Saturday, October 20, 2007

'Christ Shall Be Magnified:' Mrs. Laura Thomas

She died the wife of Nathaniel Thomas, Minister of the Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church, Cardiff, but Laura Emily Ann Thomas was born Laura Blagdon, daughter of John Blagdon, Esq., of Boddington Manor, Gloucestershire (pictured). Possessed of a glowing complexion as a child she earned the nickname 'Rosy,' which remained with her all her life. Brought up amid the sumptuous surroundings of Boddington Manor, she lived the life of a squire's daughter, with parties and good deeds mingling.

Even so, there was something special about her. As a child she had been deeply affected by the sermon preached by Francis Close, the Vicar of St. Mary's, Cheltenham, brought to weep bitterly. Her father removed her from the church. He was further disturbed when she took it upon herself to visit a young gamekeeper on the estate as he lay dying, seeking to pluck his soul from the flames of hell. While she was cheered when he professed faith shortly before death, the local clergyman felt that such conduct was unbecoming of a young lady of quality, and informed her father, urging him to keep her from such 'enthusiasm.'

Perhaps another cause of this was that Miss Blagdon was seeking to convert a cottage on the estate into an evangelical preaching station. At first the preachers were all ministers of the Church of England, but soon a dearth of such men forced them to open the doors of the preaching house to Dissenters, chiefly Baptists and Methodists (Wesleyan). This did not amuse Mr. Blagdon, who had only tolerated the opening of the meeting house because it was a pet project of his favourite daughter.

Slowly Miss. Laura Blagdon became totally estranged from her former friends, as she sought to pursue God's glory to the exclusion of all. He felt her lifestyle to be a deliberate insult to his own, which was very much that of the county squire. The relationship was further undermined by the fact that Miss Blagdon utterly ignored class distinctions, doing some thing that her biographer speaks of as having possessed greater zeal than discretion.

At last her father could bear it no longer. He forbade her from living under his roof any longer, ordering her from his house at the suggestion of certain of his companions. It must have hurt her deeply, but Laura went out from the mansion. With her went her mother and younger sister, heartened by the words of their Lord:

There is no man that hath left house, or brethren,
or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children,
or lands for my sake, and the Gospel's, but he shall
receive and hundredfold now in this time brethren,
and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands,
with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.



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