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Mr. Townsend curiously interprets to mean-or, to manage affairs for them.”
It is not necessary to follow out all the expository contents of this small publication. Two prayers for children, a morning and evening prayer, are provided, composed in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer, one beginning, “Great God and Father of all.” The prayers contain such prayerful petitions as the following:
Morning Prayer.—“ Whatever my parents have done for my food and clothing, and instruction and comfort, thou hast enabled them to do it. For ever blessed be thy goodness, that thou didst send Jesus Christ into the world to call sinners to repentance, and assure the penitent of the forgiveness of their sins. I thank thee, who hast taken care of me the last night. Bless, O Lord, my dear parents, relations, and friends, be the support of the afflicted, and do good to all men. O thou who despiseth not the little ones, be merciful unto me, and supply all my wants, according to the riches of thy power and grace in Jesus Christ my Lord, through whom be ascribed unto thee, O God, salvation, honour, and praise, in all ages. Amen."
Evening Prayer.-" Almighty and most gracious God. May we love Thee with all our heart. May we every day think of Thee. Dispose the children here present to receive instruction. May their good conduct out of the school be a proof of the excellence of the lessons they receive in it; and do Thou be our guide through life, our support in death, and our Father and Friend beyond it and for ever, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, for whose life, death, resurrection, and gospel, we praise Thee ; unto Him, and unto Thee, O God, be ascribed thanksgiving and honour for ever. Amen.”
It may be remarked as evident, that while the adoration of the Son of God is yet maintained, the worship of the Father, as God supreme, has become the dominant expression of the Christian religion in the estimation of this minister and his people.
Rev. Josiah TOWNSEND'S BAPTISMS. Of the 72 baptisms recorded during Mr. Townsend's ten years' ministry, one particular notification is conspicuous, namely, that he specifies the trades of the fathers of the babes. He also appears to have baptized many children of parents of the artizan class. The trades of the respective fathers are again and again mentioned" labourer," "scissor-smith,"
blacksmith,” “taylor," roper," hinge-maker," "husbandman," gardener," shoemaker,” ' filesmith," carpenter," "joiner, sawmaker," " butcher," saddle-tree maker," "bricklayer," “ fell-monger," papermaker,” “breeches-maker," mason, “glazier," " forgeman." These repeated descriptions, relating principally to the working class, might indicate that the congregation was becoming of a more popular and less genteel description, but an explanatory note in the Chapel Register only too clearly intimates, that Mr. Townsend's ministry did not prove altogether acceptable to the upper section of the congregation. The note speaks for itself, entered, curiously enough, by the next minister.—“Mr. Townsend having resigned at Michaelmas, 1787, on account of the congregation having declined, most of the principal people returning, the congregation invited Mr. William Allard, of Stourbridge, Worcestershire, to take the Pastoral care of them, who accepted their invitation, 9th May, 1788, and was ordained the 17th of July following.”
The subscription list also confirms this somewhat disparaging comment. For 1779, subscribers 28 (R. Wylde Moult increased to 44 4s. Od). List, 1780, subscribers 22. 1781, subscribers 26. – 1782 and '83 a diminution.-1784, only 16 subscribers.—1785, only 11.-1786 and '87, only 5.-R. Wylde Moult, Mr. Wm. Favell, and other principal members had ceased to subscribe and to attend.
Josiah Townsend, after leaving Rotherham, became minister at Fairford, Gloucestershire, and next at Elland, Yorkshire. At both of these places the registers bear witness to his love of accuracy and detail. At Fairford he inserts this note :—The first trust deed made in the year 1743. The last trust deed made in the year 1785. Mem. That the deed appointing Jno. Raymond Barker, Esq., and others to be Trustees of the Meeting-house, in Fairford Crofts was delivered to the said John Raymond Barker, Esq., on 2nd Nov., 1796,
by me Josiah Townsend. At Elland* when recording the burial of his wife on the 14th October, 1812, Townsend says :
She was buried in the Chapel Yard at a distance from the grave of John Weavil, sufficient to leave room for depositing the remains of me, J. T., between them.
Feeling the approach of some of the infirmities of age, Townsend withdrew from stated service and resigned his charge at Elland on the 24th July, 1814. He continued a short time in the neighborhood, and occasionally assisted his brethren, until he removed to Mansfield, to reside with his daughters, where he spent the remainder of his days. His biographer, the Rev. John Williams, of Mansfield, notes him
man of considerable learning and abilities. As a preacher, his manner and delivery were not the most engaging or popular, but his sermons were plain, serious, and practical, often affectionate and impressive."
There is a published sermon of his preached at Fairford, 1791, and again at Elland, 24th Aug., 1806. We notice the delivery, on each occasion, associated with “Black Bartholomew's Day."
The sermon was instigated by the infamous riots at Birmingham in 1791, promoted by the High Church Party, who raised the cries, à Church and State, “ God save the King,” Down with the Dissenters.” The infuriated rioters burnt down the Unitarian Chapel and another Dissenting place of worship, and burnt Dr. Priestley's house, utterly demolishing his valuable library, and destroying all his precious scientific apparatus.
Mr. Townsend worthily commences his discourse :“The circumstances of the times, my friends, render it in a particular manner proper and necessary for me to address you as Dissenters. The unfortunate events which have taken place in a neighbouring county (or rather the prevalence of that spirit which has produced those events) and the unjust reflections which have been cast on the whole body of the Dissenters, as if they were enemies to the civil constitution of their country, may properly be considered as a call to
A transcript of this Register was made as a gift, by a friend, bound in vellum, and
deposited with the Trustees of the Congregation-now worshipping in Christ Church, on the occasion of the bicentenary on the 11th October, 1889.