REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN WALES.
Forty years ago the Rock Chapel, Trelech. Carmarthenshire, was the only Independent Society in that neighbourhood. In 1790, the Rev. M. Jones was ordained pastor over that people, and members were united to the church belonging to Llwyn-yr-hwrdd, Blaenycoed, Ffynnonbedr, and Chapel Iwan. In a few years these so much increased, that for their accommodation chapels were built at three of these places, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was successively introduced amongst them. The work of God having prospered in the church at Trelech and its branches, by successive revivals, (1792, 1793,) and especially in 1822, when 300 members were added to the church, it became necessary to have further ministerial assistance. The Rev. E. Jones, son of the pastor, was therefore chosen to the co-pastorate, and in 1824 was ordained at Trelech accordingly.
This Society has been cordially engaged in instructing the young in Sabbath Schools, not only to read, but also in the great truths of the Gospel, and so numerous has the attendance been for years, that few can be found in that neighbourhood unable to read.
In the beginning of the present year, a religious concern began to pervade a branch Sunday School, in the parish of Clydey [NB actually the parish of Cilrhedyn, but the parish church is in Clydey—DGJ], belonging to the church at Trelech. About one half of the school had previously professed religion, but now a concern for their souls became the one thing needful with persons of all ages in the school, so that, in a short time, all who were in the school came forward to propose themselves for church fellowship, except two, and one of these, who had been a scoffer, and was deeply afflicted afterwards, joined himself to the people of God.
The revival in that school was preceded by a remarkable degree of sincerity and impartiality in the advice and reproofs of the teachers, who were also very diligent in instructing the children in those things which belong to their peace. A day for prayer and humiliation was set apart and observed at each of the chapels when the congregations were crowded; the prayers for divine influences fervent; great seriousness prevailed, and saving impressions were revived in the hearts of some, and wrought in the minds of many. These solemn services were again renewed on the 17th of April, (Good Friday.)
Meetings of inquiry were publicly held with those who were under religions concern and these exercises were highly beneficial. Some who presented themselves had been under convictions for many years, others had received them during the preceding year, but most within a few months.
The work of conversion extended through the Sunday Schools at Trelech, Glanrhyd, Llanwinio, and Crugiwan. At the latter place there was also preaching, but the meetings were so thinly attended, that an old disciple said, “we are too, cold,—we shall have no revivals here.” But shortly after there was an evident impression on the minds of those who assembled, accompanied with weeping and confession of their coldness. At the next service the house was crowded; much weeping prevailed; there was scarcely an individual present unaffected. The old disciple referred to, remarked the next day, “last night was wonderful—generally, we hear the people talking in every direction, and at great distances as they go home, but last night all was silence, sadness was felt by all.” Although this work has greatly prospered in the Sunday Schools, yet it has not been confined to them, for many, of all ages, in these and neighbouring places, were impressed, attended the inquiry meetings, and at length proposed themselves for church fellowship.
At Chapel Iwan numbers have professed their faith in Jesus, and numbers more are coming forward.
Before Llwyn-yr-hwrdd felt the blessed influence of revival, many of the young people met together in the evenings, for trifling mirth and idle conversation, but these meetings were entirely abandoned, through a religious concern, which was generally diffused, and many were added to the church.
Peterwell, or Ffynnonbedr, was left unvisited by the revival of 1822, and the branch of the church there was consequently feeble, and fears were entertained lest the present revival should not extend thither; but soon after the prayer-meetings for the outpouring of the Spirit was held, a feeling was apparent in the meetings at the chapel and in the neighbourhood; members from the Sunday Schools and many householders were united to the church, and are remarkable for their delight in religious conversation, and for their diligence and zeal in the cause of Jesus.
That the reader may judge of the results of this blessed visitation, it is necessary to report, that since the 19th of April last, four hundred and seventy-three persons have been added to the church at Trelech and its branches, as under:— Trelech 219
Chapel Iwan 68
On this happy visitation, the Rev. M. Jones, the senior pastor, has favoured us with the following remarks:-
“1. In this revival I have observed great solemnity possessing the minds of the hearers in general, especially amongst those who proposed themselves for church fellowship.
“2. It followed a day set apart for prayer, that the Holy Spirit might be shed forth, and which was kept at each of our places; we also observed Good Friday, and have since held similar meetings monthly.
“3. It has been with great power, for some who had been impressed with the importance of religion, at times, for many years, and have shifted their convictions, could withstand no longer, and backsliders, who have been long separated, one ten years, and another thirty-five years, were restored to the church.
“4. This revival has, in a great degree, changed the face of things in our neighbourhood, in a moral point of view.
“5. Although this revival has occurred amongst the Welsh, who are said to be proverbially impassioned, yet it is not the result of any excitation produced by awful providences, strange ministers or even by meetings of ministers; but it is the effect of an instrumentality, which the people have possessed for years and which for years had not produced any visible effects upon their minds!”
What encouragement does this afford to every pastor, to gird up the loins of his mind with renewed energy, and to seek, by prayer and labour, similar blessings.” (Also Holy Art of Winning Souls, pp.?; HEAC iii. 396)
1805 Blaenycoed, Carmarthenshire. The following is from a manuscript autobiography of the Rev. Samuel Bowen, of Macclesfield quoted by H. Elvet Lewis. When his parents, in Carmarthenshire, removed in 1800 from the neighbourhood of Capel Iwan to the parish of Conwil Elvet, there was “hardly one Independent professor of religion in the whole neighbourhood for miles round.” They greatly missed their church associations, and the constant ministrations of their pastor the Rev. Morgan Jones, of Trelech. Mr. Bowen proceeds:
“In course of that winter my father hired an old barn at Blaenycoed (being a little more than a mile from his house) for 20s. per annum, for holding public meetings for religious worship—’prayer-meetings,’ for the most part, with an occasional sermon, Mr. M. Jones, his minister, having engaged to visit the place and preach on Sabbath afternoons once in every two months, which in a year or two was changed into monthly visits, and which so continued to the day of his death (I think in 1830). My father was an excellent singer... and was remarkable, almost extraordinary, for his gift in prayer. Of these gifts he had at that time, for a season, abundant occasion; for at many a ‘social’ prayer-meeting he was the only one to sing and pray, there being present to unite and assist only some six or seven old women. On those occasions he often read twice and sang and prayed thrice, more or less assisted by the venerable matrons around him. They had never had more than one candle, which candle, rolled up in a piece of paper, he invariably took with him from his own house. I well remember the old barn. In its latter and better days it had been fitted up with several forms with backs, a table, a pulpit, and two or three large windows! In the following year a church was formed of some twelve or fifteen members.
“One Sunday afternoon, in 1803 or 1804, as Mr Jones was preaching, great interest was excited, and one young man cried out, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ It proved the commencement of a revival, and several were added to the church.
“Shortly after this my father, being now full forty years of age, began to preach and continued to do so at Blaenycoed and other places around, to the day of his death. The church members at my father’s death could not be much, if any, under 200; and hardly a house in the district round where there was not family worship, morning and evening, regularly conducted, and a Sunday School of some 200 scholars.”’ [H. Elvet Lewis, Nonconformity in Wales, London, , pp.100-102]
‘It is difficult to be sure of the date of the establishing of this church; because the religious people in the neighbourhood, who laboured with the young cause in the barn, were members and communicants of other churches, particularly Trelech. But on one Sabbath afternoon in the year 1805, a powerful revival broke out as a consequence of a fervent sermon of Mr Morgan Jones. At that time about forty members were received into the church of Jesus Christ, and many of them were important men and heads of households in the area. We believe that this was when the church was formed regularly here for the first time and that this was when an effectual cry first arose for extending the courts of the old barn. They had had enough of the tabernacle of the barn, and there was need now for having something on the form of a temple. Land was obtained, and a chapel was built on it in the year 1807 when the present place of worship stands. That one was built facing the south, and not east like the present chapel.’ [HEAC iii. 40 This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones
Would you please contact us if you know where these meetings took place?