Born 1874 at Ffwrnes, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, son of Henry and Sarah Phillips. His father died when he was young, and his mother moved with the family to Mountain Ash, Glamorganshire. He received his elementary education at Dyffryn boys' school, and went to work in a coal mine. In 1894 he won a miners' scholarship to study mining, but his tutors at the University College, Cardiff, persuaded him to take a degree course, and he graduated in 1898 with first-class hons. in philosophy. He won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated first class in two branches of philosophy. He also spent a period at the University of Heidelberg. He began preaching before leaving Cardiff, but at the end of his university course he was appointed lecturer in moral philosophy at St. Andrews University, Scotland. On hearing of the religious revival in Wales, he returned home to see what was happening there. He was carried by the wave and was convinced that he should devote his life to the Christian ministry. He was ordained in 1905, and became pastor of the English church in Frederick St., Cardiff until 1908 when he was called by his denomination to the chair of Philosophy and History of Religions at Bala College (1908-27). From 1927 to 1947 he was principal of the college. He greatly influenced generation after generation of students at Bala, and after his retirement he was awarded honorary D.D. degrees by the Universities of Wales and St. Andrews. He married Emily Treharne, and they had one son. He died 6 August 1951.
He was a very prominent figure in the life of his denomination. His Davies Lecture in 1919 on ‘Intercourse with God’ was not published. He served as Moderator of the North Wales Association (1938), and moderator of the General Assembly (1944). He was a member of the deputation which visited the missionary field of his denomination in Assam in 1935-36, and he provided his church with sound leadership in determining, at a critical time, their policy for future missionary work. He was gifted with exceptional intellectual faculties, and took an interest not only in philosophical matters, but also in defining and presenting the truths of the Gospel. He was one of the four who formulated the Shorter Declaration on Faith and Practice. He was somewhat reluctant to publish his work. When he was in Scotland he was sub-editor of the International Jnl. of Ethics, and during the same period he contributed an excellent article on the ‘Ego’ to the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. He published short monographs on the philosophy of Sir Henry Jones (1922), Y Syniad o Dduw fel person (1932) and Christianity and the state (1938). He was one of the editors of Y Drysorfa from 1932 until his death. The cream of his thoughts appeared in a collection of his writings in 1949 under the title Ysgrifau athronyddol.
Published date: 2001
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