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[b. 14th July, 1752 ; ed. Daventry Academy, by Dr. Ashworth, 1766 ; min. Leeds, Call Lane, assistant to Wm. Whitaker forl} years ; Narborough, supply 11 years ; Rotherham, 25th August, 1776—Michaelmas, 1787 ; Fairford, Croft's Chapel, 1787-1796 ; Elland, Yorks, South End Chapel, 1796-1814 ; Mansfield without charge ; m. (1779) Sarah (d. 1812), Samuel Moult, ut supra ; issue, Mary (b. 1781), Samuel Meredith (b. 1782), William Basnett (b. 1783), Elizabeth Jane (b. 1787); d. 14th July, 1819; bur. Elland Chapel-yard.]
ROM the Registers it appears that the Rev. Josiah
Townsend performed on the 4th August, 1776, the last
baptism recorded in Mr. Moult's ministry, when it is to be assumed he was officiating with a view to succeeding to the pulpit. He was accepted as minister on the 25th of the same month, and was solemnly set apart by prayer, &c., 16th April, 1777. His father was “ the Rev. Meredith Townsend, who for upwards of 39 years was the minister of the Dissenting congregation at Stoke Newington.
A correct and accomplished scholar,'* His mother was Mary, youngest daughter of John and Rebecca Basnett, of Peckham.
On settling at Rotherham the young minister would frequently be hospitably invited by Mr. Moult's son, Mr. Robert Wylde Moult, to visit the old home at Wickersley. Now, the Rev. Samuel Moult left not only a son but also two daughters. The younger, Mary, became the wife of Ebenezer Aldred, who was first a merchant at Wakefield, and afterwards became a minister, and had committed to his charge the several churches in the Peak, which Mr. Bagshaw, “ the
* (Monthly Repository, 1819, p. 512).
apostle of the Peak,” had formed by his zealous missionary labours. There was that vacant minister's house in Westgate, sadly needing a mistress, and there was Sarah Moult at Wickersley, yet unwed. What could young Josiah do better, on these visits to Wickersley, than induce the lady to become Mrs. Townsend ? So, leaving her brother, Robert Wylde Moult, to console himself, Sarah did become Mrs. Townsend. Parsons' daughters proverbially marry parsons' sons !
Mr. Townsend may not have been a successful or popular minister, yet during his ten years at the Rotherham Meetinghouse he must have proved a most painstaking and devoted pastor of both the elder and younger members of his flock. This, we may infer, from a publication of his, being a variation from a catechism, entitled —"A Collection of Texts, containing the Principal Doctrines and Duties of Religion. To which are added, Prayers for the use of Children. By Josiah Townsend. Sheffield. Printed by Joseph Gales, 1786. Price threepence each, or Half a Crown per Dozen.” The “advertisement” briefly explains the object of the publication. “The following collection of texts was drawn up for the use of a Sunday School established at Rotherham, in Yorkshire ; and the hope that it may be of service, at least to other institutions of the like kind, has induced the author to make it public.
It being impossible to avoid the mention of those doctrines which are disputed among Christians, those passages have been chosen which convey what the author apprehends to be (upon the whole) the doctrine of Scripture, and by which other and more difficult ones are to be explained.. ... It is hoped that no one will take offence at the large proportion here assigned to the duties incumbent upon us. These are confessedly of the greatest importance, and what the rising generation have the greatest need of being instructed in. To the candour of the public the whole is submitted. And to the blessing of God it is humbly recommended. May it hereby be rendered subservient to the religious instruction and improvement of the young, for whose benefit it is intended ; that from their childhood they may be formed to the love and study of the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in CHRIST JESUS.
Two marked, and no less excellent traits of the author are perceptible—his pastoral and anxious concern for the careful and intelligent religious training of the young, and his preference for the inculcation of “the duties incumbent upon us,” rather than of disputable dogmas. Already in this old Presbyterian Meeting-house, as in hundreds of others throughout the land, had the Calvinism of the Westminster Catechism lost its once absolute authority, while the gentler and better dictates of the gospel of the Saviour had gained the ascendency.
The little book of 32 pages under several headings, details the principal doctrines and duties of the Christian religion, and sustains and expresses the same by suitable Scripture selections. The method is carried out as follows : “Of the Being and Perfections of God." Hebrews, xi, 6. “ He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Sixteen
texts from the Old and New Testaments.“God's Relations to Mankind,” Psa. c. 3. Eight other texts. “The Notices given to mankind of God and his Will, by Reason and by Divine Revelation." The Creation of Man, and the end for which he was made." “ The Fall and its Effects.” This once portentjous doctrine is significantly illustrated by only one scriptural selection. “The Explanation of the Scheme of Redemption." The next heading suggests the approaching change from Trinitarianism to Arianism and Unitarianism in these Presbyterian congrega. tions—“ The Person and Office of Jesus Christ, and the evidences of his Divine Mission." Acts ii, 22. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him.” For instance, the much controverted text is introduced, Cor. i., 19, “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” The author explains in brackets the term "all fulness," thus, "i.e., every communication of knowledge, wisdom, and power, which might fit him for his important office." “ The Life and Character of Jesus Christ," Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Exaltation." Under the latter heading the supporting text, Heb. vii., 25, contains the expression,“ seeing he (Christ) ever liveth to make intercession for them,” which