Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Christmas Evans & Sandemanianism 3: The Calvinistic Methodists

Sandemanian doctrine initially found its way into Wales at the end of the Great Awakening in the Calvinistic Methodist Societies (which were still part of the Established Church), as a reaction against the emotional and physical manifestations which accompanied the preaching of such men as Daniel Rowland, Wesley and Whitefield. Some felt that their preaching set up an emotional response as a work, and they were recovering salvation by faith alone.[1] John Popkin of Swansea, an ‘Exhorter’ (lay-preacher) was the first Welsh proponent. At the Woodstock (Pembrokeshire) Association of the Calvinistic Methodists, he clashed with elder statesmen Williams Pantycelyn and Daniel Rowland over the questions of the Establishment, the creeds and saving faith, proclaiming himself ‘a plain believer.’[2]

A man of means, Popkin published works promoting Sandemanianism and translated the works of Glas and Sandeman into Welsh.[3] According to Eifion Evans, ‘his preaching tours […] sowed dissention and confusion […].’ David Jones, from Rowland’s native Llangeitho, a notable preacher, was influenced.[4] However, the influence of Sandemanianism in Welsh Calvinistic Methodism was peripheral. I shall let Thomas Rees conclude their history:

‘They succeeded in a short time in perverting many of the members of societies, and some of the preachers; but the bold and determined stand made by Williams of Pantycelyn, and other leading men, against them, soon arrested the progress of the evil. Popkins [Sic.] withdrew from the connexion,[5] and Jones in a short time turned out a reprobate character.’[6]

In fighting off Sandemanianism, Pantycelyn did Wales a service. In the North of England, the coming in of Sandemanianism would effectively destroy many of the Methodist Societies. It would be thirty years before Sandemanianism again reared its head in Wales, and it would be in the Particular Baptists, not the Methodists. In the words of Christmas Evans: ‘A black cloud arose from the churches of the North, and a destructive storm burst from it.’[7] As one who was caught in the middle of it, the celebrated one-eyed preacher was well-equipped to judge.

[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, ‘Sandemanianism’, in The Puritans: Their origins and Successors (Edinburgh, 1987), p9.175-6.
[2] Derec Llwyd Morgan, The Great Awakening in Wales (London, 1988), p.191.
[3] Tim Shenton, Christmas Evans: The Life and Times of the one-eyed Preacher of Wales (Darlington, 2001), p.153.
[4] Eifion Evans, Daniel Rowland and the Great Evangelical Awakening in Wales (Edinburgh, 1985),p.340.
[5] As was only right and proper. He left no lasting religious legacy.
[6] Thomas Rees, History of Protestant Nonconformity in Wales, from its Rise to the Present Time (London, 1861), p.408.
[7] Cited in Tim Shenton, Christmas Evans: The Life and Times of the one-eyed Preacher of Wales (Darlington, 2001), p.150.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have for some time been interested in reading Sandeman's Letters on Theron and Aspasio but have been unable to find a copy. Would you happen to know where a copy might be obtained?

9:36 pm  

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