Thursday, June 07, 2007

Griffith Jones, Llanddowror: On Trial

Griffith Jones was Vicar of Llandeilo when, in 1714, he found himself called before the court of the Bishop of St. David's at Carmarthen (Palace pictured). Bishop Bull, the man who had ordained Griffth Jones, was gone, and his place taken by a less active man. Exactly why Jones was brought before the Bishop's court is unclear, it would seem that his earnestness and evangelistic zeal had upset a number of clergy in the diocese. They accused him of preaching in the churches of other ministers without their permission and neglecting his own parish.

In spite of the accusations of John Evans, who used the trial to blacken the reputation of Griffith Jones, alleging contempt of court and generally convicting Jones, something the court singularly refused to do, as Sir John Philipps noted:

"...Mr. Jones of Laugharne has lately undergone a sort of Tryal [sic.] before the Bishop of St. David's at Carmarthen, where several of the clergy appear'd against him, whose principal accusation was his neglecting of his own Cure, and intruding himself into the Churches of other Ministers without their leave, the contrary whereof was manifestly prov'd, viz., that he never preach'd in any other place without being invited either by ye Incumbent, Curate, of some of ye best inhabitants of the Parish. That he had indeed preach'd twice or thrice without ye walls of ye church, the reason of wch was because the church was not large enough to contain ye hearers, which sometimes amounted to 3 or 4,000 people. That his defence was so clear and satisfying that the Bp declar'd he was willing Mr. Jones should preach anywhere, having an invitation from the Minr of ye place."

The clergy who had brought the case were thus rebuffed. Worldly clerics, more interested in riding to the hunt than preaching to their flock disliked Griffith Jones for his zeal. It was this attitude, David Jones notes, that led to the Methodists being excluded from the Church in Wales. When spirit-filled men are denied ordination in favour of the younger sons of the wealthy, it can be no wonder that men seek to feed men's souls where they can. When 'doing all things properly and in order' comes to be valued above spiritual life, spiritual death cannot be far off.

For his part, Griffith Jones observed that when one begins to cultivate the wilderness, one may expect to have one's cothing torn by the briars.



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