Caerphilly (1772)



Revival in area of Rhymney river. Edmund Jones, Pontypool refers to it in two letters to Howel Harris in 1772. The first is dated 8th September 1772: ‘...I have the pleasure to inform you that there is an awakening on both sides the river Rumney, chiefly on the Glamorgansh. side of it, from Hengoed down towards the sea, & abt. [Caer]fily. Great add[itions to the churc]h at Croes Wen, & at Mr. Thomas Waters’s [at Myn]ythysloin: But D. Wms of Watford with his [Arm]inianism loses ground, & Hengoed decreases, [the]re are prayer meetings in 3 of the Prices [hou]ses—Gentlemen near Carfily, wch is wonderful! The Newport meeting house cant contain the people. Everywhere, where the gospel is preached, there is no want of people to hear: & you Sir, thro the favour of God’s providence have been at the bottom of all this, let others say what they please. But God will do you justice if men will not. Indeed the most part will own that you have been a great Instrument of Conversion... As to our state here we cannot boast of great things, nor can we deny on the other hand that here is some promising work appearing among some young persons.’ [NLW MS 368D transcript by Thomas Rees of Trefeca Letter 2715; see also transcript given by Gomer M. Roberts, ‘Annibynwyr a Llythyrau Trefeca’, Y Cofiadur, xxvii. (1957), p.18].

The other is dated 19th November 1772: ‘Dear Sir, I have the pleasure to inform you that having heard of some strong men in prayer belonging to Croes Wen I invited them to come to our meeting; accordingly they came, last Lord’s was sevenight, and put 6 of the 8 that came to pray, singing Salm or Hymn between each two, except the two first. Mr. Wm. Edwards son being one that prayed one after another, no singing between: and they prayed excellently well; very humbly, judiciously, and spiritual before a great congregation. The 3rd and 5th were also extraordinarily powerful. I was greatly affected, and nearly amazed to hear them, as were very many; most of the people I never heard the like in one place. I surprised at hearing a very young prety lad, Wm. Edwards his servant, but born in the parish of Henllys in out county. He was strong, knowing, judicious, and spiritual. The whole house was moved in hearing them, and some said afterwards, who had but little religion, that they were never in such a place before. Our people sang between the two first and the 3rd: between the 3rd and 4th and between the 4th and 5th and sang well: and after that the praying brethren sung their own tunes, with excellent voices, two or three times, and sung better than our people, tho I think ours sung well also. I sha’nt forget how one after another came to kneel and pray upon a rised step between the table and the pulpit with their faces towards the pulpit (in the sight of the congregation) which reflected their voices better through the service. There were some gentry, as Justice Williams his wife and eldest daughter and sister in law &c. There was no tautology, any indecent stretching of the voices, no ignorant speeches. Blessed be God for his unspeakable gift. We expect them here next Lord’s day sevenight again; and may the Lord come with them. We would not depend on them, but on the Lord through them. I hear that there are about 20 such praying persons that way, and meetings kept at 3 of the Prices houses, which is wonderful to hear. They are almost every night somewhere or other. Prejudices against religion goes down everywhere. They go and they sometimes go far, and some are converted in hearing them. I wonder not at it because the Lord is strongly with them. Mr. Ringwood the Parish Minister of Bedwas comes to one of the Prices meetings, and seems to be a good man. There is some uncommon work about the river Rumney from Ystrad bridge to Machen forge, and below. Blessed be God. All Caerphilly town came to hear; that beautiful country about Caerphilly is become a Beulah—I thought it just to let you, Sir, know this good news, as through the grace of God you are at the bottom of this work—An extraordinary thing it is in this time; and God to be seen and acknowledged in it. I saw a young gentlewoman, Miss M. Evans, a member at Groeswen, who told me the time of her conversion was when you preached at Llanbradach [Harris had last preached there in 1769: ‘July 9. Llanbradach. Felt weak and tired. “32 years since I was last here.”’ ‘The Itinerary of Howell Harris Trevecka, For the Years 1753-1773’, CCHMC, xii. (1927), p.41]. The meeting house in Newport, tho very large, can’t contain the people sometimes. Mr. Saunders, the minister, prospers greatly there and at Saint Brides, and Machen Forge. I am, Dear Sir, yours respectfully and gratefully in the Lord Christ, Edmund Jones. P.S. If you ask me where was preaching at our meeting the day—praying brethren, I answer, briefly and spoke of Christ leaps downwards for our salvation, from heaven to the womb—womb to the world—world to the cross—cross to the grave: and leaping upwards for our salvation from the grave to the world and 2nd heaven, paradise; from the world and 2nd heavenly station to the 3rd heaven: very briefly, only to keep a name of preaching. We began before 10 and ended about one. You may communicate this with my respects to the friends at Trevecca, particularly to Miss Harris. I am thinking you would be glad to hear them, but they are too far: they have a far way here, but some of them will come to Gwrhai[?] the night before to pray. Our meeting house will not contain all the hearers next time unless the weather be bad. But it will not be foul.’ [NLW MS 368D transcript by Thomas Rees of Trefeca Letter 2724; NB selected transcripts of both letters appear in Y Cofiadur, 12 (1935), p.48

‘Edmund Jones, of Pontypool, in a letter to H. Harries, dated Nov. 19, 1772, gives an encouraging account of a revival in the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, originated and carried on chiefly through the instrumentality of remarkably gifted “praying brethren” belonging to the church at Groeswen, near Caerphilly. “I hear,” he writes, “that there are about twenty such praying persons that way. They are almost every night somewhere or other. Prejudice against religion goes down everywhere. They go, and they sometimes go far, and some are converted in hearing them. I wonder not at it, because the Lord is strongly with them. There is some uncommon work about the river Rhymney from Ystrad bridge to Machen Forge, and below. Blessed be God. All Caerphilly town come to hear; that beautiful country about Caerphilly is become a Beulah. The meeting-house in Newport, though very large, cannot contain the people sometimes. Mr T. Saunders, the minister, prospers greatly there and at Saint Brides, and Machen Forge.”’ [HPNW p.390; see also HEAC ii. 375-6].

This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

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