‘Trevecca College, November 8th, 1859.
‘MY DEAR SIR,—You request me to furnish you with some account of the work of the Lord now going on in Wales. That there are powerful influences operating upon the masses among us there is no doubt,—that those influences tend to the renunciation of sin and the exaltation of the Saviour is equally certain; and that our churches have been aroused and revived to an unusual degree is a fact which causes our hearts to rejoice. Of course, there are many circumstances connected with all this which we may not altogether approve. This is what we might expect from the imperfection of human nature, but it cannot be denied that there is a holy influence abroad which betokens the agency of the Spirit of God. The previous lethargy is broken up, and multitudes are heard simultaneously inquiring what they shall do to be saved. God’s people betake themselves in deep earnestness to the throne of grace, where they fervently plead for the fulfilment of the gracious promise of a general outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thousands are awakened to a sense of their danger, and are thus lead to flee to the Cross of Jesus, and enjoy peace in believing. Some lie long under deep and pungent convictions, while others pour forth the fulness of their hearts’ joy in accents of praise to God. Crowds flock to the churches,—crime is diminished, and the cause of God is strengthened amongst us. Some of the characteristics of the present movement which I may mention are,—1. An extraordinary spirit of prayer among the masses. 2. A remarkable spirit of union among all denominations of Christians. 3. A powerful missionary spirit urging to constant efforts for the conversion of others. In these respects it partakes of the features of the old Revivals, although it differs from them in several of its phases. Wales, you are aware, has been specially favoured with gracious visitations from the Lord at different periods within the last century and a half. The following is the testimony of an eye-witness, and a prominent actor therein, in reference to the great Revival which took place in the years 1791-2:—’Scores of the wildest and most inconsiderate of the young people of both sexes have been awakened. Their convictions are very clear and powerful, and in some instances so deep as to bring them to the brink of despair. Their consolations also have been equally strong. Those that were the foremost in the service of Satan and rebellion against God are now the foremost in seeking salvation through the blood of the Lamb. It is easy work to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom here at this time. Divine truths have their own infinite weight and importance on the minds of the people. Beams of Divine light, together with Divine irresistible energy, accompany every truth delivered. It is glorious to see how the stoutest heart are bowed down, and the hardest melted.’ The celebrated Whitfield also, after one of his visits to the Principality, writes in his journal, in the year 1739, ‘Blessed be God, there seems to be a noble spirit gone out into Wales; and I believe, ere long, there will be more visible fruits of it. What strongly inclines me to think so is, that the partition-wall of bigotry and party-zeal is broken down, and ministers and teachers of different communions join with one heart and one mind to carry on the kingdom of Jesus Christ.’ The above extracts would be a true description of the work of God amongst us at the present time. Sinners are converted—the thoughtless become thoughtful—the frivolous and profane become serious and devout—the proud are humbled—and the prayerless devote themselves to prayer, and become attentive to all the duties and ordinances of religion. My numerous engagements forbid my entering into many details connected with the present Revival, however pleasant that employment would be. Others, I trust, who have more time on hand, and who have had favourable opportunities of witnessing the great work, will furnish you with full particulars. The writer had the privilege of witnessing two or three powerful Revivals in his younger days; but of late years they had become more rare, and the rising generation were strangers to the manifestation of any very general influences of the Spirit of God upon churches and congregations. For years the preaching of the Gospel seemed to have lost much of its power among us, and the churches were in consequence in a comparatively low state. A general dissatisfaction, however, was felt at this state of things, and when tidings reached us that the Lord was reviving his work in America by that remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, the accounts of which have gladdened the hearts of so many British Christians, a powerful longing arose throughout the churches for another refreshing shower upon the congregations of Wales. We were favoured with the first droppings of the shower at the College at Trevecca [in the winter of 1857]. An unusual spirit had possessed the students and the little church at this place for some time. You know that we are accustomed to hold weekly church meetings in Wales, at which members relate the different dealings of God with their souls, when exhortations, warnings, and directions are given, suitable to the occasion, and the great truths of revelation are treated in their relation to living faith and practice. These church meetings had become as little Bethels to us for some months. The testimony of our consciences after each successive meeting was that God was there. We drank of that ‘river the streams whereof make glad the city of God,’ and were abundantly refreshed. We seemed at times to have arrived at the vestibule of heaven, where we could breathe its pure atmosphere, and join in the song of the redeemed in glory. One of these seasons of refreshing I shall never forget. The following is the account given by one of the young men present:—
“It has recently been our good fortune to be favoured with occasions of spiritual delight and blessing, and we cannot less than rejoice at recalling and relating such glorious circumstances, which have been, in truth, a refreshing to our souls, and have awakened us, in some measure, from our stoical indifference to a greater earnestness in our own spiritual career, and also in that of others.
“The occasion on which the extraordinary manifestation of Divine favour referred to took place, was a church-meeting. As usual, two or three spoke their experience, and they did so with some feeling and unction. Thus the service was passing off pleasantly, every one feeling that it was good to be there. So far, however, there was nothing but what we had joyfully experienced many a time before. Still, we were rejoiced, and felt inclined to thank God He had not forgotten us, and to pray that He would give yet more abundant proofs of His presence. But no one expected anything like so peculiar a manifestation as followed. Indeed, we could scarcely have formed any idea of such a manifestation, for the majority present had never seen anything like it. We had all heard our fathers speak of the great effects which they, in their youth, had seen accompanying the preaching of the Word, and the influence which the outpouring of the Spirit was wont to have on the minds of the people assembled for worship; but we had never seen the like ourselves, at least, in the measure which our fathers were accustomed to say they had seen; and, therefore, a kind of scepticism concerning its reality frequently possessed us. But now, this scepticism was to be taken away forever.
“Before separating, our beloved minister administered the sacrament of the Lord’s supper—peculiar circumstances rendering it necessary that this should be done in our church meetings. And in reading the Word of God, and making a few passing remarks thereon, an influence was felt by all present, which we had never experienced in the like manner before. There was a beauty, a loveliness about the Holy Word which we had never hitherto perceived. New light seemed to be thrown upon it. It electrified us and caused us to weep with joy. The feeling became general. All present were under its influence. The hardest hearts were forced to succumb. After some time we partook of the ordinance of the Lord’s supper, but under strange emotions. And then we sang, aye, sang, with spirit, and repeated the hymn again and again—we could not leave off. Every heart seemed inspired to continue, and the last two lines were sung for full a quarter of an hour. Then the minister prayed, and such a prayer we had never before heard uttered. We felt that we were communing with God. Our hearts were truly poured out in praises and supplications. We could have prayed all night. But at length the prayer terminated, and we were to separate. But did we separate? Ah, no, everyone resumed his seat and held silence; and there we were for a length of time under the most heavenly feelings. Every heart was subdued. No one dared to speak, except by tears; and we were afraid lest anyone should speak and put an end to the spell. We were at a loss to know what course should be adopted. Our feelings having been raised to so high a pitch, the difficulty was how to bring the service to a close, and to secure a separation without having the Divine influence marred. We were anxious that our impressions should continue. At length the minister rose, and slowly and pathetically read several appropriate portions of the Word of God. We then sang, and afterwards prayed again. And thus the meeting was carried on for four hours.
“The effects were not transient. They have left a deep impression on our minds, and have influenced our conduct for good. We feel more serious, more ready to speak about our religious life, more anxious as regards the salvation of the world, and more desirous that the Lord would dwell amongst us, and favour us with a still greater outpouring of his Holy Spirit. In truth ‘it was good to be there.’”
After the meeting I sat down with the young men, when each seemed to pour forth his whole heart into the bosom of his brother; and such was the Divine influence felt, that the place seemed to be filled with the special presence of God, which gave rise to the suggestion in my mind, “Something like this must Pentecost have been.” “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.” We were favoured after this with several meetings of a similar character, which have left very wholesome and valuable impressions upon the inmates of this Institution.
Attention was particularly called to the subject of Revivals both by means of the press, as well as in our public meetings, during the greater part of last year, and the efficacy of united, earnest, and believing prayer for an outpouring of the Spirit was urged upon the churches. We were thus in an expectant mood, and many were the supplications silently sent up to Heaven for the desired blessing. At length, about the close of last year, an unusual Spirit of prayer fell upon some of the churches of Cardiganshire. Frequent meetings for prayer were held—the interest felt in them became more and more intense—crowds congregated together for the purpose of uniting in earnest and devout supplication to Heaven; the meetings were often protracted for several hours together—powerful impressions were felt, and many, with symptoms of deep concern and contrition, sought for admission as members in the different churches. These awakenings soon spread and became general in Cardiganshire and the neighbouring counties. At the Conference of the Calvinistic Methodists held at Llangeitho in August last, about eight thousand were reported to have been added to that denomination in Cardiganshire alone. But this awakening has not been confined to one communion of Christians; it has pervaded all and has been as powerfully felt among the congregations of the Establishment as among Dissenters. By this time, it has travelled through nearly the whole of the Principality, and the churches are everywhere rejoicing. We can now realise the experience of the church of old when it sang, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”
The accounts from different localities are most interesting and heart-stirring. From Cardiganshire we read as follows:—”The Revival in these parts spreads like wild-fire, and the whole country is one entire conflagration. The additions to the church at the Tabernacle, Aberystwyth, number 500; at Rhydfendigaid, 400; at Tregaron, about 400; at Rhiwbwys, Llanrhystyd, about 200; at Lledrod, about 200; while many of the churches have received each more than 200 additional converts. I have been an eye-witness (says the writer) of some of the most remarkable conversions; and it is worthy of notice that the majority of the converts belong to the class of confirmed drunkards, swearers, persecutors, and the most degraded of the people.”
From Carnarvonshire we receive the following:—”A spirit of prayer is everywhere felt. Those means of grace which were previously the least regarded by us, have now become the most appreciated; so that prayer-meetings are held generally and constantly through all these parts. Meetings for united prayer have been commenced amongst the quarrymen in the Dinorwic slate quarry, which are held during the intervals of rest. On the 25th of August, in one part of the quarry, the men assembled for prayer were compelled to leave the usual place of rendezvous, and betake themselves, on account of the numbers congregated together, to the side of an adjacent mountain, forming one of the Snowdonian range. Many of the most reckless characters followed them without any other motive than of being mere observers. When, however, they reached the mountainside, and there knelt to pray, several of them were so struck as to fall on their faces to the ground, where they clenched the earth from fear of being swallowed up to hell. That evening nine united themselves in Christian fellowship with the church at Dinorwic; fifteen the second evening; twenty-three the third, and so on, on subsequent occasions, until the number had reached to more than 100. The neighbourhood has undergone a complete change—it being now more like Heaven than anything else. Nothing is heard but singing and praise on all sides. Perceiving that the meeting on the mountainside had been attended with such beneficial results, it was determined to hold a monster meeting for prayer in the same place, which accordingly took place on the 1st of September. High were the expectations for that meeting, and fervent were the supplications that the Great Head of the church would condescend to favour them with his presence by the powerful influences of his Spirit, as in the first meeting; and when the time arrived it was evident that these supplications had been already heard, and that the Lord was pouring forth his Spirit upon them in a very remarkable manner. By the hour of noon, hundreds of the quarrymen and others had come together, and the congregation continued to increase until it numbered from 2500 to 3000 people.
“It was an amazing sight—the most abandoned and ungodly of the youth of the neighbourhood meeting together and uniting in prayer; Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, Calvinistic Methodists, and one Churchman took part in the service of the day. The prayers and appeals were truly earnest and impressive. The meeting lasted for four hours thus on the hill-side and under the open canopy of heaven, and all left with the inward testimony that it was good to be there. Upwards of a thousand members have been already added to the churches of Carnarvonshire. I am informed that, on the day on which Her Majesty visited Bangor, all the men in the slate quarries were allowed a holiday to see the Queen, but, instead of doing so, they called together a general prayer-meeting to pray for the Queen. This is glorious; they were anxious to present their humble suit before the throne of Him by whom kings reign, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, on behalf of our beloved earthly Queen; and this is loyalty in very truth.”
These are few of the incidents which stir up our souls throughout the Principality in connection with this precious visitation and glorious work which is at present advancing with accumulating strength from day to day. Humbly in the dust would we praise our God and say, “Not unto us, O Lord, Not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake.”
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!” It would appear indeed that the glorious times which are in promise, are near at hand. The promise is, “I will pour my Spirit upon all flesh.” What we need is a firm and abiding belief that God intends to perform what He has said and He is a hearer of prayer. Let the church of God unite in unceasing prayer for a general outpouring of the Spirit, and the promise will be accomplished; and not without this, I firmly believe, as prayer is the appointed channel by which the blessings of redemption flow down to men. “Ask and ye shall receive;’ this is the law of Christ’s kingdom. We are to ask, in order to receive, and if we ask, we shall assuredly receive, for the Saviour himself has said, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Trusting that the published reports of what “God has wrought” for his people may lead to redoubled efforts before the throne of grace for the promised blessing, and with Christian regards, believe me, my dear Sir,
Yours very faithfully,