This rare book, published in 1860 as the first comprehensive account of the 1859 revival in Wales, was written by an eye-witness of this awesome awakening who shares his story along with other observers from all parts of Wales.
The author is concerned less with the emotional and numerical effects experienced (and there were plenty of both) but rather with the clear marks of authentic revival.
We have included Phillips' "Preliminary Observations" and 2 of the 7 chapters.
What eventful days are these in which we live! How full of action! Nothing seems to be at rest. Whether we turn our eyes to the political, or the scientific, or the intellectual, or the religious world, there is everywhere an uneasy travailing, a spirit of unrest, to be seen. The work of a century is crowded into a year. If important events had succeeded each other as rapidly from the beginning of the world as they do now, any tolerably full knowledge of history would be an impossible acquirement. But it may be that the time is short, and that there are yet many things remaining to be accomplished. Who can foresee what may be the condition of the nations of Europe even in one short year? Will it be peace? The Lord only knows. He works out His own purposes in His own way, and by His own instruments. But we will not fear, come what may - “He doeth all things well;” and if we love Him, we may be sure that all things, whether in the great world or in our own more immediate circle, will “work together for our good.”
But while the principles of evil and selfishness in a variety of forms are more active now than at any former period in the world’s history, it is very gratifying to see that God has at the same time put it into the heart of His own people to be more zealous and active in their efforts to extend His kingdom. Every new discovery in science is pressed into this service. The Divine Word, translated into nearly all languages, is now multiplied to an unprecedented extent, and with incredible rapidity circulated throughout the habitable globe. Nor do the preachers and teachers of that Word lag behind, for there never was a time in which so many earnest men presented themselves to the different missionary societies and asked to be “sent” in obedience to the Divine command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
But the best feature of all in the aspect of the present times, and the most cheering and grateful to the mind of all God’s children, is the fact, now acknowledged even by the world, that there is a power at work in the hearts and consciences of people not to be accounted for by any human hypothesis. Attempts have been made to explain the cause of the wonderful phenomena which have been observed in this and in other countries accompanying the feeling of deep conviction of sin, but all confessedly equally unsatisfactory.
And all other explanations than the true one must necessarily be so. This, however, is a very simple one, though it may require Faith to receive and adopt it - these are “times of refreshing from the Presence Of The Lord.”
The Lord has caused His people to feel more deeply than ever the need of a gracious Revival, not only in the world, but also in the Church; and this feeling has found expression in prayer, more generally and more intensely than at any former period within our memory. In the closet, at the family altar, and in the public congregation, this great blessing has been sought with persevering earnestness. Even in prayer it has been found that “union is strength.” In numerous instances Christian congregations, in addition to the usual or special gathering for prayer in their own sanctuaries, have united with others for this high and holy purpose in some public room, or alternately in their several places of worship. Meetings for prayer have been held in all sorts of places, and attended by all sorts of people. In churches and chapels, in vestries and school-rooms, in town-halls and market-places, in the covered tent and in the open field, in the recesses of the forest and on the mountain top, in the saloons of steamers, and on the open decks of sailing vessels - meetings for special prayer have been held; and in some instances, elegant drawing-rooms have been thrown open for this purpose, while, on a late memorable occasion, the Egyptian Hall of the Mansion House was converted for the time into a Christian oratory. In all these places, from the lips and hearts of the thousands who attended them, One Prayer has ascended up before God’s throne: “O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years” - “ Wilt Thou not revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?” And the blessing thus ardently and generally sought, has been graciously vouchsafed. Verily there is a God who hears and answers prayer. The Christian Church has been greatly revived in this and in other lands. While the kingdom of darkness has been sensibly shaken, multitudes have been made to feel that religion is indeed a reality. The Revival, so called, is one of the great topics of the day. No section of the community is able to ignore it. The pulpit, the platform, and the press all unite to proclaim the wonderful religious movement of the times in which we live.
America was the first to wake up from her awful spiritual torpor; and it is said that no fewer than six hundred thousand persons in the United States have, within the last two years, been led to make a profession of religion.
England has not been wholly forgotten; for although we cannot yet speak of any great and overwhelming movement in any one locality, yet in many places, both in the metropolis and elsewhere, “the Spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters,” and now and again makes His presence felt, by mighty operations upon the hearts and consciences of sinners.
Scotland has been visited with a gracious shower, as the accounts from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and many other places testify.
Ireland also is now thoroughly awake, rising out of the dust, and putting on her beautiful garments.
Sweden likewise is experiencing a powerful and widespread revival, chiefly as the result of Scripture circulation, and the evangelistic efforts of those who have themselves known by experience the power of the truth.
And lastly, to return home, the principality of Wales, by no means a stranger to revivals in years gone by, has also in these days been blessed with an abundant outpouring of “the latter rain.” (It would be difficult to furnish the exact number and dates of the revivals with which the principality has been favoured. The first commenced at Llangeitho in 1739. The “great revival” as it is called, commenced in 1762. There was another in 1791, and a most remarkable awakening took place in 1817. Between these dates, there were revivals on a smaller scale, and since the latter date, there have been awakenings in different parts of Wales. During the revival of 1840, more than two thousand members were added to the Calvinistic Methodists alone, in the small county of Merioneth. Anglesea and Carnarvonshire were blessed with a powerful revival in 1848, and the following year. It is reported that one of the revivals at Llangeitho had its commencement in a feeling awakened in the minds of the people, while the Rev. Daniel Rowland was reading the Litany - more especially the impressive words, “by thine agony and bloody sweat,” etc. And another great revival followed the introduction of a volume of Welsh Hymns, composed by the Rev. William Williams of Pantycelyn.)
In the following pages, the revival in Wales will be regarded in its origin, progress, and extent, together with its results and principal features. And it is hoped that this brief view of the work of Gods Holy Spirit in the principality - a work still going on, and still increasing and deepening - may fill the hearts of the reader with feelings of joy and gratitude, akin to those which animated the audience of Peter, when after hearing his narrative, they “glorified God, and said, Then hath God given to the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
It is difficult to trace the origin of some things, which are now great and formidable: their beginning was small, and all the early circumstances are lost in doubt and uncertainty. We discover the origin of rivers by tracing them to their source. If we stand on the banks of the deep Severn at Gloucester, or the beautiful Wye at Hereford, or the wild and capricious Rheidol at Aberystwyth, and ask, Whence do these rivers come?we may be told, that if we follow those streams to their fountain-head, we shall find ourselves at length ascending the gentle declivities of Plinlimmon. There we shall find those small springs which, in their progress towards the ocean, gradually swell, and widen, and deepen, bestowing fertility and beauty upon large and extensive tracts of country. Not far from that mountain we shall find the localities where the first outbursts of thought and feeling were witnessed in fervent prayer, faithful preaching, and house to house exhortation; and which like so many living streams now spread over the land, rising and swelling, widening and deepening, in their onward course, bringing with them abundance of revival blessings to many thousands of Welsh “hearts and homes.”
Whatever awakenings of lesser extent may have been felt in some places previously, there can be no doubt that, as far as South Wales is concerned, the present revival commenced on, or near the banks of the Ystwyth in Cardiganshire. The places named as having first manifested a more than ordinary concern for religion are, Tre’r-ddal, Yspytty, Ysturn-tyhen, Cwmystwyth, and some other localities in the same remote region. It is said that the work commenced chiefly by the instrumentality of Humphrey Jones and David Morgan, the former a preacher amongst the Wesleyans, and the latter amongst the Calvinistic Methodists. Mr Jones had emigrated to the United States, and having witnessed much of the revival work in that country, he was now anxious on his return to his native place to witness a similar outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit there. We are told that he addressed his discourses to professing Christians, chiefly with a view to rouse them to greater life and activity, maintaining, it is presumed, that an awakened church is to be the principal instrument in converting the world. It is said that the first intercourse between these two men was most solemn. Being engaged in the same work, they interchanged views and feelings very freely. Mr Jones spoke to Mr Morgan very strongly on the state of religion in the country; the deadness of the churches, and the necessity of more earnest prayer. The character of the ministry was dwelt upon - that the gospel should be preached with more directness and energy - to be followed up by personal labours amongst the people.
“Mr Morgan was at first prejudiced against Mr Jones’ proceedings, but what he said to him had such a powerful effect upon his mind, that he could get no sleep for several nights, but continued in earnest prayer for the guidance of the Spirit. Mr Morgan went again to see Mr Jones, and said, ‘We cannot do much harm by keeping prayer-meetings, and trying to rouse the country, even if there be nothing but man in it after all.’ ‘You cannot do any harm,’ Mr Jones replied; ‘and if you try it, you will not be long before God will be with you.’ The next Sabbath-day Mr Morgan heard Mr Jones preach from ‘Woe to them that are at ease in Zion;’ and this sermon took so strong a hold of Mr Morgan’s mind, that he was at once aroused to the work. A person who was present at this service writes: ‘There was no visible effect during the preaching of this sermon; and in the societyafterwards, Mr Jones said he had found it very hard to preach. One of the elders got up and said it was a very difficult thing for a man to say ‘Amen,’ under a ministry which he felt condemning him; and as he said these words he sat down as if fainting away. At this moment, there was something (I cannot say what it was, but that it was something that neither I nor any one else present had ever felt before) went through the whole congregation, until every one put down his head and wept! The following week the two churches, Wesleyan and Calvinistic Methodists, united to keep prayer-meetings every night alternately, and we soon had a proof that the Lord was willing to accept our offerings, for there was a sweet-smelling savour accompanying them. Old backsliders began to return. Men came in crowds from the mountains, and all the country round, to our meetings, until we were afraid the chapel would come down, - men who were never seen in any place of worship, except in church at a christening or a funeral, and who knew nothing of worshipping God!”
Mr Morgan was by this time full of the spirit of revival, and was fully occupied during the day as well as every evening, in holding prayer-meetings, and conversing with inquirers. He was sent for to all the churches round, and wherever he went the Spirit was poured out, and scores of people came forward to seek a place in the house of God.
As these two men were thus greatly honoured of God at the commencement of the revival work, it may be interesting to know “what manner of persons” they were, and what was the character of their preaching. The following extract from a letter, written by Mr Jones to a young minister, will convey his own views of the Christian ministry, and we have good reason to believe that both he and Mr Morgan furnished, at that time, a living example of the description which he gives of the conditions of success in the Lord’s work: -
“Two things are necessary to be a successful preacher: first, to pray much in secret - to be there many times in the day, wrestling with God - to wrestle each time as if it were the last, and not to rise from your knees until you have a proof that the Lord has heard you. Ask the Lord in faith, and with great fervency, what to say to the people. Go straight from your closet to the pulpit each time, (like Moses from the mount to the camp,) then will the anointing follow your preaching, and every word you say will be received as from an angel of God. Another thing is, to preach pointedly and rousingly - aiming at the conscience each time - telling the people their sins to their faces - caring nothing for the good or bad opinion of men, but to keep ‘a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men;’ and beware of displaying yourself in any of your sermons. I try to aim at two things in studying and preaching: one is, not to say anything to show off myself; another is, not to say anything to amuse the people. I would wish to preach each time as if I had to die in the pulpit when I had done preaching - as if I had to go direct from the pulpit to judgment. If we are not in this frame, we shall do very little good.”
It has been found, on inquiry, that at different times, and in different places, both in North and South Wales, there had been indications of a gracious reviving, previous to the movement to which we are about to call special attention. Amongst many other places may be mentioned Llanfair-fechan, Aber, and Penmaen-mawr, in Carnarvonshire. A communication from thence states: -
“The revival of these latter years commenced here; for in the year 1858 about 280 persons were added to the two denominations in this neighbourhood. These, with very few exceptions, are still pillars in the house of God.
“The year 1859, also, was a precious year to us in this place. Scores have been added to us already, and every week there are some additions made to the churches.”
Trevecca, in Brecknockshire, the scene of many glorious revivals in the “good old times” of Howell Harries and Lady Huntingdon, and still a “school of the prophets,” was favoured with an awakening during the winter of 1857; and the record of that gracious visitation should be preserved for the encouragement of such as feel interested in maintaining a high degree of pious ardour in the minds of those who are training for the Christian ministry. The Rev. D. Charles, president of the College, gives us the following narrative: -
“We were favoured with the first droppings of the shower at the College at Trevecca. An unusual spirit had possessed the students and the little church at this place for some time. You know that we are accustomed to hold weekly church-meetings in Wales, at which members relate the different dealings of God with their souls, when exhortations, warnings, and directions are given, suitable to the occasion, and the great truths of revelation are treated in their relation to living faith and practice. These our church-meetings had become as little Bethels to us for some months. The testimony of our consciences after each successive meeting was that God was there. We drank of that ‘river the streams whereof make glad the city of God,’ and were abundantly refreshed. We seemed at times to have arrived at the vestibule of heaven, where we could breathe its pure atmosphere, and join in the song of the redeemed in glory. One of these seasons of refreshing I shall never forget. The following is the account given by one of the young men present: -
“‘It has recently been our good fortune to be favoured with occasions of spiritual delight and blessing, and we cannot do other than rejoice at recalling and relating such glorious circumstances, which have been, in truth, a refreshing to our souls, and have awakened us, in some measure, from our stoical indifference to a greater earnestness in our own spiritual career, and also in that of others.
“The occasion on which the extraordinary manifestation of Divine favour referred to took place was a church-meeting. As usual, two or three spoke their experience, and they did so with some feeling and unction. Thus the service was passing off pleasantly, every one feeling that it was good to be there. So far, however, there was nothing but what we had joyfully experienced many a time before. Still we were rejoiced, and felt inclined to thank God He had not forgotten us, and to pray that He would give yet more abundant proofs of His presence. But no one expected anything like so peculiar a manifestation as followed. Indeed, we could scarcely have formed any idea of such a manifestation, for the majority present had never seen anything like it. We had all heard our fathers speak of the great effects which they in their youth had seen accompanying the preaching of the word, and the influence which the outpouring of the Spirit was wont to have on the minds of the people assembled for worship; but we had never seen the like ourselves, at least in the measure which our fathers were accustomed to say they had seen; and, therefore, a kind of scepticism concerning its reality frequently possessed us. But now this scepticism was to be taken away forever.
“Before separating, our beloved minister administered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper - peculiar circumstances rendering it necessary that this should be done in our church-meetings. And in reading the Word of God, and making a few passing remarks thereon, an influence was felt by all present, which we had never experienced in the like manner before. There was a beauty, loveliness about the Holy Word, which we had never hitherto perceived. New light seemed to be thrown upon it. It electrified us, and caused us to weep with joy. The feeling became general. All present were under its influence. The hardest hearts were forced to succumb. After some time we partook of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, but under strange emotions. And then we sang, ay, sang with spirit, and repeated the hymn again and again - we could not leave off. Every heart seemed inspired to continue, and the last two lines were sung for full a quarter of an hour. Then the minister prayed, and such a prayer we had never before heard uttered. We felt that we were communing with God. Our hearts were truly poured out in praises and supplications. We could have prayed all night. But at length the prayer terminated, and we were to separate. But did we separate? Ah, no, every one resumed his seat and kept silence; and there we were for a length of time under the most heavenly feelings. Every heart was subdued. No one dared to speak, except by tears; and we were afraid lest any one should speak and put an end to the spell. We were at a loss to know what course should be adopted. Our feelings having been raised to so high a pitch, the difficulty was how to bring the service to a close, and to secure a separation without having the Divine influence marred. We were anxious that our impressions should continue. At length the minister rose, and slowly and pathetically read several appropriate portions of the Word of God. We then sang, and afterwards prayed again. And thus the meeting was carried on for four hours.
“The effects were not transient. They have left a deep impression on our minds, and have influenced our conduct for good. We feel more serious, more ready to speak about our religious life, more anxious as regards the salvation of the world, and more desirous that the Lord would dwell amongst us, and favour us with a still greater outpouring of His Holy Spirit. In truth “it was good to be there.”’
“After the meeting I sat down with the young men, when each seemed to pour forth his whole heart into the bosom of his brother; and such was the Divine influence felt, that the place seemed to be filled with the special presence of God, which gave rise to the suggestion in my mind, ‘Something like this must Pentecost have been.’ ‘How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ We were favoured after this with several meetings of a similar character, which have left very wholesome and valuable impressions upon the inmates of this institution.”
Similar causes produced similar effects, and the revival made rapid progress. Other ministers entered the great field, baptized with the same spirit of earnestness and zeal for the Master’s glory, and the salvation of souls. The “spirit of grace and supplications” was given to the churches, a revival in itself, and the means of procuring still greater blessings. The awakening influences at length reached the towns of Aberystwyth, Aberayron, Tregaron and almost every district in the upper and middle parts of Cardiganshire. The celebrated Llangeitho, the ancient Zion, the scene of Daniel Rowland’s devoted labours for more than forty years, was also visited with that revival power which on many former occasions had distinguished the place. The lower portions of the county, containing large and influential congregations, were also roused, and scenes of extraordinary interest were witnessed in many places. The fire was kindled, and the flame burst forth in the adjacent counties. In Merionethshire there is a glorious work in progress. Bala, so long honoured and blest by the labours of the apostolic Charles, is the scene of a powerful revival. At Dolgelly, and throughout the whole country lying between the rivers Dovey and Mowddy; from Barmouth, along the sea-coast till we come to Harlech and Talsarnau; - from thence to Maentwrog, Festiniog, and the quarry regions beyond, the mighty movement is felt. The counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, Glamorgan, Brecknock, Radnor, and the Welsh parts of Monmouth, though not so deeply and thoroughly roused, have not been left unvisited. A prayerful spirit is general, and conversions in some places are very numerous. Indeed, in some districts of the counties here enumerated there are awakenings as powerful and as productive of good as we find in the most highly favoured districts. The same description applies to Montgomeryshire. Large portions of Flintshire and Denbighshire are stirred to their depth, and every week brings interesting reports of fresh movements in other towns and villages. Glorious tidings reach us from Carnarvonshire. The towns of Carnarvon, Bangor, Pwllhely, Portmadoc, Tremadoc, Conway, and Llandudno, are awakened to a blessed extent. The chief work, however, is in the vast slate-quarries, amongst the thousands who toil in the great excavations and caverns made by their own hard hands and strong arms. From Bethgelert to Waenfawr, Llanberis, Dinorwie, Pentir, Bethesda, Capel Curig, Bettws-y-coed, and Dolyddelen - the villages which surround Snowdonia - the revival has already spread. Like a belt of fire, it encircles the mighty mountains, and whatever natural ice and snow may be found on any of their high peaks, or in their craggy recesses, there is but little moral ice now left which has not felt, in some degree, the melting power of this gracious influence.
There is yet one county left unnoticed - the last, but not the least in importance - the county of Anglesea. This little island has long been remarkable for the number of its sanctuaries, its communicants, and its Sabbath-schools. Not a little has been said respecting its liberality to the Bible Society, averaging nearly fourpence each, from its fifty thousand inhabitants. Now it bids fair to increase in all these things. From Menai Bridge to Holyhead, from Newborough to Amlwch, from Linas Point to Llanddona Head, along that coast rendered so sadly memorable by the wreck of the Royal Charter, the revival spirit is felt, and a great moral revolution is now being effected in the hearts and lives of many of its inhabitants. (Little did those numerous Christian travellers know when they passed through this county on their way to Ireland during the summer and autumn of last year, to witness the operations of God’s Holy Spirit in Ulster, that on either side of the line along which they were passing, there were equal wonders of grace and mercy being wrought by the influences of the self-same Spirit. But even had they known it, the difference of language would have presented an insurmountable barrier in the way of free intercourse with the people.)
When we speak of the Extent of the Welsh Revival, we mean something more than that it covers a large surface of country; we mean to intimate that it embraces, more or less, all sections of the Christian Church. In addition to the Established Church, Wales has its Nonconformist bodies, such as the old Dissenters, consisting of Congregationalists and Baptists, and the more modern Dissenters, called the Wesleyans and the Calvinistic Methodists. The latter are supposed to be the most numerous. They owe their very existence to the great revival in the last century, under the extraordinary ministry of Rowlands, Harries, and others, and became dissenters, in the first instance, more from necessity than choice. The good clergymen and laymen who laid the foundation of this great body of Christians laboured far and wide for the good of souls. They were revivalists indeed, and God honoured their work by adding his blessing. This denomination has been often favoured with revivals. They are thus favoured now, but it is not confined to them. All the orthodox denominations of Dissenters are awakened, and their numbers are greatly multiplied. In many of the parish churches too, where the gospel is preached with earnestness, and where the minister, with his congregation of faithful men, seeks an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that blessing is graciously vouchsafed. A venerable clergyman, long a faithful witness for the truth, to whose church many additions have been made during this revival, is said to have expressed himself thus at a prayer-meeting, “I thank Thee, O God, that Thou hast visited our old church before I die.” Many other clergymen, who are like-minded, have had similar occasion for using the language of thankfulness and joy.
General statements require illustration and the broad assertions already made should be fortified by documentary evidence. A selection, therefore, from a very ample correspondence will now be presented. We shall take the two great divisions of the Principality, with some regard to the arrangement of counties and the dates of letters. We begin with
“I have glorious news to send you, news which I am sure will make your heart leap for joy. The Spirit of God is working powerfully throughout the two counties of Cardigan and Caermarthen in South Wales. The services in the churches and chapels on week-days and Sabbath-days are crowded. Hundreds are coming over to the Lord’s side, and there seems to be an extraordinary work of grace going forward amongst us. There is no enthusiasm, but a deep, profound, and awfully solemn impression prevails.”
“There is a revival (thank God for it!) in the upper part of Cardiganshire. Sinners, and some very notorious ones, are flocking to the Church by the scores, and I may say hundreds. Do not misunderstand me when I say the Church, as meaning the Church of England exclusively, but the Church of Christ, including different denominations. I am not so bigoted as to think that the Church of God is not among the Methodists, etc., though they differ from us in minor points. I feel my heart full of gratitude when I think of the revival - of prodigals returning home to their Father’s house, and feasting on the precious Sacrifice of Calvary! They say that there are upwards of three hundred who have joined the Church at Aberystwyth, and there are scores and scores who have joined religion in the neighbouring chapels. I was at Tregaron last Sunday evening, and it was delightful to be there; indeed, it was a glorious meeting, but only five joined there that night. Mr Hughes has received between forty and fifty new converts in the course of last month.”
In April 1859, a correspondent says -
“In the town of Aberystwith about four hundred members have been added to the Calvinistic Methodist Church alone. Several of the most ungodly people of the town have been converted. Eight publicans have taken down their signs, and become teetotallers. The work commenced here one Friday night, when Mr David Morgan was preaching. A few agreed privately to meet on the Saturday afternoon to pray for a blessing on the services of the Sabbath. The report soon spread that such a meeting was to be held, and, although it was a market day, most of the shops were closed, and the chapel filled to overflowing.”
A few months after the commencement of the revival in Cardiganshire, the Rev. T. Edwards, of Penllwyn, thus writes: -
“Many of the ministers of this county have received a new spirit, and prosecute their work with fresh vigour. It is clear that God works through them in a marvellous manner. Indeed, all the ministers and elders, and other good people, have become more serious and earnest than usual. The feelings and general demeanour of the inhabitants of the county change rapidly. Religion and the present revival is the subject of conversation amongst all classes, and it produces a great impression upon them. At the same time, we have our fears lest the work should prove superficial, and that we are bringing men into the visible Church of Christ who have not been convinced of sin, and converted by the Spirit of God. Most of us, however, have lost these fears, and we cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that God is at work, saving the souls of men. We see that something awfully strong takes hold of the minds of the people. Some, after they are deeply wounded under the ministry, attempt to go away. We have seen numbers with weeping eyes leaving the house of God, but unable to go further than the door; they feel compelled to return again, and offer themselves as candidates for admission into the Church. In some cases entire families have done this. You might see, at the close of the public service, twenty or thirty of the worst characters remaining behind, to be spoken to and prayed for. They appear as if they had been shot by the truth. They are as easily managed as lambs. Some who had persecuted the revival have been led to cry, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ We have known persons who, having entered the chapel to scoff, remain to pray. Not far from this place, a young man, about fifteen years of age, and belonging to an irreligious family, after he was converted introduced domestic worship. His father and brother-in-law were inclined to ridicule; they told him he would require a new prayer each time, and that he must not use the same prayer more than once. By the following Sunday evening the two were arrested by the power of God’s word, to the great joy of the youth.
“The additions to the churches in a very short period have been incredibly numerous. Now, at the end of February (1859) we could name more than twenty churches, each of which has received an addition of one hundred members, and several have received more than two hundred each. In many neighbourhood; very few persons remain who have not made a profession of religion. There are considerable additions to the parish churches, (where the ministers have church meetings or societies) and to the Independents, Baptists, and Wesleyans. About three thousand have been added to the Calvinistic Methodists alone. The fire is spreading still.”
The Rev. W. Evans of Aberayron bears the following testimony: -
“So far as the externals of religion are concerned, they were never in a more prosperous state than before the dawning of this revival but as for the internals - the spiritual temple - these were far from being in a satisfactory condition. The spirituality of religion was a strange thing to many who were content with its mere outward profession. But how different is the state of things now amongst us! Language can hardly express the vast good God has graciously done among us! We are at a loss to find words to express our gratitude to Him for such a blessed visitation as we had in this outpouring of His Spirit! A happy change is everywhere observed - our prayer-meetings are become crowded, and a powerful spirit of prayer has laid hold of the Churches. The number of praying and prayerful people has marvellously increased.
“One of the most striking characteristics of this movement is its effects on young people, and even on children. The words of the prophet are abundantly fulfilled in these days, ‘For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring, and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses.’ The youth of our congregations are nearly all the subjects of deep religious impressions. Many of them seem as if filled with the spirit of prayer. Very young people, yea, children from ten to fourteen years of age, gather together to hold prayer-meetings, and pray very fervently. I have never witnessed so much willingness in candidates for church membership to put on the entire form of the Christian religion, and exercise themselves in all religious duties, as I do now. We have invariably impressed on the male candidates the importance of family religion, and they invariably and promptly promised to establish family worship. We have never seen such an outburst of feeling as we have in many that have recently been brought under religious impressions. To hear some of them stating what they have passed through is truly affecting; and their earnest, simple, and fervent prayers quite overcome us. Some, after sustaining a severe struggle with their heart-convictions for many days and nights without sleep and without rest, happily at last find peace in Christ to their weary souls, and resolve henceforth to live in Christ and to Him. It has been the practice among us, for some months past, to hold church-meetings after almost every service, to which inquirers have been invited, and are even exhorted to stay with the Church. We have known of many, after mustering all their strength to go out after the sermon or prayer-meeting, finding it to hard to go further than the door, being constrained by their convictions to turn back and join the Church. In a word, in these days something extraordinary has seized upon the mass of the people, for the thing is a wonder to all, a joy to many, and a terror to others.
“Among the fruits of this great revival, the following facts are prominent: - We find many that had led a long life of open rebellion against religion, and everything spiritually good, numbered now with the family of God. Some of the worst characters have been made new creatures, confessing they never knew the comforts of life till now; and some thank God on their knees that they have enjoyed more happiness in one hour of communion with God, than they had during many years of wasteful life, during which they had expended their thousands in the service of sin.
“It would be a difficult thing for me now to fix upon the probable number of converts. About two hundred have been added to the churches under my care.”
We conclude our notice of Cardiganshire with a letter, recently received from the Venerable Archdeacon Hughes, dated
“Llanbadarn Vicarage, Near Aberystwith,
13th February 1860.
“My dear Sir, - In compliance with your request, I beg to send you a few lines respecting the late revival in this neighbourhood. Between Aberystwith and Llanbadarn the Established Church has received new members to the amount of two hundred and sixty. They offered themselves apparently in a very proper state of mind - exhibiting nothing enthusiastic in their manner, but with proper impressions of the weight and importance of what they were doing. As might be expected, many in various places have gone back to the world, while many thousands give evidence of sincerity which ought to beget gratitude and praise.
“The religious revival, on the whole, I firmly believe, has been a great and extensive blessing to the principality. Multitudes of the most thoughtless characters have become, in outward conduct at least, correct and respectable.”
In reference to this county, the Rev. R. Phillips, of Llandovery, writes as follows: -
“It is supposed that about three thousand persons have been added to the Calvinistic Methodist Churches in this county during the past year. Some of the greatest drunkards in some neighbourhoods give evidence of a change of heart by a change of life. The old people say that there is more of God in this revival than they ever saw in any similar movement. It is quite clear that a work has been done which none but God could accomplish. In some places the cause of religion had nearly died away, but now those places are quickened. The churches, which were small, have received a large accession of members, and new life runs through the whole.
“The town of Llandovery has not been awakened to the same degree as some other places; but still all the denominations have increased the number of their communicants during the year. We have had a few drops, and all the churches are longing for the heavy shower of Divine influences.
“There has been a most powerful revival at Cilycwm, and about two hundred souls have been added to one church. The prayer-meetings held once every week were greatly blest, and the sermon preached by the Rev. O. Thomas, of London, on a Sunday afternoon in the month of August last, will never be forgotten. The effects were overwhelming, and many were added as the result. Conversions have been numerous at Rhandir-mwyn and Goshen.More than one hundred persons have been admitted into church-fellowship at Cwrt, in the Cothy valley. Before the revival the members were but forty, and now they are one hundred and sixty. Indeed, there are only half-a-dozen persons in this valley who do not make a profession of religion.
“The Independents at Ffald-y-brenin and Crûg-y-bar, and the Baptists at Bethel and Salem in the same district, have received a large accession of members. It may be said that nothing is now left to the devil but a few gleanings; the large sheaves are in possession of the Lord of the harvest.
“At Llansawel more than one hundred and twenty persons have been admitted, and the services continue to be attended very numerously. The congregation at Talley has greatly increased, and many scores have been added to the Church. Amongst the converted are the greatest drunkards in the parish: men who never went to a fair or a market without returning home perfectly drunk. But as far as we can judge at present, there is a thorough change in these characters. The converts at Llansadwrn are chiefly young people, and all the religious communities of this place have been strengthened by new members.
“Although there is nothing very powerful at Llanddeusant or Mothvey, there have been considerable additions. The week of prayer, in compliance with the request of the missionaries in India, was a remarkable week at the former place. At a church meeting held after the service, the entire congregation remained, placing themselves for the time in the condition of inquirers. At Llangadock and Llandilo considerable numbers have been added to the various places of worship, and at the latter place to the communion of the parish church. At Llangathen, also, a great work has been effected. Amongst the candidates at this place an octogenarian presented himself. The following was a part of the conversation between him and the minister. When the latter said, - ‘You have been very long in the service of sin and Satan?’ the old man replied, ‘Too long by far, sir.’ ‘Do you not think,’ said the minister, ‘that your old master will be angry with you for quitting his service?’ ‘I think not,’ was the simple reply. ‘What makes you think so?’ said the minister. ‘Well,’ said the old. man, ‘I gave him notice about a year ago that I intended leaving him.’
“If we pass on to Cross Inn we shall find a great change in many persons. At Llanfynydd the Holy Spirit has been poured out, and blasphemers are now found humble petitioners at the throne of mercy. The following places have shared largely in the blessings of the present awakening: - Rhyd-cymmerau, Bont-ynys-wen, Brechfa, Abergorlech, Nantcaredig, Capel Dewi, Llanarthney, and Llanddarog.
“There is no great stir as yet at Caermarthen, but the meetings for prayer, congregationally and unitedly, are increasing in interest, and some additions have been made. At Newcastle Emlyn, Closygraig, New Inn, Llanpumpsaint, Pantgwyn, Cwmdwyfran, Conwil, Llandefeiliog, Kidwelly, Pembrey, and Llanelly, a work similar to the above has been accomplished, and in many of these, as elsewhere, backsliders have been reclaimed and restored to their lost privileges.
“There are many other places which might have been named; and although I cannot give particulars of other denominations, it may be said thankfully that the revival is almost universal in this county. Our joyful song is, ‘The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.’
“From these general statements it would be easy for me to pass to particular instances of the work of grace in the conversion of notorious sinners.
“The head of a family was recently received into communion. He had a wife and nine children, but on account of his intemperate habits they were sunk in poverty. None of them attended public worship. He was, however, induced to become a total abstainer. He took the pledge, and kept it. This led him to attend the chapel and the Sunday school. He was impressed under the word - convictions laid hold of him - with weeping and supplication he sought a place amongst the people of God. His wife and children also are the subjects of a great moral and social change. The change in this family has produced the most salutary impression on large numbers.
A large farmer in this county, who had been addicted to drunkenness for many years, but who had a religious wife, has recently been brought to submit to the yoke of Christ. He felt it was his duty to set up family worship, but was kept back by various considerations. Even on the morning he fully resolved to commence, the presence of a carpenter who worked for him, and who was a persecutor and scoffer, made him hesitate. He was about to give it up even after he had opened the Bible. He turned to this scoffer and said to him, ‘Will you read a chapter and pray? It is as much your duty as mine, although you make no profession of religion.’ This completely weakened his power to scoff. He bowed his head, and the farmer proceeded with reading and prayer, being his first attempt to honour the Lord under his own roof. This service produced serious impressions on the carpenter’s mind, and the result is, that he also has yielded to the claims of religion, and now rejoices ‘in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
“I ought to add that the leaders and office-bearers in the churches throughout the country have been greatly awakened - the spirit of doing good has fallen upon them. They are like so many home missionaries - they preach to the people wherever they meet them, in the streets or elsewhere, in the spirit of the injunction, ‘Compel them to come in.’”
The following communication, dated Feb. 25, 1860, is from the Rev. J. Griffiths, Vicar of Llandilo-fawr: -
“I have delayed replying to your letter with the hope that I should have a more copious report to furnish in respect to the wonderful movement in Wales, generally termed ‘revivals.’ During last year, and indeed in this, we have had a great accession to our church, and the impression on my mind is, that the hand of the Lord is plainly visible throughout. What can the sceptical world say when you see a stalwart, athletic man, in the vigour of robust manhood, whose previous life was that of a thoughtless man, not caring for his soul nor his family, brought to his knees, and crying out, like the prodigal, ‘I have sinned against heaven and before thee,’ and continuing faithful to Christ and His gospel for nearly a whole year?
“This is only one instance of many that I could mention.
“There are many things connected with this movement, like everything else, which you cannot soberly approve; but I am firmly persuaded that the Almighty is opening the sluices of grace and pouring out streams of blessings on the churches of all denominations.
“The Union meetings seem to be blessed to a great extent in the neighbourhood of Newcastle Emlyn. Whenever two or three are gathered together to address the throne of grace, believing, in the name of Jesus, that they shall receive the blessing asked for, they are heard, and the place is too confined to accommodate the crowds that assemble in consequence. God seems to honour prayer-meetings more than any other means of grace in this movement. If the churches - or may I not rather say the Church of Christ - were to petition the House of Mercy, God’s Bethesda, with that simplicity and importunity which the Scriptures indicate and encourage, I verily believe that we should succeed in making a paradise again of our globe. It is the narrow-mindedness and self-exaltation of the Christian Church that ties up the hands which are overflowing with blessings to man; the practical influence and obedience of faith which appear to follow this revival restrains the tongue of the sceptic and drives the scoffer to a corner.”
Abergwili, near Caermarthe The Rev. D. C. Jones writes, February 29: -
“We have been visited with a larger measure of the Spirit’s influences than usual. It came suddenly ‘like a rushing mighty wind,’ and that apparently when the churches little expected it.
“The first indications were observed in the month of May last, when the prayer-meetings were better attended, and larger numbers came to the public services on the Lord’s day, and more punctually than usual. It was evident, from the earnest attention paid to the sermons and to every part of the service, that a deep feeling pervaded the congregation. I endeavoured to deepen and to draw out this earnest feeling by preaching from Hosea xiii. 13. This was done in my two congregations and with marked effect. During the three succeeding months I had the inexpressible pleasure of giving the right hand of fellowship to upwards of two hundred persons. I am thankful to he able to say that, with few exceptions, they give me abundant satisfaction.
“This religious movement is somewhat different from the former revivals with which Wales has been favoured. We have had no loud exhibition of feeling, but rather a strong current of inward emotions, finding vent in floods of tears. I hope it is not a transient thing, but, on the contrary, that this ‘Gad’ will be followed by a ‘troop.’ There is already a considerable change in the aspect of the neighbourhoods where the revival has prevailed. The temperance movement gathers strength, and some of the public-houses are gasping for breath, as though they were in the last struggle.”
Out of many communications from this county, the following is selected. It is from the pen of a minister who has been much honoured of God in this and in former revivals: -
Llanharan, Feb. 10, 1860.
“I have the greatest pleasure in stating that this locality has been blessed with a most powerful religious awakening for the last twelve mouths. Considering the scanty population of these parts, compared with the towns, works, and mineral districts, the revival here is regarded as one of the most wonderful and powerful hitherto known in Wales. The hand of the Lord is clearly revealed, and multitudes are added unto the Lord. The circumstances under which the heavenly gale began to blow, are as follows: - At our annual assembly, held at Aberdare, in June 1858, it was proposed and unanimously resolved, that the first Sunday in the following August should be set apart by all the churches and congregations of our association in the four counties - viz., Glamorgan, Monmouth, Brecknock, and Radnor - to pray unitedly and earnestly for the outpouring of God’s Spirit. I went home, and stated the resolution to my people, and some unusual feelings thrilled through the minds of all present. When the stated Sabbath arrived, we were blessed with remarkable earnestness at the throne of grace for the descent of the Holy Spirit to revive the Church and convert the world. Ever since that memorable Sabbath, the prayer-meetings presented a new aspect, - they gradually increased in warmth and number during the following months. This continued to February last, when it pleased Jehovah to pour down His Spirit from on high, as on the day of Pentecost. Then anxious inquirers came forward in dozens, some under strong mental emotions, perceiving their lost state as sinners; and shortly they received relief to their minds by exercising faith in the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. At this period it was advisable to publish prayer-meetings daily, and the attendance constantly increased for months, and continues doing so to the present time. Our chapels and other places of worship are overcrowded. At the close of each meeting we announced a Society (church-meeting), and new converts came forward daily. The number of these at present in our churches amounts to several hundreds. The churches are generally doubled in number, and new inquirers are continually corning forward. The heavenly fire still continues to burn, and the flames have spread throughout the county at large. All religious denominations are cordially united in social prayer-meetings, and the descent of Divine influence amongst us is evident. The writer of these lines (to God be the praise) has had the great honour of giving the right hand of fellowship to more than six hundred and fifty new candidates for membership in our churches in this district since February last; and that in a comparatively small circle too. The revival is progressing and spreading universally in this new year throughout the towns, ironworks, villages, and hamlets of Glamorganshire, especially in that part of the county called ‘The Vale.’ Those parts of the county which were usually considered to be the darkest, and where the inhabitants were most absorbed in worldly cares, are now generally roused and awakened, and ‘raised from the dead,’ and Christ himself gives them light. We have no cases of physical prostration; persons are not struck to the ground here, as in Ireland and Scotland; but we have many cases of very sudden and powerful changes in those who have discovered their lost state, while pursuing their several avocations on the mountains, and who on the spot were led to cry for mercy. Many of the old standard bearers of the gospel are led to seek pardoning grace. They now seem as though they were born over again; and the very sound of their voices moves the whole congregation into tears, and exclamations of ‘Hallelujah!’ universally burst forth. Now and then we witness persons, under the influence of saving grace, leaping in spiritual joy. We have converts whose ages vary from nine years to eighty, and in some instances eighty-four years of age; and both young and old give evidence of spiritual life. The newborn babes in Christ form themselves into divers prayer-meetings, and. their supplications at the throne of grace are remarkably earnest; they sometimes pray for their friends and relatives by name, and so earnest is the prayer, that they will not leave the mercy-seat until they prevail. The result is, that others (ready to perish) are continually brought in at the great trumpet-sound of salvation. ‘The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.’ Thousands, since the commencement of this revival, have been converted and brought home to God amongst our own denomination in these parts, numbering more than twenty congregations. Other denominations of the Christian Church throughout this county, especially in ‘The Vale,’ have been blessed with the same wonderful results. This period must assuredly be the dawn of the glorious Millennium.
The iron districts of Merthyr, Dowlais, and more especially of Aberdare, have had extensive awakenings. The Rev. W. Edwards, in concluding a long and interesting account of the revival, more particularly in his own large congregation, says, “In its relation to us, the revival came after a year’s longing, praying, and labouring for it. It has subdued some of the oldest hearers and those who had long remained obstinate. This revival is distinguished by solemnity of feeling and great earnestness in prayer. There is something in it, which leads the people to make every effort to gain others. As an illustration of the latter remark, I may give the following instance. There is on Hirwaen Common a spot of ground, which has long since been possessed by Sabbath-breakers. To this place large numbers resorted to play at ‘pitch-and-toss’ and other idle games. It was in vain that the police endeavoured to scatter them. On a certain Sunday, however, three of our young men, with their Bibles in their pockets, went to the place, and by the time they arrived the people were in full play. The young men were laughed at, despised, and mocked, but they were not to be discouraged. They felt their responsibility. They used the sword of the Spirit. A chapter was read - prayer followed, and in a short time the company broke up – they decamped, leaving the game unfinished, and the money behind. They have never gone again, and on the following Sunday one of the party said that he had done with it for ever, and that he and his companions intended going to the Sunday school.”
The religious awakening in this district is thus described by the Rev. T. Rees, of Beaufort, in October last:-
“The churches at Aberdare have been blessed with a most powerful revival this year. From one thousand to one thousand two hundred members have been added to the Independent denomination in the parish of Aberdare alone, within the last six months. The churches throughout the whole manufacturing districts from Swansea to Pontypool are to some extent favoured with a revival.”
From Swansea and the neighbourhood, we hear that the Spirit of the Lord is at work; more powerfully, perhaps, in the country places than in the town itself. The great prayer week was well observed. The Rev. W. Williams remarks: -
“There was a vast amount of feeling at several of the services. On Friday evening there was loud sobbing heard throughout the chapel, and one young person who had been a source of trouble to her parents screamed aloud. Another went home and burnt all her ‘London Journals.’ … As to results, we have seen some already, and expect more. There is an evident increase of earnestness in Christians of all denominations. Ministers pray and preach as they never did before.”
At a place called Llanwrtyd, and in the neighbouring parishes throughout the hundred of Builth, the revival has been very powerful for many months past. It commenced amongst the Calvinistic Methodists. The first outburst is thus described:-
“For some time the old members felt that the Church was not as of old, and their hearts longed for a new visitation. On a weekday evening, a prayer-meeting was held in a dwelling-house in one of the dingles running up between the lofty and barren mountains of the neighbourhood. In this meeting something strange and powerful was experienced. The young people could not refrain from singing. They sang all the way home. It was not common singing. The new tunes, cold, formal, and. straitened as most of them are, had no share in it; it was the old, heavenly, unctuous heart singing of days gone by. Its source was joy and heavenly peace in the heart; bursting as an overflowing well, its streams could not be stopped. The people of the village heard the singing. One of the old people, who had long sighed for the revival, said, ‘There it is. That is the very thing that I have longed for. Thank God!’ The singers reached the village, and the feeling spread like wild fire, till most of the people were singing and praying. On the following Sunday a great many sought admission into the church. Strongmen were overpowered, and began to pray and praise aloud. The children also partook largely of the blessed influence, and about a dozen of them began to pray and sing together, and continued to do so for hours. Two of these were the children of a publican; one was, I believe, ten, and the other twelve years old. They went home, praising the Redeemer aloud. In the house they took hold of their father, one on each side, still praising God, and imploring him to join them. At last he asked them to desist, saying that they had sung enough. They replied. that they had not sung enough, and at last the father was constrained to join them. The children and young people began to hold prayer-meetings, from house to house, and the revival continued to spread. Many people came from great distances to attend the meetings, and to witness the effects. Most of these experienced its power, and, returning home new men, they became instrumental in commencing the good work in their own neighbourhoods.”
The Rev. Lewis Davies, a minister in this neighbourhood, says, “We have proceeded cautiously, not wishing to take the lead of the Holy Spirit, or to lag behind, when we had evidences of the Spirit’s work on the minds of the people. The young people, those who had been brought up religiously, were the first affected. Since then the work has spread. Our church-meetings have been held separately, and not in connexion with other services, so as not to avail ourselves of any excitement. More than fifty members have been received at Gorwydd, and both at Bont and Llangammarch the churches have doubled their numbers. Thus far they go on well.”
At the close of last year the Rev. T. Rees writes:-
“Many of the students in the Independent College at Brecon are full of the revival fire, and their Sabbath visits to the neighbouring churches are eminently blessed. Many churches in Brecknockshire are now experiencing the powers of the world to come, to a greater degree than they ever did before. The ancient Congregational church at Llangattock, near Crickhowell, after a long and. dreary winter, is now beginning to enjoy ‘times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.’ Several congregations in the neighbourhood of Builth have had their numbers doubled within the last few weeks. Cwmcamlais is a small-secluded place between the mountains, about six miles from Brecon. The adult population of the valley does not exceed one hundred and fifty. The Congregational church, which is the only religious society in the district, consisted of forty members. Some of them are very old, and have adorned their religious profession for more than sixty years. These aged Christians have, for a long time, been longing and praying for a gracious visit from the Lord previous to their departure, and on the 11th of this month (December) their prayers were answered. A most powerful and irresistible influence was felt by the whole congregation. Since that day, from twenty to thirty have joined the church, and the earnest expectation and prayers of all the friends of religion are, that the Lord will continue to pour down His Holy Spirit until every soul in the valley is brought to the Saviour.”
Mr Stephens, the minister, in a letter received from him this week, says:-
“The Lord has graciously visited the small church at Cwmcamlais. The old members are quite overcome with joy, and the hearers flock into the church. Above twenty have been united to us this week. Come to see us, and give us two or three sermons. It does not matter what day you come - the Sabbath, or a week-day - for every day is a Sabbath with us now. The people cannot think of doing anything but feed their cattle, and attend the prayer meetings (under date of March 24, it is stated by the Rev. W. Griffiths, after a visit to this place, “All the inhabitants are now turned to the Lord.”).
The population of this county is partly Welsh and partly English. There is considerable religious activity amongst all denominations, and unmistakeable signs of revival in many parts. With few exceptions, the movement is silent, but the tide keeps advancing. Churches which had been dormant for years, and into which the reception of a fresh communicant was a rare occurrence, are now greatly awakened. A correspondent says: -
“Pembrokeshire has been favoured with gracious visitations. Aged Christians have been ‘renewed in the spirit of their minds,’ as evidenced by their prayers and experiences. In some places powerful awakenings have been felt - so strong that the awakened parties have been unable to remain silent in the services. Perhaps the most remarkable movement is at Trevine, where the members have been more than doubled. I happened to be there on the Sunday previous to the week set apart for prayer, at the request of the missionaries in India. On that day and the following week there was much of the presence of God with His people. Day by day the meetings were held ; many of the persons who engaged publicly in prayer were, a few months previously, the faithful servants of the enemy. Their gift in prayer was almost miraculous. I never spent such a Sabbath in my life. I was there again on Saturday night last, on my way to St David’s. There is a considerable awakening in other places, and my opinion is, that if we had more life and earnestness in the pulpit, there would be far more life and holiness in the congregations.”
This small county of 25,OOO inhabitants has long since ceased to be Welsh in language. For many reasons, it has not been so well supplied with an enlightened. ministry as some other counties. To supply this lack, home missionaries have been located at different points; and it is gratifying to be able to state that signs of an awakening have been witnessed within the last few months in some of the towns, and in several of the villages.
A correspondent at Rhayader writes -
“One of the most remarkable things is the disappearance of drunkenness. Some of the most noted drunkards have not only joined the Total Abstinence Society, but also the Church of Christ, and for some months past their conduct has been irreproachable. We do indeed ‘rejoice,’ but it is ‘with trembling.’”
The Rev. S. Roberts of Penybont writes, in January -
“The revival is only beginning with us;” and then proceeds to give an account of the deep interest awakened by the special prayer-meetings at the different villages on his station. At a very small village he had already received fourteen members, and looked forward to the pleasure of receiving shortly an equal number. Some of the conversions which had taken place were very striking. He says, “A very remarkable character presented himself as a candidate for membership. According to his own account, he had been ‘a ringleader in the devil’s army, and had passed the last twenty years of his life without a ray of light or hope.’ Though he was the son of a pious father, he never attended the means of grace. Since his change, he has been zealous in the service of his new Master. He goes from house to house to reason with his old companions respecting the folly of sin. On one occasion he met two young men, who had been his associates in wickedness, and immediately addressed them on the sinfulness and danger of the life they led. At first they were inclined to laugh, but his earnestness overcame them, and they wept. He took out his Bible, read and prayed on the spot. The young men testified that they felt as they had never felt before. The conversion of this man has produced a great sensation in the neighbourhood. He is a farmer, and forty years of age.”
But the strongest religious movement in this county is felt at Presteign, Knighton, and the neighbourhood. The following extracts from a letter written by the Rev. T. L. Davies, the Baptist minister at the first-named place, will be read with interest:-
“The first symptoms of the work appeared about four months ago in a revival of the spirit of prayer. That branch of the Church of Christ over which I preside resolved about that time to hold prayer-meetings every night, to plead with the Lord for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. ‘Oh,’ was our cry, ‘that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence!’ These meetings were attended with unusual power. We felt that God of a truth was with us, and that He was about displaying His power in the salvation of many souls.
“In the latter end of November it was proposed that we should hold united prayer-meetings. This met with the hearty approval of all the Dissenters in the town, and the Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and the Wesleyans soon met successively, at their respective chapels, without any semblance of sectarianism.
“All deeply felt the necessity of prayer - of united prayer and effort for the conversion of precious souls; and hence the house of prayer became a delightful resort. We all wished to pray. We all delighted to pray. We were all impelled to pray, by an unseen Power.
“Those who had, a few weeks before, very little inclination for prayer-meetings, and very seldom attended them now flocked to them, and are among the foremost in promoting the work.
“This had a marked influence on the world; for, in addition to the earnest spirit of prayer which prevailed, they saw, that an earnest spirit of united prayer and united effort for their salvation prevailed. They saw that it was no longer the movement of a party or of a sect; but that all the true from all the sects had but one common object in view, namely, the conversion of their souls - the glory of Christ.
“Many now became deeply concerned about their souls, and earnestly sought the Lord for mercy, through the blood. of Jesus, shed for the remission of sins. It became evident to all that our prayers were answered - that the Spirit was poured out from on high; for almost every night were seen the tears of the penitent, were heard the sighs and sobs of the mourner and broken-hearted, and the cries of those who saw their lost condition.
“It is impossible for me to enter into details, or inform you of half of what we have felt, and heard, and seen during this precious season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. But some of the meetings and the cases of conversion deserve special mention. We had an extraordinary meeting at the Primitive Methodist chapel on New-year’s eve. Several of the brethren prayed, and others addressed the meeting, and. afterwards some minutes were spent in silent prayer. We felt at this time as if the glory of the Lord was passing by, whilst we were in the cleft of the rock. I am not aware that there were any conversions that night, but every one at the meeting was more or less affected - many very deeply.
“At a crowded meeting, held at the Baptist chapel, the following Friday night; after a sermon by Mr L. Cowdell, and another by the Rev. Mr Huff, and a few words by myself, twelve came forward in deep distress, and eight found peace. ‘Being justified by faith,’ they ‘had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ On the following Sunday night, at the same place, ten more appeared in the deepest distress about their soul’s salvation, and most of them found peace. But I never felt the influence of the Holy Spirit so powerful as on the following Tuesday night, at the same chapel. After several of the brethren had engaged in prayer, and a short address had been delivered, an invitation was given to all who were concerned about their soul’s salvation, to come forward to the communion table. Nine moved out whilst we were directing them to the Saviour. The Holy Ghost descended upon us; not, indeed, ‘as a rushing mighty wind,’ yet as the gentle zephyr, till it filled the whole place. So powerful was the influence that none of us could speak for some minutes. We all gave vent to our feelings in floods of joyful tears. We met the next night at the Wesleyan chapel. After a very impressive sermon by the Rev. Mr Kirkland, an invitation was given to all anxious inquirers to come forward to the communion rail. A young woman came forward in the greatest conceivable distress; after her came a young lady in like distress; and following them came an elderly lady. After we had directed them to Jesus and had prayed for them, we rose up and were about to dismiss the congregation, when the last said to the first, ‘Why, Mary, is it you?’ It was her servant, and the second that came was her daughter. Thus three were led from the same house to seek the Lord without any previous knowledge of each other’s intention. They did not find peace that night, but the three are now rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.
“I am not able to inform you, how many have been converted, or who have professed to be, but a very large number (taking into consideration the population) have been, whilst many have been received into the fellowship of the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. I had the pleasure, on the second Sabbath of last month, of baptizing thirty-four ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,’ and there are upwards of sixty more seeking our fellowship. Seven found peace at the Wesleyan chapel last Wednesday night.
“Nor is this influence confined to the town - it more or less pervades the whole neighbourhood. The revival is very powerfully felt at Stansbatch, a little, place about four miles from here. Upwards of thirty have been recently converted there. We have union prayer-meetings there also. At one of these, not long ago, eleven declared themselves on the Lord’s side. At this meeting, the wife of a man who had been recently converted meekly said that she had found peace in the Lord Jesus. She was converted in answer to her husband’s prayers. He was asked to tell the meeting how the Lord had answered his prayers. He did so with tears of joy flowing down his cheeks, which deeply affected us all. He said, that since he had determined to follow Christ, his wife very much opposed him, and was the source of much trouble and anxiety to him. She would often say, ‘I can’t think what you want at those meetings.’ He said, I resolved to pray for her, and one evening when I was conducting family worship, and reading the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, she cried out in deep distress, ‘O Charles, what shall I do? What shall I do? Will you pray for me?’ He said, ‘Yes, with all my heart.’ They knelt down and continued in earnest prayer till ten o’clock, when it pleased the Lord to speak peace to her soul. At the same meeting, a little girl came forward, seeking the Lord in deep distress. When we were directing her to the Saviour, a man was heard sobbing and weeping bitterly, and crying aloud for mercy. ‘O God,’ he said, ‘have mercy upon me; oh! save me or I die.’ He was the little girl’s father. He rose and moved on to his little daughter, and threw his arms round her neck, and both, weeping and broken-hearted, knelt down, and continued in earnest prayer for about fifteen minutes. The father continued in great distress for many days. At a subsequent meeting he told us, to our great joy, that the Lord had had mercy upon him - that his burden had been removed - that his sins had been forgiven - and that he knew now what it was to rejoice in Jesus.”
“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Psalm cxviii 23.) To Him be all the praise!
“The Lord has poured out His Spirit in this great revival, in answer to the fervent prayers of His people. It is a glorious truth - oh that the Church - the universal Church - realised it - that the prayer of faith prevails with God!
“This revival is altogether a revival of the spirit of prayer; it takes its embodied form in christian unity.
“These constitute the strength of the Church. Let the Church pray - unitedly pray, and unitedly ‘strive for the faith once delivered unto the saints,’ and the world will soon feel that Christianity is a power - a power which it is altogether unable to withstand. Let Christianity but be presented, not as it is found in our conventional theology, nor through the medium of a sect, but as it is found in the Book, with genial and loving warmth, and, under the influence of God’s Spirit, it will soon move and captivate the world.
“Let party names no more
The Christian world o’erspread;
Gentile and Jew, and bond and free,
Are one in Christ their Head.”
“Let the Church - the whole Church say, ‘For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.’”
This county, though nominally in England, is essentially a part of the principality. The Welsh language is still spoken in a few of the towns, and predominates in some of the country districts, more especially the localities, which have become the seat and centre of the great iron works. Here a vast number of people - English, Scotch, Irish, and Welsh - are congregated, and immense efforts have been made for their spiritual benefit both by Churchmen and Dissenters. The revival, in all its power and blessedness, has penetrated the iron and colliery districts. All classes have experienced its effects. Its divine character has been attested by the marvellous change wrought in the habits of thought, and speech, and action of multitudes, and some of them the most abandoned and wicked in the families and neighbourhoods to which they belonged.
The Rev. Thos. Rees, of Beaufort, whose church and congregation have shared largely in the revival blessings, writes, under date of March 7, as follows: -
“The Welsh Congregational churches in the county of Monmouth have, since the spring of last year, enjoyed ‘times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.’ There is scarcely a congregation in the whole of the Welsh district of the county, which has not been more or less moved. I am not able to furnish you with the exact number added to our churches, but I am certain that at least two thousand have joined our societies since April 1859. There are amongst the converts several above seventy years of age, and many as young as eight years; but the majority is made up of young people from fifteen to thirty.
“The revival in this county is not so powerful and extensive as it is in Cardiganshire, North Wales, and even in some districts of the counties of Brecknock, Caermarthen, and Glamorgan. Still its blessed effects are visible amongst us in the increased spirituality and zeal of professors, the unexampled co-operation and union of Christians of all evangelical denominations, the conversion of multitudes of sinners, and the decided improvement of the population generally in their morals.
“The feelings manifested at the public services in this county are not so intense and overpowering as in some other parts of the principality, but occasionally large congregations are bathed in tears.
“The prayer-meetings held in January last, and in which the Independents, the Calvinistic Methodists, the Wesleyans, and in some rare instances the Baptists and the Episcopalians, most heartily joined, have resulted in the addition of large numbers to the churches. Above fifty have joined the church under my care since the beginning of this year. The church under the pastoral care of the Rev. E. Jenkins at Rhymney has had above one hundred and fifty added to it during the same period. In some of our churches the awakening is gaining strength from week to week. May the Lord continue to pour down His Spirit until every lost sinner is brought to the Saviour!”
Chapter 1. Origin, Progress and Extent
Chapter 2. Scenes of Revival - South Wales
Chapter 3. Scenes of Revival - North Wales
Chapter 4. Results
Chapter 5. General Effects
Chapter 6. Principal Features
Chapter 7. Concluding Remarks