Presteigne (1859)

This small county (Radnorshire) of 25,000 inhabitants has long since ceased to be Welsh in language. For many reasons, it has not been so well supplied with an enlightened ministry as some other counties. To supply this lack, home mission­aries have been located at different points; and it is grati­fying to be able to state that signs of an awakening have been witnessed within the last few months in some of the towns, and in several of the villages.

But the strongest religious movement in this county is felt at Presteign, Knighton, and the neighbourhood. The following extracts from a letter written by the Rev. T. L. Davies, the Baptist minister at the first-named place, will be read with interest:—

"The first symptoms of the work appeared about four months ago in a revival of the spirit of prayer. That branch of the Church of Christ over which I preside resolved about that time to hold prayer-meetings every night, to plead with the Lord for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Oh,' was our cry, ‘that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence!' These meetings were attended with unusual power. We felt that God of a truth was with us and that He was about displaying His power in the salvation of many souls.

"In the latter end of November it was proposed that we should hold united prayer-meetings. This met with the hearty approval of all the Dissenters in the town, and the Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and the Wesleyans soon met successively, at their respective chapels, without any semblance of sectarianism.

"All deeply felt the necessity of prayer—of united prayer and effort for the conversion of precious souls, and hence the house of prayer became a delightful resort. We all wished to pray. We all delighted to pray. We were all impelled to pray, by an unseen Power. "Those who had, a few weeks before, very little inclina­tion for prayer-meetings, and very seldom attended them now flocked to them, and are among the foremost in pro­moting the work. "This had a marked influence on the world; for, in addition to the earnest spirit of prayer which prevailed, they saw, that an earnest spirit of united prayer and united effort for their salvation prevailed. They saw that it was NO longer the movement of a party or of a sect; but that all the truth from all the sects had but one common object in view, namely, the conversion of their souls—the glory of Christ.

"Many now became deeply concerned about their souls, and earnestly sought the Lord for mercy, through the blood of Jesus, shed for the remission of sins, It became evident to all that our prayers were answered—that the Spirit was poured out from on high; for almost every night were seen the tears of the penitent, were heard the sighs and sobs of the mourner and broken-hearted, and the cries of those who saw their lost condition.

"It is impossible for me to enter into details, or inform you of half of what we have felt, and heard, and seen during this precious season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. But some of the meetings and the cases of conver­sion deserve special mention. We had an extraordinary meeting at the Primitive Methodist chapel on New-year's eve. Several of the brethren prayed, and others addressed the meeting, and afterwards some minutes were spent in silent prayer. We felt at this time as if the glory of the Lord was passing by, whilst we were in the cleft of the rock. I am not aware that there were any conversions that night, but everyone at the meeting was more or less affected—many very deeply.

"At a crowded meeting, held at the Baptist chapel, the following Friday night; after a sermon by Mr L. Cowdell, and another by the Rev. Mr Huff, and a few words by myself, twelve came forward in deep distress, and eight found peace. Being justified by faith,' they had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' On the follow­ing Sunday night, at the same place, ten more appeared in the deepest distress about their soul's salvation, and most of them found peace. But I never felt the influence of the Holy Spirit so powerful as on the following Tuesday night, at the same chapel. After several of the brethren had en­gaged in prayer, and a short address had been delivered, an invitation was given to all who were concerned about their soul's salvation, to come forward to the communion table. Nine moved out whilst we were directing them to the Saviour. The Holy Ghost descended upon us; not, indeed, as a rushing mighty wind,' yet as the gentle zephyr, till it filled the whole place. So powerful was the influence that none of us could speak for some minutes. We all gave vent to our feelings in floods of joyful tears. We met the next night at the Wesleyan chapel. After a very impressive sermon by the Rev. Mr Kirkland, an invitation was given to all anxious inquirers to come forward to the communion rail. A young woman came forward in the greatest con­ceivable distress; after her came a young lady in like dis­tress; and following them came an elderly lady. After we had directed them to Jesus and had prayed for them, we rose up and were about to dismiss the congregation, when the last said to the first, Why, Mary, is it you?' It was her servant, and the second that came was' her daughter. Thus three were led from the same house to seek the Lord without any previous knowledge of each other's intention. They did not find peace that night, but the three are now rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.

"I am not able to inform you how many have been converted, or who have professed to be, but a very large number (taking into consideration the population) have been, whilst many have been received into the fellowship of the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. I had the pleasure, on the second Sabbath of last month, of baptizing thirty-four in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' and there are upwards of sixty more seeking our fellowship. Seven found peace at the Wesleyan chapel last Wednesday night.

From ‘The Welsh Revival’ by Thomas Phillips.

Additional Information

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