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IMPENDING DEPARTURE ! OF THE…

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IMPENDING DEPARTURE OF THE REV. J. GWILYM JONES I FROM BRIDGEND. I On Sunday evening last the Rev J. Gwilym Jones, pastor of the English Congregational Church, Bridgend, announced to his congregation I that after careful consideration he had decided to accept n unanimous call from the English Congre- gational Church at Pennrth, to become their pastor, and that he intended to give up his ministerial duties in Bridgend at the end of July. A brief outline of Mr Jones' connection with Bridgend, as well as a few lines more personal to himself, may not be out of place on an occasion when his personality excites more than ordinary interest. In the event then of nothing unforeseen occurring, and his leaving, as already stated, at the end of July, the rev. gentleman's stay at Bridgend will have been exactly six years-by no means a short ministry, as the custom obtains, through a concatenation of circumstances, in the congregational denomination now-a-days; but very short and evanescent as the custom obtains with time to travel speedily. But whether it may be ionsidtfrsd long or short is of no consequence of more moment is the fact that his pastorate has been an extremely happy one-happy for himself, and happy for the congregation unto whom he has ministered with such acceptableness. Under his beneficent regime the life of the church has run smosdhly on no note of discord has been struck peace has reigned supreme, and everything has been in unison with the sacred character of the work done. And this is not surprising, for his very nature is repugnant to dissension of any kind. Frankness of mind, suavity of manner, kindli- ness of disposition, and singleness of purpose- these are qualities that do not go side by side with the baser and more unsavoury elements that are alas very often associated with church life, such as internal dissension, petty personal bickerings, unseemly squabbles, and other sinister visitations with which we in Wales are so accustomed, by reason of a greater recognition of religion as a Divine principle than as morality in practice. Mr Jones, unlike many of his brethren, practises in his ordinary relations with his fellow men what he preaches from the pulpit. He does not inculcate humility in the pulpit and practise arrogance in the street like some masterhands at ecclesiastical chicanery; and in this alone lay a potent influence, for now-a-days actions speak louder than words. So much for his social side. Whilst it is safe to avow that Mr Jones' departure will be regarded with unfeigned regret by all who had the pleasure of knowing the man, the pastor, and the preacher it is equally certain that the regret will be tempered by the reflection that his new sphere of labour will open out a wider scope for the exercise of those undoubted gifts with which he has been endowed, and which, when practically applied, are so much in harmony with his sacred calling. It may sound invidious to rivals and rivals' puffers to say so, still there is nothing like being candid, and as to be candid is to unburden your mind of thoughts patent to yourself if nauseous to others, 1! we will assert without more prefatory ambiguity that Mr Jones is the best preacher in this part of the world anno domini 1894. This must not be taken as a reflection on the capabilities of the other local members of the cloth, but as a tribute to Mr Jones' power; and if anyone should interpret this simple statement otherwise, then he is a believer in the illogical maxim that a distinct recognition of the talents of one man is likewise a distinct recognition of the want of talents in others. But be that as it may. Mr Jones, we have said, is a powerful preacher. Now, wherein lay the secret of his power ? How does he make his preaching attractive to the multitude, convinc- ing to the sceptical, a thing of beauty to the stoical? The reason, to use a hackneyed phrase, is not far to seek. He is earnest, and earnestness engenders the respect of the sincere; he is eloquent, and his eloquence touches the feelings without blinding the judgment, as is the wont of your much-vaunted Welsh hicyl his sermons are permeated with reasoning, and reasoning com- mands the attention of the thoughtful; he never hesitates or falters, and not to hesitate or falter is to rivet the attention of all. Some preachers there are now-a-days who, having delivered themselves of what in their eyes is an eloquent passage, pause (in wonderment at their eloquence) and gaze at the upturned faces before them. These constitute the species of socially ostracised practitioners generally snubbed the "oratorically jerky." No pulpit rhetoric is acceptable now-a-days that stops, jerks about, and gets muddled owing to its inherent impotence and want of stability. It must run on, it must be stable. Mr Jones' does run on, it is likewise stable hence it is effective, glowing-, impressive. Nor is it as a preacher only that he ■ outshines the common order. As a platform speaker he is equally effective—equally cogent in argument, equally masterful in delivery. Take his stirring address at the town-hall, on the occasion t of the tercentenary celebration of John Penry's death. That showed that once he has dived into the marrow of his subject and fathomed the pure essence, the ethereal depths, he has a power of giv- ing the thoughts that are in him such a vivid pour- trayal as to leave others—even that sombre-minded -veteran, Cynddylan Jones, included—struggling .among themselves on the level of oratorical mediocrity, for whilst he appealed to the loftier passions, his compeers dabbled in moth-eaten common places, which they adorned here and there with tawdry verbiage to please their senti- mental selves. Mr Jones' masterly homilies from the pulpit on the abiding principles that we have inherited through the martyrdom of Penry and others will be too fresh in the memory of those possessed of sufficient mental grasp to take in the recondite teachings that he deduced therefrom *,o need further amplification. Fortified by theologi- cal erudition and educational attainments of no ordinary breadth his sermons partake more of the didactic than of the evangelical order -they are analytical and expository rather than appealing and plaintive — thoughltruth to tell the appealing tone is often introduced. To say that i he has been assiduous in the discharge of his pastoral duties would be to become super- erogatory; By dint of his all-round qualities, his ministry has been prolific of good results. The church under him has enjoyed a period of pros- perity hitherto unknown in its history, and never of a truth was pastor held in greater esteem by his flock. It will be a difficult matter to re- place him. We wish him God speed.

BRIDGEND.

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