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LATE RECTOR OF LLANDOWROR, CARMARTHANSHIRE,
Founder of the Welsh circulating Schools,
LATE OF LANGHARNE, NEAR CARMARTHAN ;
AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY:
The Rev. EDW. MORGAN, M. A.
VICAR OF SYSTON AND RATCLIFFE-ON THE-WREKE,
“ Hath any man true piety and devotion, let him, like a naming
“ Imitation (example) is a globe of precepts."... Lord Bacon.
SOLD BY WHITTAKER & CO, AND SEELEY & CO.
THESE Letters are worthy the pen of Leighton. They would have done no dishonour either to the genius or to the piety of that illustrious Prelate. There is indeed a remarkable similarity between the writings of the two. The peculiar subjects mostly dwelt upon are the same,-the sinfulness of man-the grace of the Redeemer --and especially the holiness of the creature as the end of religion, as necessary for his happiness. ---There are also points of likeness in the character of their minds and disposition of their hearts. They were both endued with a noble contempt of the world, and had their hearts filled with the tenderest compassion towards man, and with the most ardent love to their fellow-Christians.--These Letters justify this comparison
In nothing is the hand of a gracious Providence more visible, than in raising up men at different times for the purpose of reviving the spirit of true religion. This is a clear evidence of the gracious sovereignty of the Most High. Why he should send men endued with peculiar qualifications, fitted for doing great things, at a particular period, and to a particular place, must be wholly referred to his good pleasure, to the counsels of his own gracious and sovereign will. It has been to men raised up in this way that the world has ever been indebted for its greatest and most valuable privileges. God employs men, who are but earthen vessels, as instruments to convey to their fellow-beings the most precious of his gifts. How much we owe, under God, to those individuals, who, at the beginning and about the middle of the last century, revived spiritual religion in the land, is more than can be told. Among the first of these, as to time, and as to usefulness, is the author of these Letters.
1. As to TIME he was probably the very first. He was born in the parish of Kilrhedin, in the county of Carmarthen, in 1683, was brought up at the Grammar School at Carmarthen and was ordained by Bishop Bull in 1708. From the very commencement of his ministry, he preached the evangelical doctrines of the Reformation. It does not appear, that he was indebted to any human agency for his religious sentiments. He probably derived them from their proper source--the Bible, and from religious books ;* for the peculiar doctrines of the gospel were at that time almost unknown in the country. Ever since the age of Laud, the half-popish Archbishop of Canterbury, in the reign of Charles the First, the doctrines of the Reformation had been universally on the decline in the Church, and had arrived at their lowest ebb about the beginning of the last century.* They received, as it were, their death-blow, when soon after the restoration of Charles the Second, a great number of faithful ministers were expelled the Church: for subsequently these doctrines had gradually ceased to be preached throughout the land, being superceded by sentiments as cold as they were false, and as heathenish as they were inefficient. There was learning, but no spirituality,-an inculcation of moral duties, but not on evangelical basis, —and a formal profession ofreligion, but no exhibition of its power and influence. It was the body of religion, dressed and decorated, without the animating principle; its figure and form, adorned with human embellishments, but without life and vigour; which, being found and observed to be lifeless, became an object of scorn, abuse and derision to the infidel, and of disregard and neglect to the community at large. Hence arose the spread of infidelity, and the corruptions of the age in general. To the prevalency of these evils in the Author's time these Letters bear the fullest testimony.
*“ Divinity was the great study of his whole life; and as the Lord had endowed him with strong intellectual powers, and a tenacious memory, by diligent application he became well versed in the writings of the inost eminent English and Foreign Divines.—Memoir of Mr. Jones, in the Christian Guardian, Sep. 1809, p. 334.
There were not wanting, during the time specified, learned defences of revealed religion; yet infidelity increased. The Clergy preached in the Churches through the land; yet igno
Doctor John Edwards, in the preface of his book, called “ The Preacher,” published about the year 1700, speaks of what was then, and had been for some time, the practice of the Ministers of the Church,-“We interpret,” he says, and expound away our Articles, we gloss away most of our chief doctrines; and this we have been doing these forty or fifty years,” p. 16.