From the book,
     The Parson of the Islands;
     A Biography of the Rev. Joshua Thomas

     By Adam Wallace, originally printed in 1861
A Soldier In The Lord's Army
By Adam Wallace.

Taken from The Parson of the Islands, by Adam Wallace.

Editor of One Methodist: During the War of 1812, Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay became the British center of operations. Rev. Joshua Thomas, a local Methodist Episcopal minister determined that he would minister to all who would hear the gospel. He ministered to the British troops and found some Methodist brethren among them.

Among those wicked and ungodly soldiers and sailors, Brother Thomas found several praying men, who professed to have been converted in the Methodist way in England, and seemed desirous to "hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering." Many an interesting chat took place between him and those who sought his acquaintance, believing him to be a good, holy man. They put themselves often in his way to have a talk about Jesus, and a short season of prayer for mutual strength to bear the cross and honor their God and King.

He was greatly delighted to hear from their lips the story of their conversion, which tallied so nearly with his own experiences; and through them obtain some information of the state of religion in the foreign countries where they had been. Wesleyan Methodism had turned thousands of the standing army of Great Britain to the standard of Immanuel, and enlisted them to do battle for the Lord of Hosts. Strange providence! that men who mourned for sin, among Cornwall miners, and who at provincial revivals were made happy in believing, should here find sweet fellowship with those of like precious faith, and realize the blessed truth, that the children of the kingdom, wherever found, sweetly agree in the bonds of that threefold cord that cannot be broken.

Brother Thomas treasured up many of the experiences he heard from these, his brethren in Christ, and well beloved; and was greatly confirmed in his Christian confidence by their communion.

"Oh!" thought he, "if we could hold a camp meeting now, and get all these soldiers and sailors converted to God, and have them to carry across the seas traversed by their mighty fleets, and the islands and countries frequented by their powerful armies, the experience of justification by faith, and the testimony of Christ, as 'the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe!'"

But the turn affairs speedily interrupted his longings for a "regular camp meeting," and gave him unexpected favor with rank and file, and access to all, as a minister of the gospel of the grace of God. The following narrative he had carefully taken down, and preserved as a memorial of grace:

"A pious soldier, in conversation with me, became very happy, and informed me of an adventure he had on board a ship in which he was bound to the continent of America. 'On board our ship there was nothing going on but swearing and wickedness. This grieved me every day so much that I was in the habit of retiring to an unfrequented place to pray alone, as I had none to sympathize with me in religious faith and hope. I spent many happy hours thus, with my Bible and Jesus. One day I became so much engaged that I forgot the time, and was not on deck at the usual muster, and roll call of my company.

"'The Captain inquired for me, but none of my comrades knew where I was. After a while I remembered where I was, hastened on deck, and reported myself to my Captain. He asked me where I had been. I informed him I had been down in the sail room. "What have you been doing there?" said he. I told him I had been praying. "Praying to what?" "Praying to my God," said I. "To your God? what kind of a God is he-black or white?" To this I made no reply; for his reckless profanity hurt me to the soul.

"'They called a court martial immediately, and condemned me to be flogged.

"'I was ordered to strip, and did so. They then tied my hands, and swung them to the halliards so high, that I could barely stand on my feet. While the boatswain was about commencing to "lay on" my bare back, I began to sing with my whole soul:

"Behold the Saviour of mankind,
Nailed to the shameful tree:
How vast the love that him inclined,
To bleed and die for me!"

'The Captain cried out, "Boatswain, hold on! don't strike!" He steeped forward in front of me, and saw my face covered with tears. After a short pause, he inquired, "What sort of religion is this of yours?" I replied, "Sir, I am a Methodist."

"'Do you want to pray?'

"'Yes, sir, I must pray as long as I live. I cannot do without praying.'

"'Well, my man, how would you like to pray in my cabin?'

"'I would feel it a privilege, sir, to pray anywhere.'

"'Well," said he, turning away, "Whenever you are off duty, you may go into my cabin and pray as much as you please. Guard, untie this man.'

"'I was then liberated, and all those standing near appeared silent and serious. I noticed tears on some of their faces.

"'I went soon after, full of love to God and man, down into the Captain's cabin, and knelt down to pour out my soul before the Lord in thankfulness, and ask him to convict and convert my poor wicked companions.

"'The Mate came in while I was at prayer, and fell down beside me, saying, "Pray for me." He appeared to be under deep conviction. I prayed for him until the Lord converted his soul, and filled him with joy and peace. The Captain coming down about that time, was met by his Mate at the companion way, who cried out, "Oh! Captain, Captain! This religion is so good, you must have it! you must have it!"

"He laid his hands on the Captain's shoulders, and, while the big tears were rolling down his face, drew him, unresistingly, into the cabin, where we both prayed for him. He began to weep and pray for himself, and not long after, was powerfully blessed.

"'The lion was turned into a lamb, and we all rejoiced greatly in the mercy of God. We then held meetings regularly every day, to which the crew were invited, and some of them were awakened to a sense of their lost condition, and sought pardon in wounds of a crucified Redeemer. Seven were converted when we reached port; which was in one of the West India Islands. The captain gave me permission to go on shore and hold meetings, and we had a happy time there. I formed a society before I left, and hope they are going on to perfection, and increasing more and more."


The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people equally true, by the philosophers equally false, and by the magistrates equally useful. --Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) , Author, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And 'twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.
--Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), Author, The True-Born Englishman.

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