by Thomas Charles
Thomas Charles (14 October 1755 – 5 October 1814) was a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist clergyman of considerable importance in the history of modern Wales.
Charles had been influenced by the great revival movement in Wales, and at the age of seventeen had been converted by a sermon of Daniel Rowland. This was enough to make him unpopular with many of the Welsh clergy, and being denied the privilege of preaching for nothing at two churches, he helped his old Oxford friend John Mayor, now vicar of Shawbury, Shropshire, from October until 11 January 1784. On 25 January he took charge of Llanymawddwy (14 miles from Bala), but was forced to leave after three months, because three influential people, including the rector of Bala, had persuaded his rector to dismiss him. His preaching, his catechizing of the children after evensong, and his connection with the Bala Methodists, his wife's stepfather being a Methodist preacher, gave great offence. After a fortnight more at Shawbury, he wrote to John Newton and another clergyman friend in London for advice. The Church of England denied him employment, and the Methodists desired his services. His friends advised him to return to England, but it was too late. In September, accompanied by Henry Newman (his rector at Shepton Beauchamp and Sparkford), he went on a tour in Caernarfonshire. In December, he was preaching at the Bont Uchel Association; and he joined the Methodists in 1784.
The North of Wales in the 1770s was one of the least Christian parts of Britain. The next three decades brought a transformation akin to that of the apostolic era and at the centre of the change was Thomas Charles, ‘the Lord’s gift to North Wales’.
Debarred from the pulpits of his own denomination, and dependent on his shop-keeper wife at Bala, Charles quietly became the leader of the people (‘Calvinistic Methodists’) whose God-anointed witness gathered thousands to the gospel. This astonishing advance involved Bible distribution, the use of circulating schools, preaching, and publishing. More than all these things, there was an outpouring of the Spirit of God and the most enduring lessons of the period have to do with the quality of spiritual life which was then recovered.
This volume, first published in 1838, shows us both what that life was in Thomas Charles’ own experience and how wisely he taught it to others.
Charles’ main characteristic, said Edward Morgan (his editor), was his large measure of love and humility. His life itself, ‘with heaven in his face’, as men said, was a sermon.
For insight into real, biblical Christianity this book will always be one of the classics of evangelical literature. John Elias’ verdict of many years ago remains true, ‘Whatever proceeds from Mr. Charles is excellent’. This was one of the last books in the hands of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones before his death and it led him to conclude that Thomas Charles ‘is definitely one of the most neglected of the spiritual leaders’.
Table of Contents
The Operations of the Holy Spirit
The Benefits of Affliction
The Tares and the Wheat
God Affording Seasonable Help
The Gift and Objects of God's Love
The Sin of Grieving the Spirit
The Infinite Greatness of Jesus!
On Walking with God
God Our Light
Natural and Renewed Conscience
Conformity to the Image of God