Adams on conscience

Deeds prove more than words; never tell me your science, show to me the fruits of your good conscience ...
Knowledge directs conscience; conscience perfects knowledge ...
Conscience is to the soul as the stomach is to the body ...
(5) The fifth is the manual, the pocket-book, the bosom-book of our conscience. The other books will manifest what we should have done; this, what we have done. We cannot except against it, because it hath always been in our own keeping, and nothing shall be written in it, but what is subscribed by our proper hand.

It hath three offices: first, to give in testimony of something acted or omitted. Secondly, to examine whether the action or omission were lawful or unwarrantable. Thirdly, to give judgment according to that evidence.
It can both bind and loose; it binds a man faster than the Philistines bound Samson, and looseth him sooner than the angel loosed Peter. It is a private law within man : when law and chancery too have done with him, (and that not seldom is long before it hath done with him,) then conscience taxes him in hand. It is a true looking-glass, that represents all blemishes, without favour or flattery. It is below God, but above man, a vice-god ; and deals with us here, as God will do hereafter. There is a bill framed out of the law, it is high treason against our high Sovereign's crown and dignity: our works are the evidence, and conscience is the witness, which will not be bribed to give a false testimony.
If the main course of our life be gracious, and our conscience will speak for our works, that they proceed from a sound faith and honest heart; we are then quit by proclamation, for nobody comes in against us: the world may not, our sins shall not, our conscience must not, the angels dare not, God will not, the devil cannot, for he is the father of lies, and his word will not be taken.
But if otherwise, all these will be against us: there need no subpoenas to fetch in witnesses; they come unsent for, and cannot be kept back; they will speak the truth, and all the truth. As intelligencers for statesmen mingle themselves with all companies, but use their best art to keep themselves concealed; so the conscience is God's informer, a spy in the soul, mixing herself with all our thoughts and actions: it is indeed the reflection of the soul upon itself. Though we know not what this conscience is, yet this conscience knows what we are. As Pilate asked Christ, What is truth? John xviii. 38, when the Truth stood before him; so many ask what is conscience? when indeed conscience is within them.
Exposition of 2 Peter, 34, 588, 670


Works online

Many works by Thomas Adams can now be accessed online here

St Benet's Today

This article appeared recently in The Times

The appointment of a new incumbent will breathe fresh life into the historic church of St Benet’s Paul’s Wharf.

The Rev Aneirin Glyn is relishing the prospect of revitalising St Benet Paul’s Wharf, the only Welsh church attached to the Church of England in London, when he is installed as priest in charge next month. He wants to make the Gospel known to all Welsh people in London, not just Welsh speakers (of which there are estimated to be as many as 50,000 in London), by teaching the Bible in a relevant and engaging way. He adds, with a smile: “For people who are learning Welsh in London, if there are ways to minister to them then we will look at doing that. I am also able to speak English.”
Demand to learn Welsh in London is certainly on the rise. There were 60 places available on the most recent course at the London Welsh Centre in King’s Cross; it was oversubscribed and the number of places on the next course has been expanded to 75.
“London has a large Welsh community and I would love St Benet’s to be the place where they can hear the great news about Jesus in the language in which they are comfortable,” says Glyn, 35, who comes from Cardiff and whose mother tongue is Welsh.
Glyn is married with three children and describes himself as “bilingual”. He was born in Cardiff to Welsh parents, both doctors; the family moved to Flintshire when he was 10 and he was educated “through the medium of Welsh” until 16. He was keen on rugby at school, playing in the second row (he is 6ft 3in) and supporting both Cardiff Blues and Llanelli Scarlets, his father’s team. At 18 he read mathematics at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, later gaining a D.Phil in pure mathematics at the same college. He then spent three years as an international student worker at St Ebbe’s in Oxford. A master’s degree in theology at Oak Hill College followed before he joined St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, as a curate in 2009. His role at St Benet Paul’s Wharf will be in addition to his position at St Helen’s, one of the biggest Evangelical Anglican churches in the City, where he helps to lead the well-attended Sunday afternoon service.
Glyn says that attending either of the two Sunday services at St Benet’s “is a great way to learn the language — it’s a great place to hear Welsh spoken and lived out”. Hymns are sung in Welsh, although worshippers can use a sheet with the words in English. The Church in Wales prayerbook is used (it has Welsh on the left-hand page and English on the right), and readings are in Welsh (but can be followed in an English Bible).
Glyn himself reads the Bible in English and in Welsh, using the English Standard Version and Y Beibl Cymraeg Newydd (The New Welsh Bible), and is equally happy in both. But he says: “I think for some people in London, Welsh is the language in which they think and speak. We want to meet people where they are. Some people ‘feel’ Welsh, so if that happens then we will gladly welcome them and share the Gospel in Welsh.”
He wants to breathe new life into the Grade I listed City church, which was founded in 1111 and rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire. The church oozes history: it has been the church of the College of Arms since 1555; Shakespeare mentions it in Twelth Night (Act V, Scene I); Inigo Jones was buried there in 1652; Henry Fielding married his second wife there in 1747; and it became one of the City Guild Churches in 1954.
Services in Welsh have been held at St Benet’s — also known as the Metropolitan Welsh Church — since 1879, when Queen Victoria signed an Order in Council removing it from a list of churches to be demolished and granting its use to Welsh Anglicans for the conduct of services “according to the Rites of the Church of England” in perpetuity. Latterly, however, the church has had a rather chequered history. In 2008 it was closed briefly after the congregation had dwindled to only a handful of people. The Ven David Meara, the Archdeacon of London, who was appointed in 2009, draws a line under the episode and talks of a brighter future: “It is a new chapter in the life of St Benet’s. You can talk about a revival of ministry — it is quite clear that things have been in the doldrums.
“The church has been without a permanent priest in charge for a number of years and it has been the wish of the Bishop of London to appoint a priest not just fluent in the Welsh language but one who will help grow the church and reach out to the large Welsh-speaking community in London and beyond. The London Welsh Centre is obviously one potential source of partnership, although there are many others. I think for the first time, with a young and lively chap in Aneirin Glyn, who is a fluent Welsh speaker, there is a real chance St Benet’s will flourish.”
The central location of St Benet’s clearly makes possible a large “gathered community”, Meara believes. He adds: “The Bishop is keen for Aneirin and his team to take advantage of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as a way of building a network within the Welsh-speaking London-based community and to host evenings where we can show Welsh films and hold Welsh social functions. Its website could be hugely developed to build up St Benet’s as a worshipping community and as a centre for Welsh life in London.”
St Benet’s already holds events such as the celebration of St Dwynen’s Day (essentially, a Welsh equivalent of St Valentine’s Day) in January. Glyn hopes to run more of such events and to tap into the heart of the Welsh community in London, which includes London Welsh RFC, London Welsh FC, London Welsh Cricket Club, London Welsh Chorale, London Welsh Male Voice Choir, Ysgol Gymraeg Lludain (a primary school based in Harlesden, North London), the networking forum Wales in London and even an independent Welsh dairy in Fulham, Morgan’s.
Glyn will take up his post at St Benet’s on October 2 in a service conducted by the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres. Members of the congregation could potentially include Huw Edwards, the BBC News presenter, who is a fluent Welsh speaker and writer (he is the author of a book on Llanelli chapels; 12 of its 33 chapters are in Welsh) and is the president of the London Welsh Trust, which runs the London Welsh Centre. “He said he had heard about my appointment and in passing said he might be interested in coming along,” Glyn says.
St Benet’s, as noted, is well connected. Earlier this week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who was previously Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales and occasionally takes services at St Benet’s, dedicated a memorial at the church. Needless to say, the bulk of the service was conducted in Welsh.


Adams on the wise men

The Bible is to us what the star was to the wise men; but if we spend all our time in gazing upon it, observing its motions, and admiring its splendour, without being led to Christ by it, the use of it will be lost on us.


Adams on sinful silence

In the Three divine sisters Adams says this
This one office of love is almost forgotten in the world. Our eyes and ears are conscious of many horrid sins, whereof we make also our souls guilty by our silence. Like chameleons, we turn to the colour of our company. Oppressions, that draw blood of the commonwealth, move us not. Oaths, that totter the battlements of heaven, wake us not. Oh, where is our kindness! Whilst we do not reprove, we approve these iniquities. He is conscious of secret guiltiness that forbeareth to resist open iniquity. Thou sayest it is for love's sake thou sparest reprehension. Why, if thou love thy friend never so dearly, yet thou oughtest to love truth more dearly. Let not, then, the truth of love prejudice the love of truth.


Want of a nail

This is a well known nursery rhyme

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost.
So it was a kingdom was lost – all for want of a nail.

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes gives as the oldest version the words of Adams in his complete sermons of 1629

“The want of a nail loseth the shoe, the loss of a shoe troubles the horse, the horse endangereth the rider, the rider breaking his rank molests the company so far as to hazard the whole army.”


Garvie on Adams

In his 1921 book Christian preaching A E Garvie has a place for Adams in his history. He puts him between Henry Smith and Thomas Goodwin and says

Even greater as a Puritan preacher than Henry Smith was Thomas Adams (died after 1630), "the Shakespeare of the Puritans."
"While Adams is not so sustained as Jeremy Taylor, nor so continuously sparkling as Thomas Fuller, he is surpassingly eloquent, and much more thought-laden than either."
While doctrine of the Calvinistic Evangelical type had a large place in his preaching, he did not overlook morals and manners. He insists on both learning and piety in the preacher, and warns him against seeking the applause of men. In a sermon on the Fatal Banquet he anticipates Bunyan in describing the vanity of human desires and efforts.
The following sentences explain why he was likened to Shakespeare:

"Oh, how goodly this building of man appears when it is clothed with beauty and honour ! A face full of majesty, the throne of comeliness, wherein the whiteness of the lily contends with the sanguine of the rose; an active hand, an erected countenance, an eye sparkling out lustre, a smooth complexion, arising from an excellent temperature and composition. Oh, what a workman was this, that could raise such a fabric out of the earth, and lay such orient colours upon dust!"
Aware of man's dignity, he is moved by the tragedy of man's sin and refusal of God's grace.

"Come then, beloved, to Jesus Christ; come betimes, the flesh calls, we come; vanity calls, we flock; the world calls, we fly: let Christ call early and late, He has yet to say, 'Ye will not come unto me that you might have life!"