Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

5 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



WELSH DISESTABLISH- tc. MENT. 5CS, The Historical Case against ,ol; The Church. II .vn, ;vy, md [BY LLEWELYX WILLIAMS.] I ( Continned.) Six years ago Mr ASQUITH quoted with dramatic effect in the House of Commons a passage from a letter sent by the princes of Wales to INNOCENT III. in 1203, in which they described how the terrors of the Church were held over those who were patriotic enough to stand up in defence of their country's freedom. But a letter from Archbishop HUBERT to the POPE, in reply to these complaints, is perhaps even more Z5 significant. (l Unless, therefore," he says, the barbarity of this fierce and lawless people be curbed by ecclesiastical censures and restrained by the Archbishop of CAN- TERBURY, to whose province they are subject by law, they will rise in frequent or un- broken rebellion against the king, to the unavoidable disquiet of the whole realm of England." This, it may be said, is ancient history. So it is. But let it be remembered that Church Defenders have APPEALED TO HISTORY by claiming for their Church continuity from the ancient British Church. The present Church is as much the real successor of the ancient National Church of Wales as a cuckoo is the rightful inheritor of the nest it has made its own by force And it is the same spirit that has animated the policy of the Church from that day to this. LLEWELYN, the last Prince of Wales, died excom- J municated, not because he was a man of bad I I life or evil conversation, but because he was a Welshman who dared to stand up for his country's independence, and for the liberty of the people whose natural guardian he was. Two bishops joined the national rebellion of OWEN GLYNDWR one was dispossessed of his See, the other died in exile, and you have only to read the writings of the mediaeval bards to find how thoroughly the monks and clergy, with their tilien sympathies, were detested by the people. But, we are told, a great change ensued after the Reformation. The Bible was i translated into Welsh by a Bishop of ST. ASAPH, and that translation has remained the standard and canon of Welsh prose unto this day. Welshmen were appointed to Welsh Sees, and under the later TUDOgS and the STUARTS the Church was, in veiy truth, the National Church of the Welsh people, j I would take too long to show how i I w UTTERLY FALLACIOUS is this view of the position of the Church in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact, the Church in Wales has no Golden Age to look back upon;: its history since its first connection with the- English; State has- been one of sordid bondage and of ignoble service. ELIZABETH, it is true, did appoint Welshmen to Welsh Sees, but it was against the wish and advice (still on record in a, letter in the British Museum) of Arch- bishop PARKER. Dr MORGAN translated tbT Bible into Welsh, but he was subjected tai all manners of petty persecution in his own lifetime, and MORUS KYFFIN, the translator of JEWELS Defence of the Church of England into Welsh, says that in 1592-a few years later-a cleric of his acquaintance stated publicly in an Eisteddfod thatÎthe- Welsh Bible would not only not do good, but would do much harm. And that cleric was more representative of the Church's policy than the pious Bishop I will not quote the accounts which STRYPE and Vicar PRITCHAIRD give of the Church in the "Golden Age." But these two extracts may be new. The first is from Carwr y Cymru," a Welsh book published in 1631 the very year when WILLIAM ERBURY commenced his reforming work at Cardiff. For a whole century the Reformed Church had had the field to itself, and there was as yet, so far as we know, NOT A SINGLE NONCONFORMIST in Wales. This was the condition Wales bad been reduced to by 1631. Yea' Sive me leave, my dear brethren [savs the author], to say unto you (a thing I am sorry to have to say) that in each of the- c dioceses of Wales there can be found forty or sixty churches, with not one in them on Sun- days in Midsummer, when the roads are at their driest and the weather at its finest. In a fifth, if not in a fourth of Wales, there was no kind of religious service held from one end of the year to the other—one- fifth of Wales had relapsed into paganism It is no wonder that WROTH and EKBURY and other earnest souls found the state of things intolerable, and that they should have dared even to preach in unconsecrated places! But what of the, three-fourths or four-fifths of Wales where religion may be said to have flourished in those Saturnian days? In 1651 JØHN EDWARDS published his translation of h Marrow of Modern Divinity," and in his introduction lie com- plains that "among the clerical teachers barely one in fifteen is able to read and write Welsh." A large portion of Wales was, therefore, absolutely pagan, and in the other portion only about one in fifteen of the clergymen could conduct a service in the language understandsd of the people. Verily, illILTO-N must have had the case of Wales in his mind when, he spoke of the "hungry sheep" that looked up and were not fed. 1 pass over the subsequent period, when STEPHEN HUGHES and GRIFFITH J oEs-the one the son of an Independent deacon who had become a clergyman, and the other an Independent minister who had been a clergyman—appealed in vain to the Welsh Bishops, as they valued their own good name and 'their Church's reputation and position in the national regard, to defray the expense of a cheap edition of the Welsh Bible. I pass over the shameful treatment of the early ethodistshow godly men were HOUNDED OUI OF THE CHURCH, arid how at last the cruel exaction of intolerable fines left them no choice but to desert for ever au institution which was not Worthy of them. I come to our own days. It is said that the Church is at last renew- ing her youth like the eagle, and that she is winning back the national regard, which she forfeited by her past neglect. Give her time," the late Bishop of BANGOR said at a Church bazaar at Liverpool, and Noncon- formity will be swept away.' What are the real facts ? The Church to-day is more im-, potent than she has ever been. Her rulers are chosen, not—as in England—because they are distinguished above their fellows by scholarship, by academical attainments, by services to literature, or to history, or to theology, or by oratorical powers, but solely apd simply because they are supposed to be the best men to organise and lead the forces which are arrayed against Welsh nationalism. It is Archbishop HUBERT'S policy over again Unless the barbarity of this fierce and law- less people be curbed by ecclesiastical cen- sures and restrained by the Archbishop of CANTERBURY,' or the Bishop of ST. ASAPH, they will disturb overmuch the Tory party in England If you want an instance of I the mere WRECKING POLTCY OF THE CHURCH in Wales, consider her attitude towards Welsh education. Nonconformist denomina- tions fire often taunted with their sectar- ianism yet when they were set face to face with a matter of national moment they did not hesitate to throw to the wind their sectarian differences. Thev com- j bined in .spite of their deep and Sol,, e- I times bitter differences to promote a national system of elementary education. The Church alone has stood! apart, and by insisting on maintaininc,mainly out of C, public funds-her own sectary schools, has done her best to prelmt the-perfection of the School Board system, and the adoption I of religious and unsectarian teaching in the elementary schools. We have seen the I' same concord prevail among Nonconformists in the case of intermediate education the Church again has played the wrecker's part. The Bishop of ST. ASAPH, in the teeth of the opinion of. Sir EDWARD CLARKE, insisted on excluding Ruthin School from the Denbighshire scheme as being.a Church school, and he used his position as a member of the House of Lords to override the declared will of the people of Denbigh, of the Charity Commissioners, of the Educa- tion Department, and of the House of Commons. The late Bishop of BANGOR promoted a rival school at Dolgelley, in order, if possible, to crush the Intermediate School that had been started in that town. Then, again, the whole people of Wales are united on the question of the Welsh Univer- sity. The Church alle is factious, and refuses to co-operate loyally and cheerfully with the rest. It is all of a piece with her history! She has been the Church in Wales, NEVER THE CHURCH OF WALES. She is a thing apart, having no share or part in the fuller national life of the country. Time was when pious men called her Yr Hen Fam,' but if ever the name is applied to her to-day it is in bitter mockery. The Church which refused the last rites of religioa to Welshmen who died for their 1 country which hanged JOliN. PENRY, perse- cuted Vicar PRITCIIARD, and allowed VAVASOUR POWELL to rot in prison; which refused to ordain HOWELL HARRIES at a time when diunkards and adulterers were freely admitted to holy orders; which allowed GORONWY OWE to sink into an unknown and unhonoured grave across the Atlantic; which denied priests' orders to WILLIAMS, Pantycelyn, and THOMAS CHARLES, of Bala; which ignoft-ed IEUAN GLAN GEIRIONYDD, and permitted him to starve on a curate's stipend while the fat offices of the Church were given to strangers or Anglicised Welshmen, and which to-day—impenitent at heart and unchanged in action—sets its face reso- lutely against every national movement and every national aspiration, is not, and cannot be, the National Church of Wales.