The Welsh Revival Welsh Revival The Welsh Revival 1904
Welsh Revival 1904


David Matthews

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1. Reminiscences Of The Great Welsh Revival

DIVINE MOVEMENTS have their birthplace in the heart of Deity. But whenever God predisposes the inauguration of a period of blessing intended for the uplift of humanity, His Church in particular, multitudes of His chosen ones throughout the earth, become mysteriously burdened with the birth-pangs of a new era. Intercessions are stained with the crimson of a splendid agony. Undoubtedly at such a time, God’s people pass through their Gethsemane. Throughout the world there are now many thousands of devout Christians yearning passionately for a great spiritual awakening, convinced that only a mighty effusion of the Holy Spirit among the tormented nations can produce the turning point in the history of this distracted planet.

These reminiscences are sent forth in the prayerful anticipation that earnest Christians may experience a strengthening of the faith, knowing that, although the “vision may tarry,” it will surely come. Every unbiased person must turn away in despair from endless discussions and abortive conferences, arranged often with a full fanfare of trumpets, concluding in “smoke” and confusion. They only demonstrate that the ailments afflicting humanity from age to age are entirely beyond the capacity of human ingenuity to heal

World cataclysms frequently have resulted in great awakenings of a moral and spiritual character. History proves that national calamities, such as wars, epidemics, droughts, famines, and pestilences are themselves but precursors of better times. Heart-breaking distresses, permitted by God, have been known to lead multitudes into the valley of humiliation. Humanity is sorely afflicted with an enormity of piled-up sorrows. Wistful longings are created in the hearts of the most concerned Christians for a speedy repetition of past history. What of present-day omens?

During past European wars, when fears of invasion created sleepless anxiety in the hearts of the inhabitants of Britain, evangelists of the Whitefield-Wesley type traversed the country with their flaming evangel, asking “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” So great was the moral impact upon the character of the people that the course of British history was changed. George Frederick Handel composed his deathless oratorios at the time when the football of Napoleon on the continent of Europe made the nations tremble. Following immediately upon the tragic days of the South African War, Wales experienced one of the greatest revivals in the history of the Church since apostolic days. David Lloyd George, Earl of Dwyfor, then Prime Minister of Britain, frankly confessed, after World War I, that “nothing less than a great spiritual awakening among the nations could possibly enable the leaders to iron out the appalling difficulties harassing their minds day and night.” Nourished and reared in the atmosphere and tradition of revival, he knew what he was talking about.

The Welsh in past generations experienced spiritual quickenings almost in every decade. Wales earned the envious title, “The Land of Revivals,” in addition to “The Land of Song.” As in the Book of Judges, so in the history

of this little nation, God raised up men of inflexible conviction and great audacity. They went into “the highways and byways” with the divine message consuming their very souls. They called upon the people to repent “in dust and ashes.” Names such as Vavassor Powell of Radnor, Griffiths Jones of Llanddowror, William Williams of Pantycelyn, Howell Harris of Trevacca, Rowlands of Llangeitho, Christmas Evans of Anglesea, John Elias of Lalngefni, are forever enshrined in the heart of the Celt. Richard Owen of North Wales, whose spiritual torch was kindled in the Moody-Sankey meetings, roused his compatriots to a deeper consecration. He himself burned out completely at the early age of forty-one. He preached to crowds that would give him no peace.

Perhaps the name of Evan Roberts is the most fascinating of all our honored revivalists because of both worldwide publicity and strange happenings reported to have occurred in his meetings. From the ends of the earth, men and women in all ranks of life, representing different religions, came to Wales to witness personally the strange phenomena. Some criticized, and carnally minded sceptics scoffed. People thronged the churches day and night, far beyond the registered capacity of such buildings, without any decrease for months on end. Mr. W T. Stead, the intrepid editor of Review of Reviews, followed the revivalist for a whole week, attending every service. Writing to one of London’s periodicals, he declared in all seriousness that he “could find no trace of the devil in Wales at the present time.”

In all Wales, songs of praise raised in ceaseless chorus from the burning hearts of countless thousands were heard in homes and churches and even in the coal mines. There are few, if any, parallels with this mighty outpouring of religious fervor, bringing a whole nation to its knees at the foot of the cross in adoration and praise. It was a fearfully glorious sight, an awe-inspiring spectacle which can never be erased from the memory. Thousands found in all circumstances of life testified in later years that at this crucial time they were “transplanted from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.”

Let us think of the instrument used by God during this period of blessing in order that we may be wisely instructed in the mysterious, yet majestic, ways of the Divine Spirit, when another such visitation is granted to the Church of God.

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