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Title: Welsh Nationality, and how alone it is to be saved - A Sermon
Author: Davies, W. G.
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1871 W. Spurrell edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org

                        [Picture: Pamphlet Cover]



                     WELSH NATIONALITY, AND HOW ALONE
                            IT IS TO BE SAVED


                                * * * * *

                                    A
                                  SERMON

                             PREACHED IN THE

                 Chapel of St. David’s College, Lampeter

                      ON THE MORNING AND EVENING OF

                     _SUNDAY_, _OCTOBER_ 30_th_, 1870

                                * * * * *

                                  BY THE
                         REV. W. G. DAVIES, B.D.
          _Chaplain of the Joint Counties Asylum_, _Abergavenny_

                                * * * * *

                           PUBLISHED BY REQUEST

                                * * * * *

                     LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL. & CO.
                         CARMARTHEN: W. SPURRELL

                                   1871

                                * * * * *

        “The Clergy everywhere should be emphatically ‘the teachers of
                   people,’ and leaders of modern thought.”

                                                  _The Rector of Merthyr_.



A SERMON.
I.


                                 LUKE x. 42.

    “_But one thing is needful_, _and Mary hath chosen that good part
    which shall not be taken away from her_.”

THE discourses which I have the privilege of delivering in this chapel,
are specially addressed to my younger brethren, the undergraduates.  I
cannot but dwell with pleasure upon the time when I was myself a student
in this college.  This, together with the fact that I am a native of the
lower part of this county, and was brought up among some of the most
primitive of the Welsh people, and consequently am familiar with their
leading sentiments, manners, and customs, places me, I cannot help
feeling, in a state of close sympathy with the greater number of you.
Assuming the existence of this fellow feeling, I have chosen, on this
occasion, to investigate the social and religious condition of my
countrymen in a light which has not yet penetrated into the fastnesses of
the popular mind of Wales.  I have done this, because the subject is one
that elicits ideas of high import, which it is desirable you should know,
inasmuch as they ought to prove of signal service to you in your future
ministrations.

We are living, you should be aware, in critical times.  Old institutions
and dogmas are rudely assailed, and challenged to vindicate their right
to respect before the tribunal of reason.  It is well then that you
should have some leading ideas implanted in your mind, so that you may
the better be able to comprehend the nature of the change that is coming
over us.  As this change proceeds, you will probably hear cries of
despair from this party and from that, and harsh and uncharitable
accusations will be flung by one at the other.  Be not therefore in
perplexity, but of this be very certain, “The Lord hath prepared His
throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all;” and though we
may see the pet schemes of men ending in signal failure, not for one
moment can we suppose that God’s eternal purposes will come to nought,
that His word will return to Him void.

“This,” remarks the learned bishop of this diocese, “is an age of
restless curiosity, and searching inquiry.  If we fail to come at the
truth, it is not because we ever shrink from approaching it; not because
we let ourselves be stopped by any conventional barriers of usage or
authority.  We admit no right in any one to judge for us on subjects
which we are able to judge for ourselves.  We take no opinion upon trust,
because it has come down to us with the stamp of an honoured name.  We
adopt it only after we have made it our own by a rigid scrutiny of its
intrinsic claims to our assent.  It is an age in which all pretensions to
respect and deference are jealously examined, and in which it is more
difficult than ever for any false pretences long to elude detection.” {4}

The tendency here described by the bishop, ought to suggest to you the
necessity of making yourselves acquainted with the leading
characteristics of the time, and urge you so to train your understanding,
that you shall be always ready, as the apostle enjoins, to give a reason
for the hope that is in you.  In Wales, however, owing to her isolated
condition, divided like a Milford Haven from the vast Atlantic, it is
quite possible that it may be a considerable time before this restless
and inquiring spirit will make itself so generally felt as elsewhere.
This may be an advantage to you; for, from your tranquil haven, you may
be able dispassionately to form a judicial opinion of the commotion which
is being felt by others at a distance from you.

Few things indicate more clearly the religious condition of the Welsh
people than the closeness with which, in so many respects, they apply,
but in a certain limited sense, the principle contained in the text, “But
one thing is needful;” namely, to learn and to have the mind of Christ, a
requirement far more comprehensive than many seem to think; for does not
that good part which shall not be taken away, embrace all the knowledge
we can obtain of God’s power, wisdom, and love?

How deeply the cares of life, the “what shall we eat, or what shall we
drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?” the anxieties of business,
the wild fever of speculation and gambling, the frivolities of a life
devoted to the exclusive pursuit of pleasure and excitement, the arduous
strain endured in climbing giddy heights of fame, glory, and power; how
deeply are all such merely temporal pursuits, even were they innocent,
condemned as vanity of vanities, by that loving reproof of our Saviour,
“But one thing is needful.”  However unmindful we may be of the fact,
eternity surrounds and makes prisoners of us all; and what is the whole
world with all its pomp, wealth, greatness, and pleasures, viewed in the
dimming light of that eternity?  What shall it profit a man if he gain
everything but what is really needful, everything but the good part,
since “when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not
descend after him?”  This indeed, is a most serious and awful
consideration, and no one possessed of proper feeling, can treat it with
levity.  The grave, without respect of persons, confronts us all with its
awe-inspiring illimitable beyond; and we cannot, if we would, brought up
as we have been to possess long-standing associations on the side of
Christian truth, and in harmony with the voice of conscience and the
higher aspirations and presentiments of the soul, bring ourselves to
believe that we shall not reap hereafter as we have sown here.

How often have the hills and valley of Wales resounded to stains like
these, and long may they do so.  But a most important question to ask is,
what is comprised in the one thing needful?  Are science, literature, and
art of only temporary value?  In the day of trial will they prove, even
when true and pure, but “wood, hay, and stubble,” or will they turn out
to be a portion of the “gold, silver, and precious stones” which we can
carry with us to the better land?

I shall not, I presume, be far from the truth, when I declare that the
Welsh are, on the whole, a God-fearing people; and that they are somewhat
remarkable for the manner in which they put into practice the principle
contained in the text, “But one thing is needful.”  If we except the
various pursuits by which they gain their livelihood, the Welsh-speaking
portion of my countrymen have few proclivities apart from religion.
Their reading is almost purely religious reading; their music, psalmody;
their social gatherings, for the most part, clerical meetings, religious
camp meetings, and the assembling of Sabbath schools.  Their periodical
literature consists almost wholly of religious magazines.  Secular
knowledge, secular music, and well nigh everything approaching to
fiction, are by many of them deemed not only valueless but sinful.  _Y
gwir yn erbyn y byd_, a motto of which the Welsh nation may justly be
proud, expresses the intolerance with which many natives of the
Principality regard everything but what they believe to be downright
sober truth.  Is it the one thing needful?  If not, avoid it as
mischievous; at all events, “do not spend your money for that which is
not bread, and your labour for that which profiteth not.”  That the great
mass of my country-people are remarkable for what many would consider the
logical reduction of Christianity into practice, is unquestionable; but
are they therefore, any more than St. Anthony and the early pilgrims, who
believed they did the same thing, to be pointed out as worthy the
imitation of others in all respects?

The Welsh-speaking inhabitants of this country, it must be admitted, live
in a manner which has its attractions for primitiveness and homeliness;
their wants are few, their passions are much under control, they are
self-denying, industrious, and provident; and throughout the
Principality, much to its credit, criminal cases but seldom darken the
calendar.  Such being the social condition of the Welsh, but more
especially in the agricultural districts of what has been termed Welsh
Wales, though not indeed without exceptions as regards keeping the “body
in temperance, soberness, and chastity,” would it not be desirable to
take note of the influences which conduce to such a state of things, with
the view of bringing the same to bear upon communities, in which so many
are deplorably corrupt, criminal, and profane?  When, however, we come to
consider that one of the leading causes of the peculiarities exhibited by
the Welsh, is the isolation resulting from their language, few
distinctive points remain in their social economy which admit of being
copied with advantage by other communities.  Influences which are rapidly
changing the character of the English, and the better educated classes in
these parts, exercise but a faint effect upon the primitive Welsh;
because they are, by their language, shut out from the rest of the world.
They are like the river water, which is out of the main current.  Their
manners, customs, and ideas, all tend to permanency.  The sons follow
with little change in the steps of their fathers, and the daughters in
those of their mothers.  As a consequence of this, even in business
pursuits, they are, like the French Canadians, deficient in enterprise,
and acquire property mostly by saving and self-denial.  Like the Chinese,
they give one the idea of a people whose development has been arrested at
a certain stage, whose inspiration is drawn from the past, and not, as by
the Israelites of old, from the future.  They love to dwell on the
antiquity of their language, and its purity from foreign elements.  What
they were is to them a source of fond exultation.  What they are destined
to become, they fear to contemplate.

I claim to be a lover of my country.  I admire much the social and civic
virtues, and the religious enthusiasm of her people; but I am forced to
admit that among the Welsh, as such, there is no onward tendency.  That
is a great and noble ambition of theirs which urges them to retain their
language; and they firmly believe in the prophecy, “_Eu hiaith a
gadwant_.”  But to be equally bent on perpetuating certain peculiarities
which unite them with the past as a race opposed to their English
neighbours, this desire to surround themselves with a sort of Chinese
wall, instead of letting “the dead past bury its dead,” is not the part
of true patriotism.  For, by blindly adhering to such a stationary
policy, they will eventually, as a distinct nation, be submerged by the
tide of progress, instead of floating on its surface, and exist about as
much in reality as their fabled Lowland Hundred.  In everything but
political sectarianism, and this only because they are moved to it by
political agitators, the Welsh are in fact a most conservative nation.

This primitive condition of the Welsh, however, is not singular.  It has
existed, and exists even now, in various parts of the world.  As an
instance with which we have lately been made acquainted, it may be
mentioned, that Wallace has found, in some of the islands of the Malay
Archipelago, several communities which have no intercourse with the world
at large, leading an industrious, peaceful, moral life; committing little
or no crime; “showing the work of the law written in their hearts;” and a
pattern to many of the inhabitants of so called Christian and civilized
countries.  When we contemplate such beautiful simplicity and purity of
life, we must admit that these people “are not far from the kingdom of
God;” and one is tempted to doubt whether civilization with its extremes
of wealth and destitution, refinement and barbarism, culture and
ignorance, integrity and crime, saintliness and profanity, is the
blessing that it is commonly held to be.  But yet if we compare the
endowments of mankind with those of the more intelligent brutes, we find
that man has a capacity for being educated into a higher being in
proportion as the race stores up knowledge, a power which opens the vast
treasury of nature; whereas the most intelligent of the brutes are but
slightly educable, and therefore stationary.  While man, however, is
gifted with this immense superiority, he does not always turn it to the
greatest advantage.  Some nations are rapidly advancing; some, having
advanced in time past up to a certain point, have either long ago halted,
or have gone back to barbarism or worse.  Of these three tendencies, the
one strongly manifested by the Welsh is halting.  What forces there are
urging them forward are almost entirely from a foreign source; and the
fact that such influences are operating upon them is, by many of their
number, regarded as a misfortune, by few as a blessing.  Painful,
however, as it must be to Welsh patriotism, and high-wrought sentiment,
yet it is not to be doubted that the genius of Wales is receding before
that of England, as is so clearly evident to those who dwell on the
border land, where the two rival powers are brought face to face.  And
now what I wish my country-people particularly to understand is, that as
long as they adopt a policy of stagnation, Cambria is sure to be worsted
in the conflict for distinctive existence; because such is the law of
evolution, a law which pervades all nature; and to this law I would now
draw your attention.

What is called evolution or development in nature is a procedure from
simplicity to complexity of structure.  The more elaborate and special an
organ is, the higher is the function which it has to perform.  To select
an illustration from the animal kingdom: among the lowest kind of animals
called the _hydra_ there is no distinction of parts such as seen in the
human body; no nutritive, muscular, and nervous system; no senses, no
brain.  Each portion of them being complete in itself, these animals can
be propagated by simply cutting them into bits.  Each part is independent
of every other part; as if in this country we had local government, but
no central government.  The whole is a medley in which there is no
division of labour and of responsibility, no interdependence.

How different the case in man’s elevated and complex nature!  And how can
I express this more forcibly, or in a way better adapted for conveying to
you the principle here held in view, than in these words of St.
Paul:—“There are many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say
unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I
have no need of you.”  The principle here enunciated is that of unity in
variety.  “The body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of
the body, though they be many, are one body.”

The chapter from which these passages are taken demands your special
notice, in order that you may see how fully the Apostle’s mind was
possessed with the law of unity in variety—many members, yet but one
body; and together with the sequel to it, the New Testament song of love,
should deeply impress upon our hearts the all important truth conveyed in
the words, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members
thereof.”  There will be diversities in the Church, there cannot be
uniformity, but there must be unity.  “For as it is noted by one of the
fathers,” says Bacon, “Christ’s coat, indeed, had no seam, but the
Church’s vesture was of divers colours; whereupon he saith, ‘_In veste
varietas sit_, _scissura non sit_.’”

There was a time, even in the memory of living men, when Welsh households
had little need of aid from commerce, when almost every kind of food was
home grown, and almost every article of clothing home spun and home made.
Some lament that this is not still the case.  Let these, however, console
themselves with the knowledge that as mankind progress, they are made, by
division of labour, to become more dependent on each other, and that
perforce the law of love, of mutual beneficence, is being propagated in
the world, not only by the Christian ministry, but by the agency of
commercial, scientific, and literary progress.  Not only the inhabitants
of the same land, but the various nations of the earth are more and more
coming to this, that they can less and less do without each other’s
co-operation.

An early stage of society, like that of animal development, is a medley.
It is made up of families or tribes, each of which has its own separate
organization; and the tendency is, where selfishness and a contentious
spirit predominate, to split up into fragments; whereas, on the other
hand, where the domestic virtues are highly advanced, and there is a
general disposition to sink private interest in public good, men will
cling together, thus forming larger communities, exercising more advanced
functions, and eventually absorb those weaker tribes which have not
acquired these virtues; that is, have not realized, to the same extent,
the principle of many members in one body.

It is characteristic of the human mind, in its first attempts to pierce
the mists of ignorance and mystery, to embrace, in one view, the whole
realm of knowledge, and necessarily to suppose that it is much more
limited than it is.  The astrologers of old little dreamed that the
stars, which were the objects of their superstitions contemplation, were
but a small portion of the illimitable universe of worlds.  We see at
first of any subject which we study but about as much as we see of the
stars without the aid of the telescope, or of minute objects near at hand
without the aid of the microscope.  The realm of knowledge enlarges in
proportion as we intimately explore it.  The more we discover
distinctions, which have been overlooked by previous observers, or the
more we differentiate, and at the same time assign the differences their
right place in the class, the unity to which they belong, the more we
advance that branch of investigation towards which our efforts are
turned.  In the infancy of knowledge, science, poetry, history, politics,
theology, form one medley, like the hydra in the animal world.
Pythagoras, because he possessed insufficient powers of abstraction,
could not keep mathematics apart from metaphysics, theology, and
æsthetics.  And Xenophanes must needs, in the philosophical and
theological travail of his soul, give expression to his ideas in flowing
hexameters.  The early ballads were not simply the minstrelsy, but the
only chronicles of the period.  Out of the medley state, which has now
been described, the sciences file in the order of their simplicity,
generality, and remoteness from religious, poetic, and political emotion.

The development of knowledge and of civilization, therefore, like that of
the animal kingdom, is commensurate with the degree in which labour is
divided, while perfect unity is retained.  “Now hath God set the members
every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.  And if they were
all one member, where were the body?” (where were the multiplicity in the
unity?)  “But now are they many members, yet but one body.”  As a
striking instance of the manner in which civilization is effected by this
law Guizot tells us that it is more advanced in modern than in ancient
times, because it is more complex.  In ancient civilization, there was no
country population existing as a class distinct from that of the towns,
and exercising a power peculiar to itself.  By means of the feudal
system, however, the country population has assumed a distinct character
in modern times, and it wields an influence which greatly modifies the
power of the great populous centres.  Here we have another instance of
differentiation out of a prior medley state, such as existed in the
civilization of Greece and of Rome.

So much chiefly for the doctrine of differentiation; now more
particularly for that of unity.  Let us never forget that God has
fashioned the body in such a perfect manner that there should be no
schism among the different members, but that there should be “the same
care one for another.”  Thus it is found to be throughout the region of
animal life.  There is, at first, no variety in the unity.  As animals
ascend in the scale of being, variety emerges; organs having special
functions to perform are divided off from the structureless germinal
matter; but the oneness of the living being is perfectly preserved; there
is no schism among the various parts of the body to which a special
sphere of labour is allotted.  Now this is just what _ought_ to be the
case with the great social body.  If it advances from one stage to a
higher, it must be by division of labour combined with the union of love.
It is by division of labour that men acquire that skill and excellence in
the arts, that greater accuracy and extent of knowledge in general which
enables them to surpass their forefathers.  But here we enter the sphere
of will and of moral obligation, choice, and duty; and instead of
witnessing that harmonious action of many parts exhibited by the
involuntary regions of organic life, we witness all those evils which, if
they do not have the effect of awakening a nation to the error of its
ways, eventually lead to anarchy and decay.  What, however, we mostly
behold in civilized communities is, that while some are in a highly
advanced state, the majority form an appalling mediocrity, while too many
are but paupers and criminals.  Yea, the social body is seen to have many
weak, many diseased parts; and is often, through strife and dissension,
threatened with dismemberment.  These are the great trials which
civilization has to encounter; and amidst great physical progress,
notably amidst and wealthy magnificence, there may be much rottenness at
the base.

Since communities as they advance become more divided into members having
special offices to perform, there is, where the higher emotions, the
source of union, are not in the ascendant, a tendency to an isolation of
the parts, to one-sidedness, to a want of “the same care one for
another,” to those gross inequalities, those frightful extremes which too
often reflect such discredit upon our large towns and cities; social
disorders which it is the province of the Church to counteract, laying a
heavy weight of responsibility upon her, as well as upon the State; and
which are found to exist to a far less extent among a Christian and
primitive people like the Welsh.

The lower animals exhibit a well-regulated constitution.  They fulfil the
purpose of their being; there is no schism among their members.  “If we
saw the lion,” says George Combe, “one day tearing in pieces every animal
that crossed his path, and then oppressed with remorse for the death of
his victims, or compassionately healing those whom he had mangled, we
should exclaim, what an inconsistent creature, and conclude that he could
not by any possibility be happy, on account of this opposition between,
the principles of his nature.”  Now this is just the opposition which
deforms human nature.  “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the
spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so
that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  How is this internal
discord to be quelled but by the inner man having the mastery over the
inferior propensities of our nature?  As long as these latter are not
brought under the wholesome restraints of the Gospel, the Master’s easy
yoke, the truth which makes us free from carnal bondage; as long as the
raging waves of animal passion hear not the voice of Him who says,
“Peace, be still,” in vain shall we look for those social and political
virtues which constitute the stability of a state; and which, therefore,
since self-preservation is the first law of nature, it should be a prime
duty of the State to promote.  Without vital Christianity, without a
large number on the side of God, and forming the salt of the earth, we
must expect nothing but general corruption and downfall.  We may pride
ourselves upon our railways, our steam navigation, our electric
telegraphs, and all the rest of our mechanical wonders; we may pride
ourselves upon our immense resources, our domestic comforts, our
scientific and literary attainments, our proficiency in the fine arts;
but if the conscience of the nation be not adequately developed by a
devout and enlightened contemplation of God’s holy will, the social body
will be constantly reminding us, by its feverish restlessness and by its
terrible sores, that it is not nicely compacted together—that “where one
member suffers, all the members do not suffer with it,” that we have not
paid sufficient heed to “the one thing needful;” and that we are, in
consequence, reaping, by way of warning, disquieting and painful
intimations that though our progress is rapid, the rails on which we run
are alarmingly insecure.

Now among the Welsh people the elements of stability, of unity, are
strong, but those of progress or differentiation are weak.  Then as
regards the people’s social condition in general, it exhibits few of
those disheartening extremes which are so often to be met with in our
large towns, but presents, with slight deviations, a general level of
moderate elevation.

In more civilized communities, and notably in one of them, while the
elements of physical and intellectual advancement are in a state of
vigorous existence, social virtue and political stability are in a very
unsatisfactory condition indeed.  There are many members, but they have
not arrived at that stage of perfection in which they constitute one
body.  Let us hope, however, that as _chaos_ preceded _cosmos_, so it
will be with them.  Then as respects the various stages of development
which exist side by side, they present all the inequalities of a mountain
region—

    A savage horde amid the civilized;
       A servile band among the lordly free.

Now these two requirements, variety and unity, when you go hence to
proclaim the Gospel, it will be most important that you should promote.
The “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” will, doubtless, be to you
a prime object of cultivation.  But will you not also exert yourselves to
kindle in the bosom of your country-people that spirit of progress which
results from always adding new truths to those of the past; and from
continually realizing more and more the truth, beauty, purity, and
grandeur of the indwelling Word of God, namely, “His Word abiding in
you,” that is, in the children of light, the only medium through which
revelation, as distinguished from the mere outward signs which alone can
exist in the Book, is kept, by the Holy Spirit, a living saving power on
earth.



II.


“THE world is moving on; the nation which stands still must be left
behind.  No people can now live upon its remembrances.  Like the runners
in the ancient games, the nation which surrenders its torch to another,
not only loses the race, but loses the light.  The whole distinction of
English intellect has arisen from its continually looking forward,
forgetting the past, and continually anticipating a new day of toils and
of triumphs, of severer straggles, but of loftier splendours.”  The
distinction here pointed out by Dr. Croly, in an essay entitled, “The
Cultivation of the Intellect, a Divine Duty of Man,” does not exist to
any extent among the great body of the Welsh people, many of whom attach
but slight importance to the acquisition of knowledge; because,
possessing but little of it themselves, they are naturally disposed to
regard it as a matter of mere temporary concern.  Even the majority of
their religious teachers having, till of late years, no knowledge of any
books but the Welsh and the English versions of the Bible, Matthew
Henry’s _Commentary_, and not many more, tacitly, if not openly,
encouraged this tendency.  For uninformed minds are prone to disparage
intellectual attainments, and to interpret the Holy Scriptures, so as to
find therein abundant confirmation of their primitive conceptions.  Yes,
even in our own Church, which did make some pretensions to learning, was
to be found, not fifty years ago, too many a parish priest without a
library, too many a Trulliber forgetful of the high responsibility of his
sacred calling.

But is familiarity with aught but the Bible—with philosophy, science,
history, and æsthetics—even remotely comprised in the good part which
shall not be taken away from us when we go hence for ever?  Yea, is not
such knowledge “the wisdom of the world, which is foolishness with God?”
and is it not written that “not many wise after the flesh are called?”
These questions, I am strongly impressed, indicate the tone of too much
of the preaching in Wales.  But we need not hesitate to reply that,
though the knowledge of evil and of science falsely so called is to be
avoided as most pernicious to the soul, the knowledge of good, in all its
bearings, cannot be too diligently sought.  He who knows nothing but the
Bible, as Matthew Arnold reminds us, knows but little of the Bible.
Indeed the knowledge of good, yea, and taken in the widest sense, cannot
be thought of slight value and of transient importance, without
irreverence towards Him of whose existence, intelligence, power, and
goodness, it is the great exponent.

That the passion of acquiring a knowledge of God’s works and ways in
general was strong in Solomon, we cannot doubt.  He, indeed, tells us
that in the exclusive pursuit of intellectual truth there is no real
satisfaction to be gained, “that a man cannot find out the work that is
done under the sun . . . yea, though a wise man think to know it, yet
shall he not be able to find it.”  All passionate seekers after
undiscovered truth know that much mental toil, and probably years of
wearisome watching, are demanded before any one can hope to snatch a new
secret from the close keeping of the unknown.  This must be humiliating
to the man of sanguine temperament, but profitably so, because it
cultivates within him a longing for the happy time when “we shall know as
also we are known.”

Then intellectual attainments, though calculated to satisfy the wants of
the perceptive and reasoning faculties, cannot still the cravings of the
conscience, cannot meet the demands of the moral and religious emotions.
These can find in such food only a stone when hungering for bread, the
apple fair to the eye, but ashes under the teeth.  When Solomon,
therefore, sought for full satisfaction of soul in the exercise of his
intellect, and the acquisition of its related knowledge, meanwhile
starving his moral and religious nature, it was only to be expected that
such a course should be found to lead to “vanity and vexation of spirit.”

But while admitting to the full the humiliating limitations of the mind
which Solomon deplores, and that the soul cannot live by intellectual
food only, even though it be contained in God’s own Word, yet we fully
believe that it is man’s duty, as well as his privilege, to seek for
truth wherever to be found; and that he can so cultivate his intellect,
and store his memory, as to ensure thereby a greater nearness of soul to
his Father in heaven.

The operations of the giant-intellect, we know, are not acceptable to
God, except they are imbued with that glow of soul which constitutes the
babe-like spirit.  But how can the giant-intellect, when thus wedded to
the love of holiness, better serve God than by ever realizing more and
more of His divine fulness as displayed in all his works and ways?

Although we must allow that no one is so low in the scale of intellectual
culture as to be out of the reach of that redemption which is not
conceded to learning and talent, but to newness of heart, still we must
not forget that the apostle says, “Brethren, be not children in
understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children; but in understanding be
men.”  Let the mental horizon of genius, joined to deepest piety, stretch
ever so far away, it encircles but an insignificant portion of that which
is open to the glance of Omniscience.  Under the most favourable
circumstances, the human mind, while in this present tabernacle, must
meet with many problems which it “cannot know now, but shall know
hereafter.”  And now what we would with much stress insist upon is, in
opposition to an opinion too prevalent in this part of the kingdom, that
the believer who has a mind of little grasp, scantily stored with
information, has not the same command of spiritual blessings, does not
live so fully the Christian life, does not mount in heart and mind so
near to the Redeemer’s throne in heaven, as the believer whose mind has
attained a high degree of culture, and amassed large stores of knowledge.
It must be so, for the region of divine truth being boundless, he who is
ever pushing further into it, and ever striving to embody its purity into
his life and practice, must be further advanced than the man who simply
loiters near some one spot in this region, as soon as he has gained
admittance into it.  And now is it competent for the loiterer, say for
the man of one talent and little energy, to say to the more gifted and
diligent inquirer, “Your labour is in vain; but one thing is needful; and
that is simply to pass over the border”?

Is this view, so disheartening to the Christian scholar, in accordance
with the teaching of the Word of God?  What does the most learned of the
apostles tell us in regard to his own experience?  “Brethren, I count not
myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ
Jesus.”  Now this is exactly true to the experience, not only of the
Christian yearning for perfect freedom from sin, and a feeling of
complete incorporation with Christ, but of every one who longs to surpass
his past achievements, from Alexander pining for more worlds to conquer,
down to the miser who the richer he becomes the poorer he feels.  Thus
the great poet, artist, or musician, is never quite satisfied with his
accomplished works, but always feels how much better they might be, his
ever growing fastidiousness urging him to cry out, _Excelsior_,
_excelsior_!  Highly cultivated minds, more especially if of an
imaginative turn, are never satisfied with the real.  “The ideal, the
ideal,” is their cry.  They push on to lay hold of it, but it ever
recedes before them.  The ideal will always shine far in advance of the
real.

This longing for the unattained, when sanctified by the Spirit of God,
will never permit the on-pressing Christian to feel that he has finally,
and without occasion for further effort, laid hold of the one thing
needful.  Yea, in the life to come the same feeling will exist, for after
ages of looking into the wonders of God’s love, wisdom, and power, the
language of the heart still will be, “I count not myself to have laid
hold of the divine ideal.”

                                * * * * *

It is recorded by those who have sought the conversion of the savage that
his capacity for receiving Christian truth is commentate only with the
contracted character of his intellect, and the low range of his
attainments.  If he does become a Christian, it is only such views of the
Gospel find an abode in his heart as accord with the feeble mental powers
which he possesses.  And now I would ask, is this degree of truth all
that is absolutely necessary for salvation in _every_ ease?  Being but a
child in intellect, the savage is not yet capable of putting away
childish things.  But you may think he can be educated, and be thus
brought into a state of mind in which the seed of the Word may grow with
less stint.  But then it is found that his capacity for education, except
in rare instances indeed, is very slight.  So again I ask, after an
attempt has been made to enlarge his mind, is that measure of
Christianity which he is capable of realizing all that is absolutely
necessary in every case?  I take it for granted that your answer to this
question is in the negative.  Do you not believe that besides the
education of individuals, there is, as the result of this, the education
of the race; that as the sins of the fathers descend unto the third and
fourth generation of them who continue to hate God, the punishment for
violation of law increasing in intensity till the guilty race dies out;
so God’s mercies in the shape of increasing aptitude for knowledge,
refinement, and Christian elevation, are transmitted from generation to
generation among those who stedfastly love the Lord?  At all events,
savage tribes when brought under the influence of civilized nations,
instead of becoming civilized themselves, disappear from off the face of
the earth.  For as the wind which makes the larger flame burn more
brightly, extinguishes the lesser and feebler flame, so the manners and
customs of advanced life put upon savage nature a strain too heavy to be
borne; and this because such a nature needs to undergo that gradual
elevation of the race which it would take generations to accomplish.

What is the drift of these remarks?  That the more the mind is developed,
both intellectually and emotionally, the greater becomes its power of
realizing the knowledge of good, and therefore of glorifying God—the
Good.

When a gifted man stores his mind with truth, and at the same time
strives his utmost to attain purity of heart, his Christian experience
must needs be widened, and his whole soul elevated, in proportion to the
number of distinct kinds of truth which combine with each other, and with
the ruling passion of his life, to form one grand result, many systems of
truth all threaded on that one cord, “the love of Christ constraining;”
much differentiation, but perfect unity; many members, yet but one body;
in short, a state of mind similar in kind to the Son of Man’s.  For is
there anything in the whole range of the sciences, physical, biological,
political, social, and moral; anything connected with the theory and the
practice of art; anything relating to the history of the past, even
eternity _ab ante_; in short, is there anything which is _not_ perfectly
open to the mind of Jesus?  And is He not our elder _Brother_, _and
divine_ Pattern in all things heavenly?  Is not the realization, in so
far as that privilege is extended to us of His mind, to be the grand
object of our life here and for evermore?

To be possessed of talents and of facilities for obtaining for them the
highest cultivation, what do these gifts involve?  That they should be
diligently used in promoting the glory of God who gave them.  Can the
savage mind know much of God?  Can he who knows no more of the infinite
ocean of truth than he has explored of it, so to speak, in his rude
canoe, know as much as is really essential for you and for me of the
redeeming love of Christ?  The true answer to this question evidently is,
that in a babe’s mind you can expect no more to exist than a babe’s
knowledge; it has “need of milk, and not of strong meat;” but “unto
whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.”

The Christian life then is not a fixed quantity, the same in the child,
the savage, the barbarian, and the Welsh peasant, as in the saintly
scholars of the Christian Church; but answering to every advance in pure
knowledge, there is, in the man after God’s own heart, a corresponding
advance in moral and spiritual excellence.  For emotions are manifested
only in proportion as ideas form the branches round which emotions twine.
No well-defined emotion can exist without its related ideas.  True, ideas
are countless, while emotions are comparatively few, and from age to age
retain their identity and freshness, while ideas change and change.
Still, however, emotion must enter into union with ideas in order to have
any definite existence.  The more, therefore, the intellect is stored
with knowledge, the greater also must be the number of instances in which
ideas and sentiments become associated together.

But what is of more importance still to consider is, that certain ideas
can only exist when other ideas have been fully realized first.  The
former grow out of the latter as branch from trunk, and twig from branch.
Certain twinings of feeling with thought must follow, therefore, the
evolution of these various grades of ideas.  Now the notions in the
savage mind are of the lowest grade, and rest assured that his religious
feelings, however warmly manifested, cannot reach beyond the level of his
knowledge.

Now it must be almost superfluous to ask the question which these remarks
suggest.  Are all the thoughts and feelings which hold a higher elevation
than the lowest, to be deemed, not as the necessaries, but the luxuries
of religion?  You cannot fail to perceive that the reply to this inquiry
must depend on the level you have been made to occupy.  If you have been
placed in a high position to start from, and if every advantage in the
way of mental culture has been extended to you, the one thing needful for
you is clearly to push on higher, to enlarge the intellect by searching
still further for the true, which to the heart is the good and the
beautiful; and to enlarge the heart by cultivating for these latter, an
evergrowing love.  Moreover, are you not justified in believing, that if
you do this, you will be choosing that good part which shall not be taken
away from you when you die?  For if we are not to forget in heaven that
we were once on earth; if we are not to lose the feeling of identity
which is to unite our heavenly with our earthly existence, why should it
be thought incredible that the knowledge of good which we acquire below
should not be one of the links in that chain of identity; more especially
as it will be our supreme delight to be always extending such knowledge
in the realms of light?  Yea, what a source of joy it will be in the
bright spirit-land to discover that our mental powers are as compared
with their prior state, so much enlarged and strengthened, that we can
acquire knowledge with so much more ease and precision than while on
earth, and that questions which baffled solution then, are easily solved
now.  But does not this imply that the remembrance of the earthly life,
with its trials, miseries, infirmities, ignorances, and doubts, is the
dark surface, which by contrast, heightens the splendour of celestial
bliss?

Even in heaven, then, knowledge will be progressively acquired.  “No
one,” writes Dr. M‘Leod, “surely imagines, that on entering heaven, we
can at once obtain perfect knowledge; perfect, I mean, not in the sense
of accuracy, but of fully possessing all that can be known.  This is
possible for Deity only.  For it may be asserted with confidence that
Gabriel knows more to-day than he knew yesterday.” {23}

Throughout these remarks, it has been supposed that the scholar’s piety
is great; for without piety, however extensive his learning, he will have
less insight into divine truth than the dullest of God’s own scholars.
Truth also impels us to concede that the good qualities of the heart, and
intellectual capacity, are frequently bestowed in an inverse proportion
upon God’s people; so that many that are first in the one, shall be last
in the other, and the last in this shall be first in that.

                                * * * * *

I have now, to the best of my endeavour, combated a too prevalent
propensity, not only of my countrymen, but of most people of little or no
education; a sort of complacent resting in ignorance, as if it were the
part of a wise man, and most in accordance with the teaching of Holy
Scripture, whereas it is, in fact, but the self-excusing Stoicism of the
unfledged mind.

But surely since man is endowed with capacities for advancement in
knowledge and righteousness, we must conclude that they are bestowed upon
him with the intention that he should use them to the greatest advantage.
In proof of this conclusion, we find that the nation which does not
highly esteem these gifts must be content to give place to one that does;
must, indeed, decay, while the other goes on from strength to strength.

And now to apply these remarks more closely to you, my younger brethren,
what does your presence in this college imply?  That in the estimation of
the wisest and best men of our communion, an ignorant ministry is an evil
to be avoided, as not only discreditable and injurious to our Church, but
dishonouring to Him who gives us talents in order that they may be made
the very most of in promoting His glory and His cause.

Ponder well over the fact, that without knowledge it will be impossible
for you to raise yourselves to a high level.  “The barbarian,” remarks
Dr. Croly, “cannot bring the past in aid of the present, cannot ascend a
step in civilization on the stone laid by the generation gone; he has
virtually no ancestors, and can have no posterity.  The red man of the
West is, at this moment, the same solitary, fierce, and miserable being
that he was a thousand years ago.  The Mongol is the same wild,
marauding, and miserable being as when he followed the trumpets of
Tamerlane.” {24}  Now, what is the reason that these people do not
advance?  It is because they do not begin building the fabric of sound
knowledge.  And do you not perceive that the same deficiency which keeps
them down as a nation, will also keep you down as individuals?  If, among
these people, one generation laid the foundation, and another and another
continually built thereon, they would rise in proportion in civilization
and power.  The scholar of to-day, therefore, owes his high position to
the accumulations of the giant-intellects of the past.  “Other men
laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.”  The modern scholar by
moderate effort, though no giant, stands upon an elevation which was
piled up by one generation of learners and thinkers after another with
slow, painstaking, and disinterested toil.  This rich heritage of
knowledge, this grand moral leverage, this high energy of position,
constituting the imperative reason for not “breaking with the past”—of
which the present is the outcome—it should be your holy ambition to
attain.  For how can you stretch out a hand to pull others up, unless you
occupy higher ground than they?  Bear with me then while I tell you that
unless you thus strive to fit yourselves for the onerous duties of the
sacred calling which you hope to adopt, you will be doing nothing towards
averting the downfall of Welsh nationality.  Of course, you will meet
with too many who will tell you that the only way to do this is to
encourage the present fatal tendency of Cambria to live solely on her
remembrances.  Meanwhile, however, the invincible army of progress, with
the tramp of doom to effete nationalities, marches steadily and
irresistibly on; and the Welsh, as a distinct race, if not better led and
advised, will, by the deadly error of seeking “the living among the
dead,” simply become a people of the past.

It is my regard for my country that forces me to say what I do.  I hope
she will always retain a certain degree of individuality, and live to
emulate in _her own Welsh way_ the other great nations of the kingdom.
The Scotch do this, why should not we?  Honesty, however, forces me to
affirm that by clinging unwisely to her antiquated habits when she ought
to have out-grown them, Cambria will be thrown down, the advancing host
will march over her prostrate form, and she will cease to be a living
presence on the earth.  “In the strife of tribes, of races, and of
nations, in the political as in the physical world,” says the author of
_Habit and Intelligence_, “a process of natural selection goes on, of
which the tendency is to give the victory to the best.” {25a}  And Bishop
Butler {25b} foreshadowed the same law when he indicated that as power
and reason united have proved themselves capable of prevailing over power
devoid of reason, as exhibited by the brute creation; so there is in
society a tendency in power combined with reason and virtue, to overcome
opposing power combined with reason and vice; and God be thanked that it
is so, namely, that of the righteous it can be said, “Greater is He that
is in you than he that is in the world.”  But now let me remind you that
in such a combination as power, reason, and virtue, one very generally
existing among the people of Wales, there are several degrees of
development, and that the higher degree, the more fully differentiated,
that which contains most members in one body, will, when brought into
competition with it, always, in the course of time bear down or absorb
the lower.

As standard-bearers in the army of the great Captain, it will be your
duty, therefore, both to God and your own people, while encouraging among
the latter that state of firm formation which already is so
characteristic of them, to be urgent also in calling upon them to follow
you, as bravely you lead the way onward, upward, God-ward.

                                * * * * *

Considerable stress has been laid in this discourse upon that element of
the law of unity and variety—division of labour.  Now, in concluding, I
would beg to guard you against a misconception on this point which may
prove mischievous to you.  In my college days, it used to be a subject of
complaint with many of the men, that they should have to spend so much of
their time in studies, which, as they thought, had no direct connexion
with theological training; that is, they were earnest advocates for
greater division of labour.  I have no doubt there are many of a similar
way of thinking among you now.  But are you not aware that those who have
climbed to a higher elevation than the one you have yet been able to
reach, see clearly that all these studies are really necessary to make of
you ordinary scholars, gentlemen, and competent parish priests?

Archbishop Whately, in early youth, threatened to become a calculating
prodigy; and you may have read that many an intellectual prodigy has been
imbecile in every direction but the one in which excellence was
manifested.  Well, Whately’s parents, instead of being gratified at their
son’s passion for numbers, very wisely took alarm.  They sought competent
advice, and means were taken to prevent his mind taking an abnormal
development in one direction, at the expense of its efficiency in others.
The result very probably was, that we lost another Colburn or Bidder, but
gained an Archbishop Whately.

The conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing account is evident.  It is
your duty, if you would be well informed, average scholars and thinkers,
to acquire more kinds of knowledge than one, and thereby to cultivate all
the intellectual faculties of your mind; remembering that the greater the
variety which the unity contains, the higher is its position in the scale
of created being.  Up to a certain point, therefore, we must all try to
be universal scholars.  After this point has been reached, what makes
division of labour necessary is the vast extent to which knowledge has
now attained, making it impossible for universal scholars like Leibnitz
and the admirable Crichton to exist in these days; to which we must add
the limitations, and the variety of bent existing in the mind of men, not
forgetting the shortness of time.  But then what individuals fail to
accomplish the race can; and we have to consider, in the perfection of
unselfishness, that we are members of that one body, the universal man;
and that what is done by each is done for all.  If individuals,
therefore, are compelled by stern necessity to study a few branches, and
live in faith as regards the rest, yet the race, man, becomes thereby the
universal scholar, a source of strength and happiness which makes itself
felt even down to the remotest member of the social body.

More especially, do not neglect, while cultivating the intellect, to
improve the heart.  This would, indeed, be division of labour which is
very much to be deprecated.  “With the heart man believeth unto
righteousness.”  “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.”  If knowledge
is the great moving power that ensures progress, Christian love, love
which fulfilleth the law, is the great source of political stability,
social harmony, restoration of soul.  Therefore, in the eloquent words of
the Bishop of St. David’s, words which in connexion with the present
subject well deserve to be quoted,—“‘SURSUM CORDA,’ UPWARD,
HEARTS,—upward, above all paltry, sordid, grovelling aims and desires:
upward, to a level with the dignity of your calling, the privileges and
duties of your station, the importance and arduousness of your work:
upward, to a fellowship with the wise and good of all ages and all
nations: upward to the Father of Lights, the Fountain of all Goodness:
LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS.  And from the inmost depth of many devoted wills
there rises the clear response, ‘WE LIFT THEM UP UNTO THE LORD.’” {28}

Finally, why should not the leading spirits among you, seriously and
prayerfully studying the causes of the rise and fall of nations, band
together in a holy alliance, under the title of Young Wales, to promote
among your countrymen the spirit of true as opposed to false patriotism;
namely, a strong passion for _sound_ knowledge with its elevating,
building power, as opposed to mere erudition on the one hand, and on the
other, to a complacent resting in ignorance with its heritage of national
decadence, and slight store of light and soul-culture laid by for heaven?
Such a movement as this, radiating from our chief Collegiate Institution,
would be an event, the value of which to the cause of Welsh nationality,
it would be difficult to estimate in too high a strain.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

               SPURRELL, PRINTER, KING-STREET, CARMARTHEN.



FOOTNOTES.


{4}  Sermon delivered on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of
the Welsh Educational Institution.

{23}  _Parish Papers_, p. 109.

{24}  The Cultivation of the Intellect, a Divine Duty of Man.

{25a}  Vol. ii. p. 189.

{25b}  The Analogy of Religion, part i., chapter iii.

{28}  Sermon, on Sound Learning, delivered on the occasion of laying the
foundation-stone of the Welsh Educational Institution.





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