Salem/Capel-y-Cwm Calvinistic Methodist (1905)

Evan Roberts in his peregrinations has seen most that is dismal, dreary, and colourless in the industrial districts of South Wales, but he seems oblivious of environment, and heeds only the people to whom he is to deliver his message. His visit to “Capel-y-Cwm” was an event which gave intense satisfaction to the inhabitants of the district, who felt it a privilege to welcome the young revivalist who is creating a new and one of the most important chapters in the history of Wales. And “Capel-y-Cwm” is not unworthy of such a visit. It stands on ground made sacred by the hallowed memories of a previous revival. An hour or more after the service had commenced he made his appearance accompanied by only one of the five lady evangelists who were with him in the first days of the revival at Loughor. She took her place among the congregation, and very few people were aware of her presence. “Ar Ei ben bo’r goron” (“On His head be the crown”) was being sung with splendid heartiness when Mr. Roberts quietly ascended the pulpit stairs. Immediately he had sat down there was a lull, and a strange coldness spread itself over the assembly. For the first time in my experience of these meetings - and I have attended many - there was a break in the continuity of prayer and praise. The Rev. T. O. Jones, the aged pastor of the Church, stepped into the breach, and recited with great earnestness and feeling the words of the hymn, “Wrth gofio’i riddfanau’n yr Ardd,” which he supplemented with an appeal, especially directed to the young people, to embrace Christianity and give themselves to the service of the Master. He sat down and again, and there was a painful spell of silence quite foreign to these services. “Mae rhyw yspryd o gywreinrwydd yma” (“There is a spirit of curiosity here”), remarked one of the ministers in the “big seat”. Evan Roberts, with his face buried in his hands, did not move. Then someone started an old Welsh hymn which was new to the strangers in the congregation, and the last refrain having died away, there was yet another pause. Half an hour had passed, and a young woman now broke the ice with a fervent prayer. “People have come here,” she said, “to see the man, and not the Master”. This brought the missioner to his feet. Pale, and trembling with emotion, he rebuked the people for having come there out of curiosity. “One might think,” he said, “that you had come here from the North Pole, but if you had passed Calvary you would be warmer than you are. You have been expecting me to rise for some time, but I could not. You have placed man before God. Is it not right for the creature to give obedience to the Creator? Is it not right that the saved should yield to the Saviour? There are three spirits in this meeting - the Spirit of God, and spirit of man, and the evil spirit.” A young woman’s produced the desired thaw, and the revivalist, resuming, now looked radiant with happiness. He described his feelings of the previous evening. Speaking in a voice more powerful than ever he uplifted the meeting. “Last night I was so oppressed by the Spirit that I felt I must die if I could not go on with this work.” Those were his words which called forth the “Amens” of both sexes. And he added, “Thank God for such a meeting. God did not want a man to give half of himself to His service. He must give himself wholly or not at all.” Then followed a remarkable scene. Evan Roberts invited all those who had done their best for Christ to stand up. For the space of a minute no one stood. There were several ministers of the Gospel in the “set fawr,” and in one of the side seats sat Mr. Herbert Booth, son of General Booth. Was there no one going to stand? That was the question which everybody seemed to be asking himself. A woman, whose eyes were red with weeping, stood at last, and said, “I have tried to do my best”. Another woman followed with a similar statement. Leaning over the pulpit, Evan Roberts smiled as if in compassion, and brought relief with the trite remark, “It is no use telling people not to drink and not to swear without telling them at the same time of the Love.” “No man ever went to Heaven through his good works alone,” broke in an old man in the gallery. “No, quite right” said the missioner, “I thought at the beginning,” he continued, “of terrifying people into belief, but the Spirit told me to preach the Love of Christ only. Don’t pray for the salvation of others until you are saved yourself. Death will be sweet to those who are saved, but it was terrible for Him. I cannot understand why any Welshman or Welsh woman refusing to accept Him in the midst of this revival. Some people who are members are hanging like millstones round the necks of Churches. If there are any such present let them go hence. You must be in the Church or in the world. Some want to be in both. Many men have church-going clothes, but if you look beneath them you will find the hearts of hypocrites. The evil one rejoices to see such men in Churches, because they are like a canker in the life of those Churches.” “Penar” then rose up and explained why he had not stood up. He felt, since he had remained seated, that he had done his best for Him, but that everything he had done was not quite so clean or pure (“dim mor lan”) as it might have been. Evan Roberts nodded his head in approval, and then another minister rose and said he preached the Gospel for years, but he had felt after every sermon that he might have done better. The revivalist again took up the thread of his discourse, and said that the revival wave, according to the prophecy of Joel would not only sweep over Wales and Great Britain, but all over the world. The true spirit of the revival now pervaded the whole congregation. Women and men prayed simultaneously, and the scene depicted religious emotionalism and fervour at full flood. One young woman was so carried away by her feelings that her voice became a piercing shriek that was weird in its effect- “I have been praying on my knees and over the wash-tub and I am still praying for forgiveness” The tension was at breaking-point when a woman fainted. The chapel was in semi-darkness, and this added to the solemnity of the scene. Scores of confessions were made, and time and again there were cries of “Diolch iddo” as one convert after another made surrender. What was ice at the beginning was a consuming fire before the end. From, 'The Western Mail', 5th January 1905.

Related Wells