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Charles O'r Bala

In the good Providence of God the national revival of the eighteenth century was followed by a period of wise constructive energy. After the solemn awakening came the broad and sober reign of education. Catechisms were used largely, and with much profit: theology was organized, and church polity was defined. Among those approved workmen in constructive religion, no name is more honoured than that of CHARLES O'R BALA. The memorable little incident of 'Mary Jones and her Bible' has made him known everywhere as the pioneer and one of the founders of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He was born at Pant-dwvn, in the county of Caermarthen, October 14, 1755, of a respectable family of farmers. He came under the influence of the new religious movement in the days of boyhood, and it left a deep and permanent impression upon his spirit. Having taken his degree at Oxford, he was ordained priest May 21, 1780, and spent the next three years in a curacy at Halifax. Afterwards he returned to Wales, having been appointed to the curacy of Llanymowddwy: but his work there came suddenly to a close. Some of the parishioners, in their zeal for national ignorance, accused him of giving free instruction to the children after vespers. His rector considered this to 86 be such a shocking innovation that he was at once dismissed. Like many another earnest spirit of the time, he had to forsake the Church of his fathers in order to have a free field for his heroic devotion. He publicly joined the Calvinistic Methodist movement, and found the work was 'great and large.' John Newton had asked him to come over to England: but he preferred to stay at home and bear the cross in his native land. His splendid toil in the interest of elementary and religious education, his part in the founding of the Bible Society, his Catechism and Bible Dictionary--both of them still treasures of the household and the Church--need only be mentioned here.22See 'Short Biographies for the People': Thomas Charles, by Rev. Dr. Herber Evans. One bitterly cold night in the winter of 1799-80, he was returning over the mountains from Carnarvonshire to Bala, when his hand was bitten by the frost, and a severe illness succeeded. Much prayer was made on his behalf: but in the annals of those prayers nothing is more remarkable than this strange petition of one old Christian--'Fifteen years more, O Lord! We pray for fifteen years to be added to the days of his life; and wilt Thou not grant fifteen years, O our God, for the sake of Thy Church and Thy cause?' Nearly fifteen years later--in the summer of 1814--he told his wife at Barmouth, 'Well, Sali, the fifteen years are nearly up.' A few weeks later, a friend called to see him one morning, and said, 'Well, Mr. Charles, the day of 87 trouble is come!' And he answered, 'There is Refuge!' His first word after that was spoken beyond the veil. What better mapping out of his spiritual course than these verses from his only hymn, written early in the fifteen years' trial?


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