Friday, February 21, 2014

Preacher of the Gospel

The extraordinary thing is that this is not extraordinary. It is so simple and familiar that it could have happened yesterday.

LDS missionaries were taught by the time of my mission not to engage in "Bible-bashing" with ministers of other faiths but simply to bear testimony and depart if the minister was unwilling to participate in a calm discussion. I did that a few times.

A missionary in 1841 England, a new convert himself, and only 20-years of age, recorded this exchange in his missionary journal after meeting with some ministers, one of whom he knew from before his Mormon baptism:
He asked me what our doctrines were. I told him we taught the same things that the apostles did. In the first place we teach people first, then baptize them after according to the commission which our Saviour gave to his disciples. But said I, you baptize them first and teach them afterwards. So then to get out of going different to the apostles he went to the 16th Chapter of Acts respecting the jailers house being baptized. He said he supposed there were infants. I told him if he supposed there was I has as much right to suppose there was not. And again said I supposition will not do for us to venture our eternal welfare on _ we must have reality. So then said he, it ought to read he rejoiced believing in God with all that was capable in his house.
I asked him if he knew what the scriptures said. "Add thou not to his words lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar."
One of them said to Mr. B. that one of our preachers said that if he had any relatives that were dead he must be baptized for them. Then Mr. B. asked where he got that from. I opened my Bible and read what Paul said 15 Chap 1st Cor 29 verse. "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead if the dead rise not at all. Why then are they baptized for the dead."
He said, "I will tell you what that means. Suppose one of my fellow labourers was labouring in a country where it was unhealthy and he died in that part of the country through it being so unhealthy. If I went to labour in his place that would be being baptized for the dead."
But I told him I believed it meant what it said. I was not going to believe him or any one else before the word of God. For said I I was for having God true though all men were found liars.
Then said he "You was not so bold when you was amongst the Wesleyans." But I never was a Wesleyan. then one of them said, "You believe in miracles." I told him we did."Then" said he "if you will show me a sign or heal me (he was lame) I will believe."
I told him signs was to follow those who believed. "And" said I "does it require faith when you see a thing (or in other words is it faith to believe when you see a thing?" He considered some time then he replied in the negative.
"Then" said one of them "we do not want any of your preaching here. You had better go and work." 
I told him perhaps he was too good to be taught. We had some more conversation. Mr. B. said to the man belonging to the house, "You can please yourself in your own house." So he took the hint and said we had had enough. So then Mr. B. asked me to withdraw. I told them I was a servant of the Lords and if they rejected me they rejected him that sent me. I told them I would leave one thing with them and that was except they were born of the water and of the spirit they would never enter into the Kingdom of God. Then I bid them goodnight and left them.
It's 1841 England and a Mormon missionary is preaching baptism for the dead! He also understands Faith and miracles pretty well.

The missionary was Richard Steele (1820-1881). In searching for a little background, I came upon this:

"Preacher of the Gospel." That's what he gave the census taker in early June, 1841. His journal also matches that he spent the night of June 6 at "Brother" Lovett's house at Llanarch Farm just west of Dorstone, Herefordshire. He was a regular guest of the Lovetts.

Muddy lane at Llanarch Farm for SO2941 Heading north-east down the hill with the farm entrance on the left.
© Copyright Trevor Rickard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Britain, the place where some things don't seem to change. The Gospel doesn't much either. I am so pleased to learn that Elder Steele preached in the villages where my ancestors lived, including Llanfoist, Monmouthshire, and the market town on the border, Hay, Breconshire.

But what of "Brother" Lovett? He seems lost to history with only a hint that he may have been a pioneer to Utah. There are also hints that he may have gone to Canada. Anybody know anything? If not, I'll speak for the dead. And maybe see if some baptisms are needed.

Thank you, Brother and Sister Lovett, for taking care of Elder Steele.

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