Saturday, June 23, 2007

Griffith Jones, Llanddowror: The Awakening

The intinerant life of the schoolmaster suited many of the methodists. Soon after his conversion, Howell Harris met with Griffith Jones. Although Jones would not support Harris' application for ordination, he was prepared to offer him a post as a teacher in the circulating schools. Other Methodist exhorters found similar posts. Earnest young men, formally attached to the Church of England, they seemed ideal for the task. However, as the Revival progressed, it became clear that they were not as ideal as might have been thought. These men could act foolishly, attacking settled Anglican ministers as 'dumb dogs.' Given that the schools were dependent on the goodwill of local parish clergy, this was not healthy.

And Griffith Jones was a good churchman. His schools were designed to inculcate Anglican Christian piety. By the early 1740s, Griffith Jones had become openly critical of the revival, objecting to the activities, not only of the lay exhorters, but clerical preachers, including Daniel Rowland. A visit to Llanddowror by Harris in 1741 saw an argument between the exhorter and the educator, Griffith Jones accusing Harris of claiming 'infalibility' and 'self-confidence.' Griffith Jones, who had once recommended Harris for ordination told the exhorter bluntly of 'the unlawfulness of a layman preaching.'

Geraint Tudur, in his recent biography of Howell Harris, has suggested that the main reason for Jones' opposition to the Revival was that he could see the Methodist Societies had reached the point where would be able to survive independently of the Church of England. Although laymen were not to be ordained by the Welsh Methodists until 1811, Griffith Jones was able to see this in the future.

Some of Griffith Jones' letters on Methodism suggest that he had some trouble distinguishing between the doctrines of Arminian and Calvinistic Methodism. Harris, for example, had to assure Griffith Jones that Daniel Rowlad was innocent of the charge of holding to sinless perfection. Even Howel Davies, a Pembrokeshire Clergymen trained by Griffith Jones, fell under the great man's ire for undertaking itinerant preaching.

Griffith Jones was an evangelical, but he was also an Anglican, and possessed a great respect for the canons of the church. To see laymen preaching, and ordained clergymen trespassing on the boundaries of others distressed him. He saw the impetuosity of youth, and perhaps hoped to keep the young men from making the same mistakes that he had made. But young men with always be impetuous, and the schools suffered a little form this. Even so, they were not killed off. That would only happen after the death of Griffith Jones.



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