My Father's Conversion (William Southern)
Transcription of Article In the Christian Messenger by Jane Milson
My parents resided in Hull, and were closely connected with early Primitive Methodism in that city. When I was about seven years of age I had three brothers, their ages being five years, two years and nine months, and one year.
My father was a clever mechanic, a high-spirited man, defiant of God and His laws. My mother was a moral, God-fearing woman, but not truly converted to God, being hindered by my father. However, God, in his mercy sent affliction, and took two – the youngest – to heaven within a fortnight.
As my mother stood weeping over the elder child, who suffered much, she thought God was visiting her in order to save her, so she began to pray in secret. Every night before she retired she extinguished the light and knelt to pray.
One night my father said, “Don’t put that light out,” so she obliged him, but prayed as before. My father exclaimed, looking up, “Pray for me.” My mother replied, ” Nay, I have enough to do to pray for myself.” His conviction of sin was so powerful that for two or three weeks he was in misery and conflict. Satan seemed to be taking full possession of him, and his manners and words betrayed the strength of Satan’s grip.
However, early one morning, going out to business, he tried to open the door but could not. He looked and found the door unlocked and unbolted, and tried again. Still he could not lift the latch. So he went to the lighted candle and tried to light his pipe, but his hand trembled so much that he gave up the attempt, and went down upon his knees, crying out, “Lord, I’m guilty!”
After praying awhile, though he did not get into “liberty,” he was relieved, and rose and opened the door easily. His eyes were now opened, and he saw what a mercy it was the Lord had taken the dear children instead of himself, for had he been taken he must have been lost!
Well, that same night he said to my mother, “We must have family prayer.” “With all my heart! ” she replied. So they began, and continued with family prayers from then until he died a few years later
They were earnest seekers after peace.
On the following Sabbath morning they went to Mill Street Chapel, where they heard Rev. G. Lamb preach, his text being, “Come and let us reason together,” etc., and the Word was with power. My father and mother wept much, and afterwards said, “They felt as if the floor would open and sink them into perdition.”
After dinner a class leader called to take them to his class, which met weekly, about half a mile from Holderness Road. Although I was a child, I was greatly impressed by his manner, for after his introduction he sat down, opened his hymn-book, and very impressively read:
“Arise, my soul arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears,” etc.
To my mind, I have never heard that hymn read with such unction and power. Although about seventy-four years ago, I can almost fancy I hear him now! Oh, it was grand”! The meeting went on, and when in turn the leader came to my father he said, “Now, my friend, do you believe that God, for Christ‘s sake, can pardon all your sins?” he answered “Yes, find He will before I go out of this house! “That will do.” said the man of God, and proceeded with the meeting.
As soon as they knelt for prayer my father’s soul “sprang into liberty,” and he shouted “Glory! Glory!” and was so happy that he continued shouting in the streets from down Holderness Road to the Hull Market-place. My mother was ashamed, and said, “ William, don’t! People will think you are crazy!” “I can’t help it! I am happy! Hallelujah! The kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Of course, he became a member of the above-mentioned class (Henry Parker’s, of precious memory), and a hard-working, earnest Primitive Methodist.
At that time there was only one chapel in Hull belonging to the Primitive Methodists (except a small one without a gallery in Wincolmlee), so the Holderness Road friends had to go to Mill Street – a very long way; but they had strong spiritual appetites, which made their legs strong.
My dear mother did not get into “liberty” until a month later because of looking too much at her own unworthiness and not enough to Christ, but she ventured at last and was saved.
She clung to Jesus for many years, and after a life of sweet piety and service, went “ home,” exclaiming, “Come, Jesus! Hallelujah, He is coming!”
My father died in the Lord, and great numbers of those who honoured him for genuine worth followed his mortal remains “ Until the day break and the shadows flee away.”
I should like to say a few more words about the class leader. He was a very holy man, and held his class in the house of a milkman named George Wright. He was by trade a miller, and worked for a man who had a five-sailed mill on Holderness Road. His name was Nathaniel W_____
Once they were so busy that “Natty” (familiarly called) said to Henry Parker (his man’s name), “I want you to work all night.” The next day, being Sunday, Henry said, “I’ll work until twelve o’clock, but no longer.” Accordingly, when twelve o’clock came, Henry said, “Now, Natty, I‘ll leave the mill to thee and the devil,” and he went home. Natty worked on for a time, but soon turned so afraid that he was glad to leave the mill, too, for he did not care to have the devil for a partner, so locked up the mill and went home.
Henry Parker was greatly respected by Rev. W. Clowes; indeed, at one time it was a question as to which of the two had the strongest faith. They were both grand men.
As to the milkman at whose house the class met, he had been a very wicked man, but got converted, and used to be so happy that at times, when on his rounds, instead of calling “ Milk! ” he forgot and shouted “Glory! “
Well, I have no doubt that all the above-named are in heaven, and I hope we shall all meet there through Jesus’ merits. Amen!
Family and other information
Jane Milson, nee Southern married Parkinson Milson in 1851.
Her parents were William Southern (abt 1803-1847) and Harriet Harrison (b1805) who married on 17 September 1826 at Hull, Yorkshire.
Christian Messenger 1914/330