Mr. Wroth.—This excellent person was educated in the university of Oxford, afterwards rector of Llanfaches in Monmouthshire, and domestic chaplain to Lady B He is accounted the first nonconformist minister in Wales. About the year 1620, he began to signalize himself by faithfully preaching the gospel, and discovered uncommon concern for the salvation of souls.} Previous to this he was a clergyman much addicted to mirth, levity, and music. An old manuscript relates the following anecdote: A gentleman in the neighbourhood having a suit at law depending, of great importance to his family, went to London to attend the trial; which, to his great satisfaction, proved in his favour. Sending home the pleasing information, his family and friends were overcome with transports of joy. The gentleman, therefore, appointed a certain day when he would return, and ordered great preparations to be made for his arrival, when the evening should be spent in feasting and mirth. Mr. Wroth, being invited, brought a new violin, to bear his part in the general triumph. But while they were in full expectation of the gentleman's arrival, behold! to their unspeakable mortification and distress,news came that he had been seized by death upon the road. It is not easy even to conceive what impressions were made on the minds of all present. The transition from triumphant joy to the deepest sorrow and anguish, was almost indescrib
* Calamy's Life of Howe, p. 5, 6.
t Palmer1! Noncon. Mem. vol. ii. p. 81.
t Cradock's Works, Pref. Edit. 1800.
able. Amidst the general consternation, Mr. Wroth cast away his violin, and falling on his knees in the midst of the company, most fervently prayed for the blessing of God upon this alarming providence. It is farther added, that from this time he became a changed man, of which he gave full proof by his faithful ministry and exemplary life.*
Mr. Wroth no sooner felt the power of divine grace, than he discovered uncommon concern for the souls of his people. He presently became a laborious and faithful preacher, and his labours were not in vain. He was instrumental in the conversion of many souls; among whom was Mr. Walter Cradock, who became his excellent fellow-labourer in the vineyard of Christ. His way of preaching, however, soon roused the malice of his enemies, and rendered him obnoxious to his superiors. It is recorded, that " the pious Mr. Wroth, with a great many devout and conscientious divines, severely felt the persecutions of the times, and were suspended from their livings for not reading the cursed Book of Sports on the Lord's day."t In the year 1635 the Bishop of LlandafF preferred articles against him in the high commission court, threatening to punish him according to his deserts. His lordship calls him " a noted schismatic," and says that he led many simple people after him, and wilfully persisted in his schismatical course. The year following, the bishop complained of the slowness of the prosecution, and observed that this made him " persist in his by-ways, and bis followers judge him faultless." And in 1638 the
food man was forced to submit, though it is not said what ind of submission he made.f
In the year 1639 Mr. Wroth, with the assistance of Mr. Walter Cradock, Mr. Henry Jessey, and some others, formed a church at Llanfaches, according to the model of the independents.^ This society was a mixture of paedobaptists and antipaxiobaptists. It was furnished with two ministers, as co-pastors; Mr. Wroth was of the former denomination, and Mr. William Thomas of the latter. The two pastors were intimately acquainted with the independents and baptists at Bristol, by whom also they were highly respected, as appears from the records of the church in Broad Mead, Bristol. It is observed in these records, that when Mr. Wroth and other reforming ministers came from South Wales, the professors of religion used to run
• Thomas's M8. Hist. p. 111. + Ibid. p. 118.
1 Wharton's Troubles of Land, vol. i. p. 537, 544,555. $ Calami's Coutinaaciop, vol. I. p. 47.
after them, hungering for (he food of their souls. When our pious divine was in Bristol, he lodged at the house of Mr. Listun, whose children he used to teach the following lines:
Thy sin: thy end: the death of Christ:
The eternal pangs of bell:
The day of doom: the joys of heaven:
These six remember well.
Thus this holy and humble man would be doing good both to young and old wherever he went; and such was the zeal of many in those times, that they would go from Bristol to hear him preach in his own country.
Mr. Wroth and his brethren, Mr. Erbery and Mr. Cradock, were exceedingly harassed and persecuted in Wales, when they resolved to preach the gospel in all places, whether consecrated or unconsecrated. In imitation of Christ, they went about doing good, wherever they had an opportunity: and when they were persecuted in one city, or in one part of the country, they determined, in obedience to Christ, to flee unto another.* Upon the prospect of the national confusions, Mr. Wroth, being an old man, wished, in submission to the will of God, to be at rest before the sound of war was heard in the land. ' Hereiu his desire was granted. He died a little before the sword was drawn, about the beginning of the year 1642. t