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Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru

(History of the Welsh Independent Churches)

By Thomas Rees and John Thomas; published in 1871+

 

These following history for Soar Ind chapel, Neath was extracted by Gareth Hicks from the CD published by Archive CD Books (Jan 2008) - translation by Maureen Saycell (Feb 2008)


ZOAR, CASTELLNEDD.

(Vol 2, p119 - 125)

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"Yn mhen tua thair blynedd wedi i Mr. Daniel Griffiths gael ei urddo yn Maesyrhaf, a phan yr oedd ei boblogrwydd a'i lwyddiant wedi ei ddyrchafu i sylw yr holl wlad ; yn annisgwyliadwy i bawb dygwyd cyhuddiad difrifol yn ei erbyn gan ferch ieuangc - megis y crybwyllasom eisioes yn hanes Maesyrhaf - yr hyn a barodd ofid a thristwch cyffredinol. Nid oes achos i ni yma fyned i mewn i fanylion yr amgylchiad gofidus hwnw. Y mae Mr. P. Griffiths, Alltwen, yr hwn oedd yn gydnabyddus hollol a'r amgylchiad, wedi cyfeirio yn helaeth ato yn y cofiant a gyhoeddodd i Mr. Daniel Griffiths, ac o'r cofiant hwnw y cymerwn sylwedd y cwbl a ysgrifenwn ar y digwyddiad pruddaidd. Pan aeth y sibrwd allan, galwyd Mr. Griffiths ger bron yr eglwys, a rhoddwyd y cyhuddiad i'w erbyn, ac annogwyd ef i beidio pregethu hyd nes y deuai rhyw oleuni ychwanegol ar ei achos. Yn yr ysbaid y bu heb bregethu, magwyd llawer o dybiaethau, a rhagfarnau, a phleidiau, rhai drosto a rhai yn ei erbyn, ond yr oedd lluaws yn awyddu am ei weled a'i draed yn rhydd fel cynt. Gan ei fod yn byw yn nes i Felinycwrt, yr eglwys lle y derbyniwyd ef gyntaf, nag i Gastellnedd, yno y cyrchai yn benaf yn yr adeg y bu heb bregethu ; ac ar gymhelliad yr eglwys yno, a chefnogiad rhai gweinidogion ac eraill, ail­ddechreuodd bregethu, er fod yr eglwys yn Maesyrhaf yn gwrthwynebu hyny. Wedi iddo ddechreu pregethu yn Melinycwrt, cyrchai amryw o'r dref yno i'w wrando, a gwahoddent ef i'w tai i bregethu, yr hyn a wnaeth wedi ymgynghori a rhai o'r gweinidogion cylchynol. Ar ol iddo ddechreu pregethu mewn tai yn Nghastellnedd ymdyrai y lluaws i wrando arno, fel na chynwysai y tai y rhai a ddeuai yn nghyd ; ond yr oedd y rhwyg rhyngddo ef a'r eglwys yn Maesyrhaf, trwy hyny, yn myned yn fwy a'r anhawader i'w gyfanu yn ychwanegu. Yr oedd y rhan fwyaf o'r gweinidogion yn cymeryd plaid yr eglwys ; ond glynai nifer o honynt yn ffyddlon wrth Mr. Griffiths a'i bobl. Cymerwyd ganddynt hen Coach-house ar ardreth, ac adrefnwyd ef yn lle cyfleus at bregethu, a galwyd ef "Zoar fach," ac agorwyd ef Awst 29ain, 1826, a gweinyddwyd ar yr achlysur gan Meistri Morgan Lewis, Cwmnedd; Joseph Harrison, Aberdar ; Joshua Evans, Cymer ; David Jones, Taihirion ; Roger Howells, Baran, Phillip Griffiths, Alltwen, a Richard Jones, Cymer-glyn-corwg. Bu mynediad y gweinidogion hyn i agor y lle yn achlysur i rwygo y cyfundeb, ac mor gryf oedd y teimladau fel na dderbynid i lawer o bulpudau yn y wlad, neb a alai i bregethu at Daniel

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Griffiths a'i blaid, neu i gapelau neb o'i gefnogwyr. Ond yr oedd teimladau yn iachau yn raddol, a phoblogrwydd Mr. Griffiths yn ennill iddo bleidwyr ychwanegol, ac yn lladd rhagfarn ei wrthwynebwyr ; ac yn enwedig yr oedd yr achos newydd yn Zoar fach yn myned rhagddo yn llwyddianus dan ei weinidogaeth; ac yn nghymanfa y tair sir a gynhaliwyd yn Taihirion, yn 1827, cyhoeddwyd heddwch rhwng y ddwy blaid, ac felly y terfynodd yr ymrafael blin a gofidus hwnw.

Yr oedd Zoar fach ar y dechreu yn llawer rhy gyfyng: i gynwys y lluoedd a ddeuai i wrando Mr. Griffiths, ac oblegid hyny, heb golli dim amser, aed i chwilio am dir at adeiladu capel. Wedi methu mewn dau neu dri o fanau y gofynwyd am danynt; prynodd Rowland Thomas, Ysw., tad-yn-nghyfraith Mr. Griffiths, ddarn helaeth o dir yn 1827, gan James Coke, Ysw., am 160p., a rhoddodd ddarn mawr o hono at gapel a mynwent. Am fod y tir yn llaith, aeth y draul yn fawr wrth gloddio am sylfaen saf­adwy. Ar osodiad y gareg sylfaen cynaliwyd cyfarfod pryd yr anerchwyd y dorf gan Mr. Griffiths, y gweinidog, a chan Mr. Griffiths, Alltwen, a Mr. Howells, Baran, ac eraill. Ar yr un dydd claddwyd gwraig Dafydd Henry o'r Fynachlog, yn y fynwent newydd, ac felly dechreuwyd adeiladu a chladdu yr un pryd. Mesuriad y capel yw 55 troedfedd wrth 45. Yr oedd, pan yr adeiladwyd ef, yn un o'r addoldai harddaf a helaethaf yn y sir, ac y mae etto ar ol cael ei adgyweirio a'i brydferthu, yn deilwng o'r oes a'r dref gynyddol y mae ynddi. Costiodd ar y cyntaf dros ddwy fil o bunau, ac y mae llawer o ganoedd wedi hyny wedi cael eu gosod allan arno mewn adgyweiriadau, paentio, ac adeiladu ysgoldy prydferth yn ei ymyl. Bu y ddyled yn faich trwm ar y lle hwn am flynyddau lawer, ac yn achos o bryder a llafur dirfawr i Mr. Griffiths. Deugain mlynedd yn ol ystyrid dwy fil o ddyled ar gapel yn beth dychrynllyd, ond yn awr, pan y mae yr eglwysi wedi yfed mwy o ysbryd haelionus, ni chyfrifir dwy fil o ddyled ar gynnulleidfa gymharol wan, yn gymaint ag yr edrychid ar bum' cant yn 1828. Os yw eglwysi Cymru yn llai gwresog a thanllyd dan y Gair nag yr oeddynt yn nyddiau y tadau, y maent yn annghydmarol fwy haelionus yn eu cyfraniadau at achosion crefyddol.

Wedi cael y capel newydd yn barod, tynodd doniau poblogaidd Mr. Griffiths dorf o bobl i'w lenwi ar unwaith, a pharhaodd ei boblogrwydd yn ddidrai hyd derfyn ei oes. Yr oedd Ysgol Sabbothol flodeuog yn Zoar o'r cychwyniad, ac yn fuan wedi agoryd y capel sefydlwyd canghenau o ysgolion yn Sciwen, Melingryddan, y Tonnau, y Bryncoch, y Thimle, &c. Rai blynyddau cyn marwolaeth Mr. Griffiths adeiladwyd capel ar y Sciwen, a chapel y Rock yn Nghwmafan, gan aelodau Zoar. Wedi oes gymharol fer, ond anarferol o lwyddianus, bu farw Mr. Daniel Griffiths yn 1846, er galar dirfawr i bobl ei ofal, a phobl Deheudir Cymru yn gyffredinol. Ar ol ei farwolaeth, penderfynodd yr eglwys fod am flwyddyn cyn myned edrych allan am weinidog, a thalu y cyflog arferol i Mrs. Griffiths, nid am fod ei hamgylchiadau yn galw am hyny, ond fel arwydd o barch i'w gweinidog ymadawedig. Ar ol byw ychydig gyda blwyddyn ar weinidogaeth achlysurol, rhoddwyd galwad unfrydol yn Awst 1847, i Mr. John Mathews, Casnewydd, a dechreuodd ef ei weinidogaeth yma yn y mis canlynol. Ar y 24 ain a'r 25 ain o Dachwedd, yn yr un flwyddyn, cynhaliwyd cyfarfodydd ei sefydliad, pryd y pregethodd Meistri D. Rees, Llanelli; P. Griffiths, Alltwen; M. Ellis, Mynyddislwyn; R. Pryse, Cwmllynfell, ac eraill. Rhif yr aelodau pan ddechreuodd Mr. Mathews ei lafur yma, bedair blynedd-ar-

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hugain yn ol oedd, 340. O'r pryd hwnw hyd yn awr y mae ef wedi derbyn, trwy ddeheulaw cymdeithas 1308, a thrwy lythyrau o eglwysi eraill 590. Ar ymneillduad eglwys y Sciwen, rhoddwyd llythyrau gollyngdod i 53 o'r aelodau, ac i 61 ar sefydliad yr eglwys yn Llansawel. Trwy symudiadau, marwolaethau, a gwrthgiliadau, y mae dros ddeugain bob blwyddyn, mewn eglwys luosog fel hon, yn cael eu colli. Rhif yr aelodau yn bresenol yw 456. Mae canghen o eglwys Zoar yn ddiweddar wedi cael ei chorpholi yn eglwys Annibynol yn Bryncaws ; ond er colli pobl y Rock, y Sciwen, Llansawel, a Bryncaws, y mae y fam-eglwys mor lluosog ei haelodau a'i gwrandawyr ag y bu ar un cyfnod o'i hanes.

Cafodd y rhai canlynol eu cyfodi i bregethu yn yr eglwys hon:-

Yn nhymor gweinidogaeth Mr. Griffiths y dechreuodd y pedwar uchod bregethu, a than weinidogaeth Mr. Mathews y dechreuedd y rhai canlynol :

Byddai hanes yr eglwysi Annibynol yn Nghastellnedd yn annghyflawn heb grybwyll enwau y Cadben Morris a'i wraig ragorol. Yr oedd y ddau gristion anwyl hyn, fel Zacharias ac Elizabeth, yn gyflawn ger bron Duw, yn rhodio yn holl orchymynion a deddfau yr Arglwydd yn ddiargyhoedd. Yn Maesyrhaf yr oedd ef yn aelod a hithau yn Zoar. Bu eu ty am ddegau o flynyddau yn gartref i bregethwyr Cymru. Bu Mrs. Morris fyw flynyddau ar ol ei phriod, ac yr oedd yn un o'r gwragedd rhagoraf a welsom erioed.

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COFNODIAD BYWGRAPHYDDOL.

DANIEL GRIFFITHS.
Ganwyd y gweinidog enwog hwn yn agos i Felinycwrt, yn Nghwmnedd yn y flwyddyn 1798. Yr oedd ei henafiaid o du ei dad a'i fam yn preswylio yn yr ardal hon er's amryw oesau. William ac Elenor Griffiths oedd enwau ei rieni. Yr oeddynt ill dau yn proffesu crefydd, ac yr oedd ei fam yn un nodedig iawn am ei duwioldeb. Daniel oedd yr ieuengaf o chwech o blant. Bu farw ei dad pryd nad oedd ef ond ieuangc iawn, ond darfu i ofal a ffyddlondeb ei frawd hynaf lenwi lle y tad yn effeithiol i'r teulu. Bu farw ei fam drachefn cyn iddo ef gyrhaedd oedran gwr, ond trwy ofal ei frawd hynaf a'i chwaer ni welodd eisiau dim. Wedi iddo gyrhaedd oedran cyfaddas gosododd ei frawd ef i ddysgu y gelfyddyd o saer badau, a bu am amryw flynyddau yn gweithio y gwaith hwnw. Pan yr oedd tua naw mlwydd oed teimlodd argraffiadau crefyddol grymus dan bregeth Mr. T. Bowen, ond bu flynyddau wedi hyny cyn ymostwng i wneyd proffes o grefydd. Bu yn aelod ffyddlon o'r Ysgol Sabbothol am gryn amser cyn iddo ddyfod yn aelod o'r eglwys. Gan nad yw Mr. Griffiths, o'r Alltwen, yn y cofiant helaeth a ysgrifenodd iddo, wedi rhoddi amseriad nemawr o ddygwyddiadau pwysig ei fywyd, nis gallwn ddyweyd ei oed pan y dechreuodd broffesu a phregethu, ond y mae yn debygol ei fod wedi dechreu pregethu cyn ei fod yn ugain oed, oblegid yr ydym yn cael ei fod yn pregethu mewn cymanfa yn y Groeswen yn 1820. Bu am rai blynyddau yn ysgol Mr. Howells, Baran, wedi iddo ddechreu pregethu, ond ni chafodd fawr llonyddwch i ddysgu gwersi yr ysgol gan fod ei ddoniau poblogaidd fel pregethwr, a'i fedr digyffelyb fel holwr ysgolion, wedi tynu sylw yr holl wlad, a cheisiadau beunyddiol am ei wasanaeth. Byddai agos trwy yr holl amser y bu yn yr ysgol yn Baran yn pregethu neu yn holi ysgolion bedair a phum' gwaith bob wythnos. Tua y flwyddyn 1820, aeth ef a'i gyfaill a'i berthynas, Mr. Phillip Griffiths, i ysgol Dr. Phillips, Neuaddlwyd. Ni fuont yno yn hir cyn i ddiwygiad nerthol a phoeth iawn dori allan yn y Neuaddlwyd ar un boreu Sabbath pan yr oedd Dr. Phillips yn pregcthu. Yn fuan ymdaenodd y tan trwy y wlad oddiamgylch, a chafodd ysbryd tanllyd a doniau poblogaidd Daniel Griffiths ddigon o ddyfroedd i chwareu ynddynt. Darfu i'w lafur a'i hynodrwydd yn y diwygiad hwnw ei gyfodi i sylw cyffredinol yn sir Aberteifi. Er fod haner can' mlynedd wedi myned heibio er hyny, y mae ei enw ef ar gof a chadw etto mewn cysylltiad a'r diwygiad mawr gan ganoedd o Gapelywig i Gilcenin. Yn y flwyddyn 1822, dychwelodd adref o'r Neuaddlwyd, a chafodd ei urddo, fel y nodasom, yn Maesyrhaf, Chwefror 13eg, 1823. Ar ol bod yn llafurio fel cydweinidog a Mr. Bowen yn Maesyrhaf a Melinycwrt am ychydig dros dair blynedd gyda pharch a phoblogrwydd anghyffredin darfu gysylltiad a Maesyrhaf, yn yr amgylchiad gofidus grybwyllasom eisioes, ac o hyny allan fel gweinidog Zoar y bu yn llafurio yn Nghastellnedd. Bu Melinycwrt a Godrerhos dan ei ofal hefyd mewn cysylltiad a Zoar hyd derfyn ei oes. Parhaodd ei boblogrwydd a'i barch yn ddiatal hyd y diwedd. Mae yn ymddangos mai un gwanaidd o iechyd ydoedd er yn blentyn, a chan na feddyliodd am arbed ei gorph trwy wrthod unrhyw gais i bregethu a theithio, llosgodd y ffgin allan pan yr oedd yn wyth-a­deugain oed. Bu farw o'r darfodedigaeth Ebrill 1 af, 1846, mewn teimladau nefolaidd iawn. Ar ddydd ei angladd ymgasglodd y dyrfa luosocaf a

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welsom mewn angladd erioed i hebrwng ei weddillion marwol i'r ddaear­gell wrth gapel Zoar. Yr oedd y ffordd am tua dwy filldir yn llawn o bobl fel yr oedd yn anhawdd symud. Cyn cychwyn oddiwrth y darllenodd a gweddiodd Mr. Thomas Rees, Siloa, Llanelli. Wedi cyrhaedd y capel, yn yr hwn nid oedd digon o le i un o bob deg o'r dorf, darllenodd a gweddiodd Mr. R. Pryse, Cwmllynfell, a thraddodwyd dwy bregeth fer gan Meistri D. Evans, Castellnedd, a W. Morgan, Llwyni. Areithiodd Meistri J. Hughes, Dowlais, a D. Rees, Llanelli, wrth y bedd, a therfynwyd trwy weddi gan Mr. Powell, Caerdydd. Yr oedd 39 o weinidogion a phregethwyr yn cerdded o flaen y corph wedi eu gwisgo mewn arwyddion galar. Yr oedd Daniel Griffiths yn ei farwolaeth yr un modd ag yn ei fywyd yn un o'r dynion mwyaf poblogaidd yn ei oes.

"Yr oedd Mr. Griffiths yn ddyn lled dal, o gylch pum' troedfedd a naw modfedd o hyd, yn lled denau, o gorph cadarn, er heb fod yn iach erioed; yn ddyn gewynog heibio i'r cyffredin. Yr oedd ei edrychiad yn serchog bob amser, yn hawddgar ei gyfarchiad, nes y byddai pawb yn caru ei gyfarfod ar y ffordd. Byddai plant yr holl wlad yn ei gyfarch, ac yn tyru o'i amgylch yn mhob lle y byddai. Gwyneb lled hirgul oedd ganddo, a dan lygaid mawr treiddgar yn dangos ei fod wedi ei wneyd gan natur yn areithiwr hyawdl. Yr oedd ei olwg mor hawddgar ac mor nefolaidd pan fyddai ei enaid yn gwresogi wrth dim crefydd, fel y gallasai y miloedd ei gofleidio a'u breichiau yn gystal ag a'u calonau."

Yr oedd yn ddyn cyfeillgar, hynaws, a charedig iawn, tra ar yr un pryd yr oedd ganddo ddigon o synwyr cyffredin a rhyw fawredd a gadwai bobl rhag myned yn rhy eofn arno. Cafodd ysgrifenydd y llinellau hyn ddigon o gyfleusderau i'w weled a chyfeillachu ag ef am y tair-blynedd-ar-ddeg olaf o'i fywyd fel ag i allu ffurfio barn lled gywir am ei nodweddiad fel dyn a chyfaill. Ni ddygwyddodd iddo erioed gyfarfod a dyn Ilawnach o garedigrwydd a natur dda. Mae llawer o ddynion yn siriol a chyfeillgar a'u cydradd, ac yn enwedig a'u huwchradd, ond yr oedd ef yn hytrach yn fwy hynaws a charuaidd i'w isafiaid nag i neb arall. Ar un nos Sabboth yn Tachwedd, 1833, yr oedd pregethwr ieuangc, tan ddeunaw oed, wedi anfon ei gyhoeddiad i fod yn Zoar. Galwodd gyda Mr. Griffiths, cyn yr oedfa, mewn ty yn agos i'r capel, lle yr oedd ef a dau weinidog enwog o sir Gaerfyrddin, y rhai hefyd oeddynt wedi eu cyhoeddi i fod yn Zoar noson hono. Pan welodd y gwr iuangc derbyniodd ef yn garedig, a dywedodd wrth y ddau weinidog, " Mae yn rhaid i chwi frodyr dalfyru ychydig ar eich pregethau heno fel y gallo y gwr ieuangc gael dyweyd ychydig o'ch blaen. Rhaid rhoddi magwraeth i'r lloi cyn cael ychain." Talp cyflawn o natur dda ydoedd.

Yr oedd yn un nodedig o fedrus i drafod dynion. Medrai heb honi ei awdurdod a dadleu ei hawliau swyddogol gael y dynion mwyaf anhywaeth i'w ffordd ei hun. Cadwodd eglwys luosog Zoar mewn undeb a heddwch hollol trwy holl dymor ei weinidogaeth. Yr oedd ganddo ffordd effeithiol i doddi pawb i gydweithredu a'i gynlluniau.

Yr oedd yn ddyn hynod o ddirodres a digoegni. Nid yw yn debygol ei fod ef, mwy nag eraill o blant Adda, yn rhydd oddiwrth falchder meddwl, a thra thebygol fod ei barch a'i boblogrwydd pa le bynag yr elai yn peri iddo feddwl tipyn am dano ei hun. Ond os ydoedd yn teimlo felly, yr oedd ganddo ddigon o synwyr cyffredin i guddio hyny oddiwrth y werin. Er ei fod yn anymddibynol yn ei amgylchiadau bydol, ac yn dywysog yn

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mysg ei frodyr fel pregethwr, yr oedd mor ddiymhoniad a'r gostyngeiddiaf o honynt. Nid ydym yn priodoli hyn yn fwy i'w ras nag i'w synwyr cyffredin cryf, oblegid y mae dyn coegaidd ae ymffrostgar yn amlygu llawn cymaint o ddiffyg synwyr ag o ddiffyg gras.

Fel pregethwr yr oedd yn un o'r rhai mwyaf poblogaidd yn ei oes. Nid mewn medr i drin ac egluro athrawiaethau mawrion yr efengyl gyda chraffder a manylder ymresymiadol, fel Evans, o'r Mynyddbach, y rhagorai; ni ddeuai ychwaith yn agos at Jones, Penybont, fel esboniwr y Bibl, ac mewn athrylith a dynai allan fer yr Ysgrythyrau i'w sylwadau; ac yr oedd Hughes, o'r Groeswen yn ddigon o'i flaen am ddychymygion hededog a medr i dynu darluniadau byw ger bron ei wrandawyr o'r gwrthrychau y soniai am danynt. Ond yr oedd rhagoriaeth Daniel Griffiths fel pregethwr yn gynwysedig yn y pethau canlynol:-

1. Cyflawnder o eiriau cymwys a gweddus i osod allan ei feddyliau. Ni fyddai un amser yn petruso am air. Tywalltai allan ei frawddegau yn ffrydlif naturiol heb ddim yn goegaidd nac yn isel yn un o honynt. Gwisgai y rhan fwyaf o'i feddyliau yn yr ymadroddion Ysgrythyrol mwyaf priodol. Gellir dywedyd yn briodol am dano, " Chwiliodd y pregethwr am eiriau cymeradwy," ac yr oedd ei eiriau oll fel hoelion wedi eu sicrhau gan feistr y gynnulleidfa.

2. Difrifoldeb a phurdeb chwaeth. Ni ddywedid dim ganddo i beri crechwenau ysgafn yn y gynnulleidfa, ond byddai ei agwedd, ei eiriau, a'i swn yn cynyrchu difrifoldeb ofnadwy yn ei wrandawyr. Ni chlywid ef un amser yn adrodd hanesyn nac yn arfer cydmariaeth isel a dichwaeth.

3. Nodwedd efengylaidd ei faterion. Crist a'i groes-trueni dyn trwy. bechod-breintiau credinwyr-a gogoniant trefn gras, fyddai pyngciau bregethau yn wastadol.

4. Grym a 'phereidd-dra llais. Dywedai yn ddigon uchel wrth ddarllen ei destyn i ddeng mil o bobl i'w glywed, a siaradai yn rhwydd, heb fod yn rhy araf nac yn rhy gyflym, gan roddi, yn awr a phryd arall, ryw doniad mor beraidd ac effeithiol i'w lais nes y buasai y dagrau yn saethu yn ddiarwybod o ganoedd o lygaid ar darawiad amrant. Pan godai ei lais i'r man uwchaf byddai yn llai effeithiol. Yr oedd cydgyfarfyddiad y pethau hyn ynddo fel pregethwr yn ei wneyd yn un o'r pregethwyr mwyaf effeithiol a wrandawsom erioed. Anfynych iawn y gwelsom ef yn sefyll uwchben cynnulleidfa heb ei thoddi fel cwyr o flaen y tan.

Yr oedd yn ddyn llafurus a chyhoeddus iawn ei ysbryd. Anaml trwy ei holl fywyd cyhoeddus, y treuliodd wythnos heb deithio a phregethu i eraill heblaw i'w bobl ei hun. Llafuriodd yn galed gyda'r ymdrech fawr i dalu dyledion capeli yn y blynyddoedd o 1832 i 1835, ac wedi gorphen yr ymdrech fawr a chyffredinol hono, bu am flynyddau yn teithio bob tri bedwar mis trwy Forganwg, er cyffroi yr eglwysi i orphen dileu dyledion eu haddoldai. Ymwelai yn ei deithiau a'r lleoedd gwanaf yn gystal a'r rhai cryfaf, heb ddisgwyl na derbyn unrhyw dal ond y boddlonrwydd meddwl a fwynhai wrth wasanaethu ei enwad ac achos ei Arglwydd. Dilynai y cyfarfodydd misol a chwarterol, agoriadau capeli, urddiadau, &c., yn ddinag, ac yr oedd ei bresenoldeb yn fywyd i bob cynnulleidfa. Ni byddai yn ormod dyweyd iddo dreulio agos un ran o dair o'i holl fywyd, tra bu yn y weinidogaeth, yn ngwasanaeth cyhoeddus yr enwad y perthynai iddo, ac iddo wario canoedd o bunau o'i arian wrth wneuthur hyny. Cafodd wybod trwy brofiad fod llanw cylch uchel yn y weinidogaeth yn gostus iawn i gorph, meddwl, a llogell.

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Y mae genym farn uchel am ei grefydd bersonol. Buom ddegau o weithiau yn ei gyfeillach, a chawsom ef bob amser yn ddifrifol heb fod yn bruddaidd a sarug, ac yn llawn o sirioldeb heb fod un amser yn ysgafn a chellweirus. Prin y gallwn gredu fod yn bosibl i neb fod mor llawn o deimladau toddedig, a'r fath eneiniad ar ei gyflawniadau cyhoeddus, ag ydoedd yn nodweddu yr eiddo ef, heb ei fod yn dal llawer o gymdeithas ddirgel a'r Arglwydd. Yr oedd yn rhyfeddol o nefolaidd ei brofiad yn ei gystudd diweddaf. Y nos olaf y bu byw yr oedd un o'r brodyr yn ei wylied; clywai y dyn ef yn siarad, fel pe buasai yn ymddiddan a rhyw rai. Tybiodd y dyn ei fod yn syfrdanu ac atebodd ef yn ol fel yr oedd wedi deall ei ofyniad. Yn mhen ychydig dywedodd, "Yr oeddych chwi yn fy nghamddeall i ; nid gofyn i chwi a oedd plant genych yr oeddwn i ; ond yr oedd gyda mi dri o blant glandeg yr olwg arnynt, a gofyn yr oeddwn i'r plant pwy oeddynt, a dywedasant mai plant Duw oeddynt, a'u bod yn ymofyn am wr y ty i dd'od gyda hwynt, ac wrth ymadael dywedasant, Pan ddelom nesaf rhaid i chwi ddyfod gyda ni." Prydnawn dranoeth aeth Mrs. Morris a'i merch, Mrs. Morgans, i'w weled. Siaradodd ychydig a hwynt, ac yna aeth i geisio adrodd pennill. Gofynodd i Mrs. Morris pa beth oedd ei ddechreu, atebodd hithau.

" Ymado wnaf a'r babell.
Rwy'n trigo ynddi'n awr," &c.

Canodd y pennill gyda Mrs. Morris, ac adroddodd wrthi am y plant a welsai y nos o'r blaen. Yn fuan wedi i'r ddwy chwaer fyned allan o'r ystafell, gwelodd y plant eilwaith a dywedodd, "Oh, wel, y maent yn bedwar yn bresenol. Mae yn rhaid i mi gusanu Jenny a'r plant cyn dyfod gyda chwi, ac wrth ddyfod, rhaid i mi farw." Yn fuan ar ol hyny cusanodd ei briod a'i ddeg plentyn, a rhoddodd ei law dan ei ben gan gau ei lygaid ar y byd hwn, a'u hagoryd ar ryfeddodau byd yr ysbrydoedd.

Fel hyn y bu fyw a marw Daniel Griffiths. Yr oedd yn ddyn anghyffredin a rhagorol iawn Nid ydym yn meddwl nac am adael yr argraff ar neb ei fod yn ddyn difai, ond pa ddyben fyddai ceisio chwilio am y beiau sydd wedi eu maddeu a'u taflu gan Dduw i for o angof. Meddyliwn am y rhinweddau oedd mor amlwg yn ei gymeriad, ac ymdrechwn eu hefelychu."

 

Translation by Maureen Saycell (Feb 2008)

"About three years after Mr Daniel Griffiths was ordained in Maesyrhaf, and when his success and popularity had spread throughout the country, much to everyone's surprise serious charges were made against him by a young girl - as we have previously mentioned in the history of Maesyrhaf - this caused a great deal of worry and sadness. Here we do not need to go into detail regarding that worrying situation. Mr P. Griffiths, Alltwen, who was well acquainted with the whole situation, has written at length about it in the biography of Mr Daniel Griffiths that he published, and it is based on that we will comment on the sad affair. When the whispers began to circulate, Mr Griffiths was summoned before the church, and the accusation put to him, he was encouraged not to preach until further light was thrown on the matter. In the time he was not preaching, many doubts were hatched, prejudices and arguments, some for and some against, but most were keen to see him cut loose as he was before. As he lived nearer to Melinycwrt, the church where he was first confirmed, than Neath, it was there that he went mostly during the time that he was not preaching. At the invitation of the church there, and the backing of some ministers, he began to preach again, despite the fact that the church in Maesyrhaf objected to this. After he started to preach at Melinycwrt, many came from town to listen, and they would invite him to preach at their houses, this he did after taking advice from the ministers on the circuit. After he began to preach in some houses in Neath the majority would go and listen to him, so that the houses could not hold them, but the split between him and Maesyrhaf became bigger and wider, and therefore less likely to be healed. The majority of the ministers supported the church, but a number continued to keep faith with Mr Griffiths and his people. An old coach-house was rented by them and it was made suitable for preaching in, it was named "Zoar Fach" and it was opened on August 29th,1826, and the following officiated Messrs Morgan Lewis, Glyn Neath; Joseph Harrison, Aberdare ; Joshua Evans, Cymer ; David Jones, Taihirion ; Roger Howells, Baran, Phillip Griffiths, Alltwen, and Richard Jones, Cymer-Glyn-Corwg. The action of these ministers in taking part caused the union to be torn apart, and the feelings were so strong that many pulpits in the land refused to accept anyone who to preach at Daniel

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 Griffiths and his faction, or any of the chapels that supported him.The atmosphere was improving slowly, and Mr Griffiths won himself more supporters, and calmed some of the prejudices, especially as the new cause at Zoar Fach was a great success under his ministry that at the three counties festival held at Taihirion in 1827, it was announced that the two factions had been reconciled. So the whole sorry affair was ended. Zoar Fach was far too small to begin with, and with the multitudes that came to listen to Mr Griffiths, and because of that, no time was lost in looking for some land to build a new chapel. After failing two or three times, Rowland Thomas, Esq. who was Mr Griffiths' father in law, bought a large piece of land, in 1827, from James Coke, Esq. for £160. He donated a good part of it for a chapel and cemetery. Because it was wetland, the cost of digging a solid foundation was high. The crowd at the laying of the foundation stone were addressed by Mr Griffiths, minister, and Mr Griffiths, Alltwen, Mr Howells, Baran, and others. On the same day, the wife of Dafydd Henry, Mynachlog, was buried in the new cemetery, so building and burial began at the same time. The chapel measured 55 feet by 45. It was, when built, one of the biggest and most beautiful in the county, and it still is after being repaired and redecorated, to a standard suited to the growing town in which it is situated. Initially it cost over two thousand pounds, and many hundreds more have been spent on repairs, painting and building an attractive schoolhouse nearby. The debt was very heavy here for many years, and caused a great deal of worry and hard work for Mr Griffiths. Forty years ago £2000 was considered a terrible thing, but now, that the churches have drunk of a more generous spirit, £2000 on a weak congregation is not considered as bad as £500 was in 1828. If the churches in Wales are a little less fired by The Word than they were in the days of their fathers, they are far more generous in their donations to religious causes.

When the new chapel was ready, Mr Griffiths' talents drew a crowd that filled it immediately, and his popularity continued unabated to the end of his life. There was a flowering Sunday school at Zoar from the beginning, and soon after the opening of the new chapel, new schools were established in Skewen, Melingryddan, Tonnau, Bryncoch, Thimle etc. Some years before the death of Mr Griffiths a chapel was built at Skewen, and Rock chapel in Cwmafan, by the members of Zoar. After a comparatively short life, but unusually successful, Mr Griffiths died in 1846, causing great sorrow to his people, and people generally across South Wales.

After his death, the church decided to wait a year before looking for another minister, and to pay his usual salary to Mrs Griffiths, not because she needed it, but as a mark of respect to the deceased minister. Having survived a little over a year with occasional preachers, an united call was sent to Mr John Mathews, Newport, and he began his ministry here the following month. On November 24th and 25th his induction services were held, when sermons were given by Messrs D. Rees, Llanelli; P. Griffiths, Alltwen; M. Ellis, Mynyddislwyn; R. Pryse, Cwmllynfell, and others. The number of members when Mr Mathews began his work here,

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twenty four years ago was 340. Since that time he has confirmed by society 1308, and by letters of transfer from other churches 590. At the independence of Skewen church 53 letters of release were granted, and 61 when a church was established at Llansawel. Through movement, death and backsliders, more than forty a year are being lost from a well populated church like this. The current number of members is 456. Recently a branch of Zoar at Bryncaws has established independently, but despite losing the people of Rock, Skewen, and Bryncaws, the mother church has as many members and listeners as there have been in it's history.

The following were raised to preach here:-

The four above began to preach in Mr Griffiths' time, and the following started in Mr Mathews' time:-

The history of the Independent church in Neath would be incomplete without a mention of Captain Morris and his excellent wife. These two beloved Christians, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, complete in the eyes of God, living through all the commandments and rules of the Lord without blame. He was a member in Maesyrhaf, and her in Zoar. For many decades their house was a home to the preachers of Wales. Mrs Morris outlived her husband and was one of the most exceptional women ever seen.

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Biographical notes

DANIEL GRIFFITHS

This famous minister was born near Melinycwrt, in the Neath valley in 1798. His ancestors on both his father and mother had lived in this area for many generations. His parents were named William and Elenor Griffiths. They were both religious, and his mother was noted for her godliness. Daniel was the youngest of six children. His father died whilst he was very young, but the care and faithfulness of his eldest brother filled the gap left by the loss of his father. His mother again died before he reached manhood, but with the care of his elder brother and sister he was not left wanting. When he reached a suitable age his brother apprenticed him to be a ship's carpenter, he continued to work his trade for many years. . When he was about nine years old he was greatly moved by a sermon from Mr T. Bowen, but it was many years before he professed religion. He was a faithful member of the Sunday school for some time before he became a member of the church. As Mr Griffiths, Alltwen, in his extensive biography, has not given many dates of the important occasions of his life, I could not say what age he was when he professed or started to preach, but it is likely that he had started to preach before he was twenty years old, because we have him preaching at a festival in Groeswen in 1820. He was for some years taught by Mr Howells, Baran, after he began to preach, but there was not much peace to learn his lessons because his popular talent as a preacher, and his unequalled ability as an examiner in the schools, had caught the country's attention, and daily requests for his services were received. For most of the time he was at school in Baran he was preaching or examining in schools four or five times a week. Around 1820 he and his friend and relative, Mr Phillip, Griffiths, went to Dr Phillips' school at Neuaddlwyd. They had not been there long when there was a strong and fiery revival took place when Dr Phillips was preaching at Neuaddlwyd one Sunday morning. It soon spread through the surrounding countryside, and the fiery spirit and popular talents of Daniel Griffiths had plenty of waters to play on. His remarkable work during the revival raised his profile generally in Cardiganshire. Although fifty years have passed, his name is still known to hundreds from Capelywig to Cilcenin. In 1822, he returned to Neuaddlwyd, he was ordained, as noted, in Maesyrhaf on February 13th, 1823. After working alongside Mr Bowen as joint minister in Maesyrhaf and Melinycwrt for just over three years with unusual respect and popularity his association with Maesyrhaf ceased, under the worrying circumstances we have previously touched on, and from then on he worked as minister of Zoar, Neath. Melinycwrt and Godre'rhos were in his care, alongside Zoar, for the rest of his life. His popularity and respect remained unchanged to the end. I appears that he was not in the best of health since childhood, and because he did not take care of himself by refusing any request to travel and preach, his flame burnt out when he was forty eight years old. He died of consumption on April 1st, 1846 in very heavenly spirits. On the day of the funeral the largest crowd

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ever seen in a funeral came to escort his remains to his grave at Zoar chapel. The road was full of people for two miles which made it hard to move. Before leaving Mr Thomas Rees, Siloa, Llanelli prayed and gave a reading. After arrival at the chapel, where there was not enough space for one tenth of the crowd, Mr R Pryse, Cwmllynfell, gave a reading and said a prayer, Messrs D. Evans, Neath, and W. Morgan, Llwyni, both gave sermons. Messrs J. Hughes, Dowlais, and D. Rees, Llanelli, both gave addresses by the grave, Mr Powell, Cardiff closed with a prayer. There were thirty nine ministers and preachers walking ahead of the body all dressed with tokens of mourning. Daniel Griffiths was as popular in death as he had been in life and one of the most popular men of his time.

"Mr Griffiths was a fairly tall man, around five feet nine inches tall, slim build, of solid body, although never of good health, more sinewy than usual. He always had a friendly look, always amiable in his greeting, so that everyone was pleased to meet him on the road. Children greeted him all over the country, and flocked to him wherever he was. He had a longish face, with two large penetrating eyes showing him to be a natural public speaker. His look was so friendly and heavenly when he warmed to his religious subject, that the thousands could have embraced him with their arms as well as their hearts."

He was a friendly man, warm, and very kind, but at the same time he had enough common sense and presence to prevent people taking advantage of him. This writer had ample opportunity to spend time with him during the last thirteen years of his life to be able to judge his character as a man and as a friend, he did not ever meet a man of such kindness and good nature.

Many men are cheerful and friendly to their equals, and more so to their superiors, but he was more caring and friendly to those beneath him than to anyone else. One Sunday night in November, 1833, there was a young preacher, under eighteen years of age, he had sent a notification to Zoar that he would be there. He called with Mr Griffiths, before the service, in a house near the chapel, where he was with two famous preachers from Carmarthenshire who had also been announced there that night. When he saw the young man he welcomed him kindly , and said to the two ministers, "You my two brothers will have to shorten your sermons a little tonight so that this young man can speak before you. We must nurture the calves, before we have oxen". He was a completely good natured man.

He was noted for his ability to handle men. He was able to bring the most difficult of men to his way of thinking without pulling rank or arguments. He maintained the large church at Zoar in unison throughout his ministry, He had a knack of gaining people's cooperation.

He was a man exceptionally unassuming and energetic. It is unlikely that he more then any of the children of Adam, was free of pride, and likely that his respect and popularity wherever he was, might make him think something of himself. But if he did feel that way, he kept it well hidden. Although he was independent from the people in his worldly needs, and a prince in

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the midst of his brother preachers, he was as humble as the most lowly of them. We do not equate this to his belief any more than to his strong common sense, because a vain and boastful man shows as much lack of sense as he does lack of grace.

As a preacher he was one of the most popular in his lifetime. It was not in his ability to discuss and explain the big doctrines of the gospel with sharpness and precise arguments, like Evans, Mynyddbach, that he excelled, neither did he come close to Jones, Penybont, as a commentator on the Bible, and the teachings he could draw attention to in the scriptures, and again Hughes, Groeswen, was well ahead of him with his flyaway imagination and ability to create verbal pictures of the subjects he was talking about. Daniel Griffiths' superiority as a preacher consisted of the following:-

1. Adequate vocabulary to express himself and explain his thoughts. He never struggled for a word. His sentences flowed naturally without vanity or base content in them. He expressed most of his thoughts with the most appropriate quote from the Scriptures. It could be said of him "The preacher searched for the most appropriate words", and his words were all like nails secured by the master of the congregation.

2. Tasteful and serious. He never said anything to cause the slightest smile in the congregation, but his attitude, his words, created a sense of seriousness in his listeners. He never told any stories or use poor or tasteless comparisons.

3. The scriptural character of his material. Christ and the cross - the shame of man through sin - privileges of believers - the glory of the order of grace, would always be the subjects of his sermons.

4. A strong and pure voice. He spoke loudly enough when reading his subject for ten thousand to hear him, he spoke easily, not too slowly or too swiftly, always giving such a clear and effective vocal tone that he could bring tears to the eyes of hundreds in a blink of an eye. When his voice reached a crescendo he was less effective. The combination of these things in him as a preacher made him one of the most effective we ever listened to. Infrequently did he stand above a congregation without it melting like wax before a fire.

He was a hard working and public spirited man. Very rarely throughout his public life, did he spend a week without travelling to preach to people other than his own congregation. He worked hard and made a great effort to clear the debts from chapels in the years 1832 to1835, and when that was complete, he travelled every three to four months to Glamorgan, to try and get them to clear their debts from the chapels. On his travels he would visit the weakest and the strongest, not expecting any payment other than the joy of serving his denomination and the cause of the Lord. He followed monthly and quarterly meetings, chapel openings, ordinations etc. without fail, and his presence was an inspiration to the congregations. It would not be overstating to say that he spent one third of his life while in the ministry, in the public service of his denomination, and that he spent hundreds of pounds of his own money doing so. He discovered through experience that keeping a high profile in the ministry was wearing on the body, mind and pocket.

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We hold a very high opinion of his personal religious commitment. We were in his company, and always found him to be serious, but not depressing or surly, and cheerful without being silly or mocking. We found it hard to believe that he could be so sensitive, but have such determination in his public offices, that was his unique way, without having any mysterious relationship with God.

His final suffering was a very heavenly experience. The last night he was alive one of the brothers was keeping watch, he could hear him talking, as if holding a conversation with someone. The man thought his mind was wandering and answered what he had understood him to say. In a while he said "You misunderstood me, I was not asking if you had children, I had with me three beautiful children, I was asking them whose children they were, they replied that they were the children of God, they were asking for the man of the house to come with them, as they were leaving they said that next time they came I must go with them." The following afternoon Mrs Morris and her daughter Mrs Morgans went to visit. He spoke a little with them, then he tried to recite a verse. He asked Mrs Morris how the verse began, she replied:-

"I will leave the camp.
Where I am living now," etc.

He sang the verse with Mrs Morris, and told her of the children he had seen the night before. Soon after the two sisters left the room, he saw the children again and said, "Oh, well, they are four at present. I must kiss Jenny and the children before I come with you, and when I come with you, I must die." Soon after this he kissed his wife and ten children, put his hand under his head and closed his eyes on this world, then opened them to the wonders of the spirit world.

This was how Daniel Griffiths died. He was an unusual and excellent man. We are not trying to leave the impression that he was without blame, but what purpose would it serve to look for faults that have been forgiven by God and thrown into a forgotten sea. We remember the qualities that were so strong in his character, and we strive to emulate them."

 


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