Aberavon (1828-1849)



1828 Morriston, Llansamlet etc. ‘In the year 1828 on the 11th of October, the Meeting House in Loughor was opened, and in the following week,October the 15th and 16th, the Association was to be in Aberafon, and few days after that a revival started to break out very fervently in Morriston; and after a short time I was to be in Morriston the Sabbath morning of the 23rd of November at 10, Llansamlet at 2, and Swansea at 6; the fire began to break out very strongly in Llansamlet that Sabbath, and to some degree in Swansea. The revival proceeded very powerfully throughout the regions. On Christmas day after that, Neath Meeting house was being opened after renovation; the revival broke out very powerfully that day; that revival spread to Aberafon, and up to Ystradgynlais, and to various other places; it also came to Llangyfelach, and throughout the regions there was added to the Independents and [Calvinistic] Methodists close to three thousand souls; but to our sorrow, after a few years, we saw many of them turn back by backsliding; but many of them have had the privilege of standing until now, and hopefully be held, and the others return in repentance.’ (Hopkin Bevan, Ychydig o Hanes, p.23; CCHMC ii. 77; Williams, Cofiant Hopkin Bevan, pp.64-5)

Journal of William Griffiths, Apostle of the Gower:

‘Jany 1829

12 Mon – This day at home – reading & conversation – I feel sorry to see the subject of the present revival at Neath & the neighbourhood taken up by the newspaper, with so much spleen and indignation, tho’ the writers profess to serve religion, by holding forth the un­pardonable excesses of enthusiasm, to contempt & ridicule – Excesses there are, no doubt, and every wise & pious man laments to see so much noise & confusion in places of worship – yet the Lord works powerfully upon the souls of hundreds & the moral effects are excellent – no enemy can deny it – before any should sit down in judgment & condemn the whole excitement, now in the country, as the very hight of ignorance & phrenzy – They might consider – whether men (ministers &c) can move & excite whole towns & villages of people to any such religious concern – & so many hundreds of young people, mostly ashamed to be seen among religious people, much more so, to hear their own voice in a place of worship – whether the preachers themselves (as they are supposed to be) are fond to encourage any of those tumultuous scenes which so much offend those wise gentlemen who condemn the whole revival as the works of delusion & infatuation – whether they themselves are capable to judge of strange effects, the cause of which they had not the means nor the will to examine impartially – few of those who censure have any knowledge of the language in which these poor deluded enthusiasts (according to theirs) give vent to their feelings – They ought further to know the real character of other revivals which have been every way similar to the present – but of a more remote date – and which have taken place in different parts of the Principality very frequently – whether the enemies of religion who live in those parts can deny the facts – that in these Great excitements many persons of the most abandoned Character were truly converted from their sinful courses & lived from that time forth an ornament to religion & a blessing to all their neighbours – and also that the standard of morals has been much higher in such places than it was before these revivals have visited them – these & many more enquiries of the like nature ought to be made before judging rashly as mere spectators of some outward irregularities which no wise or pious man wishes to justify.’ THE GREAT REVIVAL IN SOUTH WALES IN 1849.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN WITNESS.

SIR,—In your remarks on the general dearth of revivals of religion in the United Kingdom, on the wrapper of the WITNESS for this month, you intimate that no such thing as a revival has been heard of even in Wales during the last twelve years. It affords me the highest gratification to be now able to inform you that powerful awakenings were felt in North Wales in the years 1839 and 1840, and in South Wales in 1841, 1842, and 1843. The circulation of a translation of Mr. Finney’s “Lectures,” by Mr. Griffiths, of Swansea, was eminently instrumental, in the hand of God, in promoting that evermemorable revival.. The intervening period from the end of the year 1843 to the summer of last year was a season of almost universal spiritual declension; but last year most of the churches in the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan, and many in those of Brecon and Carmarthen, were blessed with a most powerful revival.

Some months ago, on the suggestion of my excellent friend, Mr. Joseph Maybery, of Llanelly, I wrote to the ministers of those churches which were most signally blessed with these awakenings, for the numbers added to their churches during the year, intimating my intention of publishing the account in one of the periodicals. The following is a list of as many of the churches as furnished me with the numbers added to them. If you will insert it in the CHRISTIAN WITNESS, it will undoubtedly be pondered over with gratification. by thousands of your pious readers, and will also be transmitted to future generations as a memorial of the gracious dealings of God with our highlyprivileged nation:- Churches Numbers added Ministers

in 1849

Neath, the two Chapels, about 460 D. Evans, J. Matthews.

Briton Ferry and Skiwen 150 Vacant.

Aberavon, Cwmavon, Rock Chapel 650 D. Evans, Neath, E. Roberts, W. Thomas.

Carmel, Maesteg 185 W. Morgan.

Zoar, ditto 187 Vacant.

Siloh, ditto 130 -------

Cefncribwr and Elim 100 Vacant.

Bridgend and Coity 60 J.D. Williams.

Llanelly, Breconshire 160 J. Davies.

Llangynidr 62 S. Phillips.

Bwlchnewydd 170 Vacant.

Capel Sion 50 J. Evans.

Pontyberem 120 Ditto.

Pembrey 115 H. Evans.

Nazareth 130 D. Evans.

Bethania, Llannon 100 H. Davies.

Llanybree 120 W. James.

Cross Inn 125 R. Powell.

And more

The foregoing list is, of course, imperfect, as it scarcely contains one-half of the churches which were blessed by the wonderful revival of last year. It is supposed that from 1,200 to 1,500 persons were added to the nine Congregational churches in the parish of Merthyr Tydvil, and at least 1,000 to the churches in Carmarthenshire besides those in the above list, such as Llandovery, Llangadock, Llandilo, Carmarthen, Llanelly, &c.

One very peculiar feature of this wonderful movement was, the great numbers of converts who pressed together, at the same time, to the anxious meetings. In some localities meetings for conversing with the awakened were held every evening throughout the week, and sometimes oftener; and from twenty to thirty individuals were examined at each meeting. Mr. Hughes, of Dowlais, gave the right hand of fellowship to two hundred and forty persons the same Sabbath morning, on their admission to the Lord’s Supper; and your correspondent had the soulcheering gratification of doing the same to two hundred and ten on the 28th of October last.

These gracious visitations of the Spirit of God were not confined to the Congregational churches. Some thousands were added to the Baptist churches in the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan, and great numbers joined the Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodist Societies in some localities.

Many good warmhearted old Christians had their doubts of the reality of these movements, because they were not attended by loud cries, promiscuous singing, jumping, &c., as some former revivals were; but the audible groans of hundreds, and the floods of tears shed under the preaching of the word, clearly manifested some strong inward feelings, which the eloquence or the schemes of man could not effect; and what is still a more convincing proof that it was a work of the Spirit of God, the thousands of young converts, with comparatively rare exceptions, are walking worthy of their holy profession.

It will be readily acknowledged that the terrible visitation of the Cholera was principally the means of arousing the attention of our hearers to consider seriously the important truths with which they were already theoretically acquainted; but who will venture to deny that the Lord had mercifully ordained this awful scourge as the means of accomplishing his gracious purpose of saving thousands?

The mighty movements are not felt now as they were eight or nine months ago in any place; but things wear a very encouraging aspect. Almost all the churches are peaceful; the attendance on the means of grace is unparalleled in the history of religion amongst us; our youth manifest great thirst for religious knowledge; our Sabbathschools are very flourishing; a number of pious and talented young men are preparing for the ministry; and many of the young ministers who were ordained within the last six years are very active and promising.

The Welsh is now one of the most religious nations on the face of the earth. Ninetenths of the middle and working classes are either professors of religion or constant attendants on the means of grace. Evangelical religion in Wales has the public opinion decidedly in its favour. But, alas! we are, as a nation, after all, very far from what we ought to be. Sin and Satan are still amongst us, and the time is not yet come for the people of God to take their rest. May the Spirit of the lord continue to pour his blessings upon us, and may his mighty power be felt amongst the millions of England, and throughout the whole wide world!

I am, Dear Sir,

Yours in the bonds of the Gospel,

THOMAS REES.

Beaufort, near Abergavenny,

May 7, 1850.’

(The Christian Witness, vii (1850), pp.315-6, reprinted in Rees, Miscellaneous Papers, pp.93-6)

‘The year 1849 was a year of singular judgments and mercies to the inhabitants of South Wales. That terrible pestilence, the cholera, swept hundreds away in a few weeks, and by the Divine blessing which attended the awful visitation, thousands were brought to think of their ways and turn to the Lord. All the places of worship in the manufacturing districts of the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan for some months during the summer and autumn were overcrowded. Multi­tudes who had not been seen at any place of worship during the previous ten or fifteen years, became regular attendants for a time; and though many of them, when the pestilence ceased, returned to their former evil habits, still a large number of that class have been thoroughly changed, and continue to this day to attend the house of God. Most of those who were regular hearers before then joined the churches. No less than 9,139 were added to 67 Independent churches in the counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan, Brecknock, and Caer­marthen, in the course of three or four months. Many feared that an unusual number of relapses would follow this sudden increase, but their fears were not realized to nearly the extent it was apprehended.’ (HPNW p.430)

This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

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