Monday, November 30, 2009

A Presbyterian in Wales, 1739

In a fascinating passage in The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales (Vol. 1), we read of the following interchange between a parish clergyman in Llanymawddwy and Lewis Rees (Dissenting minister of Llanbrynmair), the year being 1739:

'Where are you from?' asked the clergyman.

'I am from Llanbryn-mair, sir,' answered Lewis Rees, mildly.

'What brought you to Llanbryn-mair?

'The Dissenting congregation was without a minister. At their request I came to them, firstly on probation, and both sides being satisfied, I was appointed pastor over them.'

'How,' said his reverence, 'can you, being a Presbyterian, expect to be tolerated in this country? Go to Scotland. That is the Presbyterians' country.'

'I hope, sir,' said Mr Rees, 'that you act from a higher principle in religion than a regard to the custom of the country in which you happen to live; else, if you were to change your country you would change your religion: if you were to go to Scotland you would turn Presbyterian; if to Italy, a Roman Catholic.'

Thankfully, Dissenting Mr Rees was one of the spiritual forerunners of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, and the vicar was proved wrong!