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EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE.

OCTOBER, 1807.

MEMOIR

OF
THE LATE REV. JENKIN LEWIS,
OF LLANFYLLIN, MONTGOMERYSHIRE, NORTH WALES.

As men

We are exhorted “not to be slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises.' in general expect to have Heaven for their eternal home, it would be well for each to examine whether he has the faith, patience, and activity of those who now rest from their labour, and enjoy the promised inheritance. Christ is the only perfect pattern proposed for his people to imitate ; but as the lives, labours, and sufferings of good men are recorded in Scripture, we may infer, that it is profitable for us to observe how they believed in and followed the great Captain of their salvation. This is so far from having any tendency to call our attention from the Christian's chief object, that it would make us look more steadfastly to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. And, are we not particularly to follow those whom we bave known, with whom we have travelled and conversed, - who have left us behind, - and whose course, from the beginning to the end, was such as to remove every doubt from our minds of their having entered into the joy of their Lord? - To those who were well acquainted with the subject of this Memoir, it may be confidently said, Sach was our friend. - It is the writer's firm opinion, that they never knew a Christian whose uniform conduct has left a deeper conviction in their hearts that he was an Israelite indeed, that he loved Christ, - that he naturally cared for the spiritual welfare of his fellow-sinners, - that he laboured faithfully and successfully for their good, - and that he finished his course with joy. Without any great advantage from earthly connections, an amiable natural temper, a bright genius, deep erudition, or charming eloquence, he shone. His excels lencies were derived from a higher source: he was an eminent Christian; and greatly esteemed for what divine grace did in and by him.

As he was certainly a burning and shining light in his contracted sphere, to make his character more generally known may be the means of stirring up some ministers to an imitation of

days.

to pray.

bim; and of inducing many Christians to pray that God would send a greater number of such labourers into his vineyard.

Mr. Lewis was born in the year 1749, near Neath, Glamorganshire. He enjoyed the privilege of human learning, or of religious instructions, but in a very small degrce in his younger

Respecting his first religious impressions; I am not sufficiently informed to say any thing. It is certain that, previous to his becoming a student, he was a member of the congregational church under the pastoral care of the Rev. J. Davies, of Alltwen ; and remarkable for his integrity, his separating from all vain company, and his frequently retiring to secret places

When his father died, his mother was left in embarrassed cir. cumstances : this prevented his having the advantage of learn. ing so early as he wished; for he thought it his duty to see all just debts paid, and the younger children provided for, before he followed his own inclinations. He manifested the same strict regard to honesty while he lived; for, though he never had but a very slender income, he took great care that his expences did not go beyond it. Being inclined to devote himself to the work of the ministry, he wished to have the advantage of spending some time in preparatory studies; but he was backward to mention it, until a venerable minister, the late Rev. Lewis Rees questioned him on the subject: then he told him his mind, and was encouraged to proceed. Application was made to the Congregational Fund-Board for his admission into their Academy at Abergavenny, then under the care of the Rev. Dr. Davies; and he entered on his studies in the year 1780. How little he then knew of the English language, he used often to prove by mentioning some common questions which the tutor asked him, and that he could not answer. His mind being in this state, as to human learning, when above thirty years of age, he must kave laboured under great disadvantages; -- but, if men have a taste for learning, and can bear close application, they need not despair. This good man had not only a thirst after knowledge, bat a deep sense of duty to excite him to diligence. The writer became intimately acquainted with Mr. Lewis as soon as he came to Abergavenny; and there is reason to believe that a mutual attachment was then formed, which was never diminished to the day of his death. His diligent application to study was extraordinary; and, when desired to spare himseif, he would say, “You know that if I do not strive, I shall get nothing." He never was known to promote or enjoy any trifling conver. sation, so that he lost ro time in that way; and he seemed grudgingly to allow nature wbat was sufficient for sleep, and Other refreshments. While awake, his eyes were seldom off his Dork, but when he retired to seek communion with God. He was rot sati:fica with spending a few minutes on his knees at ibe time of going to rest, or of rising, but his secret exercises at other times were frequent, and generally long; and thus he avoided that barrenness of mind which such attention to grammar-learning tends to produce. The fruits of his labour were very considerable ; for, notwithstanding all his disadvantages, he not only attained a pretty correct knowledge of the English language, but he could, with profit, read the Greek Testament, and Latin bodies of divinity, of which Turrctine seemed to be a favourite. Mr. Lewis was heard observing that, after he had, the first time, received from his tutor the money allowed for his support, he could not help weeping, from a mixture of gratitude to God for his goodness to such an unworthy creature; and of fear, lest he had sinned in taking what might have been better bestowed on another. “ It powerfully struck my mind,” said he," that receiving that money was no better than sacrilege, if I did not improve it to that sacred purpose for which it was intended." - that all students in this kingdom were disposed to make similar reflections; and that all our churches conscientiously studied to recommend none but men of integrity to enjoy these privileges! It may be of use to some learners to know, that it was an invariable rule with our deceased friend not to pass over one sentence in his lesson without understanding it; for, if he could not find out its meaning himself, he would consult others, until it was satifactorily explained to him. Tho' this made him slow in his progress, what he did learn was well learnt. Before the end of the year 1781, the Rev. Dr. Davies resigned his charyze at Abergavenny. The Rev. Mr. Williams, ef Oswestry (now Dr. Williams, of Rotherham) having been chosen to succeed him as tutor, Mr. Lewis, with some others, removed to Oswestry in the beginning of the year 1782. Thus he was brought near the scene of his future labours, and very soon began to preach occasionally there; for, about this time, the church at Llanfyllin was destitute; their minister, the Rev. J. Griffith, having gone to Carnarvon. Mr. Lewis left Oswestry in 1784; went to reside at Llanfyllin, and was ordained there on Whit-Tuesday, 1785. One can think of no other motive than a sense of duty which he could have for his choice of that situ. ation. The state of the church and neighbourhood presented nothing but discouragements and violent opposition.

There were only ten members in the church, and five of them went back again into the world.

The inhabitants in general had the greatest enmity to the gospel; of which Mr. Lewis soon had some awful proofs. At first, it was very difficult to find a person that would venture to take him into his house, for fear either of being forced to quit it, or of having it pulled down.

After he had been there for some time, he had to go one even. ing a short distance from the town to visit a. man and his wife, who were about to join the church. He was observed, and fola lowed by a furious mob, some of them masked, who surrounded the house, forcibly entered, and cruelly treated the family. Mr.' Lewis was dragged by the hair of his head, and unmercifully kicked ; and he would, in all probability, have been murdered before the neighbourhood was alarmed, had not the ringleader suddenly relented, and ordered the others to desist *.

The common people secmed firmly persuaded, that such preachers and their hearers were not under the protection of the law; and that, by abusing them, they might both gratify their own malice, and please the gentlemen in the neighbourhood, without exposing themselves to any danger ; -- but their mistake was so effcctually corrected, that they have been quiet ever since, We have to rejoice not only that unreasonable men were restrained by fear, but that the spirit of the people was gradually changed, prejudice subsided, the Meeting-house was well attend ed, and Mr. Lewis, many years before his death, was as generally respected, perhaps, as any minister in the principality. His uniformly prudent conduct for such a number of years, more than silenced the ignorance of foolish men ;-it gained him a good report from them that are without. Some of them said, when he died, That the chapel-people would not soon find another like him.

Mr. Lewis was certainly a labourer in the Lord's vineyard.

* A more circunstantial account of this affair cannot be given, than is contained in a public concession, which was subscribed by some of the rioters :- 15" Whereas, on the evening of the 22d of September, 1787, several persons, to the vumber of eighteen, or upwards, unlawfully and rieto ously asseinbled at the dwelling house of John Hughes, of the parish of Llanfyllin, in the county of Montgomery, taylor, and broke into the fame (some of them having their faces masked) and afterwards assaulted the said John Hughes and Elizabeth, his wife; and also the Rev. Jenkin Lewis, Protestant Dissenting Minister of Llanfyllin, aforesaid, who was then there on a visit, and dragged them all three out of the house, and then cast the said John Hughes and Mr. Lewis down to the ground ; and, having surrounded them, beat and kicked them in a cruel and barbarous manner; and it is probable that, in their rage, they would have committed murder, if the neighbourhood had not been alarmed, and caused them to make off. And whereas a prosecution has been commenced in the Court of Great Sessions for the county of Montgomery, against Us whose names are hereunder written, and others who have fled their conntry, as parties concerned in the above riot; but, on our proposing to make this public concession for our fault, and binding ourselves for our good kehaviour hereafter toward the said John Hughes and Elizabeth his wife, and the said Mr. Lewis (which we have already done) and paying some snall sums of money toward the exfense incurred in the prosecution, the parties concerned therein have kindly agreed to drop the same as against us. Now we, the underna med, being all of Llanfyllin aforesaid, do hereby publicly profess our serrow for haviog been parties in anywise concerned in the riot; and do sincerely ask pardon of the said John Hughes and Elizabeth his wife, and Mr. Lewis, for the injury we respectively did them thereby; and we do likewise return them our thanks, as we do also the Committee of Dissenters in London, who; we understand, supported the prosecution, for the very lenient terme on which they have dropt the same, as against us respectively,"

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