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


WITH CHRIST AMONG THE MINERS

H. Elvet Lewis


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Part 2. The Heart Of The Harvest

Chapter 1
The Banks of the Loughor

Loughor - although a Roman station, and trailing still among its mines and tin-works some remainders of an ancient glory, was probably unknown beyond a few miles until it acquired unhappy fame through the railway accident in September, 1904. But already other fame was waiting it through one of its sons.

Evan John Roberts - to give him his full baptismal name - was born there in 1878, the ninth child of his parents. From both his mother and father he inherited pious traditions. It was a humble hearth, Gods Word and prayer ruled it. His school days were cut short because of his being required to assist his father, after an accident in the mine, with the pumps. But he carried with him to the mine the love of books. Apart from the three Rs he studied from time to time astronomy and geology, poetry and music, shorthand and some of the occult sciences. Even as a boy in the mine he stood alone. There was something in him of quiet strength then that compelled the men around him not to use foul language when he was within hearing. He was particularly fond of studying faces. It was his habit, during his walks, to read the faces he passed. A companion once remarked after a walk on a Saturday afternoon, “Another idle afternoon!” “Oh, no,” he replied, “we must hate sin more after today.” One of his favorite mottoes, after being obliged to notice someones failings was, “Measure thyself by someone greater.” When conversing with a congenial friend on the financial difficulties often hindering the way to the Christian ministry, he remarked, “God will raise great instruments for it from the mines and the fields.” He added that he would Iike to see a reformer rise in Loughor – ‘‘One like Paul, to set the place on fire.”

When he joined the Calvinistic Methodist Church at Moriah, at about thirteen years of age, one of the deacons advised him at a society meeting, “Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit were to come down and you were absent? Remember Thomas, what a loss he suffered!” Recalling the incident he remarked, “I said to myself at that time, ‘I will have the Spirit.’ In all weathers, in spite of all difficulties, I attended every service. Many a time, watching the other lads with their boats on the tide as I was going to chapel, I felt a desire to turn back and join them. But no: ‘Remember thy resolve to be faithful,’ I would say to myself, and on I would go. Prayer meeting on Monday night in the chapel; Tuesday night at Pisgah; Wednesday, society; Thursday, Band of Hope; Friday, class - without a break all through the years. For ten or eleven years I had prayed for revival. I could stay down all night reading or speaking about revivals. It was the Spirit who was at that time moving me to speak of revival.”

While working in the mine he had the Bible as his constant companion. He and his comrades used to hold a kind of Bible class underground, reading the Iesson from the Bible and then discussing the verses. One night in January, 1897, a terrible explosion took place in Eroad Oak Colliery. Five men lost their lives. For days he was anxious about the fate of his Bible. When he was able to descend into the mine he fourid it in shreds, a page here, a page there. “I had to go on my knees,” he remarked, “to get hold of the truth.” And the words were more than a description of that strange scene in the mine.

He had taken part publicly in all meetings from the first. When in 1895, a school was opened at Fisgah in connection with the mother church at Moriah, he had to take a still more responsible part. He started a young peoples prayer-meeting, followed by a Bible- class. Every one was obliged to take some part. When anyone felt too weak to begin he would write a prayer for him, and so give him a start. Joined to constant devotional practice was active self-denial. He gave his gifts to the cause not in silver but in gold, out of earnings not easily made.

His habits and his gifts all seemed to mark him out for the ministry. His church and his parents encouraged him in the thought. But at the time he did not feel prepared to comply. It was noticed by some of his friends that the refusal, to some degree, changed his character. The culture of his talents became more absorbing than the culture of devotion. But the fire was burning inwardly in secret.

In September, 1902, he apprenticed himself to his uncle as a blacksmith. Underneath this change from the mine to the smithy was a characteristic purpose. He would learn a trade, in order to become an itinerant evangelist, a Minor Brother of the first Franciscan days, preaching and earning his livelihood as he went. The hours were long, and his time for Bible study was in consequence curtailed. But instead of quenching his thirst, the new difficulties intensified it. His Bible was ever beside him, to be consulted at any favoring moment. At last the hidden fire could not be contained in his soul. At the end of fifteen months he felt compelled to yield to the higher call, borrowing an expression which more than one had used before him, “For me, a grave or a pulpit.” Early in 1904 he had decided to take the path to the latter.

One night that spring he was kneeling by the bedside before retiring to rest. What followed shall be given in his own words: “While on my knees, I was caught up into space, without time or place - communing with God. Before then I had only a God at a distance. I was frightened that night, never afterwards. I trembled so that the bed shook. This woke my brother who feared I was iIl. After that experience I used to be wakened every night a litti.e after one. This was strange, because aIl through the years I used to sleep like a rock, and no noise in my room would disturb me. After waking a little past one I would spend about four hours, without a break, in divine communion. What it was I cannot tell except that it was divine. Then about five I would be allowed to sleep again until near nine, and then I would be taken up to the same divine commuriion, and so till twelve or one. They questioned me in the house why I did not rise earlier, and whether I was ill, etc., but it was too divine for me to say anything about it. This lasted for some three months.

In the meanwhile, the preliminaries of his acceptance as a candidate for the ministry among the Calvinistic Methodists were being arranged, and on September l3th, 1904, he had entered as a pupil at the Grammar School, New Castle Emlyn, where generation after generation of students have been prepared for the theological colleges.

Chapter 2
The Banks of the Tivy

In removing from the banks of the Loughor to the banks of the Tivy, one fear greatly troubled him- that he would miss those exquisite seasons of divine communion. He had purposed to give half an hour only, each day, to this practice of the presence of God. The first week he entered heartily into the schoolwork, and then the spiritual power began to make inroads. A bad cold confined him to bed the second week for four days, but night and day he was in prayer. Again employing his own words: “The last night of the four the perspiration streamed down, the result of the cold and of my communion with God. On Sunday I got up. Seth Joshua was there. Tuesday night there was a prayer-meeting, and Sydney Evans and others come to see if I would go to the meeting. That moment I felt the Spirit descendirig upon me. It came irresistibly, and I rushed to chapel without topcoat. The influence began. I was ready to pray - to pray for strength to be given to the young women who were there from New Quay, lest the people should look oniy to them. I had prayed in the house Monday night for strength to be given to them. I was not allowed to pray in chapel Tuesday evening. During the day I was asking, Where is the devil? I was hard. I could gaze on the Cross without feeling anything. I wept because of my hard-heartedness, but not because of Christ. I loved the Father and the Spirit, but did not Iove the Son.”

We are now at the confluence of two streams. The Rev. Seth Joshua, well known for years as an evangelist in connection with the Methodist Forward Movement in South Wales, and other evangelistic work- had been, as we have seen, holding services at New Quay. He had brought with him to New Castle Emlyn some of the young women whose hearts and lips the Lord had touched. They were going on to the third conference at Blaenanerch.

Scarcely restored from illness, Evan Roberts accompanied them on the Wednesday, driving some eight miles through picturesque scenes until they came within sight of the sea. The brake was to start from the house of the Rev. Evan Phillips, a preacher of national fame, and one of the young evangelists of ‘59. When he reached the house, a prayer-meeting was proceeding. He did not go in, partly because he was afraid they would reprove him for coming at all, partly because he wished to talk about his souls experience with Miss Phillips; for, he tells us, he felt as hard as flint, as if some one had swept every feeling out of him. They arranged to pray for each other, but nothing particular happened that Wednesday. As they returned home at night the young women from New Quay tried, but tried in vain, to help him and break the hardness. “No,” he said, there is nothing for me to do but to wait for the fire to descend. The altar is ready, the wood upon it, and the sacrifice ready, only waiting for the fire to descend.”

Tbey started about six oclock on Thursday morning, to reach Blaenanerch for at least part of the early service. His feelings to-day were more variable, now downcast, now joyous. It was a Sunday-school service such as we have already described, the Rev. W. W. Lewis being the questioner. The meeting was closed with prayer, Mr. Joshua leading. It was in this prayer, at the end of a number of petitions for the Lord to do this and that, that the words came in – “and, Lord, bend us.” No special emphasis of any sort was laid by the speaker on the word bend, but - to quote his own testimony again - Evan Roberts felt that the Spirit laid emphasis on the word for him. ‘That is what thou lackest,’ He said to me. And as I passed out through the door, I kept praying, ‘O Lord, bend me!’

At breakfast a little ordinary incident took place which shows how sensitive to spiritual signs he had become. He was offered some bread and butter, but refused it because he had had enough; then he saw another stretching out his hand for some, before it happened to be offered. Ah! he thought Can God be offering His Spirit to me, and I am not ready to receive Him, while others, without having Him offered them, are ready to receive Him? On the way to the next service, Mr. Joshua said, “ We are going to have a wonderful meeting today.” Evan Roberts replied, “I am almost bursting.”

He felt he must take part in prayer that morning. As one after another prayed he kept asking the Spirit, Shall I pray now? Wait a little while, He would reply. “After several had prayed, I felt ‘living force’ * entering my heart; it held my breath; my legs trembled violently. “And after each prayer I kept asking, ‘Shall I now?’ while the living force went on increasing, increasing, almost to bursting. At last, when someone had finished praying, with my heart quivering, I would have burst had I not prayed. I fell on my knees, with my arms over the seat in front of me, the perspiration and tears pouring down, so that I believed blood was flowing out.” One or two near at hand were wiping his face, while the agony continued some two minutes. His repeated cry was, “Bend me! Bend me! bend us!” It was God commending his love that bent me, and I had never seen anything in it to commend! After I was bent, a wave of peace went over me. While the congregation was singing:

I am coming, Lord,
Coming now to Thee-

I thought of the bending in the Judgment Day, and I was filled with compassion for the people bent in the Judgment Day, and I wept. Afterwards it was the salvation of souls that weighed on my soul. Ever after that hour I was on fire to be allowed to go through the whole of Wales, and if it were possible, I was willing to pay God for the permission to go. A plan was drawn out, according to which eight of us were to go through Wales, I paying the expenses.”

How every crisis of the soul seems to gather into itself the great history of the ages! As we pause reverently to view, not without awe, that tremendous conflict in the Methodist chapel, we seem to see the shadows of undying saints gather around, and they are mirrored in the crystal flood of tears: Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Bunyan, Daniel Rowland. Countries and centuries are melted in one tear of the inmost soul of man.

Evan Roberts had prayed all through thirteen years for the Spirit. For four years Seth Joshua had been praying that God would raise some one from among the people -from the mine, or from the plough - not from the Colleges, Iest that might seem to crown earthly pride. There are two men who believe that their two prayers were answered that self-same day, September 29th, 1904.

The communications of the Spirit were continued on the following Sunday evening, in what he describes as a vision, in Bethel Chapel, just before the Rev. Evan Phillips began to preach. In it he was told that six souls rnust be set on fire there before he ventured to Loughor.

Happy days followed - happier than any he had hitherto known. It was during these October days and nights that he had more than one vision which, however we may explain them, were real to him. One Saturday night in the garden he was watching the moon when his friend Sydney Evans joined him. “The moon seemed larger than usual, her bosom heaving continually towards us, and an arm coming out of it, as if lifting something back with it. The brilliance was terrible. We could not understand the hand, but now I understand it was an answer to prayer.”

Another vision was of the devil in the garden hedge, mocking him because of the Iow state of religion. Another time he saw him with the some mocking, contemptuous look, but this time he saw another person on his right hand, with a glittering sword in his hand, and with it he struck the devil till he fled and vanished.

He saw Christ weighing men in His balances, and he found himself wanting, until he had Christs merit placed beside him, and then it was weighed down to the ground.

It will be seen that these visions came in the hours of his call and his mission. They have come to others, but in more prosaic form. Are they less, or are they more, because they came to him as they did? I have no wish to judge. If visions had their place and their meaning by the river Chebar, why not by the river Tivy?

Chapter 3
The Return Home

As October was closing, Evan Roberts found himself at home. For three weeks he had been restless about his schoolwork: the vision rose between him and his books, of the young faces of his companions at Loughor, waiting for his message and responding to his appeal. He and his friends had agreed to ask God for a hundred thousand souls in Wales. On Monday night, October 3lst, at the close of the usual prayer meeting, he commenced his work. The next night he went to Pisgah - his beloved mission school. It was scarcely to be expected that methods so startling as his proved to be should commend themselves to those who had for a Iifetime carried on the Church’s work in another fashion. “What! a new doctrine!” many felt - as on a Sabbath morning in a synagogue beside the Lake. How could it weIl be otherwise? Such a rnovement was bound from the start to cause friction, misgiving, misunderstanding. To those who have at aIl considered the cost of reformations, nothing has happened in Wales these two years that could not have been forecast.

The young people responded to his call. Night after night the meetings grew in numbers and fervor. Before that first week was over, the revivals confession of faith was announced in the four welI-known articles:

  1. A confession to God of all sins of the past hitherto unconfessed.
  2. The giving-up of everything doubtful.
  3. Open confession of Christ.
  4. Ready and immediate obedience to every impulse of the Spirit.

Another thing also happened. The first night sixteen had confessed Christ, the second night seven; On the third night, when ten had come forward, he said it was not enough - he would not be content to leave the meeting till twenty had confessed Him. He prayed for ten more; and then to the accompaniment of spontaneous hymns and prayer, without any direct appeal, the number was made up to twenty.

It was the first momentous victory. Prejudice declined; news of the meeting spread far and wide; men and women of all ages thronged the chapel. On the Sunday evening he gave the crowded audience a prayer to repeat: “Send the Spirit now for Jesus’ sake.” “I had put in three more words,” he explained, “but the Spirit rejected them. The first form I offered was- ‘O Lord, send the Holy Spirit now for Jesus’ sake. Amen.’ But I was forced to leave out ‘Lord, ‘Holy,’ ‘Amen.’ The Spirit wiIl have no idle words.” It was an indescribable service: it fed upon itself, continuing without a break until midnight.

That week became the type of many a week that followed, through the old year and into the new. What was done in a village was carried into the midst of denser populations; the scale grew Iarger, the interest vaster, the multitudes more numerous: but the method scarcely varied. The congregational petition for the sending of the Spirit- the four rules of the practice of faith- the missioners conviction of direct communications from the Holy Spirit, bearing on every detail, the insistence on direct prayers for specified blessings; alI these were introduced at those first meetings and were never abandoned. In the rule dealing with unconfessed sins, emphasis was laid on the sin of unforgiveness. It was a glad Gospel of the Father’s love in a loving Saviour.

As the early news spread, prayer-meetings which had already begun in other localities were vivifled; a breath of expectancy passed warmly over the Iand, and prayer-meetings in fresh places were started. Almost if not altogether without exception the gateways of blessing were the young peoples prayer-meetings.

The first week at Loughor was experimental; the second week tested and approved the instrument. Strangers &om neighboring districts poured in, not without some natural curiosity and some reasonable criticism. The Iateness of the meetings - continuing often beyond midnight- proved an offence to many both then and later, and not without just cause; although the exceptional conditions partly justified it. Tuesday night the indifferent or hostile forces seemed about to conquer; It was a hard meeting from the first, but the revivalist refused to yield the ground. The conflict lasted for some nine hours - hours marked with tears of the eyes and of the soul. It was about four oclock in the morning when a sense of victory pervaded the little company which had remained with him, steadfast to the end. Coming together in the evening of that Wednesday, at Brynteg Independent Chapel - for the meetings were meant to be undenominational - the fruits of the conflict more than compensated the long and weary vigil. He himself was radiant. “God does not keep back the blessing,” he declared, except to pay double. At this meeting he asked for a missionary collection. A man leaped to his feet, pale and trembling with anguish - forerunner and type of hundreds soon throughout the land. He can scarcely stand to describe his feelings in the Slough of Despond, but he had come out near the wicketgate, and in a flash of joy the pale, agonized face was then and there literally transfigured. His wife follows him; The whole congregation was like a hayfield in June swept by a wind from the west.

Diolch iddo,
Byth am gofio llwch y llawr!
(Ever praise Him,
Saviour of the dust ofearth!)
began its triumphant career as the refrain that welcomed home thousands of prodigals. The other refrain alternates with it:
Cerdd ymlaen, nefol Dan
Cymer yma feddiant glan!
(Spread and shine, Fire divine,
Make this place entirely Thine!)
Here and there, some one changes a word, to sing-
Make this heart entirely Thine!

Next day there was scarcely a home in the whole neighbourhood without some stricken soul in it. One afternoon a young woman prayed for her fathers salvation: before the day had passed she was returning thanks for the answer. She prayed again for a brother and a cousin, away from home in two different places; the following week, at one of Evan Roberts’s meetings, the two were brought in.

Saturday night closed a fortnight of meetings never to be forgotten by those who attended them - nor ever on earth to be measured and weighed. The young leader was not present: he had started on his first missionary journey. His place was taken by Mr. Sydney Evans, his comrade from the first and co-worker in the mission, though not together in the same meetings. The latter, after the inauguration of the movement in the western parts of Galmorgan, became more distinctly connected with the mission in the mining valleys of Monmouthshire, both Welsh and English. His singing companion was Mr. Sam Jenkins, and together they did a work second in public importance only to that of the leader and his immediate helpers.

Reflecting on the course of the whole movement, one is struck anew by the superiority over the finest theory of what comes directly from Iife in touch with God. Neither the four rules nor the other emphasized teachings were new, the newness came from the life. And yet it must be confessed that something more than all we have found so far is necessary to account for the extent and expansion of the movement. We wiIl again grant that the mission was fortunate in the press reports of its first meetings. The two morning dailies of South Wales - The Westem Mail and The South Wales Daily News - were well-informed and sympathetic, the former enthusiastic. These reports, kept up day after day, became an essential factor in the extension of the revival. Perhaps never before was such a movement written about in so many languages. But the explanation of all that took place in every part of Wales, affecting the ends of the earth, between November, 1904, and June, 1905, still eludes us. A Hand was reaching out, not indeed from the moon, but from a world that has no need of the Iight of sun or star.

Chapter 4
The first Journey

When Evan Roberts made his appearance on Sunday morning November l3th, in Trecynon- one of the outskirts of Aberdare- he was in the midst of the great industrial community of Glamorganshire. The ground was already prepared for him: it was one of the places revived before the revival. AlI the same, there was a natural feeling of strangeness in the first days services; but it was visibly wearing away, from one meeting to another. When the Sunday was over, each weekday became a fresh Sunday: morning, afternoon, evening, an almost unbroken continuance of prayer-meetings, the number of conversions rapidly growing, and the character of many of them startling. Men who had been victims of intemperance for long years found themselves suddenly made strong to resist and overcome. Men who had come in a mocking temper were borne on a flood of prayer, and, before they knew it, were themselves praying. The evangeiist himself was smiling and happy, the first to lead in every strain of joy. At those meetings he would quietly walk from pew to pew, scanning the faces as he passed, now pausing to whisper a few words of comfort or pleading, now staying Ionger to kneel in prayer beside someone. From the first he used his undoubted gift of second sight-not to venture on any name less old-fashioned. Originally it was part of the strength of the movement, alhough it became also, especially later, part of its weakness.

He had gradually made his way, at one morning meeting, to one who seems to sit hard and unmoved in the confluence of mighty torrents; he sits beside him, persuad-ing, pleading, warning. For the moment he seemed oblivious of the chorus of prayer and song all around him: he was alone with this man. And those who know the Iatter could not help watching furtively the solemn struggle; for the man he had taken in hand was a hard, surely an impossible case! But instant and earnest prayer gathered around the two, especially when the young evangelist knelt. A few moments later the whole congregation was overcome, thrilled into tears and songs that alternated between sobs and exultations, as they beheld a second kneeling figure; and the sound of the broken confessions, Ebenezer Chapel was taken with the awe of eternal things. It was the earnest and type of thousands of scenes of the victory of prayer throughout all that winter in Wales.

As showing the irresistible strength of thc forces at work came the conviction and open confession of some who had been prominently associated with the propaganda of anti-Christian teachings. One of them told how, with no desire to attend, he felt drawn by the singing to the vestibule, and then went away, but was forced to return the next evening. During the proceedings, in spite of every effort to control himself, he was conscious at one point of such anguish that his whole body was shuddering. He went home, having made no sign to the congregation of the hidden conflict. He joined with his family in singing a hymn, and then threw aIl the anti-Christian literature he possessed into the fire. When, next evening, he rose to confess, for a moment it seemed as if the whole audience were swept in a whirlwind of wonder and joy. Another member of the same local society, some two nights later, rent the hearts of all with his agonizing appeal to his comrades- “Come to Jesus! Come to the Saviour! Come! Oh, come!” It moved one hearer to mockery. “What is the philosophy of a thing of this sort?” he asked, in the dialect of the society’s debates. He got up to leave, but on the top of the staircase he was arrested by the grip of the irresistible; he thought he heard a voice – ‘‘ Why ask man? Ask God.’’ And leaping to the foot of the staircase, he rushed into the chapel again to declare himself for Christ. Some of those brought in through storm and fire have been even more zealous missionaries of their new faith than of their former doubts. These incidents produced not only a deep impression locally, but pioneered the way of many, in other localities, affected with skepticism. That winter witnessed many a holocaust of infidel and gambling books, with membership tickets of drinking clubs thrown in to feed the sacrificial flame.

From Aberdare he went to Pontyeymer -from the inland hills to the borders of the VaIe of Glamorgan, but still among a mining population and within an area aIready much affected. Indeed, it is doubtful if, after the fortnight, he had the chance of personally initiating the work in any locality, so rapidly the influence ran in every direction. The meetings here were even more fervent, if anything, than those at Aberdare. There was a continued service from ten o’clock on Thursday morning till after two o’clock on Friday morning. In the first part ofthe first day Evan Roberts was overcome, as at his initiation at BIaenanerch. He fell on his face in the pew beneath the pulpit, weeping aloud and interceding. When he was able to calm himself, he rose and Ieft, and did not return until the evening - the service in the meanwhile conducting itself without a break. It was on Friday evening, at the closing service of the mission here, that the voice of a young girl of eighteen, Miss Annie Davies of Maesteg, came into the history of the revival. Professing Christ from childhood, trained in her home to serve Him with her vocal gifts, it was as the coming of Sister Clara to Francis. She sang, with tears on her face and victory in her voice, the mighty love-song of the revival - the hymn of Dr. William Rees (Hiraethog):

Dyma gariad fely moroedd.
The song is of the marvel of divine Love, flowing as vast oceans oftender mercies in never-ebbing floodtide; of the very Prince of Life dying, dying to redeem our forfeit life. Out of the radiant depths of the wonder comes the triumphant appeal:
Is there one that can forget Him?
Or can cease His praise to sing?

From that night she became an intimate helper and companion, her voice consecrated to the converting and uplifting of souls.

A quite common feature of the revival was illustrated at one of the meetings at Pontyecymer - that one of the humblest of all present might be used to bring on the crisis of a service, or even to change its entire spirit. In the case we allude to it was the simple question, “Who will receive Jesus?” asked by a young wife with intense earnestness, that seemed to rend the cloud and make a way for the blessing. “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust.” Does it not somehow assure the coming of every soul into its own, “some time - in Gods good time”? Every soul among the countless multitudes of the redeemed will have its essential part to fiIl and adorn.

One of the cases here will further illustrate the irresistibleness of the power, and suggest its connection with the same power at Aberdare the previous days. One eve-ning a man found his way to a local minister. He was a notorious character, known only too well in the whole valley. But he came tonight to see the minister privately the service, held at the time, being too crowded for him to enter, and his business being more for private than public purpose. He took out a clubmembership card and said, “I want you to burn that first of all. When the minister hesitated, for fear he might repent of his repentance, he urged, “Yes, burn it and dont look at it. Here are three more cards: burn them also.” Then he explained how, hearing the minister preach a fortnight previously, he had been disturbed ever since, and felt that he could not go on any Ionger in the old way. They prayed together, and as the man rose frorn his knees he confessed further that on the way he had called at a tavern and ordered a pint of beer, but he had failed to take it up in his hand. “I tried my best, but it was no use, and I left it on the counter before coming here.”

It would be unprofitable to give the list of places visited by Evan Roberts from this time up to Christmas. He confined himself to the hills and mining valleys of Glamorgan-shire, but the miners themselves were almost ousted from their own chapels by the crowd of strangers from many lands which, day after day, poured into these narrow, winding valleys, whose natural beauty had been marred in the interest of human living. At any time he was scarcely more than thirty miles from home, and only a hill or two lay between him and his starting point at Aberdare. If the whole country was moved, it was not through his personal presence, but the reflection of his zeal. Morning, afternoon, night, the largest chapels were more than crowded to the door; it was difficult to get near them. Sometimes he himself found it hard to gain entrance, and one evening his singing evangelists were on the point of retiring in despair when Miss Annie Davies struck up her favorite hymn - the song of “Love as vast as oceans”; She had not finished the first line before her voice, recognizable among a thousand, won for her a path through the surging crowd into the chapel.

We will select a few typical incidents so as to reproduce, if possible, the atmosphere of that unprogrammed mission: the thrill at times of awe, at times of joy.

It is the revivalists custom to enter the chapel when the service is welI started. His addresses are simplicity itself. Something in the hymn sung as he is comi.ng in, will, perhaps, give him the keynote. Or he begins by asking them, “What is your errand here tonight?” There is a movement in the pews as though the inmost thought of many had been detected by that plain question and that piercing glance. “I have read some of your faces; I can see what you want. Some have received and are enjoying the Spirits blessing; others have received it and lost it; others are here in the cold spirit of criticism - criticism of men who are laboring to Iay hold upon God! Ah! yes, and some of you are here seeking entertainment. Entertainment? And you yourselves on the brink of destruction! God have pity upon you! Do I speak severely? I am bidden to do so. I speak as the Spirit prompts me and it matters not, if in obeying the Spirit, I offend the whole world. I shall not be here long. In the midst of the prayers, the confessions, the hymns, he inserts some phrase, brief and keen. “In Gods house we are alI one family: act here as at home, and at home as here.” “ ‘Is there peace?’ is frequently asked at the Eisteddvod. It is time it were asked in the churches - and answered. We are crowded here, there is plenty of room above.” He had days, or at least hours, of strange depression which changed as with a flash into exquisite sun-niness.

Whether he spoke at length or only in occasional sentences, he impressed his personality on every meeting. Neither in Wales nor out of it, as far as one can learn, has there been a sequence of meetings quite like his. He was seldom eloquent, although there were rare outbursts, and yet he often achieved far more than eloquence could. He seemed to perceive instinctively what each audience was capable of, and as a skilled musician, he made each audience yield its value. Now he would reprove, now he would comfort and heal, now he would excite to rapture, now he would hush into stillness almost too exquisite to bear. More than once he turned the service into a Sunday-school festival of the Welsh type, questioning, and receiving the answer in a congregational chorus.

During those first weeks he met with some opposition and had to deal on the spur of the moment with varied difficulties. Once a young man openly avowed himself an infidel. Evan Roberts, having earnestly asked if he meant what he said, and having received an affirmative reply, said, “If so, let him stand up and state so publicly.” The young man stood and said, “In my heart I believe that there is no God.” As consternation spread among the crowded audience, and as some, in their excitement becoming foolish, would have put him out, the revivalist calmly replied, “No, no! pray for him;” and turning to the young man he begged him, in the solitude of his room, to reconsider his way of thinking God out of existence. When, at the same meeting, two expressed their disbelief in the deity of Christ, he asked all who accepted Christ as God to rise. All rose except the first young man mentioned, and these two. Soon afterwards the three left. But a little later the same evening another, while expressing his belief that Christ is God, declared that he did not know what He had done for him, nor what need he had of Him as Saviour. There was a vein of lightness in the way this declaration was made which made the revivalist ask why he laughed mockingly in speaking of One who died for him, though he did not feel his need of Him? In a cooler air we may demur to the wisdom of these methods of settling theological questions by a majority vote, but let it be remembered that they were impromptu, and that men of much maturer experience might be utterly puzzled. Still during the same evening, he asked those in the service of the devil to stand. One solitary man stood, but the very act of so standing and declaring himself brought home to him all that it meant. His heart was pierced, he burst into tears, and there and then turned for mercy to Christ.

He felt obliged at times to deal drastically with unfavorable conditions. Where he was announced to be, nearly if not quite all the available chapels were opened for the thronging crowds, but the building which he was likely to visit was often in a state of siege. Where people are so densely massed, real soul-work is made almost impossible. At Caerphilly, one eveni.ng, he felt this so keenly that he appealed to some of those already blessed to leave, and ease the pressure. But very few or none moved. Having appealed the second time in vain, he took a bold course and left the meeting. There was consternation among the crowd and the whole service was on the point of breaking up when one of the young singers on the platform asked, “Is it to be Evan Roberts or Jesus Christ?” The tumult was stilled as suddenly as it rose and in a few mornents the effectiveness of the meeting was fully restored. Indeed, he himself seemed to perceive clearly, from the first, that what was essential was neither himself nor any one else, but for the people to realize their own personal priesthood to the full.

So that year in Wales drew towards its Christmastide. In October Evan Roberts was an unknown young student at a country town grammar school; in December he was in the wide worlds view. He left his home in November as an itinerant evangelist, believing fervidly in his mission, but utterly untried; he returned at Christmas, tried and approved. And it is to the credit of his good sense and to the praise of the infinite grace of God, that he appeared as simple-hearted, as utterly unspoiled by his unique popularity, as when he went forth.

Chapter 5
The Peoples Response

While recognizing to the fullest extent the use which the Holy Spirit made of Evan Roberts as instrument of revival, equally remarkable was the quick, spontaneous rise of the people to the sound of the silver trumpet in Zion. From several directions hidden forces had been hastening into light of day; and were we to use earthly speech we would say that it was almost an accident that the effectual manifestation should take place on the banks of the Loughor, rather than in some other vale. But accident there is not in the Spirit’s exquisite procession. Therefore, out of many chosen, one was divinely selected, the others also being made priests unto God. Many were waiting and silently training themselves; to one came the first word, but as he repeated it, thousands of hearts recognized it as the word they were looking for.

It is as when a farmer, one autumn afternoon, turns out to set the hillside gorse on fire. He lights a small bush, and perhaps it fails. He lights it again, then another, and there is a local blaze. He passes on to another part and does the same, and there are several red patches of fire. Then a servant, quick and eager, takes a dry, uprooted bush, just fringing it with flame, and he runs along, leaving a line of fire budding at a score of points, flame meets flame, fire kindles fire, sparks are caught in the wind and sow new flames on every hand: the entire hillside is a blaze. Evan Roberts became that herald of fire. He helped to join together the separate patches of fire; the whole was caught in a great wind of God, and before 1904 passed away, the greater part of Wales was in a fervor of prayer and song. And the first rnonth of 1905 carried the fire to all the nooks and places not already ablaze. By the end of January I could discover no town or hamlet, or sequestered mountain spot, but the divine fire was there.

To separate Evan Roberts from the revival would be impossible; but to those who have looked deeper, equally impossible would it be to separate the people frorn it. It is, through and through, a democratic renaissance: Were it not for that, it might have degenerated into a mere festival of emotion.

While in England and other countries the Church laments the estrangement of the working classes, here at the dawn of the twentieth century, these, in their thousands, helped to create a movernent whose end is not yet. Miners and quarreymen, field laborers and tin-workers, the whole artisanry of the Welsh nation, which means, of course, the overwhelmimg majority of it - joined in one immense prayer meeting from north to south, from east to west. “It has burst out here, there and everywhere,” wrote Mr. W. T. Stead at the year’s close, “without leaders, or organization, or direction.”

While the reporters were diligently following Evan Roberts, and giving occasional news of his young comrades, the nations revival was without any report, or with almost none. In thousands of villages, every evening wore into midnight through a glow of instant prayer. Conversions were taking place among little groups of often less than twenty in number. Many a morning, when the daily paper brought news of crowded chapels and stirring scenes among Glamorgans miners, the roadside laborer had also a secret in his heart, borne from a prayer-meeting at his little Bethel the previous night, which meant to him more than all the world. Heaven had whispered in his ear, and some day the whisper would return to become a part of heavens choral song. The thing without a name- “This”- arrived in many guises, but in all of them it was unmistakable. Sometimes its first coming was through the syllables of a child, often through mothers and maidens, sometimes through a first convert, sometimes through some gray father out of the sanctuary of prayer. The only certain thing about it was that nobody could tell when or how it would come. What kept young people, night after night, for long weeks in many instances, praying, waiting, losing heart, and again re-starting? What but the hope of the one supreme moment, outshining the rest of Time?

Its coming was in some instances perceptible: as perceptible as when the first morning breeze trembles through the lush meadow. A friend gives this experience. It was his habit, at regular intervals, to devote a Sunday morning service to the children. One of these was due the Sunday after the first news of the revival had begun to spread. He did not wish to disappoint the children, on the other hand, the devotional meetings of the week had made him conscious of his churchs awakening. He had purposed to tell the story of Livingstones life. He was tempted to abandon the subject and the children. But a truer wisdom saved him. He would give the Spirit the instrument he had prepared, except that he prayed more than usual for the Higher Arm. Sunday morning came; it was a happy service from the first, but not more than that, until - How could he describe it? For suddenly, without any excitement, it seemed as if a perceptible breath passed over the congregation. Listening well before, now every face was Iit, and every eye vigilant. A moment before it was simply a good time; had any one interrupted, it would have been an interference. The next moment, for some not to have taken part, would have been the interference. The subsequent harvest in that church alone would have made an ordinary mission historic.

Take another church, with a great past and a living present. It is in the heart of an agricultural district, inconveniently far from a railway station. It has been served from time to time by eminent ministers; it has given the pulpit of Wales and England such a succession of preachers for several generations that scarcely a home in the wide district but has given a son to the Christian ministry. Were one asked to foretell who would here bring on the decisive moment, these homes of traditional piety would naturally rise to mind. But it was not to be so. No native was to obtain the honor, nor - in this Welsh of Welsh districts - a child of any Welsh home; out an English lad. In recent years, owing to the emigration of the sons of the soil to busier centers, their place has been to some extent filled up by drafting lads from English orphan homes and industrial schools. Many of these have settled down, and in time have learned the language of the people. This lad was a recent comer, and consequently had only his native language. Perhaps it was the pathos of the boyish stranger within the gate, in simple dialect English - beginning his first little public prayer with “O Lord, I am very far from home, but I cannot help it, I must pray” - that brought the dewiness into the air. It was the prayer of a charwoman-talented, but hitherto careless, her tongue more often used against religion than for it - it was her prayer, as she returned to Christ, humbled, inspired, that completed the victory of the English lads broken prayer. Today his face is towards the ministry of the Gospel.

As is well known, the ordinary program of Free Church activity was submerged that winter. Literary
societies, concerts, lectures, Sunday schools - nothing escaped. Or if occasionally a daring effort was made to keep faith with a syllabus, what began as a lecture would probably end in counting converts to the strains of Diolch iddo! Sunday after Sunday, ministers appeared, not in their pulpit, but in the midst of an officiating people, silent, or taking part as one of the others. Using the wisdom that comes after the event, it is now easy to see that this in some instances was carried too far. No flame can burn steadily without being fed. In the interests of candor it should also be recorded that sometimes the foolish or the evil-minded abused the liberty” and, unhappily, a congregation had to save or avenge itself by drowning the unwelcome voice in a torrent of song. But reforms without abuses would mean heaven begun and continued below. The worst part of the abuse was that it led the ignorant and the shallow to mistake passing forms of revival for the abiding reality. The loudest then are not the most fruitful now. On the other hand, many a convert who started the new life with strong crying, who possibly could never have started it at all without such an emotional outburst, has been trained, through the kindness of Christian hearts, and the patience of the Spirit, into nobler and more useful ways.

It penetrated everywhere and pervaded everything. It was talked of in every railway train, and many a railway compartment became a place of united prayer - not incon-gruously, as things were conditioned during those days. Coal mines had their sanctuaries, where prayer meetings were regularly held. And these prayer meetings had their tales of conversions. It was a weird but winsome scene, when the solemn question was put, “Who is on the Lords side?” and the safety lamps went up, one by one, and when a new lamp was held up in token of a soul changing sides, it was to the glad music of the far-echoed refrain of hundreds of meetings:

Diolclz iddo,
Byth am gofio llwch y llawr!

It was no figure of speech, but the literal fact, that the horses underground were sensible of the difference which those days made. They were obliged to learn the meaning of a new and milder language than they had been accustomed to. The prayer of Ebenezer Elliot, “The people, Lord, the people!” was so grandly answered then as to make still more desired the day of its universal answer. “O Lord” - so one framed his petition – “Jesus Christ was born in a stable, and here are we in this old stable underground praying. Help us here to pray as though He were with us now.”

Taking them all in all, those were wonderful weeks. To visit any town or village was to meet a fresh surprise. It seemed as if all the churches had assumed their royal priesthood. The man who was mere clod of earth a few weeks before was now fire and bloom: mute voices, in thousands, out sang trained choristers of God. “Obey the Spirit”, cried the Lords messenger, as he passed from crowd to crowd; it reached the loneliest hearth among the snowbound heights, and it returned, not void. Foolishly, perhaps, but yearningly, we look back to those fresh weeks, with their reflection of Galilean tints, and we sigh, “Would we could have kept them, as they were then!” But, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division.”

Chapter 6
“That Day” (December 7, 1904)

I will now come to a concrete personal impression. I was in Liverpool early in December of that year of 1904, and arranged to visit, on my return joumey, a district which had been touched simultaneously with the commencement of the mission at Loughor. Indeed, the work of grace had visibly begun earlier. The Free Church mission conducted in the Rhos neighborhood at the beginning of 1904, by Miss Rosina Davies, had been exceptionally successful, not only in the number of converts added to the different churches, but in the tone of the mission. The impression was deepened and expectancy brightened by a series of revival services in the Baptist Church at the end of June and the commencement in July. The impressionist sketch, written fresh from my own visit, shall here continue the story, rather than any recollection modified by what I have seen and heard since.

Rhos-or, to adorn it with its full Welsh name, Rhosllanerchrugog, is a mining hill-district within some three miles of Wrexham, and now easily reached by motor train or electric car. Irregularly built, thickly populated, on a dull December morning it presented no outward attractions to a visitor. The united prayer-meeting, held in its turn that morning and afternoon in the Baptist Chapel, had started before we arrived. When one thought of it in the light of the customary, it felt strange that there should be several ministers and others who had travelled some miles in order to be present at a ten o’clock prayer-meeting on a week-day morning. These prayer-meetings, we were told, held twice each day, and followed by large evening meetings, had been continued for three weeks without a break - from the time of the mission started by the Rev. R. B. Jones (November 8-18). Mr. Jones was succeeded by the Rev. Hugh Hughes, and this week the Rev. W. W. Lewis, Carmarthen, had taken up the work. Missionaries came and went, the prayer-meeting remained.

There was a goodly company present, but the ground floor was by no means full; so that the service was not made by numbers. Yet the moment we were inside the door, we came under an indescribable spell. We silently took our seats. The people were at the moment waiting in a hush that affected one as the sound of a gentle wind in the twilight of pines; a tear, unbidden and apparently for no reason, stole into the eye. Someone prayed - not “engaged in prayer,” but prayed. It must be repeated: these people, meeting twice a day for three weeks - like those weeks between the Ascension and Pentecost - had become very intimate with their Saviour. They confided to Him exactly what they most dearly wished, praying for relatives and friends, even for some by name. They pleaded for those who might miss the blessing, though it came so near. Prayer glided imperceptibly - for there was no announcirig, or even lifting of the bowed heads - into the singing of a verse of Miss Crosby’s hymn, led sweetly by a woman’s voice:

Pass me not, gentle Saviour.
But the Welsh version has a striking variation in the last line but one:
While on others Thou art smiling,
Do not pass me by.
And in the refrain, “Saviour, Saviour,” is represented by “Iesu, Iesu.”

I am finding out that this revival has added something indefinable, not there usually, to the ordinary human voice, I have heard something like it in the voice of a mother speaking of her beloved dead, not in the first sharpness of grief, but in the heavened tranquillity that gradually comes; when grief renounces its regret in part, in order to make room for the rapture of remembering how well the beloved one rests in the deep vales of God’s Avillion! Such unison of awe, and affection, and tender sorrow there was in the singing that morning that I had never felt before. I thought, how much music there is in the name IESU, as the voice lingered over it in the refrain. And His smile!- all its graciousness came home, for the first time it seemed, in all its redeeming wonder. Nothing mattered in the world except this – “Pass me not, O gentle Saviour.” Scarcely had the sound of “pass me by” gently died away, before another prayer was on its wing. For a moment there was a misgiving: it sounded too wholehearted-shall I say? He seemed to ask too easily for such grace of life as to be able himself to ask the world in the very words of Christ: “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” It was part of the deep ethical note of this revival. Suddenly the voice changed into that day of sorrowing, rapturous love, as he went on brokenly to say – “No one can say Thou art not kind. I know better. What was I before Thou didst take me up? There is no one anywhere so kind, so gentle, to an old wanderer such as I was - no one anywhere like Jesus Christ. Help me never to dishonor Thy Name.” And once more that woman’s chastened voice led us in another well-known, exquisitely harmonious hymn, of which this is a translation pour servir:

Lord, in every wish and motion,
Let my soul be sanctified:
In my weary, striving spirit
Let the strenght of heav’n abide:
Keep tne always,
Lest I wander from Thy side.

And so prayer and hymn followed and mingled, without a single halt or jar. It was as if an Invisible Harper had the string of each soul ready to His finger, awaking the finest music at His touch and making it fade again to hushed expectancy. Anything more orderly, more harmonious than that unconducted meeting I can scarcely conceive.

Two or three spoke: they had news of the revival in other places; a prayer-meeting at Wrexham the previous evening, a Sunday evening service at Aberystwyth, Colwyn Bay - Bangor - Nantlle: they were alI telegraphic sentences. One reported a childrens prayer-meeting in his district. He proceeded smoothly until he tried to repeat his own childs simple prayer – “Lord, help us to be good children, and live to thy praise”- and then no more from him, except a half sob. But -

Speak, in all Thy might and glory,
speak, O Lord, this very hour:
Let Thy voice be all - victorious,
Yea, let none withstand its Power
Spread and shine, Fire divine,
make this place entirely Thine!

The last two lines were repeated, time after time, and then suddenly, but with joyous effect, that sisters
voice led in a changed refrain (to the same tune) -

Frodyr Dewchz, llawenhewch,
Diolchwch iddo, byth na thewch!
(Brethren, raise hymns of praise,
Bless him, thank Him - all your days!)

Then a missionary plea was put in, earnestly and effectively. Could we allow ourselves to enjoy these choice blessings and view the perishing world with indifference? If the churches of the country had for the last generation given such free course to the Spirit, as they were giving these brief weeks, would the heathen world be where it was today? Surely a host of missionaries would be born of this awakening! Then we returned to prayer again, and although the speaking was to the point, and in perfect keeping with the spirit of the service, somehow the return to prayer always meant an open door into the inmost sanctuary. Several women had taken part - one of them now, with her own heartache in every syllable, and her joyful resignation to Gods will. Think of a prayer-meeting in which thanks was humbly given “for the blessing of ill health.” But they had found a Friend, who carried their infirmities, as another of their refrains, sung at first almost in a whisper -

Oh, the Lamb, the gentle Lamb,
The Lamb of Calvary:
The Lamb that was slain is living now,
To intercede for me!

I had heard it, to its sweet minor setting, scores of times; but what was it that morning that revealed the Lamb’s infinite gentleness - yr addfwyn Oen - as it had never been revealed before? What was it that made his living now so absolutely certain, so overpoweringly real? Nearly a week has gone between that morning and the time of writing these words: and yet I feel now as I felt then, that something was won and possessed in that service which it would be worth crossing a continent any day to get possession of. What was previously faith is now assurance.

Perhaps it would be well to add - lest someone should be misled to think that it acts by a sort of sacred magic -that the meetings inexplicably vary. Several who had been at previous meetings said that they had never felt at the others what all of us seemed to have experienced that morning. Indeed, the afternoon rneeting, though excep-tional in ordinary seasons it missed that indefinable something of the morning - the morning on the Mount. The crowded evening meeting had more volume of thrill, natu-rally, and was in itself a memorable scene. And yet, some who had come a long distance for the aftenoon and evening services were partly disappointed. To them the day had not become a memory for a lifetime - like the reminiscence of an Alpine afterglow, recalled on lowering days, with the assurance that it will be there again, some near or far eventide. It was another form of Wordsworth’s experience

Tho’ inland for we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither.

In the whole service there was little of what may be properly called excitement. There was no shouting; indeed, if I remember rightly, we did not rise once to sing. It seemed to be prayer from first to last: the form varied -speech, song, supplication, but it was all prayer. An effectual prayer, without a doubt. Dozens, personally prayed for, have come as Gods answer, and given themselves to Christ during these three weeks. That very afternoon, when the invitation was given, a father, whose son had been praying for him the previous week in the very same pew, gave himself to the Saviour. Let not those who watch from a distance be misled: this revival is not a mere out-burst of emotionalism, of worked-up excitement, and sometimes blazing into extravagances; unhappily, it is not, and could not well be, in every single instance, without these. But the true revival, which is lifting thousands of souls and changing visibly thousands of lives, is born and fed in unrecorded prayer-meetings, in a nation’s wistfulness for God. “Who brought the revival to you?” was the question once, during a fruitful season, asked of an old minister, now passed away.

No one, he replied: we got revived. That is what is happening today, increasingly, throughout Wales - England - Scotland - Ireland - the whole wide world! Why not? It can be had, wherever men and women are prepared to give themselves, with one accord, to prayer.

So far this is the sketch of that day, as written at the time. But it was incomplete. The crowning scene of all was yet to follow, later in the evening. When the congregation was tested, all being hushed into anxious expectancy, a man made his way slowly along the densely filled aisle, towards the pulpit pew. When he was recognized there was a thrill of joy not quite free from fear. They knew him as one of the notorious characters of the whole district, a pugilist of no light form, and Ieader of a gang of thirteen. Could it be that he was among the captives of Christ that day? Or was he in drunk, and about to disturb the solemn proceedings? Another moment, and there was no doubt. Disturb the proceedings he did - in a souls grand way returning from the furthest boundary of the far country to the Fathers House. They saw his face, stained with perspiration and tears, and, at first glance, more terrifying than usual; but there was a gleam of new life upon it, “None of you will ever know,” he began, in a voice part shout, part sob, “what I have passed through tonight. I have wept a pool of tears where I have been sitting and they were the gladdest tears I ever knew. The agony before that!- my head seemed to swell and swell, as if it would at last burst. But it grew easier when the tears came. You all know me: you know for whom I have fought; but I am changing sides to-night, to fight on the side of Jesus.” And he kept his word. The next evening he was marching with the soldiers of the Cross, inviting others to the services; night after night he was appealing to his old pals especially, and praying for them with an earnestness that melted all hearts. I can this moment recall, in all its freshness, the joy of the bringer of good news, and my own joy in receiving it, when a few weeks later I was told, at the close of an address on the Revival in the Central Hall, Manchester: “You will be glad to hear that he has now brought in the last of the gang of thirteen!” He is still on the Saviours side, fighting valiantly. Like a good soldier, he is furnishing his mind as well as his heart; and his remarks at many a society meeting reveal a knowledge of the Bible and of doctrinal theology which show that before the evil years some gentle hand had led him, and some faithful voice had taught him.

What I wrote eighteen months ago, in the vividness of the event, I rewrite in the precious softer light of memory: it was a day worth travelling anywhere to possess. Far through the years its holy flame shall continue to shine- “the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush.” Meeting a visitor, who had seen many lands and tasted the gladness of faith under many helpful conditions, but who testified that he had never experienced such exquisite joy as he did in Wales, during the past few days, I remarked to him: “But you know no Welsh, and you cannot therefore understand prayer or hymn?” “No, I cannot understand, but I comprehend all.” And I believe thousands of visitors will confirm the testimony, for there is a speech of the soul more lucid than words. And the people of Wales could have use it during those months.

Chapter 7
Christmas Messenger

Was there ever such a Christmastide in Wales as that of 1904? It was more completely possessed by the Babe of the manger than ever known before. Thousands of children learned the meaning of a “merry Christmas” for the first time in their lives. Fathers were not drunk, mothers did not weep, little ones did not go without food. Men who had not been sober at Christmas for years - any number up to twenty years and beyond - laughed with the laughter of their happy boys and girls, and then wondered why they had not laughed before, and turned from laughter to unbidden tears, and again to laughter. I want you to get me a linen shirt, said one of these, a miner, to his wife, a few days before the morn that recalls the singing of angels. “A linen shirt?” she asked incredulously: for flannel was all they had been able to afford - scantily - hitherto. “Yes”: there was to be a tea-meeting for the converts at the chapel on Christmas Day, and he had been asked to help in cutting bread and butter. “And I must have linen to do that - for Jesus Christ.” What dawn of reverence, in a soul hitherto clouded, was now struggling as through shadows of death into heavens fresh morning!

No one wilI ever know what healing that Christmastide brought to many a mother’s sore heart. “I am going for my holidays,” confessed a young man, son of a minister, to a friend whose prayers had helped to win him to Christ, and I am ashamed to think that it is the first time in years that my home-going will make my parents happy. Then one recalls a kindred picture in a far-off district. While night after night converts were being enrolled, another, physically unable to attend the services, kept watch on thc doorstep for some friendly passers-by to bring the news. And they would give her the list, many of them forgetting what secret longing lay behind her question. Occasionally one would remember her prodigal child and would finish the list saying: “But perhaps others came after I left.” And from her lonely vigil she would return to the house night after night, to take up her burden of intercession. It was almost to the ringing of Christmas bells that a neighbor, touched with the feeling of her sorrowing watch, thoughtfully came, and beginning the list broke off suddenly: “And your boys name was among them tonight. He would have walked many a longer mile to see the light that came into the worn face - at last. It was the shining of the star of Bethlehem.

But the joy of that Christmas flowed wider still. Thousands of young people coming home brought with them the kindling they had themselves felt, or came into affected areas and carried it back with them. School teachers in scores of instances became evangelists. All Wales met in Glamorganshire. The laborer, driven from the land in quest of daily bread, found his way to this rich coal field; the quarrymen, exiled through labor disputes, came south-ward to re-start Iife, home sick for his mountains wherever he wandered. The return took place at the holidays. For better, for worse, Glamorganshire affected every corner of Wales, north and south. It was for better that Christmas. Men who were before professing Christians were now evangelists, and men who had notorious fame hitherto as the curse of their homes, returned as missionaries.

Take, for instance, the story of the revival as it was in part related and in part seen by me, the first
week of the New Year, at a picturesquely situated village eight miles from a railway station, nestling in the shadows of the hills, with more commanding peaks from the distance overlooking. A few anglers and tourists have discovered it, and disturb its placid course in holiday time; otherwise its dreams are in the day of old traditions and mountain siIences. Shepherds and farmers and rural craftsmen form the bulk of the inhabitants.

Here as elsewhere, the young men began to “see visions,” and about a month before Christmas prayer-meetings were started. At first the young men held theirs sepa-rately from the young womens, for in the latter case, and mostly in the former, it was a case of taking public part for the first time. Night after night they met and encouraged each other; then a united meeting was held, and over the quiet village, and up the many valleys that open out on many sides, and a sense of wonder came . The first week passed and the second; and, as in the case of Elijah’s lad looking towards the sea, each evening they were almost compelled to say: “There is nothing.” But the end of the third week brought the cloud. What mystic power and sign of the Spirit are hidden in this period of three weeks! As already mentioned, it was the measure of time in several other districts.

A young man had now come home for his holidays from one of the mining valleys of Glamorganshire. He had been home before, as some boon companions pleasantly remembered, They were expecting a good time - on the old lines. But what change had passed over him? His first evening was not spent in the viHage inn, but in the village chapel. Nor will that first evening be soon forgotten. He was but illiterate at the best, and his lips had grown unfamiliar with prayer. But he prayed as no one there had heard before. At first there was much curiosity, and among those who had not been at the meeting, the news was received as the news of Saul by the disciples at Jerusalem. Such a ringleader of drink and dissipation could not have been so suddenly changed! But his new life had made him patient and forgiving. He not only told his tale and prayed as evening suceeded evening - prayed for his companions one by one - but also went to search them out. On a small scale, Evan Roberts had come to this secluded northern village.

When I reached there the first Friday of the New Year, there was scarcely an unconverted hearer to be found aIl through those valleys. Between him, and the young people already equipped by their three weeks of prayer, and the ministers - young also - the gleanings were few. When two old men at the evening meeting (announced as lecture but was converted into a revival service) remained to give themselves to Christ - with one or two more from a distance - the tale of the winning of souls in that district was alI but completed. His old companions had had a good time but on new Iines.
And the young man? He told God in his prayer how sorry he was that he did not know more in order to speak better; but he was doing his best, and would try to learn! I believe it was ungrammatical enough to shock critical ears; its colloquialism was at times almost disconcerting; but it was prayer, if ever a heart came into direct communication with God.

Twelve month ago he had come home with something like eleven pounds in his pocket; he had wasted them aIl and had to borrow a pound to take him back to South Wales. Is it any wonder that he used hard words in speaking of his old master - the devil? Or that his voice grew very gentle when he spoke of his new Master? The humbleness of the efficient instruments is among the miracles of this revival. Next morning, as I left in the dawning light, I felt Gods poetry in the hills and shadow peaks, but I had found greater poetry by far in the soul of a young collier, who had come all the way home this Christmastide to help in saving his own kith and kin.

The other illustration requires to be given with its preface. Among those driven from Bethesda through the lockout was one who had lived a reckless life, now at home, now wandering in Scotland or Lancashire, in search of work and change. This time he had found his way to Glamorganshire, and when the revival began he was at-tracted, in spite of himself, to some of the meetings. He wondered at good people so losing themselves, and was comparatively undisturbed until he found himself at a service where Dan Roberts - the Revivalist’s brother -spoke. Then began an inward conflict which only a Bunyan could have thoroughly understood and pictured. He would have left the meettng without a sign, but for the conviction that more than one prayer that night was for him personally, and also that on the way out he was stopped by two Christian workers, who had been silently, prayerfully watching him. They brought him back with them, and he was reckoned among the converts.

But dark days and sleepless nights followed, torn with remorse and contrition. If only he could escape from men, and in some secure solitude cry out to God the pent-up anguish of his heart! He journeyed by train, intending to drown his misery in drink. He reached the tavern, took but a taste of drink, and felt constrained to return again by train. His family was at Bethesda; he was living in lodgings, with no chance of being alone. He climbed the mountain, but men were continually coming and going. He went down to the riverside, but the noise of its current was not loud enough to let him shout to his riven hearts content. He was taking a night shift in the mine when he had to follow his work in a lonelier part than usual. Only one other and he were employed near together. He had fits of physical shivering during his conflict and his companion that night noticed him in one of these. “What is the matter?” he asked. “I cant tell,” was the dismal reply. “I tell you what it is, William Hughes” said his companion, who was a humble but true man of God. “the Holy Spirit has got hold of you.” “Perhaps,” he wearily answered.

His companion had to go away, but he felt loath to leave him in that state. He told him he would return as soon as possible. To the sufferer, it was like the sound of an open-ing prison door heralding liberty. At last he would be alone! He waited with fear and trembling as the solitary footstep died away in the hollow distance; then he glanced quickly in every direction, but no sound gave him any dread, He entered the familiar “man-hole” - the miner’s place of refuge from the coal trucks passing - and he felt as if the air were thick with his own curses of bygone days. Then with a cry and shout, as if his whole nature were being rent, he prayed for God’s mercy and help. And as he cried he felt as if a physical burden were being lifted from him, borne on slow, strong wings through the roof of the mine, and away forever. The worst of the conflict was over in that one tremendous moment. Tears came, but their bitterness was gone; songs came, with or without words, but all triumphant.

He hastened away to his northern home and arrived sober. His wife had been advised but feared it was too good to be true? And the childrens surprise! Within a few minutes of reaching home the little family, as if all in a dream, he, himself the wildest dreamer of all!- he was trying to pray in his childrens hearing, for the first time. He had demurred at first to his wifes request, but when she knelt on the hearth and led the way, he followed. Arid they went together to Bethesda Chapel that night, and perhaps he would not have taken part but for his wifes quiet urging.

What followed has become public history in Wales. He too became the evangelist of his kindred in the quarried hills. Duririg the days that followed, far into the New Year, this workman’s house was a surgery of wounded souls. The worst of the sin-smitten ones seemed to find their way intuitively to him, and he was everyday in search of them. Long past midnight, many a time, he was praying old compariions out of remorse and despair into the marvelous light of redeeming Love. ln no language, from no lips, have I heard anything that thrills heart and soul more than his way at times of shouting the one word - Diolch! (Thanks). It is his shout of thanksgiving and victory. I have felt as if in it I caught something - an echo at least - of what fell on John’s ear from the redeemed hosts, “as the voice of many waters.” The months have come and gone, another Christmas has also passed, and he is still on the pilgrims way, learning new Iessons and sowing fresh seed. He is making up for wasted years by a constant study of the Bible, having since that first Christmas committed hundreds of its verses to memory.

I have selected these two for illustration. Let these be multiplied by at least scores, and it will be partly understood how Christ Himself kept Christmas in Wales in 1904. Sweeter far than chimes of bells were the refrains swelling in the valleys, passing over the hills, now of Throw out the life-line, now of “Tell mother I’ll be there,” mingling with many a native hymn. Evan Roberts had given “Never lose sight of Jesus” as his farewell message on the eve of Christmas.

Such days - such a golden season - do not appear too often in Time’s iron course. Perhaps we are tempted to think, amidst their glow, that there has never been their like before. Happily, this is not so. “A time of merriment and gladness, of joy and exultation, of praise and rejoicing”- reads like a record of that season, and men sang songs of praise to God; gentle and simple, burghers and country folk, young men and maidens, old and young with one accord. . . And they sang God’s songs, not man’s, and all walked in the way of salvation. Is this written of Wales, a.d. 1904-5? Not so: The date of it was 1233, in sunny Italy, when the “Alleluia Revival” gladdened the whole land. And so, in other lands yet, in days near or far off, shall such days of heaven suddenly, inexplicably, adorn some unknown year.

[These remaining chapters are availible on the CD-ROM which can be purchased shortly]

Part 3 - TRIALS OF HARVESTING
Chapter I - A Glad New Year
Chapter II - Progress through Trials
Chapter III - The Interpreter's House
Chapter IV - “Ye Shall be Named the Priests of the Lord”

Part 4 - AMONG THE SHEAVES
Chapter I - Lessons and Estimates
Chapter II - The Rediscovered Sense of Sin
Chapter III - Struggle and Victory
Chapter IV - Prayer: The Childrens Way
Chapter V - Prayer: Its Victorius Power
Chapter VI - Signs and Visions
Chapter VII - The Unveiling of the Cross

Appendix - Hymns of Revival

 

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