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.I Carmarthen Intermediate…

IA Baptist Hero, formerly…


I A Baptist Hero, formerly of Car- martheB. ADDRESS AT PENUEL. On Thursday, the 2nd inst., the Rev. J. T. I Griffiths, of Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, e U.S.A., delivered an address at Penuel Baptist Church, Carmarthen, on the Rev. Morgan John Rees, a noted Baptist of the 18th century. In the course of an inspiring discourse Mr Griffiths said he could safely say that the subject of his text could be safely termed the hero of political and religious liberty of tne 18th century. There had been fights for liberty for centuries previous to the appearance of Morgan John Rees on the scene, and these fights had not been confined sslely to these islands—-they had taken place in all the countries of Europe for centuries, but nowhere had they been so fierce as in Great Britain, and in no sphere so great as in the Baptist denomination. It was the pamphlet of Leonard Bushel in 1614, wbo, by the way, was a Baptist that fired the renowned Roger Williams in 1630, who did not rest until he planted the banner of freedom in Rhode Island in 1636. But it was not until 1774 that the first Congress was held in I Philadelphia to discuss the principles of religious and political liberty to all, and, d, strange to say, that amongst the leaders of the cause of liberty at this Congress were four Baptists, in the persons of Backus, Edwards, Jones, and Rogers, when John Adams, of New England, informed them that it would be easier to change the Solar system than to plant the principles they advocated in the country. The subject of the lecture was born in a farm houselnamed Graddfa, in the parish of Llanfabon, near Hengoed, Glamorganshire, on December 8, 1760. He was the son of Elizabeth and John Rees. His father was a successful farmer and religiously inclined, and took a lively interest in every- thing connected with the state and religious life of the country, and everything that tended to raise the status of religious; liberty received his most hearty support. Being in comfortable circumstances, the subject of the lecture received the best advantages educationally of the times, and young Morgan made the best use of them. There are two things connected with educational advantages which should always be kept in view, the first is to secure them, and secondly, after securing them to make the best use of them, and he was glad to find that Morgan John Rees did both. He xas born during troublesome times, and also in a very disturbed part of the country. Charles 11. had ascended the throne after Cromwell had been deposed, and persecution was becoming more and more intolerable. Morgan John Rees appeared to have been born at a time when he was most needed, and we soon find him preparing for the battle which he was called upon to fight. He was baptized comparatively young and became a member of Hengoed Church. Soon after he began to preach, and in 1786 he entered Bristol College as a student, where he studied under Dr. Evans, who was then the Principal of the College. His stay at the College was brief, for we find that in 1787 he was ordained pastor of Penygarn Baptist Church, near Pontypool. So we find that he was born, bred, and ordained in places that played an important part in the history of the egunti-y. It appears that the Baptists had a College at Trosnant in the year 1732 which was afterwards removed to Aber- gavenny and from that place to Pontypool. In the year 1740, one of the students at the College was Morgan Edwards, who some time afterwards emigrated to America, and it was Morgan Edwards it was who carried the educational ideas of England at the time to America, and thus formed the link between the two countries. When Morgan John Rees was ordained as pastor at the church at Penygarn, the Rev. Watkin Edwards of Hen- goed said of him God has a great amount of work to do in this place and other places through this man." It was evident that Watkin Edwards had an eye to see in the f tit-ure so far as Morgan John Rees was con- cerned, and in his case the prophecy had never been more faithfully fulfilled. Penygarn was, however, too. limited a scope for him. t JTe wi'i. fully i >»,f" >»■ 'W* ■ -aaaessitv educating his ieuow countrycacn both religiously and politically. Liberty of conscience, was his motto, and it appears to have been deeply engraved on the tablets of his heart. A great deal had been done for the uplifting of the nation from an educa- tional point of view so far back as the year 1698, but Morgan John Rees saw that although much had been done much more was required, and it appears that he was the man elected for the work. Sunday Schools had been established by Raikes in the year 1780, and all claim that he was the first to institute Sunday Schools. But it was a matter of history that the Baptists in Pennsylvania had established Sunday Schools 40 years previously between the towns of Reading and Lancaster, and the house where- in the Sunday School was held in Ephrata, was afterwards used as a hospital during the War of Independence." There are two opinions with regard to the establishment of Sunday Schools in Wales. One is that the Rev. Thomas Charles, of Bala, through his schools, established the Sunday Schools in Wales. The other is that Morgan John Rees established a School near Hengoed, which led into the general Sunday School movement. Historians, however, say that both opinions are wrong, It is evident that the Sunday School in Wales is the result of the Raikes movement. In 1785, William Cox, Jonas Hannaway, and Henry Thorton, organized a Society in London to aid in the establish- ment of Sunday Schools throughout the Principality. Edward Williams, Oswestry George Lewis, Llanuwchllyn were among the agents in the North, and Morgan John Rees, the Bishop of Llandaff, were among the agents in the South, from 1785 on. In 1798, Rev. Thomas Charles, of Bala, became an agent for the Society in Wales, and continued as such until his death in 1814. So that the Sunday Schools were established in Wales at least 12 years before Mr Charles became identified with the Raikes movement. As has been previously stated, to be minister of Panygarn Church only was much too limited a scope for him, and consequently he travelled all over the Principality, with the main object of establishing Sunday Schools in everywhere possible. In 1791 the associa- tion, held at Hengoed, received a letter from the church at Penygarn, in which it com- plained bitterly that their pastor was about to leave them although no reason is given in the minutes of that Association with regard to his leaving. During this time, namely, from the year 1789 to 1793,, France was in a turmoil, and Morgan John Rees seeing that somethiug could be done for the emancipation of the people of France, went over to Paris to explain the Word of God, as it is stated in one of their papers. He believed that the time had come, and he hoped that the people had become tired of the oppression of kings and Romish priests, and that they were ready to take advantage of the freedom that he proclaimed. Mr Rees reiiled a hall in Parfs, in which to preach the Gospel, and to distribute BiMos to the people. But, soon after this, things turned out quite contrary to his expectations, and he left, fjuring this time Louis XV. had just died and Louis XVI. had ascended the throne. Soon after the revolution brake out when the last named was beheaded. In the year 1791-2, David Jones, of Ponty- pool, and Peter Williams worked energetically P 00 1 to prepare the Bible of John Cann, in order to get it ready for distribution in France. And it may be asked why did they set about preparing the Bible of John Cann. Well it was for this reason that John Cann's Bible was the first ever published with marginal references, and this on account of the opposition of the Bishops of the Church of England, was translated in Amsterdam in the "year 1648. And although it is stated by ^isvoriansi that the first Bible ever distributed in foreign countries was done by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, it is a matter of history that Morgan John Bees took over and distributed in France John Cann's Bible about 12 years previous to this. After his return from Franee tie sottiea down in Carmarthen, somewhere about the begin- ing of 1793, and he remained in Carmarthen during the year 1794. During this time he published a magazine, fi VB parts only of which ever appeared. The chief object of this publication was the cause of liberty, vviiich was so dear to hiua. In July, 1734; Morgan John Rees preached his last sermon in Wales at Glynceiriog on his way to America. He left this country in a rather peculiar way. It came about as follows. One evening, whilst at Carmarthen, he was attending a committee at the hotel, where the present town hall stands, when a gentleman appeared in the hotel, which was at the time kept by a man named Reid. Shortely after his arrival he enquired from Reid if he knew a man in the town named Morgan John Rees. Mr Reid said he did, and that he would take him to see Mr Rees in the morning. Shortly afterwards, Mr Reid went to the next room, where Mr Rees was and told him that a Government official had arrived from London with a warrant for his arrest. The reason assigned for his arrest was that he belonged to that society which was called the Jacobites, who were looked by the Government with a very suspicious eye. Having received this information Mr Rees started that night for Liverpool and walked so far as Lampeter. The following day he walked from Lampeter to Newtown, and he then took conveyance for Liverpool. Before starting on his journey he called upon his partner in the book trade, named Mr Josuah Watkins, who after this, became pastor of Priory-street Baptist Church, Car- marthen. He told him to bring as much of nis ciotnes and effects as he could after Air Watkins complied with his request and just reached Liverpool in time to deliver the same before he sailed from America on August 1st, 1794. After reaching America about the end of the year, he travelled extensively throughout the Southern States and North Western territories, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and at the same time searching for a suitable location for a Welsh colony. For this journey he bought a horse and travelled 1,500 miles. On his return to Philadelphia he married the daughter of Major Benjamin Loxey, who was an officer of the army of the revolution. After two years' residence in Philadelphia, he, in con- junction with Dr. Benjamin Rush, purchased a large tract of land in Pensylvania, which, in honour of his native country, he callea Cambria. He also located and planned the capital of the county, to which he gave the name Beulah. To this place he removed his own family witn a company of Welsh emigrants in 1796, and they were added to year by year by others from the principality. During this time he was very much occupied with his duties as land proprietor, and as pastor of the church in Beulah. He again removed from Beulah to Somerset, the county seat of Somerset county, and here made removed from Beulah to Somerset, the county seat of Somerset county, and here made a justice of the peace, a recoider of wills, and an associate judge in and for the county of Somerset. The Government of the country was very much taken up at the time with appeasing the Indians and bringing them to agree with the Government of the county and in this Mr Morgan John Rees played a very prominent part. At that time the negroes gave a great deal of trouble at Savannah, simply because they were not allowed to worship God only in tne presence of a white man, with the exception of twice a year. Morgan John Rees however brought about a happy settlement, whereby negroes were allowed to worahip in their own way, and he actually built a chapel for their service, which cost over 21,000. The Rev lecturer then went on to describe his move- ments in America up to the day of his death. It seemed as if the heavens had been opened, and he had been permitted to catch a glimpse within the veil. The address was highly appreciated by the large congregation present. =====!=S=

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