Arthur James Johnes.

On the causes which have produces dissent from the established church in the prinicipality of Wales online

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10th, 8vo..
llth, 8vo..

12th, Svo. .

13th, 8vo..
14th )
15th f folio
16th

17th

18th ..



19th



1588



1620



1630
1654

1678

1690

1690
1718
1727
1746
1752

1770

1789
At the
end of

this
century.



By whose Instrumentality.



Bishop Morgan of St. Asaph.

He undertook and accomplished the translation of
the Scriptures solely from patriotic and religious
principle. Llywelyn' s History of the Welsh Bible
p. 17.
Bishop Parry, of St. Asaph, aided by Dr. John Davies,

of Mallwyd.

' ' Parry was entirely a volunteer in this affair, in-
duced to undertake it merely from a consideration
of the absolute wants and necessities of hia
country. Many, if not most of the churches were
without Bibles, and we may rest assured there
were none elsewhere ; yet no provisions was made,
or likely to be made, but for the voluntary, but
for the spontaneous undertaking of this truly Pro-
testant, and very venerable Bishop.'* Llywelyn.
Rowland Heylin and Sir Thomas Middleton, two

patriotic Welshmen,
[n the times of the Commonwealth. Supposed by
Dr. Llywelyn to have originated with Cromwell,
who was of Welsh origin.
000 copies.

Thomas Gouge, a pious and charitable Non-confor-
mist, of London.
8000 copies.
Stephen Hughes, a Dissenting Minister, patronized

by Lord Wharton.
Jishop Lloyd, of St Asaph (one of the 7 Bishops).
Society for promoting Christian Knowledge.
)itto. At the instigation of Griffith Jones, and in
Ditto. consequence of the demand created by his
Ditto. Schools. See Welsh Piety, vol. i. p. 20, 25.

In all 30,000 copies.
Ditto. At the instigation of Dr. Llywelyn, a

Dissenting Minister.
Ditto. By the Rev. H. Parry and Mr. John Themas.
The Rev. Peter Williams, a Methodist Clergyman,

with Notes.

In the whole, about 20,000 copies.
Charles, a Methodist Clergyman.
The Society for promoting Christian Knowledge.
At the instigation of a Welsh Clergyman, the Rev.
T. Jones, Curate of Creaton, Northamptonshire.
The Bible Society, which was formed in consequence
of Mr. Jones failing to procure an additional
supply from the Society for promoting Christian
Knowledge.



102

Since the commencement of the Bible Society, the number of
Welsh Bibles sent by it into Wales, are as four to one, compared to
those issued by any other institution.

From the foregoing sketch, the reader may draw the following
inferences :

1st. That when Wales was blessed with native prelates, they
led the van in the progress of religious knowledge.

2ndly. That since she has been ruled by English Bishops, all
her great religious benefits have been traceable either to the influence
of Dissenters, or of a class of Clergymen such as Griffith Jones, who
experienced few marks of episcopal favour.

OTHER RELIGIOUS WRITINGS.

An immense number of tracts, pamphlets, periodicals, &c., good,
bad, and indifferent, have been published in the Welsh language by
Dissenters. They issue about 4,000 copies of magazines every
month. The clergy have written very few religious books of any
description. Those who have written, have belonged to a class by
no means in favour with their rulers; and the monthly magazine,
called the GWYLIEDYDD, the only publication of the kind connected
with the Church, is supported almost exclusively by Curates, and
the poorer part of the beneficed clergy, and a smaller number of it
are sold than of any other Welsh periodical.

SCHOOLS.

Many were endowed in the times of the Tudors and Stewarts, the
.funds of which are now most grossly abused.

About the time of the Revolution, Gouge, a clergyman, but a
Non- conformist, established three or four hundred Schools in Wales,
by aid of Subsciiptions. (See Archbishop Tillotson's Sermon on
his death).

Of Griffith Jones's and Mrs. Sevan's Schools, which spread over
the whole country, an account has already been given. 30,000,
the accumulation of the legacy left by that lady's will, are still em-
ployed in a similar way. But the chief instructors of the people are
the Dissenters.



103



Statement of the number of Schools Established by Griffith Jones and
Mrs. Sevan, and the number of Scholars instructed in them
from the commencement in 1737 till the death of that lady in 1777,
a period of Forty Tears.





Schools.


Scholars.




Schools


. Scholars.


In the year 1737


37


2400


In the year 1759


206


8539


1738


71


3981


1760


215


8687


1739


71


3989


1761


210


8023


1740


150


8767


1762


225


9616


1741


128


7995


1763


279


11770


1742


89


5123


1764


195


9453


1743


75


4881


1765


189


9029


1744


74


4253


1766


219


10986


1745


120


5843


1767


190


8422


1746


116


5635


1768


148


7149


1747


110


5633


1769


173


8637


1748


136


6223


1770


159


9042


1749


142


6543


1771


181


9844


1750


130


6244


1772


219


12044


1751


129


5669


1773


242


13205


1752


130


5724


1774


211


11685


1753


134


5118


1775


148


9002


1754


149


6018


1776


118


7354


1755


163


7015


1777


144


9576


1756


172


7064.








J. / U\J

1757


iff 4H

220


I \J\JrK

9037


Total


6465


314051


1758


218


9834









In one word, both religious education and general education has
sprung from the efforts of Dissenters and the most discouraged part
of the clergy. What can be expected from such a state of things
but Dissent deep-rooted Dissent ? The influence of the English
Bishops on all these good works, has been like that of the stream
which flows through Bala lake but, as it is thought, without
mingling with the waters !



104



SUMMARY OF THE COMPARISON.



WELSH PRELATES, 1601.



ENGLISH PRELATES, I7ol.



They found a people immersed in They found a nation of Church-
Popery; they left a nation of Pro- men; they left a nation of Dis-
testants. Dr. Davies's Address to Ms senters.
Countrymen, Prefixed to his tiansla-
tlon of the New Testament.



In the present century, in most
districts of Wales, there is hardly



In the last century, there was not
one Welshman acquainted only with
the Welsh language, who professed one Welshman acquainted only with
the Roman Catholic religion. Welsh the Welsh language, who does not

frequent the Dissenting Chapel oftener

than the Church.



Piety, by Griffith Jones.



The period of Welsh Bishops ter- The period of English Bishops ends
minates with the civil wars, (1641,) in 1700, with the general predo-
during which North Wales was more minance of Dissent, which has con-
faithful than any other part of the tinued to progress ever since, and is
kingdom to the Crown and the still progressing.
Church. Walter Davies's Life of Hugh
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P W



CHAPTER IV.

PRIMARY AND DERIVATIVE CAUSES OP DISSENT IN WALES DISTINGUISHED.
ECCLESIASTICAL MISGOVERNMENT THE SOLE CAUSE OF ITS PREDO-
MINANCE.



"It was merely the crisis to which things had been tending for some centuries;
and if the fire did at last run over the country with wonderful rapidity, it
was because the trees were all dry." Blunf s History of the Reformation.

NOTHING is more common than to hear the wide-spread secta-
rianism of Wales referred to a variety of causes ; causes (as it is
generally assumed) of a totally distinct and independent origin.
Now, that the moral impulses to Dissent are various, is a proposition
which taken in a certain narrow sense it is impossible to deny ;
but the question is, whether these various impulses were not at first
communicated from one single source, whether they are not them-
selves mere effects of one simple solitary cause. Nothing, for in-
stance, can be more unsatisfactory than to rank ignorance and indi-
vidual eccentricity, as in themselves, causes of Dissent in "Wales ;
these are mere common infirmities and foibles of the human race,
and not more predominant in the heart of her mountains, than in
many lands in which separation from the established religion is
almost unknown ; besides, Dissent has advanced with knowledge,
and not with ignorance, and individual eccentricity will not ex-
plain the sectarianism of a whole nation. Nor is it more philoso-
phical to ascribe the strength of Dissent to the influence which
views of worldly advantage may sometimes possess, in swelling its
numbers ; mercenary views may, indeed, make converts to a cause
already prosperous, but can rarely contribute to raise it into pros-
perity.



112

A good deal of weight is sometimes attached (and with more
reason,) to the continual change of preachers, and other attractions
employed by Dissenters, more particularly the Welsh Methodists ;
but here, again, we must remember that a numerous clergy implies
a sect already numerous, and cannot therefore be reckoned
amongst the original causes of its establishment, though it may
afterwards serve still further to secure its predominance. " There
is nothing new under the sun," says the proverb; there is very
little in the expedients of modern Dissenters, which would not
readily occur to men having similar views. Many of my readers
will feel no difficulty in pointing out the antitype of the following
picture :

"They" (the Mendicant Friars) "practised all the stratagems
of itinerancy, preaching in public streets, and administering the
communion on a portable alter. Thirty years after their institution,
an historian complains that the parish churches were deserted, that
none confessed except to these friars ; in short that the regular disci-
pline was subverted.* He" (the Mendicant Friar) " could preach
where he would ; if he could not lawfully take possession of the
church of the minister, he could erect his ambulatory pulpit at
any cross in any parish, and rail (as he generally did) at the supine-
ness and ignorance of the resident pastor. * * He
would confess whosoever might come to him. It was to no pwyose
that the parish priest refused absolution to any black sheep of his
flock ; away he went to a Franciscan, and absolution was given him
at once." BlunVs History of the Reformation, p. 37.

" Indeed, the frailty of human nature soon found out the weak
places of the Mendicant system. Soon had the primitive zeal of
its founders burnt itself out, and then its censer was no longer
lighted with fire from the altar : a living was to be made ; the
populace were to be alarmed, or caressed, or cajoled out of a sub-
sistence. However humiliating may be the truth, experience has
sanctioned it as a truth, that an indigent church makes a corrupt
clergy." Idem, p. 42.

* Hallam's Middle Ages t vol. ii. p. 291,



113

The reader of Chaucer will also be struck by observing, that his
Mendicant Friar is distinguished from the secular priest, by his
gloomy views of religion ; whilst in his beautiful character of the
latter he says, "but chiefly on the joys of heaven he loved to dwell;"
and this disposition to dwell on judgments, rather than on mercies,
is the peculiarity which, more than any positive difference of doc-
trine, distinguishes the Methodist minister of the present day from
the clergy of the Church of England. It is, in fact, the natural
tone of thought with those who secede on the ground, that the
Establishment is in a state of great moral corruption.

Again, the result is sometimes referred to causes of a very differ-
ent character, the zeal and industry of Dissenters on the one hand,
and the apathy both of the clergy and lay members of the Estab-
lishment on the other.

1. Of the zeal of Dissenters, it is enough to remark, that it can
be attractive only in proportion as it stands contrasted with the
inactivity of the clergy.

2. As to the apathy of the Welsh clergy, it may reasonably be
asked, whence is it that they a^e open to this imputation ?

Is religious indifference a feature of the community from which
they are taken ? Undoubtedly not ; the virtues and vices of the
Principality are both of a very different complexion. It is enough,
then, to remark, that the dissimilarity in character between the
Welsh clergy and the Welsh people cannot be explained in any
other way than by the system of Church patronage, which attracts
indolence into the Church, and repels excellence from it, which
holds out a kind of bounty to mere negative characters, and looks
coldly on patriotism and piety, and those attainments on which the
usefulness of a parish priest in Wales will mainly depend.

3. The lay members of the Church, it is said, are extremely
indifferent to her interests. Whilst Dissenters are in the habit of
subscribing thousands to establish schools, and build chapels,
the laity of the Establishment are by no means anxious for the
extension of her influence. Hence, instead of chapels of ease con-
nected with the Church b:ing erected to accommodate our increas-



114

ing population, the ground is left vacant for Dissenters who
never fail to occupy it. Upon this subject also, it may be asked,
is indifference to the interests of religion characteristic of the
Welsh as a nation ? To this question, their liberality to the
Dissenting clergy of the present day, the generous endowments
granted by our forefathers in Roman Catholic times are a suffi-
cient answer. Whence then the present indifference of the lay
members of the Church in Wales to the extension of her commun-
ion? Without approving of that indifference, I cannot help
observing, that its causes are perfectly obvious. They will do
nothing for the Church because she will do nothing for herself;
it is sufficiently plain that if one half of that preferment which
is engrossed by absentees and strangers, had been employed in
extending the religious privileges of the people, there would have
been but little need of voluntary contributions. It is no answer to
tell us, that the prelates of Wales have no power so to apply those
revenues; if such had been their disposition they might have
obtained power from the legislature.

Upon this subject, I may advert to the case of the new College
of St. David's, at Lampeter, an institution, which, with all its
abuses of administration, has been of no small benefit to the
Church in Wales. Before its establishment, the young clergy
of the Principality were of necessity educated either in acade-
mies in Wales, where the education was of an inferior stamp, or
at an English University, where they generally lost the free use
their native dialect, and were apt to contract habits of expense
and ambitious views,* which unfitted them for the pastoral duties

* It has been before observed, that the clergy of Wales are, for the most
part men of a humbler rank than those of England. Hence it is, that their
brief residence in an English University tends so often to dazzle and unsettle
their minds, and produces in too many instances, a most unfavourable
change on the character and disposition. Placed in the vicinity, as it were,
of young men more blessed by fortune than themselves, yet jealously
excluded from familiar intercourse, they may witness and imbibe the follies
and affectation of those above them, but they have no means of profiting
by their superior intelligence. The inferior rank of the Welsh clergy arises
in South Wales from the poverty of the Church ; but in North Wales, (where
this difference does not, however, exist to the same extent, ) solely from the
way in which all the higher emoluments are engrossed by strangers, which
induces a kind of artificial poverty.



115

in. the seclusion of their native country. The object of St. David's
College was to avoid the evils of both these courses of education,
and combine all that was good in both ; its site being in the
Principality, it was free from the evils attendant on an English
University; on the other hand, it might reasonably be presumed,
that it would be the means of affording, in a much more economi-
cal way, that limited degree of erudition to which its students
would have been restricted by their scanty resources, even at an
University which flung wide the portals of learning to those Avho
were in possession of the golden key. In support of this excellent
institution, many of the Welsh gentry and clergy, and, indeed,
some distinguished Englishmen, contributed most generously.*
If, then, there ever was a time when disinterestedness was
called for on the part of the rulers of the Welsh Church, it was then.
But, how did they emulate the good example that had been thus
set them? Did they sacrifice a sinecure rectory, a prebend, or
any of those superfluous revenues which are professedly intended
to provide learning, though, in reality, they are generally far
otherwise employed? Alas, no! The College was endowed with
a cluster of poor livings in the county of Cardigan, which were in
some instances so completely stripped of their scanty revenues,
that the parishoners were left without funds to support a resident
minister !

Poor as the parochial clergy are in Cardiganshire, that county
abounds in sinecures. The only apology that is found in the present
day for the continuance of this species of Church patronage is its
alleged tendency to promote learning; and it is still more worthy
of remark, that the support of institutions similar to that of St.

* Amongst the benefactions of this institution, the generous donation of
Archdeacon Beynon is particularly worthy of remembrance. In addition to
his subscription, this patriotic Welsh clergyman bestowed on the new insti-
tion a fine of 742, accruing from his prebend of Penboyr. The Principality
will also remember, with gratitude, a donation of 100, from Mr. Justice Bur-
ton, -who, though an Englishman, evinced in thia instance the affectionate
munificence of a eon.



116

David's College, was the very object for which they were preserved
at the Reformation.

"Although bishops, priests, and deacons, are the only sacred
orders known to the Church of England, there are certain eccle-
siastical offices and distinctions peculiar to her system, which
require to be noticed. Such are deaneries, prebends, canonries, and
similar situations connected with our cathedrals. Burnet, in his
History of the Reformation, observes, that the design of these
institutions was to form nurseries for the sees in which they were
respectively situated; and that it was an object with the vene-
rable Cranmer, (whose interest at court was unfortunately too
low to effect it,) to restore them to their proper use, by 'set-
ting up readers of the learned tongues and of divinity in them,
that so a considerable number of young clerks might be trained up,
under the bishop's eye, both in their studies and in a course
of devotion, to be by him put afterwards in livings, according to
their merit and improvements.' If the revenues belonging to the
cathedrals were appropriated to such uses, they might be highly
conducive to the general advantage and credit of the Establish-
ment. The purposes to which they are applied are, however,
purely political; and the general consequence is precisely what
might be anticipated; not to raise modest merit out of obscurity
not to mitigate the infirmities of the superannuated labourer not
to train up a fresh generation of able theologians; but, proh pudor!
to aggrandize the pride, and pamper the luxury of the richest and
best provided members of the profession." Solemn Appeal on behalf
of the Church of England, by the Rev. Daniel Mhil, perpetual Curate
of Forden, in Montgomeryshire.

The question, in what way the patronage of the Welsh Church
has of late been applied, is, however, one of too grave a character to
be considered, except through the medium of an enlarged view of
facts ; to facts, therefore, I shall appeal. The following pages
present a sketch of the state of Church property in two counties,
which being in the centre of Wales, and at the junction of several
dioceses, may be assumed to furnish a fair specimen of the state of
patronage throughout the Principality.


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Online LibraryArthur James JohnesOn the causes which have produces dissent from the established church in the prinicipality of Wales → online text (page 11 of 21)