It was arranged to hold the North Wales Quarterly Association at Bangor on September 12-14, 1859. On these occasions the services of one or two gifted preachers from the other end of the Principality are generally secured. " Are you expecting any stranger to the Association this year? " asked an Anglesea man. " Yes," was the reverent answer of a Bangor citizen, "we are expecting the Holy Spirit."
At 8 A.M. on Tuesday, the preachers held a conference at which they discussed the Revival in an unconstrained and informal way. We set before the reader the pith of the reports given by eyewitnesses of the Revival: —
About seven hundred souls had been added in a few days to a dozen or so churches, amongst them many who were leaders in iniquity. Old Christians had renewed their youth like the eagle, and the children of the Church had received a special refreshing. The youth of the church, before the Revival, gave no indications of possessing the power of godliness; they were growing up callous in spirit, and would not tolerate rebuke or advice. But now, behold! they pray in their families and in public meetings till all around are weeping. They are now gentle and easily entreated. Before, intemperance was daily gaining ground, but now nearly all the drunkards of the districts have been sobered at a stroke; religion has dethroned impiety in all the neighbourhoods. Those who have watched the results of the Revival are compelled to say, in Christ's words, "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed ''; those who had been ostracised from all decent society because of their vices have become fellow-citizens with the saints; yea, "the dead are raised "; in many a district there were miserable creatures buried in graves of lust and all who passed by cast a stone on their grave — now the cairns have been scattered, the graves are empty, and the dead alive.
The Revival is a priceless privilege to the Church; it should be remembered that it needs much pains to foster it, but the trouble will pay well. Means must be taken to nurse the newborn souls. Let us aim at enlightening the mind and edifying the heart, not at pampering the feelings; and by every means let us consecrate ourselves to magnify Christ, to win souls to Him and confirm them in Him.
At ten, seventeen preachers were ordained to the full work of the ministry. The Address on the Nature of a Church was given by the Rev. Owen Thomas, London, and the Charge to the newly-ordained ministers by the Rev. Henry Rees, on the words, "Do not err, my beloved brethren." At two, a prayer-meeting was held at the Tabernacle, the Association sederunt proceeding meanwhile in the adjoining schoolroom. After two ministers had prayed, an old lay brother named Owen Rowlands was called forward, and soon after he had commenced, the mighty rushing pentecostal wind filled all the house, and a tremendous, irrepressible shout arose to heaven from the assembled throng. Owen Rowlands leaped to his feet, and, with uplifted arms, rushed wildly hither and thither, like a man panic-struck in a storm which he had unwittingly and involuntarily himself raised. The business session was abandoned with headlong haste, and the Sanhedrin came pouring into the chapel. By and by the heaving waves subsided; two other ministers offered prayer, but the electric power of the meeting was spent.
At five, on the field, Daniel Jenkins, Monmouthshire, and Edward Morgan, Dyffryn, preached, the latter from the words, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus," (Sec. He said that religion was like little Moses — it must be shown or slain. "Give fair play to that feeble desire; you will yet need it to lead you through the sea and the wilderness. Have you a faint desire to confess Christ? Do so. Ally yourself with the Church. Those who wait at Dover for the packet to France are able on serene evenings to see the mountains of that land. The prayer-meeting is our Dover, and from thence, some cloudless evenings, we have caught a glimpse of the land that is very far off and the King in His beauty."
In the last session, at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, a number of brethren continued the story of the Revival from personal observation of it in the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Carnarvon. The President called upon the Rev. John Jones, Blaenannerch, who gave an address that delighted and greatly moved the assembly; but so racy of the soil that our bald reproduction of it in another language does it only the scantiest justice. "The Son of God," he exclaimed, "is going to farm the old earth Himself these days; and, fair play to Him! it is His property, every furrow of it belongs to Him; He paid dearly for it, and He will turn its fields of thorns and briars into vineyards of red wine by and by. He has begun to do this in Cardiganshire. The Son of God is carrying all before Him with us, and Satan is going to the wall altogether yonder. It used to be otherwise with us also. It was the devil that used to gather the harvest — the great sheaves — while the Crucified could only glean a few straws. But — and I feel a desire at this moment to shout 'Glory ' — things have changed there. The Son of God takes all the sheaves now, and the devil only gleans any stray straws that he may, in His tracks. The devil is almost left to his own company yonder nowadays. He has to go alone to Vanity Fair. He is left by himself in the public-house. The jolly convivial companies go in troops to the Association, the prayer-meetings, and the societies in our country now; and Jesus Christ is going to take possession of the whole world soon."
In a crowded prayer-meeting at Hirael that night, there was an outburst of "rapture'' that lasted till the lamps were extinguished at midnight, and many paraded the streets till dawn, singing hymns and "rejoicing."
Thursday morning a grand circus processioned the streets with fanfare of trumpets and beating of drums. On the field, Edward Morgan urged the crowd to avoid it, and make the occasion a holiday unto the Lord.
From 6 a.m. till midnight, the proceedings on the meadow, where the preaching stage had been reared, might be described as one vast religious service with abundant variety of incidents; but to record them were such a task as to depict on canvas the infinite play of the ocean when wind and tide bear down upon it. There was 30,000 present, many of them never leaving the field throughout the day. A more remarkable concourse never assembled in Wales. The weather was fine, and the windows of heaven wide open. The moment the preaching ceased, prayer-meetings would begin around the wagons scattered over the field. Those who led in prayer were rustic youths, as a rule, whose words were unpolished, but their souls anointed with the oil of gladness. With every striking petition, a great shout from the throng rent the welkin, now at this point of the field, now at another. At other moments prayer would be universal over the field. Anyone arriving from an uncongenial atmosphere might attribute their extravagancies of gesticulation and utterance to intoxication or insanity. "These men are full of new wine." Taking one another by the hand, they would at times dance, leap, sing, pray, exhort, shout, and "rejoice," incessantly working their several ways through the maze, like a hive of bees that have discovered a virgin bed of flowers. Suddenly, perhaps, the social bond would be dissolved, and each one would become absorbed in the contemplation of his own treasures. If a chair became empty for a moment, someone would immediately jump upon it, and from that coign of vantage shout a hymn or a verse at the top of his voice. Many were cast into trances or swoons, when, unconscious of their surroundings, they would declaim or soliloquise with unintermitting fluency, even as they were borne out of the field by their friends. A farmer's wife, weeping copiously, said to a neighbour: " It is lovely to see them, but if the Revival lasts long we farmers shall be ruined. I sent the man to plough yesterday, and looking out, I saw the horses standing. They were still standing when I looked after another hour and going up, I found the ploughman on his knees by the dike, oblivious of his work, his horses, and everything." The evening services in the chapels were crowded, but thousands remained in the field, heaven showering its influences upon them, prayer and praise ceaselessly rising, like the fragrance of a flowery meadow ascending through fine rain.
The preachers in the morning at ten were John Jones, Blaenannerch, and Henry Rees, Liverpool. The anticipation of the service weighed heavily on the former throughout Wednesday night, and as the last straw he was told that the Lord Bishop had arranged to be present. When he came in sight of the immense multitude on the field his spirits sank to zero, and his limbs would hardly bear him. The Rev. David Jones, Treborth, discerned these signals of distress and striding forward to meet him, embraced him insight of all. The preacher read his text in a low and trembling voice, and for ten minutes it seemed doubtful whether he would not sink beneath his burden. "Is that your great gun from the south?" asked a burly scoffer. "I don't see anything special in him." "Yes, that is he," was his neighbour's answer; "if there are any devils in you, look out! he will get them out of you, every hoof of them; he is aiming at you." At this point the preacher finds refuge from the fear of man and of the Lord Bishop in his Lord's countenance, and his sentences begin to ring like nails driven home by a master of assemblies...
The preacher's magnificent voice, every inflexion ranging to the utmost confines of the crowd, was steeped in heavenly unction, and it made the multitudinous souls under its spell like the chariots of Amminadab. For some time the minister had been preaching to an accompaniment of many voices in the audience, Like ominous drops that herald a cloudburst. Then came his mighty, melodious shouts of ''Ransom, Ransom, RANSOM," and after that the flood. Some who were present told us that the rapture and the thunder often arose on the fringe of the vast host, travelled like an irresistible wave towards the preacher, its course marked by lifted hands, hats and handkerchiefs waved in the air, swoons and outcries; and broke at last in spray, as it were, over the platform, where the ministers sat. Archdeacon Howell said, "That was the most glorious service I was ever in — I will remember it, and thank God for it forever." It was the means of bringing scores, if not hundreds, to build for eternity on the Rock of Ages.
Scenes of similar power, and even greater intensity, were witnessed in the afternoon, when Owen Thomas, Liverpool, preached the memorable sermon from 2 Cor. vi. I, that he had already delivered at the Llangeitho Association.
Though the writer interviewed many who were present at the above Association, the tremendous sweep of its general characteristics seemed to have obliterated the impression of particular incidents, as one might return from Niagara with an empty cup ; therefore we must thus conclude this account of one of the most memorable landmarks in the religious history of Wales.
From, 'The '59 Revival', by J J Morgan, pages 141-8.
I do not know where the field was.