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Fishguard Fencibles.


Fishguard Fencibles. Church Parade. Sermon by the Vicar. On Sunday morning for the first time with- in living memory—probably for the first in history-the public of Fishguard was affor- ded an opportunity of witnessing a military church parade. The participants were the members of the local company of the Pembrokeshire Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Force)—the modern successors of that historic corps, the Fishguard Fencibles, who figured so promi- nently in the abortive invasion of 1797. The company mustered in the National Schools, there being present upon parade Capt. G E Dunsdon (commanding), Sergt.- Major Freeman (instructor), Sergt. Dellar, Corporals Davies and Wilcox, Bombardiers Briers and Manning, and a couple of buglers, together with 22 members of the rank and file. The men presented a remarkably spick and span appearance in their new walking- out uniforms of blue relieved with red and yellow, together with white belts, and were conspicuous—despite the comparatively brief space which has elapsed since the formation of the company-for their martial bearing. It was observable that the old distinction of 1 silver lace for officers of the auxiliary forces had been abandoned, each non-com being as resplendent in gold lace (proportionate to his rank) as was the solitary member of the Regular Forces present on parade. The service (fully choral) took the form of Matins followed by the intonation of the Litany, and the hymns, which had obviously been selected with a view to appropriateness were, Soldiers of Christ, arise," Fight the good fight," and Onward, Christian sold- iers." The officiating minister was the Vicar (Rev. William Evans, M.A., R.D.), who sub- sequently preached a powerful sermon. Bas- ing his discourse upon the words Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil (Ephes- ians, vi, 6), the rev. gentleman said that in all ages the profession of arms had struck the imagination of the people. People had been called upon to defend their homes and their country from the very beginning of time against hostile attacks by foe and by enemy. Sometimes men had been called to fight for unrighteous causes-men had done in the name of Righteousness deeds of evil, and deeds of shame. Yet, for all that, the profes- sion of arms was a noble profession, for men had been called upon to bear arms in the beginning of things-so far as he could make out-not to attack, but to defend their homes, to defend their property, to defend the lives of their children and others. So that, in the beginning of things, the profession of arms had been a noble profession, and our Lord Jesus Christ-much as people thought that he did not—had sanctified and consecrated the use of arms. He had known, as well as any- body else that, as long as this world should last it would be absolutely necessary for men to defend their homes and to defend their country. He knew, as we should never know, how untrustworthy human nature was at the very best, and that, therefore, it was abso- lutely necessary, because of the untrust- worthiness of human nature, that men should band themselves together in order to defend themselves-to defend themselves against the unrighteous, the ungodly, because of men who were moved by passion and not by righteousness and justice. And St. Paul- one, he supposed, of the greatest men in the history of the world-St. Paul's letters, es- pecially, were full of the profession of arms. We read in the sixth chapter af the Epistle to the Ephesians, where he called upon the people to put on the whole armour of God, that he seemed to see before himself the Roman soldier in complete armour, prepared for battle, and then he said (or wrote) to the Christian people and asked them to emulate and to imitate and copy that Roman soldier prepared for battle, and then he told us to put on the whole armour of God for a spirit- ual warfare-a spiritual conflict, not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wicked- ness in high places. And then he told them to put on the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and to have their loins girded about with Truth, and to put on the breast- plate of Righteousness and the sword of the Spirit. It would be noticed that all these pieces of armour were for defensive purposes t one way: only for attack. The shild of Faith, wnich he spoke of, was a piece of armour which covered the whole body from i the head to the foot, and the girdle of Truth, which he spoke of, we had even to-day even the male civilian had a reminder of that piece of defensive armour, the two buttons at the back of his coat having been originally placed there to hold the girdle. The use of tne girdle of the Roman soldier had been this :— His robe was a long, flowing robe, and unless the robe were tied up with a girdle he would not be able to move nimbly and quickly, so that when he went to battle he had a belt or girdle round his loins so that the loose- fitting, long, flowing robe might be lifted up so that his feet might be able to move nimbly and so that he could defend himself against the attack of any enemy. He was not going to tell the congregation at any length what those different pieces of Christian armour were, but the girdle of Truth was the Truth which was conveyed to us in divine right; the breast plate of Righteousness was that feeling or longing for holiness which the Spirit of God placed within us. Our feet should be shod with the Gospel of Peace, which could know no dimination or decrease, and could never be worn down. The shield of Faith was the rule of Faith, which it was absolutely necessary for every man and wo- man to believe, and which was contained for Churchman in the three creeds. The sword of the Spirit was the one offensive weapon in the whole Christian armoury. So they saw that St Paul's mind was full of the profession of arms, and that he told us, as Christian men and Christian women, to imi- tate and emulate the soldier in our Christain warfare. And then, St Paul said, in the Epistle to the Philippians, a very startling paradox-one cf the most staitling, glaring, and striking to be found in the whole field of literature— The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, come- to your hearts and minds in the knowledge of God and of his son Jesus Chiist." The preacher did not propose to give the original, but to paraphrase it, and did so as follows:- Let the peace of God, like an armed soldier, march up and down outside you, to defend from all evil and to keep up the peace within your souls Proceeding, he said it was unnecess- ary to labour the point, but they could all see that St Paul was full of the profession of arms, and called upon them to emulate the true soldier of Christ. In our daily life we were all of us called upon to fight evil and to defend ourselves generally against the attacks of the Evil One, and when we were called upon to attack and repel the enemy we were supposed to use that sword of the Spirit-the sword which Jesus Christ Himself used when he was attacked by the Devil during the forty days of His temptation. When the Devil had told him to make stones into bread He had said It is written that man shall not live by bread alone b"' by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The enemy had been put to flight, and we read that, after Jesus had attacked the Devil, the Devil left Him and angels came and ministered unto Him. Therefore; we were called upon, sometimes, to attack. Nevertheless, the preacher was sorry for the man who was called upon to attack-very, very sorry for him, for no man who was called upon to take a prominent part in public life could femain as spotless at the end of the conflict as he had been at the beginning. Sometimes, when we did attack, it railed out from us deeds which we should find, at the end, that we had been euiltv of. Sometimes, of course, we were failed upon-we could not help^it-to attack but might God keep us from attacking Of course, when we were called upon to attack, let us do so, but might God keep us free from attacking Let us learn, rather to usejhose defensive pieces of armour which God had given us through His Blessed Son Jesus Christ; ly the Holy Spirit of God. That, the fust occasion on which any LOCAL SOLDIERS a had visited the church, was a day that H should be marked as one of the R^d Letter i Days in the history of Fishguajd and of Fishguard's Church. He would take advan- tage of that privilege which they had given him of thanking them for voluntarily coming to that church as their first public appear- ence since they had been formed. He thanked them because they had made that effort voluntarily—there had been no com- pulsion, so far as he could make out: when their officers had asked them if they were j ready to come the majority had said, and shown by their presence that day, that they were quite prepared to do so. He thanked them for it, and for this reason :—They had come there that day, lie took it (whether they meant it or whether they did not, some of them did-the majority of them he believed) to ask God's blessing upon that which they had undertaken to do, and they could rightly ask Gcd's blessing upon the work which they had undertaken to do, for could there be any nobler sacrifice than that sacrifice which they had offered to their country ? They had sacrificed, and They were sacrificing a great deal of their time in order that they might be proficient and efficient, if the time should ever come-God forbid that it ever should come!—to repel the attacks of any foreign foe which might attempt to land on these shores. They were called upon to defend their branch of the Service was a defensive branch. Never, he thought, or scarcely ever since the formation of the Garrison Artillery in this country- had it been called upon to attack the enemy they had been called upon to defend their' country against the attacks and the invasion of the foreign foe. He thanked them in the name of the citizens of this Empire for giving up their time and their leisure—and that was a sacrifice; a great sacrifice. Far better was it, of course, to spend their time in that way than in loafinfg about the streets. He granted that, but fe said still that that we owed them all a debt for giving up their time to make themselves efficient for the defence of their country, their homes, and the lives of their wives and children, and others who could not defend themselves. When he spoke to them of that it reminded him of a wonderful thing which took place at the coronation of the King whom we all served. When he was crowned a sword was given to him, and he handed it to the Dean of Westminster, who then hand- ed it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who then placed the sword on God's altar—that was to say that the "King's sword was given to God: it was dedicated to Him, and it would only be returned to the King when he bought it back with a wedge of gold. The King's sword was consecrated for righteous purposes; it was the sword of Righteousness which the King was supposed to weild, and when the King's sword was unsheathed (that was to say, when the dogs of war were re- leased-to mix the metaphor) he was suppos- ed to unsheath it only in righteousness. The preacher believed that, in future, at any rate, whatever might have been the history of this nation in the past, it would only be unsheath- ed when we were called upon to defend our kingdom in righteousness, and to attack in the cause of righteousness those who were doing unrighteous acts. So, when they were called upon to defend these shores—God grant that they might never be called upon to do so !-they might be certain that, so far as they were concerned, the right of calling the war was not theirs: their duty was but to obey. The terrible, the mighy right of calling up war was placed in the handsof the representatives of the whole nation, so that, whether the war be righteous or unrighteous, they were free the fault-if fault at, all- would rest upon those who, under the Pro- vidence of God, would be called upon, through the voice of the people of this coun- try, to govern. He, therefore, thanked them for coming there that day, because he firmly believed that they had come there to consec- rate their services by asking on their sacrifices and their services the blessing of Almighty God. He did not think that it was necessary for him to give them a word of advice, but, just as man to man, he supposed that they would allow him to say this to them (not that he believed that it was necessary):—He asked them to behave themselves, and to make themselves worthy of the sacrifices that they had made of themselves and their time for their country, and to do nothing unworthy of their sacrifices in any period of their lives. Let it be said of them-and he was almost certain that it would—that the Territorial 1 Army of Fishguard was composed of noble men, worthy of the profession which they were following. Let them be a witness to everything that was upright, holy, righteous and honourable amongst their fellow men. As one who had visited camp on more than two or three occasions, he knew that they would be submitted to and surrounded by a great deal of temptation to do things which were not quite worthy of a soldier. Let him ask them never to give way to that tempta- tion Never let a word escape their lips that they would not wish their mothers or their sisters hear Never let them do anything which would bring disgrace—not on their uniform he did not speak of their uniform— upon their manhood Let them walk worthy of their vocation! Let them be strong, and of a good courage to do that which was right. He remembered a time when it had been looked upon as something not respecta- ble to wear the uniform of the King or Queen of the country. And why was it not res- pectable? Because of the reproach brought upon the uniform by the bad conduct of officers and men alike who wore the uuiforrn. Thank God, that day was past! It was no longer a disgrace, but rather was it a privi- lege and an honour to wear the uniform, and lie was sure that the Fishguard Territorial Army, which had that day, in the House of God, consecrated its services, would maintain the honour and the reputation which made the King's uniform worthy of the respect of honourable men. At the close of the service, subsequent to the pronunciation of the Benediction, the first verse of the British National Anthem was reverently sung by the choir, congrega- tion and troops. Upon leaving the sacred edifice the artillery- men formed up on the Square, whence they marched to the National Schools where they were dismissed. The majority remained in uniform through out the day, lending a touch of unwonted colour to the streets and promenades of the town and its environs, which were thronged both in the afternoon and in the evening, the ideal spring weather which prevailed render- ing walking a pleasure to both old and young,

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