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

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An Unknown Student

About This Document

This rare document records the visit of Evan Roberts to Bala College where he spent two precious hours with the students – a spiritual treat they would never forget! It is a very personal and valuable addition to this collection of revival source materials.

This picture is of a memorial statue of Thomas Charles of Bala, who began the Bala College

Visit to Bala College
At the request of the Editor of the ‘Goleuad’ I write the following impressions of this meeting. It seems likely that this meeting will stand quite unique even in the series of Mr. Roberts’ meetings. It does not appear that he has over before so opened his heart as he did on this occasion; for he addressed us altogether for the space of two hours. I am in a doubt as to the extent to which the meeting should be repeated for I would not be guilty of thrusting the stories of the sanctuary on the corner of every street. I shall therefore be as guarded as I can.

My friend, Mr. Ernest Davis, and myself managed to get into the meeting, although not without being reminded of the words — “and the violent take it by force.” The meeting was commenced at 7.30. Four of the brethren led us in prayer, and about 8, before the fourth had quite finished, Mr. Roberts came in company with the Rev. J. Williams. As a start Mr. Williams asked us all to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, Then he gave a brief address. He congratulated the present generation of students at Bala, and mentioned that they ought to be better preachers than their predecessors for many many years, “It is intended,” said he, “that this meeting should take the form of a homly [sic] discussion. You are at liberty to ask Mr. Roberts any question, i.e. not on the subject of sermon-making; or upon its delivery, for many of you have had greater experience than he on such matters and yet I am of opinion that even on such subjects he might give you sound counsel. But his forte is spiritual, I know not of any one who can better instruct you how to get near God.”

Then Mr. Roberts arose, and began to address us as follows;-

“It was with much fear that I came to this meeting; but felt at home the moment I heard you repeating the Lord’s Praye. Let us be thankful for the simplicity of the prayer. In it the great God lays hold of His people, makes them one, and imparts warmth into them. Through the Lord’s prayer I obtained one of the most potent experiences of my life, Eight years ago, five of us stood on the summit of a bare hill; and the words, “Thy Kingdom come,” came to me with such power that I felt some holy presence filling the whole place. You have an important task before you - to win the ear and heart of Wales, Then is only out way to readh [sic] the heart of man, What is it? To win the hearing of heaven. And the way to win the ear of heaven is to got very near it.

Did you ever notice the child endeavouring to gain the attention of his father? The father is busily reading. “Father,” says the child, No answer. “Father,” repeats the little one drawing closer to him, Still no answer. At last the child speaks in the ear of his father, and compels attention, So with our approach to God. We must push on as near to Him as we can. The first thing is to be assured that there is One Who listens to our prayer — An infinite being. We must get hold of this One. Not to hope that he is — but to know that He is. Don’t make your message known until you are absolutely assured that there is One Who listens to it.”

Then Mr. Roberts related, how he himself had the consciousness of the existence of God one Friday night at his home in Loughor. “I jumped out of bed with such ineffable joy. My brother Dan, get hold of me and enquired if I were ill; but I was only beginning to get well, Before this, prayer was a positive burden to me; from this time forth it became my chiefest delight. This joy lasted until I went to school.” He gain [sic] went on — “After going to school I lost the joy. And before long I knew the reason why. When I realized the joy, I found myself retiring from man. And if I became a stranger to my fellow-man, I became a stranger to God; for man is the most God-like thing on this earth, Thus did the Spirit of God cause me to lose the joy, for a time that I might come closer to men. God does exist; and the devil exists too. I had an experience of this one of these last months. The devil came to me — I knew not at first that it was he — and said —‘Thou art not worthy to be in this great work; it will be better for thee to give it up.’ And for a time I did not know what to do, because I knew not who has spoken. Before long however, I understood that the voice was the devil’s; because I remembered that a good master never terrifies his servant. Remember this throughout your lives.” Mr. Roberts reiterated the words with emphasis — “A good master never terrifies his servant.” The higher you ascend in the spiritual life the harder the conflict becomes — and the more difficult it will be to distinguish between the devil’s voice and that of God. That is my difficulty at present. If there be a rule to determine the difference I know not of it as yet, The devil is able to mimic the voice of God wonderfully at times. There was a time when my mind was bent on saving money; and I long refused to give this up at the cell of the Spirit. But I received power at last to obey in this thing too; then I had joy — O it is a blessed state indeed! It is heaven itself!

The joy of the spirit is not only a thing for the soul; but it penetrates through my very body. Every doubtful thing must be set aside — everything that we are not certain about — otherwise the Spirit will not come.

But how can we ascertain whether the baptism of the Spirit and the blessings which it brings, is worth the giving of these things up? Remember this, the knowledge is withheld until we obey. Not ascending for a time to behold the heavenly things, and the coming back — not so; but it is to be had by obedience. The altar most be prepared —and the sacrifices duly laid on the wood, before the fire will descend.

The Spirit never rewards indolence — He shakes the indolent one — He does not crown the workless; nor the good, but the best. We must do our best before we can hope for the crown of God’s glory, pleasure and approbation. And God must get the glory, The devil will come to tempt us to take the glory to ourselves. He has so dealt with me. But ‘then he brings it to me, I immediately transfer it unto Him, and say, ‘Diolch iddo!’ Praise be unto Him! And by this time the devil has given up the idea, for he sees that he only brings the load of glory to God after all.

God can take the glory unto Himself sometimes in a hard service. I well remember having such a service in a contain place. Had the service on that occasion been a successful one the glory would have gone to the devil. And I found out the cause of it all — the minister was desirous that I should have a good time for the sake, not of Jesus Christ — but the reputation of that church. On another occasion a young woman sang in one of my meetings, and she was singing splendidly too — the tog notes were excellent and she sang with feeling. But her singing was the occasion — not the cause — but the occasion of the Spirit leaving the meeting. I was conscious at the time of the departure of the Spirit, yet I could not find the reason of His departure. But I found out ere long. The singing of this young woman caused another person to cherish envious feelings towards her.

When we obey the Spirit the conscience is at rest. I was in the train on one occasion in S. Wales, and in the same compartment was a company of very ungodly people. The spirit gave me a message unto the, and He also gave me power to obey. No sooner did I speak than they mocked me, and the Spirit was wounded. But He is willing to be wounded if by such an experience the conscience is set at rest; and my conscience was at peace after I had delivered the message.

In one of my meetings there was a certain man on the gallery who rebelled against the idea of giving himself up to the Saviour. Many spoke to him but without impressing him in the least. Presently I went to him. He began to speak to me in a very domineering spirit, telling me that I was using extreme methods to get people to come to Christ. I replied — ‘I do not use any extreme method at all, but only seek to point out that there are two powers in conflict for your soul and it is within your power to give the victory to the one you choose. Still he would not yield. In parting I said to him— ‘When you will be retiring tonight, say to yourself, ‘Behold me; a guilty, condemned sinner going to rest.’ The meeting went on, and so did the conflict in the man’s bosom. In a little while I said ‘Yonder man will have given himself up to Christ before the morning’. And he had yielded before midnight.

My experience is — when I am weak, then am I strong; the darker the night — the nearer the dawn. After I went to the Emlyn Grammar School it was so dark on me that I knew not what to do. I could not compose any new sermons — and I could not preach the old ones because there was little Christ in them. There was nothing to it but to go to the wall; and to the wall I assuredly went, but there was an open door there! I for some time could not reconcile myself to the idea that it was necessary to enter the ministry through the schools and colleges, insomuch that I had heard it testified by many that there was something in a Collegiate life to dry one’s spirit up. But the Spirit of God came unto me, and asked me — ‘Why art thou indisposed to walk the paths that so many have walked?’ And I consented to go — with the result that I found out a path of my own.

Our work for Christ must be inspired of love. The awful possibility is that we can give our lives and talents to Christ, yet without loving Him. If so, then we shall be undone at the last. The aim of our life is one; The glory of God. Other aims may be sought for — honour or wealth. But although honour, or reputation, is power — it would be a fatal thing to make it the goal in front of us; likewise with wealth. Some of you have had six years’ tuition at College — 6 weeks at school is all I have had. And if the Lord can do such great things through one who has had little, how much more would He not do if every one here were baptized with the Holy Ghost!

I feared somewhat to come here; but I feel by this time that I am strong and that you will be stronger because of this meeting. Sometimes, in walking through a lonely place, you meet with a small boy, and you enquire the way to a certain locality. ‘That’s the road,’ says the little one, pointing to it. And a little boy can show the way to the wise.”

Mr. Morris continues; —

I took no notes at the meeting, and therefore have not been able to give the Address as it was spoken. At the same time I believe that this report will assist as a record of an address which is likely to be a landmark in the history of religion in Wales.

But there was yet an important part of the meeting to be enacted. Several of the Students asked Mr. Roberts important questions, which received equally important and precious answers. Some of the questions and replies were as follows; —

A. — “You referred in your address, Mr. R., to some doubtful things. I should like to know if these are common to all people; or can we say that a certain thing is doubtful to one; and another to another; for example you referred to what you did with your money. Are you of opinion that all should act in the same way?”

Mr. R. — “No. The rule to judge by is this — Whatever intervenes between you and heaven is of a doubtful nature. People have been telling me — ‘Thunder against the smoking habit.’ Nay, I will not. Some are able to smoke without hindering in any way their communion with heaven; but if smoking does hinder, leave it alone.

B. — “You said that it was necessary to love Jesus Christ more than all and everything else. I feel at times that I do love Him in this way; at other times again I lose this feeling. Do you consider that under these circumstances I am worthy to preach the gospel?”

Mr. R. — “I do not consider you fully worthy. Too much stress may be laid on feeling. We are thankful for it; but then feeling is not everything. We cannot feel intensely at all times; if we could there would be no room for faith. You see the city from the top of the hill opposite it. But as you go down into the valley, you lose sight of the city; and yet you are nearer to it for all that.”

C. — “Do you think that we ought to condemn sin at all times indiscriminately? e.g. Is it my duty each time I hear a man taking the name of God in vain, to speak to him and to condemn the sin?”

Mr. R. — “The important question is — are we ready to obey if the Spirit constrains us? It is possible that we may be ready, and yet the Spirit may prevent us from saying anything. Moreover, something like this is true. ‘Live religion and you will and you will force it with a man: speak religion and you will force it out of him.’ Some people are over anxious to speak, and thus do harm. Then you speak to people with the idea of winning them, remember three things: — The smile; the voice; the hand. Also, be careful and watchful. Don’t manifest to them at once that your object is to wrestle with them. For myself I begin with the little things, such as — Have you been a member of a Christian Church at any time? When? Where? &c., &c.”

D. — “What do you advise in regard to the reading of the Bible? When we have no inclination to read it, would you advise me to read it under those circumstances as a matter of duty or habit?”

Mr. R. — “There are two kinds of reading of the Bible. Sometimes we read it because we are hungry; at other times we read it to feel hungry.”

E. — “When there is a break in a Prayer meeting, and no one seems anxious to take part, would you advise us to take part ourselves, so that the meeting can go on?”

Mr. R. — “It is quite possible that the break is the best thing in such a meeting, in order to get the people to realise their responsibility. If you are conscious of your responsibility — be still —that others may realise the same experience. I f you are constrained to pray, and you feel that there is self in the constraint, do not pray publicly, but in secret. It is an ungodly thing to try to create a “hwyl” in any religious meeting.”

F. — “My experience lately is a new and strange one in prayer meetings. In praying in public, I feel at times lost in communion with the spiritual world. Is this experience to be encouraged, or should I avoid it?”

Mr. R. — “May I ask you, brother, if you are praying for wisdom?”

F. — “I do.”

Mr. R. — “It is one thing to be baptized with the Spirit; it is another thing to be made the recipient of wisdom. We receive power; and at the same time we receive wisdom to keep the power under control. I feel, myself, that I am always cool enough to know what I am saying. Wisdom is a very precious gift to keep us from becoming ridiculous. ‘Produce an ounce of ridicule and you will lose tons of power.’ But if you are praying for wisdom, never mind what men may say, even if you prayed in public for half an hour.”

At the close of the meeting, one of the students expressed the thanks of the audience to Mr. Roberts. In acknowledging such expression Mr. Roberts said — I can say now that I have been in College!”

The Re. J. Williams asked a brother to close with prayer, but Mr. R. asked all, to join in repeating the Lord’s Prayer.

Thus at 10.15. we separated having had a feast which we shall never forget.

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