea. Hallelujah! my soul is melted like wax."
Seth's first visit to America, 1906. -Sam Jenkins. -Preaches to Swedes through an interpreter. -Visits Granville. -Pawlett, South Poulteney, Springfield, Wilkesbarre. -The murderer's keepsake. - Returns home in "Corona."-Master of the berths. -Shares first-class cabin with a student. -Last chats with Dr. Pugh. -Evangelist under the Welsh F.C. Council. -Testimonies of Messrs. Tom Phillips and A. L. Morgan. -Some of the places visited. -Free Church Council missions in 1912. -At Brynmawr. -Rev. Crwys Williams writes a glowing report. -Leeds Road, Bradford. - Rhyl. -Cwmdare-Missions in 1973. -Abercynon, Nantymoel, Belfast, Sittingbourne (Kent), Abercarn. -Regrets that he had not kept diary between 1913-1919. -Missions in 7919. -Tanhouse (Rads.), Watford (Herts), Treorchy. -Rev. T. M. Lloyd. -Llanelly. -Liverpool Central Hall and Guy Mission. -Swansea. -Neath; Frank's breakdown. -Nottingham. -Letter to his son, Llewelyn, 6th March, 1919.
IN 1906 the Rev. Seth Joshua visited America, and was accompanied by Mr. Sam Jenkins as singer of the Gospel. Seth preached on board the steamer to Swedes through an interpreter. Leaving Liverpool on 26th September they reached New York on 3rd October. They visited Dr.
Simpson, of the Tabernacle Christian Alliance, the day following, and the Welsh Church. Powerful services were held at the Middle Granville Cymanfa. Seth believed that the young people at home were more spiritually minded than those he met in that district. Pawlett, South Poulteney, Springfield (Mass.), Wilkesbarre (Pa.) were visited. At Wilkesbarre he met a large number of people from South Wales who had been brought to Christ by his brother Frank. At South Wilkesbarre he visited a prisoner under sentence of death. He promised to pray for the unfortunate man night and day, and the murderer gave Seth, through the bars of his cell, a ring. Another prisoner wept bitterly in his cell while Seth prayed for him. "Satan fought every inch of the ground traversed by me in the States."
[The pages of his notebook after November 5th are missing].
Something prevented him from going out West, and when he returned to New York he saw a fine ship, the "Corona," ready to sail, which would take him home in time for Christmas provided a berth were left; but, alas! all were booked. He prayed, "Lord, I want to go home." Suddenly a man came to him and asked, "What are you doing here, Mr. Joshua?" "Well, I want to go home in that ship, and it is full up. But say, how do you know my name is Joshua?" "Oh, I am a Welshman, and I heard you once in a Welsh church. You want to go home in that ship, do you? Well, I am the master of the berths, and I will fix you up." He gave Seth a first-class cabin free. Immediately he sought for a companion, and found a young man, a student from Moody's Institute, Chicago, a second-class passenger returning home to see his mother, with whom Seth shared his good fortune.
"What is your name, sir?" asked the student. "My name is a funny one.
What was the name of the man who followed Moses?" "Mr. Joshua! I have been praying for weeks that you and I should meet." The voyage home was most profitable.
He arrived in time to have a few last chats with Dr. John Pugh. "I would not have liked dear old John to have gone home without seeing him because his chats meant so much to me." After Dr. Pugh's death he prayed that he might be used in evangelistic work.
The Eastern Division of the South Wales and Monmouthshire Federation of Evangelical Free Churches Council, under the presidency of the Rev.
Aaron Davies, appointed the Rev. Seth Joshua a whole-time missioner to the Federation at Crickhowell, 21St July, 1909, and he was set apart for the work at the Wesleyan Chapel, Tonypandy, in November, 1909. His first mission under the above Federation began on 7th November 1909, and the last mission closed on 21st November 1921. Thousands were led into the Kingdom by him during those twelve strenuous years.
The missions conducted by Seth Joshua were self-supporting, and sometimes, contributions were made to the funds of the Council. Messrs.
Tom Phillips (treasurer) and A. L. Morgan (secretary) and the Rev. Seth Joshua became great friends, and met every other month at Rogerstone, Maesycwmmer, or Llandaff. Seasons of prayer were observed and mission plans were discussed. Mr. Phillips accompanied the Evangelist to the Channel Islands, Southsea, and other places, and was privileged to see the tremendous work done by the mighty man of God, behind the scenes. What family reconciliations Joshua effected, and at what cost and pain! He sat far into the night once with a prominent businessman who came to his mission, entreating, praying and advising him to accept Christ. The man's home was about to be broken up, but Seth Joshua saved it that night. He was wonderfully used as a reconciler. Mr. Phillips never found him downcast for he had lion courage. He conducted mission after mission single-handed. He arrived at one place and a boy met him at the station. All were dead. God used him to quicken the people. Instead of being enemies, despising one another, they became friends. The missioner, however, left the place drained dry and spent.
Mr. Phillips and Seth were invited to stay at a watering place by a well-todo lady. "All this," said the hostess, pointing to her beautiful residence, "I owe to dear Mr. Joshua."
Mr. Phillips believes that as a combination of Evangelist and minister Seth Joshua was unequalled. He was always so sane and sound in his judgment, without anything extravagant in his doctrine. Mr. Morgan, Maesycymmer, states that invitations poured in for Seth's services from districts adjoining those where he had conducted missions. He prayed for open doors and entered them jubilantly. The following places were visited by him where the memory of his work is redolent: -Colwyn Bay, Holyhead, Ynishir, Newbridge, Treherbert, Abertillery, Abergwynfi, Pontygwaith, Darwen, Harwich, Birmingham, Ynysddu, Pontycymer, Bayswater (London), Rhymney, Merthyr Vale, Manchester, Princetown (Devon), Barking, Brig-house (Yorks), East Ham (London), Cwmavon, Risca, Maesycwmrner, Bradford, Belfast, Northumberland, Leicester and Haverfordwest. The full list would occupy a good deal of our space.
He found time between his missions to cultivate a plot of ground near his home at Llandaff. The plot-holders who worked on the Sabbath were challenged to produce such crops as he would by the blessing of God, and he was right. Many flowers bloomed in his garden, the gifts of loving friends.
He conducted a mission at Brynmawr (Oct. 26- Nov. 4, 1912). The Rev.
Crwys Williams, crowned bard, who at the time was minister of Rehoboth Church, Brynmawr, wrote of the meetings thus: "The mission recently conducted by the Rev. Seth Joshua will be long remembered at Brynmawr. From whatever point of view one wishes to look at it he cannot but be convinced of its success. In the matter of results the mission will rank with the most powerful held at Brynmawr. There were nearly a hundred converts, including a large number of young people and a goodly portion of adults. The mission closed with a most interesting lecture on ' Conversions which I have seen.' Mr. Joshua's lecture was out of the usual run, and might have been added on to the Acts of the Apostles without breaking upon the loftiness of the inspired record."
His visit to Leeds Road Baptist Church, Bradford, (Nov. 9 – 18), was also most successful. The meetings were conducted without loudness or excitement. A quiet power and unction rested on all the services. The inquiry room was filled night after night with eager seekers. One hundred and eight names, ranging from ten to over sixty, were enrolled during the nine days. All "hand-picked fruit," according to Seth.
From Nov. 23-Dec. 2 he was at Rhyl, where he dealt personally with over one hundred converts. It was a revival of the right sort, and church members were much lifted.
Cwmdare (Dec. 7-16) witnessed a great awakening during his visit. Not less than fifty were brought to the Lord. The work among young people was deeply spiritual. The services were chiefly in the Welsh language, and Seth had great freedom both in Welsh and English.
In 1913 he held missions at Abercynon (Jan. 4-13). Crowded meetings. A never to be forgotten meeting when quite one hundred crossed the line.
Nantymoel (Jan. 18-27). The people were mightily moved and young men entered the pulpit to confess Christ. Seth never saw such a thing before.
Over sixty souls entered the fold, and some were converted in their homes following the services.
Belfast (Feb. 15 - 24) was a blessed mission toward the end. His passage across was very rough, and he prayed for a quiet passage home and was answered.
Sittingbourne, Kent (Feb. 15-24). His daughter, Beatrice, was present during this mission and sang at each service. After seven days he was taken ill. Several decisions.
Abercarn (March I – 10). Owing to illness he missed the first four days of the mission. The state of religion at this place at that time gave him great concern. Few conversions were registered.
He regretted afterward that he had not kept a record of his other missions, after Abercarn, between 1913-1919. They would have covered the period of the Great War. A great multitude came to the Lord during that awful time.
1919. He visited Tanhouse C.M. Church, Dolau, Radnorshire, January 4- 13, 1919, and people came six and seven miles from far away farms. Seth was impressed with the importance of keeping the lamp burning in country churches such as Tanhouse. Seven souls.
Watford, Herts (January 18-27), received a great blessing during the mission. Whole families came to the Lord. A complete Bible class of thirty came out and boldly confessed Christ. Heavy snow could not keep the people away. Over fifty decisions.
Treorchy (Station Road C.M. Church, February 4- 10). His previous mission at this place in October 1917 was graciously blessed. There was no jar or any regrettable thing in this mission (1919). The Rev. T. M.
Lloyd, the minister, was one of his spiritual children, having been brought to the Lord at the Welsh CM. Church, Cardigan. Twenty-five converts were enrolled.
Llanelly (February 15-24). Caersalem, a very large chapel, was filled every night and the feeling grew in intensity each day. Several confessed Christ in the pulpit. Eternity alone will reveal what was done. Although no collections were taken, money flowed in like a river. Over twenty souls came out.
Liverpool (March 30-April 5). The Liverpool Convention was a gracious time, and the Central Hall was crowded. Seth was signally helped and on the Sunday afternoon preached at the Sun Hall.
Do. (April 6-14). Following the Convention he conducted meetings at the Gay Mission Hall, Scotland Road. The need of the district appealed powerfully to him, and the Lord saved in a remarkable way. As many as thirty came to Christ in one service. It was a fight with the powers of darkness, but at every service souls were delivered. The mission was a time of real victory for the Gospel. Fifty souls were converted.
Easter was spent by him at Swansea, where he was ill for a fortnight suffering from a bronchial attack. He coughed night and day and could not go to Caerau for April 27.
On May 4 he was able to go to Neath, and found His brother Frank broken down in health. He decided to ask the Forward Movement officials to give him a long rest. Frank looked a broken man. "May God spare him." There were seven conversions at Neath.
Nottingham (May 19-22). He spent a few quiet days at the Convention held in that town and could not help comparing it with the Liverpool Convention.
Unfortunately, the diarist became weary after this entry-weary of writing, but not of preaching. Letters, characteristic and charming, were written by him to friends and members of his family when on tour, which if collected would reveal his striking and original personality. Whilst at Rhayader in 1919 he sent the following letter to his son, Llewelyn, then in the army, dated 6th March, and it is a good example of his style "Have an eye on your future, lad. Keep your chin up and out of the mud.
The world seems to be three parts mud now. Mud brains, mud manners, mud politics, mud everywhere; even religion has become muddy, sloppy, and adulterated . . . . Life is in Christ. It is in a Person, and not in a creed; or in the tapestries of religion. He is the Life, the Truth, and the Way. I notice that men's objections are thrown at religious shams, and not at the Christ.
God bless you, Llew. How I wish you could run home and see your brothers. I would bring home a goose, or some other animal, that we might have a club feast together."
Seth again at Neath in 1921. -Stabilized Frank's work-Induction service, 5th Sept., 1921. -Tribute to his wife. -Aggressive worker. -His suggested inscription, "the beggar died,"--His son Peter removes to Brooklyn in 1923. -Seth visits his son in America in 1924. -Voyage from Southampton to New York. -Sunday on board the Aquitania sorely tried him-Welsh airs played by request, and the effect. -An educated Jew. - His reception in America. -Preaches at opening of his nephew's church, Union City. -Views on Prohibition. -Controversy between Fundamentalists and Modernists. -Last sermon at Brooklyn. -His lectures. - 1. "The story of my life."-2. "Wonderful conversions I have seen."-3. "Modern Revivals."-What he wrote on his last birthday. - His last written document, a sermon sketch. -Illness. -Death. --Wife and children. -Burial. -Tributes by Rev. R. J. Rees, M.A., and others.
AFTER the death of Frank the work at Neath caused him deep concern.
He was closeted with God, and never experienced such a time of prayer and wrestling. He was happy in his work as Evangelist and in comfortable circumstances, but the moment had come when, he was compelled to say; "My Father and my God. Take my life for Neath if it is Thy will. I will say good-bye to anything provided I stay in Thy will." The change he never regretted, and as he himself confessed: "All that has been done in my history has been done by grace alone. To God be the glory for the great things He has done."
His induction service was held on Monday, Sept. 5 1921. One thing in that enthusiastic service will ever remain with me-the Evangelist's fine tribute to his wife: "Without my dear wife's seIf-sacrificing Iove I could not have carried on my work. She tells me sometimes, ' Yes, Seth, it's all very well for you to go about the country and get the best welcome everywhere; but what of me? I have to stay at home and attend to the family.' Then, looking tenderly at his wife, he said: 'I know, my dear, but the day of your reward is coming when the good Master will say, "Mary, come up hither; Seth, you stay there.'" With a master hand he pulled the church together and stabilised his brother's work. The Sunday School, and Young People's Societies, received particular attention. He worked hard himself and gave work to others. The magnificent organ erected in memory of Frank was paid for soon after his settlement in the pastorate. His appeals for funds were generously met. Once he remarked good-humouredly: "Some day you will have that New Testament dictum inscribed on my tombstone at Llantwit: 'And it came to pass that the beggar died.'" The last four years of his life were among the busiest and happiest of his career. Members were added to the church at every communion from the passing of his brother. In 1924 the church collected £3,209, part of which was devoted to the organ.
As opportunities served he rendered willing help to every good institution in the town and district, and was regarded by all as a Christian gentleman. Asked by a zealous politician what party he belonged to Seth replied, with that twinkle of the eye so characteristic: "My friend, I am a British Israelite."
Peter, his son, who went to Brooklyn as Assistant Minister in 1923, exercised great influence over him, and he decided to visit America in August 1924.
The voyage from Southampton to New York (Sat., July 26-Aug. I), on board the "Aquitania," compelled him to rest. Sunday aboard grieved him sorely. It was so different from his previous voyage. He met two young Welshmen among a vast crowd of foreigners. Seth asked the leader of the band on Monday to play a few Welsh airs, which he did; but the selection made him feel homesick. He had many opportunities of speaking to men on soul matters. An educated Jew interested him exceedingly, for he could not only read his Hebrew Bible, but speak the language. 'The Jew, claimed Christ as a co-religionist, and the best of his countrymen. "I testified to him and called the Saviour my Redeemer. I happened to be reading a little Welsh book called, "Gwlad yr lesu" (The Country of Jesus), and he was surprised to find that Wales had a living language."
The reception accorded him in America was most cordial, and his preaching was precious to many congregations. A strong desire was expressed that he should settle in the New World, but his work at Neath called louder than America, despite its fair prospects.
He performed the opening ceremony at his nephew's new church, Union City, New York-the Rev. Clifford Joshua, son of the Rev. Caleb Joshua.
His last sermon in America was preached at the Grace Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, on Sunday morning, 21st September, when Peter Joshua, his son and assistant pastor of the church, sang. The Rev. Robert Carson, pastor, and the congregation took leave of the Rev. Seth Joshua on the Tuesday following, and he sailed home on the "Berengaria."
The impressions which he received in America were most favourable, and he returned to his work with renewed vigour. A large crowd awaited his arrival at the Neath Station. "Do not believe what you read in some daily papers about Prohibition," said he. "It is a great success and has come to stay. I did not see one drunken man during my journeys in America, neither did I hear foul language."
He realised that the controversy between Fundamentalists and Modernists in the States was fierce. While not indifferent to Bible criticism and the new light he was severe upon those who despise the simple and homely features of Gospel grace. He would tolerate nothing that tended to remove the importance of the Cross. Saturated by the Spirit of the Gospel he sought to make the love of God in Jesus Christ the incentive to a new life, and not the fear of hell. He never was an apologete, but a champion of the supremacy of Jesus Christ in His church, and in the lives of His followers.
He had three wonderful lectures.
(1) "The Story of my Life." This he delivered in many towns and villages, and it frequently led to conversions. He hid nothing. It had a genuine ring, and often with the smile came the silent tear. Those who had the privilege of hearing this lecture can never forget its entrancing episodes.
(2) "Wonderful Conversions I Have Seen." This also was a popular and thrilling lecture. The characters described by him were: I, Sergeant of Marines; 2, Tom Thomas (Twm Glomen); 3, Dowling the Swearer; 4, Gough, the Coal Trimmer; 5, Mrs. Lacey, the dipsomaniac; 6, Dan Rees, Marl Pit Hotel; 7, Electrician, Pendarren; 8, His own conversion; 9, His wife's conversion.
We have already referred to Tom Thomas, and Dan Rees, but the case of Mrs. Lacey should be briefly explained. While the Rev. Seth Joshua was conducting a mission at Hoylake a woman entered the service with black face and arms and her sleeves tucked up. She sat at the back of the building and was curiously watching the Evangelist. He noticed her and said: "Jesus Christ can wash you clean." He felt as though the devil looked at him through her eyes. He asked a lady worker to take the strange visitor and to wash her face and give her food, and then bring her back. She despaired of her own salvation, being addicted to drink, but he succeeded in bringing her into the light. Mrs. Lacey, of Hoylake, for that was her name, became a successful missioner, especially among fallen women. Her weakness had been strong drink, but her heart beat in sympathy with the unfortunates. She conducted a mission for the Rev.
Seth Joshua at the Central Hall, Swansea, and her visit will be ever memorable. Mrs. Lacey died at Cardiff, and her husband and son after the funeral thanked Seth Joshua for restoring her to them.
(3) "Modern Revivals." This subject suited his taste admirably, and his knowledge of Revivals proved a source of inspiration to thousands. (I) "The world owes everything to the Church," and (2) "The Church owes everything to Revivals," were the chief bases of his narrative.
His last birthday was a solemn occasion, as the following entry reveals:
"On this 10th day of April, 1925, I am 67, and the only one left of our family group. I am humbled before the Lord in my study now, and the silence of eternal things is resting on my spirit."
How striking were the sermons he preached at the Mission on Sunday, 3rd May 1925. In the morning his theme was the "Upper Room" (St. John, Xiii.).
A place of testing. "Is it I?" Service tested - Humility tested-Love tested.
A place of cleansing. Daily defilement - Judas.
A place of fellowship. One leaning on Jesus's bosom (v. 23)-One gone out, A place of song. "And when they had sung an hymn."
In the evening he preached from Isaiah 35, 8-10, "God's Way."
A clean way. "The unclean shall not."
A plain way. "The wayfaring man," etc.
A safe way. "No lion shall be there." Bypaths-Chained lions.
4. A joyful way. "Everlasting joy." The company are joyful.
5. A homeward way. "To Zion."
6. A free way. All toll-gates abolished.
7. Room for more in the way. Millions have reached, etc.
The following Sunday, 10th May, he took part at the Oscar Snelling Jubilee Services, Albert Hall, Swansea. On his way to the evening service he was taken ill, but insisted on preaching. He returned to Neath and suffered agony from angina pectoris.
Between spasms of excruciating pain his mind was occupied with pulpit work. "Mary," said he to his wife, "bring me some paper and a pen."
"You must rest quietly, Seth." "Bring me some paper, dear, because I must catch these thoughts on the wing." The following sketch will be treasured because it was the last thing written by him.
"They saw no man save Jesus only." Peter, James and John were soon to taste death.
1. They saw the danger of spiritism. Moses and Elijah had departed centuries ago. Christianity asserts the reality of spiritual bodies. Jesus only is the one safe communion.
2. They saw God's idea of Christian unity. Peter proposed division. God commanded them to find unity in His Son.
3. They saw Jesus taking pre-eminence (a) over Moses (b) over Elijah.
Reformers. Jesus is a regenerator. Jesus abides, others vanish.
4. They saw the source of eternal life. Moses and Elijah were alive for evermore. Jesus is the Secret. The life of the Body is Blood; Soul-Intellect; Spirit-Jesus. . They saw salvation simplified, i.e. (a) stripped of its trimmings, (b) embodied in a person, (c) all religious problems are simplified. To see Jesus sums up the problem of conversion, eternal life, new birth, etc."
Dr. Lewis, his medical attendant, called in Dr. Lancaster, Swansea, for consultation. Seth had overtaxed his strength, for in addition to his exacting ministry at Neath he had undertaken special missions in the spring at Llandrindod, Liverpool and Sheffield. How pathetic his last appeal to the specialist the day before he died: "Give me fifteen years, doctor." His heart was full of plans and generous purposes. His visions were too numerous and glorious to be realised in the flesh, but they remain as parables and prophecies of his heroic soul, and are incentives to faithful fellow-workers. How mellow he had become. He was willing for others to receive the medals, and contented himself in the joy of His Master's work. When the clock of St. David's Church was striking eleven on Thursday night, 21st May, Seth Joshua said: "I think I shall have a good night's rest." He turned on his side and was " forever with the Lord."
Our brother left to mourn their loss, his wife, Mrs. Joshua, a true helpmeet and a great Christian worker; four daughters, Mrs. J. E.
Hammett, Mrs. Ellesmere Jones, Mrs. D. M. Williams, and Miss Phyllis Joshua, B.A.; and three sons, the Rev. Peter Joshua, U.S.A., Messrs. Seth Joshua, and Llewelyn Joshua.
The night before his burial the body was removed after a short service at the house to the Hall. The funeral on Tuesday, 26th, can only be compared with that of the Rev. Frank Joshua, for both funerals were among the largest ever witnessed in the town. Hundreds of men, women, and children lined the streets, for he was the friend of all.
The Rev. R. J. Rees, M.A., Superintendent of the Forward Movement, officiated, assisted by the Revs. J. J. Thomas, B.A., Cardiff, T. Lloyd, M. J.
Mills, H. G. Howell, James Lewis, C. L. Perry, and others. The Rev. R. J.
Rees said truly: "By nature the late Rev. Seth Joshua was a man of great capacity. His life after his conversion was placed unreservedly on the altar of God, and consummated in the great ministry of the church at Neath." The Rev. H. G. Howell, Newport, declared, "that probably he had been associated longer than anyone else in that hall with Mr. Joshua.
He was a man with a large soul, a man of God, and a man of the people.
The great passion of his soul was the salvation of the people. There were two Seth Joshuas-the one they were laying to rest that day and the other who could not be buried. His work would live and thousands would praise and bless him." The banks of flowers testified how greatly he was loved.
National mourning after Seth Joshua. -Beloved of the masses. -His aggressiveness. -Loved things on a large scale. -Equal to his tasks. - Apt in speech. -Great psychologist. -Introduction to the book, "The Greatest Force on Earth, the Power of Intensified Prayer," by Dr. Payne. -Gospel of new man. -Desire for union. -Firmness. -Pulling the strings. -Kiss for a kick. -Luggage in advance. -Bubbling humour. - Lionel, his son, and the howler. -Troublesome aspirates. -Takes his coat off to preach. -Appears in the pulpit in navy clothes. -A thanksgiving tea. -Postponed wedding, Ist April. -The elder brother's cheap lodgings. -So much percent. Apathy. -Sermon at Llandrindod. -Room for the Almighty. -Blue ribbon better than a red rose. -Chip of the old block. -Tourist. -Men don't believe in the devil now. -Poem.
THE name of the Rev. Seth Joshua was not only Biblical but musical.
When he passed away the whole country was staggered, for he seemed such a strong man. Beloved of the masses, he led them joyfully into the kingdom of grace. At times he made one think of the apostolic fathers. He lifted up his voice fearlessly against vice and evil, in the open street, in tent, hall, and chapel. He died in the midst of his plans, and when the demands for his service were great and pressing. His aggressiveness was irresistible. Once he set his mind on a project he would realise it, whatever the cost. God gave him a fine physique, and it was essential for his arduous work as pioneer. He loved things on a large scale-a large hall, a large crowd-but he was equal to the responsibility, and realised the importance of his mission. As Evangelist he received but a cold reception in certain towns but his sense of religious need was such that he kindled his own fire, and consumed the obstacles in, his way.
He bought up all opportunities for doing good to the full. The wonders accomplished by him at Neath were repeated at Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, and other places.
Faith and love made Seth Joshua majestic in all his performances.
His public utterances abounded in figures of speech suitable unto the crowds he addressed. Apt similes, metaphors, and anecdotes, made him an exceedingly popular speaker. He never preached above the heads of the most poorly educated, and yet his discourses furnished food for the reflective. Children and young people loved to hear him. To them he was "Uncle Seth."
King Charles II. expressed surprise that Dr. John Owen should be so enamoured of John Bunyan as a preacher. "Your Majesty," was the answer, "I would gladly part with all my learning if I could only preach like that man." Scholarly preachers often felt the same when the Rev. Seth Joshua dealt with souls in distress. His intuition and gifts as psychologist were sometimes uncanny. Seth never suffered from intellectual cramp or oddity. He viewed every' man in the light of immortality.
In his introduction to "The Greatest Force on Earth, the Power of Intensified Prayer," by Thomas Payne; DD., Seth Joshua wrote: " Such a book as this gives inspiration; it nerves the believer to greater efforts in the life of intercession." He was well qualified to express an opinion upon prayer. "Make the valley full of ditches" was his frequent advice. "There are plenty of surface workers in the religious world; what we want are diggers, those who prepare reservoirs for the living water."
He knew what it was to fast and to be weighed down by the burdens of life, and especially by the burdens of Zion. When heavy laden much prayer was his way of relief. While a resident at Llandaff he frequently entered the Cathedral and knelt down beneath the mural tablet of Archdeacon John Griffiths, Rector of Neath, the friend of his youth, where he found opportune comfort and inspiration.
His fasting and spirit of heaviness were in secret, for in public his countenance shone. He went about with a lion-countenance; never with the mien of one vanquished, but always as a victor. The sight of his face brought to his comrades a sense of triumph. How they looked to him for sympathy and good cheer. His gospel at all times was "a new man."
Christ came not to teach sectarianism or even religion, but new manhood.
None understood or exemplified better the truth that Christianity is the science of true manhood. He could never be a narrow denominationalist.
His affection embraced all men. "How I long," he wrote in 1890, "to see sects extinguished and one church formed uniting in essentials, giving liberty in all else." The great thing with him was the Kingdom of God.
Creeds and churches were means to that end, but never substitutes.
He could be firm and uncompromising, and was not ashamed to stand alone for what he considered right. There was some little difficulty about the first trust deed and he threatened to withdraw. Wisely the trustees let the matter drop. If he had withdrawn in 1890 the history of the Neath Mission would be far different from what it is. He was a born organiser and a master of detail. At first he was rather impetuous, but long before the end he was calm, patient, and mellow. He discovered that selfsacrifice and not self-assertion is the secret of Christian personality. By yielding all he found all. One day he came to my house and was bubbling over with joy. "Why are you so happy?" I asked. "Listen," said he, "the old devil came to me early this morning and said: 'Perhaps you don't know, Seth, that a very important honour is to be conferred to-day; but let me tell you, although you ought to have the honour, another is in view, and they are pulling the strings.' 'Who taught them to pull the strings, Satan? It is you, isn't it?' ' I thought you would be in a pet, Seth. Aren't you going to have your rag out?' 'Look here, Satan, I haven't got a rag now.'" When he succeeded his brother in 1921 he expressed the same truth in another way. "People ask me," said he, "what will you do if they kick you?" "Well, I won't kick back, I have learnt that a kiss is better than a kick."
His interest in the poor was proverbial. No really deserving case failed to secure assistance. If he himself could not render help, he would at once seek a benefactor, and was rarely, denied. He never forgot to thank the friends who helped the poor. "Luggage in advance," he called such benefactions. His last Christmas was celebrated by a tea for the aged, and each of the fifty present had a ten shilling note.
Whilst conducting a tent mission at Porthcawl he allowed a poor tramp to sleep in the tent, in short, to make his home there. When the gospel meeting began the tramp, at first, would slink away, then he would hang about the door, and finally he stood up and confessed faith in Christ. The man was made anew and found employment with a Christian master.
At Cardiff he was asked for help by one who professed to be very religious. Seth could not turn the man away from the door although he doubted his sincerity. Dinner was given and some money. The following day Seth was travelling by train to Newport, and in a corner seat was reading the daily paper. The impostor entered the carriage, and began cursing religion and all professing Christians. Seth lowered his paper and said: "Those are not the sentiments you expressed at my dinner table yesterday." The effect was electric, and the blasphemer rushed into the corridor and disappeared.
His humorous sallies would fill a large volume. The spirit of kindliness was ever bubbling within, and .the genial smile made him a welcome companion. His son Lionel (d. 1908), who was particularly clever, used to criticise his speech after service. "Dad, you made a howler to-day."
"What did I do?" "You said 'earthstone' instead of hearthstone." "Well, my boy, I will say hearthstone for the rest of my life." On another occasion Lionel said: "You were wrong in your aspirates this morning, Dad." "Aspirates, whatever are those?" "You put ' h ' where it ought not to be and left it out where it ought to be." "Well, Lionel, what have you to complain about if I take it out from one place and put it back in another place?" One hot day he took off his coat for preaching, remarking: "I've taken it off many times in the service of Satan; why shouldn't I take it off for Christ?" A rough character, seeing him, shouted, "Go it, govnor! Go on, guvnor!" and Seth went on and had many conversions.
He could make little impression on the people of a certain town, and complained that they were all too proud. "You are proud also," was the retort. Determined to rebut this charge he sought navy clothes and preached in them, much to the astonishment of the proud and respectable congregation. However, he "brought them all to their knees."
A convert would have Seth and his wife and Frank to tea. "It was a wonderful time of rejoicing, man, and a sumptuous table (borrowed). A big dish full of cockles from Ferryside, and all kinds of tarts and Welsh cakes." That convert in time filled his house with furniture, and became landlord and not tenant. The thanksgiving tea lived in his memory.
Seeing two eminent preachers in the kitchen of a large farm Seth asked:
"Are there big meetings anywhere near?" "No," answered one, "shall I tell Seth why we are both here?" "Yes, tell him; he can keep a secret," said the other. "Well, Seth, I came here to marry our friend there this morning; but when I told him that it is the First of April he decided to put it off till to-morrow. We are waiting, you see, for to-morrow, lest our friend should be called 'April fool by the denomination."
Writing to a brother minister about a mission he was conducting at the time in the Rhondda, he stated: "The elder brother has taken cheap lodgings in the churches of this place. He does nothing but grumble. He does not even contribute toward the gas bill."
After a week's mission in Monmouthshire, where he found the conditions hard, he visited Scotland and met with great success. In a letter he wrote:
"So much per cent. of the non-success at P was due to lack of organisation, and so much per cent, due to apathy, and the remainder must be placed to the missioner's inefficiency. Here Seth's 'inefficiency has been made good by the Master, for we are having glorious times."
He had a memorable way of putting things, "This morning," said he, one Sunday at Llandrindod, "I rose early and went for a walk around the lake. The Lord said: 'Seth, you are not going to preach that old traveller this morning.' Very well, Lord; give me another text then.' ' Let this be your text: "Fear not, thou worm Jacob. . . I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the bills as chaff" (Isaiah 41, 14, 15).
'What about the sermon, Lord?' He has given me the sermon also. Firstly, the worm need not fear any fall. Secondly, the worm has no back to break, etc." Some time afterward a Liverpool merchant told him that the remarkable sermon at Llandrindod changed him altogether. "There my proud, stiff back was broken, and thank God and you, Mr. Joshua."
The leader of a peculiar denomination was expected one evening by a large crowd at the Hall, Neath, but somehow he went to another chapel in the town. On proceeding to his vestry Seth was informed by one of his people that the man had gone elsewhere. "What a shame, Mr. Joshua."
"All the better, my brother," he exclaimed. "There will be more room now for the Almighty."
A railway passenger once asked him to hide the blue ribbon, which he had in his coat. "Why should I? It prevents one from having a red nose.' The impertinent fellow, who had a very red nose, hung his head in shame.
One day the conversation was about the son of a notable man. "Is he a chip of the old block, Joshua?" "No, man, not even a shaving."
A discontented man who had visited several churches wanted his transfer. "My good friend," exclaimed Seth, "it is not a transfer you want, but a tourist."
Speaking of the devil and his subtlety he said: "Education tempts people to deny the existence of a real devil. Very well, if he can persuade you to believe that he does not exist he is quite content, for he knows that in that way he will catch you all round the corner." With what effect he recited the verses beginning with the following lines:
"Men don't believe in a Devil now, As their fathers used to do; They've forced the door of the broadest creed To let his Majesty through, etc.
. . . . . . . . . .
The Devil was fairly voted out, And of course the Devil's gone; But simple folk would like to know Who carries the business on?" At one tent mission Seth invited testimonies, but some people went beyond that and spoke unkindly of others in the congregation. The genial missioner rose and said that "those who had bricks to throw might wrap them in a blanket."
Beloved brother, rest, Thy full, hard day is done; Thy fame forever blest Through dauntless toil was won.
Thy giant strength was spent To rout the foes of Truth; To battle thou wert sent, Anointed from thy youth.
A thousand triumphs thine, At home and o'er the sea; What hosts through grace Divine Proclaim their liberty.
Thy "Hallelujah" shout Brought conquest to the camp; Thy zeal and courage stout Blazed like Jehovah's lamp.
From tent to crowded hall Thy passion swept along; Earth's persecution, gall, Could never slay thy song.
More work was in thy plan Than fleeting time could hold; Too short thy earthly span For dreams so rich and bold.
Beloved brother, rest, May blossoms testify That Pentecost, thy quest, With full tide joy is nigh.
-T. Manly Rees.
26th May 1925.
We must needs write "Finis" to our brief account of the two notable evangelIsts, although much more could be written if we had room. We shall conclude with a prayer which Frank frequently wrote, at the close of his sermon notes: "Lord Jesus, mightily bless and use this to Thine own glory. For Thy name's sake. Amen."
Dr. R. R. Davies, Wilkesbarre, Pa., U.S.A., has accepted a call to the Neath F. M. Hall and will begin his ministry on Easter Sunday, 1926.
Seth's Views And Message.
In an issue of the "Cymro" (Dolgelley) for 10th December 1924, the Editor, Mr. E. W. Evans, published a most interesting communication, which he had received from the Rev. Seth Joshua in answer to a large number of questions, which had been addressed to him in Welsh. The brief answers reveal the personality and style of Seth in a striking manner, consequently we preserve them thus.
I. When and how did you first come into contact with John Pugh? My first contact with the Rev. John Pugh was at Pontypridd, before my conversion in 1882. At this time a great gospel temperance revival was going on, and in Gelliwastad Wesleyan Chapel in that year I signed the pledge. Some few weeks afterwards my conversion took place, and immediately I began to witness for Christ. In the end of 1882 I joined my Brother Frank at Neath, and continued there until 189I. In the spring of 1891 Mr. Pugh and I met at Port Talbot. We took tea together in the house of the Rev. Moses Williams. After tea we took a walk along the mountainside, and there discussed the question of starting an Evangelistic campaign in Cardiff. The result of this was that I took our Neath Gospel Tent to Cardiff, and there started the work at East Moors.
From this time forth we were constantly in touch, and we are in touch together still.
2. What is your opinion of John Pugh's work as a preacher? A critic would answer this question by saying what he was not as a preacher. I can only write my opinion as to what he was. What he was looms up in my memory; and I see the mountain peaks cutting through the drifting clouds. He often preached and wept at the same time, and his tears were as eloquent as his words. His sermons glowed with a passion for souls. Sometimes it would reach a white heat. He preached with one arm clinging around the Cross, and with the other outstretched to snatch souls from the wrath to come. As an open-air preacher he ranks with Wesley, Whitefield, and Howel Harris. He found his way to Calvary from every text, or any part of God's word. If a man can be measured as a preacher by his passion for souls, his tears for sinners, his heroic open-air testimony, and his fruit in the salvation of men, then the Rev. John Pugh was truly great.
3. Did John Pugh leave an abiding mark in the places where he laboured? Certainly, his memory is green. The stones, the bricks, and the rafters, in scores of buildings, all cry out, and his works follow him. The children of his day, now grown into manhood and womanhood, speak of him with admiration. His leaf shall not wither. No grave is deep enough to bury his memory in. Not even the grave of neglect dug by the hand of ingratitude.
Not even the grave of prejudice dug by the ghoul of envy. God is pledged to keep his memory blessed, and it will be so; for it is written with a pen of iron on the fleshy tablets of human hearts.
How is it that his biography has not been written? This is a question for the Connexion to answer. If you could shout the question through the valleys of South Wales and Monmouthshire, the mountains would echo back-WHY NOT? Is a biography needed? Yes, and print it on the best paper ever made, and bind the book in the best calfskin binding. Print the Title and the name in gold letters. Make it so beautiful that even Ruskin would say "Well done."
Who could write it? Someone with a blind eye to his few small failures, and an open one to his many golden qualities.
A writer in touch with his ideals, and in sympathy with his ambitions.
One who could hide himself, and reveal the subject of his biography.
The most thrilling chapter would contain the story of his first struggles, and when out of tears and prayers, emerged that which afterwards compelled his critics to stand in wonder. Only a few are now alive. Mrs.
Pugh was an eyewitness of all this.
7, Did the Connexion make a mistake by appointing one so different as John Morgan Jones to occupy his place in the Forward Movement? It is too delicate a question for me to answer. Many reasons restrain me from stating my opinion. The old Calvinistic view is that- "All things work together for good." There can therefore be no mistake when the ultimate harvest is reaped. But suppose it was a mistake. Even then, the Connexion is not to blame. These matters are not determined by the Connexion, The rank and file have no voice in the matter. The Rev. J.
Morgan Jones had his own personal qualifications, and they were great. I am not prepared to say that any mistake was made, but I do say that it was not the mistake of the Connexion.
One of the greatest dangers of to-day is for an inner autocratic few to be permitted to legislate for a democratic church.
8. I should like very much to have a little of your experience with the work before and after the death of John Pugh.
There is the greatest possible difference. In John Pugh's day the bugle was always sounding "The Charge." The command was "Up, and at them."
We were always "Going over the top." It was an offensive, an attack, a rush to attain an object. The enemy was kept on the alert. He was not permitted to rest, but kept in dread suspense as to the next surprise attack.
After John Pugh's day the command was "Mark Time." This military term was literally used. The result of this was that only one set of muscles were exercised, and the fighting muscles lost the power of motion. The army was kept marking time on the parade ground, close to the canteen.
The nostrils of the warriors were no longer extended and trained to smell powder, but to smell the soup. Another pet phrase used, the moment John Pugh passed away, was "Consolidate." Then there set in a frost, and there followed a consolidation similar to that known at the North Pole.
We need the fire of the old days.
9. Is there hope for the Gospel obtaining again, a hold of the masses in South Wales? The people are crying out for it. There is no grip in anything else. Can you blame the people for shrinking from the cold, bloodless touch of other substitutes? Paid a gofyn "A oes obaith i'r Efengyl gael gafael eto" Mae yr hen Efengyl yn cael gafael ar y bobl o hyd. [Do not ask is there hope of the Gospel obtaining a hold again. The old Gospel is having hold of the people all the time]. The people are sick and tired of the present day attempts to dress up the Gospel in new clothes. A new tribe of theological tailors have wearied the people by forcing the Gospel to become a quickchange artist. Who would think of dressing the lily? Its naked beauty is its divine glory. Who would think of dressing the stars? When we burn our secondhand clothes, and when we throw away our paint pots, then the Gospel will grip wherever it is preached.
10. Can you suggest some new method for working among the masses? No. All the new things have been and are being tried by the quick-change artists. Those who lose faith in the Gospel as the power of God fly to new experiments. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel," is still the standing orders for the church. You can take your "Institutional Church" propaganda down into the valley of dry bones. You may erect educational cranes for the uplifting of the bones. You may introduce every plank in the Socialist's platform. You may build garden cities, and shout environment until you are out of breath, and yet there will be reversion to type. The regeneration of the individual is God's plan. By all means let them go hand in hand, but regeneration must be the Jacob in the birth of these twins. It is a waste of energy to attempt dragging regeneration behind the chariot of reformation. It is not a new invention, but a new obedience to an old command, "Prophesy unto these bones, and say unto them, 0 ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord." Ezek. 37: 4.
11. Is there need for a new style of preaching? Or new style of chapels? Halls in place of chapels? Would that be an advantage? The first question I have already answered, and given my humble opinion. Years ago, I would have said, and did often say, "Build halls for the people." Now I see that halls may become empty, or nearly so. The work within a hall may become dead and lifeless. It is not therefore a question of bricks, of shape, form, or name. These things belong to brickyards, timber yards, architects, and committees. The need of to-day is the need emphasised years ago. It is the need of Spirit-filled men, fitted to reach the masses. They can only be qualified by experience, and the only pathway to experience is to train in a church where the work is actually being done. The Connexion must be prepared to spend more upon men and less upon bricks.
Say "Mark Time" to the bricks if you like, but I plead with you not to say this to the converted lads of our country.
The cry from Macedonia is loud. The need is the need for men, trained in touch with the actual work.
12. What is your experience in the work of preaching to the mass? Is the charm of the Gospel ceasing? Do we need to alter the style of preaching? My danger in answering this question is that of judging things from our work here at Neath. During the past twelve months we have seen hundreds confess Christ. As to the people coming to hear .the Gospel, you may guess matters from what happened last Sunday. Our evening service commences at 6.30, but the ball was crowded at 5.30, and a man counted 800 people who could not get inside the hall.
Then near Caerphilly the people have flocked to hear the Gospel preached by Evangelist David Mathews, and a multitude of sinners have been converted.
The blessing falls in localities far apart. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." But it is blowing. "Awel o Galfaria."
I have great expectation as to the immediate future. When the Greeks said, "Sir, we would see Jesus," the Master said, "My Hour is Come."
We were never faced with an hour so pregnant with possibilities. It is come, brought to our doors wet with tears, stained with blood, and with sobs of distress.
13. Your experience as pastor? Has visiting an important place in the work of an evangelist and pastor? There is a most vital division between the Evangelist and the Shepherd.
The two gifts do not always go together. They are usually the separate gifts of the Spirit to the Church. But the pastoral gift can be cultivated. A man may be a giant in the pulpit, and a dwarf when dealing with the individual. One of the greatest anomalies in my experience is to hear a pulpit giant who is a pastoral failure giving advice to others as to how to keep a church together. The comicality of the thing has saved me more than once.
The secret of success as an evangelist is to reach the mass, but the secret of the pastor is to reach the individual. In my judgment there is no better way than that of being a man among men. Move among them, mix with them, and disarm them as to their conception that you are a standoffish sort of individual. I only wear my box hat at funerals and weddings.
14. What is your view of the function: (i) Church, (2) Pastor, (3) Preacher? (I) The primary work of the Church is to exist as a testimony to the world.
To witness before the world, and set forth the truth of their family relationship one to another, and unto God. It is a home for saints, and the work is to cultivate saintship. The members of this family are to bear one another's burdens, and so live in love together, that like the Church of old, they may have favour with all the people.
(2) The work of the Shepherd is to go among his flock, and help to cultivate this unity of the Spirit, this family relationship, and make his Church a home of saints on earth. He is needed with the sick and dying.
His eyes are keen to watch a sheep go astray. A man able to render first aid, and with enough patience to render it seventy-times-seven.
(3) I think that the work of the true preacher is to aim at a mark and hit it.
His preparation, his text, and his sermon, should all bend in the direction of the mark aimed at. The one purpose in fishing is to catch fish. To win souls is therefore the mark. I was once in Amlwch when a gentleman handed me a volume of sermons by one named John Pritchard. I was much affected by noticing how every text and sermon aimed at the one essential thing in the ministry. I was informed afterward that Pritchard always hit the mark.
15. Is the method of preparing preachers advantageous to the carrying on of a work like the Forward Movement? For 40 years I have given my opinion, and made my unheeded appeal. By all means have your Arts and Theological training. But you have not secured everything even then. To take over an old established country business, with old established customers, is one thing; but to cut out new ground, and get new customers in the face of strong competition, is another matter.
A year or two in one of the churches where the crowds are handled, sinners pointed to the Saviour, and all the various branches of a living work carried on, would produce the needed pulpit material. But it will cost money, so my voice is the voice of one crying in the wilderness. "Let us eat, drink, and be merry." Call in the cigars, and spend it on smoke, motorcars, and a few odds and ends.
16. Have you any suggestion how to improve matters? Of what purpose is it to give suggestions, and give advice? This old world is pretty well choked with suggestions. Every committee, every monthly meeting, town councils, labour parties, socialistic meetings, and every political party in existence, have been at this game of "making suggestions." Dear, Mr. Editor, there is no material left out of which to make a suggestion. The thing is so overdone that there is no room for originality. What we need is not a discoverer of new suggestions, but a voice to command the army of God to fight the fight of faith. God never suggests. He commands.
"Do the work of an Evangelist." The only way to do a thing is to do it. Do not suggest to another how to do it. Do it yourself. Are our churches doing it with locked doors from Sunday to Sunday and "Empires" open twice each night? Are we doing it with sleeves tucked up and coats off? I suggest the death of suggestions and the resurrection of practical activity.
17. Have you anything else to add? Your question reminds me of that Old Testament question: "Watchman, what of the night?" Can I say as he said: "The morning cometh" Yes, I venture into the realm of the prophet. I see the glint of the morning. Zion shall yet see the light of His face. Is not light sown for the righteous? Are all the harvests of light reaped? Is the light of the church to go down in obscurity? No, for the morning cometh, the darkest hour before the dawn is wrapping us round. The thick blackness is a mixture of materialism, militarism, bolshevism, socialism, pharisaism, indifferentism, devilism, spiritualism arising from the bottomless pit. The night is dark, but the morning cometh. Children of light, listen. Bend your ears down to the promises of God. They throb with meaning and with hope.
It must be the breaking of the day, The night is far spent; The day is at hand, It must be the breaking of the day.