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THE GREAT REVIVAL IN WALES
S. B. Shaw
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|8. Drunkenness And Blasphemy Disappear|
(Correspondence of London Methodist Times, in issue of January 5.)
Reports from all the districts in South Wales affected by the revival show that the Christmas holidays, so dreaded by new converts who formerly devoted the whole of the time to drink and revelry, have passed by without the defections from the faith loudly prophesied by the unsympathetic and unbelieving. South Wales has never known such a quiet and peaceful Christmas.
In Cardiff alone, as yet only slightly moved by the revival, police reports show that drunkenness has diminished 60 per cent, whilst on Saturday last the Mayor was presented by the Chief Constable with a pair of white gloves, there being no case at all on the charge sheet — an unprecedented fact for the last day of the year.
The same thing happened at the Swansea County Court on the previous Saturday, and the magistrates said, All the years I’ve been sitting here I’ve never seen anything like it, and I attribute this happy state of things entirely to the revival.
The streets of Aberdare on Christmas Eve were almost entirely free from drunkenness, and on Christmas Day there were no prisoners at all in the cells.
At Pontypridd, mirabile dictu, there were no assaults on the police, and throughout the mining area generally drunkenness was the exception and not the rule.
At Abercarn Police Court, responsible for a population of 21,000, there was not a single summons on Thursday — a thing unknown since the court was formed fourteen years ago — and here, too, was enacted the ceremony of the white gloves.
Bridgend Station, usually the scene of much debauchery on the part
of drunken excursionists going to and from Cardiff, has never known
such orderly behaviour, and the streets of the town, too, have been
free from rowdyism. Similar reports come from Carmarthen and other important
centres, such as Merthyr.
There has been a correspondent reduction in public-house takings and in attendances at low-class places of amusement third and fourth rate theatrical touring companies, who usually reap such a rich harvest in these regions at Christmas, have found it advisable to keep clear of the Rhondda this time.
Restitution still holds a prominent place in the revival program. One conscience-stricken traveller hands over 1s. 7d. to the Rhymney Railway Company, in payment of a nineteen miles journey some time ago without a ticket. A Rhymney business firm acknowledges the receipt of £5 from an anonymous person in payment of an old debt, long disregarded. A collier, who has formerly spent his money on all kinds of sinful pleasure, has removed his younger brother from an orphanage, and has decided to support him with his savings till he is old enough to provide for himself.
At one service a man with a tear-stained face rushed from the gallery to a pew downstairs, and, clutching passionately the hand of another man, entreated to be forgiven. It was evidently a request not easily granted, so the two repaired to the vestry, where the wrong was satisfactorily rectified, and then the two men newly-reconciled returned to take a happier part in the service.
The conscience of the community, as well as of the church, seems to
be quickened. At Pontypridd for years past it has been customary to
give bottles of whisky as prizes in connection with the Volunteer shooting
competition; but this year every man who formerly gave a drink prize
has given a money prize instead.
Suffice that for the season past
Whilst bands of enthusiastic workers have paraded the streets, arresting the attention of the careless by joyful song and earnest invitation, homely meetings have been extemporized in cottages, and here some of the most precious experiences of the revival have been obtained. The church in the house is very precious in the sight of the Father. At one of these family gatherings no less than five conversions were recorded on the evening of Boxing Day. For such it was a happy prelude to the Crowning Day, which all true believers anticipate.
The secular press is still fanning the flame by its sympathetic reports of the revival meetings. Surely the most remarkable fact yet recorded in daily journalism is the Revival Edition of the Evening Express, published in Cardiff on the 27th ult. The managers have found a football edition to pay them well, so they experimented on Tuesday week with a Revival Edition, in which every article, every report, every paragraph, and every portrait, indeed every line, except the advertisements, dealt with religious work. It has had such an enormous sale that a similar edition was produced this last Tuesday.
The Bishops of Bangor and St. David’s have both guardedly blessed the revival in their pastorals, but the finest tribute comes from the saintly and Evangelical Bishop of Durham, who appeals to his brethren in the ministry everywhere to observe this movement with a reverent welcome and sacred hope.
The young missionaries have given themselves a very little rest. Evan Roberts attended the evening service at Moriah Chapel, Longhor, on the evening of Christmas Day. He listened to a sermon on immortality from the resident minister, and then conducted a vigorous and inspiring after-meeting, and did not leave the chapel till 10:30 p.m. This has long been the chapel of his ancestors. His great-grandfather, a fine soldier, who was wounded at Waterloo, worshiped here, and was honoured for his sterling piety. His grandfather, who, as his father does now, worked at the adjoining colliery, was also a promment worshiper here and an ardent missioner in the temperance cause in the days of its unpopularity; and it was in this very chapel that this young miner student, fresh from his studies at the Newcastle Emlyn Granirnar School, conducted those inspiring services less than three months ago which immediately preceded the outburst, or downpour, with which everybody is now familiar. Dr. Cynddylan Jones, that great preacher to preachers, says of this:
To work up a revival is to try to save the world by mechanics. The Heaven-sent man draws down a revival, saves men by dynamics. The gospel of mechanics is a cumbrous, costly machine, the gospel of dynamics — power from on high, without machinery and guarantees — goes straight to the heart, and accomplishes that for which it is sent. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the dynamic of God unto salvation. And today the dynamic is working. Is it a marvel that there are explosions? And where there are explosions is it a marvel that there is confusion? Out of the chaos will emerge the kosmos; out of confusion, order and beauty and life.
Though preaching is not generally acceptable at these spontaneous meetings, for
ENTHUSIASTIC SONG AND FERVENT PRAYER
and heart-stirring confession hold the field, yet the reading of God’s Word is always welcome, and in the most lively meetings I have attended I have not known a deeper interest manifested in anything than in the reading of the Scriptures. Every verse is punctuated with heartfelt responses, and the poorest reader is thus encouraged by such prayerful sympathy to give the testimony of the Word side by side with the testimony of man.
At Clydach, in the Swansea Valley, where Evan Roberts began his second campaign on the 28th ult., there were the same unwieldy crowds and the same jubilant song that he meets with everywhere. He seems to get less and less people with the ravenous curiosity to see the mere man. He is in no sense flattered by it, and his heart grieves over it more and more. It kills me to see people paying me too much attention. Grace must conquer that. Again and again I have seen him wrestle in the pulpit in tearful and agonizing prayer, till he and the congregation have got the victory over that unspiritual besetment of curiosity that takes mind and heart off the real business at hand, and prevents people from seeing Jesus only.
From Clydach Evan Roberts moved to Morriston, where the revival had secured a great hold upon the population. This is vouched for by the fact that in the preceding week the churches had reaped from 1,300 to 1,400 converts. No wonder then that 2,500 people crowded into the large chapel to hear him and that other chapels were also filled. On Sunday he had three services at Pentre-Estyfl, on the outskirts of Swansea. Here, too, for weeks past the churches had been all aflame, and Sundays services were profoundly impressive. One man, fearful of the harm done by man-worship, said of Evan Roberts in prayer, Lord, put him out of sight, but another prayed, Use him as a speaking trumpet. Some of the young evangelists sayings here were expressive and forcible.
Speaking of emotionalism, he said: If there is to be no feeling in this world, I am afraid you will have too much of it in the next.
Some men try to get one arm around the world and the other round heaven — they want both.
I am afraid some people’s heaven will be a very small one They want to go to heaven on tip-toes, without anybody knowing it, I fear nobody will know they are there.
Elsewhere other young evangelists are at work, and the movement gathers force day by day. The services at the Welsh Tabernacle at Cardiff continue to be very effective in reclaiming some of the most abandoned. Principal Edwards says they are at close grips with the evil one, and some of the services have been disturbed by young atheists. Again and again serious consequences have been averted by the tactful and pathetic singing of Miss. A. M. Rees.
There is also a hard struggle going on in Newport, but it cannot as yet be said that there is any great development there. But as time goes on hopefulness abounds more and more, and everyone knows there is good reason for it.
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