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|After The Revival.|
By Rev John Telfer
It was our great privilege to spend the closing days of March in South Wales. We went to Loughor and Gorseinon, and spent some days in and about Swansea. The area visited was not large, but it was typical. We did not go when the Revival was in full operation, but on the back of the wave. But we saw many things, and learned some precious lessons,—learned them?— rather, we had them burned into mind and heart. Of some of these we shall speak freely; of others we shall be almost silent.
They said to us, “Yes, the Revival is over, but we are looking for another one.” What, then, of the Revival? For one thing, it has left most precious fruit behind it; souls on fire with zeal and love, aflame with hope and assurance of salvation. There is no wild excitement now, but there is gracious life, songs of praises, and fervent prayers. Still better, souls are being gathered in quietly and effectively. When they say “The Revival is over,” they do not mean to suggest that no work of grace is going on.
It is also true that there is serious conflict. On every hand we heard of it. But what do you think is the occasion of it? Assurance of salvation! It was a great surprise to us to hear this. We had thought that Welsh Christianity had made wore progress. One could scarcely believe that fierce conflict was raging round this great and precious truth; that members of Church and Chapel were denying it, bending all their energies to show that a man might be a child of God and not know it! Evidently, Wales stood in need of a Revival, and still stands in need of another. So the war goes on.
And the conflict has resulted in some measure of separation, too. Bands of converts have stayed away from the communion rather than sit at the Lord’s Table with those who work against the truth, and whose lives are unchristian. They have a meeting for prayer instead. So the cleavage between the children of the Revival and the coldly formal is being made manifest in that way. And the rent will grow worse unless there is discipline and faithfulness in all the Churches. It is not possible that these souls, baptized with the Holy Ghost, will settle down into the old sleepy, half-hearted, unbelieving ways of pre-Revival days. It is not desirable; neither for the glory of God, nor for the good of others, nor for their own spiritual welfare. May they be led and upheld in faithfulness by the Spirit of all grace and power.
A time of testing is certain to come. It will be a serious matter if ministers of the Gospel yield to the clamour of the lukewarm, and throw their influence against the fruit of the Revival. We have seen such a thing in years gone by, with lamentable results. I could write a paper on “Men who have killed Revivals.” Mercy and judgment go together. If men are not blessed by the showers of mercy they will be scathed by the fires of judgment.
In South Wales the tension of feeling between the awakened and the time-serving ministers is very great, and some have come out of their Church-connection, and have not joined any other. There have been scenes also in some of the chapels which go to prove that the converts do not lack courage. A preacher was boldly asked from a pew If he was a converted man, and if he could say he was saved.
It was amazing, also, to see how rapid is the progress many are making. A holy fervour filled many souls, and the Second Coming of the Lord was sounded forth to our great delight. We added some fuel to that fire.
We expected to walk quietly around and look on, but we were swept into the stream by the Spirit, so that we could not help speaking, singing, and testifying. It was a good time to go. There was no crush and excitement, as in the time of the Revival, but we thanked the Lord that we held back till now.
Of course we visited Loughor, and had a chat with Dan Roberts Evan was not at home); were in the room where a friend of ours got a baptism that he will never forget in time or eternity; spent a night under the happy and hospitable roof of Mr. John Davies, Gorseinon. To a Scotch tongue even the Welsh was easy, and therefore the singing uplifting. We remarked on the brotherhood of races: Mr. Davies a Celt, my friend a Saxon, and myself Norman, yet all three happy in the Lord —a foretaste of the future.
Two great lessons were learned — burned into heart and mind. First, THE PRESIDENCY OF THE HOLY GHOST; and second, MAN IS THE ENEMY.
As to the former, we had learned many lessons in days gone by. But we confess another and further lesson was required. We had been taught from Acts xiii. 2 that the Holy Ghost is supreme in, the Church of Christ; and that when He said “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them,” He claimed to have every minister at His disposal. This truth was learned years ago and acted upon, and others also. But the new lesson was the presidency of the Holy Ghost in every meeting. We saw some at work who had not seen that. We saw others who spoke of it, but were continually breaking it.
We were taught the lesson by sharp experience. We were advertised for a Sunday evening service, but were left without a message, and the meeting was hard and cold, but we got a message for the morning, when not expected to speak, and delivered it with great joy and power. We heard also a story of Evan Roberts that delighted us. At a certain meeting the Rev. Dr. — was in the meeting, and some one said to Mr. Roberts, “Ask him to speak,” but the wise man said, “No, but we will ask the Lord to ask him if he wants him to speak.” Prayer was silently offered, and the Doctor rose and spoke with great power. Yet there are many even there who do not see the affront to the Spirit of God when man is pushed forward and praised.
The second lesson was, Man is the enemy. Man in God’s way. Man is the great hinderer. In some quarters just now the opposition of the devil is the great theme. No doubt the Czar was the greatest enemy to the Japanese, but their actual enemy were the Russian soldiers. They could not get at the Czar, but they had to meet the Russian battalions. Our actual foes are men and women. Satan may be behind them and in them, and we must not forget that; but we must not shrink from witnessing to these men and women that they, are enemies to the Gospel of God.
Never in our life has this great and solemn fact been so brought home to us. Man with his schemes and plans and missions, his fleshly energy and blind presumption, his stiff and formal services, from which the Holy Spirit has been grieved away, man with his egoism and egotism, his love of power, and tyranny, and control, usurping God’s place in God’s house—he is the enemy, the vile hinderer of the work of God. The revelation of it has been almost too much for us.
One other lesson was learned—we may be in the Eleventh Hour of
the Church’s history. Leaving that, however, for another time,
let us ask ourselves if we are in the way of a revival. I am sure there
are Churches to which no revival could possibly come, but there are
others where the Holy Spirit would be welcomed. But if He enters in
power He must be supreme. He will not be the servant of carnal men.
He will not work on carnal lines—for the glory of men, for the
progress of a denomination. There is no room for Him in many of our
organizations. And the crowning insult is that men practically assume
in their plannings and schemings that He will support them in their
polluted ways. No wonder that some have cried out in agony when He has
fallen upon them. They needed to be “salted with fire.”
The Lord give more of it.
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