Thomas Charles of Bala

Thomas Charles of Bala
Gareth Williams Gareth is Pastor of Bala Evangelical Church.
05 March, 2023 1 min read

Author: John Aaron
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
382 pages
Purchase from: Eden (£15.50)

Thomas Charles was the pivot around which several significant developments took place, particularly in Wales.

John Aaron has mined Welsh and English material to produce a highly readable English biography. It makes for a personal, historical, and theological feast. Charles was involved in many noted undertakings such as the formation of the British and Foreign Bible Society, affordable Bibles for Wales (and the world), the writing of a major ‘Scriptural Dictionary’, and the theological development of Calvinistic Methodism. He also experienced revivals first-hand. Understandably, then, this account follows a general chronology but is structured thematically.

Several matters stand out. One is Charles’s positive and outward-looking disposition. Inheriting from Daniel Rowland and William Williams a strong evangelistic concern, Charles worked tremendously hard to see the gospel planted among all generations throughout Wales. His circulating and Sunday schools went a long way to making Wales highly literate in the 19th century. Charles was motivated by the glory of Christ and believed strongly in the providence of God, responding to needs as they arose and enabled to do so with marked wisdom. The detailed account of his courtship to Sally Jones is well worth the inclusion.

This account is warm, edifying, and highly quotable. It is a resource for preachers and teachers alike, and those interested in church history. The author, perhaps wisely, does not attempt to apply lessons for today. The book cover claims that the author ‘does not shrink from acknowledging both the strengths and weaknesses of his subject’, though the weaknesses are hard to find! Yet Aaron seems to avoid obvious hagiography.

Though not a quick read, it is well worth the effort (and the price tag): there is much here to benefit the reader. I would have liked to have read this 15 years ago!

Gareth Williams


Gareth is Pastor of Bala Evangelical Church.
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