ROTHERHAM'S REMINISCENCES - CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 5. - EVANGELISTIC EXPERIENCES DURING FOURTEEN YEARS, 1854-1868.
First period chiefly in Wales, 1854-1859. - Second period chiefly in Scotland, 1859 - 1868.
The facts so far related will have prepared the reader to learn that, on passing into the ranks of "The Disciples," arrangements were made whereby I was enabled to continue my labours in preaching the Word.
Regarding this period of my life there are topographical landmarks that may be helpful. The reader must try to realise the set of circumstances involved in the hard fact that my "home" starting from Mollington, near Chester, in 1854, migrated from thence to Newtown, Montgomeryshire; to Manchester; back to Newtown; to Huddersfield; to Liverpool; to Birmingham; to Newtown; to Dundee; to Perth ; to New Scone; to London; to Bath; and to Manchester, once more, in 1866.
This summary may enable the reader to perceive something of the drawbacks attending the lot of itinerant evangelists.
Then there is the ethnological element in the situation, waiting to contribute to the interest of the retrospect - English, Welsh, Scottish. English, amongst some of whom an speaker can with difficulty be short enough; Welsh, amongst whom an Englishman can certainly not be tuneful enough, "no matter how good are the sermons you preach, it is nothing if you cannot give us the song," say they - meaning the hwyl, that is the dance of the orator's ship on the wave of emotion; and the Scottish, delightfully patient listeners, oppressively quiet - until you know them, but then you reap your reward by discovering that you may be too short for them, if you have anything good to say.
In his Reminiscences Mr. Rotherham does not enter into details regarding his evangelistic experiences, and it has been left for a later hand to gather together such particulars as are likely to be of general interest. In August, 1854, the "Annual Meeting of Delegates" was held at Wrexham. The following
summary of the proceedings appeared in the Wrexham Advertiser of August 5th:-
REFORM OF CHRISTENDOM.
A meeting of the delegates from the various congregations in Great Britain called the "Reformation Churches" has this week been held in Wrexham for the first time. On Wednesday evening a public meeting was held for the purpose of promoting the objects of the society, when some very able addresses were delivered by the delegates in advocacy of the principles upon which they found their demand for Reformation. Mr. Rotherham, of Wem, late minister of the Baptist Church there, who has recently joined this movement, on being introduced to the meeting, paid an eloquent tribute to the earnestness and singlemindedness of the efforts which had been put forth in support of the cause by those who were in the field before him ... He referred to the exceeding prominence given by them to the great foundation-truth of Christianity - "that Jesus is the Son of God" - the design of Christian baptism - the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper, etc., on all which points, he pleaded, they had apostolic teaching for their warrant, and as Christians they could take no other.
In a long letter which appears in the "Harbinger" of January, 1855, Mr. Rotherham describes his first visit to Wales. He travelled by way of Wrexham, Oswestry, and Welshpool to Newtown. At Llanidloes, near by, he made the acquaintance of Edward Evans, to whose zeal and enterprise much of the success of the pioneer work in Wales was due.
"The town of Llanidloes is most romantically situated on the river Severn, not far from the principal source of that noble stream, and is embosomed in an elevated valley, surrounded on all sides by hills. Its principal trade and manufacture are in flannel, which in Montgomeryshire is extensively fabricated." So says the writer of the letter referred to.
In their preaching tours it was usual for Edward Evans to address the audience in Welsh, his companion following with a discourse in English. Regarding his much-esteemed companion J.B.R. has left the following brief sketch:-
EDWARD EVANS, OF BIRKENHEAD.
First of Llanidloes, then of Bath, and finally of Birkenhead. Of this brother I have many memories, some of which are
particularly vivid. I can still see him in more attitudes than one. I can see him standing in the river Severn, just before it reached the bridge in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, with his long arm uplifted to heaven, and hundreds of spectators on and near the bridge, looking down on the observance of the solemn ordinance of Christian immersion as it was administered to E.M. Pryce, who for the purpose of receiving it had come down from among the Radnorshire hills. I can see him accompanying me round his father's farm, romantically pitched on an elevation lofty enough to permit us by night to look down on the town of Llanidloes, as on a jewel-island set in a lake one day suddenly, with his dog, leaving my side and running across a field to the rescue of a poor sheep, helplessly lying on its back, unable to rise unaided because of the abundance of its own wool. But for a tendency to stammer, Edward Evans would have been an eloquent public speaker, seeing that he possessed an excellent knowledge of the Scriptures, was profoundly loyal to his heavenly Lord, and was gifted with that peculiar national emotionalism which is so winning in its charm over our more stolid British hearts.
Newtown is described (in a very modern "guide," kindly sent by a friend resident in the town, and who was born there nearly 70 years ago) as the "Leeds of Wales," and now the centre of the Welsh flannel industry. This fabric was formerly produced on hand-looms, but although this antiquated system has been superseded by modern methods and powerful machinery, no diminution of the well-recognised merits of Welsh flannel has taken place. It is said that the name of Pryce Jones is inseparably associated with the main industry of the town. It was at Newtown, in January, 1855, that my father made his home, and brought thither his "little family" (it may be observed in passing that at Newtown the present writer was born in 1856), and although called upon very soon to render help at other distant places, for several years Newtown was the centre of his evangelistic work.
A bill printed and circulated in the town intimated that
"The Christian Congregation, Newtown. The Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, meeting in the Unicorn Room, have much pleasure in informing the inhabitants of Newtown and its vicinity that Mr. J.B. Rotherham, of Mollington, near
Chester, has taken up his residence in Newtown for the ensuing four months, and (D.V.) will preach in the above room every Lord's Day at two o'clock in the afternoon and six in the evening. Also every Thursday at half-past seven o'clock. The Disciples meet at half-past ten every Lord's Day morning 'to break the loaf,' on which occasions they are pleased to see strangers present. N.B. - Seats free. No public collections."
Working from Newtown as a centre, the evangelist made many journeys (generally accompanied by Edward Evans) to the outlying villages. A few sentences from one of the letters which appeared at the time in the "Harbinger" will give some idea of these expeditions to out-of-the-way parts of "Wild Wales."
"We found the farmers, with their families and work-people, collected in a. barn-like wooden house for religious worship, the professing portion of them being chiefly Independents. Brother Evans preceded me by delivering an excellent discourse on 'God Manifested in the Flesh.' I followed by speaking at some length on 'The Forgiveness of Sins,' after which we distributed a number of 'Evangelists,' and repaired with the Independent deacon to his house, where we were treated to an excellent dinner, and finding no more place in that neighbourhood for the present, were helped 'on our way after a godly sort,' being furnished with a pony to carry your humble servant up the hills some little way. We thought it prudent to make the best of our way to Nantgwin; but before we could reach this point we were drenched by the heavy rain. Notwithstanding, by the means of a change of raiment, a hearty meal, and a warm fire, we were in a position to receive from the minister of the Baptist Chapel an invitation to preach for him that night. To an invitation of this kind, cordially tendered, we could not say no; Brother Evans and I, therefore, again united, after the Welsh fashion, in the delivery of two discourses.
"We had every reason to conclude that notwithstanding our somewhat full 'expose' of our views of the design of baptism, etc., we were well received. Prejudice has been removed; not only will the same chapel be open to us on a future occasion, but I have now an invitation to deliver a
lecture, when convenient, in Beulah Chapel, another Baptist meeting-house about two and a half miles from the former, located on the farm our Brother Evans will shortly occupy.
"As to the parish of Nantmeal, I can only say we have sown a handful of seed within it, and are open to correspond with the Independent deacon as to the loan of Carmel (Independent) Chapel at some future time. If we obtain this, and are duly published, we shall undoubtedly have large congregations.
"I reached home safely last night, and found all well: the God of all mercies be praised. - J.B.R."
Mr. Rotherham received a very cordial invitation from a Mr. Samuel Pritchard to visit Brecon. Before accepting this invitation, however, it was necessary to consult the Nottingham Committee as to the expense of making the journey. In a letter to the Committee it is said:-
"Having made enquiries respecting the most economical mode of reaching this rather inaccessible but important town, I find that to take the only direct conveyance through would cost, there and back, £2 or upwards. By a little contrivance I have planned to reach Brecon on foot and per van by a route that will reduce the expense to from 10s. to 20s. Please inform me whether I had better, at this cost, pay the desired visit. Brecon, of course, you will recognise as the chief town in Brecknockshire, South Wales. It is about 45 miles south of Newtown, and 18 or 20 north of Merthyr Tydvil. In the latter town you are aware we have a considerable number of brethren. Should the friends in Brecon show themselves ready to be taught the way of the Lord more perfectly, and to practise all the commands of our King, they will form a valuable connection between Newtown and Merthyr. We might then consider Wrexham, Llanfair, Newtown, Brecon, and Merthyr as forming a range of beacon-lights, streaking the border of Wales with a cheering and guiding illumination, which might happily keep many tempest-tossed minds off the rocks of partyism and infidelity, and guide them into the harbour of Christianity, as it was at the first."
From this and other letters it is evident that the writer possessed to the full that pioneer missionary spirit which is
always reaching forward to the regions beyond, and eager to break up new ground; and with such a vision before them it is perhaps not surprising to gather that the proposed visit to Brecon was duly authorised by the Nottingham Committee, and it is gratifying to find that the visit was much appreciated. The aforesaid Samuel Pritchard begins a letter to the "Harbinger" by saying: -
"It affords me great pleasure to inform you that Mr. Rotherham, of Newtown, paid us a visit on the 12th of this month, and remained until the 20th. During the week he preached five times and delivered three truthful and instructive lectures. Some of his audiences were large, others few in number, but very attentive, and expressed themselves highly gratified with his eloquent lectures. I trust his visit will be a blessing, and long remembered by some."
A glance at the current Year Book of Churches of Christ reveals the fact that, unfortunately, the "beacon-lights" at Newtown and Brecon have been extinguished. Happily the lights are still shining with more or less brilliancy at the other places mentioned.
It was with some reluctance that my father left for a time the work in Wales in order to assist in the planting of the Church in Manchester.
In an admirable little booklet compiled by Mr. James Flisher and issued by the Church at Manchester on the occasion of the Jubilee celebrations in 1905, the history of the Church is given in some detail. Suffice it here to say that on Lord's Day, July 1st, 1855, the campaign in Manchester was commenced, and that Mr. Rotherham took his full share in the numerous preaching engagements which followed the initial proceedings. On the evening of Lord's Day, July 1st, he gave an address on "Some of the Neglected Features of Primitive Christianity;" and regarding a later occasion it is said, "Brother Rotherham gave an address on 'Christian Union' to a numerous, deeply-attentive, and apparently intelligent auditory."
It is stated in a concluding paragraph in the booklet referred to that, "notwithstanding his weight of years, Mr. J.B. Rotherham - one of the pioneers of the movement" - was
expected to be present at the Jubilee gatherings in Manchester in 1905; and in his "Reminiscences" Mr. Rotherham says:-
"I deem myself happy that, at the Jubilee in Manchester, I had an auspicious occasion on which to submit to my brethren some of my 'revised conclusions.' The occasion was historic. Fifty years had elapsed since David King, Francis Hill, George Sinclair, and J.B. Rotherham had gone to Manchester to establish a Church based, as desired and believed, on New Testament principles. Three of these had gone to their rest. As the only one remaining, there was a natural desire that I should attend."
NOTE. - A summary of the address delivered at Manchester, and entitled "Revised Conclusions," will appear in a later chapter of this work.
AFTER MANCHESTER - BIRMINGHAM.
A letter addressed to "The Delegates appointed by the Churches of Christ in the United Kingdom, meeting at Camden Hall, London, on Tuesday, August 11th, 1857, and following days," and sent by the Church in Birmingham, contains the following paragraphs: "We cordially agree in the action recently taken at the Annual Meeting respecting the necessity of a concentrated effort being made in the cities and towns of the United Kingdom for the spread and promotion of the unadulterated Gospel of Christ. We believe there is no town would yield a richer harvest than that from which we indite this letter. We therefore ask you to take into your serious consideration the propriety of recommending to the Churches generally that a scheme shall be promoted here, similar to that so successfully carried out in Manchester."
A letter, written by D. King, which appeared in the "Harbinger" of May, 1858, begins by saying:-
"As many of the readers of the 'Harbinger' are anxious to hear from this town, I take my pen to give them a brief outline. Our last intimated the arrival of myself and Sister K., on the 16th March, and our reception by Brother Rotherham, who had been, through Divine goodness, safely conducted to this part of the Lord's field a few days earlier."
Then follows a detailed description of the taking of a convenient room in Cherry Street, corner of Union Passage, and
in a very central position - of the town meetings held there - the studding of the walls of the town with double-demy posters - and the visitation of persons "who wished to see us for more full and more private conversation."
In many further letters which duly appeared month by month in the "Harbinger" D.K. recorded the progress made at Birmingham, with which important Midland city he was closely identified to the end of his days.
During the period under review Mr. Rotherham visited Nottingham, Huddersfield, and Liverpool, and his efforts in each place were much appreciated, and yielded good results. At Huddersfield in July, 1857, addresses were delivered in the market-place on the Evidences of Christianity "to rather large companies, composed chiefly of intelligent working-men," and the report adds, "So far we have found that to throw open our addresses to peaceable and respectful investigation has been the means of increased effect."
From Liverpool G.Y. Tickle (of sainted memory), writing under date November 20th, 1857, says: "We have too long been elbowed into a corner. Some do all they can to ignore our existence. Our duty is to make them acknowledge it by making them feel it. Such is our determination, as far as we have strength and opportunity given to us in Liverpool, and with the powerful aid of Brother Rotherham, I am sanguine as to the result. Will the brethren help us by the word of encouragement, by earnest prayer to God, and by the liberal things devised by liberal souls?"
At the close of 1858 Mr. Rotherham was back in Newtown, the journey thither being rendered memorable by an unfortunate incident, viz., the loss of the greater part of his books by the sinking of a boat in the canal. From a letter to the "Harbinger" regarding the work at Newtown, a few sentences may be extracted:-
"Many brethren will rejoice in the additional encouragement we derive from the fact that our beloved brother Samuel Owen, of Wrexham, has determined to commence on his own account a printing business in this town ... Our tracts are both borrowed, read, feared, and destroyed; and clergymen are called in to extract the 'poison' they have
communicated ... In the midst of all this, while earnestly begging a remembrance in the prayers of the faithful, that we may acquit ourselves worthily, we joyfully thank God and take courage. - J.B.R."
In the autumn of 1859 Mr. Rotherham left Wales for Scotland, and his experiences en route are recorded in a letter sent to the "Harbinger." The writer says:-
"Leaving Newtown on the 27th ult., I spent from that time till Monday, September 5th, in Manchester, thus including two Lord's Days. My visit to Manchester was an exceedingly gratifying one. The general steadfastness of those who first constituted the Church in Manchester - the large increase of brethren thus far - the great promise given by quite a band of young men as to future usefulness - the zeal and love of the community as a whole cheered me, the more that I had spent but one Lord's Day in Manchester before since terminating my labours in that city at the end of 1855.
Purposing to pass to Dundee by way of Glasgow, I rejoiced to find that a few brethren in Ayrshire were desirous of help just at the juncture, in consequence of the Revival influences at work in their neighbourhood. So calling at Stevenston for four days, I reached Glasgow in time to spend with the brethren in that city Lord's Day the 11th instant and following days. Returning to Stevenston, six days more were spent in that village, and I am happy to add I was privileged to immerse seven individuals, who will form an encouraging addition to the few worthy brethren who remain in that locality. In the contiguous towns of Saltcoats and Ardrossan, 'the Revival' has been at work, and cases of persons being 'stricken' are reported. But in Stevenston, so far as I am aware, nothing of the kind has taken place. There has been simply an unusual disposition to hear the Gospel. Of this feature you may judge from the simple fact that in ten days it was my privilege to deliver eleven discourses and take part in nine conversational meetings. There is reason to hope that more persons in that neighbourhood will soon obey the Saviour. It would be well if further effort could be put forth there. 'The Revival' is taking considerable hold on Glasgow, and by announcing two
addresses on 'Revivals' we were able to gather two fine week-evening meetings. Respecting Dundee, having arrived there to-day only, all I can report is that Bro. Milner feels encouraged by four recent immersions and by the interest of a few enquirers. J.B.R.
Dundee, September 22nd, 1859.
Bro. John Brown also writes from Glasgow, under date of September 13th, to the effect that since his last communication six young persons had been added to the church through confession and immersion."
At Dundee J.B.R. first made the acquaintance of Thomas Hughes Milner, with whom was begun a close intercourse, which only ceased with the untimely passing of T.H.M. a few years later. Regarding his friend and brother J.B.R. says in his "Reminiscences":- Alas! - as it seems to us - too soon removed. He attempted the work of three men: man of business, preacher, author, and editor. Of slender bodily organisation, he could not endure the strain. He was a winning and effective minister of the word, by pen as well as by tongue. He wrote a series of tracts, and produced at least one elaborate treatise, called 'Messiah's Ministry.' He had an admirable insight into human nature, and was the means of moving others to mutual ministry in the Lord."
At Dundee - through the generosity of a sister - a fine hall was acquired, and vigorous evangelistic work carried on. James Ainslie, who appears to have been a prominent figure at the time, reports that "Brother Rotherham delivered many important discourses on the Gospel, and also on the evidences of Christianity touching the writings of M. Renan, the celebrated French author of the 'Life of Jesus.'" Regarding James Ainslie, a note in "Reminiscences" says:- "He had, in earlier life, seen service in the Royal Navy, and the custom of promenading the deck had led him into the habit of pulling up and confronting you as he conversed on the streets of Dundee. I well remember a sample of breviloquence to which he treated us on Lord's Day Morning: 'Brother Rotherham will preach here this afternoon, "Beginning at Jerusalem."'"
Perth, on the river Tay, is 33 miles from Edinburgh, and the charming scenery of its environments amply justifies its old
title of the "Fair City." Perth has two "Inches," or public meadows, which border the river, and are now finely shaded with trees. A modern writer says: "It is worth while to go as far as the middle of the bridge, if only for the sight of the clear, deep, strong current of the broad and sweeping Tay; and it is still more worth while to ascend Kinnoull Hill, on the other side of the river, the prospect of which bears a certain resemblance to that from the Stirling battlements, or that from the Abbey Craig."
By the well known law of association which links together places with persons, the mention of Perth at once brings to the mind of the present writer the late Mrs. Crockatt and her sons, two of whom are happily still with us. Alas! that we have only left to us as a cherished memory the frank, manly face and figure of Captain Peter Crockatt, who was drowned with one of his sons in the Bay of Biscay some years ago.
It is a somewhat singular reminder of the way in which one generation follows another that a passage in "Reminiscences" recalls the fact that more than fifty years ago Mr. Wm. Crockatt, of Glasgow, and Mr. John Crockatt, of Leeds, were schoolboys at Sharpe's School, in Perth. After leaving school Mr. William Crockatt served his apprenticeship as an engineer, while a few years later Mr. John Crockatt was mastering the mysteries of dyeing in his grandfather's famous P. and P. Campbell Dye Works at Perth.
The present esteemed Secretary of the Churches of Christ Foreign Missionary Society vividly recalls the correspondence and talks which preceded his immersion by my father in a cistern within the area of the Dye Works. He also remembers the Sunday morning walks to Scone in company with his mother and the patriarchal Mr. MacIntosh, and the varying fortunes of the Church at Perth.
A further passage from "Reminiscences" may here be included. The writer says: "As is natural in the exercise of a memory which grows more and more vivid as it travels backward, my mind prefers to recall those earlier Perth times, from which it brings garlands of fragrant memories, in which are entwined incidents connected with William Shand, Charles Abercrombie, and others. Behind all my other Perth
reminiscences, however, must ever lie, most sacredly guarded, those words and deeds of unostentatious kindness tendered by Mrs. Crockatt to me and mine, which lightened my labour and brightened my lot. For a choice example of noblest Christian womanhood nothing better need be looked for in this world than that of the lady whose name is thus enshrined."
The present writer is indebted to Mr. John Crockatt for a copy of the "Perth Christian Herald," of February, 1861, in which an announcement is made that "Revival meetings will be held in the Guildhall, Perth," the speakers being Charles Abercrombie, of Drumclair, whom (it is said) "the Lord has greatly blessed in the conversion of sinners in the mining district," and J.B. Rotherham, of Perth. It is said that "the labours of the evangelists roused great interest in that quaint, orthodox city, for great crowds gathered to listen on the South Inch, and the small hall in which the Church met was often crowded to overflowing." The late H.E. Tickle wrote regarding the work of the evangelists: "These two went forth in apostolic fashion-and possibly our evangelistic efforts of to-day would be more effective at the moment, and more imperishable in the memory, if labourers could be found suited to each other by their very dissimilarities, and sent forth, two and two, to spread the primitive Gospel in places where it is as yet unknown."
New Scone, near Perth, comes within the present writer's very distinct memories of early days in Scotland. It was here that my mother and the bairns lived in a cottage with a somewhat extended garden in the rear. My sister and I attended the village school, and occasionally a service in the Presbyterian Kirk adjoining the schoolhouse. It was usual in those days for the Precentor, who occupied a prominent position immediately under the pulpit, to indicate on a board the name of the tune to be sung to the Psalm or Paraphrase, and I remember the tune "French" ("Dundee" in the "Bristol") being often posted up in this way.
On Sunday mornings the visitors (Mrs. Crockatt, her son, and Mr. MacIntosh) arrived from Perth, and a service was held in one of the rooms of the cottage. Mr. MacIntosh brought with him a supply of the "pure juice of the grapes" to be used at the
"communion service," thus anticipating the unfermented wine now in general use for this purpose.
At long intervals the father of the family (then engaged in evangelistic work amongst the fishing villages on the shores of the Moray Firth) appeared upon the scene at New Scone, and my chief recollections of these visits gather round some rather remarkable performances of original compositions on the concertina, a musical instrument then much in vogue. I recall that it was usual to invite some of the village children to attend these select musical entertainments, given under the apple tree in the garden. At every stage of his life my father found in music his chief form of recreation and enjoyment.
In his "Reminiscences" my father has included a character sketch of his esteemed colleague in his evangelistic work in Scotland, and this appreciation may here be reproduced.
He was a beloved brother evangelist, with whom many a battle for the Lord was fought, chiefly in Scotland. He was a thoroughly patriotic Scot. Originally, in religion a Baptist; by previous occupation a schoolmaster, which was probably due to the fact that he was lame. He was well read in his Bible, and was gifted to an unusual degree with the power of discerning character, being thus especially qualified to deal with inquirers. He was short in stature, broad in chest, blessed with a strong yet musical voice, and thus enabled to excel in outdoor preaching, in which he delighted. It was a winsome sound to hear him ring out the Gospel to the echo in the gloaming under the stars of God; and yet it was an irresistibly amusing sight to see him circle round on his artificial limb appealing with outstretched arms to the crowds that gathered around him.
Early in 1862 I was laid aside from active work by a serious illness, and in reply to a message I sent to Brother Abercrombie he wrote me a characteristic note, saying, "Come, brother! hurry up; there's hot work ahead; you shall come under my lee!" To this summons I was able to send him the following response:-
So restless and hot,
This peppery Scot,
Is a match too explosive for me;
And yet, it is true,
He seems generous, too,
For he says, "You shall come under my lee."
He's a warship, so tall,
I'm a gunboat, so small,
That the offer at first might well please;
But it might happen so
That the sound of the foe
Should at once boom along on the breeze.
Then, dear comrade, just think
How, in less than a wink,
To your windward I'd speedily brave;
Till, with battle's grim toil,
And my cannon's recoil,
Too soon I'd be sunk in the wave!
Brother Abercrombie's gift of dealing with enquirers sometimes revealed itself in a semi-public manner; as, for instance, when he promptly pulled me up at an enquiry-meeting held at Grangemouth, because he thought I was prematurely introducing the duty of Baptism to a boat-wright. "Hold hard there! Rotherham," I heard him exclaim; and, complying with his rather peremptory request, as became a junior to a senior, he came across the schoolroom and promptly took the guidance of the inquirer into his own hands. Turning towards him, he interrogated the anxious one on the prior elements of the Gospel, and, receiving from him an assurance of confidence so far, told him meantime to hold to that. He afterwards informed me that, from a short distance, he had been watching the countenance of the inquirer under my too rapid advance from faith to baptism; and that, noticing how his face fell on the mention of the controverted ordinance, he thus promptly intervened. That young man, left to discuss the matter in his own fashion with his neighbours, was immersed in a fortnight afterwards. Learn - To let the truth have time to percolate through the rock.
NOTE. - Late in life Charles Abercrombie went to the United States, some of his kinsfolk being already there. He continued to bear vigorous testimony to the truth to the end of his days.
He passed away at Bridgeport, Conn., and his nephew (Mr. W. Abercrombie, of Leeds) says that his old uncle is to him now "a joyous memory."
In a section of "Christian Ministry," under the heading "The Ideal of Ministry is Co-operation," the writer says: "When God blesses a congregation with more teachers than one, the ideal is that all should co-operate according to the measure and utility of the gifts bestowed. There is a warning against becoming many teachers, but never a command to be content with one."
Many years before these words were written my father had an unusual opportunity of studying mutual teaching as it obtained in the Church at Banff. In "Reminiscences" the following experience is recorded:-
ALEXANDER CAMERON, OF BANFF.
This brother is recalled as one of three men who, in the early sixties, presided by turns over the Sunday morning gatherings of the Disciples in Banff: Cameron, Hossack, and Nicol - these three, and a notable three they were. They nearly satisfied one's mind as to what Elders in a Christian assembly should be. The striking diversities between them were blended in a pleasing union of gifts and graces which formed a well-nigh complete whole. It was in one sense my good fortune to be for weeks convalescent in Banff; for while my illness disabled me for public service, it afforded me an unwonted opportunity of forming an estimate of the ordinary ministrations with which the brethren in Banff were blessed. Here were three business men, diverse in their avocations and in their temperaments. Though engaged in business during the week, they found time to prepare for doing the work of the Lord, not slightingly, but creditably to themselves and to the edification of the flock over which they presided. Each president, on his Sunday, delivered an address of half-an-hour before "the breaking of bread." The fervid Cameron treated us to a warm-hearted address based on the Apocalypse; the gently emotional Hossack charmed us with a bright and fluent discourse on Colossians; and the logical and judicious Nicol delighted us with a shrewd, practical lecture on the Romans. Each was slowly making consecutive progress through the sacred document of his choice. All prepared themselves to speak to edification.
During his sojourn in Scotland my father spent some time in Glasgow, and he recalls with some warmth of feeling his indebtedness to Mr. William Linn, of Glasgow, an Elder for many years of the Church at Brown Street, the mother Church of the other Churches associated with the "Reformation Movement" in that city. In "Reminiscences" the following sketch of Mr. Linn appears:-
WILLIAM LINN, OF GLASGOW.
"Simply delightful is my memory of this brother. He was shrewd, clear-headed, broad-minded; of deep piety and devotion; gifted with a clear insight into character; able to detect and appreciate the various and complex motives by which men are actuated. He was a clear and interesting teacher and preacher in a Christian assembly; weighty in counsel; watchful in shepherding the Lord's flock. Any congregation of believers must have been the richer for his presence. He possessed just that amount of 'pawky' Scottish humour which made him quick to discern and enjoy the curiosities of Scottish country life. He was the first responsible Christian brother to meet and welcome me on my entrance into Scotland in 1859. He came from Glasgow to Stevenston, in Ayrshire, to help me to feel at home north of the Tweed; and right well he did it, to his own indescribable amusement as well as to my great delight. It was in his hospitable home that, in 1862, I received some additional nursing in the later stage of my convalescence after a serious illness, and also in the same home, years after he had gone to rest (namely, in 1902), that I enjoyed the hospitable attentions of his venerable widow and his two daughters, Miss Linn and Mrs. William Crockatt. Reunions such as these are not easily forgotten."
To this may be added a brief extract from the "Christian Advocate," which records the passing of Mr. Linn, at the very time that the Annual Meeting of 1887 was being held in the city of Glasgow. The gifted G.Y. Tickle, of Liverpool, penned the following:-
"It was not until the eve of our departure from Glasgow, on Saturday, that it was thought advisable for us to have an interview. Brother Crook had seen him the day before, and on speaking to him of the Christian's hope as 'an anchor of the
soul, both sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil,' Brother Linn calmly replied, 'And it does not drag.' When we spoke our parting words on being forever with the Lord he grasped our hand with all his remaining strength and repeated the words with much fervour. In the following lines we have endeavoured to embody our remembrance of those last interviews, so full of consolation.
"His life was ebbing fast, as calm he lay,
And peaceful, waiting for the richer tide
Of life divine, that bears the soul to heaven,
When earthly ties are all asunder riven.
Reminded of the rest at Jesus' side -
The anchor-hold within the veil - a ray
Of kindling joy lit up the fading eye,
'The anchor does not drag,' his calm reply.
Firm as the rock to him was Jesus' love,
In which his heart's best hope was fixed above.
'To be with Christ, forever to abide'
Were words that mingled with the parting few,
As with clasped hands we bade a last adieu,
In hope of meeting at the Saviour's side."
When we remind ourselves that practically the whole of the generation represented by these worthy men has now passed away, we also recall Charles Wesley's well-known lines -
"One army of the living God,
To His command we bow;
Part of His host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now."
A tangible token of my father's labours in Glasgow remains in the form of a handsomely bound copy of "The Englishman's Greek Concordance," presented to him "By a few of the members of the Church of Christian Disciples at Brown Street. In testimony of their appreciation of his zealous labours as an evangelist, and their esteem for him as a beloved Christian brother. Glasgow, March 2nd, 1863.
The report of the Annual Meeting held at Wigan in 1864 contains a paragraph in which it is said that
"Brother Wallis brought up the report of the Committee on Manuscripts, which set forth that three papers had been examined, and one selected for reading. It was handed to Bro. J.B. Rotherham for that purpose. After the reading
there appeared but one opinion as to the superior quality of the paper as a whole, but considerable doubt was expressed as to the suitability of certain parts. After consultation it was handed to several brethren for modification."
"At a later stage of the Wigan Conference it was
"Resolved - That the paper read by Bro. Rotherham be referred to Brethren Tickle and Perkins, in conjunction with Bro. Rotherham, for modification, in order that it be printed and circulated under the direction of the Committee.
"Resolved - That the thanks of the meeting are hereby presented to Bro. Rotherham and the other brethren who have kindly furnished the papers submitted for approval."
The list of "Conference Papers" contained in the current issue of the Churches of Christ Year Book commences with the year 1872, but it is evident from the above that papers were read to the Conference before that date.
The subject of the Wigan paper is not mentioned in the report, nor can any record be found that it was ever printed and circulated. In "Reminiscences," however, in a note regarding William MacDougall, an incidental reference is made to the Wigan paper. The following note will be read with special interest by those who can recall the worthy man whose memory is thus preserved:-
Gifted, useful, honoured, William MacDougall - how can I worthily write of him? He was a man of keen intellect and mighty impulses. He was deeply rather than widely read; was at least well versed in such theological literature as Messrs. T. and T. Clark, of Edinburgh, were even then, fifty years ago, supplying. There was not a particle of narrowness in his mental composition. His profound apprehension of spiritual truth and divine realities related him to all heaven-born souls. His nerves were highly strung, and he was so accustomed to go down to the 'hades' (as he termed it) of a formidable recurring sickness that due allowance must be made for these disturbers of mental equanimity. He never would let me hear him deliver a public discourse, and so I cannot judge first-hand of his preaching; but I was ever given to understand that he was a
mighty proclaimer of Christ's Gospel. We were so nearly akin in our conclusions concerning Christ's coming and Kingdom that when I read a paper at the Annual Meeting of 1864 in Wigan, and was criticised for making the Second Advent prominent, William MacDougall exclaimed, 'Brethren, you find fault with the rose because it has a drop of dew in it!' Peace to his memory!"
NOTE. - A few years ago the present writer visited Kirkby-in-Furness. The chapel is romantically placed on the hillside, and in the graveyard, at the rear of the chapel, a stone marks the resting-place of William MacDougall. A sister of the Church at Kirkby has kindly intimated that the inscription on the tombstone reads:-
"In loving and grateful memory of William MacDougall, of Prospect Cottage, Kirkby-in-Furness (late of Wigan). A faithful Pastor and true Evangelist, honoured by God in the upbuilding of His people and the conversion of many souls. He died February 28th, 1882. Aged 64 years."
The city of Bath is associated in the mind of the present writer with a group of earnest and able men with whom J.B.R. enjoyed Christian fellowship while engaged in evangelistic work in the district during part of 1865.
Robert Dillon, of Bath, was a frequent contributor of news and notes to the "Harbinger." To-day our much esteemed W.J. Ford is the sole survivor of the group whose zeal abounded more than half a century ago. Bro. Ford recalls that while at Bath my father gave a series of addresses on "The Epistle to the Ephesians," also on "The Second Coming of Christ" and on "New Testament Principles." Bro. Ford intimates that the Church in Bath was formed in 1859, and that he was immersed in 1862. He adds, "We are still keeping the flag flying."
A visit to Manchester early in the following year resulted in a prolonged stay in that city. In a report to the Annual Meeting held in Nottingham in 1866 the Committee make mention of "the cordial testimonies of Churches to the value of Bro. Rotherham's labours." The report says:-
"It is as pleasant to repeat to you, as it has been to us to hear, of 'valued instructions, earnest preaching, followed by conscious edification and unequivocal conversions.'
Decided indications of acceptability with the public having attended Bro. Rotherham's first visit to Manchester, which was soon after the opening of the new meeting-house, and the avidity with which the younger membership of the Church received teaching specially addressed to them, induced your Committee to acquiesce in the request of the Eldership for his location there. To this we were the more ready to assent because the city affords in itself a field of wide and varied usefulness, and is a convenient centre from which help can be afforded elsewhere."
The Annual Meeting of 1867 was held in Birmingham, and to that gathering the Manchester Church sent a report of the labours of their evangelist. The report says:-
"By your generous and unanimous decision at the last Annual Meeting we have had Bro. Rotherham located in our midst, for which we desire to place on record profound gratitude; and we can unitedly and truly affirm that his presence for good has been felt. Seasonable visits to individual members have been made a blessing. The young have been instructed with a view to future usefulness. The Church has been strengthened and edified. The proclamation of the good news, followed up by intercourse with inquirers, have resulted in upwards of twenty additions. During the winter months a series of lectures was delivered on Monday evenings, well digested and arranged on the distinctive principles which separate us from other religious communities. These were supplemented by several lectures on the history of the New Testament."
Amongst other activities at Manchester my father formed a class for the study of Hebrew (some of the books he used are now in Overdale College library), and it is said that his most promising student - the father of a family - was wont to rock the cradle and master the Hebrew grammar lesson at the same time. There were earnest students in those days. At the Grosvenor Street Chapel Sunday School the Elders of the Church sat in the vestry as a sort of Supreme Court of Appeal to deal with troublesome boys, and the present writer remembers on one occasion receiving a special admonition, on the ground that the son of an evangelist ought to be an exceptionally good boy. In the retrospect the said boy is inclined to think that a little
more tact on the part of his teacher would have rendered such proceedings unnecessary. In such work good intentions will not atone for lack of skill in the art of teaching.
It is gratifying to be able to add that the energetic and successful work now being carried on by the Church meeting at "Bethesda," Manchester, may be regarded as the direct outcome of the seed sown many years ago. Bro. Charles Green (now one of the Elders of the Church and Superintendent of the Sunday School) is one of a group of zealous workers who look back to the sixties as the time when they received the first impulses to labour in the Master's cause.
With the year 1868 my father's labours as a whole-time evangelist came to an end, although his zeal as a preacher and teacher continued without any abatement to the end of his days. In 1868 J.B.R. was forty years of age, and in looking back over the years that preceded this date, and forward to the period that followed his experiences as an itinerant evangelist, it is scarcely possible to escape the conclusion that an over-ruling Providence was graciously marking out and guiding the worker to what proved to be in some respects the most important part of his life's work.
JOSEPH BRYANT ROTHERHAM INDEX