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Death of Wales' Oldest Preacher.

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Death of Wales' Oldest Preacher. Sixty-five years of Pulpit Life. A Prescher at Thirteen. Reminiscences of Great Debates. We have to announce the death of the Rev. D. T. Matthias, which took place on Tuesday afternoon at Nantymoel, after a long illness. The deceased, who was 80 years of age, resigned the pastorate of Horeb English Baptist Church about two years ago owing to failing-health, and in December, 1902, was presented with a purse of gold by the people of the place. He leaves a widow and two children. Sketch of His Career. The late Rev. D. T. Matthias was about the oldest preacher in Wales, his pulpit career having been contemporaneous with the whole period of reign of the late Queen Victoria. Born in the south part of Cardiganshire 80 years ago, his experience of men and matters was not limited to Wales. The early part of his life was spent in Cardigan- shire and Pembrokeshire. It was in Pem- brokeshire that he preached his first ser- mon when only 13 years of age, two years before the death of William IV. From that time until he reached 26, he frequently occupied the Wesleyan pulpit, but at this age he was baptised at Blaen- ffos, Pern., and a few months later was ordained at Narberth by the laying-on of the hands of the Presbytery. It may be said that one of the great characteristics of his life was his love of debate. He was in his element when arguing on some par- ticular topic. Even when in his teens, after having been preaching with the Wesleyans at Dihewid and other places in South Cardiganshire, where the Unitarians were exceedingly strong, young Matthias would often be engaged in a wordy war with them on the deity of Christ for hours together. He was from his earliest infancy inured to discussions and debates, and this characteristic pertained to him ever after. Indeed, these frequent meet- ings with the Unitarians were the ger- minal leaves to much of his later years. Life in England. The middle part of his life was chiefly spent in England. At Halifax, where he was Baptist minister for some years, his life was full of unceasing industry. His Christian service exceeded the limitations of his church, and not only did he preach to those who came under a roof to hear him Sunday after Sunday, but he went to the street corners where people congre- gated and there preached the Gospel in its full significance and importance. Ques- tions and discussion were allowed at the close, and Matthias, then in manhood's vigorous prime, had to contend with a good deal of hostility. But to experience1 plenty of opposition was his passion, and the Christian cause flourished like a green bay tree. His influence was felt in all that related to religious truth, and, having devoted all his efforts to that sacred end, many a Baptist Church nov.r stands at Halifax as monuments of his industry and steadfastness over 40 years ago. Here, too, he fought many a bitter Wordy Battle with Charles Bradlaugh, on theological questions. The preacher and Iconoclast were doughty champions, and they often met in combat upon the platform. Whenever Bradlaugh delivered a lecture at Halifax, where, by the way, the Secularists were an appreciable force, Matthias would cartainly be there, and at the end of the lecture would soon be in the thick of argument with the lecturer. These frequent contentions between the two culminated at last in a debate on the credibility and morality of the Four Gos- pels for five nights in succession. Such was the interest evinced, in it by the pub- lic, that even on the fifth evening there was no sign of jadedness on the part of the audience. A verbatim report of this debate was also printed and sold by the thousands. In the course of a few pre- fatory words by Iconoclast, he pays the compliment to his opponent that the free- dom of thought encouraged by him in his speeches was worthy of the highest com- mendation. Mr. Matthias was well versed in Christian lore. He only recently re- lated to a representative of the Rhondda Leader" how Bradlaugh frankly asked him one night after the close of a debate, how it was that he knew so much more of the early history of Christianity than any other man he had ever met. My reply was," said Mr. Matthias, "that when a young man, I worked at a farm- house for some time in Pembrokeshire, and the owner, who had thought of enter- ing the ministry, had a very rare collec- tion of books dealing on the early history of Christianity. However, it was I, and not the farmer, who entered the ministry, and these boons being free to me, I i.oon imbibed their invaluable contents." Politician and Editor. Not less busy was Mr. Matthias in other fields. His ideal of citizenship con- strained him to enter other domains than religion. He took during his life a special interest in politics. He occupied the Political Platform. with three Cabinet ministersâMundella, John Morley, and Joseph Chamberlain; also with Stansfield, Sir W. Lawson, Parnell, Biggar, and O'Connor. He was a Home Ruler long before the Bill came on in Parliament. It was he who first helped the Home Rulers in North Stafford- shire. He loved the land of the Shamrock, but detested priestcraft and bigotry in every shape and form. He had Edited Five Journals. either in whole or in part, though never out of the ministry. As a writer he attained a marvellous power in the use of descriptive illustration. He was also a poet of no mean repute, his sermons gene- rally containing some original verses of his own. He found pleasure in trans- lating Welsh hymns into English and in- troducing them into his sermons for the benefit of his English hearers. As a Preacher. his sermons were remarkably optimistic, considering he was the survivor of an age so intolerant in matters pertaining to religion. When delivering his discourses he was ever restless, pacing his narrow platform with unceasing regularity, his hands constantly in action. During the course of his ministry he Baptised over 4,000. professing believers. After giving up his church at Halifax in order to become an itinerant temperance lecturer, travelling from town to town on foot, losing no opportunity to further the cause of tem- perance, he again became an active minis- ter, taking charge of a church at Honey- borough, near Milford, whence he removed to Merthyr Tydfil, where he spent six years as pastor of Bethel. Always keenly interested in the industrial problem, and much concerned for the betterment of the conditions of the working classes, he left Merthyr to become editor of a Trade Union paper, the Potters' Examiner," published in North Staffordshire, and while holding this journalistic post he performed the duties of secretary to the board of arbitration controlling the rela- tions between the masters and the men, in which position he earned the respect of both sides. Mr. Matthias again re- turned to Wales and the ministry, and was for three years pastor of Merthyr Vale Baptist Church. He then took charge of Mount Zion, Swansea, where he remained another three years. Some 18 years ago, a patriarch of over 60, he left Swansea for Nantymoel, in the Ogmore Valley, then a quiet spot, far different from the busy place it is now, and there he remained. At Nantymoel he was pastor of Horeb for 16 years, relinquish- ing the charge in January, 1902, to enjoy the period of repose which he had earned by many years of strenuousness. On his retirement the congregation at Horeb voted him an honorarium of £100 as a mark of their esteem. Although retired from the regular ministry, Mr. Matthias had to find an outlet for his superabundant energy, and, in spite of failing health, he acted as supply almost to the last. He also became the president of the branch of the Independent Labour Party recently formed in the Ogmore Valley, and read several interesting papers before the members.

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