Wednesday, February 28, 2007

John Pugh IV: By Tredegar Clock

John Pugh could have taken a prestigious Welsh-language chapel in the Calvinistic Methodist heartland and salved his conscience by occasional preaching elsewhere. But that was not his way, instead, he accepted a call to Tredegar.

The church he became pastor of had started in 1867 with a membership of eight. By the time they called Pugh in 1872, the church membership had doubled to 16, and the church had a temporary corrugated iron building, which was half-filled on Sundays. The membership were resting in their salvation, but that was not enough for Pugh.

Almost at once, Pugh decided that there was only one way to reach the teeming masses of Tredegar, and that was to preach in the open air. On the last Sunday evening in July, Pugh announced that the coming Tuesday, he would preach at the town clock at seven o'clock.

At seven o'clock, Pugh stood on the steps of the clock, hymn-book and bible in his hands, like the twin guns of the Western marshall. None of his congregation turned up to support him. At last, six women joined him. They prayed for a long time, before Pugh sang a hymn:

I Hear thy welcome voice,
That calls me Lord to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
That flowed on Calvary
After a prayer, Pugh began to preach to the passing crowds. As he spoke, one rough-looking collier joined Pugh on the steps of the clock. The preaching continued, and the church began to grow, Pugh bringing the Gospel to the teeming, perishing multitudes.

The greatest opposition arose not from the workers Pugh sought to reach, but from within the denomination. He was opposed as a 'ranter' and accused of 'casting pearls before swine' in preaching to the common people of Tredegar. But in these men and women, Pugh saw not 'swine,' but 'the sheep for whom the shepherd died.'

But Pugh's contacts from his Trefecca days came to his aid. One Sunday, Principal Howells and Edward Matthews, Ewenni, visiting Pugh, insisted that he preach from the clock. Pugh agreed, albeit reluctantly. An immense crowd assembled, and as Pugh preached, the Holy Spirit came down. The crowd was transfixed, and the two preachers baptised by the Spirit. The critical elders who had been there with them, were also transformed.

The congregation of the tin church increased so greatly that the church was forced to meet in the larger Temperance Hall. A new building, seating 700 was erected, John Pugh's father providing the labour. Pugh had been pastor in Tredegar for less than four years.

It was while Pugh was at Tredegar that he met Mary Watkins, the daughter of a prosperous farmer. Although her parents were initially opposed to the match, love prevailed, and Mary Watkins, 25, was married to the Rev. John Pugh, 29, at Zion Street Baptist Chapel, Abergavenny on April 25th, 1875.

Blessed with a loving wife and a growing congregation, Pugh might have been forgiven for decidingto rest on his laurels. But that was not the way of the man. In 1881, Pugh accepted a call from the English-language church in Pontypridd.


The history of a denomination: XX.

(Illustrated: the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall)

The Moderator of the United Free Assembly of 1920 was Principal Alexander Martin of New College. In some respects Martin resembled Rainy. He was a born leader, of whom it was said that wherever he sat was the head of the table.
His opening address looked forward to the now hoped-for union of the two Churches. There was, he pointed out, really no difference of principle as such between the two Churches. The difference was one that had always existed within the post-Revolution Church of Scotland. The two Churches looked almost identical, the family resmblance was strong. Why should there be two Assembly Halls either side of the Lawnmarket?
The 'rebels' on the matter were treated well, James Barr himself being appointed by that Assembly to the post of Home Mission Secretary of the Church. It was significant in another way. James Barr was a socialist, a temperance campaigner and somewhat liberal theologically (later he would advocate the ordination of women. His daughter Elizabeth Barr would be the first United Free Church female minister, ordained in 1935. To appoint such a man to the post of Home Mission secretary signalled a chage in the United Free Church understanding of 'mission'.
Foreign missions were in a sorry state. Finances had not recovered from the War, the exchange rate was down, and disaster threatened particularly in Manchuria and India. The committee began to think of the possibility of closing down some missions, hospitals being closed up, schools abandoned, village evangelism stopped.
But now was not the time to give up. The Assembly boldly adopted the policy that NO work should be abandoned. Instead they would appeal to the Church for gifts to cover this situation. The cost WAS covered.

The Assembly of 1920 saw further changes in the Church's relation to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Before the Union of 1900 both uniting Churches had adopted 'Declaratory Acts' modifying their relation to the Confession, but by 1920 dissatisfaction with the Confession had grown. The Church no longer held to the whole of it, and it was seen as too long. The dissatisfaction began with the questions put to candidates at the licensing of probationers and the ordination of ministers.
A committee had been appointed and their proposals were submitted to the Assembly. As well as revised questions for candidates, they had prepared a sort of popular 'manifesto' for the Church.
Professor W.M. Macgregor tore into this 'manifesto'. It was badly written, he declared, without intest or life, woolly and unclear. There was nothing 'popular' about it, he said, apart from its length, and he doubted whether any of the labouring classes would patiently read such a document. He moved that it be revised. He was not alone, and the 'manifesto' went back into the committee, which had six further members added. One hopes those members were chosen for their standard of written prose!
Others felt such a revision ought to be left until after union with the Church of Scotland.

1920 was, of course, the year Prohibition began in the United States. The United Free Church temperance committee was overjoyed at this, and they looked forward to such an act being passed in the United Kingdom. One is tempted to agree with The Saint that the only advantage such an Act would have had is that we could all become bootleggers and get rich. But Temerance was a cause in which even James Barr could agree with the Church of Scotland (namely that it was a good idea).
Meanwhile the Church of Scotland was trying to sort out its own constitution. Interestingly the Church of Scotland Moderator in 1920 was Dr. Thomas Martin. But, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Lord High Commissioner, cautioned, two Martins do not make a summer.

The 'summer' many in the Church were looking for was the union of the Churches. How they progressed in 1921 we shall see, God willing, next time.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

John Pugh III: In the School of the Prophets

The years after 1860, saw the growth of the idea that a man had to be educated at a theological college in order to enter the minstry. Men like John Elias and Howell Harris would have been rejected by their own church. And so John Pugh had to spend three years there, graduating in 1872.

The college he attended, Trevecca College, had once been the home of Howell Harris. One of fellow students, John Hughes, later recalled Pugh's hearty athleticism. He was a 'character,' always ready with a word of cheer and a peal of laughter. Of his studies, Hughes recalled:

"He gave no promise of scholarship, nor of originality in the field of theology, but he was at the time, as he continued to be, the real evangelist with obvious popular gifts, which eminently qualified him for the work of his life."

While Pugh was good friends with Thomas Charles Edwards, he had no time for the sort of scholarship which obstructed or obscured the way to the Saviour's side. At one Sermon Criticism class, Pugh listened to one of his fellow students give a learned discourse that many of his fellow students praised for its beauty and elegance. When Principal Howells asked Pugh for his opinion, the evangelist replied:
"The diction was polished and the periods well rounded and all that: but I hope our brother is not going to preach that sermon to any congregation, for it has one fatal defect - it will never save a single soul!"
John Pugh did not despise learning, but recognised that learning can be positively harmful, if it is not baptised by the Holy Spirit. He was a good student, and used his three years in college to cultivate contacts with the leaders of Calvinistic Methodism, contacts he would later use when seeking to evangelise the masses of South Wales.
On his graduation in 1872, Pugh had no lack of calls. He was bilingual and his preaching had already been greatly owned of God. John Pugh could have chosen a well-established, respectable chapel. Instead, he chose the mining town of Tredegar, Monmouthshire. It was typical of the man that he chose the area where the need was greatest, not where he might be comfortable.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hymns In Translation: III

In this feature, I am presenting varying translations of the same Welsh hymn, to show how one language realises the piety as well as the poetry of another:

1.The source of my joy and my rapture
Has sprung from the bright throne above;
For there my Lord Jesus ascended;
And there intercedes through His love;
The blood that stern justice demanded,
Was shed upon God's throne on high,
A pledge of divine grace and mercy,
That we, the condemned, shall not die.
2. Away from the earth's wild valley
To paradise we shall ascend;
Our faint, weary soul in God's bosom
Shall sweetly repose in the end.
While safe in our refuge eternal
From sin and from sorrow and pain,
We'll feast upon love without ending,
The love of the Lamb that was slain.
3. One day from the fair hills of Salem
The long desert way we shall view;
The trials and turns of the journey
Sweet memories there will renew;
We'll gaze upon terror and tempest,
On death and the grave, from above,
While safe from their reach we are soaring
Enraptured with peace and with love.
David Charles; Trans. Miss Jane Owen


A New Link

Free St. George's is happy to link to another gem of Christianity on the Internet. Last night, in conversation with a fellow member of my church, conversation passed to John Pugh. I learned that he has a website devoted to the Cornish Clergyman William Haslam, the Parson who was converted by his own sermon. I found Haslam's first autobiographical book, 'From Death Unto Life,' absolutely inspiring. The web address, is:

Pictured is Haslam's church at Baldhu, Cornwall, which closed some years ago.


Friday, February 23, 2007

John Pugh II: Rebirth at Tenby

Tenby in Pembrokeshire is today a lovely, sleepy resort town, but in the 1850s there was a buzz of activity, with rough navvies, working on the railway, filling the taverns of the town. As he grew up, John Pugh fitted into this society. The young Pugh was a striking figure. A clerk with the railway, Pugh wore a white waistcoat, with gold watch-chain and a white hat, worn at a jaunty angle. Although not a reprobate character, he was easily turned aside to the pub or drinking club, in short, where there was a cheerful crowd, there John Pugh might be found. One biographer describes the young Pugh buying drinks for old women so he could laugh at their drunkenness.

Despite the society he was keeping, Pugh also maintained his attendance at chapel and a loyal member of the Sunday School. His religious activities acted as a brake on his youthful exhuberance. Among these religious habits was that of reading a portion of the Bible every day - due to a promise made to an aunt. Like many an unbeliever who decides to read the Bible, he started with Genesis. The Book had no effect on John's behaviour until he reached chapter 39, and Joseph's reply to the lustful wife of Potiphar: "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" This impressed upon him the eternal consequences of his carelessness, keeping him from sexual sin.

The second way in which God drew him was a copy of the October 1866 edition of Y Drysorfa, the monthly magazine of the Calvinistic Methodists. One Sunday afternoon, when it was stormy to go out, Pugh read this magazine in full, and was particularly struck by a sermon printed in it. The sermon, by William Charles of Gwalchmai - a young man of 23 - on Revelation 1:17:"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. He laid his hand upon me and said, Fear not, I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for ever more." This sermon had such a strong effect on Pugh that his mates saw a great change in him from Monday. He signed the Pledge to abstain from alcohol, and never drank again. As for the women he had got drunk, he sought them out, asked their forgiveness and prayed with them.

Lastly, the young clerk was deeply influenced by the ministry of a young Oxford scholar, who spent his summer ministering to the navvies. This was Thomas Charles Edwards, later Principal of University College, Aberystwyth; and of David Lloyd Jones, the son of the famous John Jones, Tal-y-sarn, later a renowned preacher in his own right.

The astonishing thing about these three influences on Pugh is that which they have in common: youth. Joseph was a young man when he resisted the attentions of his master's wife; William Charles, whose printed sermon drove Pugh to his knees, was only twenty-three, and the two young men who ministered to the navvies were but students. Let no-one despise the vigour and eagerness of youth, and let no young man put off God's call until a more convenient season.

Pugh himself was only twenty when he became a member of Begelly Calvinistic Methodist Church, Tenby. And Pugh's Christianity did not end there. He witnessed to all his old crowd, and those who were converted began to hold open-air meetings, under Pugh's leadership. Pugh strugged with the call to the ministry. At the age of twenty-three, John Pugh entered Trefecca College to train for the ministry.


Preaching this coming Lord's Day.

This coming Lord's Day, God willing, I shall be preaching at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Great Park Street, Wellingborough. This is not to be confused with the Methodist Church across the road, although anyone who did that would end up VERY confused.
The Wellingborough Tabernacle (in its present form) is just over one hundred years old and the home of an older Baptist Church (they still have the old chapel as well, but that's now their hall). A plain exterior conceals a splendid interior with gallery and pipe-organ, all donated to the Church by a deacon and local brewer in about 1900.
There was a bit of a dispute at the time about whether or not the Church ought to accept a chapel built using the proceeds of brewing. But beer is a good old English drink designed to refresh, not to intoxicate. Had the man been a distiller we would think very differently!!!

For those who do not know where Wellingborough is (and there's no reason you should, after all), it is in Northamptonshire, the map shows its surroundings.

STRIKE ACTION planned for part of the route I shall be travelling, if the Lord wills, to-morrow, has been called off.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

John Pugh I: God's Work

This year marks an anniversary that ought to be remembered. On March 24th 1907, a man greatly used of God was called into His presence. He was just sixty-one years old, worn out by a life spent devoted utterly to the proclamation of the Gospel. John Pugh was the founder and first superintendent of the Forward Movement of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. He did more in those sixty-one years than many men, even faithful men, have done in far longer lifetimes. His body lies in Cathays cemetery, equidistant from two churches that owe their existence to him.

John Pugh was born in New Mills, Montgomeryshire, on the border with England in 1846. Born into a humble, pious Calvinistic Methodist family, Pugh was instructed in the ways of the truth from an early age. At the New Mills Chapel, he heard the preaching of many of the 'names' of the denomination. Young John became steeped in the history and culture of Calvinistic Methodism. Growing up on the Welsh border, Pugh grew up bilingual. While the library of the chapel was Welsh, the language of the school and the market was English. This was a Wales that was changing, and the distinction was not unique to New Mills. Throughout the border regions and the Southern counties of Wales, English was replacing Welsh as the language of everyday life. And, in Montgomeryshire, many families were moving South with the railways and the coal trade, following the fortunes of the Calvinistic Methodist millionaire, David Davies, Llandinam.

One of those families was that of John Pugh. When young Pugh was fourteen, his father took a job in Pembrokeshire with David Davies' railway company, to build bridges on the Pembroke-Tenby line. The family left New Mills for the seaside resort town of Tenby. It was there, amid all the rawness of the newly-developing Wales, that John Pugh was to meet the eternal God.


The history of a denomination: XIX.

Our illustration for this post draws attention to the fact that in 1919, for the first time, an Archbishop of Canterbury was present at the United Free Church General Assembly. Archbishop Randall Davidson, himself a Scot, was concerned for ecumenical relations. He dreamed of the reunion of Christendom, a dream that many Anglicans still hold, although they tend to pursue relations with churches less nonconformist than the old United Free Church was.

A spirit of relief sat upon the Assembly. The terrible war was over at last, and the radiant sunshine of the assembly period seemed the sunshine of peace. The Moderator was Dr. William Malcolm Macgregor of Edinburgh. For some reason which none in the Assembly could fathom, he added a long black stole to the Moderator's already elaborate outfit. Let it remain a mystery. He also introduced the custom of ending his prayers by saying the Lord's Prayer, in which the whole Assembly joined, a far more understandable innovation.
Delegates from the English, Welsh and Irish Presbyterian Churches attended, and so did delegates from Geneva and from the Waldensians of Italy. The Waldensian delegate, Captain Bartolo, attended in the uniform of Britain's ally, Italy, and he remarked on the extraordinary resemblance the Moderator bore to the poet Dante. He felt at home, he said, seeing such a face in the Hall.

In the mission debate an extraordinary scene ocurred when Rev. G. R. Robertson of Tranent proposed in a spirit of brotherhood that the German missionaries who had been expelled from certain stations which had been handed over to the United Free Church be allowed back. The spirit of the day was against him, and he was often interrupted by hostile shouts. The motion was defeated. The Germans were still unforgiven in the Assembly, as in the country.
But the end of the war provoked some other debates. Following worrying reports coming out of Eastern Europe, Mr. J.D. Robertson moved that the Assembly call upon the allies to ensure religious freedom in all countries that adhered to the League of Nations. Mr. A. Herbert Gray moved anouther addition to the Assembly's deliverance to the League of Nations deploring the severity of the terms of the treaty of Versailles. It looked, he complained, to armed force as the great preserver of peace, but he felt that the greatest means to secure lasting peace were forgiveness, generosity and good-will. He further denounced the treaty as a flat denial of Christianity. That motion was rejected.
With the war over, the vacant Chairs in the Colleges were filled. The Moderator himself was appointed to the Chair of New Testament in the Glasgow College, Mr. Hugh Watt appointed to the Church History Chair in New College, and Mr. A. B. Macaulay of Stirling was appointed to the Chair of Systematic Theology and Systematics in Glasgow.
Relations between the United Free and Church of Scotland Assemblies continued to warm. They agreed to work together on a Scottish Churches' memorial in Jerusalem, and once again the Moderators visited each other's halls.
But the great moment was to take place when the Committee on conference between the Churches.
The great question was this: was disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of Scotland necessary for negotiations to proceed. It was already clear that parliament would have to pass the legislation necessary BEFORE any move on the part of the Churches. But what legislation? Disestablishment or an act recognising the spiritual independence of the Church of Scotland?
Principal Henderson indicated the latter. If Parliament were to recognise the freedom of the Church of Scotlnd, that would be enough.
It was then the opposition, led by James Barr of Govan, burst into the open. Nothing but disestablishment and disendowment would suit them! James Barr dwelt eloquently on the great effect the sacrifices of the Church of Scotland would have on the working people, apparently fogetful that under his scheme the United Free Church would sacrifice nothing.
But he was overruled. And, to the astonishment of some, the Church and State committee meekly agreed to accept the report that would move both Churches forwards!

Next time, God willing, we shall see the form of that forwards motion.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

D. R. Davies XXIV: Closing Thoughts

And so, we come to the end of D. R. Davies' life, and to the end of a series which at one point I thought I would never finish. In the eyes of some, I have described the journey of a man from nonconformity to Anglicanism, at the same time as I undertook the last step away from the Church of England, and for the same reason as Davies left Congregationalism; the realisation that the Glory has departed. I have found telling his story challenging in the extreme, as it has exposed areas of pride and hypocrisy in my own life. But part of the Christian life is realising our own corruption and sin.

Davies was not an evangelical, nor did he pretend to be, at least not after his psychological conversion in 1905 had evaporated. I am inclined to accept his own testimony, that he was converted that day at Southerndown, when 'he came to the end of himself.' That said, although Davies saw his journey as one: 'on to Orthodoxy,' he never reached that Orthodoxy. Like C. S. Lewis, he never understood evangelicalism, although he saw its attraction. His heart had been wounded too many times. And yet, although never evangelical, he was not, at the end of his life, what he once was. Understanding that Man cannot recover himself without God acting, that man's nature is radically corrupt, Davies was not far from evangelicalism.

His beliefs about politics and philosophy were retained from his days as a liberal, a part of remaining sin in his heart. Yet Davies did reject the liberal belief that the kingdom of God could be realised politically. In the final analysis, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was correct to state that Davies' greatest worth is his negative experience of liberalism, that he demonstrates the heartbreak of liberalism, as I said a very long time ago. Was Davies converted? In the end, only God knows a man's heart, but we should remember that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by dotting every theological 'i' and crossing every doctrinal 't.'


The history of a denomination: XVIII.

The Assembly of 1918 did not meet in the glow of peace, but amidst the crash of nations. The war had apparently just taken an alarming turn for the worst. The German armies had mounted their last great offensive, and once again shells were bursting in the streets of Paris (see illustration). The Allied forces in Western Europe found themselves 'with their backs to the wall,' as General Haig put it.
The United Free Assembly met under this cloud. It seemed that the war was far from over.
The moderator was Dr. Robert J. Drummond of Edinburgh, the youngest Moderator the Church had ever had. At thirty-five he seemed far TOO young to some, but to others he was a sign that the old guard were on their way out.
Some were anxious that he would dress as Principal Hutton and John Young had - in ordinary ministerial garb. They need not have worried, youthful though he was, Drummond had regard for the traditions of the Assembly and made a splendid Moderator.
In his address he spoke of the peace that was sure to come. The country, he emphasised, would be talking about reconstruction. For the Church the aim was rededication. But like too many of his generation, he was under the delusive spell that mankindf would learn reason and sense from the war, and that utopia was just around the corner. Events would prove otherwise. Another worrying trend he himself called attention to - attendance on the opening devotions of the Assembly was falling off again.
The greatest shock to the Church in the period since the last Assembly was the death of James Denney. He died relatively young and very much unexpectedly. His place was filled up by Dr. Archibald Henderson.

Although the war was not yet over, it was felt best to resume negotiations with the Church of Scotland concerning future union. The question of the lawfulness of ANY official church-state connection at all was the great sticking-point, but the movement would not stick for long!
The question of women in the Church had been raised very much as the war had highlighted in a way the Suffragettes couldf not the importance of women in the state. It was moved before the Assembly that there was no bar to women in the diaconate provided they were not ordained. This was apparently not due to any great desire among United Free Church women to serve as deacons, but due to the concern of some members of the Assembly that many men who would otherwise have served as deacons had perised in the War.
The matter of female suffrage also came up. The Women's Society of United Free St. George's petitioned the Assembly concerning the instruction of women newly granted the vote in the use of their new responsibility as Christian voters. The Assembly unfortunately rushed into a scheme without actually thinking it through.

The final noted sight at the Assembly of 1918 was David Lloyd-George. The Prime Minister paid a visit to the Assemblies that year. He was not impressed by the United Free Church. For its part the United Free Church was far too impressed by David Lloyd George.

And there, on the verge of peace, we must leave them until next time when, God willing, we shall see how the United Free Church met that peace.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trivial fact.

Our brother Hiraeth has just posted on D. R. Davies' time at Holy Trinity, Brighton. This reminded me that a former minister of Holy Trinity, Brighton (before the Gothic front was put on what was originally an Italianate church), was F.W. Robertson, of whom 'Rabbi' Duncan said: "Robertson believed that Christ did something or other, which, somehow or other, had some connection or other with salvation."

Robertson, once an evangelical (and for a brief time curate at St. Ebbe's, Oxford, embraced a more 'liberal' position around 1846, the year before he came to Brighton.

And Robertson was incredibly popular! This tells us that there has always been a desire for what Duncan also called 'Spurious spirituality'. Beware of it, it is extremely dangerous.

D. R. Davies XXIII: Last Years

D. R. Davies was not one to stay in a post for long, and after four and a half years at the centre of things in London, Davies decided that he wanted to move out into the country (which had been his plan when he entered the Church of England). When the Bishop of Chichester offered Davies the living of Holy Trinity church, Brighton (pictured, and you can see where a building used to be), a large preaching church without parish duties, Davies jumped at the chance. He published a book of sermons preached at this church, Thirty Minutes to Raise the Dead. Despite the care he took over these sermons, and the fact that the congregation grew during his incumbency, Davies felt his ministry there a failure. He fely little liberty in preaching, although he was granted liberty elsewhere.

While at Holy Trinity, Brighton, Davies continued his journalistic activities, producing an insert for parish magazines called 'Christian Renewal.' In association with Selwyn Gummer, he started Pulpit Monthly, a publication designed to raise the quality of preaching. Still foremost in Davies' preaching was the depravity of Man, or, as he called it 'Radical Sin.'
After two and a half unforgiving years at All Saints, Brighton, Davies took the opportunity to move to St. Mary Magdalen, St. Leonards-on-Sea. Once more, he was required to do parish work. And Davies, a man who had once hated pastoral visitation found that these duties leant him new life and insight. And his preaching, far from suffering, gained a new lease of life. His writing did not suffer, and Davies spent nine happy years (the longest he ever stayed in a church) there. Only his advancing years drew Davies away from that church.
At the end of his life, Davies was appointed to the united parish of Parham and Wiggonholt cum Greatham, a small rural parish possessed of three churches. It was there that he died in 1958. Among the last words he wrote were a summary of his life:
"Were this the story of merely one isolated human individual, it would not have been worth the telling. Rightly or wrongly, I am persuaded that my story is the microcosm of a generation. Here on the smaller scale of an individual existence can be studied the history of an era - except, at present, for the conclusion. I experienced in my soul the bitter death of the illusions of the generation into which I was born, and lost myself in those illusions. But after that death I rose again, for I found myself in finding God. What I was searching for was my own identity, and without knowing it my search was for God. I had to give up myself exactly as I was, the the chaos and disillusion into which I had fallen, to find Him. I found Him and became a new man."
Next time, God willing, I shall sum up Davies' significance, trying to place him in his context.


The History of a denomination: XVII.

By May 1916 it was becoming painfully evident that the War was going to be a long, bloody slog. The dead were going to be counted in the millions, and practically every eligible young man would be called upon. United Free Church colleges were almost emptied of students, congregations robbed of their best members. Rationing was on the horizon, and most fearful of all the all but silent spectre of Zepplin raids hung over Edinburgh. There was a black-out in force, for Edinburgh had been attacked, and all lights in the Assembly Hall had to be out by 10.15.
The Moderator in 1916 was Principal George Adam Smith of the University of Aberdeen, noted United Free Church heretic. Perhaps it was ironic to see a man who had leaned so heavily on German Higher Criticism denouncing Germany from the Moderator's chair.
Again War Work occupied most of the business of the Assembly. A woman's place was also debated, and an overture sent down under the Barrier Act (an act safeguarding the lower courts of the Church, at least in theory) recommending that women be allowed to serve as deacons. While we believe it is possible to make such as case, we feel that the Bible is against such a position.
The admitting of women into Assembly Committees, which was decided upon by the Assembly, is open to the highest criticism, namely that it placed women in positions of exceptional authority over men - for previously only ministers and elders had been admitted to those committee. Yet the Bible is explicit on this point that women are not allowed to have authority over a man.

The Assembly of 1916 was very routine in other matters.

When the Assembly met for the next time the end of the war seemed as far off as ever. Flanders was all mud and blood, and Russia had collapsed. True, America had entered the war, but it would take time before the American war machine could take effect against the Germans. Meanwhile the daily casualty lists were long and harrowing. There was hardly a member of the 1917 Assembly who had not lost someone, a brother, a son, or a nephew.
The Moderator of 1917 was Principal Dugald Mackichan, of Wilson College, Bombay. He spoke of the loyalty of India to the empire, and of a revival there particularly among the low-caste Hindus.
The United Free Church had a new mission station in its hands because of the war. The old Swiss station on the Gold Coast had been manned by Germans who had withdrawn for political reasons, and the United Free Church was given the station by the British government.
The Assembly heard an address on the Jewish report by the Bishop of Stepney, speaking of the work among the Jews in London. The Jews, he said, would be most unlikely to be moved by Christian missions until they saw true Christianity in action in the churches.
The death of A.R. MacEwen, professor of Church History at New College, created a problem in watime. For a while his chair would be unfilled and United Free Church and Church of Scotland students (owing to the small numbers) would study togther under the University Divinity faculty and the New College faculty. This and the exchange of visits to each other's Assemblies by the Church of Scotland and United Free Church Moderators showed that though the formal movement towards union had stopped, informally it was still going.

Next time, God willing, we shall see how the last year of the Great War affected the United Free Church of Scotland.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Hymns in Translation: Two

Last Monday, I presented a translation of a Welsh Hymn that was sung at the funeral of Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Today, I reproduce another translation of the same hymn:

1. The River of Joys Everlasting
Proceeds from the glorious white throne
Where Jesus our Lord has ascended,
Who there intercedes for His Own:
The Blood on that Throne that was sprinkled
For us satisfaction did give;
And there through the ages it speaketh
That we, the transgressors, should live.
2. Ere long we'll ascend from the desert
And reach the fair land of the blest,
And there shall our spirits, so weary,
Repose on God's spirit and rest:
Salvation from sin and from sorrow
Will e'er be experienced above,
And all will be feasting for ever
On Jesus' unspeakable love.
3.We'll view from the mountains of Canaan,
Our path through the wilderness here;
And then all the steps of the journey
In heaven's perfect light will be clear:
We'll think of the tempests and terros,
Of death and the Grave, now all o'er,
And we from all harm ever resting
In God's perfect peace evermore.
David Charles, Tr. W. Edwards.


Monday Quote : Thomas Chalmers - Sanctification by Faith

"The best practical recipe I can give you, my brethren, for becoming holy, is to be steadfast in the faith. Believe that Christ's righteousness is your righteousness, and His graces will become your graces. Believe that you are a pardoned creature, and this will issue in your becoming a purified creature. Take hold of the offered gift of heaven, and you will not only enter after death on the future reversion of heaven's triumphs and heaven's joys, but before death - nay, even now, will you enter upon the participation of heaven's feelings, and the practice of heaven's moralities. Go in prayer with the plea of Christ's atonement and His merits, and state, in connexion with this plea, that what you want is that you be adorned with Christ's likeness, and that you be assisted in putting on the virtues which signalized Him; and you will find the plea to be omnipotent, and the continued habit of such prayer, applied to all the exigencies of your condition, will enable you to substantiate the example of your Saviour throughout all the varieties of providence and of history. In a word, faith is the instrument of sanctification. And when you have learned the use of this instrument you have learned the way to become holy upon earth now, as well as the way to become eternally happy in heven hereafter. The believing prayer that God will aid you in this difficulty, and counsel you in this perplexity, and enable you to overcome in this trial of charity and of patience, and keep up in your heart the principle of godliness, amid the urgency of all those seducing influences by which you are surrounded - this you will find, my brethren, to be the sure stepping-stone to a right acquittal of yourselves in all the given circumstances of your condition in the world. And let the repeated experience of your constant failures, when you had nothing but the power and the energies of nature to trust to, shut you up unto the faith."

-Lectures on Romans Vol. 2 Pp 99-100


Saturday, February 17, 2007

D. R. Davies XII: D. R. and the Doctor

It was during his time in West Dulwich that Davies was invited to speak at the Theological Students' Conference, an event organised by the evangelical Inter-Varsity Fellowship, held at Cambridge University in 1945. Davies spoke on 'Christianity and Civilization.' In the course of the address, Davies repeated his argument that the only way that the Church could reach modern man was to study politics and social affairs in order to meet the intellectual humanists on their own ground.

At the end of the address, the former president of the IVF and chairman of the conference, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones rose to ask his fellow-countryman some questions. The exchange between the two men lasted about ninety minutes, delighting the delegates.

Lloyd Jones later recalled his argument:

"I was saying it was the exact opposite. I pointed out how D.L Moody had appealed to the aristocracy in this country - the common people to a point, but noticeably to the aristocrats - and how John Wesley was more successful among miners than he was in Oxford. My argument was that Davies was quite wrong psychologically and that Harold Laski was more likely to be converted by a Salvation Army speaker than by D. R. Davies. Psychologically people do not like to be proved that they are wrong, and more than that, generally, if people become Christians they capitulate completely. In their conversion there is an emotional element rather than an intellectual one: in other words, they stop 'reasoning' and surrender and abandon themselves to Christ."
And Davies should have known this, after all, he had been converted not by debate, nor by clever arguments, but had surrendered to God after years of kicking against the goads. He never addressed the IVF again.
Summarised, the difference between Davies and Lloyd-Jones was that D. R. Davies believed that the core weakness of the Church was that she had an insufficent knowledge of the world. Lloyd-Jones, on the other hand, believed that the Church's problem was an insufficient knowledge of God and the experience of His power.


Friday, February 16, 2007

D. R. Davies XXI: Hull to London

D. R. Davies was appointed Curate to Canon A. E. Glover at St. John's Newland, Hull. It was still wartime, and Hull, as a major port, suffered terribly. Canon Glover allowed his well-known curate to preach as often as he liked, as well as teaching Davies the duties of a curate. St. John's was (and still is) an evangelical church, so we can only assume that Davies was kept on the path of orthodoxy.

In spite of the pressures of wartime and the duties of his office, Davies found time to write and read. He wrote several books, including The Two Humanities, and Secular Illusion or Christian Realism? books that stressed the fallen nature of man and the necessity of redemption through Christ. In addition, he began a regular column in the Record, a Church of England newspaper. Initially published as 'The Watch-Tower,' its name was changed to 'D.R.D's Column' when the identity of its author became known.

On the retirement of Canon Glover, Davies took the post of acting vicar until the Rev. Frank Ford was appointed the living. A clever man, possessed of a clever wife, Rev and Mrs. Ford became firm friends of the Davies'. In contrast to Davies' ministries at Ravensthorpe and Southport, this was a time of friendship and new opportunities. Still, Davies was looking to move on to his own church, preferrably in London. When he was offered the living of Emmanuel, West Dulwich, Davies jumped at the opportunity.

Davies had long yearned to become a famous London preacher, and with his appointment to Emmanuel, this ambition was realised. In his memoirs, written towards the end of his life, however, Davies skips over this period in a few lines. Apparently, this no longer mattered to Davies, what mattered was that he was asked to preach, or rather the gospel he was asked to preach. Many evangelicals had come to view Davies as a 'prophet for the times.' For one notable Evangelical, however, Davies was not a prophet, but a crooked signpost, pointing the wrong way.


The History of a denomination: XVI.

The Assembly of 1915 was very different from that of 1914. There was no procession for the Lord High Commissioner, no pomp or circumstance. The only procession was a terrible reminder of the cost of war. One hundred coffins of men of the 7th Royal Scots killed, not on the battlefields (for the men who died in France and in Belgium stayed there and were buried there), but killed in a rail disaster at Gretna a few days before. The Moderators of the Assemblies, The Church of Scotland, the United Free Church, and the Free Church, joined the procession, for members of all their churches were among the fallen.
Let me apostrophise here. What would such a disaster do to the morale of modern Britain in a war where we were bogged down, where our shores were not in danger of invasion?
It was the tenth month of the Great War when the Assemblies met under one roof in the great Assembly Hall on the Mound. The three moderators stood on the same platform and the members of the three Assemblies sat together on the benches as they joined in prayer for a nation at war. Defences were going up along the North Sea coast to protect British towns agaist German naval bombardment, and brave men from every cormer of the land were going out to fight and to die in Flanders' fields.
The shallow optimism of the first few weeks of war had gone, it was now realised this would be a long and bloody conflict. On the benches of the Assembly ministrs coud be seen in the uniforms of Army chaplains and elders in the uniforms of officers in His Majesty's Services.
The Moderator of 1915 was Dr. Alexander R. MacEwen, Professor of Church History in New College and author of a small biography of the Erskines and a very large biography of Dr. John Carns, United Presbyterian leader. Inevitably he spoke mostly to an Assembly at war.
PRAYER was in evidence as it had never been before in the Assembly, and so was patriotism. When the traditional address to the King was adopted the members joined in singing the National Anthem.
Principal T. M. Lindsay (see this blog passim) had died in December 1914. His books are still read and published today, they are his best memorial and the best evidence of his greatness - that 1900 should be able to communicate with 2007!
In the principalship he was succeeded by James Denney - the only candidate. His successor as Professor of Church History was James Moffatt.
In time of war the Chaplains' Report was of supreme interest. Dr, Patrick R. Mackay, respendent in his uniform of Chaplain-Colonel, gave the report, declaring that he was proud to say that the United Free Church had not failed Scotland in her time of need. A little over 91 per cent of eligible sons of United Presbyterian manses were serving in the armed forces. The militant suffragettes were forgotten, and the Women's Work Committee spoke of the war work of United Free Church women.
The movement for unity was inevitably retarded in some respects by the war, but on the ground it was helped forward as ministers were absent on the front United Free Church ministers looked after absent Church of Scotland ministers' flocks, and vice versa. In these circumstances the two churches became still closer. Meanwhile the Church of Scotland had sent its draft constitution down to the Presbyteries.

What the next twelve months of war brought to the United Free Church we shall, God willing, see next time.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

D. R. Davies XX: On to Anglicanism

As his year at Richmond Road, Cardiff, came to an end, Davies had decided that he would leave the Congregational Church. Initially he had considered the Methodists or the English Presbyterian Church, but a conversation with Bishop Walter Carey convinced his that the Church of England could meet Davies' every need. Most appealing was the connexional structure of the Anglican Church. What problems Davies did have with the Church of England were adressed by Archbishop Temple, who advised Davies to pay a visit to the Gladstone Library at St. Deiniol's Library, Hawarden and meet the Rev. Alec Vidler, the librarian.

It was June 1940 when Davies paid the visit. He attended Matins at the library chapel. It was as if he had come home. Davies stayed up late into the night reading The Book of Common Prayer. Davies, who had experienced much trouble in extempore prayer, was impressed by the book's language and theology. A second visit to the library in October only served to confirm the decision. He was confirmed, and began a book on the prayer-book's General Confession, which was later published as Down Peacock's Feathers. He found the Confession thrilling in its truth, describing it as: 'a magnificent sledge-hammer.' In the book, Davies described the unity of mankind in corruption and stresed that only God has the power to rescue man from his predicament. It is clear from the book that it was written by a former Socialist, but it is a useful book, nevertheless.
When he spoke with Vidler about the possiblity of ordination, Vidler told the Archbishop that Davies was now a whole-hearted believer in the Thirty-nine Articles.
In Lent 1941, Davies was ordained deacon by Archbishop Temple in York Minster. A year later, Davies was given his priest's orders.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

D. R. Davies XIX: Back to the Ministry

Following the success of On to Orthodoxy, Davies was flooded with invitations to preach, write and lecture. Given his new celebrity, his return to the ministry was no longer a problem. He became minister of Richmond Road Congregational Church, Cardiff (pictured) in December 1939. It was agreed he would stay for one year.

The Congregationalism Davies found himself in was very different from that he had known ten years before:

"There was a colder spiritual climate. To a much greater extent in previous years, there was a greater strangeness to fundamental Christian experience." At meetings of ministerial colleagues, Davies found his emphasis on the sinfulness of man opposed by his older colleagues, while younger men found him a breath of fresh air.

The church was more worried about money, which was increasingly tight, rather than the saving of souls. Perhaps this was reflected in the fact that congregations were, as a rule, smaller than the membership, in contrast to the way things had been a generation ago. The state of the mid-week prayer-meetings was even worse. 'Ichabod' could have been written over the doors of many of the churches, even a great number of the more famous ones, for the glory had departed from Welsh Independency.

Still, Davies was a driven man:
"I found my work in Cardiff of absorbing interest, both preaching and writing, for which I enjoyed ever widening opportunity. I thought of myself first and foremost as a preacher; for God had called me to preach."
The pastoral visitation aspect remained a difficulty for Davies. While he would do the neccessary things, Davies felt worn down by having to do everything himself. He told his friend, Dr. J. D. Jones that he felt he must leave the ministry unless he could find a church that expected their minister to be first and foremost a preacher, only to have Jones tell him that he doubted such a church existed in Congregationalism. Dr. Berry, another friend laughed when Davies suggested he might be suited to a country pastorate, telling him that the Church of England had a monoploy of these.
The thought of leaving nonconfromity for Anglicanism had not previously occured to Davies, but it soon began to suggest itself strongly.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

D. R. Davies XVIII: 'On To Orthodoxy'

D. R. Davies had written one book before On To Orthodoxy. That book had not even found a publisher. Davies expected that On To Orthodoxy would be still-born, especially in the context of the outbreak of war. Yet the press welcomed it with open arms. Of nearly forty reviews, only, by Dr. Selbie in the Congregational Quarterly, was unfavourable, and that provoked an angry reaction from many readers. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, writing in The Christian World, praised the book:

"The utter futility of all that has so often passed as gospel during the past hundred yearsb is made terribly and tragically clear. Surely this is what is needed above all else at the present time. And especially, first and foremost, in the Churches. That complacent optimistic view of man and his nature that has so long controlled and directed thought and preaching must be given up, and must be replaced by the tragic view which is taught everywhere in the Bible."
Among the letters Davies received was from a missionary in Africa whose ministry had been re-awakened by reading the book.
However, it would be wrong to state that Davies, in spite of the title of his book, had become orthodox in the sense of evangelicalism. Indeed, in On to Orthodoxy, Davies was very careful to deny that he was a 'Fundamentalist,' although he felt that if the choice was between 'fundamentalism' and liberalism he would choose fundamentalism as being truer to man. Lloyd-Jones, writing to his wife about On to Orthodoxy was unsure of Davies' salvation: "He, like Brunner and Barth falls short of the real thing. I feel he has had some kind of 'intellectual conversion' and nothing more. And yet - on the negative side he is excellent."
The mention of Emil Brunner and Karl Barth says much. Had the book been entitled On to neo-Orthodoxy, the title would have been more apposite. Davies was a part of the Neo-Orthodox reaction against liberalism within Welsh Congregationalism, with Professor J. E. Daniel of Bala-Bangor College and Vernon Lewis of Memorial College, Brecon. Realising the futility of liberalism, these men stopped short of the truth. The result was that when young men attended these colleges after the war, they found no evangelical witness there.


A word of explanation

Posts from the Highland Host are few at present because I am preparing, God willing, to give a talk on the Scottish Covenaters at 'Truth for Youth' at Wattisham on Saturday.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Hymns in Translation One

A few weeks ago, I posted a translation of the Welsh Hymn 'Mae Ffrydiau 'Ngorfoledd yn Tarddu,' which had been sung at the end of the Sunday Service and had touched me deeply. Little did I know that this hymn had been translated more than once. As anyone who has ever tried translating anything knows, translation is not a simple matter of rendering the words in another language, especially with poetry. Mr. Geraint Jones, of Heath Christain Bookshop pointed this out, and has supplied me with a number of alternative translations. I intend to present these. The first is the Lewis Edwards translation, with the first verse translated by Edward T Owen. This was, I believe, used at the funeral of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

1. In heav'n at God's bright throne of glory
The streams of our joyfulness spring
For there has ascended the Saviour,
And there intercedeth the King;
The blood which was spinkled up yonder,
Which full satisfaction did give,
Is there by the throne sweetly pleading
That poor guilty sinners may live.
2. And we, from the wilds of the desert,
Shall flee to the land of the blest;
Life's tears shall be changed to rejoicing,
Its labours and toil into rest.
There we shall find refuge eternal,
From sin, from affliction from pain,
And in the sweet love of the Saviour
A joy without end shall attain.
3. From heavenly Jerusalem's towers,
The path through the desert they trace;
And every affliction they suffered
Redounds to the glory of grace;
Their look they cast back on the tempests,
On fears, on grim death and the grave,
Rejoicing that now they're in safety,
Through Him that is mighty to save.


Monday Quote : Thomas Chalmers - The Wrath and righteousness of God

"The wrath [of God] is not an element framed or fermented upon eart. It is concieved in heaven; and thence it cometh down on the unrighteousness of men as the subject of it. And as with the wrath of God, so it is with the righteousness of God; it also cometh down from heaven in the shape of a descending ministration. It is no more the righteousness of man in the one case than it is the wrath of man in the other. It is affirmed here, and most prominently referred to in other parts of the epistle [to the Romans], as the righteousness of God. The wrath has its origin in the breast of the Divinity; and it goeth forth from an upper storehouse, from a quarter above our world and foreign to our world; and all that the world furnishes is the reservoir into which it is poured - the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, which form the fit subjects for its application. And there is not an individual man who is not a fit subject of it. The wrath is unto all unrighteouness; and there is none who has not fallen into some unrighteousness. All who do these things are worthy of death; and there is not a human creature who has not done one or more of these things.

"But there is a way, it would appear, in which they who are thought worthy of death and are under the wrath of God, may nevertheless be made to live. They die by the wrath of God being inflicted upon them; they live by the righteousness of God being administered to them. The one is as much the renderin of a foreign application as the other."

'Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans' Vol. 1 Pp. 65-66.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Preaching this coming Lord's Day.

This coming Lord's Day, God willing, I shall be preaching at Wattisham Strict Baptist Chapel, in the depths of Suffolk. It never ceases to amaze me how a Church that has been without a pastor for several years now still manages to keep a large congregation together in the middle of no-where.

Book update: Vol. 2 of Chalmers' Institutes of Theology arrived this morning. It looks completely different from Vol. 1, being the American, not the British, edition (the American edition used a smaller type and page size). So I am now the proud owner of a non-matching set of Chalmers' Institutes.
But then the spines of my volumes 7,8 and 9 of Chalmers' Posthumous Works will all look different as well.

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D. R. Davies XVII: 'He Arose and Went to His Father'

Davies himself observed that: 'It would be very romantic if I could say that from that moment on Southerndown beach, all was clear and straightforward and ecstatic.' And, if his story had been a work of fiction, our last chapter would have been the end. But human lives are lived until the Lord calls us away, whether to judgement or to Glory. Davies returned to London, knowing that he had passed from death to life. His relationship with his wife revived; in Davies' words, "we fell in love again." And Davies also fell in love with the Bible, devouring the prphets, the psalms, John's Gospel, the Epistles and Revelation. Now these words made perfect sense to Davies. He saw them as he had never seen before.

And now he felt the need to worship the God who had so loved him. He returned to the church, worshipping at Lyndhurst Road Congregational Church, London (pictured), under the ministry of Dr. John Short. In addition, he attended on the ministry of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, newly-arrived at Westminster Chapel. Through the agency of Malcolm Spencer, a high official in the Congregational Union, Davies was able to return to the ministry, taking a temporary Pastorate at Tonypandy in the Rhondda for April 1938.
Davies found preaching the Gospel was now a joy, 'the Gospel once for all delivered unto the saints,' was now his theme, not whatever fad of the moment was exciting the world. This month at Tonypandy convinced Davies that the call to preach was genuine, although for the present, there was no post for him.
So it was back to the lecture-circuit, this time in the service of a new master. And he decided to write a book about original sin. This book turned out to be more autobiographical, and Davies decided to re-title it 'A Modernist's Rediscovery of Orthodoxy.'

It was in conversation with Lloyd-Jones about an article he had written on the same subject that Davies mentioned his book. Lloyd-Jones put him in contact with Hodder and Stoughton, who accepted the proposal. Mr. Paul Hodder-Williams, the publisher, suggested a snappier title would help sales. He suggested 'Back to Orthodoxy.' Davies, feeling that this suggested Orthodoxy was a retrograde step, changed this to On To Orthodoxy.

The book was published in September 1939, as the war-clouds gathered over Europe; when modernism's promise seemed totally unfulfilled. The book seemed very much a tome for the times.


Friday, February 09, 2007

D. R. Davies XVI: 'And He Came to the End of Himself'

The trip to Southerndown was meant to refresh Davies. It failed, there, as he walked over the glowering cliffs, he could not help but remember his previous visit, before he departed to United College, Bradford. The exhausted Davies looked back and saw only failure. His marriage was all but over, only the fidelity of his wife staving off collapse. He spent time alone at Southerndown, leaving his wife to look after their child, while he wandered over the cliffs and fields.

It was on one of these days, as the rain beat against his face, a sudden desire to end it all entered Davies' mind. With the sea below him, and the night closing in, Davies was in the ideal position to act on this desire. He descended to the beach and plunged into the surf.

"I must have swum, though I am a poor swimmer. Then in a flash, a thunderous flash, I realised what I was doing. "Good God! What am I doing?" With despairing strength, I swam back. Oh that struggle! I was suspended between life and death!"

D. R. Davies suddenly remembered his childhood, his mother teaching him a childrens' catechism, Rhodd Mam (My Mother's Gift). He heard the question: 'Who is Jesus Christ?' And he heard his own answer: 'Jesus Christ is my Saviour.'

"It was just like that. A deep peace, lierally "the peace which the world cannot know or take away", flooded my entire being. [...] In the final anguish, hovering between life and death, I found myself as I was, and in my utter nakedness and worthlessness I found God. And finding Him, though this was not realized until later, I found everything."

Davies had come to the end of his hoarded resources. Man had failed him utterly, but God does not fail. Davies identified this time on Southerndown beach as the moment of his conversion:

"People frequently ask me if it is necessary for everyone to pass through such an experience as that which I suffered, before realising Chistian certainty. To which I reply that the form of the experience is immaterial, but its substance, its essence, is utterly necessary. You must come to the realization of your own powerlessness. Now, with the best will in the world, I find it very difficult to imagine how such a realization, whatever its form, can be an imperceptible process. It is a transition from death to life! [...] To die to oneself and to live again another life is anti-natural. How can that happen without some sort of conflict and anguish? It is like a revolution in the State. Could power pass from one class to another without citizens being aware of it? Hardly! How much less can the soul of man be unaware of its transition from the old humanity to the new!"


Thursday, February 08, 2007

D. R. Davies XV: Spainish Disillusionment

Davies went to Bilbao with the Dean of Canterbury and Professor Macmurray. He was impressed with the regional government, especially with its youth. However, what Davies saw of the fighting sickened him. Like the rest of the left in Britain, he had seen the conflict in Manicaean terms, yet when he saw the death and suffering, he came to see that both sides were human. Already concerned about Stalin's show-trials, his Spanish experience finally killed off D. R. Davies' humanism:

"When I set out for Spain," he later reflected, "I was more than half-way to the conclusion that man was inescapably corrupt, that Utopia was beyond his power, and when in Spain I saw the horror and tragedy and bestiality of man, I was rapidly driven the rest of the way. On my journey to Spain I possessed a dying faith. On my return I brought back a corpse. Within a few months despair had made my life an insupportable burden."

Davies spoke at fund-raising meetings for the cause of the Spanish Republicans, using his powerful oratorical abilities for the cause. But his heart was no longer in it. In the August of 1937, Davies resolved to take a holiday at a place redolent with childhood memories, Southerndown in the Vale of Glamorgan. His world was a wreck, his marriage on the rocks, and now he had lost his faith in humanity. Davies could see no way ahead, nor could he feel any comfort. No-one, it seemed, cared for his soul.


What's Happening in Attleborough

Our brother Jenson recently asked in a comment:
Really? What is happening at Attleborough?

Here is the answer.

Further details are available here I will be giving the first paper on the first day of the conference.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

D. R. Davies: XIV The Mire of Politics

Mitrinovic's 'New Europe' movement reads today like an early version of the European Union, advocating a European Federation based on regions rather than states, nations or otherwise. An artist by training, the charismatic Serb advocated the creation of a 'House of Industry' and a 'House of Culture' alondside the House of Commons. Davies became National Organiser of the movement and editor of the movement's journal, 'New Britain.' Mitrinovic exercised such control over the journal, however, that Davies was no more than an office-boy. Davies addressed numerous meetings at the movement's launch. It was during this time, in March 1934, Davies wife, Edith, died.

And yet there was something terribly wrong with 'New Britain.' Was it a politcal party or a lobby-group? Mitrinovic seemed not to know, and ultimately the movement foundered, rudderless. In September 1938, Davies ended his association with Mitrinovic, influenced by Ruth McCormick, his new wife, a deeply religious woman. Now a practical atheist, Davies drifted into Socialism, which he had come to see as the only barrier to the rise of fascism. He joined the Socialist League, one of a number of Socialist organisations that had sprung up after Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald's decision to form a National Government that included Conservatives and Liberals. Sir Stafford Cripps, a Christian lawyer and former Labour Cabinet Minister. A number of other Labour MPs, including future Prime Minister Clement Attlee, were members of this movement, yet they would drift away as the movement became immersed in Marxism.

Davies became a 'convert' to Marxism, which he later freely admitted became his 'holy revelation.' He read all of the works of Marx and came to believe that Marx's works were truth for all time. The rise of Fascism in Europe, and particularly the attempt by the Spanish armed forces, led by General Francisco Franco to overthrow the Socialist government of Spain, brought a greater interest in foreign affairs. This brought involvement with the openly Communist vicar of St. Clement's, Barnsbury, Father Bill Iredell, a man who closed his services with the clenched fist salute of Communism.

Davies was by now a full member of the Church of Communism. The Office of the Hampstead Spanish Aid Committe (a Communist Front) was based in his Hampstead flat. When his daughter, Diana, was born, there was no baptism or blessing, but "a gathering to receive the babe into the human family." His wife, Ruth, still a professing Christian, was not impressed.
In 1937, Davies travelled to Spain to see the Civil War at first hand, in the company of the infamous 'Red Dean' of Canterbury, a Church of England Cleric who received the Stalin Peace Prize (!) for his unstinting support for Communism. It was with this delegation that Davies was to lose his faith. Not his faith in God, for that was already vanished, but his faith in man.