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|Evan Roberts At Llandrindod Wells.|
The meetings held by Evan Roberts in various places, are such an earnest endeavour to combine the direct leadership of the Holy Spirit with modern mission methods, that they form an instructive object lesson to Friends. The dominating thought in his heart, is to place himself absolutely under the control of the Spirit of God. For the time his whole being seems given up to a search to understand the mind of God at that moment, and the determination to follow Him fully. Intensity and sincerity, the sense of the sacredness of the divine Presence, and the utter determination to fulfil the divine will, dominate the man. Highly strung and of impressionable mind, he is quickly capable of impressing others. Not only is he quick to discern the mind of the Spirit, but also in discerning the spirit of the meeting. To sit in the presence of a man who is so absorbed in receiving the impress of the Holy Spirit and so intent on carrying into action what he believes the Lord tells him, arouses intense sympathy.
Evan Roberts combines the qualifications of a true Quaker minister with the true Quaker elder. He exercises prompt oversight of the meeting, excrescences being checked as they become evident, especially if the meeting inappropriately commences to sing when he feels it ought to have a time of silence, or a time of testing, or a prayer. It is refreshing to find a man who refuses to let a meeting be injured by untimely and indiscreet expression. In the meetings of Friends, extreme individualism may become a real stumbling-block to others if not kept under control; and if self is not subdued under the power of the Spirit, eldership is a genuine kindness rather than that the flow of a whole meeting should be disordered by abuse of liberty.
For the most part Evan Roberts keeps his eyes closed as he sits in his chair; his hands often cover his face. A perfect sunbeam lights up his countenance when he sees the meeting go right, and he reflects with a beautiful child-mindedness the happy inspiration of the moment. He is essentially a Quaker without being in bondage to preconceptions as to correctness or custom. He is a child of God, obviously sincere, liable to mistake, but clothed with the quiet spirit of wisdom, and gentleness and understanding that cometh from above. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and in the experiences of one meeting is portrayed the current of new life which is doing so much to awaken and remould the religious life of the day.
As such evangelists move from place to place, we can scarcely avoid the reflection and conviction that they are in true apostolic succession in their earnest endeavour to fulfil the thought of the early Christian Church when it used the words, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and unto us.” Such words represent the endeavour to discern the will of God and to give that will expression.
The meetings at Llandrindod had been organised by the Free Church Council, and were held in a large tent holding 2,000 people. The races had just occurred, and a watchman was paid to watch the mission tent during the night. Apparently he went to sleep, from which he awoke to find the six principal ropes cut, and the tent collapsed. The hard work of the committee and a number of men resulted in the tent being raised before 2 o’clock on the 15th, and ready for the audience. As the meeting gathered, a heavy storm rose, the wind whistling through the shrouds, and the canvas flapping threateningly. Ten pounds reward had been offered to anyone who would give information leading to the detection of the culprits who cut the ropes. The thought that seemed to run through the beginning of the meeting was the conflict between the forces of evil and the forces that make for righteousness, but as the meeting proceeded the Spirit of Christ manifestly prevailed, to the joy of many hearts.
Mrs. Penn-Lewis, Seth Joshua, and Principal Edwards were among those from a distance who sat on the platform. The meeting was arranged specially for Radnorshire folk and residents, comparatively few of whom could have attended an evening meeting. Many of them understood both Welsh and English. In front of the tent in large letters was the motto, ‘‘All one in Christ Jesus.” Streamers floated above, with the words “Love” and “Peace.” Ministers of many denominations occupied the platform, and by three o’clock the tent was filled.
Evan Roberts gave out the hymn:—
“Breathe Thou upon us Holy Ghost,
He then offered prayer on the lines of the hymn, concluding his petition with the words, “Breathe upon us, keep us very still.” With emphasis and reiteration, he next read Isaiah liii. from a pocket Bible,— “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Though appearing like a young man of twenty, he is exceedingly grave in his deportment. He emphasised the word respecting Christ, “YET HE opened not His mouth,” inferring that there was a time for silence as well as a time for speech;” and then, al the conclusion, he stopped at the words, “and the PLEASURE of the Lord shall prosper in His hand;” ‘‘HE now makes intercession for transgressors,” exclaiming, “May the Holy Ghost reveal to us the Christ, and make us of a broken and contrite spirit.” “Calvary is a reality.” ‘‘The Lord hath laid on Him our transgressions.”
After the hymn,
“Come, Holy Spirit come,
silent prayer ensued, the whole audience bowing without a word being spoken. Principal Edwards rose and gave thanks for the verities of Scripture, and prayed that the words spoken might reach many hearts. He asked that from the green hills of Llandrindod, we might see “the green hill far away,” where Jesus died for sinners. Might those be forgiven who the night before cut the ropes of the tent. They knew not what they did. Jesus could find them, though the ten pounds reward might never be paid. Might the streams of blessing flow from these meetings to every valley and hill in Radnorshire, and to every land.
Evan Roberts then gave out the text,” And when He saw the city, He wept.” John in Patmos saw and heard the risen Saviour saying, “I am the living one.”
Several prayers followed in the body of the meeting in Welsh or English, some audible, others hardly so. Someone commenced to sing, but Mrs. Penn-Lewis appealed for prayer. “We turn our eyes to Thee,” she began. “No words are any good except they come from Thee. Thou choosest the weak and foolish to confound the mighty. Meet every one of us here,” After a short reading from Scripture, she turned to the audience and said, “How many came here to day to meet Jesus? How many know Him?” Many hands went up. She continued, “ The Lord has caused thousands of us in Wales to know the Holy Spirit as a PERSON.” Turning to John xv. 26, she read, “When the Comforter is come—He shall testify of Me.” The Holy Spirit is always pointing to Jesus. Father, Son, and Spirit all reveal each other. Jesus in this chapter, revealed Himself, beginning, ‘‘Let not your heart be troubled,” or literally, “Let not your heart be rippled.” It is the audience that makes the meeting. The difficulty is to get people honestly to meet God. We are so occupied with many things, He wants us to be occupied with Jesus. To read this chapter thoughtfully is to see the heart of Jesus. The devil distracts us with trouble. Christ is saying farewell to the disciples before He goes to the Cross. He says I will GIVE you.” We may sometimes agonise, but a moment comes when we stop agonising, and we “take a free gift.” Some people want the Holy Ghost that they may be mightily used, or that their Church may prosper, or that they may be happy. He is the Spirit of Truth. He is the Comforter. He does not scold. He does not drive. The truth may grieve, but the Holy Spirit comforts us. He comforts by revealing Jesus, who takes the burden of sin away. He will blot out the sin. Others may remember our sins, but God promises to remember them no more forever. When Christians receive the Spirit, they see more of the evil of their own tempers, they find out their own vexations, but when Jesus died on the Cross, He took the sinner there as well as his sins. What for? That the living Christ might dwell in us, as He says, ‘‘I will dwell in them and walk in them.” A policeman in London was asked, “How can you keep your head in the midst of all this traffic?“ He answered, “I could not keep it, but God can.” A girl at Carmarthen said to me, “I have been looking everywhere for Jesus, but I have found Him in my heart this afternoon.”
The meeting settled in silent prayer, as suggested by Mrs. Penn-Lewis “in a personal interview with Christ.” Twice Evan Roberts stayed the attempts to sing. “We want Christ and Calvary,” he exclaimed, “not only to take away sin, but to break every bond. Take the full victory of Calvary.” At a suggestion from the platform the audience arose, and on our behalf Evan Roberts said, “Lord, we now take the full victory of Calvary. Break all the bonds.” When we were again seated, a woman confessed to blessing received, and the audience sang in Welsh “Songs of praises, I will ever give to thee.” Evan Roberts further “tested “the meeting, exclaiming, “I was lost, yet Jesus found me. Is there a lost sheep here now? We want the prodigal to come home. Is there a seeking soul here? The Way is open for all. Christ has conquered for all.” At this juncture, he repeated his remarks in Welsh and English, “Christ says, I will give you rest. In all the storms, rest. Rest on His promises, on His Character. He is our Rest. He is our Peace. Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. There is no doubt about it, if we go to Him. His words never fail.”
The mixture of the two languages, Welsh and English, made the whole
meeting seem more cosmopolitan, and we were lifted above the boundaries
of denominationalism or nationality.
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Electronic Copyright © 2002-2004 Tony Cauchi, unless otherwise stated. Copying, printing, or any other reproduction of this electronic version is prohibited without express permission from Tony Cauchi, the publisher.
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