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that they were governed by a practical regard to the will of God. Some of these estimable individuals now survive him, having been conscientious fellow-workers in the same holy cause, and are entitled to be ranked among the best pillars of the church.
In the year 1799, an edition of the Welsh Bible and Common Prayer-book, from a copy prepared principally by the Rev. D. Davies, Rector of Penegoes, Montgomeryshire, was being printed at Oxford, for the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. The Rev. Robert Hughes, Fellow of Jesus College, undertook to correct the press; but when the Pentateuch was completed, he resigned the employment, and was succeeded by Mr. Roberts, who was then keeping his terms. This occupied him above eighteen months. In the year 1809, he was engaged, in conjunction with other clergymen, in collating and preparing another edition of the Welsh Bible and Common Prayer-book, 20,000 copies of which were printed, and all circulated by the above mentioned society. He was a member of that venerable institution, and for its benevolent and extensive operations, both at home and abroad, he felt unfeigned gratitude to God.
Mr. Roberts, when first ordained, was appointed by Dr. Peers, the present venerable Rector of Morden, in Surrey, to the curacy of Chislehampton and Stadhampton, about seven miles from Oxford, which he served about four years. In addition to his duties at these churches, he read prayers and preached every Sunday evening at Toot Baldon, a village three or four miles distant. The parish church of that place had been suffered for many years to lie in a most dilapidated state. A few clergymen, commiserating their fellow-creatures and earnestly desirous to further their eternal interests, had, by their united exertions, so far repaired it as to admit of persons assembling for Divine worship; and it was served gratuitously till a small subscription was obtained. A Sunday school was also established. Thus the subject of our memoir read the service and preached three times every Sunday, besides attending early and late two Sunday-schools, and walking from parish to parish ten miles in the course of the day, in every kind of weather, and at all seasons of the year. The teachers of the Sunday-schools of Chislehampton and Stadhampton, and all other persons who felt disposed, met at his lodgings one evening in the week to consult with him as to the most promising and efficient means of promoting the growth of religion in their own souls in those of the attendants at the schools, and among their neighbours in general. On another evening in the week, he attended at Baldon for the same purpose. Thus was his time wholly and most conscientiously devoted to the spiritual and endless wel
fare of the people of his charge. He deemed no labour too toilsome in setting before them their awful condition as transgressors against Heaven, and the safety provided for them in the all-atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. He was ever attentive to the wants of his flock; and as his means of relieving their temporal difficulties were very limited, what he could give was of necessity the produce of strict self-denial. He was diligent in speaking to those in health, as well as in sickness, respecting their eternal concerns; which, with preparing with assiduity and prayer three sermons every week, and the other pastoral occupations above-mentioned, fully occupied his time. It would be well if all who undertake the sacred office would imitate this zealous minister of Christ in his abundant and self-denying labours. Yet, amidst all his exertions, it was a prevailing source of regret with him that he had done so little in so blessed a
During Mr. Roberts's connexion with the above parishes, he was cheered by the marks of moral and religious improvement with which God was pleased to bless his ministrations. The Sabbath was more reverenced, public worship more regularly attended, and a few of his parishioners gave satisfactory evidence of a saving change of heart. His zeal and activity indeed created some opposition: but this he bore with meekness and patience; and the pressure of it, susceptible as he was, became considerably relieved by many acts of kindness, and, above all, by the success which crowned his exertions.
In the year 1803, the solicitations of his friends, as well as his own inclinations, prompted him to return to the principality, where a curacy was ready for him. His attachment to his native country was very great; and his attainments in Welsh literature made him an important blessing to it in various ways. When his intended departure was announced, great und unfeigned sorrow was felt by many under his pastoral care. Several of those who had been benefited by his ministry, accompanied him part of the road; to whom he said, "Had I known what your feelings and mine would have been at this separation, I never would have encountered the trial." How striking a testimony is here presented of his character, and of the affection with which his hearers regarded him! His rector, also, deeply regretted the removal of his faithful curate, whose labours he encouraged, and greatly rejoiced in the good effects which resulted from them. Since his death, he has expressed the unshaken esteem and regard which he felt for the deceased during the space of thirty years.
His new field of labour was Tremeirchion, in Flintshire, His zeal for his Master's cause, and the salvation of sinners, was soon conspicuous; and he en
deavoured, through good report and evil report, to warn, exhort, and reprove the evil doer; and to ground and settle the true convert in faith and love. The state of the Established Church in North Wales at that period was much to be deplored. Apathy seemed to have seized pastors and people, and awful was the extent of ignorance, and the depravation of morals. It is now considerably improved; being blessed with many national schools, and pious pains-taking ministers; though it is still most devoutly to be wished that the generality of the clergy were more alive to the responsibility of their office-more regard ful of the day, when they only who shall be found "clear of the blood of the people,”—who “take heed unto themselves and to the doctrine,"-who study to shew themselves "approved of God, workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,"-shall be acknowledged as the true servants of Christ, and shine as the brightness of the firma ment, and as the stars for ever and ever.
Sunday-schools, those important instruments of usefulness, when judiciously managed, were at that time established in many places in England; but it is believed there was not one in Wales in connexion with the Established Church when Mr. Roberts undertook the curacy of Tremeirchion. He dared to be singular; and commenced one in that parish, which is still carried on. He also preached twice on the Lord's day; and the earnestness with which he enforced the scriptural doctrines of the church impressed many, and greatly increased the congregation. His discourses were thoroughly orthodox. The depravity and helplessness of man through the Fall, the atonement made by Christ upon the cross for the sins of the world,-justification by faith, and the necesity of holiness as an evidence of faith, with the regeneration and sanctification of the people of God through the mighty energy of the Holy Ghost,-were the points on which he chiefly dwelt. No one could be more earnest in exhorting his people to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure. Correct notions of truth, if not attended with unwearied efforts to die unto sin and live unto righteousness, he uniformly represented as an opiate to lull the soul to misery everlasting. He also began, what he ever afterwards continued, a Thursday-evening school. Persons of all ages were allowed to attend, to read, and to hear the Scriptures explained. These exertions were, at the time of their commencement, so novel in Wales, that they were arraigned as strong proofs of Methodism. Many were offended at them; and one of the neighbouring clergymen complained to the bishop (Horseley) of this excess of labour. The bishop returned to the accuser the following appropriate and confounding reply: "Sir, I wish you would do the same.' It is well
when a zealous and diligent clergyman is thus countenanced in his labours of love by his diocesan. Mr. Roberts had in Bishop Horseley a steady friend, whose house was always open to him, where he spent many hours with profit and pleasure in literary and scriptural conversation. While the bishop was waiting for an opportunity to prefer him, death suddenly removed him to another scene.
In the year 1807, the living of Tremeirchion became vacant, and great was the joy of the parishioners, when their conscientious curate was presented to it. This was the first living which Bishop Cleaver had to dispose of, after his translation to the see of St. Asaph. Mr. Roberts ever cherished sentiments of great respect and gratitude for his benefactor, from whom he also received much friendly counsel and attention. Indeed the urbanity of that prelate's disposition, the courteous, kind, and affable manner in which he treated his clergy, and the paternal tenderness with which he advised them, gained him general respect and affection. Mr. Roberts after this appointment, did not relax, but increased, if possible, his assiduity and watchfulness over his flock, ever forming plans to promote their advancement in the love of Christ, and meetness for the joys of eternity. Well he knew, and deeply he revolved the weighty truth contained in that striking passage, "No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
The deceased had not only a heart to feel for his own flock, but to deplore the spiritual wretchedness and darkness which overspread the greater portion of the habitable globe. He unfeignedly rejoiced in the establishment of Bible and Missionary and other religious and benevolent societies, at home and abroad, and was therefore very anxious to see his own county come forward and countenance those Christian and philanthropic plans; and at his suggestion, and mainly by his exertions, the Flintshire Bible Society was formed in the year 1813, and is still in operation. In the first year, upwards of 700l. was collected, and above 11,000 copies of the sacred volume have through its medium been circulated in that small county. The extensive field of labour embraced by the Church Missionary Society-their endeavours to make known the Gospel of Christ, where otherwise his saving name might never be heard-their scrupulous care in selecting Missionaries, the pains taken to prepare them for their work, and the gracious success with which God has in various places crowned their labours, made him regard it an imperative duty to forward the designs of that society to the utmost of his ability. The Denbighshire and Flintshire Church Missionary Association was established principally through his instrumentality in the year
1826, and upwards of 600l. have been remitted to the parent society. He had participated in the grand designs of this valuable institution and pleaded its cause amongst his friends and in his own parish at a much earlier period. The first collections in the Established Church in North Wales, for the Bible and Church Missionary Societies, were made in his church in 1812 and 1813. The principality is greatly indebted to the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and every considerate and unprejudiced Welshman regards it with veneration; but it was by no means adequate to our domestic wants to say nothing of that awful dearth of the inspired writings which prevails among the other nations of the earth. It might reasonably be expected, that a man of such a character as the deceased could not but feel thankful to God for the existence of these benevolent and invaluable institutions, and for that broad impress of Divine approbation which is stamped on their operations. Surely the man who finds the Scriptures a safe lamp to guide his own feet into the way of safety and peace, will cheerfully endeavour to hold forth the same torch of celestial light before his wandering fellow-beings of every clime. The man who failed to obtain medicine for his spiritual disease and an unshaken foundation, whereon to ground his hope of immortality, till the atoning sacrifice of Christ was unfolded to his view by the Holy Ghost, will consider it a duty, and a high privilege to assist in sending among the perishing nations of the earth heralds of salvation to direct their attention to that "Lamb of God which has been offered to take away the sin of the world."
Mr. Roberts much lamented that that valuable exhibition of Christian doctrine and practice, the Book of Homilies, was so scarce in the principality; for of the few black-letter copies that were extant, it was with great difficulty that a perfect one could be procured. He laboured therefore to promote a new edition in the Welsh language. He submitted his proposal to different public societies, which all declined the undertaking on account of the expense; but still considering that the interests of the Established Church and the knowledge of scriptural doctrine would be greatly promoted by the measure, he collated and prepared an edition, and published 1000 copies; for the expense of which, from various causes, he was never wholly re-imbursed, and a part of the impression is yet on hand. The clergy of different dioceses have borne testimony to the faithfulness of this reprint from the only Welsh edition, that of 1606 to which he was pledged to adhere.
The subject of our memoir projected also a magazine, partly Welsh and partly English, called Cylchgrawn Cymrn, to which he was the principal contributor.
After four or five numbers, the work was discontinued. Had he but met with sufficient co-operation, it might have been an important means of furthering the interests of true religion, in the principality, which was his object in establishing it. In 1828, through the zeal and liberality of some English friends he was encouraged to surmount many obstacles, and to propose a Tract Society for the supply of small religious tracts, both Welsh and English. This proposal, to his great satisfaction, was cordially received, and the establishment of it occupied much of the last year of his life. Thirty thousand Welsh Tracts have been already published by this infant institution.
In the midst of these manifold public engagements, his own advancement in spirituality of mind, and meetness for heaven, was conspicuous. His own soul suffered not for want of care, while he was labouring to benefit the souls of others. He was more given to prayer than any individual known by the writer of these lines. Nor did he neglect even the minor aids to usefulness. In particular, he was assiduous in keeping up his classical knowledge; and seldom a day passed without his reading the Scriptures in four different languages-almost daily studying the Hebrew text that he might become better acquainted with the real meaning of the sacred Scriptures.
His anxiety for the salvation of the souls of men was a commanding feature in his character; and if he omitted, or thought he omitted, any opportunity of furthering his great object, it occasioned him the deepest sorrow. One who for many years enjoyed the advantage of his society, and of observing his daily conduct, says, "His great anxiety for the spiritual welfare of his parishioners always struck me very forcibly. No weather could deter him from his parochial duties, and his faithfulness, plainness, and earnestness by the sick-bed, were great indeed. He was singularly happy in bringing things home to the conscience. He was the serious Christian in his church, at the bed of the sick, and, as you well remember, in his parlour. He could reprove sin in the great, as well as the poor. His society was highly useful and edifying. I seldom left him without feeling a wish that I could, though even at a great interval, follow in his steps. On the death of a parishioner, his feeling of distress was often strongly excited, lest he had not sufficiently admonished him to attend to the concerns of eternity in the time of health." It is unnecessary to notice his most scrupulous adherence to truth, and the religious regard he observed and enjoined on his family, and all around him, to the whole of the Sabbath-day.
Mr. Roberts was anxious for the prosperity of the Established Church; and, though pleased to hear of the erection of
additional churches, his earnest wishes and prayers were, that they might be supplied with pious men-men not only by education, but by devotedness of heart, qualified for the sacred function. He much desired that some measures could be adopted for selecting and training young men for the holy office, of a different nature to what now obtains, and that some judicious plan could be arranged for the church to avail herself of the services of her laymembers; or that the order of deacons could be more distinctively and usefully brought into operation; which points he stated more at large in a pamphlet published in 1822.
One remarkable trait in his character, was his disposition to forgive injuries. He would say, "I not only wish to forgive, but to kill the inclination to hostility and unkindness by some act of favour;" which he effected, or endeavoured to effect, in several instances. His humility also was remarkable. He never would bear the mention of his own zealous labours. His omissions of duty, which his own tender conscience alone often could discover, caused him great anguish of mind. An individual who knew him well writes, "I never met with one so distinguished for the important Christian grace of true humility, nor one whose conduct was more influenced by a single eye to the glory of God. This was exhibited in one particular respect-that his pleasure always appeared to be as great to hear of good done by others, as if brought about by his own means; and repeatedly have I known him delighted to hear things attributed to others, and the praise given to them, of what he alone had been the instrument. He evidently possessed that test given by Doddridge, of growth in grace, "a heart teeming with plans for the good of his fellow-creatures.' Many had he formed which he was unable to execute. He sometimes indulged a hope of having a larger income, that he might, amongst his liberalities, which the world knew not of, have it in his power to present a collection of books to candidates for holy orders.
Mr. Roberts's sense of the value of time was conspicuous to all who knew him he viewed it as a most important talent, and used frequently to say that "the fragments of time must be gathered up, and not wasted;" and that he would rather "give any thing than his time." He was miserable in society, unless the conversation was religious, or on some important subject. When he went from home, it was frequently his practice to fix on a text for a sermon, that he might have a profitable subject for his thoughts on the way, that his travelling hours might not be lost. The last spring was more particularly marked by that abstraction from every thing that interfered with the useful employment of time; as if he knew
the night was fast approaching in which no man can work. Indeed, he seemed to be ripening for the heavenly mansions; and his devotedness to God, and diligence in his work, increased as he drew nearer his eternal home. He had been particularly earnest with his flock the last year or two, and fervent in daily prayer for their salvation. The application of his sermons was always close and heart-searching, but latterly eminently so. "It was impossible," observed one of his regular hearers in his simple language, "to escape: you were driven to a corner, and there was no possibility of a loop-hole." He endeavoured to convince men of their lost state by nature, and by practice-to drive them from every false refuge to Christ-and to stir up all who knew the Saviour, to lead a life in all things corresponding with their holy profession. "Go forward," was his grand motto; forget the things which are behind, and reach forth to those which are before and by every affectionate and solemn consideration he urged his flock to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The time of the departure of this devoted servant of Christ at length arrived. God, in his inscrutable providence, was pleased to remove him in the very zenith of his usefulness; and his death, though to himself an infinite gain, was a great loss to the neighbourhood where God had stationed him. A minister who knew him well, and duly appreciated his labours, remarked, "We have lost a host in Mr. Roberts; but we ought to say, and must say, God's will be done." He had suffered severely, occasionally, for many years of his life, either from a deep-seated chronic disease, or a peculiarly nervous and bilious system; which greatly increased during the last months of his life. This constitutional disease materially affected his religious consolations during every stage of his life. If the Scriptures authorize us to connect peace and joy with unwearied diligence in every duty in making known and extending the kingdom of Christ, and that diligence, not prompted by vain, selfrighteous feelings, but emanating from a holy desire to glorify God, we might expect that Mr. Roberts would have been ever rejoicing in the Lord. Sueh, however, was not the case. Notwithstanding the excellence of his general conduct, his devotedness to his high calling, his selfrenunciation, his earnest desire to see the cause of his Saviour prosper, and his fervent prayer; the state of his bodily constitution prevented his enjoying that peace in believing which many Christians possess. But in his most joyless hours he bowed to the authority of God, and with child-like simplicity acquiesced in his ways. The latter years of his life were less strongly marked by spiritual depression than the preceding. During his last illness he twice discovered distress of
mind respecting the safety of his soul, but not of long continuance. He kept his bed for the last fortnight of his life; and he bore much pain with the greatest patience. At every interval of ease, when awake, his active mind was employed in prayer, in reading, or being read to. He begged to be prayed for as a great sinner, even above all other men; but acknowledging there was infinite merit in the atonement of Christ. The penitential Psalms, particularly the thirty-second, with Scott's Commentary thereon, Bradley's Sermon of the dying Christian committing his soul to God, and that prayer in Jenks," for power to live by faith in Christ and the Divine promises," were by his earnest desire often read to him. He once said, with a gleam of holy pleasure, "I long to realize the hope of being on Mount Zion." He wrote several metrical verses in Welsh on his dying bed with a pencil, and one, almost with a dying hand, expressive of his unworthiness of God's mercy, and the utter worthlessness of all things without him. He entreated one who prayed with him a few hours before his departure, not to flatter him, but to pray for him as the chief of sinners. On the same person saying to him afterwards, "There is a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother," he replied, "Yes, Jesus who cleanseth from all sin," which were almost his last intelligible words. The great anxiety for the salvation of others, which had ever been a striking feature in his character, was visible at the very close of life;-in his exhorting his beloved partner to be diligent in reading the Bible, and in prayer; another relative, to keep holy the Sabbath-day; desiring a parishioner to look at a monumental statue in Tremeirchion church, for the attitude in which a Christian should be found (which is that of prayer); and inquiring after the health of a young person, he added, "Charge the young to serve the Lord." Indeed, his whole flock, calling them "my poor people," lay near his heart, during all his illness, fearing he had not warned and visited them sufficiently. Within a few hours of his decease, he was heard to express a wish that one day only were allowed him to go round the parish, and tell each individual with his dying breath, "Halt not between two opinions."
This useful minister of Christ died July 25, 1829, in the 54th year of his age, and was interred at his native place Llannefydd, in Denbighshire, followed by his sorrowing parishioners; who testified on that mournful occasion, and still continue to testify, the greatest sense of the excellency of his character, and personal worth, by every expression of grief and respect. It may with justice be said of this pious and benevolent man, writes one of his intimate friends, “that the whole of his laborious and useful life was devoted to the promotion of Christian knowledge and
practice; and that his conversation and example excited religious sentiments in his friends, as well as in many of his parishioners." Mr. Roberts published two or three Sermons, an Essay on the Welsh Language,and has left for posthumous publication a small work in Welsh, entitled, "Directions to live in the Fear of God all the Day," and a collection of metrical Psalms and Hymns, adapted to public worship, and private reading for religious edification.
The expressions of esteem which his lamented departure has called forth, shew how high he stood in the estimation of all who knew him. Thus one friend writes to his bereaved widow: "It is almost impossible to supply the place of the friend whom the inhabitants of Tremeirchion have lost. I never before conceived it possible for any Christian minister to have so much endeared himself, or to have identified himself so intimately with the spiritual and temporal interests of his people. The feelings evinced in the parish generally are those of the deepest affliction: greater grief could not, I am satisfied, have been felt, even if they had lost the nearest and dearest relative in their own individual families. Their language, one and all, is, 'Our pastor lived among us for six and twenty years; and he was, during the whole of that time, our sincerest adviser, our truest friend. When in sickness, in sorrow or trouble, he visited us, comforted us, and nourished us. His counsel and his purse were at our service. He taught us, as well by his words as by his example, to become Christians in the full sense of the term.'
Such was the life of the subject of this memoir-a life led by a prevailing supreme desire to glorify God, and to benefit man. Such was his death—a death deprived of every thing terrific by a simple dependence on the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Let the readers of these lines reflect, that they are called upon, not only to approve and admire the selfdenying and exemplary conversation of the child of God-but to imitate it; to beseech God to implant the same spiritual principles in their own hearts; that their lives may be in some good measure conformable to the requirements of the Divine law. They are under equal obligations to serve God in sincerity. They stand in the same relation of creatures to him, being made by him, and sustained by his unmerited bounties. The same Saviour invites them to come unto him. They are freely offered the same spiritual aids of the Holy Spirit. They are moving on to the same righteous tribunal, and doomed to enter on the same eternity, where they shall endlessly rejoice in God, or suffer his fiery indignation: therefore let them tread in his steps, follow his faith,—considering the end of his conversation.