Bethesda (1859)



The chief work, however, is in the vast slate-quarries, amongst the thousands who toil in the great excavations and caverns made by their own hard hands and strong arms. From Bethgelert to Waenfawr, Llanberis, Dinorwie, Pentir, Beth­esda, Capel Curig, Bettws-y-coed, and Dolyddelen—the vil­lages which surround Snowdonia—the revival has already spread. Like a belt of fire, it encircles the mighty moun­tains, and whatever natural ice and snow may be found on any of their high peaks, or in their craggy recesses, there is but little moral ice now left which has not felt, in some degree, the melting power of this gracious influence.

The revival in this county (Carnarvonshire) is so wide-spread in its extent, and so beneficial in its influence, that a volume of no small dimensions could be written respecting it. A catalogue of the names of the places already favoured with what is believed to be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit would of itself be a monument to the praise and glory of Him who is "the resurrection and the life." Although some of the churches of various denominations had been moved in the spring of the year, it was only in the autumn the movement became so general and powerful that it deservedly obtained the name by which such extraordinary movements are generally distinguished. I have before me the state­ments of clergymen and ministers of various denominations, and all unite in adoring gratitude to the Lord, who, after a season of comparative darkness and deadness, has again -visited His people. A few extracts will now be given.

The Rev. Mr Griffiths of Bethel writes as follows:— "The first place in which this wonderful religious move­ment developed itself in this part of the country is a populous neighbourhood, about three or four miles east­ward of Carnarvon, generally called Waunfawr. The people of Cod among the Independents and Calvinistic Methodists were eminently blessed with the spirit of grace and supplications.” Deep seriousness regarding Divine things seemed to pervade all minds. As a consequence many were turned to the Lord. Cases of most marvellous conversions continually took place. In the course of a few weeks, about one hundred and twenty new mem­bers were added to the Calvinistic Methodists' Church in the neighbourhood, and upwards of fifty to that of our own. A few weeks ago the revival fire broke forth with marvellous power in the picturesque village of Cwmyglo, a place not far distant from the Dinorwic slate-quarries. Soon after this, the whole surrounding country was in a blaze. Scenes resembling those which occurred on the Day of Pentecost were to be witnessed on every hand. Hun­dreds were pricked in their heart, and cried out in deep agony, as of old, Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ The Lord pours forth His Spirit with an abundance of grace far exceeding our highest expectations. The revival is manifesting itself among all religious denominations, but more especially among the Calvinistic Methodists and Inde­pendents, they being the most numerous and influential bodies in this part of the country. A spirit of unity and Christian love has been produced by the revival among the various sections of the Church of Christ, whose effects can­not but tell powerfully on the kingdom of darkness. A spirit of prayer has likewise possessed the Lord's people, which is really wonderful to behold. Our prayer-meetings have become exceedingly popular, and often there is an influence at work which cannot be gainsaid or withstood. The most contrite feelings are made manifest, while some of the most unlikely characters are melted down, and feel constrained to cry aloud for mercy.

Our religious meet­ings now often continue till eleven or twelve o'clock at night, and scores of people retire from them to weep and to pray till the sun of another day dawns upon them. During the silent watches of the night the rocks of our country are to be heard resounding to the voice of prayer and praise, and our majestic mountains testify to the greatness of the work that is being carried on among us. A short time ago, a prayer-meeting for quarrymen was held on one of the mountains between the Dinorwic and Beth­esda slate-quarries. About four thousand persons attended, and the Lord graciously met His people. An eye-witness told me it was an occasion to be remembered while memory holds its seat.

"As yet, I am happy to state, there seems to be no abatement of the religious concern thus awakened in our country. It seems rather to advance and spread in all directions. Bethesda and the surrounding neighbourhoods, comprising a most populous and important district, have just caught the sacred flame of revival. A correspondent in the Welsh Standard, or Berner Cymru, thus refers to the grand movement in this district:

"I rejoice in being able to inform your numerous readers that a most powerful revival has just broken out in Bethesda, and the various chapels adjacent thereto. On Saturday, September 3, prayer-meetings were held at two and six o'clock in the evening, and most remarkable meet­ings they were. God was truly among us. We have felt the Spirit of God at such meetings before; but nothing to what we experienced in these wonderful gatherings. After the meetings had passed away, loud praises were heard in the surrounding fields till midnight—one of the most won­derful things we ever witnessed. Besides the lateness of the hour, it rained heavily; still hundreds of people ran to the place whence issued this unwonted sound. It was found that several of those recently converted had retired to a field in the vicinity of Bethesda, and that, being over­powered by the Spirit of God, they poured out their hearts joyfully before the throne of Divine grace. Some wept; others shouted, "Blessed be the name of God for thus remembering us in mercy." Others cried, "O Lord, save! appear among us as a Saviour to-morrow ; an infinite ran­som has been found!" Others expressed thanks because God had saved them from the second death. Others, again, repeated some of the most exciting passages of Holy Writ, such as, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people;" "Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would con­sider their latter end." Before long, hundreds had assem­bled there, and the Spirit of God descended upon them in a wondrous manner, till all testified that God really was in that place. In the present movement we have been greatly struck by the fact that so much of the spirit of prayer has possessed the Lord's people. They draw the heaven of heavens, as it were, into every prayer-meeting; hence such congregations as were never before seen are brought to­gether on these occasions. But, in every one of them, there is something more than a large congregation—the prayers penetrate the hearts of those who attend, whether they be male or female, even persons who never scarcely attended a place of worship are impressed; and the fact that people of this description are constrained to cry aloud, and fall down as if dead, proves beyond doubt that this move­ment is from God, and truly marvellous it is in our sight. I am happy to understand that the revival is breaking out in other places, such as Carneddi, Llanllechid, and all the surrounding neighbourhoods.'

Later...

It is said that at and near Bethesda, in Carnarvonshire, about twelve public-houses have been closed, partly on account of the change in the views of the parties who held them, and partly because the hope of gain from this quarter had quite disappeared.

Later..

Bangor, Bethesda, &c.—" Before this gracious visitation, the moral state of this neighbourhood was most deplorable. The young people, especially, appeared to grow worse and worse, shaking off every religious restraint, becoming more callous and thoughtless, and acting as though they thought that religion was a barrier to mental vigour and progress. The openly ungodly and drunken portion of the community appeared to have been left to themselves, and to commit sin with greater boldness and presumption. The Christian Church seemed too feeble to make direct efforts to with­stand these increasing evils.

"But, through the goodness of God, the state of our neighbourhood is completely changed. Many of the young people who had sold their religious birthright, and had gone astray through the influence of sin and the world, are now arrested, and brought back again into the Church of Christ. Many prodigals have been reclaimed, and with humble con­trition have sought and found their Father's house. Riot­ing and drunkenness are rapidly decreasing, the public-houses are emptied, the noisy mirth usually proceeding from such places is no longer heard, the coarse oaths and profane expressions are abandoned and hated, the most presumptuous are now afraid of sinning openly—the ser­mons heard, and the advice received long since, are now remembered by very many, and seem to come with fresh power, so as to awaken the conscience, and to fill the soul with anxious concern. This takes place at midnight in bed, on the roads, or when busily engaged at their work in the midst of the rocks. Thus God is saving the souls of men from sin and wrath! Life has been breathed into the dry bones, and already there is an exceeding great army' of quickened souls in this populous place and the surrounding district. " Party spirit and sectarian contentions have disappeared —the narrowness and prejudice with which Christians of various denominations regarded each other are fast dying away—and instead of these things, we have instances of love, liberality, and brotherly kindness, reminding us of many of the blessed admonitions given by our Lord to His disciples in His sermon on the mount.

"The spirit of prayer has been given us in a greater de­gree than ever; this is felt more or less by all who are under the influence of this revival. The people delight in prayer, and hence we hear of prayer in all sorts of places, and at all hours. There are not many families in which an altar has not been erected, on which the morning and even­ing sacrifice are offered. The gift of prayer also is given in a marvellous degree: those who can hardly speak at all on other subjects are eloquent before the throne of grace. The old hymns are more appreciated than ever, and some of the anthems and tunes recently introduced are put aside for the present, in order to give place to such as can be used by the whole congregation.

"The Bible also is valued in these days by very many who took no delight in it heretofore : its pages are anointed by the tears of many Marks and Marthas; its simple verses are as the refiner's fire, and the fuller's soap,' puri­fying and cleansing the unbelieving and worldly heart. It may be said that the Bible-marks of a spiritual change may be found in large numbers of those who have been the subjects of the present awakening—namely, humility, meekness, patience, watchfulness, reverence, and godly fear."—November 1859.

From ‘The Welsh Revival’ by Thomas Phillips.


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