Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Griffith Jones, Llanddowror: A Notable Convert

During his time as curate of Laugharne, Griffith Jones not only made the acquaintance of Sir Thomas Philipps, but a woman who would prove his staunchest supporter throughout his life and minstry. This was Madam Bridget Bevan, wife of the MP for Carmarthen, a beautiful and accomplished lady, who lived at Laugharne. She moved in Society, both in Bath and London, and it has been asserted that she received her first religious impressions under Griffith Jones' ministry. Certainly, she was to become a mainstay of his work.

While Sir Thomas Philipps was able to use his patronage powers to advance Griffith Jones' career. Madam Bevan opened her house and her purse to him and to the leaders of the Evangelical Revival. Whitefield was to preach at her house in Bath, addressing elegant society, including such luminaries as Mrs Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield and Lord Huntingdon. Possessed of all the elegance and grace of a gracious age, Madam Bevan would debate with the cynical society atheists and agnostics of her day, even the notorious libertine, Lord Chesterfield. Her account of her conversations with him, written to Lady Huntingdon, gives a view of her evangelistic efforts:

"Lord Chesterfield's inclination to subvert Christianity, has involved me in many inconsistencies. A greater proof of his being reduced to the last distress in point of argumentis his general clamours and invectives against all historical evidence, as absolutely uncertain; and it is not so much the corruptions of Christianity that his Lordship finds fault with as with the Christian revelation itself, which he does not scruple to represent as the product of enthusiasm or imposture. Yet, at other times, he will agree with me, that never were there any facts that had clearer and more convincing evidence attending them, than the extraordinary and miraculous facts whereby the divine original and authority of the Christian revelation was attested and confirmed. This strange fluctuation of opinion I can account for only on this ground - that the uncontrovertible and undeniable evidence of these facts has overcome the notions and prejudices with which his mind has been so strongly prepossessed; and it is this shaking of the Babel of unbelief that fills me with hope that the great Dispenser of spiritual benefits, will, of his free grace and mercy, reveal to his Lordship's mind the grand and harmonious system of revealed truth [....]"

The image of this lovely, well-mannered woman evangelising the libertine Earl indicates the seriousness which Madam Bevan brought to her new life. And she was not only involved in the evangelism of the upper classes, but was prepared to give of her substance for the evangelism of the people around her in Wales.



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