Templepatrick Presbyterian Church - Josias Welch (1626-1634)



Josias Welch (Welsh) was the second son of John Welch, the famous minister at Ayr and his mother was a daughter of John Knox. It is most likely that he was at St Andrew's University, but he went to Ulster because he would not follow the Articles of Perth. Robert Blair wrote, "...I meeting with him in Scotland and perceiving of how weak a body and of how zealous a spirit he was, exhorted him to haste over to Ireland where he would find work enough, and I hoped, success enough." Howie said of him "he was called 'the Cock of the Conscience' ... because of his extraordinary awakening and arousing gift.' Strangely he was never sure of his own salvation, saying, "That minister was much to be pitied, who was called to comfort weak saints, and had no comfort himself."

He came to Ulster around 1625. He was appointed to the Templepatrick area by Captain Norton, the owner of Castle Upton. He arrived just as the Six Mile Water Revival was beginning in Oldstone, so he hurried there to help in the work. He was the first Presbyterian minister in the area. The churches website says he ministered here (it seems that his church was on the same ground as the current church) from 1626. He was Captain Norton's chaplain to begin with, and he sold up in 1625, so perhaps he was not formally appointed minister until later, or else the date is wrong and he began in 1625. There is some contention that Welch did not arrive in Ulster until 1626, but I am convinced by W D Baillie's argument in his 'The Six Mile Water Revival of 1625' that he was there in 1625. The main evidence is that he was appointed by Norton, who sold up on 28th November 1625.

Welch was heavily involved in the revival which spread around Six Mile Water, around County Antrim and into County Down.

Robert Blair wrote on a celebration of the Lord's Supper, when he assisted Welch. He "perceived that there would be large as many without the church as within it, and most of these were come out of other counties hindered to be there on Saturday by great rising of waters." Blair ministered to those outside the church. In 1632 Welch wrote a letter to the Countess of Eglington that there were between 1,400 and 1,500 at Communion, "and never such a day had we from morning to night, without fainting or weariness...Such motion I never saw, new ones coming in that never knew Him before." Although this was a time when the bishops were moving against him and others, 300 came for Communion who had never known the Lord before.

The persecution from the bishops towards the Presbyterian ministers grew until Welch and others were suspended by Echlin in late summer 1631. Archbishop Ussher removed the suspension, but their enemies persuaded the king to re-impose it in May 1632. The ministers managed to get the suspension revoked in May 1634. At this time Welch would minister in his house. On Sunday the congregation would mainly be in his garden, and he would minister in the doorway to those in the house and those outside. However, Welch died in June 1634 and is buried in an old graveyard inside the demesne of Castle Upton.

John Livingstone wrote the following:

Mr Josias Welsh, the son of the famous Mr John Welsh, was provided by the Lord to bring the covenant of grace to that people of the Six-Mile-Water in Ireland, on whom Mr James Glendinning had wrought some legal convictions, having preached some time at Oldstone. He was thereafter settled minister at Templepatrick, where he had many seals of his ministry. He was much exercised in his own spirit, and, accordingly, much of his preaching was concerning exercise of conscience. Being deposed by the Bishop of Down, he continued preaching in his own house, and stood in a door of his own house that looked toward the garden, so as some heard in the house, and a great many that sat and stood in the garden. By this means, being but of a weak constitution, and having many defluctions, and faulty lungs, he contracted cold, which occasioned his death about the year 1634. I was with him at his death, wherein he wanted not continuing exercise of his mind. One time he cried out, ‘Oh for hypocrisy’ whereat Mr Blair said, ‘See how Satan is offering to nibble at his heels before he enters into glory’. A very little before he died, I being at prayer, hard by the low bedside where he lay, and that word ‘Victory’ coming out in some of my expressions, he took hold of my hand, and desired me to forbear a little, and clapping his hands together, cried out, ‘Victory, victory, victory for evermore!’ and then desired me to go on. Within a little thereafter he expired.